Friday, October 28, 2011

Hunted Past is OUT!

I'm comin' out! 
I want the world to know,
Got to let it show
I'm comin' out...
There's a new me comin' out
And I just had to live
And I wanna give
I'm completely positive....
~"I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross

I refer, of course, to the new release of my first full-length novel, Hunted Past! Yes! It is finally available for purchase! I'm so proud, if I could, I'd hand it to my mom and let her pin it to the fridge!

Hunted Past is available in digital and paperback forms, through the publisher and through Amazon (the paperback and Kindle versions of which suck up tons of profit, so go through the publisher). And, in case you have forgotten, the synopsis is below. 

What are you waiting for? It's out! Go get it!

Serena O’Donnell, a healer, copes with depressed and suicidal patients dealing with past tragedies. She lives a quiet and safe life, comfortable in the thought she is free to define her own path. Suddenly a random phone call tumbles her existence into a fantasy realm peopled with warring superhuman beings who seem to know more about her than she does.     
Gabriel, a Field Psychic, is committed to protecting Serena but in the process discovers he wants to be more than her bodyguard. Serena and Gabriel team up to discover why she has earned the secret warriors' attention and explore Serena’s past for clues.
Their journey becomes one of self-discovery, healing, and the slow burn of unexpected passion. The answers they find could bond them in love or forever tear them apart.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The New Elle Hill Logo

So I'm co-sponsoring a Big, Fat Flea Market in Duarte, CA on December 9 and 10, 2011. (Yes, I'll chat more about that in the future.) I'm also the one designing its publications, and while carefully pasting logos into various documents, a dreadful realization suddenly kicked me in the frontal lobe: I don't have an author logo. 

"No logo?" you gasp. "But, Elle, how could you, a future New York Times bestseller, have neglected such a vital marketing logistic?" I know, right? Shameful! 

It takes a lot of brushing
to look this good.
So, with that thought in mind, I did what any writer would do when faced when the ugly reality of their logo-less existence: I whined to my little sister. But oh, my little sister isn't just any little sister. She's also a visual artiste. Score! She designs all my visual stuff, my oldest sister tends to all the logistical and informational stuff, and I just sit here and look pretty while brushing my lustrous, seal-brown hair (see previous post). 

Sadly, my little sister was busy doing other projects I'd helpfully tossed into her lap. So alas, alas, I was forced to dust off my extremely limited Microsoft Publisher skills and cobble together a placeholder logo. I actually designed six, and this was the one all three of my test peeps agreed on. 

So behold, the new (and perhaps temporary) Elle Hill logo. I welcome all thoughts. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In Support of Brown

Picture this: A shero’s flaxen hair streams in some generic breeze while her muscular love interest flexes his shirtless pecs and tries not to care that his curly black hair is gorgeous in a sex-tousled kinda way.
You know what bugs me the most about this imaginary scene? No, it’s not the trite imagery, nor is it the traditional gender enactments. Well, okay, maybe that. But most of all, I’m annoyed that the shero — that far too many of our sheroes – is blonde.
I know flowing blonde hair is a romantic staple (although less for us paranormal romancefiends), but, really, must we? Have you ever seen coffee-brown hair stream in a generic breeze? Pretty darn sexy. Or a magnificent afro bounce in the sunlight? Glorious. So why do we authors, like so many media professionals, persist in over-representing a very small percent of our population?
Depending on which article you read, natural blonde Americans (sorry for the snub, Canadians and others) account for anywhere between two and sixteen percent of the population. According to Wikipedia (and yes, I love me some Wikipedia!), redheads are one to two percent of our population. Everyone else has brown or black hair. In spite of what you see in mainstream media, that’s eighty or so percent of us, folks.
I get it, I do: blonde hair represents fun, innocence, it’s rarer and therefore supposedly more valuable, it’s shorthand for the cultural and political capital associated with Whiteness, etc., etc. But until we start reflecting the glory of brown and black hair, women of all races and ages are going to keep shuffling their booties into the pharmacy anddisproportionately grabbing bottles of “haystack honey” hair dye from the shelves.
I’m writing in support of brown. I love dark hair. I love the way it glistens in the light, the way its frizzes and dreads and ponytails bounce against strong shoulders. I love that brown and black come in as many shades as there are people. And most of all, I love that we as authors have the opportunity to unearth beauty in the most common of places.
Yes, brown and black are the most common hair colors in the U.S. (and worldwide!). That’s awesome. Given that, I suggest we take a step or two back from our impulse to crown our sheroes with platinum, golden, honeyed, wheat-colored, or fair tresses. Now is as good a time as any to start celebrating the beautiful rainbow of brunette diversity.

