Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays

I had a wonderful Christmas and hope all of you did as well. I didn't have any big ticket items on my list--in fact, my list was very short this year. A sure sign of contentment. What I wanted was my family close, my friends near, and a lot of love. And being one of the luckiest women in the world, I got it. Christmas Eve day was spent with my husband and daughters. As we've done every year since they were little, we went to the movies and saw Yes, Man. It was very funny and the perfect movie for the perfect day. We started this tradition because when we first moved to Arizona, we had no family or friends to spend the holidays with and Christmas Eve always seemed to last forever, just waiting for the festivities to begin.

After the movie, we raced home, prepared some snacks, wrapped those last minute presents and then the doorbell began to ring. Christmas Eve was spent with the family I have in town (and wishes for the family I don't have near to be here) and a few of our closest friends. We gathered, played games and had a wonderful evening. Christmas morning everyone came back for an enormous breakfast of bacon, eggs and waffles (until my waffle finally gave up the ghost). Then everyone went home to lounge on a rainy day in front of their fires and enjoy some down time, just doing whatever. I have so much to be thankful for and I took the time to count blessings.

Hope you all had as fun a day as I did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Sucks in Success

Just kidding. There is no sucks in success even though sometimes it may feel that way. What do I mean? Well, for example, having a writing career means I don't have Saturday and Sunday mornings to lounge around and watch the news and read the paper. Am I sad about that? Absolutely not. My relationship with writing has been one of the most rewarding in my life. It challenges me daily, forces me to grow and takes me to a place I've never been before. Some days I love it. Some days I hate it. Some days I'm even ambivalent. But in the end, I've proven time and again, it's not something I'll ever give up.

Writing has taught me not to let outside judgement penetrate my skin. This was a huge lesson for me because I'd always been open to criticism and taken it all to heart. Through the agonizing business of trying to get published, I've learned that opinion is just that--opinion. It's a simple lesson, but for those of us who have been ruled by the need to please everyone, learning that not only can it not be done, but that it's not even necessary was a life changing experience. I am stronger person because of my willingness to let others like or dislike me. And I wouldn't have reached this point if I hadn't endured the countless rejection letters from agents and editors which all came to mean nothing when I finally hit the yes and my books began to sell and readers began to write to tell me they loved my stories.

I can only be what I can be. And no that's not a marine, (I'm a wee bit old for that). But it's a better person.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Giving back this season

My computer has been at the doctor and it's been really hard surviving without it. But now it's back (yay) and I'm back in business. Are you all as stunned that it's already December as I am? Not only is it December, but Monday marks the half way point. I know they say the older you get the faster time goes, but geez. Stop the bus!

Even though life is busy, I am filled with the spirit of giving. I haven't done much of my shopping but I have dropped a dollar in every Salvation Army bell-ringers basket I pass. And I thought it was time to reflect on the year and what I've done that really makes a difference.

This year I was part of a very cool program at work. Intel (do-do-do-doo--that was their little trademark jingle in case you were wondering) launched a program this year which challenged all their employees to volunteer one MILLION hours world wide. Guess what? We did it. And not only did all those non-profits and schools get volunteer hours, but Intel is also paying them for the hours the employees worked. It's a beautiful thing that really made me proud of my contributions to this trend setting company. I may complain a lot about how it's sucking the life out of me--and I still feel like it is sometimes--but when I look at this major accomplishment I am proud.

I hope what Intel did challenges other major corporations to look at their commitment to social responsibility and start giving back as well. I know not every company can afford to dish out the money to pay for volunteers, but there's not a company in the world that couldn't give 4 hours a quarter, bi-annually or even once a year to have their employees do some volunteer event. The rewards are tremendous. Employees want to feel good about where they work and teaming up to help the local Y, or the under-funded school down the street, or clean up a park so kids don't have to play in a trashy place--these small gestures really fill the heart.

On top of the volunteering I do on my own, my business group within my company also adopts a under privileged school and we mentor, help upgrade their PCs, and assist in other ways. And every holiday season we do a toy drive and deliver presents to each and every student in the school. I get choked up just thinking about it. If you've never done something like this, I'm here to tell you, it will change your life.

So this holiday season, I hope you'll find the spirit within yourself. It may be too late to organize a holiday event for your team at work, but there are still a lot of organizations that need your help. You don't have to spend Christmas day at the soup kitchen (although that's a great thing to do) but just reach out. You'll be surprise at how many hands you'll find reaching back. And think about next year. What can you do in your company to make a difference in the community where you work. Start the ball rolling and get others involved to help keep it moving. If you don't know where to start, get in touch with me and I'll help. It's truly a beautiful thing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


If you've followed my blogs, you've read that this year was a very tumultuous year for me. I had expectations of myself I didn't meet and I had expectations that I exceeded past my wildest expectations. I took a sabbatical from the day job during which I suspected to write a book--but instead I sold 2 books and signed with a new agent. Then a return to the day job plunged me into chaos that I don't think I've yet recovered from. It's been nuts.

But I still find myself over flowing with gratitude that I had such a crazy year. I proved to myself that I am stronger than my circumstances. That hard work does pay off. That I am loved and blessed. That I am surrounded by people I love in return. That the future is to be embraced and not feared.

And that creativity is not something to be taken for granted. It is a muscle to flex and stretch and push beyond its endurance. It is a gift that should be honored and never forgotten.

On those sage words :-) I am off to exercise my creativity.....

Friday, November 28, 2008

As so it begins....

Can you believe we are already in the final days of November? That the holiday season is firmly upon us and ready to take us away? I'm having a hard time believing it. I have vowed to take things slower though and really enjoy what is going on around me. Yesterday I cooked Thanksgiving dinner and had my parents and best friends sitting at the table with me, my husband and my daughters and I thought I was a very lucky woman. I have many blessings, but my friends and family are the ones I cherish most.

Hope you all had time to reflect on your good fortune and the blessings in your life.


