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 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 (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'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 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 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 you own/collect vintage clothes? Are you a seamstress? How about the 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 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