Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 9: Jenny Schwartz Goes Blank In The Night

SandrabooksYearbookYourself_1958Are any of you kids waiting for the creature from the Black Lagoon to come to your door? Or are you just dying to smash a pumpkin or have candy hurtled your way?

Is anyone wondering what the hell I was thinking about when I went into that machine that morphed my DNA with my dog’s? I know Jenny Schwartz, my guest today, is a little wary of something, but she totally understands Halloween. You wait and see.

Jenny Schwarz

Jenny Schwartz

Fear and Halloween… I typed those words on a blank screen page and contemplated whether anyone other than another writer would understand a Halloween costume that was simply a huge, blank piece of paper. A blank page is terrifying. I’m instantly compelled to find words to fill it…and what if one day those words don’t come?

What if one day I have no more stories to tell?

Being a writer, a novelist, is my dream job. The thought of losing it, of fate wrenching it from me, is terrifying. Yet life does things like that. We devote years to a specific goal and then WHOA! the path we’re on rears up and throws us off.

In my new release, Kiss It Better, the heroine Cassie has always dreamed of nursingKissItBetter in Africa and she achieves her dream, only to burn out. Angry, depressed and generally wanting to scream at the world, she meets Theo and her frustrations find a new focus. But Theo has his own problems and as their lives collide, both have to reassess who they are and what they’re willing to risk to build new lives.

Reading fiction is a lot like Halloween (See? Jenny agrees with me! –Sandra), but instead of dressing up as pirates, axe murderers or clowns, we try on other people’s lives by losing ourselves in books. Either way, we get to explore our fears in a safe way. It’s an emotional thrill ride, with the safety harness on.

Happy Halloween! Thanks for the invitation to post here, Sandra, and may you never be haunted by a blank page.

Kiss It Better

All Cassie Freedom wants to do is save the world, and she could, if only she were able to. But her dream of nursing in Africa is shattered, and she returns home to Jardin Bay, where familiarity, security, and a sense of her own failure threaten to drown her. Dr. Theo Morrigan knows a thing or two about responsibility, leaving his own medical practice to take over a family business. He knows his mind, his future, and how he wants to live his life – until an old secret resurfaces and rocks his whole world. Suddenly, the man who needed no one needs a broken-hearted nurse, and a nurse who thinks she’s too weak will find her own strength.

Find Kiss it Better here ! (via Amazon)

Jenny Schwartz is an Australian contemporary romance author. Her books celebrate the joy of falling in love and the freedom of choosing to follow your heart. She has a degree in Sociology and History — people watching and digging into the past — and a passion for reading, especially books with a guaranteed happy ever after. Her Jardin Bay series captures her love for Australia, and for sexy heroes and the determined women who drive them wild.


The Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 3: Count Daniel de Lorne Beckons You With Butterfly Wings

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While I love writing about fear and adore my coffee and cookies, author Daniel de Lorne loves fake blood and fangs, which means he isn’t someone who thinks Halloween sucks (pun so totally intended), and he’s not scared of or romance either.

Welcome to the Fun-House, Daniel!

Who wants to see a photo of me dressed as a vampire when I was a kid? Everybody, that’s who. Well, you’re in luck. As my special contribution to Sandra’s 31 Days of Halloween, I’m dipping into the archives and Dan2pulling out a couple of embarrassing family photos from Halloween.

In Australia, Halloween isn’t a big deal. It’s nothing like the grand scale production in the USA and Canada. As a kid, it’s a bit disappointing when you see (American) movies and tv shows with their Halloween themes. I wanted to dress up too, goddammit.

I should say though that I was (and still am) a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to things that go bump in the night. As a five-year-old, Ghostbusters, Gremlins and the House franchise Daniel-de-Lorne3terrified me (yet I continued to watch them with my cousin). I’d keep my poor parents up at night as I screamed because there was something hiding behind the curtains.

Yet despite my fears – or maybe because of them – I was fascinated with the gothic and the macabre. And so, when my sister and I convinced our parents to let us dress up and go out trick-or-treating, I chose to go as a vampire.

I’m sure my choice really had more to do with Count Duckula than Count Dracula, but Dan1nevertheless I donned a cape, some fake fangs and fake blood, and headed out into the night…with my butterfly sister beside me.

We did this at least twice over the years, the effort required sometimes not worth the payout (because, let’s be honest, the whole reason behind doing this is for lollies – or candy as the Americans would say). We came away with some sweet stuff but not the horde you’d expect to collect in North America.

Now that I’m living in Canada, I’m too old (and too worried about my weight) to enjoy the candy side of things, however, that doesn’t mean I can’t dress up. In fact, it’s great to head into the city on Halloween and see plenty of adults dressed in their ghoulish finery. And some of the costumes we saw GrimReaperlast year were chilling (such as the Grim Reaper in the photo).

