I went to the massive Romance Writers of America national conference this past week and one of the best things about this conference is that so many of the top writers in the genre are here. RWA and the romance community at large is extremely open. It’s the only place I know of where you can take workshops presented by writers who have literally sold in the tens of millions of books where they tell you how you can do it, too.

One event I did not want to miss was the Paranormal Authors Chat with Heather Graham, Nalini Singh, and Rebecca Zanetti. Since I have a paranormal/urban fantasy series starting with Tor Books in 2017 (The Vanished Chronicles), I definitely wanted to soak up whatever wisdom I could. These women are three giants of the field, plus Heather Graham was so unbelievably nice to me when I was a young struggling writer years and years ago that I still remember it vividly.

(The story: We were at a group signing together at a bookstore, I was feeling like an unknown, unwanted piece of chopped liver, while she had a line out of the door. I was at the seat next to her. She could have ignored me and instead she made me feel welcome and included. I love her forever, and this same spirit of inclusion and helping others pervades the whole RWA so far as I can tell.)

You can look up each of these writers’ bona fides but if you are new to them, they are all New York Times bestsellers many times over. Nalini Singh is the author of the Psy-Changeling and the Guild Hunter series among many dozens of other books. Rebecca Zanetti has published over 25 dark paranormals and has been a finalist for the RT Award. Heather Graham has written close to 200 vampire and paranormal novels at this point and was a founder of Florida’s chapter o the RWA. Giants, I tell you.

What I’m presenting here is a boiled-down version of the chat that took place. It looks like a transcript but I only capture about 60-70% of what is actually said, and I don’t always get exactly the right words, so don’t take this as quotable gospel. Also I only include here the portion with moderator questions. The audience questions were also fantastic and I learned a lot, but you know, if you want ALL of it, you have to start coming to these conventions yourself… (or buy the audio recordings of the convention, which are available through the RWA!).

Why did you chose paranormal?

Nalini: I write about telapths and shapefhuters and vampires and angels…why? I started with that because I’ve always been fascinated with the potential of our minds, if we could use 100% of our brains 100% of the time. But what’s the cost of that? What it drove you insane? That was the genesis of the Psy series. The shapeshifters just kind of showed up in the book, as they do because it’s a paranornmal. I wanted to write some shifter that were at home in their skins because I had just read a bunch of books wher the shifters are never happy! I thought I would love to be able to change into a tiger. Why aren’t there any shifters in books who like being shifters? So mine are. The Guild Hunter series… there are angels and vampires and… I just believe in not thinking too much about it. If you think too much about it you think, wow that’s weird… I really believe just let it out and it might be bonkers but let it be awesome bonkers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

I’ve been exchanging messages with a lot of fans of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles this week. Two different gun incidents happened in Orlando the same weekend, not only the Pulse shooting at a gay nightclub but also singer Christina Grimmie was shot while autographing after a show. Anyone who has read DGC knows that rock star life and coming out as gay and finding safe space to be one’s true self are the major themes that run through the series. So this hit really close to home for a lot of readers, as it did for me, too.

I’m deeply shaken by what happened. As I wrote in my author newsletter earlier this week: as a queer woman of color who spent a lot of time in gay bars in my 20s and just as a human being, I’m still struggling to absorb what happened.

Many of you have probably seen me wearing a T-shirt that says “Music Is My Salvation” on it. I probably wear it to almost every convention! It was a souvenir from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and I’ve worn it so much it’s almost worn through. It’s not an ironic statement for me.

Music is what brings people together in spaces like Pulse, to dance and find community, and to live shows and concerts, to find that ecstatic space of belonging that I think many people find in churches and other spaces of organized religion. Dance clubs and concert halls ARE my church. I worshipped this week at the altar of The Cure, a band that was all-absorbing to me when I was defining my art and my sexuality and my identity as a goth in my late teens and early 20s.

I last saw them in concert in 1989, more than half my life ago, but I saw them this week at the Agganis Arena in Boston. The show was amazing, transcendent, wonderful, and I couldn’t help but think that after David Bowie and Prince have both been taken from us this year, Robert Smith is the one left carrying the torch of “it’s okay to be weird.” That’s my religion, that’s what I preach: “It’s okay to be weird.”

That’s why so many of my protagonists are rock musicians and artists and nonconformists who can’t quite fit into a 9-to-5 world. Everyone has a right to be queer, in whatever way you are queer, whether in sexuality or in being not-like everyone else. You might be the same in some ways and different in others.

I learned in Bible camp (yes, I went to Bible camp) that our goal shouldn’t just be to go to heaven when we die, it should be to create heaven on Earth. My heaven would be one where everyone could be themselves freely without fear of being killed.

