In Love with New York

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Laundry
Mood: Squeaky clean

I’m posting a bit late since I just returned from a week in New York City. I was attending a published author conference and had SO MUCH FUN!… I mean, it was sooooo much work. (Just in case my XY is reading this.)


Our conference hotel was the Millennium Broadway just off Times Square. I feel like I am not a complete rube, but in New York, I am definitely a country mouse. So many people in such a compact space — there are actual pedestrian traffic jams — make me just a little crazy. But the energy is undeniable. Or maybe that’s all the power pulsing through the light bulbs on Times Square.


Since DARKNESS UNDONE officially released last Tuesday, I did a stock

signing tour of every bookstore in Manhattan I could find that carried a copy of the book. If you live in the New York area, you can find signed copies of DARKNESS UNDONE at almost all the Barnes & Nobles. You’ll find me lurking in the vicinity of Nalini Singh and Gena Showalter.


My roommate, historical authorDelilah Marvelle and I hiked all over NYC. I Google Pedometered our route afterward; we hiked 8.5 MILES! Truly pounding pavement. But the sore feet were well worth it starting off with breakfast with fabulous bookseller, Stacey ofPosman Books. Not only does the store have a glorious romance section, it is located in Grand Central Station. How cool is that?


I also had the chance to meet Carla from Book Monster Reviews who along with book friend Karina joined me, Laurie London and Erin Kellison for a beautiful spring day in Bryant Park.


We sat for a couple hours, talking about books and eating Crumbs Bake Shopcupcakes. I think that might qualify as a little slice of heaven. Although the black bottom cheesecake brownie cupcake contains over a thousand calories (according to the placard at the shop) I felt entirely justified because of the aforementioned 8.5 MILES.

Jessa-Slade_library-quoteFrom the New York Central Library, a quote  from John Milton:

A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.

I’m sure he would have added friends and cupcakes too, had he thought about it.

I brought back some goodies to share (no cupcakes though) and am doing a giveaway through my newsletter. Sign up here.

Ah, New York, I miss you already.

Overwhelmed & ranty

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Keeping head above water
Mood: Gurgly

Sometimes the universe piles on all at once, doesn’t it? Last week, I had an unexpected $500 car repair bill on top of annual car insurance and a DEQ trip with tag renewal coming due all at the same time. I’m thinking about getting a horse. It could eat the grass that is getting long enough to mow and the weeds that are in full bloom even though it is only February. Okay, I know horses are expensive; maybe I’ll get a sheep. People ride sheep, right? I’ve seen it at rodeos and it doesn’t look that much worse than what the mechanic did to me.

Along with “real” life, I have revisions due on one book plus a proposal on a new series intermixed with promotions for DARKNESS UNDONE andHOTTER ON THE EDGE. Next Monday, I’m heading off to New York City (imagine me saying that like in the salsa commercial: Neuuu Yawrk Ciddee!) for a professional author conference (which, unlike reader conventions, won’t have a pajama party — boo!) and I don’t have any shoes suitable for a wet spring walk across the half mile between my hotel and the conference hotel. (See earlier explanation of car bills to explain why I’m staying at the cheaper, farther-away hotel.) It’s possible I will be barefoot.

When I look at my schedule dispassionately, this list of complaints is perhaps worthy of the sarcastic Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems. Yes, I realize in the grand scheme of things — heck, even in the fair-to-middlin’ scheme of things — my problems don’t amount to a hill of lentils (which are smaller than beans) and yet… I am hyperventilating.

Are one person’s problems smaller because someone else’s are bigger?

Not when they are MY problems!

Oh man, somebody gimme an attitude adjustment.

Keeping perspective is hard for most people; I think I’m not alone in that. My XY said my problem only seem bigger to me because I’m a writer and I like to have Tension and Escalating Stakes and Multi-Stage Explosions. I said to him that with Dialogue like that he gets no Mid-Point Love Scene. (And if he mentions getting a real job, I will make him my Token Red Shirt and that will be that.)

Still, he is right about me getting worked up to the point I’m no longer functional. So I tried to listen to one of my meditation CDs, but honestly it only made me want to break something. Not exactly calming. When I get in this mood, it’s better to just go with heavy metal rawk god screaming guitar solos so I can scream along.