Friday, November 14, 2008

The start of a great day

So I've had a week from hell. The day job is killing me, the hours I'm devoting to everything but my writing are really weighing me down, and I fell back asleep this morning and so started late. But the good news is that after I staggered out, poured some coffee--fed the dogs, because lord knows my yellow lab would starve to death if she ate an hour later than she's used to--and then logged in, there was something good waiting for me in my inbox. A book quote from USA Today bestselling author, RITA award winner Jennifer Ashley. Not just a generic quote, either, but praise that had me sniffling in my coffee. Here's what she says:

"Haunting Beauty is an intriguing, highly absorbing book that sucked me in and didn't let me go until its amazing conclusion. I was completely swept away by the mystery surrounding Sean and Danni, the magical ambience, the vivid setting, and the chilling and original plot. A highly recommended must-read!"

Yay for me. I'm so happy I think I'll actually try to write today. Woo woo. (And mucho thanks, Jennifer Ashley!)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

That was fun!

Thanks to everyone who commented on the interview with Calista Fox. Calista is one of my favorite people so I'm really glad you all had fun with the interview and her Oh-So-Clever answers.

November has unfolded much as September and October did--crazy busy. I keep thinking one of these days it will slow down, but so far, no such luck! But I continue to hope.

Yesterday I was honored to be invited to the Queen Creek Library Grand Opening celebration as one of the authors autographing my books. What a beautiful facility! It was a fun day and I met lots of readers. I really wanted to take some pictures, but my kid made off with my camera and I left me without. sigh. And yes, she does have her own camera--she just couldn't find it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome Calista Fox

This month I am featuring Calista Fox on my website. If you haven't read Calista yet, you are in for a treat. Her heroes are honestly the sexiest men alive. (okay, I know they aren't REALLY alive but hey, it could happen.) I had the opportunity to interview Calista recently. Here's what she had to say:

Erin: First off, welcome and thanks for taking the time to stop by. You already know I'm a huge fan. I'm so honored and excited to be an advanced reader of your single title (due out in July of 2009) OBJECT OF DESIRE. I just started it last night and I'm already hooked.

So on to my deep and meaningful interview questions.

If you could have your choice, what super hero would you like to date?

Calista: Oh, yummy! Good question! Let’s see… I’d have to say Superman from the Smallville series, starring Tom Welling. He’s just too hot for words. Aside from that, he’s also strong, powerful, a humanitarian and, um, did I mention super-hot? ;-) I could go on… *sigh*

Erin: Hmmm, interesting. (Wondering if the cape plays a part in any of her fantasies. Note to self: ply Calista with alcoholic beverages and find out more about her Superman thing . . . )

What would we find you doing on a rainy Sunday afternoon?

Calista: *eg* Rainy Sunday afternoons inspire me to do two things.
One is write.
The other? I’m sure you can guess!
Shop, of course! LOL

Erin: Okay, you had me there. I once won my husband a golf trip with a local celebrity by sending in a letter on why my husband should win. I wrote: “Dear Dave (because I thought it would be more personal than calling him local celebrity, ha ha), There are only two things my husband loves to do. I am exhausted. Please take him golfing.”

But I digress. On to the next question . . . .

Boxers or briefs?

Calista: I prefer the boxer/brief hybrid—you know, the tight-fitting boxer-type shorts? In black. Or dark blue. Or red. Or… Hmm. I guess color doesn’t matter. ;-)

Erin: To that point, perhaps the boxers and briefs don’t matter either. It’s all about . . . . (oops, digression again)

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Calista: Oh good Lord. I have one every week. I think I’ve given up on being embarrassed. Life’s too short and THANKFULLY so are my friends’ memories!

Erin: Note to self, second time I’ve asked this question (last month asked Allyson James) and both times askee has gracefully skirted question. Me thinks there is a lesson here. Next time I’m asked, do not blurt out that embarrassing moment. Evade . . . .

Weirdest place you ever “did it?”

Calista: Oh, Erin… *wg* You would have to ask me this! Hmm… The back seat of a ’78 Buick Regal with baby blue crushed velvet seats, when I was 18. Or the top of a lighthouse in Cabo San Lucas when I was 28. It’s a toss-up.

Erin: More notes to self. Definitely ply Calista with drinks and get the scoop on this one!

Who would be on your “safe list” for sex? (Meaning, even though you’re married, you could still have sex with this one famous person if the opportunity ever arose.)

Calista: Ooh, an easy one! I’m cleared for Eddie Van Halen, Jon Bon Jovi and, well, just about every other 80s rock star with big hair!

Erin: LOL! Now that’s funny.

Do you like them big and bulky or deceptively sleek and cut? (talking about muscles on your men, girlfriend. Get your mind out of the gutter, you’re crowding me)

Calista: I thought it was feeling a little cramped in here! To be honest, I like them both ways. Some men carry big and bulky better than others. (Hulk Hogan and Arnie are NOT my type!) Given the list in the previous question, I’d have to say I lean more toward the deceptively sleek and cut.

Erin: Yes, I definitely picture you with a James Bond type of hero. Sleek, tailored, wealthy and oh, so sophisticated. Perhaps he might break into a spontaneous bought of “Hungry like the wolf” whilst popping the cork on a bottle of Dom . . . .

Holding hands and walking on the beach or snuggling by the fire in the mountains?

: I’m a snuggler! ;-)

Erin: Yep, me too. I wish we had more cold days. Snuggling in 110 isn’t quite as fun as one might think.

Oh, and a book question—favorite hero you’ve ever written. Why?

Calista: Ah, the toughest question of all! Of course, I love all of my heroes! At the moment, I’m particularly fond of Christian St. James from FOREVER MY LOVE in Secrets Volume 23, which just came out in July. He’s an ultra-sexy vampire who is tormented to within an inch of his sanity. The raw intensity of this man alone turns me on…. But did I mention he’s also ultra-sexy? LOL

And then there’s Josh Kensington—quite the bad boy!—in SECRET RENDEZVOUS, which is featured in Secrets Volume 26 and will be out in December. He’s the direct opposite of Christian, with blonde hair and ice-blue eyes. Very Smith Jared from SEX IN THE CITY. He really knows how to walk on the wild side!

