Monday, September 27, 2010

Women! An award, a machete, and a Frog Prince. Plus Paul Newman.

Mario here:

We Celebrate!

Fellow Leaguer Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy was chosen as the Best Teen Series at the Canadian Teen Read Awards in Toronto. Go Richelle.

Your help is needed. Another Leaguer, Carolyn Crane, has embarked on a "manly" challenge. Five pull-ups. Who-hah! Drop by her blog The Thrillionth Page and post your support as she charts her success on the Blue Bar of Progess.

Learn her secrets for making coconut soup, which involves a machete. Crane is obviously a woman who likes to express herself physically. Don't forget to put her next book, Double Cross (due Sept 28) on your shopping list. Read a review on The Literate Kitty.

Our intrepid Jeanne Stein with our Mystery Writer peeps (Becky Martinez, Beth Groundwater, and Mike Befeler) at the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Trade Show. As expected, the show was a great opportunity to meet regional booksellers and renew contacts. But in a sign of the times in the book biz, the big publishers displayed about half the wares they've usually brought before and were a lot less forthcoming with freebies.

Everybody lusts for something, and if you lust for one of us scribes (and you should), here are 15 Reasons to Date A Writer on Number 5, I'm all over that one.

But we ink-stained wretches know that while the outside world sees our life at the keyboard as one of unfettered imaginative bliss, reality (as it so rudely does) smacks us daily on the head with petty distractions and necessary chores. LA Times Television Critic Mary McNamara shares her tribulations as a working mom as she struggles with the manuscript in her essay A Working Mother's Guide to Writing A Novel.

The Denver Public Library runs the Fresh City Life program and I'll be teaching a workshop for them, Be Creepy ! How to Write Scary Stories that really Scare. October 5 and 19, 6-7:30 PM at the Fresh City Lounge.

Dancing pal and fellow writing wretch, Elle Lothlorien, has gone the self-published ebook route with a wonderful humorous romance, The Frog Prince. Get your copy HERE.

It's been two years since the passing of one of my heroes, Paul Newman. Anybody have a favorite movie? Mine was Cool Hand Luke. Here's to show that in his prime, Newman was a choice piece of eye candy. Go for it, girls.

Another cultural icon, this one skewered for your pleasure.

See you again this Thursday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sad News

We here at the League spend a lot of time goofing off and joking around, but it's my sad duty today to share some very upsetting news. Urban Fantasy author Jennifer Rardin passed away on Monday, Sept. 20, 2010.

Jennifer was a talented author, funny lady and a class act. We at the League are devastated by the loss of our friend and colleague. There's nothing we can say to lessen the pain of this for her family or friends, except to assure them that she and they are in our thoughts.

Rest in peace, Jennifer. You're already missed.

Two Birthday items

Interview & Win a free book! and chocolate!
What more appropriate activity to do on my birthday than to talk endlessly about myself?  Lovely Jessica over at the Spinecracker, a totally fun and smart new blog, is giving me just that her inaugural "Behind the Pen" interview... with an eclectic set of interview questions.  

We discuss pet peeves, what it's like to be an author on release day, TV shows and more. And, I'm giving away a copy of Mind Games along with a CHOCOLATE TREAT to one lucky commenter. Woo! Come visit! And comment to win!!

Pull ups challenge
In other news, I might need an extension on my 5 pull-ups challenge! Who set the date as the end of September? I think it was my evil doppelganger! Or is it my evil doppelganger who hasn't worked on it in a week? Either way I'm afraid I've backslid. Nooooooo! I'll find out later during the workout portion of my birthday. But maybe I'll still make it. I have one week and two days.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New werewolf covers!

Hey All,

Somehow, people out on the internetz got a hold of the covers and have posted them here and there. So I figured I'd share them with you here. Are they not the cutest?

Due out in February 2011:


Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a beartrap clamped to his ankle on your front porch.

But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham-who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life in Alaska-has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble. For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen. Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. But if he's not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do, anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated.

Click HERE to pre-order.

Due out in March 2011


Generations of werewolves have been secretly residing in a secluded
valley a stone’s throw from Grundy, Alaska. So when a snooping
Outsider comes to Grundy to investigate rumors of lycanthropic
shenanigans in the area, the valley’s pack Alpha, Maggie Graham,
resolves to chase him away, even if doing so takes a quick bite in the

What a pity that researcher Nick Thatcher turns out to be so
drool-worthy, and that his kisses make Maggie want to sit up and beg.
Maggie just can’t seem to convince Nick to leave . . . and even worse,
she can’t convince herself to stay away from him. Cross-species dating
is problem enough for a harried Alpha female, but on top of that, a
rival group of werewolves is trying to move into the valley.

