Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Club Topics #3 and #4

Since I'm a huge doofus and am getting the ball rolling so late in the day, let's just roll Wednesday and Thursday together for a multi-topic extravaganza. I figure you're all flexible enough to roll with that, and if you aren't...well Gary the HS, has plans for you.

So here are some things to mull over...

Because the Negotiator series is designed as a trilogy, it's important for Heart of Stone to set up the world and begin multiple story arcs. Which of these arcs are you most interested to see run its course? And for purely selfish reasons, I ask, are you more likely to read a series or trilogy, than you would a stand alone novel.


Alright let's go ahead and indulge a little fantasy. Which one of the Old Races are you and why?

Get to answerin'!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Book Club Post #2--Spoilery Goodness!

So yesterday we discussed characters who stay with us, and what makes a character stand out. Today we thought we could discuss scenes.

Every book I love has a particular scene that really sticks in my head, because it was funny or sexy or exciting, or just a few lines of beautiful detail keep echoing until they're part of me.

What scene in Heart of Stone was your favorite, and why?

***Warning again--feel free to post spoilers in the reply, so if you haven't read or haven't the comments at your own risk!***

The Winnah!

Just interrupting the book clubby goodness for a moment to announce the winner of the "Anton's birthday" contest. I meant to do it on Friday, so sorry everyone, as I know you were waiting with bated breath to see who gets one of my spiffy special Yezer magnets, and a SIGNED copy of Happy Hour of the Damned.

The winnah is...


So pop me an email with your address, and we'll get you your loot.

Thanks to everyone who played!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Book Club Numero Uno: Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy

I've got some exciting news, all through out the week, Catie (that's C.E. Murphy to you hambones) will be stopping by to answer questions, add commentary and just generally hang out.

AND...on Friday, one lucky commenter will win a copy of the new Negotiator novel, House of Cards! Be one of the first to get yourself some more Margrit and Alban!

So...we're all set up in the League Lounge, Stacia's mixing up a pitcher of mojitos (I know it's early. Writers, heh-heh) and the conversation pit is all warmed up.

Let's start with some ground rules.

As I said when I first announced the League's Book Club, the purpose is not to find out whether you like a book or not (we don't care), it's to talk about the emotions and thoughts that resonate from the experience of reading. In our case, we're going to be lookin' to have fun with themes, characters that remind us what goobers we are, and situations that trigger memories.

1. The first rule of book club, don't talk about...oh wait...yeah talk about it, let people know what we're doing here. We're like the frickin' Mother Theresa's of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance!

2. No author bashing. Most of our readers are also writers, you know how hard it is to get these words down, let alone into sellable shape. Bashing is just bad form.

3. Please limit your profanity to acceptable levels.

4. Arguments won't be tolerated. If anyone gets snippy, they're gonna get deleted...or worse.

Remember. Be nice and we won't have to call Gary the Hellspawn to...correct you.


Feel free to ask new questions as we go, but we'll start a topic each day this week and try to keep it rolling all day long, either in the comments or as an update to the daily club post. So keep checking back.

Question #1: Who was your favorite Heart of Stone character? Why? Is there a specific quality that resonates with you?

There you be...let's go!

And the Nominees Are...

Tomorrow marks day one of the first League Book Club. We'll be chatting up C.E. Murphy's gargoyled urban fantasy HEART OF STONE. Come back each day this week for a new book related topic plus our regular blog posts. It's gonna be a busy one.

We only had 6 people make nominations but they were awesome (remember, we only do series debuts, that way no one is left out). So...on that note, let's pick us the next victim.

Already Dead
Charlie Huston
Vampires and zombies
all up in the NYC.

Beg for Mercy
Toni Andrews
The power of suggestion x 10.
Heroes meets paranormal romance!

Blood Engines
T.A. Pratt
Marla's got the magixes!

Dancing with Werewolves
Carole Nelson Douglas
Paranormal PIs,
Werewolves and Vegas, baby!

The Devil Inside
Jenna Black
An exorcist with a problem.
Why do the demons have to
be so damn sexy?

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Mario Acevedo
What's with all the nymphomaniacs?
Vamp PI finds out.

Unshapely Things
Mark Del Franco
A modern druid investigates
the murders of fairy hustlers!

Voting is CLOSED!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Moonrat Speaks! The Editing World Revealed!

For this weekend's interview, I thought I'd pick the brain of someone fascinating to me - Moonrat from Editorial Ass fame. For those of you that aren't familiar with her blog, she talks about publishing from the editor's chair, and all from an anonymous - and hilarious - point of view.

1. So how did you get started in publishing? Degree? Friend of a friend?

I'm not sure when I made the decision to try to become an editor, although now that it's been made I can't imagine it having worked out any other way. But I suspect I decided to make a go of it around my senior year in college. As it turned out, though, I had the trifecta that editors look for in assistants--I had worked in a bookstore for a long time, I had interned at an agency, and I was an extreme geek who could rhapsodize about my favorite authors for 10 minutes. I think a lot of editors like to see unabashed rhapsodizing during interviews. (I know I do.)

I think if you're organized enough to know you want to be an editor (and I really wasn't--I was just kind of lucky about where I had whimsically chosen to work) the best thing you can do for yourself is get a job in a bookstore and work in an agency. Now that I've been on the hiring end and have had to think seriously about what I look for in an assistant, I have to admit those qualities overrule shiny degrees and just about everything else. The agency experience is vital because it shows editors the other side of the business--the selling side--and because it forces you to think creatively. Frankly, I think just "shopping" for agency projects is a little boring, and I think it's important for an editor to be able to bring his or her own creative ideas to a project to help shape it.

The reason bookstore experience is so important for an editor is because it teaches category management. If you're an editor who's never worked in a bookstore, when you get a submission of the most amazingly written memoir slash novel that you think is a pure piece of genius, you might bid on it. If you've worked in a bookstore, though, you'll know there's nowhere to shelve a memoir slash novel, so Barnes & Noble won't be able to carry your book, so your orders will be really low, so your print run will be really expensive.

2. What's a day in the life of an editor like? I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but honestly, I have no clue what you do all day. ;)

This is a tough one, since there's so much variation. How about a typical week, instead? At my company, like most companies, there is an editorial meeting each week. At the ed meeting, we pitch new projects and give one another feedback. And by "give one another feedback" I mean "try to convince the publisher to give you money to buy them." There is also a production meeting each week where editors, publisher, and production team discuss the state of books "in production" (meaning ones that have already been edited and are in copy edit, typesetting, or printing stages). There is a marketing meeting where we discuss books we're planning on cataloging in the near future to discuss money alocations, rights situations, reasonable sales expectations, etc--this is a book "launch"-- and there's a publicity meeting to dicuss plans for books that are going to press in the upcoming season. Besides all these infernal meetings, I spend about 50% of my remaining time editing, 20% looking at new submissions, 20% on miscellany like writing rights letters, author liaising, chasing down certain publicity opportunities, and critiquing cover, page, and bindery samples, and 10% arguing with my designer on the phone.

3. Let's say you bring my book to the editorial meeting because you want to buy it - what are some of the reasons it wouldn't be bought? What do you do if the book gets rejected at the meeting and you had your heart set on it?