Erin: Don’t forget Jake in UNTIL JAKE (Ellora’s Cave). Oh my, I was ready to toss my domestic please and hit the streets looking for another like him.

Tell us about your next release and why YOU think we’ll love it.

I have two coming up in December. The first is PROMISE OF FOREVER, which is a special Christmas release by eRedSage Presents ( I launched Red Sage’s e-pub venture last November with ONE WISH, and it has been really exciting writing for them this past year. I’ve tried to make my Presents stories different from my Secrets stories (same publisher, but Secrets is the print line and Presents is the e-book line). PROMISE OF FOREVER is a steamy romance, but I think what readers will really like about it is that it deals with a highly emotional issue and the two characters, Celia and Ben, have to face some big challenges and overcome a lot of emotional obstacles in order to make their way back to each other. I cried when I wrote the book. I cried when I edited the book. If you don’t cry, there’s something wrong with you. LOL Just teasing. But I will warn you to keep tissue close at hand! Plus, it’s set in London at Christmastime, so the imagery is really cool!

Erin: Note to self, check tissue supply before reading PROMISE OF FOREVER

Calista: The second book coming out in December is Secrets Volume 26! Yay! I love July and December because that’s when my print books hit the bookshelves in all the major bookstores! This volume is my fifth Secrets anthology in three years. I love the variety in these books, so even if you don’t like my story (though I’m sure you will! J), there are three others of different genres to choose from! The one thing they all have in common is that they are scorching-hot! Here’s a little bit about my story, SECRET RENDEZVOUS, which is the third story in the RENDEZVOUS trilogy I wrote for Secrets, along with two reviews!

“In Secret Rendezvous by Calista Fox, McCarthy Portman works for a dating agency, Rendezvous. Despite her success in finding men for the women on her books, McCarthy is single. She’s getting desperate, so she runs her own name through the computer – and is matched with Josh Kensington, the hot bad-boy owner of trendy nightclub The Rage.
McCarthy can’t believe it. Josh is sexier than hell but not her type at all – or is he? Josh’s cousin Cass owns Rendezvous and often says she wishes Josh would settle down with a nice girl. But Josh doesn’t do nice girls – or at least, not until McCarthy crosses his path…
This [story] is, as McCarthy thinks at one point, ‘shameless, naughty fun’. The good-girl-ensnares-bad-boy plot is always a winning combination for me, and Ms Fox manages this seamlessly and stylishly. I liked both Josh and McCarthy: Josh is super-sexy and honest with his emotions in every way, and McCarthy is sweet and confident, surprising herself when it comes to flirting and seduction. I loved the sense of humour behind this novella – several moments made me giggle.

Also, this one had such a great line: The last vestiges of prudence lay scattered at her feet, sexual road kill.

Loved it!

Another strong collection from Red Sage, with something for everyone.”
--Reviewer Singapore Sling

“Four very different couples in different times are all dealing with a similar problem – how to find love along with passion. Fans of all genres will adore this sexy collection.”
P.S.—We have a beautiful two-page spread in the December issue of Romantic Times Bookclub magazine!
Erin: Wow, can’t wait. Lots of great reading in my future. You know I’m a huge fan! For those of you just discovering Calista, you’ll be happy to know that in addition to all the titles mentioned above, Calista Fox has many other titles available. Once you start reading her, I guarantee you’ll be hooked!

Calista: Thanks so much for having me, Erin! Readers can check out my website at and my Myspace page at to learn more about my books. And I’m giving away A LOT of books this month!!
Happy Holidays to you all! Calista

Erin: Calista, it’s always a pleasure talking to you. We are definitely going to have to do another night like we did in San Francisco. From what I remember of it, we had a blast. Way more fun than the night we played quarters in New York.

Check out my website for more information and to enter my November contest:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Haunting Beauty, available for pre-orders

Haunting Beauty is up on and you can pre-order it~ Yay! Also, check out the cool stuff I've added to my website. Just go to and click "cool stuff" (clever name, huh?) You'll find mugs and t-shirts (even one for your doggie :-) )

I've had lots of entries for the ARC of Allyson James's THE DRAGON MASTER! The winner won't be selected until the end of the month so it's not too late to enter. You'll find details on the contest page of my site. Next month I will be featuring the wonderful Calista Fox. If you haven't read her yet, you are in for a treat!

Also, check out the Great Halloween contests on Romance Junkieks. You can win an autographed copy of one of my books there too!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Interview with author extraordinaire--Allyson James

As you might have seen, this month I'm featuring Allyson James on contest page and she is giving away an ARC of THE DRAGON MASTER. That's an advanced reading copy of the not yet released book! See for more details on this and to enter.

Erin: Hi Allyson! Thanks for stopping by. I'm going to jump right in with the intense interview I have planned. Okay, tough and probing question number one: If you could have your choice, what superpower would you like to have? (or, What super hero would you like to be (cat woman or wonder woman, etc)

Allyson: The superpower I’d pick would be strength. Then no one would mess with me. Although walking through walls would be cool. Be handy if I was in a hurry. Or running really fast, which would save on gas.

Erin: Okay . . . note to self, don’t mess with Allyson. Ever. Even without the super powers, she will kick your butt. Moving on . . . Next question. On a bad hair day do you reach for a scrunchi or a hat?

Allyson: Scrunchi. I wear scrunchis every day, so I must have bad hair all the time. :-) Or I’m just hot.

Erin: Woman after my own heart. The scrunchi is one of the most brilliant inventions in all of womankind . . . So . . . Boxers or briefs?

Allyson: On men? (there are boxers for ladies too.) Thongs. Well, on the right guy. Or nothing. I like nothing best. Bare butts are great.

Erin: Ha! Well, I supposed if we’re talking about the men on the covers of your books, my answer is the same. Now for a more up close and person question. What is your most embarrassing moment?

Allyson: There are so many, one doesn’t stand out.

Erin: I think in another life, we must have been related. Weirdest place you ever “did it?”

Allyson: Same as above.

