Badurday- May 26, 2012- Special Guest Danica Avet- A FUNNY THING

Jillian: Today’s guest is Danica Avet, a long time friend and one of the first people to ever follow this blog. We love her and I wanted her to share her Silken Sands Conference success story with the blog. Welcome Danica. Please be sure to enjoy the badurday boys she brought us as the inspiration for her rock star hero in this story.

A FUNNY THING

DANICA: It started out innocently enough. I was having a smoke outside the hotel in New York City. What most of you non-smokers don’t realize is that there are a lot of writers, editors, and other industry people who have this naughty habit. And when smokers get together, they chat. Which is how I ended up talking to a lady who turned out to be the Editor-in-Chief for Ellora’s Cave. I didn’t pitch to her because at that time I had an agent who was handling all of my business. We chatted, we laughed, we connected. Later that week, I met another editor with Ellora’s Cave, but it was more of a passing “Oh, Danica, this is Grace Bradley” than a meet and greet.

Fast-forward to March of 2012. I’d mentioned on Facebook that I was going to the Silken Sands Conference. The same editor-in-chief I’d chatted with in New York told me to tell Grace Bradley hi for her. It seemed simple enough. I wasn’t pitching at this conference either. By this time though, I no longer had an agent. The book my agent had tried to sell for a year had been contracted out to Evernight Publishing by me. I was happy enough. I had two other stories waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting publishing industry, one that I’d already submitted to two publishers, but I was being patient. For once.

The first day of the conference, I was loitering in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the first big event to start and wondering where I was going to take my mother to dinner when a lovely lady with beautiful red hair sat in the chair next to me. I glanced at her tag because I recognized her face, but couldn’t place her name. Grace Bradley. I told her Kelly had asked me to tell her hi. That was all. She glanced at my tag and said “I remember you from New York”. It’s the hair. It has to be the hair, everyone remembers the hair. But I was still pleased that I’d made some kind of impression on her.

We started talking about one of her authors who is my critique partner. Then we somehow started talking about another one of her authors whose books I adore. We moved on to the beach and summer in the south and next thing I knew, she asked me what I wrote. Ever have that moment when you go “Um, um, um, um”? I had that moment. I wasn’t pitching to her, after all. I was happy with my new Zen-like patient attitude toward the publishing industry. Yet I ended up telling Grace about the book I’d just written called Primal Song. She was attentive and nice and it felt cool, not at all stressful despite my moment of panic. She told me to send her something sometime and all I could say was “but I didn’t mean to pitch”. She didn’t seem to mind. She thought from that short conversation that she might like what I wrote.

That accidental pitch led me to receiving a contract for Primal Song with Ellora’s Cave. Actually, if you piece everything together from RWA Nationals Conference and the Super Secret Smoker’s Guild meetings on the big steel pipe and the small, intimate Silken Sands Conference and a chance run-in with an editor, it seems like fate. Maybe it wasn’t accidental at all. Maybe Primal Song was always meant for Ellora’s Cave but I was too blind to see it. Or maybe it was all coincidence and luck. Who knows? All I do know is that what started out as a mediocre 2012 has blossomed into Awesomefest 2012.

Lesson? Don’t underestimate the power of the little connections you and definitely don’t knock small conferences. They allow for more intimate chats with other authors, editors, and agents. It’s a little more relaxing for everyone involved. As much as I love going to Nationals, it’s a bit like a big game reserve with authors stalking editors and agents who become wary if you glance in their direction. Silken Sands provided me with an opportunity that I would have missed at a bigger conference and I have to give major thanks to Jillian Chantal and Sayde Grace who twisted my arm convinced me to give it a try. Thanks, y’all!

Sleeping Alone . . . and Still No Covers!

Tuesday night was only the second time in 28 years Hubby and I have slept apart. And it certainly felt strange. I usually sleep with a leg draped over him, and kept waking up with a cramp in my calf from stretching my toe across the bed trying to find him.

He had to spend the night in a sleep study lab. Writing buddy Jeff Salter from Four Foxes One Hound asked why I didn’t stay there with him. Well, for one thing they wouldn’t let me! I tried to cling to the door frame, but it was two on one. Like I told him, it’s a little hard to keep your leg wrapped around the potted plant with one tech dragging you from behind and the other peeling you off things.

Probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. There were far too many wires I might have dislodged. By the time they finished hooking hubby up he was decidedly disgruntled. Don’t think it was what he expected. Wired head to toe, he had straps around his chest, stomach, head and thighs to keep dozens of wires and leads somewhat in place. Can’t decide if he looked more like a bad bondage experience, or a Junior High science experiment run amok. And when they put the combo oxygen meter/snore mic in place? I had to pretend to cough to cover laughing because it looked like an up-the-nose retainer from hell. Knew he was mad because his eyes started to glow that strange blue that happens when he’s angry. I did as I promised and called when I made it home okay. The tech that answered kept snorking through the phone — that half laugh, half chortle sound people make when they try to laugh and breathe at the same time —  because he thought it was hysterical hubby refused to even lay down until he heard I was home safe. He hung up snorking again. Said he was going to tell hubby I left the message I’d decided to stop off at Michael’s (a local club) for a couple of drinks. 

I wasn’t the only one missing hubby when I got home. Again and again the dogs went to the back door, only to turn and look at me. It was obvious they were saying “Yo! You forget something in the truck? How about getting him?” They wandered the house off and on all night looking for him. I guess Cochise, my rescue Pit, was determined not to lose both of his kibble keepers, because he crawled up on the bed about halfway through the night. Ever tried to doze back off with a 60 pound dog draped across you calves? I couldn’t chase him  off. With an entire king sized bed available, he commandeered my half with me in it, and wouldn’t budge. He even had all the covers! I must feel really, really safe where we live, because when I got up at 4AM to pick Hubby up at 5:30, I found hadn’t even locked the door. Don’t tell him I forgot, though. I lied and told him I double and triple checked everything.  (Hey, I thought I did!)

But one good thing happened to keep my mind off being alone and feeling pitiful. Danica Avet sent me an ARC of the latest book in her Veil series!  I started reading it, and so far I really am enjoying Izzy and Grant’s story in AIN’T NO BULL. It will be released (Siren Publishing) July 13th, and I definitely recommend it! Check Danica out at her website, or with her blog partners at http://FourFoxesOneHound.wordpress.com From what I understand, she just may have a few more copies to give away!

Anyway, Hubby’s back home and all is well with the world again. Went to bed last night and I think both of us were a little more snuggly than usual. I was about to drift off when he rumbled,complaining,  “Don’t know why they call it a sleep lab. Sure didn’t sleep much without you there.”

I just smiled in the dark when he gave me a squeeze. I relaxed for the first time in almost  forty-eight hours. I slung a leg over him, sighed, and thought, Yepall’s right with the world.

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or as a friend on Facebook.  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Voodoo and New Orleans; the Witch Queens

One of the best friends Southern Sizzle has ever had, author Danica Avet — (and I recommend her books in THE VEIL series!) –blogged about the gris-gris yesterday, a Voodoo charm bag. Stirred up all kinds of memories concerning Voodoo.

And anytime a person thinks of Voodoo and New Orleans, they think of Marie Leveau.

But I have a question before we go any farther. And I want you to be completely honest with your response. Out of 100 people I asked this question of, 100 provided the wrong answer. (Not going to include my GCCRWA Chapter members in that number; they know the answer from my Paranormal program.)

So here we go: Who was the first Voodoo Queen of New Orleans?

Everyone I’ve ever asked answered without hesitation. “Marie Leveau.”

Wrong answer. In the early 1800’s the first Voodoo Queen was Sanite DeDe, a young woman from Santo Domingo. She held rituals at Dumaine and Chartres, with St. Louis Cathedral only blocks away. Rhythmic drum beats could be heard during Mass, which is why in 1817 the Church decided any religion that was not Catholic couldn’t be practiced within the city limits. Congo Square (now Louis Armstrong Park) became the location where early voodouns held ceremonies.

St. Louis Cathedral is bottom center (just above Jackson Square), with the intersection of Chartres and Dumaine, site of early Voodoo ceremonies, just two blocks to the right. Congo Square, (now Louis Armstrong Park), is top left. Marie Leveau's tomb is not in this image, but St. Louis Cemetery #1 is three blocks left of the park.

Marie Leveau was actually Sanite DeDe’s protege. Marie was born 1783 to Marguerite Darcantel, a slave from Haiti and mistress of wealthy plantation owner Charles Leveau. She was always a free woman of color. Marie was raised within the strict guidelines of the Catholic Church. A devout Catholic, she attended Mass every day of her life.

A hairdresser, in 1826 Marie became intrigued with then Queen Sanite DeDe. She began to study herbs and the secrets of the Voodoo religion. Marie is the one who saw the correspondence between the two religions, with one supreme deity and the saints. Quite often statues of Catholic saints were openly displayed, no one suspecting (or if they did it was never mentioned) they were actually part of a Voodoun altar. Marie never abandoned her Catholic roots, and is the one who incorporated Holy Water and candles into Voodoo rituals.

Marie Leveau was the most feared woman in New Orleans despite being one of the city’s greatest humanitarians, working alongside Pere Antoine caring for the sick during yellow fever epidemics. She ministered to prisoners on Death Row. She helped all who needed her regardless of race or ability to pay.

She retired as Queen in 1875, and died at the age of 98 in 1891. Her tomb is in St. Louis Cemetery #1, one of the most visited sites in New Orleans. At any given time you’ll find flowers, herbs, coins and rum offered in homage; or X’s marked in chalk by those with a specific request.

Voodoo ritual items include: Veves’ (pronounced vay-vays), magical symbols drawn in cornmeal on the floor during ceremonies, and on dolls or gris-gris bags. ‘Gris-gris’ (pronounced gree-gree, with the ‘gr’ guttural in the back of the throat), a small cloth pouch tied with colored thread or yarn, worn or carried on the person; contents and color are according to purpose. Patients at Charity hospital have been known to refuse to remove their gris-gris when entering for treatment. Mojo, a major gris-gris, with attitude. Poppet, a cloth doll representing a person, usually the self. Poppets are made with hair from that individual, fingernails from that individual, and sometimes ‘anointed’ with blood. As the representation of that individual, it is surrounded with money and luxuries to improve the welfare and living conditions of the person by association. Loa, one of the demigods, each with a particular purpose, and ‘danced down’.

Front stoops in New Orleans were scrubbed with red brick dust, the most prevalent way to prevent curses and individuals meaning you harm from entering your home.

Blood and Bone — there are subtle signs and symbols of Voodoo everywhere in New Orleans. The old hanging cast iron cauldron used to boil clothing on wash day served double duty, becoming the recipient of ritual brews. It was usually combined with the red and white of blood and bone, demonstrated in something as innocent as a white-washed wall with red geraniums set in front of it.

Voodoo is a continuous and intriguing thread running through New Orleans history, and if you’re ever in the city be sure to take one of the tours offered by Haunted History Tours. I’ve included them in the tags, or you can visit them at www.HauntedHistoryTours.com. The Travel Channel naming them “The #1 Tour in New Orleans!” is an additional incentive and recommendation. If you go on their Vampire Tour or Ghost Tour be sure and bring your camera. You never know who or what will show up in your pictures.

Real Life in Books

Hello everyone! So sorry I’ve been MIA lately. I’ve gotten extremely busy with edits and revising and finishing an old book. I finally broke down and started using the Google calendar so that it would send me emails the day before I have to do something, um, like blogging 🙂

Today I want to talk about real life. I write because I enjoy the break from reality (temporary of course!) and I like creating places, people, worlds and settings where readers can escape everyday life. Occasionally things from my everyday life show up in my books. Now at this you all are wondering just what I’m talking about since my books are erotic romance, well get your heads out of the gutters! It’s not THAT!! Nope, its everyday things.

For example this morning I had to be at the school by nine so I could register my son for pre-k. All I had to bring was his social security card and us. Got the us covered! Thought I had the ss card covered too. Until I opened the envelope to get it. The husband stroke!! He had to take the cards to work for insurance stuff about a week ago. Swears he brought them back. Then swears he didn’t even take them! Are you kidding me?? At this point I’m contemplating how horrible prison life would be. I mean seriously.

Things like this happen around my house all the time. I put things in a certain place. He moves them. I ask why and he explains (in a pissy voice!) that I had whatever it was just lying around the house where the kids could get it. He truly believes that by moving things around he’s helping. NO! That is so not how it works. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love him for trying to help me, but certain things aren’t helpable. If I have something put up for a reason, regardless of where it’s at, LEAVE IT THERE.

Things like this show up in my books all the time. I think little fights, frustrations, and in some cases yelling matches brings characters to life for readers. What do you think? I know in Untamable my latest release, that Siddalee and Jasper fight like the above. They bicker, they yell, they love. It’s life.

And we have guests coming to Tuesdays this month. Writer Marie Tuhart will be here next Tuesday and the following Tuesday debut author Cassandra Carr will be here. And let’s not forget that our lovely reader and friend Danica Avet has just released her second novel in The Veil Series!

