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Monday, January 29, 2007

Gooooood Morning, Bennington!

This morning broke new ground for me. And no, I don't mean through the ice and snow (although some patches on 787, that was kind of close).

I was on the radio. ((Cue Donna Summer tune here!))

I was on WTBN 1370-AM at 8 am. Rich, the host of the program, interviewed me about Hell's Belles, writing, getting published, and comic books. I was nervous at first; would I sound like a goober? Would I do the radio equivalent of having spinach stuck between my teeth?

Well, even though I flubbed a few things (like, duh, forgetting what the initials AAR stand for), I had a lot of fun. And I listened to the interview on the long drive home (Rich, bless him, made a copy on CD for me)...and you know what?

A) I like my radio voice -- I sound kinda New York Sexy. Nothing at all what I look like. (Heh, Rich even said that I don't look like I wrote a book about demons and strippers--I look "meek." I said, "Thanks, I think." I SHOULD have said that the whips clashed with the outfit. But I hadn't had enough coffee to be witty on the spot.)

B) I didn't sound like a goober. I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Really! I fooled him! I fooled them ALL! BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Er. Cough.

C) Rich invited me back when The Road to Hell hits the shelves. SQUEE!

Separately, I have to thank, praise, and shower affection on Devon Ellington, who wrote in A Biblio Paradise that Hell's Belles was a favorite read over the past few months. "Urban fantasy extraordinaire, with succubus Jezebel on the run from Hell, learning what it means to be human." THANK YOU, DEVON. (Psst. The check is in the mail.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tons of Questions!

I woke up to tons of questions from readers at Sandra's Goings On, a fabulous blog by Sandy Barkevich. And I even answered the questions--before I had any coffee. Is that dedication, or what?

So come on over, read the post...and check out Sandy's blog. Terrific stuff.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Reading PM Again, Finally

So after weeks of forgetting to scan Publishers Marketplace to see what's selling to whom, I came across this lovely tidbit:
Rights to George R.R. Martin's fantasy series A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE, to HBO, for development as a series, written and produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.


SQUEE!

I love, love, love this series. I drool when I think about the next book (come on, DRAGONS) hitting the shelves. And more often than not, I like HBO. So...fingers crossed that this will actually come about, and that it will be good. Because then the peasants shall rejoice.

And...this one is QUITE fabulous:
Founder of the web site Backspace Karen Dionne's FREEZING POINT - already endorsed by Lee Child, David Morrell, Douglas Preston, Gayle Lynds, John Case and John Lescroart - in which extremists plot to stop an energy company from melting icebergs into drinking water - neither realizing that the water is contaminated with an unknown, deadly disease, to Natalee Rosenstein of Berkley, by Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management.
Go, Karen! HUZZAH, KAREN! THREE CHEERS FOR KAREN!!!

And MORE Backspace joy:

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's untitled tween novel, the story of a 12-year-old girl and how she deals with the pros and cons of being precociously well-breasted, to Lisa Abrams at Simon MIX, in a nice deal, by Pamela Harty at The Knight Agency.
WOO-HOO, LAUREN!!!

And...dare I say it? EVEN MORE Backspace joy:

Tom Schreck's ON THE ROPES: A Duffy Dombrowski Mystery, in which a not-so-social social worker who moonlights as an underdog boxer tries to save a kidnapped girl and foil a terrorist plot with just the help of his disobedient basset hound and his four drunk friends, and TKO: A Duffy Dombrowski Mystery, to Barbara Moore at Midnight Ink, in a nice deal (World).
TOM! Dude, this is SO COOL!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Need A Vacation From the Weekend

This was a long freaking weekend (and yes, I'm including Monday). And an expensive one.

