Thursday, March 24, 2011


Well, I know I have been gone a bit from the virtual bar--the place I like to do my interviews-- but I'm back with a bottle of Jack and m/m author Michael Mandrake. I heard he's got a soft spot for Jack Daniels so (((giggles))) I got a nice fifth I plan to tempt him with.


Jack Daniels straight!

Deanna: Welcome Michael! Can I interest you in a shot of Jack?

Michael: Oh, I thought it was just rumors we had to drink during the interview!

Deanna: Nope! ((((pours a couple shots))) Bottoms up!!! Now that we got the first one down, tell me: where are you and what are you wearing?

Michael: Haha, really? Stretch pants and a long unsexy tee. Not that sexy… I'm in the kitchen where I can be away from my kids so I can concentrate.

Deanna: (((pours another shot and passes it over))) I think you need this.

Michael: I usually do vodka, but apparently you really want me to party! Bring on the Jack Daniels! (((downs his shot)))

Deanna: (((laughs)))You;re too easy! Well, now that we’re comfy, tell me about your new book?

Michael: My latest sole author book is THE TRUE MEANING OF LOVE out from XOXO publishing but I’m currently in 11 out of 14 anthologies that I’ve been accepted to. The latest of which is LONGING FOR A NORMAL STATE OF VERTIGO inside the RIDING THE ROCKET ANTHOLOGY.

Deanna: Ha ha, you said riding the rocket. Okay, I'll be mature. Must be the Jack. (((pours another round which, despite protests, Michael downs easily))) Now, where did the idea for this story come from?

Michael: For VERTIGO, I knew I wanted to do a different kind of story other than contemporary. I was thinking of a paranormal, non vampire and I came out with a historical which was originally a steampunk idea but it didn’t turn out that way.

As far as TRUE MEANING, it’s just an everyday contemporary tale about a gay couple that has a disagreement and it results in an accident. Through that occurrence, they learn how to love and respect one another more.

Deanna: What was the hardest part of writing these stories for you?

Michael: Nothing hard about TRUE but for VERTIGO, because it’s a historical paranormal, trying to find facts on the early 20th century. Also, about the speech which I might have slipped up on a couple… lol For the most part, I did okay.

Deanna: What’s the easiest thing about writing these stories?

Michael: VERTIGO, my characters. The story development was linked directly to my main character. My supporting one seemed to fit right in. (((grins)))

Deanna: What is your dream story, your opus, if you will? The one you dream about writing but haven’t don’t it?

Michael: Hmm, well, I have the story written but not edited or released. I have a paranormal gay romance ménage sitting in my Stories Not Done folder. I’d love to be able to get that out. I love the story, as well as the characters.

Deanna: SHOT TIME!!!! (((pours another round and holds up for a toast))) May you have a Republican's money and a Democrats sex life!

Michael: I'll drink to that! (((clinks glasses and downs the Jack))))

Deanna: So Mikey...can I call you that?

Michael: (((shrugs and blows a raspberry))) Sure! Why not? (((giggles)))

Deanna: Hmm, I guess the whiskey's taking effect already. Lets get back to business before poor Mikey passes out. When did you first discover you were a writer? Were you like sitting on the toilet and just said, “Ya know, I think I’m gonna write a book.” Or was it more profound?

Michael: (((laughs and hiccups))) Nope not on the toilet but it was a time I was sitting at my desk at my last job. I’d received a letter from an editor of an anthology who saw my story on the Erotica Writers Association list and wanted to present it to the publisher. Now, it didn’t make it in but, it did tell me that I might be good enough to do the writing thing.

Deanna: What helps you when you are stumped on a scene in a manuscript? I usually have a cocktail or three. But that’s just me. (((holds up her shot glass in illustration)))

Michael: (((laughs))) No, I don’t really get stumped. I always just look back at my work and if the characters don’t like it, I change the course of the story. I’m a very characters driven writer.