Erin: Intriguing. Note to self—maybe this is the key to writing such great books? Get out of the bedroom and into the closet. Or is that . . . Never mind. Okay, here’s another. Who would be on your “safe list” for sex? (Meaning, even though you’re married, you could still have sex with this one famous person if the opportunity ever arose.)

Allyson: This is a good question. I have no idea! I like the way certain guys look, but if I met them and they turned out to be jerks, I couldn’t do it. I realize we’re talking fantasy, but even in my fantasy, I can’t get past that. But James Marsters would be right up there on the list (he played Spike on Buffy for readers unfamiliar with him.)

Erin: Hmmm, in my fantasy the only talking they do is tell me they are farsighted (which in Erin-world means I don’t have to worry about them seeing my wrinkles, even the ones that look suspiciously like fat rolls) and that I’ve been on their list as well. Ah, the beauty of fiction . . . .
Do you like them big and bulky or deceptively sleek and cut? (talking about muscles on your men, girlfriend. Get your mind out of the gutter, you’re crowding me)

Allyson: Both ways. I like big guys mostly, but slim and trim looks great too (e.g., the guy who plays Sam on True Blood.)

Erin: I’m with you there. Are you a chocolate, potato chip or ice cream girl when the need to have one strikes? Or are you one of those super-freaks who goes running instead?

Allyson: Running? Oh please. Chocolate.

Erin: Truly, not just related, but possible sisters. Oh, and a book question—favorite hero you’ve ever written. Why?

Allyson: Now this is the hardest question of all! Keep in mind I’ve written about thirty-two stories now (putting together all the novels, ebook originals, and novellas). I have many heroes to choose from.

One of my favorites isn’t a romance hero—it’s Captain Lacey from my mystery series written as Ashley Gardner. I seriously want to revisit him and continue the series. He’s honorable, handsome, trim and muscular, smart, and generous.

Another is Hunter from The Gathering (by Jennifer Ashley). He’s funny and sexy, but with a dark side.

Then there’s Rees from Tales of the Shareem: Rees (by Allyson James). He’s to die for.
Oh, wait. I just finished a historical romance called The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (out in April 2009), and Ian is a total babe.

And then there’s Seth, the Fire Dragon in The Dragon Master (Allyson James, Nov. 2008)

Oy, I can’t narrow it down more than that.

Erin: That’s okay—it was a trick question anyway because who can choose. I have to say that Rees is one of my favorite heros. He’s not just to die for, he’s to die of and happily. I had to sit in a tub of ice to read that book and let me tell you, it was not as comfortable as one my think.

Last question: Tell us about your next release and why YOU think we’ll love it.

Allyson: THE DRAGON MASTER, by Allyson James (Berkley, Nov. 2008). Why you’ll love it: A hunky man who turns into a Fire Dragon, a woman who discovers her own latent magical powers, some action-adventure, a little bit of magic, fun secondary characters, Chinese food, and lots of hot romance. I hope you enjoy it!

You can find the DRAGON MASTER at Amazon, B&N and any bookstore with books of quality on their shelves. To read an excerpt, visit Allyson’s site.

Thanks for stopping by! If you'd like to leave Allyson a comment, please do!
Also, check out an interview with me on Calista Fox's fabulous blog at: I'm nowhere near as entertaining as Allyson, but I try and Calista is a fabulous hostess.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New cover and great contest!

My editor sent me the cover for my new book yesterday! Check it out! I couldn't be more pleased with how great it looks.
I've got a lot of stuff going on in October. Hard at work on the follow up to HAUNTING BEAUTY. Looking for a title if anyone wants to offer some ideas. I'd like to stay with the "haunting" theme, but can't think of anything to match with it. (I don't like Beast, so skip that one). Anyway, send me a comment if something comes to you.
Next on big news is the October Contest I just posted on my site. I'm giving away a copy of Allyson James' THE DRAGON MASTER to a luck winner--wait, not just A copy but an ARC--what's an ARC you might ask? Is an Advanced Reading Copy. That means you get to read it before anyone else, weeks before the bookstores will have in their shelves. Very cool, yes? And you also go one of my titles to keep it company. Just go to to enter.
Check back later this week as I will be announcing the winner of the SDSU Writers Conference Scholarship AND I will have an interview with Allyson James. Does the fun ever end?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where has this month gone?

Well I'll tell you where it's gone--to hell, ha ha. Actually it's just been one of those months that has moved at the speed of sound. Between family, work, school and writing, I've been torn in different directions. I've barely had the time to put in my page count, let alone blog, but that's life and I can't complain. I'm employed, have a roof over my head, have good friends and wonderful family. I am blessed.

One fun thing I did this month was talk to the Red Hat East Valley Divas. What a great group of women. I really enjoyed myself and they all love my books ECHOES and WHISPERS so it was a fabulous night for me.

Don't forget to check out my monthly contest! I have a few more days of September's contest featuring an autographed copy of one of my titles and an autographed copy of Cassie Ryan's hot and steaming Ceremony of Seduction.

Next month I'll be giving away an ARC of The Dragon Master (out Nov. 2008). That's right, a PREVIEW copy of Jennifer Ashley's November release. You will get to read it weeks before it gets to the bookstores.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And so it goes...

I've been busy lately between the day job, school and writing. Frustrating when the writing wants to be in the front seat and take all my free time but the other two won't allow it. It is what it is, so it does not good to complain--but when has that ever stopped me?

I'm supposed to get cover copy this week for Haunting Beauty! Can't wait to see what they have created for my new book. I'm now T-11 months until it comes out and it still doen't feel quite real.

If you haven't checked out my contest for this month, please do. I'm giving away two books, one of mine and one of talented author Cassie Ryan's. Details are at (click on contest link).

Also, entries for the SDSU scholarship will be closing soon. If you've thought about entering, now is the time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Productive day...

I'm still so excited about the quote from Diana Gabaldon that I want to tell everyone I meet. Of course, the people who don't know me are really starting to give me strange looks, but who cares. Diana Gabaldon called HAUNTING BEAUTY "A complex, mysterious and very satisfying story!"