*Note: I originally posted this for the Soul Mate Author Group blog right here

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hunted: A Review

The reviews for Hunted, my saucy little 15,000-word novella, are pouring in! I can hardly keep track of them! Well, okay, there have only been two, but they both mean a lot to me. One is on Hunted's Amazon page (oh yes, it has one!) and one is online, sitting there for the world to see. And you know what? You all need to see it, too:

This review was written by Ann Montclair, an obviously-brilliant and talented writer of our times. Thanks, Ann!

Hunted by Elle Hill is a paranormal romantic thriller set against the backdrop of modern day Los Angeles. The gritty, kick-butt heroine, Gray Leigh, is a Hunter, a superhuman with the ability to sniff out and destroy Leeches, another kind of superhuman that feeds on human misery. When Gray is sent to protect a scientist who has come dangerously close to unearthing their secret world, she finds Dr. Simon Romero more than worth her attention. Between flurries of violence and philosophical musings, these two make time for some serious romance. Action, thrills, passion, and humor blend to create a novella with spice. I especially enjoyed the clever snippets of Spanish that added local, believable flavor to the tale. Hunted is a fast, fun read that delivers memorable characters, succinct plotting, and a romantic element that serves to amplify the tension and suspense.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Well-Behaved Betas Make History, Too

You know those awesome Facebook memes where you get to talk uninterruptedly about yourself? (I’m convinced middle-class White women made them up because we’re socialized to relinquish our social and verbal space and these memes allow us to stake tiny claims in conversational territory.) I recently accepted the challenge of naming “fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, books) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you.” My soul-deep desire to talk about myself wasn’t what surprised me; it was the tenor of my answers.

My list of the literary and TV characters that have most inspired me includes, among several others, Beth March from Little Women; Willow Rosenberg from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; Jane Eyre from, well, you know; and Spock from Star Trek.

My initial reaction: Geez, am I a nerd! Okay, not really a shock. My secondary reaction: As a friend, Pippa Jay, and I subsequently discussed, our favorite characters tend to be “betas.” I like betas. Alphas are rockin’. Alphas get crap done. Alphas kick booty and take names afterward. 

Betas are the thinkers, the planners, the ones who would often rather paint a picture or prune a garden than shake down the villain. And you know what? I dig them.

Ever see that bumper sticker that says “Well-behaved women rarely make history”? I used to like to pretend it described me, but after several years, I finally admitted to myself that, no matter how often I proclaimed it to the contrary, I am a well-behaved woman. And you know what? I’m making history.

I love strong characters. Long live the alphas! But let’s never, ever forget the characters who make the cookies, ask the philosophical questions, type up the notes, and sweep up after the s/heroes have finished kicking ass. Brava to the betas out there whose strength lies not necessarily in their fists or their fierceness but in their compassion, intelligence, and generosity.

As Gabriel Marcus mulls in Hunted Past regarding Serena O’Donnell, his love interest: “It was his experience that the strong always put the needs of the weak before their own.” Serena is a physically powerful character, but the greatest source of her strength is her compassion, her desire to make a positive difference in others’ lives.

I honor the strength of gentleness. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hodgepodge Post

I have tons of thoughts burbling in my brain and no ability or inclination to work them into a creative whole. As a result, below is a random smattering of thoughts and announcements. 

1. Hunted Past, my full-length novel, will be released on October 28 through Wild Rose Press. Like in paperback and everything. Seriously. Given the October 12 release of Hunted, this is a good month for Elle! (Pretty cool, since it's my favorite month and the one that contains my second favorite holiday!)

2. October 19 is my first favorite holiday. It's National Love Your Body Day! That means today is LYBD Eve! Are you loving your body right now? If not, better stop what you're doing and start lovin' on it. Your body does a lot: Processes those brilliant thoughts, moves you from here to there, hugs partners and provides pets with resting places, breathes, processes toxins, looks smokin' in neckties (ties look sexy on everyone, no matter their sex), and countless other things. And yet how do you repay it? You diet and deprive it of nourishment; feel guilty when it tells you it wants sleep, sex, and other awesome things; make it wear uncomfy shoes; and too often tell it it's ugly, not fit enough, not as [insert adjective] as [insert name]'s. Your body is beautiful. It's functional. It's you. If no other days, take today and October 19 to celebrate your body's glorious beauty and capabilities. 

