Monday, August 31, 2009

The Next Pandemic

I've been trying to figure out why I refuse to panic over the Swine flu, despite the fact that the WHO seems to want me to cover my house in plastic and vaccinate everyone who enters, including my daughter's pet rabbit. Obviously people who have more education than I do are concerned, so I should be shaking in my shoes. I mean, it's killed like 1800 poor souls. Not as many as the regular flu (which wipes out between 250,000 and 500,000 lives every year) but, as the WHO says somewhat hopefully in its memos, the potential is there.

I've decided it's all in the name. Swine flu. Or worse, H1N1. Come on, really? You science types have done it yet again. Totally stunk up a perfectly horrifying prospect with a crap descriptor. What you should've done was call Stephen King. Now that dude knows how to name a flu. If the WHO has released a letter to the public that said, "Captain Tripps is on its way to your town," I'd be so freaked by now I wouldn't have slept for a month.

Which just goes to show you--if you want to freak out an entire nation, what you need to start with is a really good writer.

Our 1st League Guest Review: Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire

A while back, JD entered our Rosemary and Rue ARC contest, but this was a contest with a catch, she'd have to review the book and become our very 1st guest reviewer.  We plan to do this as often as we can, so if you're an author who wants in, let Mark know. And here it is...


I have to be honest, straight up – knowing I was reviewing ‘Rosemary and Rue’ made me read it with more of a critical eye than normal. My reading habits are exclusively for escapism so rather than reading this book for the sake of a good story (which is why I put my hand up for it in the first place), I was constantly thinking, asking myself and the book questions like ‘What does that character mean by that?’; ‘Why did that happen?’; ‘Where is the story headed because of this event?’  As a consequence, I figured out who was behind the mystery before the protagonist did. While the motive eluded me for a bit longer, I still worked it out before the protagonist. I finished the book feeling rather ambivalent about it and, therefore, a bit disappointed.


Then I started thinking about the novel for this review and realised it is a good, solid story.


A half-Fey trying to live in a human world, October ‘Toby’ Daye has tried to deny her Faerie heritage by creating a semblance of a normal human life. She has a husband and a daughter, her own private investigations business, even her own mobile phone which, in 1995, was a fairly new thing.


While she’s on the trail of a person she suspects has kidnapped the wife and daughter of a close friend, she finds her life changed forever.


Cut to 14 years later and Toby has lost her business and her own family. Just scraping by with a series of dead-end jobs, Toby has secluded herself from all that is Fey and refuses to have anything more to do with that world, even if it means removing herself from all of her friends, “[Faerie has] taken me away from the mortal world twice now. It doesn’t get a third try.” (pg 45)


But the Faerie world is a tenacious beast and Toby is thrust back into the life she left behind when she bears silent witness to the death of a friend, the Countess Evening Winterrose. In her dying moments, the Winterrose binds Toby, cursing her to find those responsible for her murder.


As her investigations continue, Toby tries to determine who is good, who is evil. Soon, she realises that much more is at stake than her own life if she is unable to find the killers. Understandably, the Winterrose’s charge becomes a very heavy weight to bear. There’s a line at this point in the narrative which stuck with me throughout the book and I’m still thinking about it - “I’ve never really left the pond. I still can’t breathe.” (pg 46) As soon as you finish the Prologue, you’ll understand why I found this so powerful.


The pacing of the story isn’t too frenetic and the breathing room between the action sequences aren’t at all tiresome. There’s enough going on to hold your attention and keep the story moving. The story itself is tight, never meanders, and there’s not too much exposition. McGuire’s writing itself borders on the poetic without it being boring poetry. One of my favourite lines is, “If there was ever a Cinderella, her glass slippers shattered under her weight and she limped home bleeding from the ball.” (pg 30) I won’t quote you all the lines I liked, there are too many.


The characters are good. Toby is a character I wouldn’t mind knowing. Yes, she’s stubbornly independent almost to the point of detriment, but from the get go I understood why. I was invested in her tale before the end of the Prologue. She’s judgemental and it takes a lot for her to change her mind. She’s also honourable, loyal, her quips humourous and she has just enough layers to make her a character I want to know better but not so many as to make her too hard to relate to. She kicks ass, but not literally – she’s very aware of her limitations and works with and around them. This is a refreshing change from the martial-art-expert-with-omnipotent-munitions-knowledge-and-has-untapped-supernatural-power I’ve begun to get tired of. In short, Toby is believably Good People.