Friday night. Loving Husband is off on a work-related shindig and won't be home until late that night. So the two Precious Little Tax Deductions and I go out to eat at their favorite restaurant. (Hint: It begins with an F, ends in an RIENDLY'S, and serves ice-cream.) While waiting on the obscenely long line, Tax Deduction the Elder sees one of his school friends. Said friend is their with his mom, and they came in after us. So I invite them to join us, and the mom agrees. More than a half hour later, we're at a table. (Remember, the kids in this scenario are aged 6, 5, and 3. And it's now past 6:30, and we just sat down at a table.) TDTE and his younger brother, along with the friend, proceed to...well, be young boys confined in a small booth. To make a LONG story short, we don't place an order until 7, and we don't leave until after 8. Can you say "MELTDOWN"? And no, I don't mean me. Although I drank heavily once my previous cargo was in bed for the night. I have since banned Loving Husband from going out without me. Ever.

Saturday. Loving Husband and TDTE had been in a car accident (they're both fine), which wound up totaling the Saturn. Wah! So...we bought a new car. Honda Accord. Took it for a test drive, while TDTE and Tax Deduction the Younger and Loving Husband were inside the dealer's, wreaking havoc. Wow -- a car that actually stops on a dime. I think I scared the dealer, who took the drive with me. Or maybe his skin is naturally that pale. All that's left is figuring out the expense. Um...crap, HOW MUCH is this thing? Sigh.

Saturday night. LH and I go out on a muchly needed date. Right, sans kids. Got a babysitter and everything! Went to a terrific new place that's owned by one of LH's work friends. FABULOUS time. Got drunk. Added to the fabulousness.

Saturday late, late, late night. Kids both wet their beds. Guess who changes the bedding and the PJs?

Sunday morning. Hangover central. And we got a phone call from LH's friend, saying she had my cell phone. CRAP. I must have been REALLY drunk to not notice that I'd lost my precious lifeline to pretty much everything not on the Internet. And...the dishwasher dies. Kaput. LH researches machines via Consumer Reports; we all go to Sears. Pick one out. Place the order.

Sunday evening. Holy God, we just spent HOW MUCH MONEY THIS WEEKEND??? Console myself by watching Desperate Housewives (and giggling like a girly girl at the way they mask Marcia Cross's pregnancy) and recording The Dresden Files and Battlestar Galactica.

Monday. TDTY has a hacking cough that would wake the dead. I take the day off of work and take him to the doctor. The boy's fine; he sounds like Evil Death, but he's, apparently, healthy. Doc says he can go to preschool. TDTY suddenly has overwhelming fear of going to school and begs to stay home. Fine, fine...but then he runs errands with me, including going BACK to Honda to actually purchase the car. Silly me, I thought it would take ten minutes. Forty minutes later, the boy and I are on our way home, and LH goes back to work in his new wheels.

Monday afternoon. No, the boy didn't nap long. Why do you ask?

Monday evening. Huge freaking fiasco when I tried to get Chinese food for dinner, including me making the discovery that my bank card expired IN OCTOBER and I never noticed. LH wound up getting the food, after going to the back because this particular restaurant takes cash only, and I had over-ordered (no, I hadn't eaten anything all day except a slice of pizza at noon, sue me). So we eat like 30 minutes late, TDTY doesn't touch his food, the food pretty much sucks, and TDTE is complaining because he's not allowed to have dessert, because he chased his little brother around the playroom and hit him with a toy.

Monday night. No, I don't get to watch BSG or TDF. Don't ask.

Tuesday morning. Thinking about having a slice of pizza for breakfast. Glances at clock. Make that brunch. But that would probably set evil things into motion again. Sigh.

But some good news: My editor told me we're going back on press for a second print run of Hell's Belles. Woot!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Interviewed!

In her terrific "Dreams & Desires Marathon Interview Party," the lovely Amanda Brice--one of my co-contributors to the anthology--interviewed me! Come check it out.

As a reminders, all net proceeds from Dreams & Desires (a Freya's Bower anthology available in February) go to a battered-women's shelter. For more information, check out the Freya's Bower page.

Thanks, Amanda!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A New (Sorta) Exclusive Club!

The savvy Rhian commented on The Midnight Hour that I am the goddess of Hades. (Wow -- elevated to goddess status by Rhian and Nic the Writer! A gal can BLUSH, I tell you...

So I think we need yet another Gal's Group. What do you think of... HADES' LADIES? (All due thanks to Joe Konrath for the suggestion in passing, lo these many months ago...)