Today was productive although it didn't start out that way. I began with taking care of business. I updated my website, announced last contest winner and posted a new one. This month I'm giving away a copy of CEREMONY OF SEDUCTION written by Cassie Ryan who just happens to be a friend of mine. It's hot and steamy (as you might guess by the cover) and it's the first of a series so if you're a fan of erotic romance, be sure to enter.

Then I found myself doing a bunch of busy work and accomplishing nothing. It wasn't until this afternoon that I finally started writing with any focus. Once I got my head into the game, I made progress and that felt good. This is my first time to write a book that is part of a series and it comes with its own challenges--new ones that are a bit daunting. It's only natural for readers to compare book one to book two, right? Well it's only natural for authors to live in fear of readers comparing the first and second and finding one lacking. I hadn't really thought of that going in, but now that it has occurred to me, gulp, I'm shaking in my shoes.

Challenges, challenges, challenges....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Highlights and lowlights....

I've been hard at work on my WIP. First draft is done except for the ending, which I usually don't write until the end of the second draft anyway. I write about 3-5 drafts before I feel it's ready for readers, so I'm still early in the process. But I like what is going on with the story and I feel like it's all coming together as I envisioned. I'm so behind on my life, though! Sheesh. I need to send out my contest winners, update the website, take care of all the other little details. It's never ending.

This weekend I received some great news. Diana Gabaldon has given me a quote for HAUNTING BEAUTY! I can't believe it. She read the manuscript and she liked it. I think I'm as excited about her name being on my cover as I am about my own, LOL. This is what she said:

"A complex, mysterious and very satisfying story! I'm amazed that anyone can fit such a good story into so relatively few pages."

I'm just pleased as can be. Still waiting on the cover art so I can do a redesign on my website and start spreading the word about the book.

On the job continues to suck the life out of me. I need a vacation.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Where's Erin?

Wow, the past couple of weeks have been insanely busy and sometimes completely wonderful, sometimes not so much. The day J-O-B is taking its toll on me, but trying not to let it completely run my world. Trying being the key word of that statement. There was no writing day for me this week and my so-called vacation was spent on line, on the phone or worrying about the fact that I wasn't online or on the phone. sigh. My kids returned to school this week (and my baby started high school!). Very hectic and exciting all around.

But the wonderful part took place last weekend in San Francisco at RWA national meeting. Wow, what a fabulous conference this year. The location was stellar, of course, but I think for me the best part this year was that I knew so many people. 4 years ago I went to Dallas (or Houston? Can't remember which) and I knew 3 people. After that I joined my local RWA chapter with one goal--meet some fellow authors. I got so much more than that out of my membership that I could blog for a week and not cover it, but suffice to say I did reach my goal.

Every corner I turned, every elevator ride or stroll through the lobby, I ran into someone I knew. It was joyous. There were smiles and excitement and hugs and well wishes. Fellow Desert Rose member and author Calista Fox and I hung out together, did the bar thing and found ourselves in a dive that should have probably been condemned but made an awesome sirloin burger. Calista has a single title coming out next year that sounds amazing. The next day I had lunch with my lovely friend Sylvia Day who is fun and kind and knows more about our industry than I could ever hope to know. Sylvia has a new series coming out from Tor under the name SJ Day. EVE OF DARKNESS is the first book and I picked up an advanced reading copy at the Tor signing. So far it's nothing short of fantastic.

I was invited to a wine and cheese party hosted by Harry and Susan Squires--friends from the pre-published days. Two nicer people you'd be heard pressed to meet--and both exceptionally talented. Susan's books are fabulous (and many, starting with her first which won the Golden Heart, called Danegeld.) Harry writes as HR Knight and his What Rough Beast is exceptional. At their party I met Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly and learned that I have definitely missed the boat when it comes to Buffy the Vampire slayer. I must see get those dvds and watch that series.

Then my CP and bestest friend Lynn flew in and we had several days of good food, good drink and great company. We brainstormed until our poor brains were mushy and both of us worked out major plot issues with our WIPs. What a relief and a great session.

Then came lunch with my editor Kate Seaver. My first lunch with my editor--but I hope not my last. She is as bright and charming as I could hope and I am very excited to be in this creative partnership with her. I'm looking forward to many books to come. :-)

By the time I reached the airport on Sunday, I was exhausted. Happy, but exhausted. But no rest awaited. I found more friends on my same flight and the hour before we took off was spent happily talking about, you guessed it, books and writing.

I came home with great memories, 31 books I can't wait to read, and total motivation to get on with my new book. Now, if I could just get the day job to give me a break, life would be close to perfect!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At last...

After days on end of making zero progress, I finally got some traction yesterday and moved forward. Whew, those are the hardest days, I think. Last weekend I advanced my story a grand total of 4 paragraphs. And they weren't even good paragraphs. I wrote more on my blog than I did on my book.

But yesterday I hammered out 13 pages so I'm feeling much better. Those pages took me past that sticking point and now I'm hitting the home stretch. My goal has been to have my first draft completed before I go to RWA in San Fran. I may not make it, but I think I'll come in close.

I'm really looking forward to the trip. I have lots of friends who are going to be there and my CP and friend, Lynn, is coming as well. We both really need a brainstorming session and she surpasses all for that. Of course there will be copious amounts of alcohol consumed and probably queasy stomachs and headaches the morning after, but it will be fun. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Focus, or lack of....

I've been out of focus lately. Mostly because I'm on that first draft and it's just plain draining. I think one of the hardest parts is keeping the focus on creation and not perfection. While I'm creating, I often feel surges of emotion, of ecstasy, of brilliance. You know it when you feel it--those moments when you've just unlocked some great mystery hidden inside your story--something you didn't even know was lurking there beneath the text. Or you hit the nail on the head with the chemistry which up to that point in the draft you'd been penciling in, but never capturing. Those times are amazing.

But for the other countless moments, it's hard, grueling work. Conceiving an entire, well thought out book from a few random ideas or images is difficult at best, impossible at worst. A lot of the time it feels like you're writing cover copy for the back of a cereal box. The characters are place holders because you don't know them yet, the story structure is flimsy, the details painfully vague. And it's hard to get up and at it day after day when this is what you're faced with. Don't forget there's generally a devil on your shoulder telling you that you're a one-book wonder. Or your readers are all going to flock to someone better as soon as they start this drivel.

