Sunday, July 26, 2009

Contest and Interview with Annette Blair!!!




Welcome everyone! I'm so excited to be hosting Annette today at Penelope's Romance Reviews. I have been an Annette Blair addict since I read her funny, sexy, delightful Witch books. Never Been Witched, the final entry of the Triplet Series, was my favorite. What's so cool about Annette? She is a master of light paranormal romance, my favorite genre. Annette's stories are witty, sweet, sexy-hot and clever. On top of that, she has the most unique "voice" in romance I've ever read. Her books are a real treat (note the Halloween reference!)

She and I will be discussing writing, vintage clothing and wiener dogs! Please leave a comment for Annette...one lucky commenter will be winning a free copy of Vintage Magic. I'm including some wonderful photos of Annette's vintage handbags and some more from my own collection. If you have any rocking vintage bags, please send me a photo and I'll post it! (penelope.romance@gmail.com)

Penelope (P): Annette, welcome to Penelope's Romance Reviews! I'm thrilled to have one of my favorite authors here for an interview. Woo hoo!

Annette (A): Thank you for inviting me to do this interview, Penelope, and for the delightful A++ you gave Larceny and Lace.

P: I adored this book...it's not often that I venture away from straight romance to mystery or other genres. This mystery has just the perfect amount of "romantic elements" to keep me happy. For those of you not familiar with Annette's latest addition to the Vintage Magic Mystery series, Larceny and Lace (coming out August 4), please check out my review. Here's a blurb for the book....

The second entry sparkles in bestselling author Annette Blair's enchanting Vintage Magic Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime starring Madeira Cutler, a psychic dress designer - and daughter of a witch - who "reads" vintage clothes and follows their clues.

So, Annette, what I really want to know is...how do you come up with your cool ideas? Do you plot the whole thing out, or pants it?

A: The ideas keep coming. I can't seem to stop them. They come to me in my sleep so I have to get up and write them down to get back to sleep. They come while I'm driving, while I'm showering, while I'm watching TV. I keep paper and pencils in every room and right beside me while I'm watching TV. Ideas come to me for one book while I'm writing another and I have to stop and take notes for the next book so I can work on the one that's due soonest.

I'm more of a plotter than a pantser. I like knowing what's going to happen, though I love it when I get surprised along the way.

That said, to be true to a story, I don't allow myself to plot the mysteries, since I'm writing as Maddie the sleuth, and I have to figure it out as I go along...what's going to happen, and who the bad guy/gal is.

However, when it comes to my paranormal/supernatural romances, I do plot, which takes away a level of stress, and when I go off the beaten path and get surprised, I can always return to the path, rather than get lost along the way.

Clear? As mud? I'm a plotter at heart. I'm a pantser when it comes to letting my creativity take the lead.

P: Well, I for one, am impressed. I am attempting to pants a mystery right now, and it's really tough. I think I'm going to have to partially plot/partially pants (that sounds a little bit kinky). I was really surprised you made the jump from romance to mystery. Was that difficult?

A: Just to set the record straight, I haven't permanently switched from one genre to the other. I'm writing both romance and mystery, and they're being released at the rate of about two to one. This year, it's two mysteries and one romance. So far for next year, it's two romances and one mystery.

Now to answer your question, is it hard to switch back and forth between them? Yes and no. Now that's a definitive answer, isn't it? I enjoy switching from third person to first person. In the mysteries, I'm the sleuth, and I never have to get in anyone else's point of view. That's a refreshing change for me. I enjoy the easy flow of just being me, er, I mean, Maddie Cutler, potential witch and psychic sleuth.

Switching back to third person is often difficult when I move back to writing a romance after a mystery, though I adore the sexual byplay, and I always have a lot of fun with that. And even though my books are being released two to one, I seem to be writing them in an alternating pattern: a mystery, a romance, a mystery, a romance.

P: I'm totally hearing you! I think writing different genres keeps an author fresh, too.

I get the feeling that you have fun writing these books. Do you ever laugh out loud while writing?

A: I do laugh out loud, often. My husband thinks I'm a nut, especially when I cry. The laughter he seems to think is normal, the crying, not so much.