You try to guess any reasons a publisher might say no beforehand, because it is just ugly heartbreak if you get as far as ed meeting before your hopes get dashed, but some of the reasons I might not be allowed to buy a book (or might choose not to buy a book) are like this:
-the book doesn't have enough commercial potential--it might be a great read, but if Robert the Publisher can't believe he'd sell at least 4,000 copies, he really can't afford to publish it.
-the book doesn't fit on a shelf--this goes back to the bookstore thing. The unfortunate fact of our very chain-driven commercial society is that it leaves almost no room for books that don't fit franchise rules.
-another similar book on a similar topic was announced in PubLunch last week... or hit stores a couple of months ago and has really not taken off.
-there's too much fiction on the list right now (it almost never works in the other direction). The old truism is that we publish nonfiction to pay for our fiction--you never know if fiction is going to make money, so you have to be really careful that you have at least some (target: half) your eggs in nonfiction baskets.

As for what I do if a book is rejected at ed meeting, I'm afraid I really don't take it well. I don't let books get that far unless I really believe in them 100%. I tend to bring stuff back and bring it back again, retooled, reworked, with new information, with new endorsements, new marketing leads, until I wear poor Robert out. But that's ok--his job is to point to everything that could possibly go wrong, and my job is to make sure it won't. And at this point he has faith in me (most of the time) because the books I've nagged him into buying have been performing (perhaps because of the whole pre-acquisition tug-of-war process!).

4. What's the biggest perk of working in publishing thus far?

Meeting heroes. I'm still star-struck every time it happens, but since I've been an editor, I've had nearly-legitimate reasons to be in touch with people like Margaret Atwood, Gloria Steinem, Michael Ondaatje, Paul Auster, Neil Gaiman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among others. And I haven't really been in publishing that long.

5. You mentioned before that you don't understand how some editors can't read for pleasure anymore. What's the type of stuff that you like to read for pleasure? Why?

I read everything--literally. (Reviewer's note: You can check out her reading tastes at THE BOOK BOOK ). I probably read mostly literary fiction, but I try to read a lot of narrative nonfiction, since that's what I like to acquire, and there is a dark and not-so-secret corner of my heart that really loves fantasy. I'm trying to lead a movement to support more female fiction writers (I got really upset that so few books by women were recognized in any 2007 book lists or awards lists), but alas I love a lot of male writers. My recent favorite is Michael Chabon. But seriously, I'll read anything. I try to finish a book each week outside work stuff.

6. How the heck did you get hooked on j-pop and Mr. Children?

I wish I had a reasonable answer for you. But let's face it. How can you NOT love Mr. Children?! Go to Youtube and put in "Kurumi" if you want to be converted. It's a break-up song, but the totally unrelated video is about a middle-aged businessman who decides to buy a guitar and start a band with his buddies. It's pretty magnificent.

7. There's the old saying that "Everyone has a book in them." Obviously, some of these books have escaped and probably made their way to your desk, when they really should have been taken out to the back yard and shot with a air-rifle as a mercy killing. Want to share the worst submission/book you've ever seen cross your desk?

I got a doozy this week. (It was unagented, incidentally.) The author proposed to write an expose about the sordid sex-life secrets of famous actors, writers, and other famous people. The author had the perfect platform to write the book, he explained, because he was the mayor of a small town and is a rather attractive middle-aged man and has, as a result, been come onto by everyone from high school students to their mothers to their grandmothers, so he has ample experience with both sex and sexual harassment. I'm telling you, I couldn't even make that one up.

8. If you could give one piece of advice to those of us on the submitting side, what would it be? What do we do that makes you want to slap your forehead and choke a writer?

Honestly, I rarely want to choke a writer on the submissions end (on the editing end is a whole other story!). If there are flaws with a proposal I receive, I tend to think of it as the agent's fault--if the manuscript isn't clean or professional, the agent should have caught that; if the agent harasses me too much or too little, I get annoyed at the agent, not the author; if the book is just awful in general, it's the agent's fault for having bad taste. I don't even judge an author for having a bad agent! I know how hard it is to get one, and how hard authors work around the clock to get a foot in the door. I do feel sad, though, when agents seriously botch things.

My one piece of advice to authors who are submitting is to be as involved in your agent's submission process as you comfortably and politely can. It's true, agents have systems, and many agents are very good and have it all down. But ask if you can see the proposal; make sure it's well written and grammatical and puts your best foot forward. Make sure your agent really sells your platform and doesn't bury it in talk (this is the first thing I have to look for, and most editors, I think you'll find, will agree).

9. I've heard the ugly rumor that if an author asks their editor what sort of book the editor wants the author to write, it's the kiss of death. From the editor's point of view, what's your take on this?

I don't think it's the kiss of death at all--it depends on the relationships of author/editor/book. An editor might be able to help direct things at the beginning, as opposed to having to fix everything up at the end, which might be more energy. It's also a great time to talk about where the author and editor differ in their visions, and pre-empt artistic disappointments by laying down ground rules for each other. If it's a nonfiction book we're talking about, this is a great question, since authors are frequently experts in their topic but frequently not experts at publishing.

10. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with it? Would you still work? Start your own line of publishing? Bribe Mr. Children to come and have karaoke night with you in NY?

I love working. I could never give up working. I imagine I would have answered this question along the lines of "take a trip to Egypt" or something, but now that you've made the point about Mr. Children I can't possibly imagine spending my money any other way!! Do they ever come to America?! Will you PLEASE let me know?

11. Everyone really wants to know ... Robert the Publisher. Wacky but good at heart? Typical product of the publishing scene?

Robert the Publisher very good at heart--he's like my dad. Everyone's dad, seriously. And while he is rather wacky in the office setting, he manages to fool everyone who meets him outside of the office into thinking he's the most normal, charming man on earth. Which he is. Sort of. But yeah, definitely a typical product of the publishing scene, although I'm not sure some characters you'll run into ARE as good at heart as he is.

Wasn't that a great interview? I thought her answers were terrific and really made me think. For more tidbits on the publishing industry from the 'Dark Side', check out Moonrat's blog atEditorial Ass. She's friendly, funny, and gracious...just don't try to guess her identity. ;)

Thanks, Moonrat!

Friday, January 25, 2008


I composed a post a few days ago and for some reason, it's showing up a few days down the row...and Jill isn't smart enough to figure out how to bump it up. So for those of you wondering about my Friday thoughts, please scroll down to earlier this week under "Born or Made" where I debate the big questions of the art world: Are artists born, or are artists made?

Sorry for the confusion. *g*

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Anton!!

Ha! Sometimes I love the time difference, especially when it means I get to be the first to wish Mr. Strout a very, very happy birthday!

Seriously, I adore Anton. It is so much fun to be in this group with him. He's funny, he's smart...just an all-around great guy, and a great writer, and I think we can all help celebrate his birthday by pre-ordering Dead to Me today!

In fact, if you pre-order it today, or if you already have, let me know. Email me with a copy of the relevant part of your Amazon or B&N receipt (I don't want or need your credit card or home address details, of course), and I will enter you in a contest for another of my Yezer magnets!