But to get to the second draft, you have to get through the first one. And in the second draft, things become more coherent. You discover that those places when the words felt wooden are actually pretty good and with a little polish and a little foreshadow, they could be great.

It's all a process. Very few things are created perfectly the first time. There's always room for revision. Even when a book is sold, there are revisions. A book an editor absolutely LOVED and couldn't wait to buy, will still get edits. It's the nature of the beast.

So I'm going to get back to it. Focus, Erin, focus...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The first draft...

The first draft of a novel is different for every writer. Some of us plot out extensive details, line by line and they have answered every story question before they ever put fingers to keyboard for the first page. Others start writing and see where it goes--generally they have an idea of what the story is about, but everything that happens between the very shadowy sign posts along the way is a mystery. In the business, these two factions are called plotters and pantsers.

I used to be a pantser. I would fixate on an opening scenario--more than a scene--a situation, I suppose. It would be very vivid for me and this would be my starting point. Sometimes I had a goal or ending in mind and a few, "I want this to happen" ideas. I wrote my first 3 books this way and I'm told they are very good. The received critical acclaim and awards and I was happy with the finished product, so I'm going to accept that as truth. (Though the artist in me will always doubt this). Bu the problem with these books is that it took me a very long time to write them because I didn't know where I was going.

When I started my 4th book, HAUNTING BEAUTY, I wanted the entire process to be better. I didn't want to hit page 200 and have a melt down because I had no idea what came next. I didn't want to go back and rewrite 20 of 30 scenes because the focus had changed. I wanted to write the book in a reasonable amount of time and do it with a process that could be repeated.

The last was the revelation I needed. A process that could be repeated. See, when you pants it, you go where the whim takes you and since a whim is just that, it can't be duplicated. But I knew that plotting was not in my genetic build. I'd tried it before, written copious outlines only to get bored with the story by the time I began to write and to discard all those notes and ideas. I needed a process that would embrace my creative needs but also channel that creativity in a more productive way.

My solution was to plot the arc of the story instead of the action. What this means in layman's terms, is this: I look at the story I want to write and instead of plotting

I. Chapter One
a. Hero goes to store and buys a candy bar.
b. candy bar has golden ticket to Wonka Land in it
c. Hero invites grandpa joe to go with him

I would plot this way:

I. Chapter One
a. Hero in ordinary world where everything is out of his reach
b. Hero is invited to leave his world but is afraid.
c. Hero takes an advisor along

In this way, I leave the door open for my creativity to figure out what ordinary means and what the world of my story is going to be. But I know there are very definite stops on hero's journey, trials that he will have to overcome and successes he will achieve. I know where in my story these need to be revealed--but the WHAT is all a mystery so I still get the fun of putting it all together.

If you're a new writer and trying to sort through all the methods that popular authors use and you're getting lost, try it this way. More information on the hero's journey can be found in Joseph Campbell's HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES or in countless books written about this book. I may be the help you need.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Nala the yellow lab...

So I love animals. Cats, dogs, fluffy little bunnies. They are all adorable in my book. I have 3 dogs--no cats only because my husband doesn't like them--and they all 3 follow me wherever I go. Sometimes I feel like a parade leader. The smallest of the dogs, Pixie, is the alpha. It's funny, because she is old, only has a dozen teeth left, and she weighs about 7 pounds.

Next comes Buttercup, who made her debut in my new book, HAUNTING BEAUTY. Buttercup is a chunky little terrier mix who doesn't resemble a dog too much, but somehow is one. She is devoted to me above everything else and is always at my feet, in my lap or somewhere nearby just watching me to make sure I don't need her for something.

Last is Nala, the yellow lab. She's the newest member of our family and only about 16 months old. Still a baby though she outweighs the other animals by 70 pounds. I've never had a big dog before--and I understand from others that I don't really have a big dog now. Danes are big dogs. Anyway, I think it's so funny how different they are from little ones--and I'm not talking about appearance. Big dogs are so easy to train because they are ruled entirely by their stomachs.

Little dogs can be left alone in the house with a dish full of food which they will ignore until you return. Big dogs? They'll eat the varnish off your table if appeals to them. My Nala can hardly wait for breakfast. IN fact, who needs an alarm clock when there's a big yellow muzzle laying on the bed beside your head and a sound like a warped siren coming out of it? She knows she doesn't get to eat until 7:30, but that doesn't stop her from crying an earlier, just so she's sure you have time to wake up, have coffee and not forget her.

And when 4:30 rolls around, we'll play it all again. She's start with the siren moan to let us know dinner is coming. At five, she'll really start playing it up, flopping listlessly on the ground, acting like she's weak from hunger. By the time 5:30 is here, she's in a full throttle distress, moaning and groaning like the world will end if a morsel doesn't make it to her lips soon.

Gotta love her for being so passionate about it, I guess. But it sure makes it hard to write when she's laying at my feet telling me her woes.

Hope you have a great 4th!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Technical difficulties...

Arg, spent the last 1 1/2 days trying to get my new website up and running. I think I finally did it. Yay! Check it out at and let me know what you think.

It was exciting week. My new book had a title change which I love--HAUNTING BEAUTY. I think it fits the book and it has a very evocative feel to it. I can't wait to see what they come up with for a cover.

BTW, running a new contest over there on Erin Quinn Books, so check it out. Not only am I giving away one of my previous titles, but also one of Kathryne Kennedy's wonderful ENCHANTING THE LADY. If you haven't read her yet, you're in for a treat. AND she has the next book in her series coming out soon so you won't have to wait for your next fix.

Now I need to get some writing. I left m hero in a real jam on Wednesday and poor fellow has been stuck there during all my technical difficulties. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The crazy month of June

June this time 14 years ago, I was in labor.

It doesn't seem possible that so much time has passed, but it's true. I spent the entire day trying to have my youngest child and my mother spent the entire day--which just happened to be her birthday--holding my hand.