And if you like it, who should be in it? Go on, nominate anyone (as long as either the author is a lady, which is loosely defined as having boobies -- and no, man-boobs don't count). Tell me who, and why. And yes, Virginia, you CAN nominate yourself. (That sounds vaguely obscene, doesn't it?)

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's Midnight!

I'm the guest blogger today at The Midnight Hour! Come check it out!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Top Ten Publishing Misconceptions, Or Where Jackie Lets Out a Primal Scream

There's an interesting conversation still going on over at Dear Author about mislabeling novels as romance, and how that hurts the author. This is a subject near and dear to me, considering HB. I'd written that as a sexy, funny urban fantasy, but it was published as a paranormal romance novel. Granted, the boundaries between the two genres are blurring--a lot--and I definitely understand (and agree with) why HB is considered paranormal romance. But given how I am now a Paranormal Romance Author, and my background is in fantasy instead of romance, I've been reading tons of paranormal romance novels to get a better understanding of the genre in which my work has been categorized. (And hey, if anyone has recommendations on what books I absolutely must read, please let me know.)

Shock:
the paranormal romance genre (like, cough, every other genre) has its own set of rules--rules, not guidelines--that set this category off from others. Now I know what an HEA is (that's "happily ever after," for the uninitiated; basically, the hero and the heroine overcome all to, you know, come together in that lurvin kind of way by story's end). And I'm keeping in mind the whole "alpha hero" thing as I write the next books in the series. (Chris Moore's A Dirty Job aside--and hell, that sure ain't romance--it seems like beta males aren't the big winners in romance novels. Huh. No wonder in There's Something About Mary, Ben Stiller walked away, sobbing like a girly girl. Wait, that was tagged as a "love story," not a "romance." Oy. My head, she's spinning. Insert primal scream here!)

But it's clear to me that no matter what genre an author is published in, there's a misconception out there that all authors have control over how their books are going to be marketed. This has prompted me to come up with a list of publishing misconceptions.

DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion. It's possible I'm wrong. Just don't tell Loving Husband -- once I admit that I can be wrong about anything, there goes the entire dynamic of our loving relationship. Yes, that's my whip in the corner--why do you ask?

TOP TEN PUBLISHING MISCONCEPTIONS (According to Jackie)

10. The author has a say in how the book is marketed/categorized/shelved in the bookstores.
Maybe more established authors do have a say. Speaking as a debut author, one who's green but learning more and more every day, this just ain't the case. My editor told me that HB would be part of the Zebra Books imprint, which they were expanding to include paranormal romance. My fellow Kensington Succubus Diva, Richelle Mead, however, will have her book published by the imprint Kensington Books as an urban fantasy. (Richelle and I have since figured out why this is the case. Nope, not telling. Read HB and her Succubus Blues, then you'll figure it out too.) At the time, I didn't care what HB was categorized as--hell, my publisher could have called it "broccoli," and I would have been happy.

9. The author has a say in the cover art.
Nope, not me. Yes, my editor asked me for my cover art ideas, which he then passed along to the art department. But I found out about my final cover design when I got the cover flats in the mail. Done deal. I guess I could have pushed back if something really, really bothered me (nothing did), but I've also heard how that's basically a losing battle. Nora Roberts has said she has cover approval. Maybe once I have like 600 books to my name, I'll have cover approval too.

8. The author picks the final title.
Sure, we may come up with the original title--but that doesn't mean it's going to stay. Yes, I came up with "Hell's Belles," and all the titles in the Hell on Earth series. And I'm thrilled that Kensington decided to keep the titles. I truly believe they are perfect for the books. (Of course, there are ramifications to this decision; not all sellers are happy having books on their shelves with the nasty, icky word "hell" in the title.)

7. The author has any control over where in the bookstore the book will appear.
You know that big table of books you see when you first walk into a chain bookstore? The publisher pays for placement there. The author has nothing to do with that. Nor does the author control whether her books on the shelves will be spine out or cover out. Some people have told me that they've seen HB get nice treatment in some stores--face out, end cap, etc. All I've personally seen is two copies in the romance section, spine out. But hey: I'm thrilled my book is in the store at all!