P: Oh! I'm a huge crybaby...my family is used to my leaky tear ducts. I even cry at McDonald commercials. (I know I should be embarrassed about that, but I'm not!) I love books that make me laugh AND cry, like Larceny and Lace. It's a fabulous emotional roller coaster with a happy ending--the best!

Tell me about the vintage clothing angle...do you own/collect vintage clothes? Are you a seamstress? How about the handbags...do you keep them at home on a shelf or actually get to use them sometimes?

A: I don't especially collect vintage clothing but I do own some, and I've worn a lot of the vintage styles that are popular. I have always thought that classic lines looked the best on me and I tend to stick with them. When you're 4' 10" you don't have a lot of choices. Nothing is going to make you look willowy, no matter what.

My daughter collects vintage handbags and - this is me eating my words - I always made fun of her "addiction," although she has the best taste in vintage handbags. I love them all. Yes, she does use them. Now the bags I've featured in the first two books are also hers. I have them here at my house, but she has the rest at home in New Jersey and is loaning them to me as I need them.

I was never a seamstress but I did make my own and my children's clothes for years from before they were born. When they were toddlers, I often made us matching outfits. If I had a scanner I'd show you pictures. I also did sewing crafts and home decorating, going so far as to make curtains, drapes and reupholster furniture. To be truthful I've done less sewing since I started writing, but writing the Vintage Magic Mysteries is making me want to take out my sewing machine again.

P: It's making me want to learn how to sew! I'm thinking about signing up for a daughter and mother sewing class so my daughter Natty and I can make some fun stuff together. I'm finding it extremely difficult to refrain from making fun of you for sewing matching outfits for yourself and your kids. So. Difficult. If you had sent photos, it would have been impossible! Now, if you had matching outfits with your pets, that's another story altogether....

Speaking of pets!!!--What was the inspiration for the wiener dog in Larceny and Lace? As most folks know, I'm obsessed with dachshunds...my family has always had wiener dogs as pets, and they are often dressed in cute red sweaters with snowmen appliques. Our current doxie is Lucy, a mini long-haired black-n-tan. I dress her up in a Santa hat at holiday time, but she's not too keen on the whole thing.

A: I have two nieces, Abigail and Hannah, short haired red dachshunds. I'm particularly fond of the breed, and if it wasn't for allergies in this house, I'd have a dachshund of my own. If you haven't read my Victorian Historical Scoundrel in Disguise, you might enjoy it, because a dachshund is a main character and another is a minor character.

P: Oh boy!!! I'm going to order Scoundrel in Disguise right now. Can't wait! Thanks for the hot tip, Annette. 

I'm dying to know what's in store for Maddie and Werner in Larceny and Lace. Are you allowed to tell?

A: I don't know the answer, since I don't plot my mysteries. LOL. I can tell you that Werner and Madeira have a close encounter of the amorous kind in Death by Diamonds, and Nick Jaconetti isn't any too happy about it. I should also remind you that Nick was Madeira's first love and that's a strong bond. So far, she's not feeling as if she has to make a choice. If the series is picked up for a second set of three, we'll see.

P: What's next for Madeira?? More romance books/series on the way?

A: Once I turn in the third and last in my Vintage Magic contract, my agent, editor and I will discuss the longevity of this series, or the lack thereof. Stay tuned. When I know something, I'll tweet. :)

P: Geez, I sure hope you all decide for more of these books! I am dying to find out exactly what Maddie's powers are, and what's gonna happen with the men in her life, and with Dante....Oy.

I'm jonesing for a new Annette Blair romance. What's next?

A: I'm so glad you asked. In my Works Like Magick Novels, the first of which is Naked Dragon, January 2010, magical, supernatural ancients are able to breach the veil from parallel planes into the Salem of today. There, they may meet my accidental or triplet witches or their relatives. With the help of witch Vivica Quinlan, the magical supernatural ancients are mainstreamed into society. This is not always an easy transition, and each supernatural being - time travelers, shape shifters, and such - has his own problems finding work and living with humans who don't always understand him. Bastian has been a Roman Warrior, a dragon, and he's now a man again. A man with a flaw.