My daughter teased us throughout the day and but decided in the end that she didn't want to share her birthday with anyone else and so she waited until the calendar page turned and was born on the 22nd. She's been pulling that kind of stuff ever since, ha ha.

So today my two daughters and I are taking my mother and father to the theater to see My Fair Lady and then to dinner. I'm sure it will be a much better birthday than the one she spent 14 years ago watching me sweat through labor. And then tomorrow my little baby turns 14.

Sheesh I feel old.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The worst reasons....

I've never been a big Danielle Steel fan and for the worst reason--one I can't believe I'm guilty of. I've never actually read one of her books, but I've heard they are all alike. This reasoning is, in fact, one of my pet peeves when I hear someone say it. How can you possibly pass judgement on a book or writer when you've never read them?

What prompts me to make this terrible confession now is a recent article from publishers lunch about Ms. Steel. The article is about a charitable mission Ms. Steel has been on to aide the homeless of our country. It touched my heart in many ways and made me stop and ask why I'd never thought I would enjoy her books. Anyone who can write with such honesty and heart about the suffering of people, anyone who could give so much to help ease their pain, has to be an amazing author. Shame on me for making assumptions and passing judgement.

In fact, Ms. Steel's effort has been done in a selfless manner since she began and her decision to come forth now is based on the need for more people to help--not for personal recognition.

It is part of my personal dream to reach a level of success where I can play a role in helping others like Danielle Steele and Brenda Novak have and I think it's inspiring that these women have used their own success to help out someone in need.

It's never too early or too late to help and I am determined to follow in these footsteps and stop thinking about helping others and start doing. Hope you'll join me. :-)

If you're interested in the article on Danielle Steel, you'll find it here:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Writer Being

I've been blogging a lot on writing and what it means to be a writer. Being a writer is unlike being an accountant or a business manager. Yes, continuous development is important in any career, but being a writer is all about the BEING. What you do is also what you are.

Writing is immersed in every moment of my day. No conversation I have is safe from a sudden zone out, where a word, a gesture or the slant of light across the floor might suddenly propel me into a revelation about my current story. And suddenly, though the phone is still pressed to my ear or my friend is still talking, I'm no longer there. I'm off in my own world being a writer.

Not too long ago I was sitting on a good friend's patio on a mild summer afternoon in San Diego. We were talking away and suddenly, a huge problem in my plot that had been tormenting me suddenly unlocked. I cut her off in the middle of a sentence--do you have something I can write on? For a few minutes I furiously scribbled down points that probably looked like gibberish to her. Finished, I apologized. She just laughed and said no need to apologize. After 20 years of friendship, she should have known to have paper and pen ready.

I am forever grateful to have friends who understand me.

The new book is shaping up and I can't wait to back to it. It's delaying work on my new Erin Quinn Books website, but I can't seem to step away long enough to work on that. Being a writer also means knowing not to stop when the muse is with you. :-)

Hey, if you're interested in some great writing tips on plotting, check out Connie Flynn's writing lesson over at the Much Cheaper Than Therapy Blog.

Reinventing change

When I first started my novel, BENEATH THE RUINS, it had a different title and a different focus than the novel I finished with. One of the reasons it changed so much was I'd read this article about reinventing yourself as a writer. In this article, different writers talked about hitting walls in their careers that they just couldn't seem to get over. Whether it was dwindling readership, losing an editor and not find another within the house to take you on, or just feeling stymied by the restraints of the genre they published in, each had a reason for scrapping the career they'd worked at building and starting over with a new name and a new attitude.

Whatever the initial reason each writer decided a reinvention was the way to go, they all took a step back, looked at what they were doing and made the conscience decision to change.

I remember clearly when that moment hit me. I was soaking in the tub, bubbles up to my chin, and the light went on. What I was writing was good. There was critical acclaim and awards to assure me of that--but was it great? Was it as good as it could be? Was the only difference between my books and everyone else's books, me?

I simmered on the questions for awhile, trying to find the answers within myself and no matter how I tried to deny it, the answers told the truth. It was time for me to make a major change. Up until this point, I'd viewed this kind of change with trepidation. If I started over, what would happen to my other books? The name I'd worked so hard to establish? How would I be ME if I became someone else?

And the big question, How could I be sure the new me wouldn't end up in the same place the old me was at?

Of course, I didn't know. I still don't. But I saw that I was reacting out of fear--like someone in a dead end job she hates but won't leave because she is afraid the next job will be worse. Fear loves failure and I knew that if I let fear make my decisions for me, I should set another place at the table for its best friend and be done with my dreams.

I pulled out my trusty spiral notebook and started making notes. I took a hard look at the story I was working on, stripped it down to my original idea. (If you've never heard of original idea as it pertains to your story, it's a concept wrapped around the question "what was the first idea that got you excited about the story?" What made you think, "I want to write this.") Author and speaker Bob Mayer does an amazing workshop on original idea and if you can't hear it in person, see if you can find a CD from one of the many conferences he does and listen to it.

Back to my story. Once I'd stripped it down, I asked myself how I could make it not just different, but mind blowing. I'd like to say the angel of creativity suddenly appeared and waved her wand over me, filling me with the warm light of knowing, but alas, it was a lot more of jotting down ideas and striking them out, brainstorming with people outside my usual sphere, and searching until I finally hit the idea that did fill me up with excitement.

Once revealed, this idea had me writing furiously in margins and on napkins and everywhere else I could find. My plot and motivation just poured out and for every "why does s/he do that?" I had an answer.

I wrote BENEATH THE RUINS in record time (for me--less than a year). I'm not one of those authors who can just churn out a book in a few months. (Wish I was *sigh*) During the entire process I knew that I was writing something that would take me to the next level in my career. I knew that I'd reinvented myself with this book and I embraced it. Change, though usually painful, is almost always the best thing we can do for ourselves.

Anyway, my point in all this rambling is that we, as writers, need to remember writing a book is a journey. (note, I say journey, not vacation, ha ha). On this journey, you need to be inspired by what you see and motivated to get to the next destination. If you're not, your reader probably won't be either. Your journey may take you to fleebag motels and crappy diners--it may take you to sky rises and champagne brunches. No two journeys are alike.