For more on my newest release          and       for Danica’s new release            and Jillian’s release 

Release Date Anticipation

Hi all. As most of you know I have a new release coming up on the 23rd. I admit I wasn’t very excited when I received word that Siren wanted to publish it and that’s not because I wasn’t happy, I was. I’m a realist, and I know that with each book that I sell comes hard work in getting it edited to my editors standard and then promoting it. I always get a little freaked out when the cover comes because you just never know if the art department is going to have the same vision as you do. This time was no different and things did vary. Some parts of the cover were not what I’d envisioned but now that I’ve had the cover for a few weeks I do like the variation. I mean we can’t all think alike can we?

So after the edits were done, the cover arrived, and I received my final release date I realized that I’m finally excited. I know it seems so strange to most people thatI never get excited about a book contract or really a cover but that’s just how I am. When everything is said and done is when my excitement hits me. Now I’m really looking forward to having UNTAMABLE out in the publishing world.  I was recently asked what my favorite part of the publishing process was and well, you guessed it, the release date. That date means that everything I’ve worked so hard for is completed. Now, it’s time to share my work with the world and have faith that readers will enjoy the world I built.

When you’re working to accomplish your goal, what point to do begin to get excited about the end result? Are you like me and just can’t get excited until it’s absolutely complete or do you go through stages where you get excited?

And don’t forget that not only am I having a release date coming soon, but our sizzler SFCatty, Jillian Chantall and ym wonderful critique partner Rebecca Zanetti also have release dates on the 22nd! You can find out more about both Jillian and I at http://www.sirenbookstrand.com/ and for Rebecca please visit her website for all the places you can pick up FATED. http://rebeccazanetti.com Oh and you know what, our most beloved commentor Danica Avet has her latest release and upcoming release also at Siren so stop by and check us all out!

Badurday-January 29, 2011- The Fabulous Danica Avet

EDITED ON JAN 31st TO ADD:  Winner of mask from Danica is Daisy Harris.  Congrats to Daisy!
 
JILLIAN:  Today we have a very special guest, Ms. Danica Avet. Danica was one of (Really, she was THE FIRST) our first readers here at this little ole blog.  She’s awesome and Sayde and I had a blast hanging out with her in Orlando at the RWA conference last July.  I’m so thriled for her that her first book comes out with Siren Publishers on February 2, 2011. This is book one in a series of three. 
I’m at the wedding of my husband’s great niece this weekend and won’t have much chance to get online so if you comment, it may not show up til the 30th. If not, don’t fret- we’ll leave open the comments til midnight on the 30th for a winner.  I’m also attaching Danica’s favorite bad boys here so if you want to know why she picked them, ask her in the comments!  So, with no further ado, welcome Danica.
 
DANICA:  Hey y’all!
 
I’m so thrilled Jillian invited me to visit because there’s nothing I love more than a bad boy. I love villains even more. I don’t want to sound like a twisted person, but villains are my favorite! They always have a clear goal in mind and know exactly what to do to get what they want. Unlike the hero or heroine, they’re generally not bothered by annoying things like honor or ethics. They do what they do because their goal is more important than anything else. Um, I’m not a villain, I swear. And I didn’t hold a knife on Jillian to get this guest blog post. Honest!
 
No, villains are generally uncomplicated. Some books show us villains where they reek of their evil. You can see it manifested in their looks, or their speech, or even the way they dress. Some authors change this around making the villain look just as innocent and normal as the secondary characters (those are generally my favorite kinds of villains). I’ve written three books in the Veil series and in each one, the villain is beautiful. Someone asked me why I made my villains so attractive and I suppose because evil can be beautiful.
 
Now you’re probably wondering “What the hell is she getting at?” Let me explain. In my soon-to-be released paranormal romance, Ruby: Uncut and on the Loose the hero hates this man I’m about to introduce you to. Not only the hero hates him, but everyone in the Veil hates him because of what he’s trying to do to their world. The Veil (for those of you who are wondering what that is), is a secret paranormal community that lives parallel to the human world. They don’t want to be found out by the humans, but there is a faction of the Veil that broke away called the Eturi who want to enslave the humans. They sound evil, don’t they?
 
Well, here’s a little snippet of the very first meeting between the heroine and the man who works for the Eturi:
 “That wasn’t quite the way I intended to introduce myself,” a wry voice said next to her.

It was the man who’d come up behind her at the hotel. Her Instinct had failed her again! Ruby jackknifed, about to take off running again but was stopped by a firm hand on her arm. She could have broken his hold, but she felt no panic, no shortness of breath, nothing warning her to run away. Confusion held her immobile.

