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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Get to Know" Tuesday

Damn you, Bam. Damn you.

What is in your refrigerator right now? On your bedroom floor? On your nightstand? In your garbage can?

Earlier today, I had to clean up leaking chicken from one of the fridge shelves. (Yes, chicken leaks. Mmmm, raw chicken juice.) There's other stuff in there, but I'm too squicked out by the drooly chicken to even think about it. My bedroom floor has about four laundry baskets filled with clean laundry that I have yet to put away. My nightstand has a lamp, cat hair, and piles of books. As for the garbage can...which one?

Look at your feet. Describe what you see there. Do you wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Are you in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or are you wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by your grandmother?

Dirty socks. I prefer boots, but will opt for sneakers (no artsy fartsy "gym shoes" here, thank you) or sandals, depending on the weather. My socks aren't ratty, but give them time. My slippers have holes in them. (Ooh, Jackie has to buy new shoes! What, a slipper is a shoe. Just ask Cinderella.)

When you think of your childhood kitchen, what smell does you associate with it? Sauerkraut? Oatmeal cookies? Paint? Why is that smell so resonant for you?

All I think of is 1970s yellow and orange sunflowers adorning the walls. No smells. Probably because my mom usually didn't cook (she came home late from work most nights), and I think I've blanked out the memory of my dad's cooking.

You are doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for you to throw out? What is difficult for you to part with? Why?

"Throw out"? What is this "throw out" that you speak of?

It’s Saturday at noon. What are you doing? If you’re eating breakfast, what exactly do you eat? If you’re stretching out in your backyard to sun, what kind of blanket or towel do you lie on?

I'm getting the kids their lunch and thinking about the upcoming nap time (for Tax Deduction the Younger) and quiet time (for Tax Deduction the Elder) and how I can sneak in some writing. Oh, and I'm observing Shabbat. (Well, not really. But in my mind, I'm all s'hmaing and everything.)

What is one strong memory that has stuck with you from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

My dad and me, Saturday afternoons, reading comic books. We'd go to the comic store, buy a stack of comic books, and take them home. He'd sprawl on the sofa; I'd sprawl on the carpet. And we'd read. After, we'd talk about the issues--what we liked, what we thought was stupid, where we thought a plot was going. Even though I don't read comics anymore (well, not regularly--note to self: BUY THE BUFFY COMIC!), my dad fostered in me a love for the medium. And damn if I didn't get introduced to some amazing writers this way -- Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner, Garth Ennis, Alan Moore...

You are getting ready for a night out. Where are you going? What do you wear? Who will you be with?

Dang, we got a babysitter? Score! I'll put on makeup and do something with my hair. I'll wear a snug top and dark jeans and boots. Me and Loving Husband, off to WHO CARES WHERE, WE HAVE A BABYSITTER!

If anyone else wants to share, go right ahead. I'm all tagged/shared out!

Monday, February 26, 2007


The inimitable Shar has tagged me. Granted, she tagged me about a month ago, and I'm first now saying "Wha--?" Sigh. Got to get me one of those Stop Time remote controls so I can get everything I need to do done, sort of on time.

And so...Ten Random Weird Things About Me.

1. I used to crush on Christian Slater. Seriously. I drew a fan letter comic book for him. Mailed it to him. The rat bastard never acknowledged it. Maybe Winona stole it.

2. Foods can touch, sort of. While I have no problems eating a PB&J, I simply can't eat a bite of chicken, followed by a bite of veggie, followed by more chicken, then a bit of potato, and back to the chicken again. Nope. When I eat, I eat one part of my meal completely (say, that damn chicken), then move on to the next part (the veggie, as long as it's not gross, like beets), etc. I have no idea why I do this.

3. I hate wearing turtlenecks, and I won't wear a choker necklace. Maybe it stems from the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck when I was born. Maybe I have a weird imagination. But I always feel like I can't breathe when I'm wearing turtlenecks--so I stretch out the neck. Kind of defeats the purpose of that sort of shirt, but hey, I'm willing to break with tradition...

4. I'm horribly shy. Meeting people for the first time makes me very nervous. I seriously considered bringing a barf bucket with me when I went to the Backspace Conference last year. (I didn't -- bring a bucket or barf. Yay, me!) I'm trying to get over this, especially now that I'm training to be a World Famous Author (TM) and am doing some speaking thingies, like appearing on a panel at Backspace, getting interviewed on a college radio station, giving workshops...But I say this now: the only way you'll ever see me in Playboy is if one of my short stories gets published in it. My willingness to get past being shy goes only so far.

5. Once I had a naughty dream about Anthony Wiggle. It wasn't my fault. I was asleep. See, this goes to prove that watching too much educational television is bad, bad, bad! Oh no, I feel a song coming up...

Anthony Wiggle, yummy yummy...

6. I have a slightly sibilant S when I speak. Maybe that's not the correct term. But when I tell my friends that Hell's Belles is about "sex, strippers and demons," it comes out "sex, shtrippers and demons." This really hit home when the other day, Tax Deduction the Elder informed me that his underwear had "shtreaks" in it. I said, "No, honey. Not "shtreaks." Shtreaks." Of course, he looked at me like I was insane. (Hey, you would be too if you had to wash undies that had you-know-what stains...excuse me, STREAKS. (And yes, I gave this adorable characteristic to Jezebel. It'll pop up in a future Hell book. Maybe.)

7. I met Simon Le Bon, and it wasn't good. When I was a sophomore in college, Duran Duran came to Tower Records to do signings. A couple friends and I went. I used to seriously fantasize about John Taylor, so how could I stay away? After waiting on line for hours on a frigid November Saturday (gads, you'd think these blokes were superstars...), we got in. Went upstairs. Saw The Men Themselves. Simon was there, along with Nick Rhodes. And, er, someone else. Blanking on who. Anyway, when it was my turn to present them with something to sign, I said, "I didn't bring anything. I just wanted to see if you guys were real." So Simon reached over, grabbed my gloved hand (frigid November, remember?) and pumped it. Then he said, "You'll never wash that glove again!" And he chortled at this display of wit. True enough, I never washed that glove again. (Or ever before, but don't tell Simon.)

8. I used to play Dungeons & Dragons. A lot. Like, four times a week. Active roleplay. Once I even LARPed. Mrs. Giggles totally outed me. Sigh. Those were good times. Sometimes we opted for Marvels' RPG. Once, we had to tell the GM why we wanted to be either a good guy or a bad guy. I said I wanted to play a bay guy so I could pounce the stupid good guys into dust, then spit on the dust. The GM lurved my answer. (Huh. No wonder I write about demons.)

9. I drink my coffee black, no sugar. I used to drink it light and sweet. But during midterms, freshman year of college, we ran out of milk at about 2 am during one cramming session. Since then, no milk in my coffee. The sugar dropped out during one of my "Ooh, a new diet" phases. Every once in a while, I'll treat myself to a vanilla latte. Other than that...black, no sugar.

10. Francis Ford Coppola stole my pen. Really. On my honeymoon. Loving Husband and I were in Napa, doing a wine tour. At Niebaum Coppola Vineyards, the man himself was on site. So I bought the debut issue of Zoetrope and asked him to sign it, giving him my lucky pen. He did. And then he pocketed the pen. The rat bastard. At least he didn't have an attitude, like Simon Le Bon.


Okay. And now I hereby tag...Heather, Richelle, Caitlin, Elaine, Jaci, Michelle, Colleen, Michele, Shannon, and Zinnia. Because I'm evil.

Friday, February 23, 2007

For the Love of All That's Holy, Whyyyyyyy?

I just saw X-Men 3: The Last Straw.

My brains leaked out of my ears around the time that Charles explained to Wolverine The Sordid Truth Behind Jean's Powers.

This movie really should have come with a warning: anyone who ever read the original X-Men comics should proceed at their own risk.

And this is why I will never, ever, EVER rent Constantine. Everyone knows that John Constantine is BRITISH and BLOND, and he wears a TAN trench coat. DON'T make him American, brunette, in black...and, God help me, Keanu Reeves. John says "Bollocks." He does NOT say "Whoa."


Silver-Tongued Devil

Started chapter seven. Thanks to everyone for their ideas!

Basically, Daun and I had a little talk. And we came to an agreement. He agreed to tell me how to write the story, and I agreed to do whatever the hell he wanted. It went something like this:

ME: Daun, really, no one CARES how you wind up getting to Virginia's house. We're up to page 102 already. Let's get on with it.

DAUN: Listen, you may be my Creator, but I'm in charge. This is my story, sweetheart. We're telling it my way. And I'm telling you, I want the reader to see me possess the poor slob on the street and get a free ride to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and then see me possess the disgruntled worker there to get Virginia's info from the computer and another free ride to Virginia's house.

ME: No one cares about that.

DAUN: Sweetheart, they just had a full chapter of sexual tension between me and Jezzie so hot that my [BLEEP] is still sore. They can wait a bit longer for me to get into stalker mode on Virginia. They HAVEN'T seen how I possess anyone yet. They want to.

ME: No they don't.

DAUN: Yes they do.

ME: They want you and Virginia to hit it off already.