But if your journey is taking you somewhere you've already been, you need to reevaluate where you want to go and make a change.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm a about you?

I live a busy life. Who doesn't? Whether you work in an office or a home, you're busy. (And I have utmost respect for those of you who have chosen to stay at home with kids. My personal opinion--it's the hardest, most rewarding, job there is. At work you get lunch breaks, alone time, conversations with other adults and monetary rewards. At home, it all comes from the heart and goes to the heart. Hats off to all of you). Okay, I needed to say that because so many times I hear other writers say, "I don't know how you do it all. You work, you write, you raise your family. I just stay at home with my kids."

And I think, "Hands down, I guarantee you're every bit as busy if not more."

So how do we do it all? I think the best advice I can give to anyone who is still in the "trying to be a writer" stage is this--Stop trying. Start being. And by that I don't mean as much physically as I do mentally. It's a shift in thinking, being a writer. It's an acceptance that this is what you are and what you will be.

When you start answering the question, "what do you do?" with, "I'm a writer," a strange thing starts to happen. You start to believe it. And once YOU start to believe it, you become determined to make sure others believe it too.

The first (and I might add most difficult) barrier is going to be your family. You have to convince them that writing is a priority in your life and that there will be times--on a regular basis--where their needs will come after you finish your allotted page count. How do you do it? You draw a line and you respect it. If you respect it, the others will respect it too (although it may be grudgingly) .

You might start with something like going to your local chapter RWA (sister's in crime, MWA, etc) meeting once a month. Once a month, without fail. Sounds easy, but I am forever hearing new writers tell me they want to come, but this or that is preventing it. Well, this or that will have to wait until the next night or be done the night before. Meeting commitments you make to yourself are a critical part of being a writer. You won't have a boss or a contracted deadline while you're writing your first book--probably longer. So you have to become that boss and make the deadline yourself.

Once you've accomplished this small feat, set a time--everyday--when you write. It needn't be hours long. Some people tell me it takes them an hour just to get into the story. I say, gee that's nice. Wish I had that luxury, but I don't. If I have an hour, I write an hour. That means I multi-task in the hours before. While I'm doing laundry, making dinner, etc, I'm thinking of my story. Driving is always a good time, although I admit it can be hazardous. I can't count the times I've gone from home to store and not remembered how I got there.

Whatever time you have, use it. You may only turn out a page, but a page a day is a manuscript in a year. And a completed manuscript is one step closer to being a published writer.

If you're at home when you write, find a place where you can close the door or train yourself to write in the midst of chaos. This is what I did for the first 3 books. It takes a lot of discipline, but it can be done.

Now I go to my office, close the door and light some scented oil. I write and my family knows if it smells good in there, stay out. :-) If you can get out of the house, go to a coffee shop or the library. One hour a day. You deserve one hour a day, don't you? Especially if that hour leads you to seeing your dreams come true...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My multiple personalities....

Adopting a pen name is lot like marrying it. No, you don't have to pick up your significant other's socks off the floor after the honeymoon is over, but you do have to move from managing one identity to two--in my case THREE identities.

I was born and raised Erin Roxanne Grady. At the time I was growing up, no one had ever heard the name Erin and I was teased relentlessly (Urine, was a favorite variation of the playground bullies). By kindergarten, I'd decided to be done with Erin and told everyone to call me Roxy. That didn't last though, because my parents wouldn't go for it and it only gave my brother fodder to torment me with. When I turned 20 I tried again and decided to change my name to Joey. I don't know why. I just did. I went by Joey for about 4 years. (I might add, that Joey was very slim and always felt glamorous. At the time I was a bartender and lived a very noir life. Whoever said it's all in a name had that right).

When I met my husband, I reverted back to Erin (partly because I'd just moved to California and in with my folks again and partly because it took a lot of energy to be Joey and with my move from Colorado to California, I wanted to make some changes). After a year or two of dating, I married Rick Alcaraz and became Erin Alcaraz. Erin Alcaraz had a respectable job at SDSU and has gone on to have a great career in Arizona at Intel. She's done awright for herself.

But then Erin Grady wanted to right a book and even through the years of name changing, Erin Grady always knew her name would be on a cover some day. It felt weird answering to Grady again after being Alcaraz for several years, but I made the transition okay. I've become used to the split personality.

When I sold my last book (and for those who aren't in this crazy profession, by sold I mean that an editor at a publishing house offered to buy the book and publish it) the discussion began about who I should be and once again, a new identity came into my life.

The name that will be on the cover of BENEATH THE RUINS is Erin Quinn. Why, you might ask? Well because BENEATH THE RUINS is a bigger (by that I don't mean longer, I just mean more complex) novel than I've ever written and my publisher felt that it needed to be launched--launched as something fresh and new. Since my other books (although award winners all) never hit any bestseller lists, the feeling was that it wouldn't hurt to make this change.

At first I had ambivalent feelings. I'd grown to like good ol' Erin Grady and I didn't want to see her go. But then the bright shiny idea of being someone new took root and I began to get on board with it. You see, ERIN QUINN can be whoever she wants and I've decided that she will be the best of all my identities. She's going to have the career success and acumen of Erin Alcaraz, she will have the energy and glamor of Joey Grady, and she will have the recognition and awards of Erin Grady. What's more, she'll have a new palette to work with! It's exciting.

So, look for great things from Erin Quinn. :-)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The new me....Erin Quinn

Adopting a pen name isn't just a matter of rearranging your name. A successful pen name will be with an author for life. In fact, in might even take her over eventually. For that reason I'm glad I kept my first name. I know many authors who've changed the whole thing and then friends are never quite sure what to call them. The author doesn't care--call me whichever, they usually say. But people like to know they are addressing you correctly and when you have multiple names, that can be a challenge.

On the flip side, a new identity can bring all kinds of new and exciting thing. Personally, I'm hoping Erin Quinn is a little taller than Erin Grady was. I'm hoping she is thinner too. And of course it goes without saying that I hope she's a helluva lot richer! LOL.