Here are three phrases guaranteed to set me off (I have no idea why I am providing the universe with more ammo, but whatever):

  • This too shall pass.
  • God only gives us what we can handle.
  • Be careful what you wish for.

Any of those leaves me sputtering so hard my knee-jerk smartypants remark machine goes offline. My own defense is to shriek like a guitar amplifier feeding back. Eventually, I collapse into a angrily sobbing puddle.

I’ve read conflicting studies about whether indulging in emotional breakdowns helps or not. One study found talk therapy that involves the participant reliving a trauma can retraumatize the victim. But another study found  people who swore viciously while subjected to painful stimuli were better able to endure the pain. Ranty blog posts fall somewhere between those two studies, I’m guessing, but I don’t know if the outcome make me better off or worse.

But hey, it got my blog post done 😉

Since it’s Monday, I think you all should vent too. What’s burning you up? Do you have a way of handling life’s stresses, lentil sized or bigger?

Apocalypse wow!

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Countdown to DARKNESS UNDONE!
Mood: 5… 4… 3…

Last week, I had a couple get-togethers, both of which ended up in apocalyptic predictions where I had to bite my tongue lest I end the friendships long before the end of the world.  Look, I appreciate a good apocalypse as much as the next paranormal romance reader, but I demand some common sense with my doomsdays.

Lately (and I blame you, Mayans) I’ve been running into more… I think I’ll call it porncalypse. Or maybe apocaporn. No, wait… Aporncalypse. Yes, that will do.

Not-Webster’s Made-Up Dictionary:
a•porn•ca•lypse   /əˈpôrnkəˌlips/ n. Gleeful wanking to end-of-the-world scenarios characterized by manufactured breathlessness and a complete lack of attention to anything resembling reality. Not to mention a really, uh, spectacular end.

There are so many ways we could actually be fated for extinction, it seems unnecessary to court conspiracy theories. (Although I love any theory where I say “Where’s your proof?” and the other person says “There’s no proof because of the CONSPIRACY!”) So I’m going to offer these reasonable replacements for my tin-hat friends.

1. Geomagnetic reversal is for wimps. Get those tectonic plates moving with a supervolcanos!

After one friend managed to conflate the natural and proven (and geologically slooooow) drift of the Earth’s magnetic field with an overnight relocation of the north and south poles — caused by a mysterious approaching planet, resulting in the planet being torn in two — and after I stopped beating my head against the table where my cream puff resided — I suggested that she lose sleep over supervolcanoes instead. Hulu is showing the Nature channel’s Naked Science program Supervolcano now, for free. Supervolcano shows the same CG’d multi-stage explosion over and over and over again. Lingering on graphics of megadestruction is the heart (or maybe another centrally located organ) of aporncalypse.

2. UFO droppings on Oregon beaches.

I was sort of excited about this one because it was relatively close to home. (In the same way that the above-mentioned supervolcano will be close to home when Yellowstone explodes into my Portland backyard.) “Mysterious” metal boxes — seamless and immovable — were showing up on Oregon beaches this winter. Which, like every Christmas present ever, totally got my imagination churning. Except… They have apparently already disappeared. Damn you, mysterious boxes! We needed more time to work up a foamy froth of conspiracy. Fine then, we will just have to settle for new discoveries about the (maybe) faster-than-light neutrinos and the Boson Higgs “God particle.”

3. Zombies!… Okay, this one the doomsayers can keep.

Last year, scientists found multiple species of a Brazilian fungus that invades ant brains and turns the insects into walking zombies. Presumably the shambling kind — not the super speedy kind, because, really, how fast can an ant go? — but still.

Yeah, there’s no way to not freak out about this. I check back on the story every so often to see how it’s progressing. I’m thinking this will be a lot like the killer bees, slowly drifting northward with rising global temperatures. (And yes, I realize that the killer bees don’t really seem to be so killer as they were expected to be/bee, BUT THAT’S BEECAUSE THE TRUTH IS BEEING COVERED UP!)

What I noticed recently is how closely zombie ants resemble another conspiracy theory favorite:

Yes… Who would’ve thought the jackalope was the first harbinger of aporncalypse.




Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory or doomsday scenario? Leave a comment any time this week at Silk & Shadows (comments have been disabled on this post) and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of Jessica Andersen’s DEMON KEEPERS, a novel of the Final Prophecy.