****And Mr. Mark Henry is chipping in a signed copy of Happy Hour of the Damned! So c'mon! Enter!****

You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain, so preorder now!

(This is what I'm looking for:

Dispatch estimate for these items: 3 Jan 2008 1 "Flunkeys and Scullions: Life Below Stairs in Georgian England"
Pamela Horn; Hardcover; £14.00

So send it along! You can use my League contact email, or Staciakane AT gmail.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Revisionist

It looks like this is the week. Road Trip of the Living Dead will be off to my beta readers for their oh-so helpful critique (see Mark butter up betas). Then it's on to revision time (actually in the short break, I'll be attempting a website update and catchup on some interviews that have been sitting in my inbox). I know lots of people who refer to this period as "revision hell," but I don't mind it so much.

My thing.

As I'm writing, I keep a pad next to the laptop. I edit the shit out of Chapter One. It's my basis. It's the one place I can count on to not need revision. It makes me happy. Then I write Chapter two and three. By three I'm making notes on two. What's been left out, what needs to have been left out. I keep up this way through the whole manuscript. So before I let myself type "the end", I go through my list and start doing the fix. Not that I'm all that linear. I may be writing Chapter five and think of something that needs to be in the previous 2 chapters. But I don't go back and fix it yet. Not yet.

My first draft can be the biggest piece of shit in the world. But it's still off to the Betas, including my agent, my wife, other writers, and me.

Yeah, I'm one of them. I don't need a whole lot of time to separate from my work before I can critique it. I jump right in and slap it down. I can do it because I write all over the place. By the time I've finished the draft, I've never read the manuscript straight through.

Maybe that's weird. I don't know.

From there I just pray that there aren't major changes necessary, rather little fixes, punching up or down humor and personality traits. Building suspense through expanded description. That kind of thing. I hope. I hope.

On my final run, I tidy the grammar, hunt for weak verbs, minimize adverbs and dialogue attributions.

At least that's the plan. It's my first time running it this way. Happy Hour was more slipshod and random. I'll let you know how it turns out.

So now, I'd like to know what you've got. What revision tricks do you pull out for that first draft, second, third, or what have you?

Born or Made?

Ever use the phrase "I've been writing since I could hold a pen!"? Ever tell everyone that you've always wanted to be a novelist?

My husband hates people like you.

(Just kidding!)

But seriously. He hates that statement, no matter whether it's used in an art standpoint or a writing standpoint. A little bit of backstory for you - my husband grew up doodling and drawing. His father discouraged it, but he did it anyway. He was good at it - maybe not Michelangelo-genius-level, but competent and he enjoyed it. And when it came time to make a career decision, my husband elected to go to animation college. He learned how to apply his love for art in a realistic way and even went on to work for the animation giant (at the time), Disney studios.

My husband is talented. I consider him a 'born' artist. He does not. Why? Because he went to school to learn to be a professional artist. He worked very hard for his degree, worked many years at crappy, low-paying jobs in the industry, and eventually climbed his way up to the 'pinnacle' of his career (Disney). And he would point out to me, constantly, all the art magazines and the bios listed there. Nearly every single one of them had some saying along the lines of "Born with brush/art pencil/crayon/whatever in hand." He hated that, because he felt that you shouldn't have to get around the schooling and the endless life-drawing classes and all the other good stuff that gave him the 'art skills' that he needed for his job.

And while this may not sound like a writing-sort of thing, it totally is. Read the bios of a few authors. You'll often see "I was born with a pen in my hand!" or another such statement. Which is fine, really...but when did it become a bad thing to be a late bloomer in a creative career?

I'll be the first one to tell you that I've always been writing inclined, but I never considered myself a novelist until my twenties. Sure, when I was a kid, I'd pull out Mom's old typewriter and bang away at some bad Pern fanfiction, or some sci-fi story where there was only one woman left in a universe full of men (a gal can dream) and other corny stories. They never got past one or two pages. I filled endless journals with fanfiction when I was a teenager.

But novelist? No. That happened much, much later. So no matter the background, I always consider myself a 'made' writer. I made myself sit down and learn how to write a novel. I read a bajillion other books to figure out how to plot, how to make my characters interesting, how dialogue should (or should not) be tagged. I learned the hard way that adverbs were bad, headhopping was bad, and dramaz were good.

Now, I'm not saying that 'Born' novelists are necessarily wrong. Every person is different. Maybe you HAVE been writing mini-novels since you were six. But is there some sort of stigma on people that decide to write their first novel when they're 30? 40? 70?

There shouldn't be - a novel is a novel, no matter the age. It's all right to be a 'Made' novelist, isn't it?

So here's my question for the gang - do you consider yourself a 'born' or 'made' novelist? And why?

For whom the bell tolls...

Every time this subject coes up, I am reminded of my friend George--the driest, most sarcastic man I've ever known--'s reaction to a certain celebrity death ten years or so back that made major, major headlines. When the hubs mentoned said event to George, George did his patented slightly-to-the-left head tilt and said, "Yeah, and you know what I think about that? People die every day."

But do they always die in books?

I don't mean minor characters. I tend to go through minor characters like a hot knife through butter, at least these days I do. Personal Demons doesn't have any major deaths I can think of, but the sequel has a few.

And one that's missing.

I originally planned to kill off a certain character in the second book, but when the time came...I just couldn't do it.

Am I going soft? Am I a big girly wimp?

I would say no, but in Unholy Ghosts I actually created a character specifically planning to kill him. From page one (well, not quite, he doesn't show up for a little bit) he was a marked man in my eyes.

Until I kind of decided I love him, and couldn't do it.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a pretty tough girl. The hubs has often said I would have made a great professional killer, and he's right. Hence my firm stance on the death of Fredo (had to happen, no question.)

But when it comes to my own precious little people, I have a hard time doing it. And I wonder if that's a good thing. If a reader doesn't suspect that a character could die at any moment, is there really suspense?

I think there should be. We watch movies knowing the main characters will survive (C'mon, did any of us really truly think John McClane wasn't going to make it?) and the fun is in getting there, in watching them survive and overcome the obstacles. So why should it be different for books?

Not to mention, I hate when major characters I love die. It's enough to make me stop reading a series, and I can't be the only one who thinks that way.

But I wonder if in doing that I don't lose something, and make my work too safe. If in order to really, truly play in the dark you have to be willing to sacrifice, even if it means bringing tragedy into the lives of characters you (and the readers) love. Obviously things happen sometimes, and you can't plan based specifically on what people might think. But still...I think the temptation is always there for a writer, just because of the ripple effect such an event would have on a world which might be getting too complacent. And I know there are a few cases where fans are begging for a death to clear a cast a little or just give them something new and interesting to think about.

What do you guys think? Does a major death turn an auto-buy into a never-buy? Or does it make something new out of something that was getting old?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday Interview: Heather Osborn, Acquiring Editor, Tor Paranormal Romance

I adore Heather Osborn, and not just because she had the good taste to acquire my first two erotic romances for Ellora's Cave before heading off to acquire paranormal romances for Tor Books (Heather, was it something I said? Should I not have sent that shrunken head as a thank-you gift? Was the shrine I built to you in my living room too much? It was actually much smaller than it looked in the pictures.)