This year Halloween happens just two days after I get married, which is a whole other bucket of fear right there. It’s still touch and go whether I’ll don a costume to mark this dark holiday, but if I do, I’ll post a photo on my Facebook page ( so be sure to check it out.

In the meantime, if you want to enjoy a dark tale of obsession, lust and good old fashioned blood and guts, check out my gay vampire romance Beckoning Blood Cover 1000novel, Beckoning Blood, available for download from Kindle or your favourite ebook supplier.

Daniel de Lorne writes about the loves and tribulations of hot and sexy paranormal men (and creatures). You can find out more about Daniel on his website (, Facebook ( and Twitter (

You can buy Daniel’s books here: Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook

Morons, Bloomers, and the Bradly Bunch

iTunes shuffles from Audioslave’s The Original Fire to Perry Como’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas. Yes, that is a bit of a musical jolt, but I kept right on listening and crooning along with Perry…and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again

Oops. I know it’s September, but you just wait. Mark my words. At the end of the month you’ll get a jolt of jolly when you walk into Wal-Mart, K-mart or Mart-mart and find all the Christmas crap is out. But before that happens I am reminded of a conversation I  had with Swell and It seems nothing will yank her out a story like anachronistic writing. Say she’s reading a romance set in a particular era, like 1880. If, as she’s reading, she comes across a word like moron, which did not enter the common lexicon until the 1920s, blammo, she’s back in 2010.

Me, I could care less if the author chose an pre-era word or put the heroine in bloomers instead of pantaloons. My jolt-o-meter gives me a kick in the arse when I slam into a typo like the Bradly Bunch or if a major character’s name is different to the name on the back cover blurb (as with my reissue copy of Jenny Crusie’s What The Lady Wants). Sloppiness like that annoys me, but it doesn’t put me off reading the rest of the book, nor does it prevent me from enjoying the story. A shitty story is what puts me off reading the rest of the book.

So what does it for you? What gives you a big-assed Perry Como jolt? Is it the End-of-September-Christmas-Cheer, Starsky & Dutch, or finding a moron in your Handsome Cab?

And yes, you Anachonist-i-chrons, I KNOW it’s Hansom.

Hiding My Shame

Stop! Oh, yes, wait a minute, Mr. Postman…

And allow me to point something out to you, pinhead. The mailbox at Shrinkytown does not have a flip-front opening, nor does it resemble a wide-mouth bass. One would think, going by your professional and vast experience delivering mail, that it would be bloody obvious how certain sized packages should NOT be crammed into the slot barely big enough for a love letter, or bill.

Allow me also, to thank you, so very much, for cracking the spine on my brand new book. It came all the way from another country.  In case you didn’t quite get that, in case you’re not down with sarcasm, I’m cheesed off, fartwad.

I don’t know about y’all out there in Biteyland, but I’m kinda persnickety about my books, especially when they’re paperback. I am very careful when I read them and I take care to preserve the spine, the cover, and the pages. I may be exaggerating the damage a little. His At Night, my spanking new Sherry Thomas, has a lovely yellow cover ( that is rather similar to Anna Cambell’s My Reckless Surrender–Hello, Bantam did your art department talk to Avon?) that is unscathed. The top of the spine, however, has a nice dent, like a deep pockmark left behind by bad acne.
  I feel so…ugly now, so ashamed.

Thank God for Swell and the gorgeous book covers she’s sewn for me. I can cover up the hideous scar with quilted beauty.

Besides offering unparalleled protection from gooky fingers and spills, Swell’s covers are like make-up for flawed, or damaged books. Swell makes things beautiful again.
She will make my Sherry Thomas the thing of glory that is once was.

But for now, until I get home, my injured Sherry Thomas will be obscured behind the veil of a pristine white envelope, and I will ease my pain with Chips Ahoy.

Same Old Same Old

I have fallen into the doldrums when it comes to reading. Swell and I have discussed this. I am suffering from eveything-I-pick-up-is-the-sameitis. I’m after fresh, edgy, smart, but what I find is stale, crusted with old blood, yellowing lace, serial killers, and brooding alphas who need to lighten up. Yes, I’m sure it’s just me, but I am BORED with what’s on offer. Of course I want that happily ever after, but can it get there in a NEW or clever way?


Indeed, it’s probably my own fault for reading too fast. I inhale my books. Out of ten books I get one gem. Then I expect the next nine to be just a glittery, but eight is a rehash of nine, seven is a rehash of a rehash of eight and so on…


Please, pardon me while I cover my gaping yawn. Sameness. Is that the fault of the author or the publisher who’s out to make money off whatever the current trend happens to be? For me, the trends in paranormal, historical, urban fantasy, contemporary and suspense are wearing thin. They have become predictable, too predictable. Am I the only one tired of vampires, supes, super-spies, black ops, SEALs, rogue FBI agents, serial killers, new gals in town and chefs following the same A to Z format? Is there any original element left out there?