6. The author has any control over how many copies will be published.
Nope. None. When I heard that HB would have a press run of 14,000 copies, my initial thought was, "But I don't know 14,000 people!" Heh.

5. All the author has to do is write.
Sure, this could be true, I suppose. But not if you're a debut author whose book is not a lead title. Yes, writing the next book--the next bigger, better book--is the top concern; without that, there's little point to all the rest. But if you think that all authors should do is "shut up and write," you're mistaken. I've been working my hiney off (although it keeps reappearing, like magic, even bigger) to promote HB: submitting the book for online reviews, networking, going to bookstores to talk up the book, signings, readings, interviews, websites, blogging, AuthorBuzzing, getting swag made and distributed, selling my soul (er, no, not that last one). Especially considering that some authors (hi there) are naturally shy and blush mightily in public, learning how to self-promote is a huge thing.

4. The author doesn't have a day job/family/life outside of writing.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

3. The author doesn't give a damn what readers think.
Not true. I do. I welcome feedback, both the warm and fuzzy "you're the best writer ever" kind and the "I had a problem with this here part" kind. Yeah, I prefer the former. But the latter is equally as important to me. I know, we can't please everyone. But we try.

2. The author will go on a multi-city book tour.
The only "book tour" I'm doing includes two local independent bookstores, a workshop for my local RWA chapter, and a reading at my college alma mater bookstore. (All of which was arranged by me, not my publisher.) Yes, I'll be signing and whatnot at the Romantic Times Convention, but in terms of me traveling from city to city, blithely signing books? Er. Not so much.

1. Once the book is on the shelves, the author stops worrying about it.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm a freaking basket case. Oh wait--that has nothing to do with publishing. Whew!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Giggling Like Crazy

Mrs Giggles reviewed Hell's Belles.

((swoons))

Monday, January 08, 2007

And Still More...

Happy Monday, everyone!

I'll be posting about the signing I did at The Book House, and the book launch party that followed at my house, later this week. I'm back at work on the day job after a week's vacation, so I'm busy playing catch up and trying not to stress. (Heh. As if. Me, not stress? You know what would freeze over...)

And now, more blatant self-promotion:

The Romance Readers Connection picked me to be one of their authors of the month -- woot! So January is officially Jackie Kessler Month. TRRC interviewed me (you can read that here) and reviewed HELL'S BELLES (and you can read that here). Overall, HB was rated 4 ("Excellent") out of 5 ("Walks on Water").

And the inimitable Bam also reviewed HELL'S BELLES, here. Heh, heh, heh...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Good Girls Kill For Money (and Lust)

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by those terrific folks at the Good Girls Kill For Money Club. Come check it out...and be sure to answer my questions!

((Thanks again, Tasha!))

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE...

Fresh Fiction is holding a HELL'S BELLES CONTEST!

Big ol' SQUEE here...!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Another Review

So today I met JACOB author Jacki Frank -- hi, Jacki! (Man, I want to keep adding the "e" to the end of her name...) We had a great time talking shop, including the differences in our writing. (We both wrote about demons. And that's about the end of the similarities. Oh, and there's sex in both of our books. Woot!)

When I came home, I did Ye Olde Ego Surf thing...and found this review of Hell's Belles. ((swoon)) It's way more a critique than a review, and it left me blushing and giggling like a girly girl. And absolutely terrified that The Road to Hell won't measure up. (Argh -- stop! that! now!)

Other authors out there: Do you freak out over the next book? Or do you take it in stride and sing Hakuna Matata?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

So This Author Walks Into a Bookstore

So far, Launch Week has been pretty good. People have been reporting from the trenches that the book is indeed in the stores -- Michelle showed me HB alive and well in Canada (eh) -- that's it, on the left -- and Heather proved that at least one store in IL bought copies too (that's this one, right). If I can believe Amazon, at one point my rank was as high as #1,908. And I've been getting prezzies, too! Richelle sent me gorgeous flowers -- purple and red somethings that look beautiful -- in a lovely vase, and Lila sent me f-me red stripper shoes (squee!). You folks all seriously rock!!!