Perhaps her only lapse in judgement was agreeing to let me interview her here, but I'm sure she won't make that mistake again.

1. So how crazy are things at the Tor offices these days? Moderate crazy? Really crazy? Is it busier in any particular time of year?

Actually, the holidays are a fairly quiet time in the offices, since most authors are not writing and most agents are vacationing. So yeah, I would place it at moderately crazy. It seems that much of an editor's life is either feast or famine. You are either REALLY busy or twiddling your thumbs.

2. Can you tell us what some of your absolute pet peeves are, regarding submissions, queries, plots, people who don't use coasters, that sort of thing?

Hmmm, absolute pet peeves... Well, an easy one would be someone who obviously has not done their research. For instance, Tor always accepts unagented/unsolicited submissions -- the typical first three chapters and a synopsis -- yet we still get query letters. Since information about submissions can be found on our website, it is annoying and obvious whne someone hasn't done their research. Also, I edit romance for Tor, and additionally have expressed an interest in acquiring Urban Fantasy as well. Please do not send me your mystery/horror/SF/Women's Fiction title. I am not aquiring it!

As for pet peeves in plots, that is tougher. Obviously there are certian plot points and elements I prefer over others, and yet, in the right hands, almost anything can work. I don't typically like ghost romances, yet I just signed a series where the heroine is a ghost hunter. I don't typically like time-travel romances, and yet I am a huge fan of Lynn Kurland. I pretty much never say never.

3. What about the editing process? How does that usually work for you? Do you personally edit everything you acquire, or do some books get assigned elsewhere?

I currently edit everything I aquire for Tor Romance. Anna Genoese is also still editing some Tor Romance authors on a contract basis as well. I do have an assistant who will sometimes read submissions for me and offer input where requested, but as far as edits go, those are all done by me at this time.

As far as my editing process is concerned, because of my background in e-publishing, I prefer editing on the computer in MS Word. I also will do editorial letters and edit on paper as well if needed.

4. Just so we all know ahead of time, if we were to run into you at a convention, what drink should we buy you?

Ha! This is actually sad, in that my tolerance for alcohol os pathetically small. Two drinks and I am giggly. As a result, I tend to go for fruity drinks that cut the liquor into managable amounts. At last year's RWA National I was on a pina colada kick. I am also a fan of margaritas and mojitos.

5. Tor has an open submission policy for unagented/unsolicited partials. Who reads those? Are they read as they come in, or is there a particular day per week or month?

As I mentioned above we accept unagented/unsolicited partials. Any that come in specifically addressed to me or marked as romance get put on my desk. The majority are read by me or my assistant. As for as other queries are concerned, about one or two times a month, a group of editorial assistants as well as an editor or two will gather in a conference room for 3 or more hours and do nothing but open and assess submissions.

6. Would you be willing to describe your typical day at work? What makes a day a good one or a bad one?

Hmmm, a typical day... Well they can vary wildly depending on meetings and where we are in a particular season, but the average day has me in around 9:30. I usually spend my mornings answering e-mail and doing non-editing tasks, as I am useless as an editor until I truly wake up. I usually start editing around 11, break around 1 for lunch (although I often eat that at my desk), then I will edit from around 2 to 4 or 4:30 and then break for more non-editing tasks until 5:30 or so. Most reading of submissions, etc, gets done at home.

7. What is the worst injury you've ever had?

Ha! I love this one. I am really hard to injure actually, and other than a cracked toe, I've never broken a bone. But just this summer I had an awful flip-flop malfunction and tore several ligaments in and around my ankle. I still haven't fully recovered from that one.

8. What's your opinion on talking animals--charming, or creepy?

Well, is this where I admit to my abiding love for Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books? I think talking animals can work, but I would prefer that any communication be mental or psychic. Animals talking aloud is a little too Alvin and the Chipmunks for me!

Thank you so much, Heather! I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. In fact, I appreciate it so much I've sent you a...well, I don't want to spoil the surprise. Let's just say, you might want to wear a smock when you open the package so you don't get blood anything on your clothes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Distractions (again), Phlegm Globbers and Jeff Conaway

In my ongoing effort to reduce distractions and finish ROAD TRIP OF THE LIVING DEAD over this long holiday weekend, I've been asking my wife to take my wifi card with her to work. The most notable result is blog withdrawal.

Common Symptoms of Blog Withdrawal

1. Repeatedly opening internet application followed by screams.
2. Peppering speech with unsolicited advice about writing, new bands, horror trailers, book recs.
3. Unhealthy interest in pet's bowel habits.
4. Actually making progress on manuscript.

It's amazing how much work I'm getting done. is it I'm blogging right now? Well it's called following through on commitments. You'll notice the haphazard structure? The title that has nothing to do with the content? All key indicators of a rush job.

The other big thing...

I think I wrote a zombie scene that's actually *cough* poignant. I know that's insane, not only am I writing a comedy, but it's a gore-filled potty-mouthed totally un-PC zombie fantasy. How could that possibly be poignant, you ask? I'm not sure, it did though. And I'm not getting rid of it no matter what anyone says, unless it's my editor, then that shit's gone.

Anyway, I'm at the climax right now (in the story, you perv). And it's coming out in quick spurts (the words, that is. Gawd).

Last thing...

Are you watching Celebrity Detox?!? Train wreck. Love it.

Oh and get down to the book club nomination post and make some suggestions for the vote, their are some awesome new books out there. Go.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One of the best news stories I've ever seen

Check this out.

For those of you who won't click (you rebels, you!) it's a story about a study done at the University of Sheffield hospital here in England (at least, I assume that's where the survey was done. The story mentions the U of Sheffield and mentions a hospital but does not actually connect the two in any real way).

Researchers surveyed 250 children, ages 4 to 16. About clowns. And what did they find?

What they found was the best quote in the article: "We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable."

I do not like clowns. I have never liked clowns. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I don't know a single person who likes clowns (okay, that's not entirely true, because I have a friend whom I very much like, and his mother is a clown. And a Vicar. Shes a religious clown, for religious gatherings and things. I think. But I am certain about the vicar and clown parts.) But aside from him--and he really has to like her, doesn't he, with her having given him life and all--I don't know anybody.

This is why Pennywise was so effective in It. Because clowns are something forced on children. They're scary, and they're made even scarier by the fact that everyone expects you to like them and be amused by them. It's not simply their horrible expressionless faces, their dull blank eyes, their features like caricatures from a nightmare.

It's that when faced with a clown you are forced to conform to what other people think you should like. Your actual self, the fundamental truth of you (how's that for a Stuart Smalley-esque phrase?) is submerged, unimportant. You WILL like that clown, damn you!

Being faced with a clown is when we realize we are not like everyone else. Watching other people laugh and smile and clap while we ourselves are either bored, terrified, or a combination, drives home our isolation in the most disturbing and profound way. We feel disassociated from humanity when we see a clown, and it's frightening and painful.

I am totally using clowns in my next book youcan'thavethemIcalledit!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Call for February Book Club Noms!

I know you're all planning to pop in the week of the 28th to chat about C.E. Murphy's HEART OF STONE. So the question is...what's next? Leave your suggestions in the comments and we'll compile the 5 top choices for a vote next week.

Can't wait to see what you guys come up with.

The Fragility of the Writing Ego

So before getting your big break and grabbing that brass ring known as publication, there is rejection. And that rejection sucks because each and every one becomes a blow to the ego, which furthers a new author to think "OMG WTF BBQ I SHOULD BURN MAH BOOK NAO!"

Hopefully, this feeling doesn't linger, but the grand accomplishment of having written out 100,000 words does get diminished a little by these blows.

Now here is the fun part: Once you have the brass ring? It ramps up to a whole new level!

Cuz now your work is in the public eye. There's gonna be a lot of people who will come to adore your work, which is terribly ego boosting. Then there will be those who don't love it and that's okay. The odds are against the entire world loving it. The point should be that YOU love it, and if it entertains some people, that's a good day.

I've come to write for me first, the reader second, but this doesn't mean they are exclusive of each other. I try to write being mindful of how others will take it, which is something I think I took away from growing up on Stephen King. He's excellent at hitting the right points in an almost universal way in peoples minds and I'd like to think I do that.

I think the best coping mechanism for dealing with rejection is trusting in the confidence of the people who do like your work or are willing to take a chance on it. They're your target... but listen to your detractors, too. They might be telling you something that you need to here and as I learn every day, there's always something new to learn to better yourself. The writing world has little use for ego, at least for the mindful author.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hurt me. It turns me on.

Ha! I figured that might get you reading.

We're having some fun this week, as is our wont, and mixing things up here at the blog. So if you expected one of Anton's sharp, witty posts today? You're out of luck. You get me instead. You expected me tomorrow? Nope! Someone else will be here tomorrow. Or maybe I will again. Maybe Anton will show up here later. Who knows? We're CRA-ZEE, I tell you!!

I've been thinking a lot about what makes us writers. What is it about us that makes us deliberately set ourselves up for rejection and pain on a regular basis? First there's all those agents waiting to reject us. Then publishers. And if we finally manage to get both an agent and a publisher, there's millions of readers out there to reject us.

So why do we do it? Mommy issues? Ego? Masochistic tendencies? All of the above?

I write because it's all I ever really wanted to do. Oh, sure, if I wasn't doing it I would probably have found something else. I thought seriously about nursing for quite some time (my Mommy is an E/R nurse.) Or teaching. Honestly, before I started seriously writing again five years ago I was perfectly content simply being a stay-home Mom.

So why, then? Why do we put ourselves through this?

Because it's fun. Writing is the most fun you can have alone (get your minds out of the gutter.) Really. I can have a good time just about anywhere, but writing is different. Special. If I didn't have a family I think I would happily spend ten hours out of every twenty-four in front of the computer, and consider myself lucky for it.

But man. Rejection hurts. No matter how many times you tell yourself nobody is rejecting you personally, that it's not personal, it's business, we still feel just like Tessio about to get in that car. Like our lives are about to end. Like even though we think our book is pretty good, we're obviously stupid, because it sucks. And if the best we can do is write a sucky little book that nobody wants, we might as well just hang it up now. What's the matter with us? Why did we think we could do this?

But we keep doing it. Because it's a dream, because we want to fight for it and work for it. We keep trying and trying, knowing in our heart of hearts that one day it will happen, if we just try harder. Learn more. Spend more time.

And for a lot of us, it does. And that's enough.

Is a desire to get (figuratively) slapped around a little implicit in every writer? What do you guys think? Why do you keep writing?

(Oh, and I forgot. The Stacia Kane website is now up and running, so go take a look. I even made some little web icons for y'all to use. So go check it out. Tell me how much you hate it. Really...I kind of like it when you do.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekend Interview: Richelle Mead

Joining us in the League Lounge this week is the lovely and talented Richelle Mead, author of SUCCUBUS BLUES, VAMPIRE ACADEMY (YA) and the just out, sure to be a sensation, SUCCUBUS ON TOP.

Me: Welcome, Richelle. Might I offer you a cocktail from our Tiki Bar? An aperatif, perhaps? Something with a paper umbrella and a plastic monkey dangling from it?

Richelle: It's barely noon yet...but well, I am from western Michigan originally. And we have a saying back there: "Being sober before noon is like being sober after noon." I know--I don't really get it either, but I think it means it's okay for me to have a mojito.

Me: Yummy. Getting right into the business of Ms. Kincaid. As we last left our tasty morsel, she had dispatched the villain and enchanted the famous writer guy. Will we be exposed to copious descriptions of carnal canoodling?

Richelle: If your definition of canoodling involves pipe cleaners and tarps, then yes. Okay...I'm kidding about that, but I assure you, there's plenty of steamy stuff going on in the book. However, there's also a real plot. (I apologize in advance to any who find that disappointing). It involves Georgina going undercover in the suburbs to corrupt a conservative talk radio host, while also trying to save her friend from nefarious paranormal influence. And of course, she has her usual romantic woes afoot.

Me: Will we ever see Georgina all batwinged out and crimson-skinned ala Jacob's Ladder? 'Cuz that's what I'm into. (Like so...)

Richelle: I know you are, Mark. I read that bathroom wall. And as for Georgina...come on, I can't give away that kind of proprietary information! I gotta leave something a mystery for future books.

Me: Well, then. The writers that hang around the lounge--when they're not plastered and reminiscing about pez--love to hear a good first sale story. Go!

Richelle: I was in the middle of teaching an 8th grade lesson on The Battle of Lexington and Concord when my classroom phone rang. (There were never phones in my classes growing up...I'm still baffled by this). It was my agent, and as soon as she identified herself, I freaked out. She never called--we were always email people--and SUCCUBUS BLUES had gone on submission a week ago. I knew what the call had to be about. I told her, "I have to call you back." We hung up, and I stood there, still shell-shocked, in front of thirty 13-year olds, a student teacher, and a teacher aide. They all stared at me like I was crazy woman, and I finally blurted out what was going on. When the kids asked, "What's your book about?" I said, "Let's get back to the Revolutionary War." After class, I called my agent back and got the scoop on the offer. We accepted that day.

Me: You've got a new series on the horizon called Storm Born. Now, is that one of them new-fangled Urban Fantasy series the kids are all talking about?

Richelle: Yes, indeed. It's about a freelance shaman who battles fey and ghosts with both a Glock and a wand. She's my most badass character over the age of 18 and runs into romantic complications with a bondage-happy fairy king and a guy who's literally and figuratively a fox. She's also my only redheaded character, contrary to the popular belief that all my other heroines are redheads based off me.

Me: Wow. My Long Island Iced Tea is kicking in like a mother. You might have to entertain our guests with some witty writing advice, while I hit the head.

Richelle: Don't fixate on what's hot in the market or what you think'll make a lot of money. It'll only make you miserable. Write what you're excited about it. The proof is in the story you deliver, and good stuff will always sell.

Me: Last one. You've put out the call on your blog and website about naming your new YA book, might I suggest CLOGGED ARTERY? It's vampiric, yet suggestive of character maturity. Call Razorbill, now!