DAUN: La la la, I can't hear you...


Anyway, HOT progresses.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Head, Desk. Desk, Head

I'm stuck.

I've been on fire (hah, I crack myself up) with Hotter Than Hell -- up to chapter seven.

And...I'm stuck.

Oh, I know what's supposed to happen. No problems there.

I just don't know how to start it.

Okay, here's the situation. My parents went away on a week's vacation. No, wait -- those are song lyrics.

Cue segue...


So, my antihero, Daunuan the incubus, is basically stalking the human woman whom he is supposed to seduce. He's following her (invisible), sees where she works, where she lives. Samples her life for a week.

And I have NO idea how to kick off the scene.

Any thoughts?


Is this thing on?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Squee for Georgina!

Lookie! It's Richelle's SUCCUBUS BLUES, hitting shelves EARLY!

(Next to a book called The Harem. Ironic, no?)

And look at how the lighting highlights Georgina's boobies!


Oh My Freaking God

Para porn?


Holy crap on toast.

That's it. I'm going to need a section for Short Jewish White Women's Paranormal Dark Fantasy Humor Horror novels.

I think I'm going to write a humor book called SHELF ME. And it's going to be all about the various categories the Bookstore Of The Future will have to carry so that it properly represents all authors--whether the authors want to be represented that way or not.

What do you think? Should I?

Champagne Amidst the Snow

I freaking hate snow.

Yes, it's beautiful. Pristine. White. It's also freaking COLD, and WET, and sneaks into your boots and gloves. Snow is evil. At least I don't have to shovel rain.

(Well, technically, I don't have to shovel snow, either. Smooches, Loving Husband!)

Our backyard is buried. Our bird feeder was equally buried, until LH cleared the way for the woodpeckers and cardinals and finches to get to their food again. (Now dammit, woodies, you owe us one, so STOP EATING THE CEDAR ON THE HOUSE. Got it???) Precious Tax Deduction the Elder nearly lost his boots in the snow. Twice. He loved it. Children are insane.

But something cool happened this morning. Before LH and I took the kids to school, we saw four deer leaping over the snow. In our backyard.


The slightly jaded Brooklyn girl in me was utterly stunned.

The slightly jaded Upstater in me wondered what the hell those deer were doing in our (pardon me) neck of the woods.

The Brooklyn girl then thwocked the Upstater upside the head and told her to shut the F up and just ENJOY NATURE for a change.

Something else...

Check out another review for DREAMS AND DESIRES: Cocktail Reviews. The reviewer gave the anthology "5 champagne flutes," which, apparently, means:

You would be very glad if you had bought the book. Most definitely recommend it to someone else. You loved the characters/plot/dialogue. Superb/excellent/solid characters/plot/interest level/writing. You would look forward to reading more from this author."

Works for me. Plus the reviewed included the following about my short story, "To the Core":

Author: Jackie Kessler
Erotic Rating: Tangy
Title: To The Core

Wendy is a Zintal. Curious? So was I. Clearly not ready to get married, Wendy is horrified when her Zintal Grandmother zaps her back to her home and tries to introduce Wendy to her future husband. A funny, delightful read. This story, told in 1st person, is another of my favourites in this collection. An unusual, quite original plot and idea that I applauded. How refreshing to read something so different. I feel a fan attack coming on…

Ooh. I welcome ALL fan attacks. Really. Rabid fans welcome.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Because I'm So Romantical

According to this article, being a romance novelist allows me to have a "life of year-round romance." Uh huh. So, to celebrate all the lurvin, I'm giving away a copy of Dreams and Desires. Come to the latest Cat and Muse post for details. Oh, and Melpomene shares a Valentine's Day poem.

Happy (heart) Day...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Holy Cats, Another Interview

When it rains, it pours! (Okay, in my case, snows. Effing BRRRRRR, by the way...) Come check out my interview on Writing Aspirations!

Magical Minxes -- A New Beginning

Come check out the all new, all improved Magical Minxes! Big changes...very big...

Interviewed at Balls and Walnuts!

It's Smart Bitches Day at Balls and Walnuts...and Doug interviewed me about Hell's Belles! Come check it out!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Overnight Success in Sixteen Quick Years

Today I had the pleasure of giving a workshop at my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America (huzzah, Capital Region RWA!) on the craft and the market. I called it "Overnight Success in Sixteen Quick Years," and (apparently) it went over very well. Maybe it was because of the swag I gave out at the end (wonderful tote bags from Cathy Clamp and Cie Adams), or maybe it was because of all the yummy doughnuts at the meeting. Maybe the stars aligned. At the end of the program, a number of people told me that they got a lot out of it, and that I should consider taking it on the road. (Woot! Road trip!)

The thrust of the program? To paraphrase author Cindy Procter-King (Head Over Heels), to get sold, three things need to converge: talent, persistence, and timing. My program talked about these three elements, followed by some viewpoints from the marketplace (in the form of popular reviewers) and finally what resources are available when that manuscript is done and you're ready to look for an agent. I gave away five copies of Jenna Glatzer's (Absolute Write founder) book, The Street-Smart Writer. And then we had an open discussion about various writing-related things, from how to write through a scene, how to deal with writer's block, and how to deal with relatives who call your writing "a nice habit."

I also mentioned Backspace as if I were getting a kickback every time I said the name. Hell, if not for the amazing people of Backspace, I wouldn't have written Hell's Belles. Backspace gave me my crit partner, a number of trusted beta readers, more insider knowledge about the industry than I ever could have gotten elsewhere, and a support system that's the absolute best. (Thank you, Backspace!)

All in all, it was a lot of fun for me -- and a few people told me after that they learned a lot.

That makes it all worth it. (That, and selling out of the copies of Hell's Belles after the program!)

Thanks again, CR/RWA!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Freaking Fabulous Series!

I've been reading. A lot. And I mean a lot. (Gosh, writers read? Who'd've thunk it?) And one of the absolute best urban fantasy series I've read recently is Elaine Cunningham's CHANGELING DETECTIVE.

The first book, Shadows in the Darkness (out in both hardcover and in paperback), introduces us to former cop and current P.I. Gwen Gellman. She's a kickass heroine who will do whatever it takes to get the job done. There's more to Gwen than meets the eye, and in Darkness, we learn exactly what that is. Lush with vivid imagery, fabulous supporting characters, and some of the best writing in the genre that I've seen, Darkness is a terrific kickoff to the Changeling Detective series. (And dude, there's even a strip club. The Jezzie in me is so psyched!)

In the second book, Shadows in the Starlight (out TODAY, right NOW, in paperback, as well as in hardcover), Gwen's coming to terms with the truth about what she really is...and is discovering some spiffy perks along the way. I tore through Starlight in one day, and God damn it, I want the third book! Now, now, now!

Why do I like Gwen Gellman? You remember when Anita Blake wasn't all about getting laid all the time--when she helped solve crimes and used guns as well as tapped into her powers, when she was a real person and not a caricature? That Anita Blake would have gotten along famously with Gwen. Hell, Edward would have gotten along with Gwen.

If you miss the old Anita Blake, adore Harry Dresden, and are passionate about gritty urban fantasy that's written so compellingly you will happily sacrifice sleep to keep reading, you will love Elaine's Changeling Detective series.

Added bonus: Jezebel interviewed Gwen today on Cat and Muse. Come on over, meet Gwen.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dreams & Desires Launch!

It's February 1, 2007...and that means today is the launch date for the Freya's Bower charity anthology, Dreams & Desires!

Here's the official information, from the Freya's Bower page:

Dreams and Desires: A Collection of Romance and Erotic Tales

True love, freedom, money, knowledge, revenge... Dreams and desires of the ordinary woman, or man. From best friends who discover love to a bank teller who exacts revenge to a succubus who loves art more than men, this collection of nineteen stories celebrates the attainment of all one can dream or desire. Which one do you secretly yearn for?

By purchasing this collection, you can help turn someone's nightmare into the pursuit of dreams. Every year, four million women are assaulted by their partners. At Freya's Bower, we want to do our part to bring this statistic down to zero. To this end, all net proceeds from every Dreams and Desire anthology purchased will go to a battered woman's shelter.

Through education and support, we can make a difference.

Authors: (in alphabetical order of last name): Jenna Bayley-Burke, Faith Bicknell-Brown, Amanda Brice, Sela Carsen, Rachelle Chase, Gemma Halliday, Candace Havens, Zinnia Hope, Jackie Kessler, Susan Lyons, Richelle Mead, Debbie Mumford, Rhonda Stapleton, Bebe Thomas, Emily Veinglory, Sasha White, Lois Winston, Shaunna Wolf, and Kit Wylde.

Rating: Sweet, Tangy, Spicy and Sizzling

Book Length: Plus Novel (85,000 words)

Price: Ebook: $7.99, Paperback: $19.95, Hard Cover: $29.95

Genre: Various


This is a terrific opportunity to not only read a terrific collection of short stories--all of which have to do with pursuing one's greatest desire--but also to help victims of domestic violence pursue their own dreams.

I'm thrilled to be part of this marvelous effort, and to work with a group of such talented authors.