I had the added pleasure of meeting Caitlin in person this past Monday -- what a way to ring in the New Year! ((Jackie waves)) And I'll be meeting Jacki Frank, faboo author of Jacob, tomorrow!

So, tonight was my first-ever Book Signing. Maria at Flights of Fantasy set it up and invited me to a pot-luck dinner at her house before the event. About six of us feasted on chicken wings, celery, salad, cheese, peppers...and cheesecake, brought by yours truly. We schmoozed, ate, schmoozed, ate more, and had a terrific time. Then we drove to the bookstore.

Where I saw a huge table with my books lined up on it...and rows of chairs in front of another huge table, with more of my books lined up on it, and a single, huge chair behind it.

EEK!

Now, understand that I'm not a public speaker. I blush redder than Rudolph's nose during Christmas, and I have this li'l sibilant S speech impediment (which doesn't stop me from babbling incoherently when I'm nervous). What the hell was I supposed to say to a group of people?

Oh, yes: the group of people. There were already a bunch of folks -- whom I didn't know -- hanging out, waiting for the event to begin.

I seriously considered fainting. Pardon me -- I'm a romance writer. We don't faint. We swoon. Gracefully.

Instead of swooning, I helped Maria's daughter set up the food I'd brought (cupcakes, Hershey's Kisses, Juju hearts) and told myself not to vomit. That would be tacky. And smelly. And, with my luck, I'd spew all over my books. Yuck. Then one of the folks from dinner, a terrific fellow named Jan "Wombat" Finder ((Jackie waves)) talked to me for 15 minutes about different authors and books, and I sort of forgot about being nervous. Chris and Lonnie from my local RWA chapter showed up ((Jackie waves)), which was UBER cool, and I signed their copies. (SQUEE!)

And then, it was Time.

I sat down at the huge table, and Maria introduced me. I mentioned to the audience -- about 15 people -- that this was my first-ever book signing, and I was a bit nervous, so please forgive me if I have to pause to vomit on my shoes. Amazingly, they laughed. And I was less nervous. Then I read the first three pages of HB. And I flubbed some words. And it was still OK. And then I started answering questions.

And you know what? I had a terrific time. Loving Husband and the Precious Little Tax Deductions showed up about ten minutes after the reading, and I introduced them. (One of the audience members had her kids with her, so boom, instant play date! Loving Husband watched the youngins and made sure that they didn't break anything -- thanks, sweetie!) I answered questions, talked up Backspace and Absolute Write, name dropped Heather (there was a middle school reading teacher there, so you KNOW I was all about Eighth Grade Bites) and Richelle (my fellow Kensington Succubus Author--of course I talked about Succubus Blues).

After the questions, I actually signed books! All in all, about ten people had me sign their copies (SQUEE!) -- and Maria kept the remaining 15 or so, had me sign them...and then put "LOCAL AUTHOR SIGNED" stickers on them!

And...Maria told me she runs a book club, and that this month's selection is HELL'S BELLES, and can I come to their meeting at the end of the month? Um...YES!!!!!!!

THANK YOU, Maria and Flights of Fantasy! Thank you to everyone who showed up and put up with my nervous babble and asked terrific questions. And thank you for buying my book! I hope you enjoy it.

Excuse me -- now I have to go vomit.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Two More Hell's Belles Reviews

Here it is, the day before the technical release of HELL'S BELLES, and I have two more reviews for the book.

In alphabetical order:

Coffee Time Romance gave HB five cups! Whee!

(Hey, does anyone know how to load a spiffy button? The terrific CTR folks gave me a button for the site...and I don't know what to do with it. I am SUCH a technospaz...)

And ParaNormal Romance called HELL'S BELLES "Devilishly witty." Woot!

Okay, now all I have to do is stop stressing. Who has de-stressing tips they would like to share? I'll happily entertain all ideas, from the tried and true to the rather outlandish.