Richelle: Yes, yes...I can see where you're going with that. I think it would really speak to today's youth. I'll totally take it under consideration. But if anyone else has, um, other ideas, go check out the title debate over at my blog.

Me: Well thanks a ton for coming by, Richelle. We hate to see you go so soon but when Stacia and Jill get to dancing like that on the bar, no good ever comes of it.

You can visit Richelle at her blog (the link's up there so find it) or her website. Open most days and holidays, MC/Visa accepted. No personal checks.

Top Ten

So I was going to write this witty, charming post about something in particular, but the list itself gave me so many great ideas for a book sequel that I am jealously hoarding it close to my chest and refuse to share it. Authors are like this. We squat on ideas like, well, squatters on free land.

So here is the rinky-dinkiest Top Ten List ever brought to the League:


10. Romance tropes that should cross over to Urban Fantasy (but do we really want to see the Cowboy Vampire's Secret Baby?)

9. Top Ten thoughts on plagiarism (but I stole them all from Jane at Dear Author).

8. Top Ten Reasons You Know A Book Is Written By Me (but then Missy would be disappointed to find out that 'Surprise Buttsecks' isn't one of them).

7. Top Ten LOLcats of all Time (but who can pick just ten?)

6. Top Ten CDs That I Love That I Should Be Embarrassed About (Why must I justify my Ace of Base love?)

5. Top Ten Things I Do Instead of Writing (cough warcraft cough warcraft cough WoW)

4. Top Ten Things I Am Looking Forward to in 2008 (I am really just looking forward to 2009...can we skip a year?)

3. Top Ten Reasons Jill's website is not up (1 - Laziness. 2 - Code stupidity and laziness. 3 - More laziness)

2. Top Ten Industry Websites to Visit (Given the current Cassie Edwards situation, your head might explode)

1. Top Ten Reasons Jill Should Take an Internet Vacation (Because it took her all day to come up with this pitiful list)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Holy Crap! This Here's Post 99!

Yep. 99 League of Reluctant Adults blog posts. It seems like just yesterday when Jill emailed with the scheme she and Ilona cooked up. And now we're rolling along, gathering no moss, throwing no ston...well yes throwing stones but, well, you know what I mean.

It seems the perfect time, then. While I'm knee deep in deadlines and struggling with an unweildy manuscript, to drop everything and shit out a top ten list for you hambones. So that's what I'll do.

...and it's titled:


10. Good Books: Damn you writers! How do you expect me to finish my novel when I've got so much reading to do. It's just not possible. Among the culprits this past year were Ilona's MAGIC BITES, Jeaniene Frost's HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, Joe Schreiber's EAT THE DARK and his unpublished manuscript THE BLACK WING, which is going to rival Straub for creepy secrets/ghosts, and SNAKE AGENT by Liz Williams, which I can't mention enough.

9. New Story Ideas: There's nothing worse than sitting down to a writing session and dwelling on a new "what if." My most recent is a dirty little victorian horror I call CLUCK. Ended up writing the bones of it for a few hours instead of a new chapter. Someone's thrown a gris-gris under my house.

8. Eating Disorders: I have an unhealthy fascination with reality shows about eating disorders. Thank you INTERVENTION and BROOKHAVEN OBESITY CLINIC, you're ruining my life. In fact, there was this one...nope. Not going to even finish the sentence. I'm already getting the urge to head downstairs and check the channel guide.

7. You Tube Videos: I'm not talking about those jokey vids that people post of their kids falling or prisoner's dirty dancing, I'm talking music videos. 5 minutes a pop. Watch 10 and you've lost a valuable hour of writing time.

6. Puppy Pee: While this is the unquestionably the cutest baby ever... not!

5. Self Googling: I know, I know. It's one of those things that's sure to drive me mad. What are people saying? Are people talking at all? Do I exist? I wonder if this particular ailment strikes all authors.

4. Facebook Scrabulous: Enough said.

3. Frequent Amazon Ranking Checks: Now I know I'm not alone here. Those rankings may be arbitrarily generated numbers, as I've been told by an Amazon employee. But I'm hooked, I measure the emotional quality of my day by my standings. Then I compare. Boy do I compare. First is Anton, who usually is pretty close in ranking, and I know does the same with mine--cuz we're sick, that way--then come all the others. I could spend hours. Hours I tell you. In case you're wondering: 93,626. Not the best but I'm happy under 100,000 for some reason. And that reason is...INSANITY!

2. Errands: Nothing eats up more of my time than running errands. We live in a new community that is twenty minutes in any direction from a grocery store. For a planned community of several thousand people, this seems woefully underplanned. But, I'm the one that's home so I can't really expect Caroline to do the grocery shopping. Well I could, but then I'd be an asshole and I'm much more comfortable with the term crazy.

And, now...drum roll...

1. Blogging: Take this one for instance, it's 11:00 am. I've been up since 7:30. I had to figure out what the top ten was going to be about (despite coming up with the topic last week, I hadn't done any more thinking on it than that), make a list, order them. Mosy on through the internet to look for pictures and then take a few myself and upload them (oh yeah, that's fresh pee). Three and a half hours. Am I on crack?

So there they are, my top ten distractions. If there's one thing that can be said about me, it's that I'm distractible. In fact what's that clicking sound?

Seems to be coming from the...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Top Ten: Elvis Edition

Hee! Since I get to blog today, on Elvis' birthday, I am eschewing writing topics and posting instead my top ten favorite Elvis songs. (Perhaps I should explain the roots of my Elvis fandom. When I was little my Dad used to do a lot of business in Memphis and take us all along [he was a salesman for a company that sold sodium silicate]. We used to stay at a Holiday Inn right up the road from Graceland, and in those days you could tour the grounds sometimes or just stand around waiting to see if he would show up. We went every time, as my parents were such big Elvis fans that somewhere we still have photos they took of the TV when <"Aloha from Hawaii" was aired. Photos of the TV screen, people. So I literally recognized Graceland as quickly as I recognized my own home as a child. Also, on one of those trips, in late spring/early summer of 1977, I saw Elvis himself. Yes, you read that right. I saw Elvis. In person, for real. On his motorcycle. I can therefore beat just about anyone in the "I saw a famous person" game.)

In no particular order:

*Little Sister. I love this one, it's so bad-boy sleazy. The spare arrangement and twangy guitar suck you right in. The lyrics are fairly innocent but the song itself still carries a sexual threat. If Little Sister does what her big sister done, and abandon Elvis at the movies, well, he might get angry. And who knows what a crazy greaser like Elvis might do if he gets angry? Rowr! (Note: I assume at this point my preference for mean, violent, ruthless men has become obvious to anyone paying attention. I would just like to say this is fantasy and not real life, and my actual husband does not in any way resemble this sort of character. Trust me, I'm not getting beaten up at home or anything.)

*Burning Love. Yeah, it's cheezy, and the vocal performance isn't his strongest. So what? I freaking dare you not to at least bob your head in time, especially when it gets to the end and he just repeats, "A hunk-a hunk-a burning love, heeeey!" over and over. It's like CCR's "Bad Moon Rising"; if you're not moving, something is wrong with you.

*Love Me Tender. Everybody loves this one, and the love is in my opinion well deserved. C'mon, it's a classic! Probably the most romantic lyrics ever written (aside from "Can't Help Falling in Love", which we'll get to.) I am a sucker for the word "Darling", and always have been. Maybe it's a Lady and the Tramp thing? I dunno, but I adore it.

*Are You Lonesome Tonight? It's the vocal push at the end. Elvis at full strength had a voice like nobody ever had or ever will again. He makes it sound so easy, too. Suddenly there it is, all that longing and hope shoving itself straight into your heart.

*A Little Less Conversation. I dig the original, I dig the remix. I just plain think this song is cool. The perfect backdrop for anything, whether it's driving a getaway car or having a Shag-esque swinging party with lots of chi-chi cocktails and guys in sharkskin suits, playing this one early in the evening before "The Girl from Ipanema" comes on to get everyone in the make-out mood, ring-a-ding-ding!

*Always on My Mind. I'm not ashamed to admit this song, in any of its incarnations, literally makes me cry, but when Elvis sings it even more so (although obviously, Willie's version is also a favorite). So does Elvis' "American Trilogy", which I am a bit embarrassed to admit this one, but it gives me goosebumps. If that means I have to give back my Cool Kids Membership card, so be it.

*Can't Help Falling in Love. This is just beautiful. If this doesn't move you in the slightest you have no heart.

*Viva Las Vegas. Pure fun. The Dead Kennedys' cover of this one has also long been a favorite of mine.

*Hound Dog. Oooh, gritty, angry Elvis! So sexy. The height of his rock n roll bad boy years (I know "Jailhouse Rock" is often considered that, but I suffer from a condition whereby I lived in South Florida, where basically Jailhouse Rock was the only Elvis song they ever played on the radio. So I got a little JRd out. The song still kicks ass, I'm just a bit fatigued by it at this point. So I pick Hound Dog instead.

*That's Alright. Again, in real life I think if a man tried to call me "Mama" I'd have a fit, but when Elvis does it I get all melty. Plus this one rocks. Raw arrangement, clean-but-dirty vocals, it's everything you need and then some (well, beer would be good too.)

Technically that's eleven, if you include the American Trilogy. So since I've already violated the letter of the law I'll just list a few more I like. Like CC Rider. Or Blue Christmas, which would have been in the Top Ten but we're all over holiday music at this point, right? Or Baby You're so Square. Or Heartbreak Hotel, which is another excellent vocal performance but is another song to which I've become fatigued. Oh! And Love Me, which is stunning and beautiful and tender and slightly sadomasochistic all at once, and which should have been in my Top Ten because I love it!

So there you go. For those interested in more Elvis (and who isn't?), I found This Times Online article of the 50 Greatest Elvis songs (with YouTube links to some!). See what you think.

And have a drink for The King tonight.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Top Ten Week: Top Ten Things I Need When Writing

Welcome to everyone's favorite month, January. It's not only special because all of you are busy trying to create the new year-new you versions of yourself, but it is also my birth month.

And sure, that was a shameless plug for happy birthdays, but really, it's on the 24th, so why not hold back until then? I digress...

This week each of us Leaguers will be tackling our own brand of Top Ten lists, maybe in tribute to bearded David Letterman's return to the small screen, I'm not sure.

I decided to tackle things I need when writing... so on with the show!

10. Notebook- in my fancy schmancy work backpack which is always at hand, I keep one handy. You never know when some inspiration is going to strike or when you're going to come across some detail in real life you want to use for your fiction. Once I decided to take writing seriously, there was a switch that went on in my head. Suddenly everything I saw was being video recorded by my brain because simply walking through life became a constant research opportunity for my writing. I prefer spiral bound, three hole punched, white with lines. I used to like legal pads, but they don't stay together too well. So there ya have it, notebook! Which of course leads to...

9. Pens- again, pretty much a "duh!" type of item for a writer, but a necessity. Here's my history with brief explanations:
On legal pads, I always preferred blue pen.. it just looked asthetically pleasing to me
When I started to take it all seriously, I went with fine tipped black felt tip markers. The ink seemed more permanent and stood out, which felt like the move of someone taking it seriously, don't you think?
Now I use pretty pens that use cartridges and have those fun comfort grips on them. I've been given several by my author friends as my success grows, and frankly, they DO make me feel like an all growed up author man

8. Large quantity of beverage within reaching distance- this may consist of either Diet Peach Iced Tea or Diet Pepsi, Wild Cherry edition. It's easy to find ways to distract myself from writing by taking multiple interupting trips to the kitchen, so I try to keep a pitcher or two liter close. I think this is a habit that kicks back old school to my tabletop RPG days.

7. Noise in the background. Only when I'm rereading or close editing do I prefer silence. Most of the time I like to have some form of something else playing. It used to be a lot of Chemical Brothers and electronica... I like a good music hook on repeat to put my mind in a freeing trance. Having the T.V. on helps sometime too... I grab bits and pieces of characters or settings from the ether when it's on. Lately, I've had G4's Attack of the Show on...

6. Research sources- or as I call it, Wikipedia. I used to play a lot of instruments, all of them with some degree of mediocrity, but we had a saying in the music world when trying to play a song and being close enough to the right notes, but no necessarily on them: "Good enough for jazz," is what we called it. That's my approach to research... I try to keep things on a need to know basis for my readers. I could spend hours reading up on the history of X, Y, and Z going for pure accuracy, but that's my problem. I'd never get any writing done... so I take a minimalist approach and turn to my trusty friend the interwebz for research help. This, I am sure, will eventually bite me in the ass.

5. Critique- The more I get published, the easier it is to feel more confident about my work, but it ain't because it's flawless the first time round, that's for sure! I need feedback from sources I can trust to give me brutally honest constructive feedback that comes in a quick manner. I've gotten lucky with this as I tend to friend brutally honest people, for better or worse... and with ever increasingly closer deadlines, I don't have time to fuck around, ya know?

4. Cheese curd. Okay, I don't really need this as such, but my arch nemesis in writing, Pat Rothfuss, is a curd hording bastard! If you see that bushy-bearded rapscallion, you tell him so!

3. PEZ. And lots of it. Sent by my rabid fans.

2. Balance- Write hard, play hard. Gotta keep it all fun... gotta remember to be social, to game like there's no tomorrow, and find the time to taunt Mark Henry about the fact that when you used to look up his title on Amazon, mine came up first.

1. A computer. This is obviously the single most important thing to me as a geek and writer. I can check my sometimes sloppy spelling, I can bounce multiple versions of it back and forth to keep it all safe should I ever crash, I can track changes and suggestions of my beta readers, send it to my editor, etc. I've been working on my laptop lately from the couch as the missus has taken over the regular PC in the house. I can remember my old electric typewriter days and hell, I probably would have given up on writing eventually with that... and my 600 pound word processor with the accordion stringed keyboard and odd sized disks that didn't jive with any other thing in the world. Don't miss them at all... so yea for my computer. *HUGS SCREEN*

Ahem... as you were...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Guilty As Charged.