Deanna: Most of my stories have a theme song, do you do that for your characters?? If so what is it?

Michael: Wow, that’s ingenious.

Deanna: Its the liquor

Michael: Well, I may have a particular song in mind when thinking of the story. If it’s not an 80’s pop tune then it’s a heavy metal song that I can’t get out of my head.

Deanna: Ah, a boy after my own heart. Love me some Heavy Metal Now that I have you a little bit schnockered, tell my readers about a scene that you have written then afterward, when you read it, you shocked yourself? You know I want a dirty answer (((hint hint)))

Michael: (((laughs))) You’re hilarious. Um, I would have to say, the scene I’ll have to edit out, unfortunately but as a story on its own. It’s an M/M/F scene in Masquerade, that is featured in this month’s Cocktails, Gossip, and Fiction Mag. I’ll give the link at the end.
Basically, the scene includes double penetration on one woman. (((laughs))) I’m still shocked I did it and for those that have read, they say it’s written well. Hey, I watch a lot of porn, not as much as I used to but, having that and an active imagination helps.

Deanna: Wow!!! Finally someone gave me the naughty answer I was looking for! I should give Jack to all my guests. It really loosens up the tongue. But from how steamy Michael's book sound, I think more than tongues are being loosened! LOL

Thanks again for stopping in today Mikey. You need to stick around. We still have half a bottle left! I want to hear more about this DP scene!

Michael: (((laughs))) Okay! Thank you, Deanna, for this fun interview. I’m sure it is the funnest one I’ve done!

Deanna: It's the Jack, baby. It's the Jack!

Now while the rest of you check out Michael's links, me and him are gonna finish off this Jack and find some Frat party to crash! Later!

Michael Mandrake -
Rawiya -
Facebook and Twitter -!/rawiyamikembl
Goodreads -
Its Raining Men Blog -
Livejournal – Taboos and Perversions

The Cocktails Mag Fiction and gossip – Story, With Menage Comes Insecurities!erotic



Brandon McFerry and London Davies are a couple that has been together six years. After having an argument over the importance of Brandon's event at his art gallery versus London's party at his club, London is involved in a serious car accident that makes him temporarily incapacitated. During his rehabilitation, Brandon and London will learn the true meaning of love thus bringing them closer together.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Well you prepared for your conference and you executed your plans perfectly. Now what?

You're home, exhausted and excited. And when you look in that cool free bag you got at that conference its full of promo....and your purse is full of cards!

Take a Deep Breath

Now, hopefully you kept all the important ones separate. Sorry, forgot to mention that you should have a special place, ie a business card put all the cards that are important. Oops!

If you followed all the steps in my previous blogs it should be a simple thing to sort through the cards and choose the top people you connected with. They are your FIRST STRING


Facebook and email them immediately

Don't wait

Remind them of who you were and how you met...Now do you see why you needed the back of your business card to be blank and why you wrote details on their cards? Their kids names, that article you told them about. The blog they were interested it?

See, I'm not full of total crap! LOL

Also be sure to include any info in the email about what you discussed. Real networking is about not how that person can benefit you but how you can benefit each other.

If there was something that you can do to help them out make sure to include it in this email. That special touch, showing that you cared enough to help them out will go a long way to forming a real relationship

Hopefully your new friends respond and you can cultivate the connection that will benefit both of you.


These are the folks who gave you cards but maybe you didn't feel that there was a huge connection. Well you never know who will become a friend and who will forget you. Often my first stringers forget all about me :(

At my second conference I realized these second stingers often remember you and when you can reconnect they get bumped up to first string.

Don't discount someone that you chatted with for ten minutes. Take a moment to drop them a line and say Hi!

REMEMBER: Email every connection you feel is useful or valid.


You can kick it old school and send them a thank-you card via snail mail.

Just make sure that their address was on their card. Don't google it or they will think you're a nutter! LOL


Sometimes you get no response, after a week and a half feel free to drop a second email but don’t go stalker crazy.