In August 2010, watch for Bedeviled Angel, Micah Godricson's story.

Yell, Penelope, if you have any other questions.

P: Ahhhhh! Are you kidding? You whet my appetite for Naked Dragon, and now I have to wait until January? That series sounds absolutely fabulous, and totally right up my alley. I cannot wait! Also, the cover is so hot....check out Annette's website to see the dragon-licious cover. 

Thanks, Annette for the great interview! Readers, please leave a comment for us! Check out these awesome vintage bags from Annette's collection....


This is a three-way purse with a removable cover that's reversible. So cool!




This is the clutch that Annette gave directions for making at the end of Vintage Magic.


A gorgeous beaded handbag from my Grandmother. So romantic! (Penelope's collection)


Another sparkling black and gold-beaded evening bag, and a totally funky paisley velvet clutch, both from my Grandmother's collection. (Penelope)


Here's another handbag from Annette's collection...this one is featured in Larceny and Lace

57 comments:

michellepicard said...

I love the interview Penelope and Annette. The handbags are gorgeous. I hadn't though I was a fan of vintage handbags until now, but I guess I am. I have one from my grandmother, I realize. Also, I'm definitely with you on the anxiety reduction of plotting your romances, Annette. When I plot it frees me up for those surprises as I go along with my writing and so I get the free flowing creativity along with the benefit that I have an actual finish to the story. I don't know how you're doing it pantsing with the mysterious. I'm looking forward to your new book and the future releases. Thanks for visiting Penelope. She's a fun travel destination.

Penelope said...

Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for stopping by...I would love to see your vintage handbag...maybe you can bring it to our next Quirky Ladies meeting.

bridget3420 said...

I love the last one! It's Purty:)

Annette Blair said...

You know Michelle Picard, you sound like someone I must have gone to school with in my small French Canadian Community. I was Annette Lague. LOL. Our names are so Canadian, which I am, of course, second generation American.

Not plotting the mysteries can get stressful but it's what I have to do so that I/Maddie Cutler, Sleuth, is as surprised as everyone else.

As for the vintage bags, we have more but we also can't seem to find the cord from the digital camera to get them on the computer at the moment. Grrr.

Penelope is a DELIGHTFUL AND AMAZING travel destination.

Annette Blair said...

Yes, Bridget, isn't it gorgeous. We bought it (and when I say my daughter and I) from an antique store in Amesbury MA and they'd gotten it from a handbag museum that closed in Maine. I think it's one of the prettiest. Though we have maybe twenty.

Raonaid Luckwell said...

I'm stalking, I mean following Annette to show my support with her books, both here and on Bitten.

But, the comment about a weiner dog in Larceny and Lace caught my attention! I have two dachund pups myself. The oldest, Black and Red Toy is nearly a year old (coming this Saturday), and then there is his half sister Cynder, who is auburn with some white and black, medium haired (longer haired than her brother); she's only three to four months. They are trips, I tell you that and sweethearts!

I'll have to beg the hubs to get the books so I can read them!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

* Correction, I meant September not Saturday. September 24 to be accurate.

Penelope said...

Hello RL- for anyone who wants to go stalking, I mean blog-hopping, check out http://www.bittenbybooks.com/
It's a paranormal review site...fun!
Your doxie pups sound adorable! My Lucy also has a "medium" length coat...so soft and fluffy. I can't wait to get my copy of Scoundrel In Disguise...I already ordered it from Amazon!

Annette Blair said...

Raonaid, I have two dachschund (never spell it right) puppy nieces, Abigail and Hannah, who are sweet as can be. Both short hair reds and one of my favorite breeds, so of course, having a doxie character is nothing to me. I plan to make a doxie the pet of one of my supernatural heroines in my Works Like Magick Novels.

Annette Blair said...

Yes, Penelope, the doxies in that book are practically main characters. I think you'll enjoy it. A LOT. ;)

Thanks again for having me today!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

http://www.myspace.com/warlock_Dachund
Friend talked me into making a myspace for Warlock, my male, and then I got Cynder so I just co-jointed the two.