Yes, there are plot formats we all know and love. I have to cop to the fact I adore heroes and heroines who hate each other at the start, as well as rogue FBI agents, and southern gentleman Vampire Bill. This admission this brings me to my TBR (To Be Read, for the uninitiated) pile, which, at this point, consists of one book.

As a result of my big yawn fest, I’m saving my new Susan Donovan (Ain’t Too Proud To Beg), for an upcoming trip, which isn’t fair, because that means I’m expecting BIG THINGS from SD. But here’s the thing. She surprised me with her last outing, where she turned the secret baby on its ear. I detest secret baby plots, but SD pulled it off. That fact Susan managed to putt that off for me gets to the heart of what I mean. She took week-old stale bread and transformed it into a delicious panzanella (Tuscan Bread salad), and who doesn’t love a good panzanella?

Will Susan Donovan do it again? Can she bring something original to Identicalville? Or am I trapped in the doldrums, doomed to float on a flat sea until Suzanne Brockmann’s next book comes out?

And your thoughts on the matter?  Surely you have some.

Stickin’ it to the man(uals)

I chose the project and it’s counter -intuitive. 

It’s been building slowly. I’ve been doing my research and I’ve reached a breaking point with these How to Write a Really Fantastic Romance Novel Everyone Will Want to Buy manuals

Where do writers get off telling other writers the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ of using the written word? I don’t mean grammar or punctuation, those have their place as an aid to (mostly) the reader. I’m getting at the writers who say, ‘never use adverbs,’ or never head hop, only Nora Roberts can get away with that,‘ and my favourite, ‘keep your style simple; only literary novels use descriptive passages.’

Don’t thrust your small-minded pettiness on my writing. Writing, like a language, is a living thing. It evolves over time. Style can change in a decade or less. What was considered pulp fiction of the day (Chuck Dickens) is now classic literature. He was pretty long winded and mightily descriptive. Put a descriptive passage into a romance and you’ re being hoity toity and not adhearing to romance genre. 

Face it. One man’s Dr Seuss is another man’s Sophocles, James Joyce, or Jacqueline Susann. That Jackie Collins novel you think is trash is one person’s golden nugget. 

Wait a second. This was a bitch about prescriptive bossy boots books, not another dive into literary snobbery…

Hmmm, Could they be the same thing?

Let’s say there’s a snotty family resemblance–they’re brown-nosin’ cousins.

So I have to ask myself this question: Is this about me? Is this about my writing? 


But it could be. 

Sort of. 

Only because it annoys me so much, but listen, from where I sit, I think it’s admirable to want to stand something on its head, buck the trend, and try something different. I appreciate a romance that’s different from all the others. Hello, Elizabeth Hoyt anyone? 

Hooray, Elizabeth Hoyt! Yay!

I heard the mighty Puck-slapping Maple Sucker agree. Heartily. Hey look, an adverb!

Tarnation! I want to chuck these How-to guides out the window, but I paid good money for them and my research isn’t finished.

Luckily, (adverb again) I can claim it on my taxes.

While I’m up here on my soapbox, lemme toss in my 2 bits: Let’s get rid of pink or pastel covers. Let’s ban all those bodice-ripper style covers than never seem to actually capture what the hero and heroine are supposed to look like. Let’s have covers that match the title. Let’s allow the author to have input into the cover artwork!

Back to the research at hand.

Scandal sheets, rag mags and the loss of Premiere

Sadly and suddenly, the death knell sounded for Premiere Magazine last month. 

Premiere was all about movies, from those clapper loaders behind the scenes to the actors, costume designers, producers, you name it they all got a mention. It was fascinating and informative, as well as up to date with film production in the US and other countries.

I’ve had a Premiere subscription since the late 80’s, just after they began. When the publication folded, those of us left with subscriptions (I’d recently renewed ’til end of ’08) were transferred to a substitute magazine: Us Weekly. We had no other magazine choice offered. It was US Weekly or nothing.

Of course, none of us loyal customers overseas were notified the magazine was folding until after the fact. I suspect subscribers in the US and Canada got the same treatment. At the beginning of May, I simply received a postcard declaring April 2007 was the last issue of Premiere

I got my first US Weekly yesterday. 

Oh Fuck.

It’s in the bathroom. The only fitting place for it. 

Us is a weekly magazine. I receive one issue of Us for one month of Premiere. The publication arrived 3 weeks after the printed date. Old news. Crap news. Not really news at all. Just lots and lots of pictures with really big captions and lots of pretty colours.
To me, Us Weekly is, besides an appalling waste of paper, nothing more than a glossy version of dumbed-down drivel. There is no mention of movies. It’s all fashion photos, and crap I would paper my birdcage with–if I had a bird. 

Meanwhile, I’d like to say a big howdy to Jimbo over at the Bomb Town News Observer in Los Alamos.   

One more thing. In his heart, I know Kergillian misses Jerry Fawell.