3. I just purchased and read My Princess Boy. I plan on sharing the book with my Marriage and Family classes and wanted to share it with you three blog readers, too. It's a precious book and has the most beautiful drawings. I'm not one to recommend consuming objects (unless it directly benefits me, I mean), but for those who might need or want it, this is a lovely and loving resource. Long live princess boys and princely girls!

Happy Elle Hill month! Happy Love Your Body Day! Happy readings!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday: Hunted Dreams

I admit I'm kinda new to this six-sentence Sunday phenomenon, so forgive me if I'm doing it wrong. Below I'm pasting, well, six sentences from the manuscript I just sent my publisher. It's not out yet, but I feel pretty confident saying it will be soon. It's by far my best work yet -- er, not that Hunted and Hunted Past aren't fantastic and all...

Below is the first time our shero, as yet unnamed, meets our hero, Reed. Happy SSS, everyone!


Reed gestured to the sky, the walls, the buildings that crowded around them at unnatural angles. “This is your world,” he said, “not mine. I’m just a bit player. Somehow you pulled me into your subconscious playground.”
She drew her breath in sharply, and her nostrils flared. “Are you saying this is a dream?” she all but whispered. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Interview with the Va-- uh, Author

A dark and intriguing author photo that surely
makes you want to buy more books
and unravel the mystery that is me. 
I was interviewed by sister-author and all-around-awesome woman Donna Shields on the release of Hunted. To hear more about your favorite author (Me, right? Uh, right?), head on over to Donna's blog post. And while you're there, you might decide to buy one of her books. And maybe an extra digital copy of Hunted. Just a suggestion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hunted Promo Video

Some call it a promotional video. Some call it a book trailer. I call it two minutes of PURE AWESOME! Thanks to the (inexpensive yet uber-professional) work of Kris Owen of Wolfwen Entertainment, I now have some dramatic music and visuals to stoke the fires of desire for my paranormal romance novella, Hunted, released today through Soul Mate Publishing

(And btw, I paid good money to use that drool-worthy picture of Simon, the crazy-hot Colombian scientist and our shero's love interest. Never say we artists don't sacrifice for our art!) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jump on board the blog merry-go-round!

An example of the FINE
available through Soul Mate
Soul Mate Publishing is ready to launch, and they have a full crew of brilliant and talented writers to, um, steer you over the choppy waters of literary deprivation... or something. Okay, really bad metaphor aside, Soul Mate Publishing is launching on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. Woohoo!

Oh yes, my friend, this means exactly what you think it means: Your romantic fiction-less days have come to an end. Just visit Soul Mate Publishing, and they will supply you with your RDA of happily-ever-afters.

Below is a list of blogs you can visit to hear more from amazing authors who, like yours truly, have the privilege of helping Soul Mate launch their amazing new publishing company. I hope you'll support them (and me, but if you're among the three peeps who read this, I imagine that won't be an issue) by perusing and purchasing some of their literary wares. 

Let's help a small publishing company and their crew of dedicated authors stay afloat! If you don't, I might have to resort to another really bad metaphor, and no one wants that.

May you find your heart's desires, my friends!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Fatties are Coming, the Fatties are Coming!

To quote from a press release just issued by NAAFA, the international, premier fat rights organization: "Living Large: Obesity in America is a collaboration between NPR and the Public Insight Network from American Public Media. They have featured a number of articles about being fat in America. They have made available a public survey for you to share your story 'if obesity has touched your life.'"

An opportunity to tell media about fatties? Sign me up! I eagerly clicked on the NAAFA-provided link to the Public Insight Network and shared with them my, ahem, concerns about the (unscientific and irrational) "obesity"-inspired, moral panic tsunami currently crashing down on us Westerners. I am only too happy to share my responses to their questionnaire and urge all three peeps who read this blog to follow my example.  


What conversations do you have - or avoid having - about weight?