And already been to Bitten!

Annette Blair said...

Oh, Raonaid, they're beautiful. I laughed right out loud when I saw the picture of them. They're too sweet for words!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Thanks Annette! They are a treasure

Anonymous said...

Hi Annette-

I am definitely an Annette Blair groupie. LOVE your books. Are you a bit witchy like your heroines? Did any witch ever email you/ speak with you? How do you think witches feel about your books? I mean, do they like them? Do they say it's a bit like real-life? Thanks for writing.

Annette Blair said...

I lost my response to anonymous:

Hello Groupie (I love that :) Yes, of course, I'm a bit witchy, like my heroines, sassy and snarky too, but damn, I don't look like them. :) Some of my best friends are witches. I knew that before I started writing but some didn't tell me until after I started writing witches that I'd always been friends with one. LOL. Witches have said that they love that I show them as they are. A New England group gave me a gift at a booksigning for doing such a good job of it. I hear from them all the time and have met more wonderful and terrific witches as time has gone one. Even some high priestesses, though I was friends with one before I started writing them. Thanks for posting!

Annette Blair said...

Penelope, tell us about your doxies.

Ours, Hannah, has ADHD and her kindergarten teacher keeps sending us notes because she talks in class. ;)

Abigail is more gentle and will sit on your lap for more than 2 seconds, though she likes to bury her nose beneath your blouse or skirt. :)

Other of her characteristics are in Scoundrel and I'll let you read that before I give those away.

Annette Blair said...

other of THEIR characteristics, combined, I should say.

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Dachunds are a favorite of my mother's. When her first got ran over (she was heartbroken, and it was clear someone did it on purpose) she got a silver dapple male. She had him until old age, and then my cousin gave her, her red Candy which she had until old age (they were older when mom got them) So I grew up with them too. So when the hubs said "I can get a weiner dog, someone I work with, their wife breeds them."

Warlock is a barker. He sees his reflection he parks and nosy. He's the nosiest dog. Though he likes one of our neighbors. He always greets her whenever he's outside and she comes out. She always talks to him too.

Penelope said...

Hi Annette! I have always had doxies in the family since I was a little girl. My current wiener is Lucy, who suffers from an obsessive compulsive need to lick anyone and anything within a five-mile radius. (Just ask The Quirky Ladies--when I host my writer's group, Lucy licks them non-stop!). Luckily, my kids love getting licked by Lucy! She also is the laziest dachshund on the face of the earth, and looks completely irked with me when I attempt to take her for a walk. Her favorite activity is sun-bathing on the deck.

Annette Blair said...

LOL, Penelope, Lucy sounds like a hoot.

Hannah gets so excited to see me that she pees on my shoes, so when I get there, I run through the house to the back door and don't greet her until we get outside. And then, I have to spread my feet apart so I don't get wet. LOL.

Dalton Diaz said...

Wow, those bags are gorgeous, especially love that last one! Great interview, Penelope and Annette. I learned a lot about both of you, and wiener dogs!

Penelope said...

Hi Dalton! Thanks for stopping by! Annette, I can't stop laughing about that Hannah story...that is hysterical! She's a "Happy Piddler!"

Annette Blair said...

Hello and welcome Dalton. So glad to see you here. I have your latest book LOVE CUFFS right here on my TBR pile.

Annette Blair said...

Penelope, I looked at the bags again. I love the funky paisley one. I wish I could have gotten my whole set up here, then we could have done a slide show. Bummer. Maybe next mystery.

Victoria Morgan said...

Great interview. I loved your comment about not plotting your mystery because you're writing as Maggie, and like Maggie, have to figure it out as you go along. Now that's really getting into a character's head! Loved the pictures of the handbags. When my family was cleaning out my grandmother's attic, my sister collected all her old vintage hats of hers. I didn't appreciate the allure until she set them up on a cool hat rack in her house and they are really intriguing to look at -- like stepping back in time. Thanks for sharing.
Can't wait to read your books! Penelope makes them sound like a must read and this interview only spiked my interest!

