Saturday, February 28, 2009

NEWS FLASH! Coming soon... JA Konrath


Have I got a treat for you!

This coming Tuesday, March 3, instead of me, you're going to get the ever-popular, always-witty thriller author JA Konrath/Jack Kilborn. Yes, he has duel personas--or at least writes under two different names. Joe also writes one heck of an industry blog--A Newbies Guide to Publishing--a must for all writers.

Whoever he is, Joe/JA/Jack, he's always entertaining. This year he'll be attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. If you're attending, like me, you'll get to meet him! Make sure to attend one of his workshops. The man's a natural-born charmer, er, teacher. You'll also be able to purchase one of his books at Saturday's bookfair. If you ask nice, I bet he'll even sign it. :)

Not familiar with Joe's work? Click here and check out his website. FUZZY NAVEL, the 5th book in his thriller Jack Daniels series is on shelves now. BONUS! I'll be giving away a copy of FUZZY NAVEL to one lucky, randomly chosen person. All you have to do to be eligible is comment on Tuesday!
A twisted murderer bent on revenge...
Three vigilantes who want to silence a cop...
No way to escape, nowhere to run...
The next eight hours will be the worst of Jack's life. And that's saying something.

"Fuzzy Navel is Konrath at his best – a hilariously heartstopping thriller." — Linda Fairstein

"This gripping novel is an adrenalin rush." — Library Journal
Spread the word and come back on Tuesday to read Joe/JA/Jack's thoughts on a thriller/horror writer attending a romance novel convention AND for--bonus--a sexy excerpt from his upcoming release, the sixth Jacqueline Daniels book, CHERRY BOMB!
*****
P.S. I'll announce the winner of last week's Pre-Evie Celebration on MONDAY!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Week #4--Last Deleted Scene and Free Book!


It's the final week of my month long Pre-Evie celebration! Before I get to the featured deleted scene, I'd like to announce last week's randomly chosen winner of a free copy of EVIE EVER AFTER. Congratulations, Cyndi L Please provide me with a mailing address by emailing me at beth@bethciotta.com

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who 'entered' via comment. This has been a fantastic expeience. For those who didn't win, please try one more time!

Here's the scoop... (as most of you already know.) To celebrate the March release of the third book in The Chameleon Chronicles, I shared a deleted scene from
EVIE EVER AFTER and gave away one of my author’s copies of this book, every Tuesday in February! (Past winners... the books are on their way!)

Please note these deleted scenes are unedited. I wrote them and then cut them from the story for various reasons. The fun thing about these deleted scenes is that they’ll give you an idea of my process. They’re not polished. It’s true seat-of-the-pants writing.

The first two weeks, I shared scenes that I wrote to open the story then ditched. Last week I shared a sexy deleted scene from the middle of the book. This week, I'm sharing and yet another 'opening' scene. I think I wrote maybe five different openings before one really 'clicked'. In various openings certain thoughts or phrases stuck, so you may read a couple of familiar passages.

This particular scene takes place in the middle of an important con that I set up at the end of EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE. It was so clear in my head, but I finally realized that it was the wrong place to start. It happens, but off page. You, dear blog readers, are getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse. The scene was quite long, so I'm only sharing a portion. Here goes!

*******************DELETED SCENE #4*******************
The concept of destiny is hooey.

I thought I was destined to become a musical movie star, a modern day Doris Day. I thought I was destined to spend my life married to Michael Stone, a handsome charmer who doubled as my agent.

Then I turned forty and life as I thought it was meant to be took a fantastic detour. The entertainment industry and my husband shunned me in favor of women half my age. Okay. That part was depressing. But then a bizarre twist of circumstances landed me in the arms of delicious bad boy Arch Duvall and a multitude of fantasies came true.

Call me reborn.

Or lucky.

Or, horrors, cursed.

I’m living proof that even the most farfetched dreams come true. But instead of happy dancing, I’m sitting in a surveillance van, watching instead of participating in this episode of my life gone wonky.

I’ve never been a behind-the-scenes kind of gal. I crave the spotlight. Call me shallow. I’ve always believed I was born to make a difference.

When I was a kid I fantasized about being a kick-butt crime fighter. You know, like Emma Peel of The Avengers or Agent 99 of Get Smart. Later, like most teenaged girls growing up in the seventies, I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels. Specifically, Jill Monroe, but only because I wanted Farrah’s hair.

Several decades and a career in the performance arts later, I’m still pining for the perfect hairstyle. The kick-butt crime-fighter fantasy, however, recently became reality. No one (except maybe my ex-husband) was more surprised than me.

My name is Evie Parish and I’m the newest member of Chameleon—a specialized branch of the AIA—which is something like the CIA only smaller and sneakier. Comprised of ex-grifters, former bunko cops, and now me, Chameleon creates illusions to expose despicable frauds. I used to sing, dance and act on the stages of the Atlantic City casinos. Now the world is my stage and my idea of applause is the sound of a cell door slamming shut on the amoral keister of a scam-artist. No, I don’t have a background in law enforcement (or a criminal record), but my acting and sleight-of-hand skills (compliments of a stint as a magician’s assistant) along with my scary-good memory make me perfect for this job.

Unfortunately, not everyone on the team agrees. Most notably, Gina (“Hot Legs”) Valente, a former cop and Chameleon’s top femme fatale shill and—more bothersome—the man I’m sleeping with, Arch (“Ace”) Duvall, a charismatic bad-boy with a Scottish accent and a soft spot good-girl me (another fantasy come true). Don’t get me wrong, Arch has faith in my acting skills. What he questions is my goody-two-shoes mentality. Apparently having morals is a liability when dealing with grifters. Okay. Truth told, I did crack out of turn (grifter-speak for messed up) during our first mission. A botched sting that ended in a deadly altercation with a heartless villain. A tussle that still haunts my dreams.

But that’s another story. One Arch keeps telling me to forget.

That he’s able to dismiss the shooting so easily is troubling, although not surprising. Born into family of bamboozlers, his concept of right and wrong is skewed. A career con-artist, Arch is one of two alpha dogs at Chameleon. The other being his partner, my boss, Special Agent Milo “Jazzman” Beckett. Beckett—also sexy, but in a quiet, straight arrow way—hired me against Arch’s wishes. He also kissed me which resulted in fireworks, only not the good kind. I’m one of those people who can’t jaywalk without getting busted, so naturally Arch witnessed the unexpected liplock. I was mortified. Arch was pissed. And Beckett was no help whatsoever. But that’s neither here nor there. Well, it’s somewhere, just not a place I want to visit right now. I have enough angst, thank you very much.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. The perils of fantasies come true.

Once a fantasy’s out of your head, you no longer have complete control. Which can be thrilling or frustrating or even frightening, depending on the circumstances. Just now I’m a nervous wreck, and okay, a little ticked.

Operating within the parameters of our current sting, Arch ditched me as his shill the moment the opportunity arose. Our mark, Frank ‘Mad Dog’ Turner—a former pro-athlete turned restaurateur—proclaimed his private high stakes game ‘for players only’. Since I was posing as Arch’s fiancĂ©e and since he can talk anyone into anything, he could’ve declared me his good luck charm or something. Ha! Instead, he (posing as a Scottish noble) kissed me on the forehead and instructed Beckett (posing as his personal aide and bodyguard) to escort me back to our deluxe hotel suite.

Which is why I’m currently huddled in a high tech surveillance van along with Tabasco, Chameleon’s transportation specialist and location scout, and the “Kid”, a gadget and gizmo wiz, instead of actively participating in the sting. Being on the outside looking in was not my idea of fun, but it’s not like I had a choice. At least I wasn’t completely in the dark. Due to strategically hidden cameras, Tabasco, Woody and I had a prime view of every player and their cards via multiple viewing monitors.

“Oh, shit.”

“What?” I asked, peering over Tabasco’s shoulder.

“Did you see that?” he asked the Kid.

“Yeah,” he answered. “Damn.”

“What?” I asked a second time only more forcefully.