Even the secondary characters have layers. I think I have a girl-crush on the Winterrose and I’m sad I won’t get to know her better. She sounded like a top chick. How can you not love someone who admits, “I prefer San Francisco... The lies are different here. When you’ve lived as long as I have, you start appreciating new approaches to dishonesty”? The story of Duke Sylvester and Duchess Luna I’d like to hear more of. And I want my own Tybalt. I have no idea if The King of the Cait Sidhe was intended as a sexy immortal, but I certainly read him as one. He can mock me any day...


McGuire’s mortals act like mortals. All their actions are typical of our race. The semi- and immortals act just alien enough to separate them from mortals but not so alien that their actions don’t make sense. I understand the motives of the ‘bad guy’. While I might not like the methods they employed, I sympathised with their cause. Too often, the ‘bad guy’ is just megalomaniacal and hopes for world chaos and destruction. Not so here and they are made all the more intriguing and their cause poignant because of it.


The world building was solid. I think even if I had never been to San Francisco, I would know what it looked and felt like just from this book. Her Faerie world is based around familiar Celtic ideas and I was indifferent to this side of the story at first although that was through no fault of the author. Had I not saturated myself with Celtic-based high fantasy fiction 12 years ago (to the point of near abhorrence), my opinion would be vastly different. If I had read this book 10 years ago, I’d be 10 years further along in my love for Urban Fantasy.


‘Rosemary and Rue’ is a good, solid novel and a fantastic debut. I look forward to reading more about Toby and her world. It really did almost make me believe again in Faeries.


So there you have it, straight from J.D. to you. Who's interested? Well you can pick up Rosemary and Rue at the bookstore tomorrow or at any online retailer. Go!

Friday, August 28, 2009

On Secrets and the Origins of Cool

Thom asked: "What was the secret origin of the League? What is the determining factor that seperates an LRA writer from the others? Basically, how did the cool kids get so cool and what makes them cool in the first place?"

Dear Thom,

The secret origins of the League are secret for a reason. If we told you we wouldn't have to kill you, but we would have to offer you as a sacrifice to Paco, Jackie's pet werechihuahua. He's small but he's mighty. Don't go there. Trust me on this.

As for what separates the League writer from everyone else? Well, the truth is a League writer can't just be a good. No. A League writer must piss excellence. Also they can't have told us no when we asked them to join. That's pretty much our criteria.

Now, on to the coolness question. I can't speak for the other Leaguers, but I became a cool kid by generous use of predatory snark and a devil-may-care personal style. In fact, I'm so cool, I'm actually a dork. Ponder that for a while, my friend.



Cover Flattage

The winners of this week’s cover flats are…

Jessica Kennedy
Jennifer Allen

Email me(at)markhenry(dot)us--


mark(at)markhenry(dot)us that one will get you nowhere–and I’ll hook you up with the flat and somethin’ else swaggy.

Have a good weekend y’all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Reason to Twitter

If you don’t have a twitter account but love making fun of horribly offensive television, well now you have a reason to follow me and Tor editor Heather Osborn on Twitter.

Every Thursday we do a Twitter Commentary track of that week’s Toddlers and Tiaras. All you need to do to join in the fun is…

1. Set up an account at
2. Follow mark_henry and HeatherOsborn
3. Record Toddlers and Tiaras
3. Start watching at 4:30 PST/7:30 Eastern and follow along on Twitter.

It helps if you have an auto load twitter feed app, like Tweetdeck which you can download wherever.

Get to it, bitches!

LRA: WTF Answers - Void City Edition

So... I think the idea is that we band of merry lunatics should answer the questions in the main LRA: WTF post in our own post so they're easy to find. And if I'm wrong... well, my being wrong is not particularly new to anyone. ;P

I'll answer some of the questions in character and others...

Eric: Good lord, would you stop talking about questions and f*cking answer one?

[Enter, one vampire in "Welcome to the Void" t-shirt and jeans.]

Me: Right okay, so Kiyote asked "How do you organize your writing? Outline or no? Notecards? anything?" Good question, Kiyote. I'm a panster so-

Eric: I can believe that.

Me: Believe what, Eric?