In particular it hurts that we are attacked for who we love or how we love. People sometimes ask me if I could be doing something “better” with my life. Right now I think writing stories about love and spreading a message that love is important and all kinds of love are valid is about the most important thing I can do.

But a lot of us are feeling helpless, powerless, angry, and empty since the attack. I know because you’ve been writing and texting and messaging me saying so. So I thought maybe I would propose a bit of collective action on the part of DGC fans and my readers at large: a donation drive.

Here’s how it’s going to work. You make an online donation to one of these three tax-deductible charities:

Equality Florida is a 501(c)(4) non-profit LGBT advocacy organization and this link goes to their specific fund for the victims, survivors, & families of those in the Pulse shooting. They’re trying to raise $7 million to pay for funerals, counseling, and much more. They’re at close to $6 million right now.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was begun by Sarah Brady after her husband Jim, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, was shot during an assassination attempt on Reagan. Jim was paralyzed for life. It took three more presidencies before the “Brady Bill” to limit handgun sales was passed and the Brady Campaign to this day still works to change gun laws in the United States. Their current fundraising campaign, simply called “#ENOUGH” is taking donations at this link. They are a 501(c)(3).

Rock the Vote is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan non-profit whose goal is simple: get more young people to vote. They provide information on how to register to vote, run voter reg drives, and other great programs to increase voter participation because they know that the more people vote the stronger our democracy is and the better it reflects the actual country. You can give at this link.

After you make your donation of any amount, even just $5, email a copy of your receipt/confirmation (either a screencap or a PDF or your paypal confirmation) to daron.moondog @ gmail along with your mailing address, and I’ll email you back the bonus Daron’s Guitar Chronicles story I’m about to write. (Haven’t written it yet, but I will! All I know right now is it’s going to be from Ziggy’s point of view.) If your donation is $25 or more I’ll also send you some additional DGC stickers/tattoos (send me your mailing address). If your donation is $50 or more I’ll send you one of the remaining DGC red notebooks that I will have extra after the Kickstarter rewards are fulfilled. While Supplies Last of course!

Please help me do something good in this world and I think we’ll all feel less helpless. You are all heroes in your own lives already when you fight for inclusion, equality, and tolerance among your family, friends, and social circles. Please join me if you’re financially able in this step toward bettering the larger world, too.

This campaign will run through July and in the first week of August I’ll report the total amount raised, sound good? Thank you.


dgc all 8 ebooks banner 600px

Mirrored from

Well, folks, I’ve been poking around at this cover long enough that I really can’t tell which one is the best. I’ve already put the book up for pre-order on Amazon and other retailers (B&N, Kobo, iTunes, etc.) but I haven’t picked a cover yet. So I’m putting several possibilities up for your feedback here!

Poll is at the bottom now closed, but qualitative feedback is helpful, too!
(and if you’re interested in being involved in the reveal of the final cover, an excerpts and release blitz, or reviewing the book on Amazon or Goodreads, please fill out: this signup form).

Images under the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

One of the panels I attended yesterday at RT Booklovers was a packed house on the subject of self-publishing ebook platforms. “Power of the Platforms” was moderated by K.A. Linde and featured three (possibly four?) New York Times bestselling authors: Jamie McGuire, Laurelin Page, Alessandra Torre, and CD Reiss.

They had a lot of tips and information to impart for any author or small publisher – and for each other, often pausing to take notes on each other’s remarks.

The first topic of conversation, and the one that went on the longest and came back up the most times, was about the most disruptive recent change in the digital marketplace: Kindle Unlimited, aka KU.

For those unfamiliar with KU, it’s a “Netflix” type model where readers pay Amazon a fee for unlimited access to books in the KU program. To be in the program, a book has to be ONLY available via KU for 90 days before it can be sold anywhere else, and the author is paid a small fee determined by pageviews which doesn’t come close to what they would have been paid if all those reads were actual sales. Every publisher I’ve talked to doing romance or erotica, including my own imprint Circlet Press, Riverdale Avenue Books, Samhain Publishing, and even the LGBT publishers Riptide and Bold Strokes Books saw revenue from Amazon drop suddenly when the KU program came online.

Here’s what the panelists had to say:
(Disclaimer: I type as fast as I can but I only get about 60-70% of what people say and I occasionally get mixed up on which person was speaking, but I’ve tried to capture the discussion as accurately as possible.)

KA Linde: Let’s just get this right out in the open. Kindle Unlimited. Do any of you do KU exclusively? (Some authors have pulled all their books from elsewhere and only do KU.)