“Arch motioned that he lost audio feed,” Tabasco said.

I gripped the man’s shoulder, tried to ground my imagination. Believe you me, I can imagine some pretty ugly scenarios. Though I had a million questions and concerns, I kept my lips buttoned because I knew Tabasco and the Kid were concentrating. Their job was to report each player’s hand to Arch and Gina, both of whom had been fitted with virtually invisible earpieces. Yes, I know. That’s dishonest. But, hey. We were fighting fire with fire.


Arch (posing as the wealthy Scottish noble) and Gina (posing as a gambler with money to burn) were inside that salon ensconced in a crooked poker game. Beckett was lurking in the restaurant’s bar with a couple of Turner’s goons. Our orders, per the Director of the AIA: to burn the card cheat who’d had the bad judgment to burn a U.S Senator’s wife. I wouldn’t be so nervous if so much weren’t at stake—namely the future of Chameleon.
***
That's all she wrote folks... Or rather that's all I have to share deleted scene wise. I hope you enjoyed the past month of random offerings. Chime in if you'd like a copy of EVIE EVER AFTER I'll announce the winner on March 1--Evie's official release day. Until then, happy reading!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Week #3 -- A New Deleted Scene and Free Book

It's week three of my month long Pre-Evie celebration! Before I get to the featured deleted scene, I'd like to announce last week's randomly chosen winner of a free copy of EVIE EVER AFTER.


Congratulations, Sharon W! Please provide me with a mailing address by emailing me at
beth@bethciotta.com


Heartfelt thanks to everyone who 'entered' via comment. I was so thrilled to see so many comment and I love reading your thoughts. For those who didn't and please try again!

Here's the scoop... (as some of you already know.) To celebrate the March release of the third book in The Chameleon Chronicles, I'm sharing a deleted scene from
EVIE EVER AFTER and giving away one of my author’s copies of this book, every Tuesday in February! That’s one deleted scene and one free book each week for a month! Please note these deleted scenes are unedited. I wrote them and then cut them from the story for various reasons. The fun thing about these deleted scenes is that they’ll give you an idea of my process. They’re not polished. It’s true seat-of-the-pants writing.


For the past two weeks I shared a scene that I wrote as the opening for
EVIE EVER AFTER and then ditched. This week I thought I'd SHAKE THINGS UP and share a deleted scene from the middle of this book. This scene ended up inspiring a much shorter version. Though sexy, this version didn't fit the bill. It was fun though, so I'm excited to share it with you. So as not to offend anyone, I bleeped one of Arch's more colorful curse words. For those who don't know, Arch is Scottish. Oh, and there's a section that I had made a note to embellish and never did (since I didn't use the scene). I left that in so you could see how my mind somehow skips around.

Set up: Evie is in Arch's apartment waiting for him to return with dinner and to prep her on the upcoming con...

*******************
DELETED SCENE #3
*******************

I talked a good game, but I could do better. I knew from past experience that my entire demeanor would change once I was fully in character. That required the appropriate costume, hair, and makeup. I instantly saw a way to combine business and pleasure.

I raided my suitcase and located my bobbed wig and cosmetics bag. Flashing on that doctored head shot, I transformed myself into a sultry brunette with kohl-lined eyes and blood red lips. I couldn’t do anything about my blue irises, but I could dress the part, starting with my, or rather Portia’s, under garments. Specifically the racy black lace bra and panties Nic had talked me into buying when she was trying to urge me out of my post-divorce funk. Next came a pair of shiny black stiletto pumps. That’s as far as I got before I heard the front door open and shut.

“Baby, I’m home.”

“Coming!” Soon, with any luck.

Feeling nervous and naughty, I slinked out of the bedroom in my sultry, flirty lingerie. “Evie’s not here, but Portia is and she’s going to show you the stars. Are you . . .” I froze in my pointy heeled tracks.

“Jeez, Louise, Evie,” said Jayne.

Tabasco blinked. “Wow.”

Arms full of shopping bags, Arch tried to smother a smile. “Shite.”

Considering I was wearing a thong, I couldn’t turn and run. Plus, I’d frozen in mortification. I imagined my cheeks flamed as bright as my lipstick. “Wasn’t expecting company.”

Jayne averted her eyes first, grabbed a bag from Arch. “We’ll take the food in the kitchen.” She nudged Tabasco.

“Good idea, babe.” Stifling a grin, he relieved Arch of the other bags. “This way,” he said to Jayne and led her away.

Arch started toward me. “I’m sorry.”

I backed quickly into the bedroom. He shut the door behind us and I winged a pillow at him. “Stop smiling!”

“I cannae help it.” He dragged a hand through his hair, drinking his fill as I kicked off the stilettos. “Christ, you look f***able.”

“Don’t say that!” I yanked off the wig and finger-combed my hair. “Why are they here?”

“Jayne was with Tabasco when he showed me the Big Store, yeah? She doesnae know specifics, but she’s going to help us with a smoke and mirror aspect of the sting. Instead of briefing her tomorrow, I thought we’d discuss it over dinner. She said you fought this morning. Said she felt bad and wanted to make amends. I . . . Can I help you with that, lass?”

My fingers trembled as I tried to unhook the barely there bra. “No.”

“My loss.”

“You could have called.”

“I did. You didnae answer. Did you forget to charge your cell?”

“No, I didn’t forget to charge my cell!” Why did everyone always ask me that? Never mind that it was true. “I dropped it!”

“What?”

“Never mind.” I was too flustered just now to relay the storm incident.

“I called my landline, too.”

“I was probably in the shower. Okay. So you tried to call.”

“I told you we’d be working fast, love. I didnae think you’d mind Tabasco and Jayne helping us to prep over dinner. I didnae know—”

“Yeah, yeah.” I swapped the sexy lingerie for cotton underwear.

“You’re angry.”

“I’m embarrassed. I don’t dress up like that all the time, you know.”

“I know.” He moved in and interrupted my frenzied dressing long enough to give me a hug.

“That’s what makes it so sexy, yeah?”

“Yeah, well. The moment’s sort of ruined.”

He smiled against my forehead. “Do you want me to ask them to leave?”

“No. I’ve lived through worse.” The topless incident in the Caribbean for one. I nudged him away and stepped into a pair of jeans and a fresh t-shirt. “We’ve got work to do. Let’s go.”

(EMBELLISH LATER: DINNER TALK… PREP TALK ABOUT THE CON….JAYNE AND TABASCO LEAVE)

I let out a weary breath. “I thought they’d never leave.”

Arch dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out my black lace thong. He winked. “Okay, lass. Let’s try this again.”

“You’re kidding, right? What about going over my profile? My website should be up by now. Shouldn’t we—”

“You mean Portia’s website,” he said with an ornery grin. “Dark and mysterious calls for black lace, you know?

“Like you could concentrate on work with me in a black bra and thong.”

Dinnae forget the wig.”

My hooha tingled in response to the challenge. “You are so dead.”

“Bring it on, Sunshine.”
**************************

That's it for Deleted Scene #3! Now, on to the giveaway. Just give me a shout out here and you’re automatically entered to win a copy of EVIE EVER AFTER. The winner will be randomly picked and announced next Tuesday . . . just before the fourth deleted scene and giveaway. Thanks for celebrating with me (and Evie)!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cool News Update

Popping in with some cool news. Recently I was interviewed along with--Sarah Wendell, coauthor of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels, Shobhan Bantwal author of The Forbidden Daughter, and Stephanie Julian, author of the Magical Seduction Series--for an article focusing on cliches in the romance genre. Today it ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer and I was blown away. A positive and entertaining article on the romance genre! Kudos to the very talented and kind journalist and published author, Jen A. Miller.

Bonus.
Writing romances, without the cliches can be read on-line!

P.S. If you click on the image, you'll see that ther are additional pics. I'm in #2. The cute one is my dog, Cheyenne.

P.S.S. If you haven't entered the Pre-Evie Celebration giveaway, be sure to scroll down to the next post!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Week #2 - Another Deleted Scene and Free Book!

**Author's Note: For some reason Blogger keeps running all my paragrapghs together. If this looks wonky, please forgive!


It's week two of my month long Pre-Evie celebration! Before I get to the featured deleted scene, I'd like to announce week one's randomly chosen winner of a free not-yet-released copy of EVIE EVER AFTER. Congratulations, Amanda E! Woo-hoo! Please provide me with a mailing address by emailing me at beth@bethciotta.com



A special thank you to everyone who 'entered' via comment and please try again! Here's the scoop... (as some of you already know.)


To celebrate the March release of the third book in The Chameleon Chronicles, I'm sharing a deleted scene from EVIE EVER AFTER and giving away one of my author’s copies of this book, every Tuesday in February! That’s one deleted scene and one free book each week for a month!

Please note these deleted scenes are unedited. I wrote them and then cut them from the story for various reasons. The fun thing about these deleted scenes is that they’ll give you an idea of my process. They’re not polished. It’s true seat-of-the-pants writing.



Last week I shared a scene that I wrote as the opening for EVIE EVER AFTER and then ditched. I think I wrote probably five different openings before one screamed, "I'm it!" This week I'm sharing another one of those ditched openings, very different then last weeks. Instead of focusing on back story, its more focused on Evie background. I really liked this--it says a lot about the inner Evie--but... it wasn't the one. Curious as to your thoughts. Enjoy!



DELETED SCENE #2


Growing up I wanted to be a famous singer. When most kids were singing Yankee Doodle Dandy, I was singing Don’t Sleep in the Subway. I have a vivid memory of swinging on a play set at school recess and singing Born Free at the top of my lungs. Kind of quirky and dramatic for a six year old, don’t you think? I’d pump my scrawny legs and arms and swing higher, reaching for the stars as I bellowed, “Born free to follow your heart.”

A concept that rooted and propelled me through life. A concept that, until recently, drove my grounded, logical mom batty.

That same year, my dad, who happened to be the bank president in our tiny Indiana town, drove by and saw me hanging by my knees on the monkey bars, my skirt over my head, my cotton flowered panties bared for my classmates and anyone who motored by to see. That evening my conservative parents gave me my first whopper lecture on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior for a good girl.

Come to think of it, that was a very formative year.

My name is Evie Parish and, due to natural talent and blind determination, I did, in fact, grow up to be a singer. I left my small mid-western hometown, performed in nightclubs across the country, and eventually settled in Atlantic City, NJ. I never made the big time, never landed a recording contract (not for lack of trying) or a booking on The Tonight Show (I was so certain I’d be interviewed by Johnny), but I did make my living as a professional performer for more than twenty-five years.



Born free and born to entertain, my most valuable quality was my versatility. I could sing, dance, act with the best of them and at least hold my own. If I didn’t know how to do something, I learned pronto. You want me to swing dance? Sing jazz? Emcee a blackjack tournament? Call bingo? Let a magician saw me in half? Impersonate Betty Boop?

My motto was never say, no. Although I suffered occasional dry spells, that motto and my stellar work ethics kept the gigs flowing and saved me from a—shudder—normal nine to five. And okay, it didn’t hurt that I married my agent which, meant I got first call on a lot of auditions and gigs.
Though I never achieved fame beyond the Atlantic City casino ballrooms, lounges, and showrooms, my life was chugging along just fine, thank you very much.



Then I committed the cardinal sin in the entertainment industry. I turned forty. Actually, my career started fizzling as I neared forty, about the same time Michael (the aforementioned husband and agent) started sleeping with Sasha, a twenty-something lingerie model. Now we’re divorced and they’re married. Oh, and she’s pregnant. Never mind that he never wanted to have children with me. I’m not bitter. Okay. That’s a lie. I’m a little bitter. But I’m on the road to recovery, and karmic payback, Michael’s freaking out because I’ve fallen hard for an old acquaintance of his. Arch Duvall, a sexy bad boy who currently works for the good guys.


****
So ends Deleted Scene #2! Now, on to the giveaway. Just give me a shout out here and you’re automatically entered to win a copy of EVIE EVER AFTER. The winner will be randomly picked and announced next Tuesday . . . just before the third deleted scene and giveaway.
Thanks for celebrating with me (and Evie)!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Deleted Scenes and a Free Book!


The official release of EVIE EVER AFTER is March 1. Since it’s the third (and last) book in The Chameleon Chronicles, I’ve decided to celebrate the series by sharing a deleted scene from EVIE EVER AFTER and giving away one of my author’s copies of this book, every Tuesday in February! That’s one deleted scene and one free book each week for a month!

Please note that these deleted scenes are unedited. My editor never even saw these scenes. I wrote them and then cut them from the story for various reasons. But they all highlight Evie and where her head is at around the opening of EVIE EVER AFTER.

The fun thing about these deleted scenes is that they’ll give you an idea of my process. They’re not polished. It’s true seat-of-the-pants writing. Trying to get my footing in the beginning of EVIE EVER AFTER was a challenge. I set so much up in the first two books. I needed to hook the reader, but I also needed to bring them up to speed without boring them with too much back story. Yeesh! Talk about a learning experience.

Without further ado, here’s one of the openings that I ditched. And remember, these are first draft. From the point of view of Evie Parish . . .

DELETED SCENE #1

It all started when I flashed my breasts. Seriously. No, I wasn’t vying for a metallic bead necklace. I wasn’t in New Orleans. Nor was I sunbathing on a resort beach where Europeans (and spring break babes) think nothing of going topless. That would have been the second time I whipped off my bikini top. The first time was on stage during an audition. A legit audition for a gig as a casino spokesperson. A gig I was more than qualified for and lost because I didn’t appeal to the casino’s demographic.
Meaning I was too old.
Washed up at forty-one.
Not that I’m bitter. Okay. That’s a lie. But at least I’m no longer devastated.
My name is Evie Parish and I’m a recovering professional performer. Sing, dance, act—you name it, if it involves musical or theatrical entertainment, I’ve done it. For a person with a strong aversion to your standard nine to five, versatility proved my salvation. Until I neared forty. Experience, talent, and versatility count for very little in a youth obsessed industry. Ask any mature Hollywood actress.
On that same note . . . love and commitment count for very little when one’s husband is more enamored with a young thing than the true thing. My ex-husband, who also happens to be my ex-agent, chucked me, and our fifteen year marriage, in favor of a lingerie model half my age. How clichĂ© is that?
It gets worse.
Michael and Sasha are currently honeymooning in Paris, France—my dream destination, a place he promised to take me and never did. She’s also pregnant with his child. A bit of news I learned through the grapevine (my two closest friends Nicole Sparks and Jayne Robinson—also performers) because Michael was too chicken to tell me himself. Did I mention I’m childless because he convinced me we’d be happier just the two of us?
But I digress.
Where was I? Right. The day I snapped.
As fate would have it, the last gig Michael booked me on wasn’t your run of the mill entertainment gig. My skills as an actress were in demand, but instead of performing on stage for an audience, I ended up playing part in a sting targeted to bring down a murdering con-artist by the name of Simon the Fish. I botched my part and Simon ended up dead, but the good news is I rediscovered passion and purpose. I’m head over heels for a former con-artist of Scottish descent, Arch Duvall. I mention the Scottish part because his accent is to die for, plus it turns out he’s a baron. Seriously. Arch is the Baron of Broxley. Okay. So he purchased the title but it’s legit. So he says. That’s the thing about Arch, about con-artists, they tell you what you want to hear.

* * *

So ends Deleted Scene #1. Not even close to what I ended up using! But it helped me get there.

Now, on to the giveaway. Just give me a shout out here and you’re automatically entered. The winner will be randomly picked and announced next Tuesday . . . just before the second deleted scene and giveaway.

Thanks for celebrating with me (and Evie)!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fave Stuff in my Stuff Room

Over at Babes in Bookland, we're blogging about our Top Ten Favorite things. Since I'm wrestling a deadline, I focused on things in my writing room. Known to some as my 'Stuff Room'. Click here to read.