Someone confessed to me the other day, "Do you ever feel guilty when you don't write?"

And my response was, "OMG YES!!! I'M NOT ALONE!!!"

It's so true. Ever since I started pursuing publishing, the guilt has been clinging to me like my slacks on a staticky day. If I don't write that day? Guilty. Don't write a good wordcount for the week? Guilty. Project takes a little longer than I think, or the writing isn't as good as I want? Guilty guilty guilty GUILTY!

Writing wasn't always like this for me, of course. When I first started writing, I wrote when I felt like it. It took me a year and a half to finish my first novel. I didn't care. I had no clue what the industry was like - all I knew was that I wanted to write. I first submitted my second novel, and began to talk to writers in the industry.

I learned that you need to push out one book a year for most genres. In some, two books or more are 'required' to keep your name in front of readers. You should always be working on something new, according to everyone and their mother. You should constantly be subbing new stuff to your agent for a sale. You should work on short stories to make yourself more attractive to editors/agents.

It sounds exhausting just thinking about it. You want to be one of the success stories, right? So you work and you work. You write in the morning before work. You edit on your lunch hour. You come home, throw corndogs in the oven for dinner (or microwave, if you're REALLY lazy) and then spend time that night writing. You read before bed to keep an eye on the industry. You crit a friend's book while in the bathroom (okay, not really).

So where's the funtime in this schedule? One would argue that the writing is the funtime - and it is - but it's also a job. Writing for publication is the equivalent of having a part-time job. Sure, it's glorious (and sometimes it doesn't pay crap) but it's still a job, even if you are working for a party of one - yourself.

That's where the guilt comes in. If you take a day off and play hooky, your book glares at you from the corner of your office. There's 4 pages that you didn't write today (or two, or ten, depending on your schedule). That means you're a day behind, which means you should work doubly hard the next day to get things done. Didn't work on it all week? You should really work all day on Saturday - and I mean ALL DAY - to get 'caught up'. Don't you dare catch a cold and be MIA for a few days.

And heaven forbid that your book is a slow write (all books come out their own speeds, I've learned). You wrote the last one in six weeks in a glorious rush. The fact that this one is taking three months obviously means that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH IT/YOU/THE WORLD.

And people wonder why writers are neurotic. ;)

We do this to ourselves, and voluntarily. We know what the gig is, and we run towards it gleefully, hands outstretched. But it really changes the way you think about writing. When I'm not working on a novel, I'm a horrible person to live with. I toss aside every paperback that I'm reading with disgust about halfway through. I can't watch TV and enjoy it – I should be writing, even if I have nothing to write. Video games? Not if you want to be successful, missy! So when I'm between books, I'm cranky and surly and restless and a miserable sort.

My husband took me aside the other day when I was having a (minor) hissy fit over general crankiness and how unhappy I was with the world overall, and how utterly bored I was. You guessed it, I wasn't working on a book.

"You don't know how to relax anymore, do you?" Husband said.

"Writing is relaxing!" I barked at him, glaring at my lonely Alphasmart that was acquiring dust. "I'm having fun when I write, dammit! No write no fun! All work and no play makes Jill SANE!"

And then I realized how dumb that sounded. How is it that I feel calmest when I'm putting the most pressure on myself? Is it because I have a goal I'm working toward? Is it because I can put aside the guilt as long as I get a few pages a day?

Because, LORD, the guilt when you take a few weeks off. It's shattering.

I recognize that this is a strange form of Author-Iz-Nuts and I'm trying to stomp it out before it becomes a bigger problem. So I'm allowing this book to write itself more slowly. I don't write every night if I don't want to. I don't do the long marathons on the weekend. I don't have deadlines at the moment, so I'm enjoying the writing...

And spending most nights playing World of Warcraft and reading. Take that, static guilt!

- Jill Myles, with the level 24 shaman

Thursday, January 3, 2008


When you're a veteran reader, or worse a writer, reading books becomes a frustrating affair. You've been there, done that, seen the plot twists and got a magic trinket for your trouble. So when you find something to look forward to, it's like an unexpected present. Like your husband buying your WOW character a blue ring in an Auction House. (It was terribly romantic. So I'm easily swayed by his charm. I'm allowed.)

So what books are you most looking forward to in 2008?

I bet Patricia Briggs' Iron Kissed will be a favorite. By all indications, it is an awesome book and it's out now! Sometimes you read a book by another author and have to admire the very skill with which it was written. This book, while a bit darker than previous two books in Mercy's series, is nothing short of elegant.

I am looking forward to Johanna Bourne's Spymaster's Lady, also available now. I read a couple of reviews of it and it sounded so interesting and I ordered it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I'm looking forward to reading C.E. Murphy Heart of Stone. I am really excited about it. I had a gargoyle crush since the Disney cartoon. Which I have completely replotted in my head.

Oooh, and Jeaniene Frost's One Foot in the Grave. I want that one too.

Right now what I want most though is Demon Night by Meljean Brook. Oh it is an awesome book! I cajoled an ARC out of her and I will be doing a review here soon :P I enjoy the electronic stuff but there is nothing quite like having a book. For one, you can take it into the bathtub with you. For another, it's a lot softer than a keyboard or plastic reading device and when you pass out from sheer exhaustion and bang your head on it, the bruises you get from the book are significantly smaller.

Mmmmmmm, booksies! Being a reader is a lot more fun than being a writer, I think.

P.S. Of course this post would be complete without a plug for fellow League writers:

Mark Henry's Happy Hour of the Damned and Anton Strout's Dead To Me come out on the same day :)

P.P.S. As you probably know, I have roughly 4 months from this point to finish Kate 3. In theory it's four months, in practice it's more like 2.5 - my agent will need to take a look and my beta readers willhave to go through it, and then I will take another pass. So I am very sorry to announce but my participation in the League activities and on my other blogs will be sporadic from now on. Sorry guys.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We're Baaaaa-aaaaaack!

It's the 2nd of January. Already. The holidays have come, gone and left their droppings all over the League clubhouse. There's cleaning to do, grocery shopping, exercise, a trip to the post office. Plus we've got the new book club set to go (HEART OF STONE, pick it up and read, bitches). It's all too much.


Writing is my day job and it's still hard to find the time. So how do you juggle all of life's demands and still put together a story worth reading?

I could tell you that it's all about the time management, prioritizing, lists, PROSEC (or Prozac, for that matter). But really, it's boils down to focus and enjoying the process.

You know those moments where you get into your own story, laughing along with the characters or at them, feeling the tension as a particularly suspensful scene unfolds? Those are moments to remember, to celebrate. They sustain us.

They are our runner's high.

So--I know--that doesn't really answer the question how, so much as why it's important to find the time and put the fingers to the keys, but it's my goal when I write. I'm searching for those moments. Sometimes when I'm starting a new project and I'm not sure whether it's working, I'll just free write until it starts to feel good. When it does, that's the beginning.

Am I rambling?

Maybe it's because I need to get back to ROAD TRIP. I had one of those moments yesterday, a real writer's high.

I'm crossing my fingers for another one today. No. It's not about luck. I'll get there. I have to.


Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells