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Showing posts from September, 2007

Pet Peeves and Weird Needs: Exposing Our Writing Eccentricities

EDIT: Before I start off this post, I would first like to announce my winners of the Pimp My League contest. Everyone else will be posting theirs later in the week so stay tuned!
For their wonderful effortsin the art of pimpage, I've decided two lucky winners were in order, chosen from a list of well over two by a roll of my trusty 100-sided die. Congratulations to the cryptically named Moondancer Drake and also Todd Thomas! You will both be receiving signed copies of the DEAD TO ME galleys as soon as I have them! Please send me your contact info for shipment. Now on with the show...
As you can see by our subject line for this week, Mark Henry fancies himself all poetical like.I will fill that in his "Weird Needs" folder and it shall be noted on his permanent record.I've got an eye on you, Henry!First of all, I'm a man who likes to qualify things.It helps me sleep at night so I will be applying the scientific method to judging my eccentricities. To aid you, t…

Weekend Interview: Joe Schreiber, Scary Horror Guy

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I may be writing urban fantasy, but I was reared, nursed and fed on horror. King, Koontz, Barker and Straub were my Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. There were years in my youth when I read nothing but horror. Time passes and tastes change, then you pick up a book that takes you right back to the excitement, to that fast fear of pre-adolescence. Joe Schreiber's 2006 zombiethon CHASING THE DEAD was that book, a thrilling piece of classic horror that zips along like an acid trip in a hearse.

Now, Joe Schreiber is back to scare your bowels clean with Eat the Dark*. Readers won't find any zombies in this one, but there are plenty of supernatural scares and more than enough twists to keep you going 'til the last page.

The rundown...

On the eve of Tanglewood Memorial's closure, Mike Hughes and a skeleton crew of hospital staff while away the hours of what's supposed to be an uneventful shift. That is until the police roll in psychotic killer Frank Snow for an MRI…

It's Dead, Jim.

(Congrats to 'Claudia In London' who won the drawing. Send me your personal information and as soon as I get an ARC - and it's a long ways away yet! - I will send you one. :)

But back to the topic at hand...

We've all had the novels that don't start out quite right. Sometimes it's dissonant as soon as you start putting words on the page. Sometimes it kicks you at about page 75 and says "Hey moron! What are you thinking?"

And sometimes you make it to the very end of the book before you realize that the thing of beauty has turned into a Frankenstein monster. What do you do?

Well, kids, some books just aren’t worth resurrecting. When things go wrong, there's usually a point to it. Some level of instinct has come through and thrown up the flashing warning signs, but even if you plow through to the very end, it still won't make the Beast into a Beauty. Sometimes the beast remains a beast.

Allow me to give you an example: my first novel. I stopped writin…

What to do When Things Go Terribly Wrong...

A spasm gripped the reeve. She flailed and crashed to her knees, her shoulders trembling, her obsidian hair draping her like a funeral shroud. The Shepherd's vicious voice spilled forth."You cannot stop it. Nothing will stand before the might of the Great Crow. The gate of the Otherworld has yawned wide. Look inside, human, and you will see your death riding to greet you!"



"Thank you," Ghastek said. "Would you join me for some tea and biscuits?"



"Why, don't mind if I do!" said the Shepherd. "Let us have our tea and have us a lovely game of croquet!"


I don't know about you, but things go wrong for me a lot. For example, this morning I put on my new (!) pants I bought at Target. So okay they are a size too big, but that's the only size they had and since I've lost a few pounds, I tend to overestimate the size of my butt. Also they are an inch too long, but that has no bearing on our current situation.

Anyway, back to the …

You With the Pen, Step Away from the Ledge!

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What do you do when things go wrong? Seriously, what? Do you have a plan? Some foolproof method of fixing the ambiguous things of which we speak? I'll tell you what I do. I freak out. I freak right the f**k out. Things can't go wrong. They just can't. Oh God.

But they do.

In life, things go wrong all the time. We sleep through alarms, throw the red shirt in with the whites, wake up in strange beds with throbbing headaches and achy asses. Those aren't even the big mistakes. Imagine how bad you could mess up. Or remember that you have, and how desperately you'd like to go back and change those things, make different choices. Fix it.

As a writer, if that's what you are (I'm kind of expecting you are, so if you're not, just pretend, or stand to the side quietly), you're in the unique position of being able to fix the stuff that goes horribly, in your manuscript, at least.

Now, I don't need to go over all the myriad ways your manuscript can …

In Which I Put My Characters Through Hell (almost literally)

Ah. When things go wrong...

Like when I write six different beginnings to a book before finding one that works...

Like when I redo the same scene four times because it keeps stalling...

Like when I scrap a short story halfway through because it's boring even me...

Like when I start researching mathematical algorythms because I am so desperate to do something other than work (there is no math in my books. I hate math)...

Like when I decide to just give up altogether because I am clearly fooling myself thinking I'm any good at writing books...


When things go wrong...

Like when my heroine wakes up in the middle of the night because zombies are breaking into her house...

Like when she learns there really is something sinister about the two men who are suddenly so interested in her "professional expertise"...

Like when demons start exploding like gory Christmas crackers all over the city and nobody knows why...

Like when she discovers she's been sold out and will probably die i…

This Week: When Things Go Wrong!!!

This week's cryptic topic comes from the lovely and talented Stacia Kane- "When Things Go Wrong." With such a Pandora's Box* of a subject, I decided to narrow down my focus to two of my own problem areas.When I'm trying to write the types of stories that I do- the kind that I would like to read myself- I'm in a constant state of having things go wrong, and for some people that would be enough to stop them in their tracks.Not your Anton, though.I take a deep breath and get back to work because things going wrong is a natural and inherent part of the writing process.Frankly, it's where a lot of the best stuff I've written comes from. Here are my two.Things That Go Wrong Number One: Some days I don't have the impetus to sit down and write.This is also a problem I hear from a lot of people who want to be writers.It can go so far as to stop them from writing altogether, but I can't do that.My first book took me three-plus years to write (for a vari…

Interview: Jessica Wade- Associate Editor, Ace/Roc

Well, it's been a week of excitement here at League Headquarters, what with the launch and all. Now it's time for something new to the blog. Here is the first of many upcoming interviews that the League will be doing with various professionals in the publishing field, professionals too foolhardy not to talk to us. Jessica is smart as a whip and funny to boot. Anything lacking in this first interview is due more to my slow developing interview skills than anything she has to say. On with the show.

Interview: Jessica Wade- Associate Editor, Ace/Roc
Jessica Wade is not just my editor, she was the first to believe that Dead To Me might actually work as one a title for Ace Books and because of that, she rocks. Jessica came to Berkley as an editorial assistant in 2004, and was promoted to Assistant Editor in June 2006.In March 2007 she acquired Dead To Me, which I am sure she considers the high point of her career.In the lull before my Feb 26th, 2008 pub date, her only other ac…

I Walk the Line

So, a co-worker of mine recently asked for a movie recommendation. She wanted something funny. I immediately responded with Napoleon Dynamite, which was quickly seconded by the guy sitting next to me. Love that movie - it's the classic story of a nerd trying to get a girl to the dance. What's not to love?

Everything, apparently - my co-worker came in the next day and glared at me. "How could you recommend that movie? It was pure crap! Not funny at all."

I was mystified. I mean, wow. Napoleon? Not funny? But what about Pedro? The time machine? The casserole-eating llama? Kip? KIP???

To me, Napoleon Dynamite is brilliant (especially the liger, gosh!). My friend absolutely hated it.

Comedy has always been like that - one extreme or the other.

Ask a few of your co-workers if they liked Borat or The Three Stooges. You'll get mixed responses. People either love it, or detest it.

Why? Because a lot of comedy pushes the boundaries of what is comfortable. It likes taking you ou…

Why do I make them laugh?

So it is my turn to blog about UF and funny. I don't feel like being funny at the moment, but it is my turn, so here we go. I will talk mostly about why I write funny, since I can't really speak for the whole UF genre.

My late mother-in-law worked for a funeral home run by the mafia. At least it used to be run by the mafia, before it was somehow cleaned through financial machinations of staggering complexity and taken public. People at the funeral homes greet tragedy every day, because they deal with death.


Death is one of those few things in life that is final. It's the end of all ends. There is no help for it. If you have lousy credit, you can work hard and pull yourself free. If the love of your life never wants to see you again, you can suffer and survive it. Being fired, losing your house, failing at your mission in life, all those things are devastating but they are only waypoints on a journey. Death is forever.

We are not well-equipped to deal with death. Of all living…

What's Comedy, Mommy? Where Does it Come From?

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There's a question. Whether we're talking about trying to cram humor into the urban fantasy genre, or just getting our friends to spit Sprite out their noses (or better yet, milk).

I could try to dissect the notion of humor, but that would diminish it, every time. I could tell you that comedy is the gap between the subjective expectation of language and the shock of that broken expectation; that the personal relevance of any written humor is absolutely essential to whether the reader will experience surprise and amusement upon the arrival at the failed expectation. I could. I could say those things. I could fill the page with boring words about a funny topic, but I won't. Author E. B. White (that's him right there) once said that, "Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind."

Comedy is an art. What's funny about a joke is not its construction, no more than…

Dying is Easy...Comedy is Hard

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Okay, I've spent like twenty minutes on Google (and when I say "twenty", I mean "two") trying to find out who originally said that, but opinions seem to vary.

So...somebody famous said that, and they were basically right. I mean, I assume so, having never died before. Maybe death is like a really big pop quiz. On current events. And math. I hope it's not on math. I'm not good at math.

But the problem with comedy is, if it's good, it seems easy. People laugh easily, they smile easily. A good joke makes people feel better than anything else (okay, almost anything else. I'm one of those writers Anton mentioned yesterday, where romance bleeds into urban fantasy, because there's boinking. But not funny boinking. Sex-ay boinking. Oh, yes.) But a good joke lasts longer.

We meet people all the time who make us laugh, who are naturally funny. (But maybe they're crying on the inside. Bet you never thought of that, did you?) And we love them for it.

The Island of Misfit Toys, or Is Funny the Rodney Dangerfield of Speculative Fiction?

"League of Reluctant Adults... assemble!"(insert clap of thunder here) It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to blog post numero uno for the website where urban fantasists come to die... err, hang out.If you're here, chances are you showed up on our doorstep for one of several reasons:
1. You're a relative (Hi, Auntie!)
2. One of us forced you to, probably at gunpoint
3. You're interested in writing and wonder just what the hell we funny urban writers do when not screwing around (hint: more screwing around).4. You're a sincerely twisted fanboy or fangirl interested in wearing one of our faces as a mask while you dance in front of a full length mirror gently whispering "I loved you, I always loved you, but I can't live without you and I won't let you live without me."In any of those cases, welcome... especially if you qualify for number four.You're exactly the type of committed person I'm looking for to pi…