Happy Read-a-Romance Day!

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: The final push
Mood: Uphill

I don’t get very excited about Valentine’s Day.

I hope I don’t get my romance writing card revoked for saying that, but it’s true. For me, it’s hard to get excited about Valentine’s Day because:

1. Only the cheap chocolate is on sale.

2. The roses never have any scent.

3. Only the cheap chocolate is on sale.

I think I’m spoiled. Being a reader and writer of romance novels has ruined me for cheap sentiment, not to mention cheap chocolate. Those chalky candy hearts with half of a misspelled romantic saying stamped crookedly in pink just don’t rouse me.

I want impassioned shouts flung across a stormy sky in heart’s-blood crimson. Maybe with a lightning bolt. Out-of-breath whispers of longing are good too. But no halfway measures soaked in high fructose corn syrup.

Oh, I realize “real life” probably can’t sustain 24/7/365 of raging romance. Day jobs, laundry, and blog posts would no doubt suffer as we swooned and seduced our beloveds. But if we’re going to dedicate one day to love and romance and name it after various martyred Christian saints (even though the whole connection between the word “Valentine” and romantic love was apparently invented out of thin air and a goose quill by some hack author named Chaucer in the 14th century) seems to me that day should have MEANING.

Which is why I think, instead of trading those thin, little Valentine’s card like we did in grade school, we should swap our favorite romance novels. Way more pages in them, and way bigger love.

I already traded my Valentines love stories with a writer friend. I swapped her a Nalini Singh in exchange for a Kresley Cole. (We were both aghast that the other hadn’t read our respective favorites.) So, if you were going to share your love of romance with your Valentine, which story would it be?

How to Retreat! Retreat!

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Expanding a story
Mood: Widening

Last weekend, I went to the Oregon Coast with some writer friends for a beach retreat. (I accidentally typed “treat” and it WAS a treat.) Writing retreats are enormous fun, of course, but I also want the time to be productive. So here are some of my suggestions for a productive writing retreat:

Jessa-beachGo to the beach at a yucky time of year.

At the Oregon Coast, you can be guaranteed gusting rain November through July (and prohibitive prices August through September). So usually the horizontal “moisturizing and exfoliating” is enough to keep us inside at our computers.

Here’s a picture of me, measuring how many words I have yet to add. See, this is why you go to the beach in bad weather. Sunshine DEMANDS a walk on the beach.


Bring the right friends.

It’s best to surround yourself with writers who share similar productivity goals. Friends who constantly tempt you to walk on the beach as the sun sets are counterproductive.

Sadly, it turns out I am that friend. So don’t bring me. Except you have to bring me because I always bring the mint brownies.


Find an inspiring spot.

Not only is the right physical spot important — like this lovely little beach house surrounded by chirping frogs — but the right spot in your mindset and your work in progress.

I try to prepare for a writing retreat by making sure I have the right sort of project and that I clear my “real life” of distractions that might creep into the weekend. Actually, this last weekend, I did a bad job of choosing the project. I’m working on revising, and I found that I did not do as well as when I bring a hot draft to a retreat. I’ll know that for next time.

beach-foam-and-skyNever mind the inspiration, just focus!

Part of my problem with choosing a revision project instead of a hot draft, is that when I’m revising, I tend to stare off into space while I think. When I’m at home, in my little office, there’s not much to look at and I quickly go back to work. But at the beach… I just stared at the waves for hours! I needed to bring my focus closer.

A good writing retreat has a clear focus, whether it’s writing, brainstorming or just refilling the well. Be sure you know what purpose your retreat will serve.

beach-sunsetTrack progress on the retreat days.

Like tracking the sun across the sky… It’s easier for me to stay accountable if I track my progress in three chunks during a retreat day: morning session, afternoon session, evening session. If I only review my progress once at the end of the day, I might find I didn’t do enough, but now it’s too late. If I track in chunks, then a slacker morning session (sun on the beach!) can be rectified in the afternoon, or a slow afternoon (afternoon nap on the sunny beach!) can be made up in the evening (no sun).


As much as I want a writing retreat to be productive, well, it is a retreat. I try to capture some of that glory — and some of that sun — and take it back with me to rainy Portland.

Do you have a favorite getaway that never fails to rejuvenate you? Do you bring back souvenirs? I love to find good rocks.