Jamie: I don’t. I say open as many doors as you can. I see narrowing the platforms as narrowing the audience. This is the time when promiscuity is a good thing! Do everybody! (audience laughter)

Alessandra: KU is really tempting to a lot of authors and everybody is flocking in that direction, but everything changes and you are cutting out a lot of readers if you just stick to one platform. And there are a lot of opportunities on the small platforms who are more willing to work with you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

I moderated a panel at ICFA (which I had proposed) entitled: Remix Culture: SF, Fantasy, and Books in Conversation and I would like to write a coherent blog post about it, but that’s difficult because while moderating I didn’t get to take good notes and also because the smart, deep-thinking panelists had so many great things to say I can’t recreate more than the tiniest fraction of it.

It being the age of remix culture and postmodernism, however, perhaps a collage of intriguing thoughts and questions from the discussion is apropos.

My opening salvo: “A hallmark of literary fiction is that it contains references and allusions to books that came before from the Bible to Shakespeare to the canon. In science fiction and fantasy we engage with genre tropes (sf: space travel, first contact, artificial intelligence, etc/fantasy: prophecy, kingship, elfland, etc) that pretty much require any book in a subgenre or using a trope to be in conversation with books that share that trope.”

The fantastic panelists:

Max Gladstone: author of fantasy novels known as the Craft Sequence, described as “tales of wizards in pinstriped suits and gods with shareholders’ committees.” Also a copyfighter.

Therese Anne Fowler: author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and currently working on a novel about the Vanderbilts

Sam J. Miller: whose short stories have been in a lot of magazines lately (and shortlisted for some awards, I believe?) and who is working on a novel for HarperCollins right now called The Art of Starving, about a gay boy whose eating disorder gives him superpowers

Julia Rios: a former editor of Strange Horizons, now editing for Uncanny Magazine, also a writer and whom I also know as an incisive fantasy and sf cultural commentator from her work on the podcast Skiffy and Fanty and other panels she’s been on

And me (Cecilia).

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

I’m at ICFA (Int’l Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts) which is a unique academic conference where they not only talk about sf/fantasy/horror literature but invite lots of authors and editors to come be guests at the conference (including me). One of this year’s guests of honor is Holly Black, who wrote one of my favorite novels ever (Tithe) and is an all-around awesome writer I’ve known for years.

I moderated a panel I’ll blog about later and then had booksigning, so I missed the first half of Jedediah Berry interviewing Holly Black, but I at least did catch the latter half, and here’s a much much edited partial transcript of the conversation:

They were in the middle of talking about Coldest Girl in Coldtown when I came in:

Holly Black: I ask myself: Would I watch a reality show set in a walled city where there were vampires and sometimes they killed someone? I am the target market for that show! How would we react to vampires in our world? Look at how things are treated: if someone was biting someone in the back there I would probably whip out my phone. Would I put it on Instagram? Probably. I came out of that understanding that I may be a sociopath! (audience laughter) And that’s a lot of where Coldtown came from.

Jed: So back after there had been a huge wave of vampire fiction, some of it very sparkly, after the vampire wave had crested…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

I know, I know, I just released a BDSM rock star romance last week (TAKING THE LEAD), but I’m already getting ready for the summer release of book two in that same series, and here’s a post collecting a bunch of my visual references to my hero, heroine, and other elements in the book, which I’ll also try to tack up on Pinterest.

In book one (TAKING THE LEAD) we met Axel Hawke, the lead singer of bad boy rockers THE ROUGH. Now meet Mal Kenneally, the guitarist.

Here’s the description Gwen gives of seeing him:
On the side of the stage closest to me was the guitar player, Mal. We’d met once or twice in passing at industry functions. My impression of him from those occasions was that he never smiled and rarely spoke, looming in the background like a judgmental gargoyle. But on stage he was animated, explosive, leaping into the air with his guitar and then landing, flinging his long, dark hair forward and then flipping it back with a head toss. He still didn’t smile, but he matched Axel’s energy with a feral grimace as he sang, and then he sauntered out onto the long runway into the audience, playing a solo and practically humping the guitar as he went.
Pure sex. One-hundred percent pure sex that walked on two legs and played the guitar. When that song was over he tore his shirt off and flung it into the audience. His arms and chest looked like something from a fitness craze informercial: you too can have these abs! These biceps!

Some dark, long-haired rockers & actors to contemplate:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

Registration for RWA National opens next week (on Feb 2, according to the RWA website), and so now’s probably a really good time for me to blog about the pros and cons of attending big romance cons, specifically the cost. Really, for me, the only downside is how expensive it is to attend either of the two biggies on the romance calendar, RWA and RT Booklovers (often just called RT).

I mentioned in my email newsletter recently that I didn’t attend the 2011 RWA conference in New York City because I simply couldn’t afford to. But now in 2016 I can’t afford NOT to. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

There are some lessons as a writer that one learns over and over. One that keeps coming around again and again for me is this: What some people love most about a book or story will be the SAME THING that other people hate the most.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

edge-plays-cover-AReMany of you know me as a writer of BDSM-themed fiction. In fact my very first published story was called “Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords.” To encourage readers to join my newsletter email list, I’m giving away a copy of the ebook EDGE PLAYS, which collects all the stories/novellas set in the same universe as that short story except for those on sale elsewhere.

So if you’ve read any of the books of Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords, The Velderet, or Royal Treatment, this collection has three new tales for you, and if you haven’t read them, it gives you some sample chapters to try out!

To join the newsletter, visit my website at just try to navigate away from the site again and a subscription box should pop up. Put in the info it asks for and then it should provide you with special download links for PDF, epub, or Mobi format ebooks.

If for any reason it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, you can always email me at ctan.writer @ and once I verify you’re on the list I can email the files to you, as well.

Offer good until December 1st only!

Mirrored from

showyourselfI’m very pleased to host Xan West, whose new book SHOW YOURSELF TO ME is this season’s “must read” BDSM book. I’ve known Xan for years through leather/BDSM activism circles as well as queer writing circles. If this interview doesn’t convince you to give Xan’s work a try, you can read a story from the book over at Sinclair Sexsmith’s blog: “Tender Sweet Young Thing.”

CECILIA TAN: First off, how would you describe yourself to a new reader just discovering you? I’ve been trying to write a coherent short bio of you and utterly failing. 

XAN WEST: My erotica contains a heavy concentration of sadism and a strong D/s dynamic and a bunch of dirty talk. It is deeply queer and often centers trans and genderqueer characters, with a range of pairings and a bunch of group play.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

Last night I attended a special screening of LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS, a fantastic documentary by filmmaker Laurie Kahn about romances and the women who write them.

The film has been in the works since all the way back in 2009 when she attended the RWA National conference and thought, hm, I’m onto something here. She secured a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to not only work on the film but also a full cross-platform documenting of the subject with a website, The Popular Romance Project. At the website people can see hundreds of hours of interviews and footage that didn’t make it into the finished documentary.

And like romance novels themselves, the film has faced an uphill battle against sexism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

Right now my nerves are on fire, I’m jittery as hell, and yet I’m also so exhausted I can barely move. I might be about to cry, or scream, or maybe pass out. Why do I feel this way?

It might be that I gave in to my intense chocolate craving today and had far too much of it than is healthy (plus lots of tea), so perhaps this is caffeine overload.

It might be that my erratic hormone cycles are about to coalesce into something.

Or maybe it’s merely that I’m deep in the guts of the rewrite for TAKING THE LEAD, my next romance novel for Hachette/Grand Central/Forever…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

Just came from the panel/class on “How Not to End a [Romance] Series” at RWA 2015 and I am rushing up to my room to see if I can crank out a blog post about it before I go off to a publisher party!

The panelists were Jaci Burton, Marie Force, Jill Shalvis, and Shannon Stacey. All NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors of multiple series. All have sold in the millions.

All of them write series with a central concept of either geography (small town, island, etc) or a brotherhood (firefighters, football or other sports team) that keeps providing them with heroes and characters to be paired up in future books. Each writes the kind of series that has a different romantic pair in each book and since they are character driven, none of them uses large overarching plots to tie things together: they just write whatever character calls to them next.

And each one said, basically, they don’t know how to end a series. All of their series but one are still ongoing (the exception was Shannon Stacy’s Kowalski series, because, as she put it, “I ran out of Kowalskis.”)

They said a lot, all of it excellent advice, but in the interest of time, I’m boiling it down to my top ten takeaways from the panel.


Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

Fauzia Burke of FSB Associates and Kristen Frantz of Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Fauzia Burke of FSB Associates and Kristen Frantz of Berrett-Koehler Publishers

One of the cool things about BookExpo America is that there are seminars aimed at authors, publishers, and so on. For the past few years there has been a whole track of programming about the digital space and using digital tools for marketing and commerce.

Fauzia Burke (of FSB Associates) opened by explaining that agent Amy Hughes caught the flu and so didn’t make it, so it was just her and Kristen Frantz (VP of sales and marketing at Berrett-Koehler Publishers).

Fauzia began by answering the question, What is digital branding? “Think about what comes up when you do a Google search for a person. Your website, your social assets, etc.”

“I know the authors in this room are thinking I wrote the book, now I have to be a marketing expert, too? But yes, you have to think about why it’s important. The people who do digital branding get more speaking gigs and they spell more books. If you had a one tweet equals one book sale ratio we would all do it, right? It isn’t so obvious, unfortunately, and it’s not just a sales tool.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

I’m sitting here in bed on the last night of RT Booklovers, with my knee up on pillows with an ice pack. Ouch. You see, at Heather Graham’s Vampire Ball, they had a charity fundraiser for a pediatric AIDS organization, where for five bucks you could dance with the cover model of your choice. So I danced with the delectable DeLonn Donovan, which was lovely. But then the next time I tried to stand up, my left knee was so swollen I could barely limp back to my room.

Great thanks to Sarah Frantz Lyons and L.A. Witt (aka Lauren Gallagher) who retrieved me a bag of ice. I did myself a mischief, it would seem!

I figure to recap the convention I should note a couple of things. Like how about my awards speeches? That’s a good thing to blog!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

Here are my recaps of a few more panels: Post-Gay, Marketing Series, and Bonus/Free Content.

POST-GAY: When Characters Just Happen to be Gay
This was a powerhouse panel of fantastic queerfolk including:
HelenKay Dimon, filmmaker JC Calciano, Radclyffe, JA Rock, LA Witt, and Reesa Herberth, and moderated by Sarah Frantz Lyons.

The discussion had depth and pith, and I can’t really recapture the whole ebb and flow of it since I only wrote down a few notes and choice quotes, but the essential internal conflict the community as a whole seems to be struggling with is how to continue to represent queer characters and queer lives within this mainstream literary form without necessarily hewing to either the expected stereotypes and well-trod coming-out and/or tragic arcs, or making their queerness the central aspect of their story. Is it possible to have stories and novels where the characters just “happen to be queer”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

It has been a fabulous, busy first 24 hours at RT. I arrived last night too late to pick up my badge, but that was all right. Once I retrieved my box of giveaways and unpacked, I headed to the bar where I had nonstop fantastic conversations with smart women from about 8pm to well past midnight. Sarah Frantz and Rachel Haimowitz from Riptide Publishing, book bloggers like Jo from Wicked Lil Pixie Reviews, Stephanie from Book-A-Holic Anon, and Lynda “Fish with Sticks” (a knitting enthusiast as well as book lover), authors Jessica Freehly and L.A. Witt, and more.

Today after a lovely breakfast of berry-filled crepes with chocolate, courtesy of RT at the welcome session, I took in the presentation by Wattpad. The session was led by Wattpad staffer Ashleigh Gardner and bestselling author Anna Todd (whose One Direction fanfic grew into a huge international sensation on Wattpad and was bought by Simon & Schuster and now will be a movie from Paramount).

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from

ceciliatan: (default)
( Apr. 14th, 2015 11:45 am)

Incubus-Angel-200x300Today I guestblogged over at the site of Jana Richards as part of my blog tour for The Incubus and the Angel.

My topic is “Consent it Sexy.”

“I think consent is sexy. One of the things that turns me on the most, both in a lover in my real life and in the books I like to read and write, is communication between partners. Consent is about negotiating likes, wants, needs, and boundaries between lovers. Finding out how the key fits into the lock, the magic fit between the two main characters, is the key to any romance novel and I love to see how people get there,” I wrote.

Of course the lack of consent in some romance novels is one of the reasons some criticize the genre and fear it is harmful to women. I point out in the blog post that fantasies about being ravished or “overwhelmed by unstoppable male desire” are valid fantasies to have. Readers do understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

In The Incubus and the Angel I make that force of “unstoppable male desire” an actual magical force that has real consequences in the world, though! And therein lies the central idea of “the incubus” that brings erotic dreams in the night.

Read the whole essay here:

magic u forthcoming banner

Mirrored from

You know how Amazon pages always give you a strip of suggestions that says “Customers Who Bought {this thing} also bought:” ?

Here’s the strip that is appearing on the newly launched page for The Incubus and the Angel! It’s very good that it lists the other two books in the Magic University series, but its the other books that have me so curious! The other books are a few by Terry Pratchett, and the latest from Max Gladstone! Max and I cross paths a lot in science fiction circles: we competed in the same Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition and this very book of his listed on Amazon is in my to-be-read pile right now!

And Marie Brennan’s “A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent” looks like it needs to be added to my TBR pile, too. I guess my readers have good taste!

It’s nice to be in good company.


Mirrored from



ceciliatan: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags