Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Conestoga or Butts: A Treasury of Photos, Part Two

Saturday, 9 AM...


...after partying late into the wee hours of the Tulsa morn, two panelists stumble into the Fangs, Fur and Fey conference room, nursing hangovers, tossing glowers and slurping down lukewarm coffee steeped in grounds-o-bitterness. What better prep could an author have for a panel on The Elusive Snark, I ask?

Devon Monk (Magic to the Bone) and Carrie Jones (Love and Other Uses for Duct Tape, seen here screaming after an evil-eye attack from physics guy Jeffrey Richard) joined our mopey band for an hour of talking shit, Barry Eisler, and the definition of "Author Hot" (if you need a full description, you'll have to beat it out of Jaye). All in all, a good time, despite the hour. Plus, we got to give away a big ass bag of signed books and stuff, which of course, I "forgot" to sign--in quotes because I do so love forcing people out of their comfort bubbles to introduce themselves.

Breakfast was of the buffet variety, with Dean Lorey (Nightmare Academy, left) and I jumping to the head of the line and garnering glares, hisses and the occasional slur; what can I say, we're growing boys? The Radisson did something miraculous to the syrup for my waffle, stripped it of it's mapley sugary goodness reducing it to a thick broth of nothing. My disappointment was far reaching and profound.

Next up?

My signing. I met the fantastic Selina Rosen, who was snarky as hell, wrote zombie comedy and was her wife's bitch just like me. We had tons in common and got really loud. Signed lots of books (some my own), met gaggles of awesome people, the final few letting me know that Happy Hour sold out at the dealer room. Aw hells yeah.

Saturday, being packed with events and quite a few more people got a bit confusing and I narrowly missed the opportunity to duck into the SEX panel to ask Rachel Vincent a naughty question about cat penii. Then I had to rush up to do my reading. I shared time with Jeanne Stein and Gary Jonas (who read an awesome and funny urban fantasy noir piece) and by shared, I mean, they split the first half hour and I hogged the second. Road Trip seemed to be well received and people were laughing in the right spots and drawn in, so I was happy.

Oh...by the way, did you know I'm an abomination against God? Someone in Oregon is very unhappy with Happy Hour and so that became this huge joke, here's an homage made by the amazing Renee George (author of paranormal erotica and all around fantastic creature)...


Pretty, eh?

Anyway, didn't have a chance for dinner before the author speed-dating event, which was just like regular speed-dating only we put out less (a little). What was really awesome? The bartender was pouring the strongest Long Island Iced Teas ever. I was sloshy in like ten minutes and reminiscing about Conestoga before I'd even left.

Things like how the races love each other in Oklahoma...


...but only on cereal boxes (that's new BFF Leah, she's been ordered to sell her manuscript by RT, so she'll have good reason to spend tons of money to go to Orlando).

And Dakota's need to smash people with her powerful calves...


That's Renee squeezing one out under Dakota and Michele Bardsley (Don't Talk Back To Your Vampire).

And then my head cleared and I was back chatting with the awesome readers and writers-to-be, here's some now (Stacey, Cheryl and Chelsea), they were Caitlin's and my dates for the evening--well three of the 50 or so. I could barely walk.


After this great event (thanks Elspeth and FFFers for making it "pooper"), we did our final dinner at this Mexican place next door, passing a homeless guy sleeping under a bush on the way (100 degrees people!). The horror. Dinner was fun and we all made the new Oklahoma "just the tip" gang sign for this shot (which is really only funny to us, unexplicably).


Debauchery followed...


Sunday went by too quick, I really hate to say goodbye and we met such awesome people (Cheryl, Stacey, Kelley, Tessa, Brenna, Seti, Ashley, Xid, Jeffrey, Brian, Mrs. Eye, so many I can't even recall, though if I could I'd squeeze 'em until they withered an dropped--that's caring, people). Most of all, it was torture separating from my siamese sisters, Jaye and Leah. I think we left it at a cursory hug and blew it all off like big boys and girls.

What I wasn't sad to leave behind was the weather. I think this sign pretty much says it all...


Until next time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My big exciting weekend

...yeah.

You know, I've had dozens of thoughts lately about stuff I should blog. Because I'm not actively blogging at the moment, I'm doing my little sex workshop, so all my random thoughts and ditherings have been totally unrecorded. And every time I've had one of those ideas, I've thought, "Ooh! I'll blog about that at the League!"

But of course I've failed to write them down. So I got nothing.

And I'm slowly starting work on a new project, which I hope will be good and fun and all that stuff. It's got dead people in it. And ancient artefacts. And scars. And violent sex. So I'm pretty pleased with the idea, all in all. Now I just have to get working on it.

At least I have my laptop back. I've been having problems with it lately. It keeps shutting off on me. So finally on Friday, when it refused to stay on for more than twenty minutes and refused to come back on, we took it to the shop. Turns out, the fan was stuck because the laptop was full of what the tech described, in what I believe is highly incomprehensible computer language, as "gunky crap." So he used an air gun or something to blow out all the gunky crap, and voila. My laptop works again, which makes me very happy.

Also I rode a horse this weekend.

I haven't ridden a horse since I was twelve. See, I used to be horse-crazy. And so when I was twelve I actually rejoined Girl Scouts so I could go to their camp and ride horses. But the horse they gave me hated me. And the feeling was mutual. And all the other horses hated her too, which is why, one day when we were riding in a little circle, the horse in front of her kicked her, and she responded by spinning around and going into full-on bucking bronco mode. With me still on her.

I got back on, of course. And it happened again.

So they gave me a different horse, the one who kicked mine to begin with. Any guesses as to what happened next? Yep. It was like they were in a prison fight.

And that was it for me.

But, see, some friends of the hubs's from work own some horses. So we went to visit them. The girls rode their pony, and I rode one of the horse. And it was pretty cool, actually.
(I want to make mention of something, aside from the little helmet which makes me look like I should be laying mines in anticipation of the Hun's troops. Those odd little bulges above the waistline? Are from my shirt. That is not tummy overhang.)

And that was pretty cool. I remembered what I was doing, for the most part, which I liked. And I wasn't scared.

And that was basically it. It was a fairly slow weekend all around. The Mid-Devon Show took place, which was cool because for some reason people actually wanted to go stand in a field and look at livestock in the sweltering heat all weekend. I have no idea why. People the hubs works with tried really hard to encourage us to go, but they couldn't tell us why. They just said we should. I think it was so we could be the human sacrifices ala The Wicker Man. Because, really, I know there's very, very little to do or see in this drab, dull, hellish wasteland of boredom idyllic, untouched countryside, but standing in the sun all day watching cows being milked is just not my idea of a good time.

How about you? Horse riding? Livestock? Country or city?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Drugs & Writers

First thing is first. Drugs are bad... just say no!

Now that that's over, I was on a lot of drugs this week. Morphine, for the most part.

It's not as exciting as it sounds. Was in the hospital having a jaw infection dealt with.. good times, good times, but the drugs were amazing. But I have to say... the writing mind and drugs can produce some... interesting.. stuff. We're not talking Jim Morrison Doors of Perception type stuff.. we're talking bad stuff. That's what I get for writing paranormal, huh?

Two memories... one was an entire segment where anything I thought of turned to zombies, which is normally a giggly thing for me, but under the influence they were all terrifying. Pack of pens? Turned to zombies. Veggie Tales pirate personified vegetables? Turned to zombies. All haunting.

Also, there was this .. thing in one of my hallucinations. It started out looking like an early version of Bugs Bunny and slowly morphed into this creature I found terrifying. It's face was like of one those baby face masks from the movie Brazil and it's body was somewhat like the Chesire Cat. Except it's body was all plaid. And in the light of day, not terrifying at all, but man at the time, it gave me the willies.

What monsters haunt your brains?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Comic-con Update

Best quote from a panel (so far):

"See? You too can grow up to be a black man."

-Samuel L. Jackson (an aside on Nick Fury in a panel about the upcoming The Spirit movie)

Best moment:

My signing at the Pocket Books booth went well, but the coolest moment was the surprise I got when I walked over to the Mystery Galaxy Bookstore booth... Several folks who hadn't been able to get a free copy of STAKED showed up to buy copies for me to sign. *That* was cool.

Oh... and the WATCHMEN looks like it is going to be fantastic.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Conestoga

Quick update from Conestoga.

So far the convention is all about olives, bats and chicken sex. Good times.

The one bad spot so far is that I finally met Mark Henry in person. We hated each other on sight. Now all the authors are splitting up into Team Mark and Team Jaye. There's a rumble planned in the parking lot tonight at 9. I think we all know Team Jaye will emerge victorious cause I'll cut a bitch.

More later once I have a chance to gather more blackmail material.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Convention Vs. Conference?

If you're trying to make a choice, there's no question, it's a matter of where you are in your career.

For instance, right now I'm in the shifty spot. I love writing conferences, learning new tricks, the whole pitch thing and hearing what people are writing. I've got a lot to be thankful for when it comes to the Willamette Writer's Conference (since it really got the ball rolling toward Happy Hour), so I'm certainly loyal there. But having been published already, it makes more sense (both logically and financially) to reach out to fans, which are few and far between at conferences.

On the other hand, I learn nearly as much by presenting workshops and sitting on panels as I do listening to panelists and participating in workshops.

Conventions are a great place to do promo and have fun and get plastered and gush over your heroes who might just be there promoing and having fun and getting plastered. You'll learn a lot about what the future holds in your genre, because conventions tend to be very genre specific and more importantly, fan-based.

At writing conferences you don't really get any of that, but there you're more likely to make the kind of contacts that could get you published, and you'll likely learn the nuts and bolts publishing information and writing stuff (in a general genre non-specific kind of way).

My tired 2 cents, anyway.

This past weekend was the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference, an event that I attended as a participant last year and a presenter this year. Attendance has dropped noticeably. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I suspect it's that the panels and workshops were becoming less genre focused. Our workshop on Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding was the only entry in the Sci-fi/Fantasy track. That's a drop from 3 spots last year. Not cool.

You can see why I'm so excited to get my butt to Conestoga. The urban fantasy genre will be on everyone's minds. Even the people who've never heard of it, such is our saturation into that convention. Fangs, Fur and Fey seems to be the largest track, so if you're within driving distance you gotta get over there (and bring some booze, would ya?).

It's also the closest thing we've got to a meeting of the League (three of us in one spot). Maybe next year we can talk Anton and Jeremy into joining the rest of us at RT. We could even throw an official League of Reluctant Adults party.

What are your thoughts on the subject? If you could only budget for one, which would it be, convention or conference?


ETA: I just reread this and realized I must have been on crack when I wrote it. Jesus, so rambling.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ouch...

(A quick note first--poor Anton is quite ill at the moment, which accounts for his lack of Monday post. Apologies from all of us, and wishes for Anton to feel better soon. I guess that curse I put on him worked, huh?)

So. I am clumsy.

I have many tales of clumsiness (sounds like a good title for a rather lame antho, doesn't it? Tales of Horror, Tales of Dread, Tales of Clumsiness.) Like the time when, 3 months pregnant with my first, I walked into the couch and dislocated my pinky toe. It literally stuck out at a right angle from the rest of my foot, and hurt like hell. I called my Mom. My Mom, keep in mind, is an emergency room nurse.

Sobbing, I told her what happened. Her response--remember, this is the response of a licensed emergency room nurse, who is furthermore my own mother--was to say irritably, "Why weren't you wearing shoes? You know you're clumsy!"

Or, the more important parallel to today's story--which is in fact much the same story--would be the day my husband and I returned from our honeymoon. Ah, newlyweds. We were getting ready to go to sleep. Turned off the bedroom light, realized we'd left the bathroom light on.

"I'll get it honey," I trilled, eager to be a Helpful Loving Wife.

I got up, switched off the light, turned to head back to the bedroom...and slammed my nose into the doorframe.

It really hurt. But the best part was imagining the black eye I would get from it, and how I was due back to work in two days. So I'd arrive fresh from my honeymoon with a black eye, and tell everyone I walked into a door. Yeah. Sure. (I didn't end up bruising, luckily.)

And now, eight years later, I am in the exact same situation.

This morning I was brushing my teeth (an activity which seems particularly hazardous for me of late.) Hubs walked in, like he does, which drives me nuts because I hate having people watch me brush my teeth, but whatever.

Anyway, I rinsed, and we had a short chat about whatever. I patted his behind and turned to leave the bathroom...

whereupon I smacked my nose right into the freaking bathroom door. The edge of the door. Hard.

It still hurts. Throbs, even. I can't really tell yet if it's swollen--it looks a little puffy to me, but my nose always looks puffy to me because I hate my nose (perhaps it's puffy from crying over how I don't like it?), but the shadow under my left eye seems a little darker than usual...and my stepdaughter arrives tomorrow for her summer visit.

If the eye goes black, I will post a picture.

But seriously, I walked into a door? Why don't I just tell people my husband beats me, because you know that's what they'll all be thinking.

Anybody got any ridiculous injury stories to make me feel better? Or callous mothers?



.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's Still Sunday Somewhere, Innit?

Okay, sorry, sorry, I was away yesterday, trapped in the Limbo that is known as Visiting All Family In A 100-Mile Radius. No, really, I love my family. And my husband's family. (That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.) But sometimes, doing the LET'S SEE EVERYBODY thing gets...stressful.

But hey, it's the price we pay by living 3+ hours away from everyone. Three long, lovely, blissful hours. Ahhh. **Birds chirping, deer flicking their cute tails**

Anyway, we went to Suffolk County on Saturday. Alllllll the way out in Long Island. In the car for four-plus hours. All I can say is thank God for the DS. It kept the Precious Little Tax Deductions occupied for the entire ride. For the most part. Well, except when they were complaining. And fighting with each other. And...

I digress. (Shocking.)

So we got to the big birthday party (three-year-old twins). The cousins had tents put up in their backyard, which kept the 90+ degree heat manageable. And there was a kiddie wading pool, and I wasn't too proud to kick off my sandals and stand in the pool, drink in hand. Ah, the glamorous life...

But the big thing about this weekend? I was supposed to see THE DARK KNIGHT. After the party, Loving Husband and I were supposed to drop the Tax Deductions off at his folks' house, and then he and I would hit the theater.

Except Loving Husband was asked to play boccie. And he did. for FORTY-FIVE minutes. Can I explain the excitement that is watching an Extreme Boccie Tournament? Sigh. So, we got to his folks' house uber late, got the kids settled...and then it was just too late for us to see a 2.5-hour movie. Because we're old farts now, and if we're getting up at 6:30 am (thanks to the Tax Deductions, who don't understand the concept of SLEEPING IN ON WEEKENDS, grrrrr), we need to be sleeping by midnight. Sigh.

So...no DARK KNIGHT for me. Whine.

For all of you who've seen it...tell me, is it delicious? Is it a kick-ass fabulous movie that I absolutely must see on the big screen? Or can it wait until DVD?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is it okay if my dog eats yours...?

We were driving home the other night when I noticed a man walking a little dog. I don't know what kind of dog it was, but it was tiny, furry... one of those dogs that sounds like an Ewok when they make their little growling noises. A Pomeranian, maybe? So I asked my wife, "What kind of dog is that?" Her answer: a Breakfast Dog.

???

Apparently *I* made up the term as a descriptor for any dog small enough that it might be eaten by our family Akita while she was out checking her pee-mail. I plead the fifth. Regardless, it struck me as funny largely because I'm working on the revisions for my second Void City book and one of the new characters would have certainly thought the same thing about a dog that size.

In any case, when we met back up with the Friday Night Group at the house, I did a quick survey for animal nicknames... For little dogs, there were plenty. Snack Dogs, Arfie Dogs, Yip Dogs, and of course, the universal... wiener dog. One friend even calls Chihuahuas 'Land Piranha'. Cats bore such names as Great American Fur Bearing Slugs, snats (snail cats)... Armadillos are possum on the half shell... Possums are rats on steroids... Squirrels became tree rats... And perhaps most embarrassingly, cows have been known to some of my friends as Tippers. It goes on and on.

I'd like to believe that my friends are not the weirdest bunch on the planet and surely this is not just a Southern thing. So fess up, what are some weird nicknames you have for animals?

City Settings

I'm headed to New Orleans today for a weekend getaway with the hubs. Of course, me being me, I've scheduled some book research into our itinerary in between gambling, eating way too much and, of course, the alcoholz.

While I was researching places to stake out, I got thinking about other cities I'd like to set books in. My last book was in L.A. and San Francisco. The one I'm writing will be in New York. The next one is probably, you guessed it--New Orleans. So this lead me to wonder about cities and urban fantasy.

Some authors have nichified cities. Vickie Petterssen has Las Vegas. Jim Butcher has Chicago. Often, the city itself serves as a character in these series. But even if an author doesn't use the same city repeatedly, you better bet choosing a city for a setting is a major consideration.

What cities would you like to see show up in the genre and why?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bring In the Funk

First things first: the winner of the "Stranger Than Fiction" contest is..

~j!

~j, your bad date story was truly horrifying, and you have my sympathy...and my ARC of Pure Blood. Email me at caitlinkittredge [at] gmail [dot] com with your address and I'll put your ARC in the mail.

Now, to the topic of the moment: I had a real funk yesterday, one where nothing got written because my brain took a vacation to Bermuda and forgot to take my writing with it. They happen, and the best I can hope for is to ride it out by doing non-writing stuff. You know the type...

  • Alphabetize everything
  • Color-code underwear drawer
  • Dust knick-knacks. And brick-a-brack. And tzchotzchkes.
  • Spend 20 minutes on Google looking up correct spelling of "tzchotzchkes"
  • Watch 14 back-to-back episodes of Law & Order
  • Learn French word for "alphabetize"
  • Cook elaborate French dish
  • Realize I don't even like French food
  • Feed dish to cats
  • Rush cats to pet hospital due to incorrect translation of recipe
  • Weed garden for 10 minutes
  • Spend 90 minutes recovering from heatstroke in lawn chair with sangria
  • Hmm, that sangria is pretty good
  • Wow, I never realize that Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood had such compelling storylines!
  • Scrub bathroom obsessively in aftermath of sangria overdose
  • Blog
And that's just the short list. I haven't even talked about organizing my pen collection or putting my comics in chronological order yet.

I'm really glad I have motivation again today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gout and About

For the second day in a row, I've rolled my tired ass out of bed and onto an aching foot. I was joking with friends yesterday that it was gout, but I'm actually pretty sure it is (or maybe just a sprain). Sadly, like a sprain, there's very little a doctor can do to help it out. Anti-inflammatories and pain meds. I got those and I'm taking them. Now I've just got to cut out the fats and drink lots of water to flush my system. 'Til then, just a little limp and feeling all that much older.

And it's not a good week for it.

Monday, the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference people contacted the esteemed and mysterious Kat Richardson and begged for her to put together an impromptu workshop. Never mind that Team Seattle had put together a lovely proposal that was completely disregarded and we never heard a peep on. So are we bailing their asses out? Of course, we do like our attention, after all.

So Saturday Kit Kittredge, American Girl (aka Caitlin), Richelle Mead, Cherie Priest, Kat and moi aussi will descend on the writers conference like the rough and tumble street gang we are and regale the crowd (I expect at least 50, if not, I'll be corraling the hall herds and routing them into Emerald E) with our strategies for urban fantasy worldbuilding. If you're in the neighborhood, you may want to fork it over for a day pass, just for our workshop, which promises to be thoroughly interactive and super fun, or awkward and uncomfortable depending on your social skills.

Watch out for me in the halls, I'll be the one limping.

Proceed to make fun of my advanced state of decay, or leave a question about world building or knife fights, even.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Superstition

So one of the fun things about living in England is the many and varied bug life. Well, okay, that's not fun (although the absence of the palmetto bug is actually fun. You'll get no complaints from me on that score. No huge flying roaches is a big plus for any place. You could ask me any day of the year, "So, Stacia, would you rather live somewhere with enormous flying roaches, or somewhere without enormous flying roaches?" and I'll say, "Without, please.")

Anyway. I have of late started trying to identify some of the bugs I see--there was a huge bee on my car the other day, a fuzzy one. I hunted around Wikipedia until I found it. Then there was a very large pink-and-green moth in my living room. And a red moth outside. Hey, there's little else for me to do here.

Yesterday I decided to see if I could find out what the little tiny red spiders that swarm on my patio every summer are called. Turns out they seem, in fact, to be called "tiny red spiders". There is a spider mite, which is red, and a velvet mite, which is also red, but they don't look like the spiders we have. And it seems a lot of people get these, as there are quite a few bug-discussion forums with long threads devoted to these tiny red spiders and their annoying swarming habits.

Someone on one of these threads asked about how to kill the spiders, because they get in the house. Another person chimed in that they've invaded her toddler's sandbox and she'd quite like to kill them too.

You've never seen such outrage. Well, okay, you probably have, but still. Everyone and their brothers joined in to berate these people for daring to kill some harmless little creatures, and to say what awful people they are for not wanting tiny red spiders to crawl all over their little children. I got the distinct impression that some of the commenters were in fact agents of the tiny red spiders, spies if you will, in thrall to the Tiny Red Spider Queen and commanded by her to protect the race at all costs, and if they failed in that task they would be devoured. I just found their passion...well, confusing, to be honest. They're bugs. Okay, technically they're arachnids, but let's be honest. It's not like if you kill an army of tiny red spiders you'll hear their shreiks rising up from the pavement. It's not as though there will be tiny red spider mothers at home wringing their hands and wondering why their babies never returned home. The tiny red spiders aren't working on a cure for cancer or anything, guys.

Now, I dislike spiders. I know it kills part of my "cool spooky writer" quotient but the fact is, I don't like them. I like that they exist, because it is a powerful and sometimes inspirational image, but I'm not crazy about the actual creatures. They're in my house; I can't do much about that, because for some reason there is an actual vent to the outdoors in my living room wall and they get in that way, or through the open windows (remember, no screens here) or whatever.

But despite my dislike, and despite my general bugs-outdoors-live, bugs-indoors-die rule (Why do I kill them? Because I can, that's why. I'm kind of bloodthirsty), I don't kill spiders. I use the time-honored glass-and-paper trap to catch them and put them outside. (Well, okay, I confess. At one point last year we had several dozen spiders in the house, all having built webs up near the ceiling, and in a fit of pique we vacuumed them all up with the hose attachment. But ordinarily we don't kill spiders.)

Because it's bad luck.

I was honestly surprised nobody on the bug forums mentioned the bad-luck aspect. I thought everyone knew it was bad luck to kill a spider (in the case of Vacuum Day, we figured we'd built up enough good luck with all the spiders we'd saved over the years to get away with it. Plus, there were dozens of them. Our home looked like Miss Havisham's place.)

So killing a spider is bad luck. As is breaking a mirror, or walking with one shoe on and one shoe off, or sweeping dust out the doors instead of into the center of the room, or opening an umbrella inside, or any number of other things.

Are you superstitious? What's good luck or bad luck to you?


**Don't forget, my summer series this year is on writing hot sex scenes! Come on by and join in!**

Monday, July 14, 2008

Inspiration is not a lengthy visitor

Before Dead To Me and then untitled book two in the series sold in March 2007, I was working on a book. It was not a genre book. It was a book about a punk band trying to reclaim a bit of its past glory. I loved this book, it is a project close to my heart, but sadly, it had to be put aside as I wrote book two and started multiple rounds of edits on Dead To Me. Every so often I think of said book, wonder where it was going at about 300 pages in, and realize I simply don't have the time to get back to it right now. Also? I have no idea where it was going. Had a lot of great vignettes, but I can't find the connective tissue of the book, so even if I had the time, I would have had to figure all that out first.

Cut to yesterday. First there was having one of the Clerks actors bag my comics at my first visit to Kevin Smith's Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash, followed by a concert be one of my favorite bands that broke up four years ago- the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. I think it would be fair to say that some of my band book has been inspired by their career.

So the start singing this one song of theirs HOW WHY WUZ HOW WHY AM and they get to one line I've heard a billion times and it hits me. That's the crux of my book! I have a much better idea of how the band book has to go.

But now my two book contract is now a four book urban fantasy contract and sadly, I still have not the time to write the band one, but if I know my brain, the stewing over it will eventually bear some form of fruit. Or you all could rush out and buy so many copies of Dead To Me that I can quit my day job and write full time so I can get to it.

Where have your strangest inspirations come from when writing?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Insert Chicago Song Title Here

So I'm working on my next HELL book (due October 1, eek), and I'm on this one scene that will end the first section. It's going well -- dark and evil, peppered with humor -- and I'm satisfied with how it will end.

And then it hits me that I have no idea what to do next. Sure, I know key events that still need to happen, and I can sort of play connect the dots with a lot of it...but as to how to kick off the next section? No freaking clue.

Argh.

So I do what I usually do in such situations: I take a shower.

Seriously. The best ideas come to me in the shower, or when I'm cooking or doing dishes. Or, annoyingly, when I'm driving. (Usually, that's when bits of dialogue occur to me, and I can't write them down. So I say them aloud, like I'm utterly schizophrenic.)

And sure enough, as I'm lathering up...I figure out what absolutely has to happen next. In fact, I have the next two chapters, right here in my head. All I have to do now is write them.

(Er, after I stop tweaking this last chapter in the current section, that is. Tweaky tweak tweak...)

So where does inspiration strike you? And what do you do to capture it?

Friday, July 11, 2008

It Starts With An F

What with Jaye talking about taboos, Mark being gleeful about sex research, and Anton talking about his meat, I had to follow suit.

Think of a word that starts with "F" and ends in "U", "C", "K", but don't think dirty when you do. I assure you the answer is G-rated. Obviously the word I'm talking about is: FIRE TRUCK. Okay, so fire truck is really two words, but I'm quite certain you'll politely ignore that.

There is another word though, one that is less emergency services and more expletive ejaculation. (Come on, guys, it's a perfectly acceptable Victorian word!) For many, it's the word we think of first when given the task above. We think of The Fire Truck Word and maybe we think it stands for "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" or "Fornication Under Consent of King", but it doesn't. If you'd like a interesting look at the etymology of the word, you might check here , but that really isn't what this blog is about.

It's about language. Orson Scott Card once said he had considered having the children in Ender's Game use vulgar words and slang to make them more realistic, but then decided against it. As a guy whose main character uses The Fire Truck word on average twice per chapter in his first book, I have to ask - how do you feel about strong language in your fiction?

Taboos

One of the things I love writing about urban fantasy is there aren't many rules. Happy endings aren't required, violence is expected, and sex is encouraged. Basically, the loyal readership isn't easily shocked, which leaves a lot of room for us writers to let our deranged imaginations play.

For example, here at the League, we have authors writing about zombies snacking on appendages, gratuitous demon sexoring, graphic descriptions of blood-letting, characters killing without remorse, and any number of other things that might get us kicked out of polite cocktail parties if we brought them up. Which is why we aren't invited to many polite cocktail parties--or parties in general.

But what do you think? Are there sacred cows in urban fantasy? Aside from the normal taboos--harming children, for example--is there any subject that would turn you off of an author's books?

*Edited for wonky html issues.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction (and a contest!)

I was out with Team Seattle a few nights ago, and the conversation turned to our wacky relatives. Then, in a phone call with my agent, we started talking about people we both knew that no one would buy as characters in a novel.

You know the kind--people who are so off the reservation that critics and first readers ding you for being, yanno, unbelievable. I've known a few of those in my time, the most memorable of which I can't recount here because I know they're reading my blog. So sad. I guess I'll just have to put their crazy in a novel some day and hope people don't think I'm actually making this shit up.

It brings up an interesting point in my mind, though--as authors of fiction, we have an unspoken responsibility to our readers to keep our fantasy within the bounds of a reader's suspension of disbelief. If I told the story about my college stalker in one of my novels, no one would buy it as a logical sequence of events in the story because the guy was just that wacked.

I do use the good parts, though, hanging small nuggets of truth on the framework of a character who slots believably into the story I'm telling. Less is generally more, because there's a threshold when readers throw up their hands and declare that you're just making shit up! It's a fine balance to strike, but cherish the crazies you meet throughout your life--they make for some of the best fiction.

Since I can't be too specific about my weirdos here, tell me about the person in your life voted Most Likely to be Stranger Than Fiction! And I'll sweeten the pot: best story of Crazy wins an ARC of Pure Blood, Book 2 of the Nocturne City series, which won't be out until August 26th.

Get to typing and I'll announce the winner next Thursday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Joy of Researching Dirty Stuff

The terribly fun bonus of this writing gig is the research. No one talks about it as one of their favorite things about writing but it totally can be. Take this little scenario: Incubus novel set in a sinister sexual disorders clinic? Lots of research into weird sexual problems.

I've got to have other patients, right?

Mind you, I've had tons of education on sexual dysfunction and sex therapy as one of my emphases in Graduate school. So I knew enough to figure out where to get the answers to my questions. Mostly people will go to a medical doctor nowadays for impotence, premature ejaculation or vaginismus (a tightening of the vaginal walls that prohibits penetration), so therapists get referrals that way. Most of the work was along the vein (so to speak) of arousal issues. But frankly reading about those is no fun at all. At. All.

So what am I looking for? The weirdest shit possible. The rare disorders that'll keep you up at night worrying about the state of your junk. But particularly the paraphilias. Did you know that there are people out there--probably on the street you live (maybe)--that can't get off unless they're cinching off a douche during intercourse?

Seriously.

Take a look at your neighbors tonight when you get home. Anyone look like a freak?
And I mean no disrespect in that term--some of my closest friends are freaks--I just mean bow-chicka-bow-bow! Maybe your boss is a frotteurist. We had one at the University of Washington back when I was an undergrad. He'd wait for classes to get out and then walk into particularly tight packs of people, rubbing against them. We also had the Library masturbators, but that's another story.

So yeah. Incubus character = tons of dirty research. And, of course, dirty = fun. Now I know what you're thinking and I've thought it to, just now as I'm writing this: Jackie writes about sex demons, too. In fact, she's written at least three books and a novella on the very subject, so she must be a complete pervo. What kind of research has she done?

Hell, most of you are writers...

What's the weirdest thing you've researched (I'm keeping mine to myself, but guys prepare to squirm when I get this book sold)?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oh, summer. Kind of.

First of all, has everyone been over to the Barnes & Noble online UF bookclub, where Personal Demons (that's my book, see, the one what I wrote) is the July Subfeature?

(This is one of those situations where I ask a question to which I already know the answer, and the answer is no. You haven't been. I know this because I haven't seen you there. Get over there! Go on! *poke poke prod*)

Second of all. I have decided to do a little series this summer on my personal blog(s)--(I post on blogger and livejournal both) on writing sex scenes. I urge you all to come by, it should be a lot of fun, and I'll be announcing a new summer blogging schedule tomorrow.

And third of all...it's summer. At least it's supposed to be. I still have to wear my coat outside most days. It's rained almost every day (though thankfully not quite as bad as last year, when we had nine straight weeks of solid rain. We've had only intermittent rain.)

I dislike summer. It's my least favorite season.

I don't really like heat, although I wouldn't mind having more right about now. I don't like all that sunshine. I mean, I like the sun, but I don't need it constantly. I LOATHE Daylight Savings Time, really hate it. I like it to get dark at a decent hour when I can enjoy it. I have small children; we've had to hang two blankets over their curtains to make their bedroom dark enough for them to go to sleep at a reasonable time (they go to bed at eight, eight-thirty; nine on weekends and holidays.)

But what I dislike most about summer is, I don't write well in the summer. Something about the heat and constant lightness, the sheer undramaticness (is that a word? I don't think it is) of it, seems to suck out all my creative energy. I write best in the fall. I get my best ideas then and I work fastest. But summer, bleh. A few light-hearted little stories seem to be all I'm good for, really.

I can write about summer just fine, although I tend to set stories in the fall too. But I just don't really like writing suring the summer. It's not that I want to be outside (ugh, I don't. There are bees and wasps outside and I'm allergic, even if I were inclined to enjoy the other bugs, which I am emphatically not). I just don't feel productive.

Everything slows down in the summer, too. I hate that. I get antsy when I'm not working. It bugs me to have nothing to do. Sure, I could clean my house or something but I'm not that desperate. I just sit. I read (okay, I love that) and watch tv and...sit.

I hate summer.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Eat my delicious meat

No, I haven't turned the League clubhouse into a porn studio... yet.

Instead, I'm talking about my Fourth of July weekend.

Very little writing done, but there was much consuming of malt liquor, microbrews, vegetarian appetizers, burgers, hot sausage, and a fourteen hour, slow smoked pork shoulder. Deeeelicious!

But the best of it truly was the fact that we were visiting friends in Philly and if yer gonna throw down for independence and fireworks, it's the place to be. When the fireworks started, we ran up to our friends roof deck, overlooking old world looking Philly and I got a little misty. That may have been the rain or (plug) the fact that I did a lot of reading on Ben Franklin recently for The Fourteenth Virtue in The Dimension Next Door on-sale now (/end plug). Either way, it was a good time and left me wondering if I could pull off that historical urban fantasy novel I've been jonesing to do...

In other news, don't forget to start DVRing I LOVE MONEY on VH-1. I loves me a good trainwreck.

The Mystery of the Missing Plate

Yesterday was the big party we had for Tax Deductions the Elder and Younger (their birthdays are four days apart. Okay, two years and four days, if you're going to get technical). Toward the end of the day, four boys were in the living room, zoning out on Oreos and Pokemon. At the end of the night, there were only three paper plates in the living room (with crumbs on them, mostly).

Uh oh.

So I went looking for the missing plate. Not on the sofa. Not on the chair. Not on the bookshelf. Not on the floor.

Then I made the mistake of sweeping under our living room sofa, just in case the plate had gotten shoved under there.

Items found:

7 M&Ms
2 toy spiders
4 pieces of Cap'n Crunch
2 pieces of Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries
8 crumbs (unidentifiable)
3 toy pieces, assorted
4 angry dust bunnies (think Monty Python and the Holy Grail: AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa--!)
2 stickers, with backings still on
1 sticker, without the backing and with a dead dust bunny attached to it

Did I find the missing plate with cookie crumbs? Nope.

So...where's the plate? (No, this isn't a riddle. There is no right answer. I'm seriously wondering: WHERE IS THE PLATE?)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Procrastinate Like A Pro!

So, for my first official blog as a Leaguer, I thought I'd talk about procrastination. Serious procrastination. The kind that comes from deadlines, revisions letters, and that sinking should-be-working-on-that-now feeling. I got the revisions letter for ReVamped from my editor at Pocket a couple of days ago and I've got six weeks or so in which to get the changes made- and only two big conventions in that time. So what am I doing? Procrastinating, of course.

TOP TEN WAYS TO PROCRASTINATE in the face of a WRITING DEADLINE:
10) Change all the light bulbs in your house. Brighter, isn't it?
9) Decoupage the bathrooms in comic-book du jour.
8) Take out the trash, do the dishes, cut the lawn, and water your wife's petunias.
7) Take your kids to see a movie... Wall-E, Kung-Fu Panda, Indy 4... maybe all three.
6) Brush the dog until no more fur comes off. Knit the fur balls into Tribbles.
5) Lie down on the floor of your office for a good think. (Pillows and sleeping bag optional.)
4) Write a few short stories. Actually submit them to magazines.
3) Build something with your kids... like a new desk. Use Legos.
2) Research. Surely there's something on the internet that will help with those revisions...
1) Catch up on all your blogs. Volunteer to guest blog. Write blogs for indeterminate dates in the distant future.

Have a favorite way to procrastinate? Help me list at least 40... I've got a lot more procrastinating to do!

If we took a holiday...

Hello, my pretties!

I was tempted to use Independence Day as an excuse to declare freedom from blogging for a day. Alas, I could not, for I actually have a topic today.

For our U.S. readers, today is a holiday that marks a big occassion in the history of our country. It celebrates the day America first discovered fire crackers. Or beer.* I can't remember exactly. However, for people in other countries its just another Friday.

And that got me thinking about writing, or more specifically, world building. A well-built world--even when set within our own-- will include things like religion, government, cultural traditions, and, yes, even holidays.

Even if the race you're writing about doesn't have their own holidays, they'll at least have opinions about the ones happening around them. For example, what would a vampire think of Christmas? Or a werewolf think of Halloween (they already have a costume)?

Just some food for thought. What made up holidays can you think of for paranormal creatures?

I'll start. Mummy's Day.

*Seriously, don't send me angry emails. I know what the holiday celebrates. Obviously, it's the day we chose to honor Bastille Day.

Oh noes!

Lo, I'm a bad blogger and I have sinned...I posted late because I got caught up writing an outline.

But that's good, in a way, because it leads into a serious post for once. About deadlines.

What a word. Deadlines. Grim. Final. Vaguely British. All professional authors cope with deadlines differently, but the one thing they add to the process, other than the fear of God/your editor, is pressure.

Pressure is like Kryptonite for the creative process, at least for me. I freeze up and I feel mechanical, like I'm just putting words down for the sake of words and not really saying anything. I could type weasel weasel weasel over and over until I got to 84,000 words.

So how to deal with the pressure? I have to lie to myself, in little bits and pieces, over the drafting process. It's about you, not the outline you turned in. Your creative genius will triumph over your manuscript due date. Your editor will totally give you that third extension.

Also, I overeat, watch terrible movies to decompress my brain after a day of writing five thousand words, and stop talking to real flesh-and-blood people.

Some day, I'll find a better way to deal, but not today.

If I could just get a week's extension, I'm sure we can work something out...

How do you-all deal with deadline stress?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Woe Is Me. Blah. Blah. Blah.

A quick apology for that bullshit post. I am happy to report that I got off my fat ass and made some decent progress. That said, it's still my blog day and I think I'll make it up.

Some news...

Our very own sassy blonde, Stacia Kane, is getting worked over at the Barnes and Noble Paranormal Book Club. If you haven't yet, go on over, sign up and give her hell.

Anton's Simonverse story is in the new anthology The Dimension Next Door. Click on the book cover on the left.

While you're spending your hard-earned gas money, Jaye's story is so very Weirdly. You can pick up that e-book, too.

Now.

Let's figure out what we're going to read.

Seriously.

Book Club Noms!

Postcards from Slacktown

So I'm just sitting on my ass watching TV, drinking coffee, yelling at the dogs like the insolent children they are (only these little ingrates won't bring me the remote), when I realize. Um. It's Wednesday.

I've got a blog to do.

I'm such a frickin' slacker lately. Sorry word counts, lots of ideas and no follow-through. Oh yeah, I suck.

Take the League book club, for instance. Where's that been? I can't even remember if we came close to picking a book (feel free to leave a suggestion, last time I asked, Black Magic Woman was mentioned quite a bit).

Then there's my WIP. It seems I'll do just about anything to avoid it. Oh...not in my head, that thing is just about all I think about, it's just the actual sitting down and writing that's not happening. I may need to hit the skids and pick up some hot Ritalin or something.

The exercise is helping a bit. Clearing my head. I nearly wrote 1000 words on Monday. Yesterday: 0.

Bad, I know.

I'm getting back on schedule. There's no ifs, ands or buts about that. I have to, the clock is running. So no more internet for the first 6 hours of my day. In and out for my scheduled blogs and that's it. I'll even need to limit my email checks. It's like I need to retrain my brain, create some new habits.

I'm heading down the same road I travelled with Road Trip, so to speak. Procrastinate. Procrastinate. Rush panicked through a first draft, heart beating like a jackhammer, stressed as shit.

Must. Pull. It. Together.

I'm off to do that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

*sniffle* *sigh*

I finished my WIP yesterday.

And I think most of it really sucks. Honestly. Not in a "I hate most of my work and think of myself as a hack" kind of way, but in a real, genuine, "there's plot holes all over this thing and I messed up some stuff here and there and it needs some serious work" kind of way. Which is frankly unusual for me. This is the first book I've written where the basic oomph wasn't there in first draft. But honestly, that's another post for another time.


What's at issue here is... I don't know what to do next.

I hate finishing projects. I mean, I love it, because there's a feeling of accomplishment and blah blah blah (although, again, not really feeling that this time because I know how much work the first half of the book needs.) But what do I do now?

What do I do NOW??

Seriously, this reminds me of one of my favorite Barbara Michaels books, Here I Stay. The MC hires a maid for her hotel, a rather slow woman named Mrs. Horner. And when the MC tells Mrs. Horner to clean a room, that's just what Mrs. Horner does. And when it's done, she just stands there, waiting to be given the next instruction.

And that's how I feel right now. I'm just waiting.

Normally I would leap into first-round edits, by which I mean clearing up the obvious plot holes I know I've left. I take care of those before I let the book sit, so when I go back to read it it's all there and I can really focus on the small stuff. But this time I'm so daunted by the prospect that I just want to...well, I just want to not do that.

But neither do I want to just sit back and relax. I'm not good at that anymore. I give myself a week, maybe two, before I start getting antsy and depressed and freaked out because I'm not working on anything new. (I'm like Andrew's Dad from The Breakfast Club: You've got to get out there! WIN! WIN! WIN!)

So that's it. I will probably spend a considerable amount of time rereading the parts of the new book which I actually like--and there is a nice big chunk of which I'm proud and pleased--to boost myself up for the inevitable tearing down. But I am at loose ends. I am bereft.

Amuse me?

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

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