Eric: I can believe you got pantsed a lot. Wait. That would be a Pantsee. Never mind. Go back to talking about your pants.

Me: I start out with a character and a situation, an idea for a central conflict and rough idea of what the theme of the book is.

Eric: Theme?

[Eric raises an eyebrow.]

Me: Yes, a theme.

Eric: You're saying that first book with me in it has a theme?

Me: Yeeees.

Eric: Bullsh!t.

Me: It does!

Eric: Then what is it?

Me: Well, I mean, you don't have to read this into it. The books are meant to be enjoyed for the action and humor, too, but Staked was largely about recapturing the idea that being a vampire isn't all fun and games, that it (no pun intended) sucks and how human foibles can be far worse than a bad reaction to sunlight.

Talbot: I can see that.

[A tall muscular being appears. He is dark-skinned, bald, and dressed in a custom-made tux.]

Eric: Where the hell did you come from?

Talbot: Well, when a mommy idea and a daddy idea love each other very much...

Me: Can I please just answer Kiyote's question?

[Eric shrugs while Talbot responds with an indulgent nod.]

Me: Outlines would be useful if I could manage one, but for most novels, I can't. I go straight from that initial scene and write whatever I want to write. Sometimes it's the next sequential chapter, but it can also be a chapter from anywhere in the book. I have a few folks that I bounce ideas off of, but that's all the conscious planning I do.

Eric: You suck.

Me: What?

Eric: You did all that crap to me on a whim?

Me: Well, no. I knew I wanted a murder mystery aspect to Staked and that ReVamped would be more of a questing type book... so that you'd have to deal with High Society Vampires. You know, since you hate them...

Eric: I'm not talking to you.

[Eric walks off the stage shaking his head.]

Me: Maybe that's enough questions for today.

Talbot: No, I'm answering the jam question.

Me: What? Why?

Talbot (ignoring me): In my experience you need to get the ingredients up to about 100 degrees celcius. Once you let the mixture cool, you should notice that it begins to gel somewhere between 55 to 50 degrees.

Me: Do you want to answer JD's question too?

Talbot: Global warming? Humans will be fine. Historically speaking, the real evolutionary problems will arise when the climate shift reverses itself.

Me: Okay, so you heard it here first. According to the supernatural cat person, we'll be fine.

Talbot: Which doesn't mean you should ignore pollution.

Me: But I thought you said.

Talbot: I said the human race would survive. I didn't said they'd enjoy it.

Me: Oh... Well there are only a few questions left, so I might as well.

Talbot: Skip the one from Falcata Times about likeable characters. When you do it, it's by accident.

Me: Hey!

Talbot: And saliva breaks down bloodstains very effectively, Kelly. Oni saliva works particularly well as long as it's a non-organic fiber. Oh, and cold water is a must, if you have to go ahead and do a more traditional wash. Hot water will help lock the stain in, so avoid it at all costs. You know... I think I've answered this question before...

Me: Talbot! You do not get to take over the blog post.

Talbot: Looks like that's all the questions we have time for today, but keep asking and we might stop back in and answer some more.

Me: Talbot!

Talbot: Bye, all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


As you all know, we're nothing if not helpful here at the League. Basically, we're givers. You know that. So to service you all as you deserve to be serviced, we're starting a new, um, service.

Introducing the League of Reluctant Adults WTF? (LRA WTF? for short) feature. That's right, friends, we're answering your questions. Have a burning question about writing or publishing? We know some shit about writering and publishifying. Got a burning rash? We could probably recommend a good salve. Pretty much nothing is off limits. However, we reserve the right to delete anything offensive (our standards are pretty low though) or skip anything boring. Your questions will be answered by someone though. And you never know when one of our characters will step in to give you their two cents.

So get busy, people. Help us help you. Do it now.

It May Come as Some Surprise...

...but there are times where I can be quite productive. Take this past weekend. Pal-o-mine/Douche Extraordinaire, Mario Acevedo, showed up at my house and demanded we write a screenplay together. While there's nothing unusual about this occurrence--and, in fact, you might be saying to yourself, 'Damn it, Mario told me I'm the only one he's writing a script with'--it is quite unusual to knock out a first draft in 4 days.

*shines up knuckles*

AND...I'm kinda proud of the estimated 115 page (read minute) finished product...

Here we are busting out either filthy sex, or hyper-violence, hard to tell...


And, YES, that is a copy of Lynn Chancer's Sadomasochism in Everyday Life, thank you very much. My bookcase overfloweth with handy dandy sexuality-related texts.

So, yeah, the rumors are true. There's gonna be an Acevedo/Henry script floating around out there. We don't know what's going to happen with it anymore than you do, but I'll be sure to let you know if something exciting happens. I mean, other than Mario bashing the shit out of it in the revisions...

Which is probably happening right about now.


You know what else? I've got a handy printable shopping list for y'all. 'Cause it's Tuesday, bitches!


Now, tell me, what did you do this weekend?


Contest ends on Friday.


Happy Release Day to Michelle, Jennifer, Jeanne and Richelle! May this be the first step in the League of Reluctant Adults' eventual world domination!!

Tune into my blog tomorrow for an interview between TALL DARK AND FANGSOME author Michelle Rowen and myself, in which we discovered that we are both charming and hilarious.


Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Talkin'...

The discussion at our house began, as many of them do, over something funny that happened on TV. We were watching part of the Little League World Series and trying to figure out why most of the kids on the Saudi Arabian team were blond-haired, blue-eyed boys with American accents. They were playing the kids from Japan, and during a timeout the Saudi pitcher asked his coach if he could (pause to put his glove beside his mouth when he remembered he was miked and the other team might have a spy watching the coverage somewhere else in the park), "Throw a curve ball inside." Yeah, he didn't whisper it quite low enough, so the whole world caught it anyway.

My son (age 17) said, "Why did the kid bother whispering? The other team's from Japan. It's not like they can understand him."

I gave him my you-know-better-than-that face and said, "Dude. Every kid in every developed country in the world learns English fluently. You know that. Why American kids aren't learning a second language at that age I have no idea. It's so stupid not to."

He did his pseudo-offended look and said, "Hey, what are you talking about? I know Canadian."

Oh. My. God. I damn near rolled off the couch I was laughing so hard.

So let's say you had to learn a third language besides, for instance, English and Canadian, so you could tell your batter to bunt. You know, in words. No bizarre hand signals that make you look like you've been overrun by those beetles that kept eating everybody alive in The Mummy. What language would you pick?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trivia Contest!

The trivia contest at my blog is now open!

The rules are simple. Send answers for five questions about NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS, to my e-mail address.

THEN provide a link to another blog, Myspace, Facebook, Yahoo Group, Tweet, Goodreads, or Shelfari post where you mention the release date of NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN... as a good thing. You MUST come back to my blog's comments section and post those links in one response to qualify.

The first person to answer all five questions correctly AND post a link in the comments section will win a complete signed set of Jane Jameson books - NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS, NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN and NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER. (I will ship internationally.)

I will announce the results on Monday night.

Thanks for playing!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Get your Pre-Order On!

On Tuesday, August 25th, the League takes over the world! With books! And you can order 'em RIGHT NOW to ensure our global domination...

Book 5 in the Immortality Bites series
By Michelle Rowen

Sarah Dearly's vampire life is not all B-positive cocktails. A curse made her a nightwalker, the most vicious vamp there is; the charm she wears to curb her deadly tendencies is losing its juice; and a hunter from hell is turning up the heat. Gideon Chase will kill the ones she loves most if she doesn't obey his orders – that includes breaking up with master vampire Thierry and turning Gideon into an immortal vamp via her bite so he can escape a doom of eternal hellfire.

Making things worse are Sarah's growing feelings for Gideon, a bad boy who keeps showing a vulnerable side…but is it for real? Will Sarah's dark side take over? Or can she cure herself of the nightwalker curse in time to stop Gideon and finally get the chance to live happily ever after with Thierry…forever?

Why should people read it?
It's the fifth and final book in my Immortality Bites series. Don't you want to see if I'm going to kill everybody off?

Buy @ Amazon:

Book 5 in the Anna Strong Chronicles
By Jeanne C. Stein

With her partner out of town, her family abroad, and her mentor estranged, newly-turned vampire Anna Strong is keeping a low profile. But now young vampires are turning up dead, completely drained of their life force. And though Anna wants to say no when Williams, her former teacher and now leader of a supernatural enforcement squad, asks for her help, she can’t. But soon, she’ll wish she had.