Annette Blair said...

Victoria, so nice to meet you. I'm glad that you understand my reasoning for letting the mystery plot unfold before me. Yes, the handbags are gorgeous. Some, not shown, were my mother's. Your sister was wise displaying the hats from your grandmother's attic. I saw that idea in an old Victoria Magazine. It must look awesome. Thanks for dropping by. Let me know what you think of my stories when you try one.

Pam said...

I've decided after reading this interview and your brief review of the book that I hate that we classify books into genres as I feel that because of certain bad experiences with books in a certain genre, I will then avoid that genre and I think I'm missing out on some great books! For example, when I think romance, the Harlequin-type books from my teen years come to mind so I avoid them; call the same book "chick lit" though and I gobble it up. In a book store, if this book was with the new releases, I'd probably pick it up based on the description but if it was shelved with the fantasy, I'd probably pass it by. I need to get past that or we have to classify books differently - probably easier to change myself than the entire system...

melacan at hotmail dot com

Annette Blair said...

Hi Pam, I hear what your saying, and to make matters worse, LARCENY AND LACE will be shelved with the mysteries, which means that a lot of my romance readers won't try them. If it's any consolation to you, my contemporaries have all been compared to chick lit type books because of my sassy, snarky writing style. I do think, however, that you will find this with the new releases. Thanks for stopping by.

Annette Blair said...

Sorry it took so long between answers, Penelope, I took a dinner break. :)

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

I had a doxie as a little girl, too sweet!

Loved the interview and the vintage bags!

I love all genres, but had kind of given up on romance since O.D.ing on it when I was a preteen, but I discovered that Harlequin doesn't mean girl meets boy, fall in love, get married, the end. Harlequin has all different categories now. Guess what, I read Harlequin again. This just goes to show you can't judge a book by it's genre. Larceny and Lace looks great and I'll be looking for it.

Dottie :)

Annette Blair said...

Dottie, thank you so mucy for stopping in. Yes, romance certainly has grown up. I so hope that you enjoy LARCENY AND LACE and happy that you've discovered the joy of romance again.

Penelope said...

Hi Pam! You make an excellent point about genre "discrimination"- each book should be judged based on its own merits, not because of its classification. I personally love books that cross many genres...especially light paranormal historical romantic suspense--that pretty much covers everything!
Hi Annette...you're allowed to take a dinner break! You can even sneak in some dessert. I just got back from track practice...my daughter won a blue ribbon in the long jump event...that girl jumps like a frog!

Penelope said...

Hi Dottie...I like your blog...it looks like you enjoy your paranormal fiction! I can't imagine ever ODing on romance....there are so many sub-genres to choose from, it never gets old (for me!). Thanks for stopping by...definitely check out Larceny and Lace...it will get you in a great mood!

Annette Blair said...

Congratulations to your daughter, Penelope. A blue ribbon is something to celebrate.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Oh wow, those purses are so pretty. I love it.
-Lauren
lauren51990 AT aol DOT com
shooting stars mag

Michelle Bermas said...

Hi Annette. You gave an incredible speech a few years ago at the NEC conference (of which I'm a member). It made me laugh and cry- plus I was already a fan of your books.

Speaking of dogs we love: I have a Cheweenie. Half Doxie, Half Chihuahua. I adore him though he barks a lot. Our white lab is his best friend. My little kids kiss his snout so much I think the fur will wear off.

Penelope said...

Hi Michelle! I remember that talk from the NECRWA meeting...it made me laugh and cry, too. Annette is a fabulous speaker! I also attended one of her workshops and it was wonderful.
Oh My God! A Cheweenie!!!! First of all, the word Cheweenie rocks out! Second, your dog sounds adorable, and I bet he loves it when the kids kiss his nose! My first doxie Rudy was best friends with a huge Golden...they were so cute when they walked side by side down the street!

Penelope said...

Hello to Shooting Stars Mag! Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you like the bags!

Annette Blair said...

Hi Michelle, thank you for mentioning my NEC luncheon speech. I was soooo nervous. I'm glad that it touched you. That's what I wanted to do. Thanks for being a fan of my books, and so sorry not to have had time for NEC or any group lately.

Annette Blair said...

Michelle a Cheweenie sounds so cute, and I can just imagine your kids kissing him. LOL.

Annette Blair said...

Thank you Penelope. I always get a good feeling when someone mentions that talk. Hank Phillipi Ryan has often mentioned it.

Patricia Barraclough said...

A very interesting overview of your work, Annette. I have some vintage clothing, but it doesn't fit any more. We have used it for displays at my library and my daughter used it for herself and two friends at a conference period clothing contest. They took first place. It is pretty sad that come of my old clothes that I've kept are now becoming vintage.
Nice handbags.
Naked Dragon sounds interesting.

Annette Blair said...

Thank you Patricia. Penelope does a great interview. Sounds like you've made great use of the vintage clothing you have. How fun. I'm afraid that some of my own personal clothes are also now vintage. My daughter has more handbags. I wish we could have displayed them. NAKED DRAGON is a lot of fun, thanks. And thanks for stoppying by.

donnas said...

Great interview. Very interesting. I have been reading your books since The Kitchen Witch and they are all great. This is a wonderful new series and I cant wait to read Larceny and Lace and Naked Dragon. Thanks!

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Annette Blair said...

Thank you so much Donna. I'm thrilled that you've enjoyed my witches and that you're looking forward to my upcoming books. Glad you stopped.

Penelope said...

Thanks to everyone who left comments today and stopped by to read the interview....any stragglers left today who would like to participate, please do! I'll pick a random name in a couple of days to choose a winner for the contest. Happy reading everyone!

EmilyBryan said...

Annette--Great interview! Sounds like you've really got it going on with so many releases in two genres! Kudos, my friend.

I totally relate to your "plotting pantser" self-description. It helps to have a roadmap if you get stuck, but if you see a beguiling sideroad, why not wander down it?

Penelope said...

Another one of my favorite authors is here...yippee! Emily, thanks so much for stopping by. I was just thinking about your Christmas release, A Christmas Ball, which is coming out in September. Can't wait!

Annette Blair said...

Emily, thank you for stopping by. Yes, I've got some good momentum going with the two genres. Makes me smile to know that you understand my plotting scheme. LOL.

dag888888 said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview! And what pretty bags! Looking forward to reading Larceny and Lace!

Annette Blair said...

Dag888888 I'm so glad that you enjoyed both the interview and the bags. Happy reading!

Annette Blair said...

Penelope, I went antiquing this afternoon, searching for a new vintage type bag for the end of DEATH BY DIAMONDS. Tres Cool. It's a PRADA in lime green, shaped kind of like an open fan but with a stunted growth, like a squat wide fan. All leather and it has a smaller bag inside shaped exactly the same. The inside bag is a clutch or a change purse. The outside one has two black handles shaped like an upside down U set into four black ovals. At the top, lime green leather is wrapped around the tops of the handles. I LOVE IT!

Penelope said...

Ooooo...that sounds fabulous, Annette! I can't wait to see it! I'm so jealous you went antique shopping...I personally hate shopping unless it's for books, plants, or antiques. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Death By Diamonds!

Penelope said...

Congrats to Michelle Bermas! You won our contest! Please email me with your snail mail addy so I can send you a copy of A Veiled Deception. Thanks for stopping by.
my email is....
penelope.romance@gmail.com

Michelle Bermas said...

Yipee! This is the best part of my day. I've been wrestling with two bored children, the dogs who are gnawing on the couch and the heat as I try to install unruly light fixtures.

Thank you Penelope and Annette! So happy to hear you're coming to Hanover.

Annette Blair said...

Penelope, Yes, it's cool. I hate shopping unless it's for books or antiques. Glad you're looking forward to Death by Diamonds. I had a good time with it.

Annette Blair said...

Michelle, CONGRATULATIONS on winning A VEILED DECEPTION. I'm looking forward to seeing you in Hanover.

Penelope, what can I say? You rock!!! Thank you so much for hosting me.

Hugs to all,
Annette