That’s why FB is so great because they accept your request and the social connection is there to be cultivated until the next conference


You did it!

Your preparation paid off and putting yourself out there despite personal fears paid off!

Well, I hope I offered you a few helpful tips for making your conference successful!

Good Luck!


'Spicing up your love life one naughty read at a time!'

Tuesday, March 8, 2011



So you followed some of the pointers from yesterday's post and you are prepared to network your butt off at your conference. You know what your agenda is. You are there to network and meet new people. You have clear concise business cards. You have some prepared conversation starters.

Now it's GAME TIME BABY!!!!

The first thing you need to do is:


Your prepared you can do it. Its why you and all the rest of these people are there. Half of them are just as nervous as you


We’ve identified most likely places:

Gym for the workout folks
Café for the early birds.
Classroom for the learners
Bar for just about everyone and those in between.


DO NOT lock yourself in your room and write or sit in the back of the class or find a secluded corner of the restaurant then hide behind your friends.

They are all there for the same reason you are.

There are scheduled speeches and meals, join a table of strangers. You will be sharing a meal and the conversation will just happen. And if it doesn’t happen you already thought of some conversation starters before you got there so use them.

Oftentimes people get excited when someone starts handing out business cards in a group because they were waiting for the opportunity to do so with out being pushy.


This is something I have to train myself to do when I am working. In casual settings I talk constantly and forget to listen sometimes. But when I am in work mode I am all ears. Sure I offer info about myself but when someone is in my salon chair it is all about them. They are my primary focus. It makes them feel important.

When networking this is equally important. I am eager to chat about my books all day and so are they. But if you listen to them more than you talk about yourself they will remember you!


Write down their personal info on their business card or bookmark, whichever they gave you.

I will even do this in front of the person and tell them, "I enjoyed chatting and I don’t want to forget you when I get home because of all the cards I already have."

Be thorough with what you write. Hair color, conversation, kids names, etc.


You meet the nicest people smoking.

I didn’t say take up the habit but I cant tell you how irritating it is when you are having a great chat with 2 people and they go off to smoke. You stay behind and dammit when they come back, they made plans to go somewhere else and you have no idea what they were just chatting about.

News Flash: You should have gone too.

This holds true for classes. You want to attend the Writing Craft class and the nice lady you are chatting with is going to the How to Write Sex class.

Well what are you waiting for?

You can take an online class anytime!

Go with her. Solidify the bond.

Somebody wants to go sit in some piano bar and you don’t like bars or pianos but you think you’re making a great connection, suck it up and go!

This is doing something out of your comfort zone. And you should strive to do this at least THREE TIMES every day.

Only by constantly putting yourself out there will you make that one or two great connections. You will be so proud of yourself when it is all said and done.

But you're not done yet! There is a lot to do when you get home! Stop by tomorrow and find out what!

'Spicing up your love life one naughty read at a time'

Sunday, March 6, 2011



Ahhh, networking...sounds scary to some of you doesn't it? We spend so much time making "computer" friends and writing that sometimes the idea of face to face networking can be daunting. But trust me, everyone has something they can use to their advantage while networking at a conference... even if the very ideas of talking to strangers makes your hands sweat.

And why should you trust what I have to say? Well for those of you who know me personally, I'm outgoing and usually have a lot of success when I attend conferences.

But here's the thing: None of it was accidental.

I remember someone laughing the first time I went to RWA Nationals when I said I didn’t care what classes I was taking because I was just going to hang out in the bar. It may have sounded silly but it was part of my plan. I went there to make connections and meet people.I knew people would be at the bar and I was going to meet them.

I had a plan! Was it perfect? No, but I had one.

I have been networking professionally for my career since 94. Being a hairdresser is all about selling yourself, making good first impressions, being prepared, executing a good service and follow up. Same things one needs to network and network well.