As a sociologist who studies bodies and is a member of size-rights organizations, I have conversations every day about weight. Depending on who I'm with, the conversations can take one of two forms: 1. Introducing people to the idea that (gasp!) fat is just another diverse body type and that fat does not necessarily equal unhealthy, and 2. Celebrating body diversity with other fat acceptance activists and exploring with them an understanding of our common marginalized statuses as larger persons.

How, if at all, has our country's collective weight gain affected what you buy, how you travel or how you work and play?

A common torture device for
all peeps over 200 pounds
I imagine our country's collective weight gain has more to do with ever-changing measures of fatness and our increasing life expectancy than with people's expanding waistbands. That said, as a fat person who really enjoys little things like, you know, having clothing, traveling, and being able to fit into the world around me, I appreciate the gradual awakening of businesses and governments to the reality of multiple body sizes.

What, if any, other changes to your daily life have you noticed that you didn't mention above?

Having more clothing options is pretty cool. I wish businesses everywhere would stop wringing their hands over those (media-hyped!) oh-so-scary fatties and supply us with even more of those larger-sized items and services we need, desire, and deserve.

Also, not so incidentally, I wish we had more legal rights for persons of various heights and weights. I would love to know it's illegal for my employer to approach me and say, "Hey, Elle, you're too fat. Hit the bricks, sister." However, this kind of discrimination sadly isn't illegal in California (well, except for a couple of cities).

A fat monster that, at this very
moment, is coming to eat your
children and force-feed you lard
Anything else you'd like to tell us about this topic?

Why is everyone so terrified of fat folks? Kinda silly, isn't it, when we're facing 12% unemployment in California, 23% of American kids are impoverished, and Latina women still earn about 50 cents on every White man's earned dollar?

Bad science completely aside, I will perhaps start taking this whole "obesity scare" (booga, booga!) more seriously once we stop singling out the very visible fatties and start having conversations about the serious health threats of stress, for example, or the astronomical rates of physical violence -- primarily perpetrated by males! -- in the U.S.. (Perhaps we should have some kind of surgery -- a testicle band, maybe, or perhaps another kind of testosterone-loss surgery -- to help alleviate the problem?!)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Overeducated, Underemployed, and Mighty Productive

Given 175 seconds, you could listen to 3/4 of this song
Last night, I applied for my 175th academic job position in three years. Yeah, you read it right: one hundred seventy-five. If each of my applications were a mile, I could travel to Vegas from home. If each application were a single second, I’d have time to listen to your average top-40 radio song. Keep in mind this number doesn't include all my non-academic job applications, and yes, there is an ever-increasing number of those as well. I’ve easily topped 200 job applications within the past three years, ever since I scored my PhD.

So I toil as an adjunct at a job I really, really love, teaching students I adore and chatting about subjects that make my toes curl. But I don’t make enough money to pay my rent, and that’s a fact.

Am I alone in being underemployed? No. Am I alone in feeling my superior degree has made almost zero difference in my life? No. Am I worse off than most Americans? Well, yes, financially speaking, but definitely not qualitatively. Am I just one more underpaid, overworked, and cranky worker? Yep. Am I a pretty average educator suffering during an economic recession in which education cuts leave us poor and unemployed and students stuck with underpaid and overworked teachers and professors? Boy, howdy! Does any of that make me feel better? Not a smidge!

Me doing what I do best -- and cheaply
I’m a sociologist. I teach students – and did I mention I love teaching?! – all about cultural and social inequalities. I’m currently teaching a Marriage, Family, and Relationships course, and we’re discussing the boomerang generation (a pretty White and middle-class notion that posits more and more kids are fleeing the nest before boomeranging back to Mom and/or Dad once they find they can’t make it, a phenomenon that has actually been more common throughout history than we give it credit for). My students tend to nod in a “well, duh!” way when we discuss this, and I’m dismayed to know fewer and fewer peeps expect to make it nowadays without dual incomes and/or extended family networks.

What happens when my sister and I
combine our evil, cat-loving forces
So, as it always should, it comes back to me. I’m not exactly financially solvent right now. If I don’t find an academic job sometime soon, I’ll have to find a sympathetic family member and move in with her (clear out a room, LJ!). Thirty-seven years old and a proud member of the White, sorta-middle-class boomerang generation.

Or heck, maybe number 176 will pan out.*

* Note from one year later: it was number 179. :)