“Shh,” the man said, his voice soothing, his warm brown eyes entreating her to relax. “I’m not going to hurt you. I was just going to introduce myself to you and hope I could talk with you without those beasts interfering.” He smiled somewhat sheepishly, showing off a dimple in his left cheek.

It was adorable. Ruby could feel herself gaping at him. She couldn’t help herself. He was…cute.

They were nearly the same height, which afforded her a perfect view of his face. He had dark brown, nearly black, hair cut close to his head in a rough, careless style that managed to look chic. His face was boyishly cute, from the slightly round nose and baby smooth cheeks to the big brown eyes and thick, long eyelashes most women would kill for. He was built on the lean side but had plenty of muscle on his body showing he either worked out or worked hard. Ruby bet he did both.

“What do you want?” she blurted out. No finesse. That was Ruby Fontenot. Blue, she amended. Ruby Fontenot-Blue.

Briggs sighed loudly and sat down, giving up the brave fight against gravity. The man looked at him and chuckled.

“You’re the last Chieftain,” he answered with his eyes still downcast. “You’re very valuable to this world. There are some who’d say you’re vital to their survival, and others who would say you’re valuable to their world.” His voice got deeper, and he finally looked up, his eyes glowing red. “But you’re more important to me.”

Of course, I haven’t shown the bad things he’s done (and he has done bad things). I chose this excerpt to illustrate how “evil” doesn’t have to wear a black hat or have a scarred face. I’m not saying whether this man is evil or not. I’m going to leave that for you to decide when you read my book 😉  Preorder it here: http://www.bookstrand.com/ruby-uncut-and-on-the-loose
 
So in honor of bad boys and villains, I’m going to chose a few of my favorite villains of all time! These are characters who are not only villains, but possible heroes as well. They have reasons for what they do, which is what makes them such rich characters.
 
GIVEAWAY QUESTION: Who is your favorite villain and why?

Reopening for The New Year

Ok, so I’m not reopening because I actually want to. Nope, I’m sick and I have a billion things I need to do here at my house. I’m reopening because I got my edits for my urban fantasy that I sold to Siren Publishing. It never fails to amaze me the things that editors catch or want to change. I’m a little scared this time because there are some things that my editor wants to change about “me” and I’m not totally on board yet. I just read through the suggestions and edits which means I’m still digesting.

This brings me to a point that I believe every writer, either beginner or best seller, should remember. No matter how many times you are published it never guarantees a sale with NO EDITS. Well, maybe if your Nora Roberts but I imagine even she gets edits from her editor. But honestly it never gets easier to see a manuscript that you’ve sold and you think the editor loves, come back to you with edits that make your ms look like a Christmas tree. And it also brings up another point, all publishing houses are different.

At one of my publishers(ok so I only have two but still I can say this now 🙂 ) I’m sent my ms back to fix any grammar errors. Once those are done I am sent plot problems. Once those are finished I’m sent a copy of it in publication form. That copy is one that I go through and make sure everything is exactly like I want it. Then once I send that back I’m done and we just wait for a publication date.

My new publisher sent me all of the above in one document! WOW, seriously different and today I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I had to laugh though as one of the comments that I read so far was that I should use more contractions 🙂 I think Jillian will get a huge kick out of that one! Besides that there are a lot of little stuff. Stuff that I am going, how the hell did these people read this and actually like it? And I got a comment that has me scratching my head and once the CP is not dizzy sick, Rebecca will be getting a headache from trying to figure it out too.

There you have it, I’m back open today and I’m a little freaked out. But hey, I’m lucky to be published and luckier to have another book on its way to publication so I’ll stop fussing.

And to follow a little of Danica Avet’s blog today I’d like to tell you all that I too am so very grateful of another year in the company of such outstanding writers and even better friends. Thank you to all my southern sizzle ladies, my terrific critique partner, Rebecca Zanetti, who is going to be busy busy this year with her own best-selling books as well as critiquing more of my junk, to all the ladies at Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA who inspire me to try writing in every genre out there in hopes that I can as good as they are, and to Danica Avet for being such a wonderful person who helped me at Nationals when things back home took a bad turn while I was gone  and also to my readers who have blessed me with sell after sell and I’m indebted to you all for your kindness. There are so many other people to thank for being there for me but I’ve rambled on and need to stop. Thank you all, and may your upcoming year be better and blessed 🙂

 And HAPPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JILLIAN CHANTAL!!!

Thanks so much

Sayde Grace

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