So in the next few days I would like to pass on some of the things I have learned.

Today I am going to discuss possibly the most important of all.


This is the hard part. Just like plotting your book, all good things come from good preparation. Its more than just business cards but planning what to say and where to go. I tried to break it into four easy steps.


Why you are at the conference?To improve your craft?
Meet an agent?
Pitch your books?
Meet other authors?
All of the above?

My personal goal is always to make a good connection with one person each day. Just come on, that isn't that hard when you think about it. Just one.

If your goal is to take a lot of classes, then your best chance of meeting people is in the classroom. So don’t sit with your friends. Find a stranger.

Personally, I would caution against only focusing on classes while attending a conference. There are great things you can learn but you can do that at home online, too. If you spent the money to attend a big conference you need to network.

Remember: Everyone else is there to network too!


a. Dress for success. Sounds like a no brainer, but you would be surprised by what some people think is acceptable. You should look your best at all times, like you’re on a job interview for your dream job.

NO SWEATPANTS!!!! Get out your make-up, ladies!!! No frumpkins allowed.Writing is a business and just because we can wear sweat pants while we work, doesn't mean we can at a conference!

b. Identify where are you most comfortable meeting people?

The biggest part of networking is being where the people are so golden opportunities don’t pass you up.
There are basic places you meet people:


So think of the places you feel comfortable and put them into your plans to be there you wont miss serendipity stopping by.

Are you an early riser? The coffee shop.

Are classes your fave place? Sit buy a stranger.

Bit of a lush like yours truly? The bar. And frankly this is where 80% is done, is a great place to make friends!

Over wine sudden friendship springs....

c. Before you get on the plane, make sure you have an active Facebook account because I guarantee 90% of the people you meet will ask. And its becoming almost unacceptable not to have one.


My favorite!

This is possibly the most important thing in preparation after psyching yourself up.

Once the conference is over and everyone has gone home this is all they have of you.

Things to avoid when making your business cards:

a. Shiny paper. The person who gets it can't make notes about who you are if its shiny.

b. Busy, dark backgrounds. If you use a dark card, make sure the back is white so people can write notes about you.

c. I would avoid putting your face on your card if you are using something you think is sexy or if your face consumes more than 1/4 or the card. If you put a pic of yourself on the card...think Real Estate Agent, where their face is in a box next to their name.

Your name and contact info are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING not some sexy/fun picture or an overexposed pic of your face.

d. I would even caution against having more than one book cover on the card. It tends to get busy

A busy crowded card is a forgotten card. KISS: Keep it simple stupid

If you want your cover on the card, make sure it is a thumbnail pic and your name is the most prominent feature.

e. Clear concise font, no fancy swirly stuff no one can read. Preferably a pale background with a matte finish.

They will get a lot of cards and you don't want them to forget you!

f. ALWAYS have your promo material handy. Maybe paperclip the card to your bookmark and tie it with a ribbon so you have something nice to hand folks.

The extra touches will be what they remember when they get home and are sifting thru that giant stack of promo and cards they have in their conference bag

g. Always say your name twice!

When you introduce yourself and when you hand them your card. Say your tagline.
Repetition for emphasis!


My consultation with my customers is scripted. I ask the same questions every time and I ask then in the same order. This is because I do not want to miss something important. You can be just as prepared in ‘casual’ conversation

There’s nothing wrong with making a list of 5 or 10 interesting things to start conversations if you are nervous about talking to strangers.

"Have you attended RT before?"
"This is me 1st/2nd conference. How about you?"
"Wow, this is a really nice hotel!"
"Are you a writer?"
"What classes have you taken so far? Wasn’t that a great welcome speech?"

Well now that you have a start on how to prepare yourself, you are one step closer to having a successful conference. Some of these things may seem simple but they are great reminders.

Stay tuned for tips on how to execute all of your preparation when you get to the conference!

"Spicing up your love life one naughty read at a time!"