Buy @ Amazon:

Book 4 in the Vampire Academy series
By Richelle Mead

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them … including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most? 

Buy @ Amazon:

Book 3 in the Jaz Parks series
(Mass Market release)
By Jennifer Rardin

I'm Lucille Robinson (aka Jaz Parks).

This is a mission unlike anything my vampire boss, Vayl, and I have ever been on. It's not our usual take-them-out-and-run; it's an undercover mission that needs the whole gang: a psychic, an interpreter, and a weapons specialist.

We've never gone in which such heavy artillery before, but the more the merrier, right? Um...nope. At least not since Vayl and I learned part of our job is to ferret out a mole concealed in our unit.

To add to our problems, we're being harried by a pack of reavers bent on revenge, and targeted by a Seer who wants to share Vayl's power - at any cost. This is going to be a blast.

Buy @ Amazon:

Book 2 in the Jane Jameson series
By Molly Harper

Once a devoted children's librarian, Jane Jameson now works at a rundown occult bookstore. Once a regular gal, she's now a vampire. And instead of a bride, she's an eternal bridesmaid -- which leads her to question where exactly her relationship with her irresistibly sexy sire, Gabriel, is headed. Mercurial, enigmatic, apparently commitment-phobic vampires are nothing if not hard to read. While Jane is trying to master undead dating, she is also donning the ugliest bridesmaid's dress in history at her best friend Zeb's Titanic-themed wedding. Between a freaked-out groom-to-be, his hostile werewolf in-laws, and Zeb's mother, hell-bent on seeing Jane walk the aisle with Zeb, Jane's got the feeling she's just rearranging the proverbial deck chairs.

Meanwhile, Half Moon Hollow's own Black Widow, Jane's Grandma Ruthie, has met her match in her latest fiancé. He smells like bad cheese and has a suspicious history of dead spouses. But Jane's biting her tongue. After all, would a nice girl really think she has a future with a vampire?

Buy @

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Agents on a Plane... and a Trivia Contest!!

My husband, David, recently flew from Nashville to LA for a conference. He's a people-watcher, so when he sat next to a guy who was editing a manuscript and checking query emails, he immediately concluded - literary agent.

David's not a shy fellow, so he said, "You're literary agent, huh?" His seatmate got this "deer in the headlights" expression and tried to change the subject. David laughed and said, "Don't worry, I'm not going to spend the next three hours pitching my book." David explained about me being an author, the query process that led me to my agent, Stephany, and how much he's had to learn about the publishing industry in the last couple of years.

They talked about how crowded the vampire romance genre is and what Stephenie Meyer accomplished with Twilight. The agent asked if I managed to go to RWA this year, as he had a client there.

After the flight, someone pointed out that David spent the entire flight talking about romance books- with another dude.

Such are the trials he suffers as my husband.


I will be holding a trivia contest here at at 6 p.m. (Central) Sunday. The first person to respond correctly to five NICE GIRLS trivia questions AND provide a link to another blog, Myspace, Facebook, Yahoo Group, Tweet, Goodreads, or Shelfari post where they mention the release date of NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN (as a good thing) will win a complete signed set of Jane Jameson books - NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS, NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN and NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER.

You MUST come back to's comments section and post those links in one response to qualify. I will announce the results on Monday night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Austin--Is hell humid?

(This is being cross-posted from The Biting Edge because I thought everyone would like to see Mario peeing)

Austin Airport Sunday 4:30 PM

The one true thing about all conferences is that just about every writer I know is happy when it’s time to go home.

This is true even at a writer-friendly, writer-oriented con like ArmadilloCon.

The programming was interesting and unique. The presenter’s diverse. I had my pal Mario there with me. Still, I can’t wait to go home.

Now—here’s the good stuff. We arrived on Thursday, a day before the official start of the Con to spend the day with Mario’s sister, Sylvia. She was a great hostess. She opened her home to me, a stranger, and even when I told her Mario lied and we WEREN’T lovers, hastily made the appropriate arrangements and I had my own room. She didn’t even mind when I said I wanted her to dish the dirt on her brother.

Well, she didn’t have any dirt (evidently Mario was a PERFECT child—I wonder what that fairytale cost him) but she did have something even better—something Mario obviously forgot—She had Mario kid pictures!!!!

So, here for your titillation is Mario before he became the world famous writer.

So just what is our guy doing?

Ah-- there's a sprinkler under that cute little butt!

Playtime! Sylvia and her talented bro.

I couldn't do much with this one-- but if you look closely, we see some washboard abs on young stud Mario.

We actually had time to do some of the touristy stuff Austin is famous for—we saw the bats!!!!

For those of you who don’t know (and I was one of them) Austin’s Congress Bridge is home to 1.5 million bats. Yes, I said bats. The real pointy-eared, winged kind. Every evening when they’re in summer residence, they fly out around sunset to go hunting. From under this huge bridge in the middle of town. They come out in a swirl that climbs into the sky and forms a cloud that goes on for miles. We watched those little critters for an hour. The pictures don’t do the experience justice because I was using a digital camera with very limited zoom function. But this gives you an idea. I found a video on YouTube that gives an even better look at how 1.5 million bats look when they fly out on food run. Sometimes they swirl right over your head and in those instances, keeping your mouth shut seems a particularly good idea.

Barbcue. Now, no Texas visit is complete without a trip to the local barbecue hotspot. Iron Works barbecue. A historic restaurant in a historic part of town. So, you ask, where are the pictures of Mario with barbecue sauce dripping off his chin? There were two reasons I didn’t take pictures. The first was it was so damned hot and humid, we didn’t stay outside long enough to take pictures. The second reason was greasy, drippy barbecue sauce and cameras don’t mix. But it WAS damned good food washed down with—wait for it—Lone Star Beer, of course.

The Texas State Cemetery. Howard, Sylvia’s neighbor arranged a VIP tour for us. Now I could use a hackneyed old saw, like people are dying to get in, but the truth is, you need to make a reservation and be approved before you can make this particular bone yard your final resting place. This one is reserved for celebrities, politicians, big bucks people. Or you can be the founder of Austin. It is beautiful.

So—this was the pre-conference fun—in the next day or so, I’ll continue with the conference. Thank you, Sylvia, for your hospitality. And for letting me sneak those pictures of Mario. I'm sure he'll thank you too.

The Scientific Method

So here's the latest gossip via some TV show I can't remember the name of because I live in a fantasy world most of the day so I'm lucky to recall the route to the grocery store.

There are scientists piping messages out into the universe in the hope that some alien race, way the hell out there, has a funnel taped to its ear. These messages contain lots of info including music and math problems and, oh by the way...every little detail you'd ever wanna know about our DNA. No. I'm not kidding. Because apparently not one of these eggheads has ever seen a single episode of Dr. Who. Or they would totally understand that all the superior beings will have to do once they secure this information is develop a virus that's fatal to creatures with our DNA, shuttle it into our atmosphere and drop it in any large city.

I figure we have two options. We can evolve. Which, considering these scientists are supposed to be our best and brightest, I don't see much of a chance for the human race in that direction. Or we can hope their courier trips over Saturn and breaks the vial long before it reaches our atmosphere.

Of course I could be way off base. How do you figure our first contact with aliens will play out?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Southern Soft Porn HBO Vampire Fantasy

I am a HUGE fan of Charlaine Harris’s books. Not least because reading Dead as a Doornail inspired me to write Tempest Rising. I’d never read a fantasy book like it (not because they’re not out there, but because I hadn’t read fantasy for about 10 years), and the tone was so different from the "serious" fantasy I loved but I’d always known I could never emulate. The first thing that struck me about Harris’s novel was that, while the heroine was heroic, it was in an entirely human way. She was heroic because she bore her “disability” with grace, always managing to be polite and respectful (values she held important) despite the horrors her mind picked up on a daily basis. She was heroic because she remained open, despite the fact that most people would have shut themselves off from experience or hope after living the way she had.

Another thing I adored about the series was it indulged in all the fantasies I’d always riffed on, in my own mind and with my family, about the SF/F genre that I otherwise loved. Peelers are a practical, cynical people. We have a touch of idealism and romanticism that balances our otherwise dark natures, but, for the most part, we reflect our Midwestern, immigrant roots. So, as we were walking out of Blade 2, years ago, my brother said, “I’m really glad that, after kidnapping Kris Kristofferson, the vampires put him in designer leather pants. Because he was wearing jeans throughout Blade. Somebody had to go out and buy him some Versace before they interred him in goo.”

What my brother was commenting on was what had always bothered me about many types of fantasy that we now call urban fantasy. Because I’m practical, and Midwestern, and a Peeler (so a bit of an asshole), I always wanted to know: who buys the vampire’s cravats? How do they pay their electricity? Do they have a checkbook? Do they balance it? With a calculator? Did Renfield ever look at Dracula and say, “Master, you need to stop spending so much on virgins because we have to feed your wolf-minions. And you know how rabid they get when we switch their kibble for something cheaper.” That’s why I loved, in Harris’s books, when Sookie compliments Bill on his brown and green golf shirt (!?!?) and Bill tells her he bought it at Dillards in Shreveport (where I do my own shopping nowadays, thanks). Harris obviously asked herself, “Where would a vampire get his golf shirts?” Which is genius not least because it’s a vampire in a golf shirt. That’s brown and green.

I know, nowadays, that Harris isn’t the only recent UF writer to riff on these things. But she was the first one I’d read after a decade, and it felt entirely new to me. So new I had to write my own. Which is why I’m not only a fan, I’m a bit of a rabid fan. Granted, I am a quiet fan, as always. I’m not much of a “joiner” so I don’t participate in fan stuff. But I’m enough of a fan of Charlaine’s books to have bought this:

It’s from Dirty Coast, a Louisiana tee shirt company.

I am also enough of a fan that I knew my judgment of HBO’s True Blood was going to be the jaded, mutinous judgment of a true fan waiting to be disappointed by the Hollywood treatment of their favorite novel. And I wasn’t very pleased by the first season. I didn’t get why they made Sookie so trashy, or why they made some of the plot deviations they did. I couldn’t see logic behind the choices, although I knew, as well, that I wanted the series to be the books and that was an impossibility. That said, I’m really enjoying the second season. I feel that the parts of this season that are like the books are closer, in spirit, to the original and that the parts that deviate do so in a bolder, more original way that makes sense.

That said, I am also aware that I may just have gotten over the fact it wasn’t a direct repro of my beloved books.

What do you think of True Blood, the HBO series? And don’t just tell me Eric is hot. That is a given, like the sky is blue or the sun will rise in the morning.


Monday, August 10, 2009

The Results are In!

With your help, I won the Funniest Paranormal Author poll at Bitten by Books.  So I'm payin' up.

The secret special prize goes to...

Karen W. (who, incidentally, voted for Jackie)

So email me(at)markhenry(dot)us and I'll get you your prize, Mademoiselle!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Things I Like

I have a lot of friends with very varied interests, and they're alway sending me links to cool stuff. Oftentimes, the one link leads to other links. And people are always asking me, "Where did you hear of that? Where did you get that?" So I decided to blog about Things I Like. Some of these things I have, some I want, some I just think are wikkid.

The first Thing I Like is Ida Maria. She (and her band) are Norwegian. I really like Norwegians (Hi Kristin!) in general, but I really, really like Ida Maria. AND I just got to see her in concert! They were AMAZING. And could she be cuter? Really?

Another band I'm really digging right now is War Tapes. They're such babies, but I love the lead singer's dark bedroom voice. And their copious amounts of ridiculous, flat ironed hair. Plus, the bassist chick is hot.

Another Thing I Like are my Gelaskins. I've got one on my iPhone and one on my Macbook. I chose the art by Gianluca Mattia, because I'm obsessed with his female form.

He's raunchy. I likey.

Anyway, I LOVE the concept of my Gelaskins, I love art, and I love my hippie spaceship, so HOW EXCITED WAS I to find out I can sort of get all 3 in one? Yes, they have giant stickers you can put on your car. I'm totally getting one. In fact, I'll probably order it after I finish this.

On the fashion front, my friend Rene Romero Jr., Mojo Ninja Jetsetter and Entertaiment Guru for Chicago's Funky Buddha Lounge, posted this AMAZING fall line by Rogan on his Facebook. The models are floating! And in some of the photos they look distinctly uncomfortable. But the clothes are GREAT.

Finally, something I've always liked and will forever like, is meatloaf. MMMMM. Meatloaf. I don't know what it is about a loaf of meat, but I've never met one I didn't enjoy. And here, the NYTimes gives you everything you've needed to reinvent your meatloaf. They also use the sentence, "In a French meat terrine, a close cousin to meatloaf, this lightening is accomplished by the addition of ample fat, usually pork fat."

I started drooling pretty much as soon as I saw the meatloaf money shot, but the drool intensified to acutely wipable at the words "addition of ample fat."

Mmm. Ample fat.

I will leave you with that. Thanks.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jennifer's When-to-Wear-White Rule

I still remember the first pair of white jeans my mom ever bought me. I put them on, tore out of the house, and ten minutes later I was twenty feet up a tree. The stains never came out. Which is why, to this day, I cannot wear pastels.

I'm still trying to figure out how to break it to the kids. How about something like, "Dudes, your mom isn't really a Spring. I just have Sugar Maple Ascension Syndrome. I hear it's hereditary too. So now you know why we never built you a treehouse. Or lived in a second story apartment. By the way, how do you feel about Tarzan?"

In case you were wondering, yes, I have climbed a tree in the past six months. And yeah, it was damn fun--but my jeans were definitely blue. How about you? How long has it been? Did you have a treehouse as a kid? Or even want one? Should we form a construction party and come erect one in your back yard, like, tomorrow? I know somebody with an extra mini-fridge if you can find an electrician with a really tall ladder!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Calling All Leaguers!

Many of you know that the biggest paranormal review site, Bitten by Books, does these periodic polls. What you might not know is that for their most recent question, who's the funniest paranormal author, a veritable buttload of Reluctant Adults have been nominated. As it stands we're getting out butt kicked by Kerrelyn Sparks. But you can change all that.

Simply CLICK HERE. And vote for either Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Dakota Cassidy, myself (Mark Henry), Jackie Kessler or Michelle Rowen.  Then come back here and let us know we'll enter you to win a special prize.

A. Special. Prize!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Twisting the Classics

So by now we've all heard about Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. It's gotten a lot of great reviews, and seems to have spawned a new sub-genre of its own. Rumors are the author (Seth, not Jane) received over half-a-million dollars for two more books, one of which is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

The mind boggles.

So in the interest of fun and brain-challenging exercises, what are some other classics novels that could make it with a paranormal twist? What would you like to see?

My choices:

The Three Musketeers: Blood Vendetta -- Undead Cardinal Richeliu returns with a vampire army and a plan to take control of France.

Estella, the Vampire Slayer: A Heroine of Great Expectations -- Before Rupert Giles, there was Miss Havisham. Before Buffy, there was Estalla...

Whatcha got?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I Got Movies Too

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that my parents are finally moving from the house in which I grew up. So my last weeks of vacation were partially spent going through the stuff I still had packed up in their basement and in my old room. It was pretty surreal, on a number of levels. But one of the things I found was a DVD I'd bought probably a year ago to give to my niece. As my memory is a sieve, I, of course, forgot, and it's been sitting in my room for nigh on 12 months.

The DVD is a movie I probably watched 100 times as a child, The Last Unicorn.* Here's the weird edited montage version from YouTube:

*Yes, this movie was first a book, by Peter S. Beagle. It's a very good book, but I didn't read it till much later and, in truth, I didn't latch onto it the way I did this film.

I lived and breathed this movie for months at a time. I remember remembering it so clearly . . . but upon watching it again, I realized that all I really remembered were images: the unicorn; the girl she became; the sea foam in which the other unicorns lived; the Red Bull; the Harpy.

So it was an incredible experience when I sat down and watched it again, as an adult. I was struck by two things: it has probably the most outrageously overdramatic soundtrack ever; one that puts even Queen's soundtrack for Highlander (love it!) to shame. The second thing was just how unique this story was, compared to its other cartoon competition. There is true suffering in this movie, and a truly banal sort of evil. Which, as Hannah Arendt made us aware, is the scariest type of evil yet. There is a prince who is a bit of a boob, really, and a princess who appears to realize this fact. There is an ending that's happy and yet doesn't give credence to the Disney, romantic version of Happily Ever After.

Basically, I spent all my time watching a pretty cartoon about one-horned mythological beasties which is really about independence, being faithful to one's nature, and not allowing a Happily Ever After fantasy to dictate your true desires.

Woah! Deep!

Have any of you had that experience with a movie or a book that you took for granted as part of your childhood experience, only to see or read it later, as an adult, and realize that it somehow reflects, and maybe even shaped, your core values?

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