With interpack war threatening, Maggie can’t afford to be distracted. Combining
romance and a career can be tough for anyone; for a werewolf in love
with a human, it may be disastrous...

Click HERE to pre-order.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Easy as 1,2,3...Vampires, Booze, and Sex

Mario here:

1. There's often talk that vampires have run their course. We scoff at such heresy. At the Biting-Edge, it's always:

Friday and Saturday, Sept 24-25, Jeanne and I will spread the undead gospel at the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Trade Show at the Marriott Denver Tech Center.

The Biting-Edge can never get enough vampires, and we especially dig the old school, creepy pre-sparkly kind such as Frank Langella, the urbane and dashing Dracula. "No drugs! It will pollute her blood." Spoken like a true gentleman in a 70s do.

We even appreciate Frank Langella's thespian license when he steals the show as Skeletor in Masters of the Universe.

(watching this movie helps if you have a thing for Meg Foster as Evil-Lyn.)

On the subject of goofy, sci-fi/fantasy-related videos, check this out:

2. We're riffing here, so follow the drops of Saurian brandy to this classic piece on Space Trek Sousing in Modern Drunkard. Spoiler alert, the author despised the politically correct Star Trek TNG.

3. And there's this great news from Publishers Lunch:

Lorelei James's next two BLACKTOP COWBOY novels, involving a sports therapist and her hard-riding cowboy patients, to Kerry Donovan at NAL, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.

If you want to learn more about what makes Lorelei James such a smoking hot author of erotica, sneak a read of Book 5 of the Rough Riders series: Rough, Raw, and Ready. Warning: This book contains unbelievably explicit sex, including multiple cowboy/cowgirl/cowboy ménage scenes, juicy, hot, male on male action, a bucketful of politically incorrect situations and true Western ideology.

And the San Francisco Bay Area thinks it has a lip lock on such pervitude. Yee-ha to South Dakota!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Pigeon of Death...

Time once again (because I'm too busy writing a novel under deadline to be creative) for Ancient Webbery. This time the original Pigeon of Death essay that started off a whole weird chapter in the continuing saga of Richardson and Richardson Spout Silly Things at Each Other in Public. Here it is and at the bottom a link to the evil, Totally Not Safe For Work Flash 2 animation it inspired:

The Pigeon of Death

originally posted on unknown day, September 2000

All right, I admit it: I'm not a fan of birds. All my bird-owning buddies have just put me on their shit-lists, to be sure, but, what the hell.... I don't mind finches or house sparrows or whatever those little, brown, innocuous flitterers are. Watching a clutch of little seed-eaters hopping about and making "beep" noises as they peck up a spill of birdseed can be rather charming, but, frankly, if its wingspan is larger than my head, it's not destined to be my friend.

Parrots, macaws, cockatoos, avians of that ilk, have been known to hop down off of remote locations and run across rooms, braving a severe trampling or even a vacuum-cleaner to get to me and take a bite of whatever limb presents itself. They hate me on sight and, after many bites, wings in the face, screams in ears and shit deposited on clothes with the distance accuracy of a B-2 bombardier, I return the favor (of hate, that is). They're gorgeous to observe (especially from the blue-glowing safety of my video monitor), but keep them away from me. The phrase "burrito on the fly" always comes to mind when a large bird starts giving me that look.

And my wary observations extend to other, less-attractive birds as well. I can, with a cup of coffee in my hand, sit on the benches in Westlake Park and watch the pigeons flock and strut and try to make time with one another for... oh, at least as long as it takes me to finish a very large hazelnut latte, sometimes even a whole lunch. But when they suddenly start coming toward me in a rush, I'm out of there: no time for coffee, gotta run....

So... my husband and I were sitting outside the Westlake SBC coffee-vendor on a very pleasant summer afternoon, having a bit of iced caffeine and watching the pigeons, when we spotted one that was truly different from all the rest. He wasn't of any determinable color, though he seemed to have started out black. Maybe that was just the charring.... His head seemed to be attached to his body in a curious and slip-shod manner and one eye was... missing. Feathers stuck out of his head and body at bizarre angles and he walked in rushes between sudden stops to scan the area for his next victim. And yet, he was not sickly or weak, he was determined and kind of scary. The other pigeons moved away from him, eyeing him uncomfortably. We expected them to fall over, dead, as he passed, but, apparently he was on the prowl for a specific victim. Neither we, nor the pigeons in the park, had ever seen a bird that looked so much like it had been raised from the dead and reconstructed from parts. Frankenstein's pigeon!

"Doesn't he look like the Pigeon of Death?" I asked. "You know, the little birdy-incarnation of the Grim Reaper?"

"Well, he certainly looks like he's been dead a while," my husband said.

"Maybe he's a minion of Death, you know: Thanatos' Little Helper."

"He looks evil, to me, with that missing eye and all...."

"The Pigeon of Death, Evil Incarnate."

"Satan's Little Helper."

"Nah. He's the bad-guy's right-hand dude in the avian-world."

"Shouldn't that be the left hand? I mean, this is the Prince of Darkness we're discussing, here."

"Naturally: He-Who-Sits-on-the-Left-Hand.... No, wait... make that He-Who-Shits-on-the-Left-Epaulet-of-Satan."

"That's disgusting. But funny. The Pigeon of Death, Evil Incarnate, He-Who-Shits-on-the-Left-Epaulet-of-Satan...."

And the stinking little bastard rushed us!

So much for that cup of coffee....

Did I tell you that birds hate me?

To view the PoD in his evil glory: go to the Pod Animation page at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And Another Announcement! San Fran and LitCrawl!

I'm a big fan of crawling: nightcrawling, pubcrawling, dropped-my-contact-crawling . . . and now LitCrawling!

After having planned a completely spontaneous, last-minute trip to go see my lovely friend, Jana, in San Francisco, I sent one of my typically annoying emails to Orbit's ever-patient (and most probably magical) publicist, Jack. It read something like, "OMG! Wow, like, I'm ummmm gonna be in San Fran for like a few days--we're going to eat from those zeppelins of meat!--so, um, could I do something there, and stuff? for the books? And stuff?"

Jack, once again, translated (hence the patient part) my mindless patois and then (magically!) found me an event to glom myself on to like an overzealous leech.

On Saturday October 9th, I'll be appearing with the lovely Gail Carriger, amongst others, for LitQuake's LitCrawl, at Borderlands, from 7:15-8:15. Full details can be found here, on my appearances page.

Shenanigans occur when Gail and I are together, as you can discover if you click on the pic...

As for other things I'm doing, I'll be attending Whiskyfest that Friday night (so don't light up any cigarettes near me on Saturday; we both may go up in flames from the fumes). I'll also be taking my Oldest Favorite Lady, Jana, to meet some of my Newest Favorite Ladies at The House of Prime Rib. Rachael Herron, Juliet Blackwell, Sophie Littlefield, Jana and I plan on reenacting the scene from Anthony Bourdain's visit to SF, where he gets rather blottoed and waxes poetic about the House of Prime Rib's zeppelins of meat.

If one of us hasn't nestled inside one of these fuckers by the end of our visit, then we obviously need another round.

I'm so excited for October, San Francisco, old and new friends, and ZEPPELINS OF MEAT! Come share my excitement with me at Borderlands! :-)

My new book trailer!

Okay, my book trailer is finally finished! Well! This was like a fun art project where my OCD perfectionist editor ran wild! Quick watch it before I take it down and make a completely different one. (I'm just kidding. I won't do that. I have other things to do. Like write books! Where's my pen?)

Some very kind twitter pals totally volunteered to be my beta watchers, back when this thing was even longer and had slow, porny music. And other problems, not that it doesn't now, but it's not the fault of: Joe Alfano (Zombie Joe), Renee Vincent, Closetreader Lea (Toriaimeegirl), Katiebabs, LB Gregg, MagdelenB, Melissa (MelLHay), Jo Evans (girljo) and Debs (debsholloway)! Thanks for beta-watching and giving feedback you guys!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jane's Voice! Yay!

I was trawling through my Amazon sites today and I discovered that they've announced who is reading Jane for my audibooks! A woman named Kate Reinders! Here's a clip from some of her work:

Kate Reinders from Walleye Pictures & Sound on Vimeo.

I really like her in the second group of clips. And she reminds me quite a bit of Kristin Chenoweth, whom I adore. But what do ya think? Think she'll make a good Jane?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Long Ago Post #2

In an attempt to lighten my mood I have more Ancient Kat Litter for you. This was originally meant to make fun of the misuse of the intransitive verb "grow" to mean "enlarge", so in honor of the spate of Twitter spam this week I give you:

I Hear They Grow On Trees

originally posted: August 21, 2003

I'm not quite sure why, but a lot of people out in Electronica Land seem to think I need to grow a penis.  And the biggest possible penis, at that.  A veritable State-Fair-Blue-Ribbon-Winning Penis.  Is this like Sea Monkeys?  Will I be able to "watch them grow and marvel at their skills?"  I receive a great deal of informative e-mail and, although my helpful correspondents did not say so, I suspect that I can grow one of these amazing, life-changing things in a pot on the foredeck.  Or I hope so.

In order to grow my penis, I first need to determine how much space it will need. I know it's always a bad idea to take on a pet or a plant which has excessive space-demands.  It might become pot-bound and lethargic, developing all sorts of degenerate habits and diseases.  I have been reading up carefully to determine the needs of the average penis.  Preliminary reports from the Internet indicate that healthy penises grow to be about twelve to eighteen inches and as big around as a cucumber.  With this information in hand, I extrapolate that my super-sized penis will grow to be a yard long, with the girth of a two-liter soda bottle.

Apparently, the best penises have two rootballs which, if carefully unrolled, would be about six feet long--or something like that; I got a little distracted at this point in my reading, but I'm sure there was something in there about six-footers and roots.  But, regardless, I expect that my penis will develop twin rootballs about two feet in diameter, each.  So, a planter six feet wide, three feet high and three feet deep should suffice.  If I cannot find a packing crate, I'm sure a coffin or a bathtub will do.

Once I have my planter and my potting soil, I must nourish my prize-winner-to-be with fresh water and various growth diets.  Occasionally, it may need the assistance of a vacuum pump to become long and plump.  Too much of this, however, and my penis may become limp and unmanageable.  But, all will not be lost:  I have only to feed my penis a special preparation called Viagra--which I suspect is just Vigro plant food with a few extra vitamins and minerals added--to remain rock hard and upright, creating a dynamic and attractive display.

Once I have grown my extra-large and super-hard penis, it will, without doubt, be hailed by all as the most amazing sight in all of agriculture.  I shall take it on tour.  I expect it to be so large that it will need its own bus and entourage and will only be booked into the largest halls.  It will have its own fan club and the tale of the penis' rise from a small pot to major star will air on cable TV in prime-time.  Life will be grand.

So, you see, I'm all ready to grow my own penis.  Except for one thing:  none of my helpful correspondents has offered me a cutting and I cannot find "Penis" listed in the seed catalog.  No one has offered any assistance in acquiring a start on one.  As penises seem to have an affinity for beer, I suspect that they grow from rhizomes, like hops.  I'm quite excited about the prospect of growing my penis and find this setback of silence frustrating.

Won't someone, please, send me a penis?  I promise to take good care of it.....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I love my junk

Mario here:

Big report on the 2010 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference. But first:

The winner of the Hailey Lind drawing is Barbara E. Congratulations!

Another Colorado Gold conference has come and gone. This was my fourteenth. It was a great time to hook up with old friends like YA mystery writer pal, Bonnie Ramthun and hubby, Bill.

...and make new ones. We had a fantastic crop of newbie attendees like Mireyah Wolfe. She found the Gold conference via the League of Relunctant Adults blog.

Our 2010 Writer of the Year, Holt Medallion winner and Willa Finalist Pam Nowak, gave the Kickoff Speech.

The Keynote Speaker was NYT and USA Today bestseller Brenda Novak (L), who wowed us with her speech about the need to pace yourself and not give up in spite of the odds or the competition. That, and don't piss off a female mountain biker.

The Closing Speaker, the entertaining and irreverent (and multiple Hugo and Nebula-award winning) Connie Willis (R). Best bit of advice: Write a television screenplay so you can watch soap operas and it's research.

Small world. Jeanne and I were singing the praises of a certain leaguer when long-time RMFWer Sharon Mignerey (L) said, "I know Nicole Peeler (R), she's my MFA professor at Seton Hill."

Jeanne and Laura Reeve signing at the book sale.

Seeing as this was a writers' conference, most of the action happened...where else? Around the booze. The hospitality suite party used to be more of a wine and beer schmooze. A few years back I suggested that we add Margaritas, which meant I was the designated operator of the blender. The next year we switched to Daiquiris, the following year, back to Margaritas. Last year we offered a full bar, and this year we had pretty much any kind of hootch with which to punish your liver. Most requested cocktail? The vintage and potent, Tequila Sunrise.

My work station where I served as the Ambassador of Happiness.

Not surprisingly the crowds have migrated from the hotel bar ($$$) to the hospitality suite (free likker) with the commensurate amount of ribaldry. Here's some of the drunken shenanigans in play before hotel security arrived to warn us about the noise. Damn writers!

The bar conversation of every con seems to circle a theme, in this case the discussion spiraled back to: I love my junk. You're free to guess the topic.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why aren't men like Jamie Fraser?

The other day when I was looking at my Thrillionth Page blog search stats, I noticed somebody had arrived by typing in the query: "Why aren't men  like Jamie Fraser?" 

That is a really good question, and one that, unfortunately, I don't think the blog answered. Until now.

Dear Google Searcher: Why can't men be more like Jamie Fraser? Yeah, I'm with you sister. I, too, have read Outlander and wondered that. In fact, I think most women who have read Outlander wonder this at some point. It's time for answers! I hope that this list helps.  

Reason #1 Men can't be more like Jamie Fraser: 
Prime time medical dramas
Toward the beginning of Outlander, Claire uses rudimentary medical skills to set Jamie's dislocated shoulder and disinfect his wound, saving his life. Even though he thinks she is an English spy, he is totally grateful and impressed, and thus begins his fierce, passionate loyalty toward her.  

Now, even though I am not a nurse, I do know some things about medical treatments, and I have seen enough movies to know how to set a dislocated shoulder. I can also figure some other things out, and I'm sure I could impress my man in the exact same way . . . if only I got that chance. Do I ever get that chance? No. Thanks to the fact that there are so many doctor shows on TV, my man knows all about clinics and hospitals and modern medicine. When he is wounded, what does he want to do? Go to a doctor. Thanks a lot, House, you jerk!! 

Reason #2 Men can't be more like Jamie Fraser: 
Modern Therapy
While belt whipping is one of the few Jamie traits I do not encourage in my man, I think we are probably in agreement, dear Google Searcher, that irrational jealousy, crazy protectiveness, boy-ish benightedness and the need to adhere to primitive clan mores and show dominance are definite signs of passion in a mate. Unfortunately, there is a subset of people who seem completely and entirely dedicated to destroying this, and I think you know who I'm talking about: Therapists. I don't imagine I have elaborate on this point.  

Reason #3 Men can't be more like Jamie Fraser: 
9-1-1 Emergency Services 
When Claire is about to be burned at the stake - unfairly - for being a witch, what does Jamie Fraser do? He rescues her, of course. By himself. With a SWORD. It was a totally amazing moment. "Jamie drew the sword completely, with a flash of steel, then thrust it point-first into the ground, leaving the hilt quivering with the force of the blow. 'I draw it in defense of this woman, and the truth,' he said. 'If any here be against those two, they'll answer to me, and then God, in that order.'" 

Does my man ever come to rescue me with a sword when I'm in trouble? No. And it is not for lack of a sword, I guarantee you. Santa has brought my man numerous swords for Christmas. Unfortunately, my man seems to regard them more as a wall decorations than tools of battle and chivalry, no matter how many hints I drop. Why? Government emergency services, I believe, is at the root of this problem. 

Sadly, the message "Call 9-1-1 in case of emergency" has been emblazoned into my man's head since boyhood. That is who he calls whenever I am in trouble. The availability of 9-1-1 rescue services has thwarted his natural instinct to put his life in danger to rescue me in a manly way. 

Reason #4 Men can't be more like Jamie Fraser: 
Men's magazines, HR departments, and their stupid anti-kilt dress codes   
Of course one of the key things that makes Jamie so lovable is the fact that he wears a kilt - in the traditional way...I think you know what I'm talking about here, Google Searcher.  

Kilts are totally hot, but does my man think so? No. You can buy him the manliest of manly kilts, all buckles and rough-hewn fabrics, and still he refuses to give up his precious underwear and pants. It doesn't help that he sees the men in our neighborhood wearing pants, too, so it makes him not want to wear a kilt, even around the house. This is reinforced by the fact that men on TV and in magazines also don't wear kilts. It is like a vicious cycle! And he won't even wear a kilt to work. It's not like the neighbors will be around to laugh at him then. But nooooo, apparently it's against the dress code AND the health code.  When you call the human resources department to complain, they are not understanding at all. 

Reason #5 Men can't be more like Jamie Fraser: 
Middle school sex education, dirty magazones and movies, lax morals  
When Clair met Jamie, he was a virgin, and not only that, but hardly knew anything about sex. At one point, Jamie says to her, "While I dinna pretend to know all there is to know, I’ve lived a good bit of my life on a farm, and unless people are verra different from other animals, it isna going to take that long to do what we have to." and "I’ve seen horses and cows, of course, pigs, chickens, doves, dogs, cats, red deer, squirrels, rabbits, wild boar, oh, and once even a pair of snakes. Did ye know snakes have two cocks? Male snakes, I mean."

Oh, Jamie! You are so delightful. I loved how Claire got the chance to open his eyes  to the wonders of sex, and what an eager pupil he was, and how hot it was, too!

Just before our first intimate encounter, I naturally began to explain to my man that, even though he had likely spent a lot of time viewing animals performing sexual acts, that human sex is far different than sex between animals . . .  well, imagine my surprise when he acts all insulted! Not only that, but it turns out he'd done it before. I blame this on society, education, and all media. Needless to say, this ruined the moment. (As if things weren't already ruined enough by #4!!)

Oh well. I hope that answers your question, Google Searcher. But wait, there's more...

The Verra Good News...
Even though men now aren't like Jamie, we can still enjoy him in book form - more than ever now, since the Outlander is coming out in a graphic novel format in a week! I'm verra psyched!!  

What? Do you think by this post that I didn't like the Outlander? Wrong. I'm just being silly, because I loved the Outlander. It took over my mind when I read it, the way very few books do. And, I remember when I read it, I really would have loved some pictures. 

The Exile will be a re-telling of the story from the point of view of Jamie, with pictures, of course. (One of which recently appeared on Gabaldon's blog. Thanks, naughty Katiebabs!) Also, here's a free read about the Making of The Exile from Scribd. And, this graphic novel will be discussed at Dirty Sexy Books on October 25th. Yeah! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Long Ago Post

OK, so I forgot August.... Sue me.

Here is one of my many strange bits of Ancient Webbery. Originally posted August 23, 2002:

Not Quite Road Kill

It's still there....

For a month or more, I have been walking past the strangest object which is slowly, ever so slowly, disintegrating. Lying on the sidewalk, up against the side of Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, it is a dark, misshapen mass, gritty with filth, dead leaves. It is curiously lumpy, longer than my closed fist, oddly shaped, but reminiscent of something... unpleasant. It has no discernable odor, though, so it may not be what it appears.

One night it moves out into the sidewalk and where the beam of the streetlight falls upon it, it is dark red. Grim and gory and begrimed. Yet, it attracts no insects and its decomposition is curiously slow. Do I touch it? No.

I inadvertantly kick it. It wobbles, but remains intact, dark, brooding and repulsive.

A few days later, the rain has revealed a streak of the flesh beneath, enabling me to indentify the nature of the corpse.

Dark red and gelatinous, it is a giant gummi bear. But it will not die, nor go away. The birds and insects avoid it. Evil (and filth) radiate from its gooey remains.

It is the zombie gummi bear. Indestructable in spite of being stepped upon, kicked, abused and left out in the heat and rain, I suspect it has plans for revenge....

Luckily, it moves very slowly.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cross Your Heart ... and Hope to Win

Hello there! I'm hosting a contest here at the League of Reluctant Adults blog to celebrate the release of CROSS YOUR HEART, Book 7 in the Broken Heart series. To get the details, you'll have to sit through my vlog (posted below). Okay, okay. The shortcut is this: Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win the prizes. Also, I will pick a few of my favorite comments to read during the vlog winner announcement. You have until September 14th to enter. Also, you can buy your very own copy of CROSS YOUR HEART. Right now. This very second. (Hint, hint.)

Oh, and ... yes, that's Napoleon Dynamite saying, "Lucky." That's what my phone chirps when I get a text message. In case you were wondering. Or not.

Let the torment begin!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The return of Annie Kincaid and Hailey Lind

Mario here:

Last week, Jeanne had the inaugural signing for her newest book, Chosen. In her usual classy style, Jeanne gives a silent retort to my many witty comments.

PJ Brown of Heroes Only Comics and Games in Cheyenne, Wyoming, graciously invited me to his store for a signing.

I was asked what books I was reading. An interesting question because I'm currently reading this...

And coincidentally, we at Biting-Edge are proud that we scored this exclusive interview with one of the authors of Arsenic and Old Paint, the Julie half of the writer-sister team known as Hailey Lind. Carolyn (L) and Julie (R).

CONTEST! Post a comment over at the Biting-Edge blog by Saturday, Sept 11, midnight, Pacific Time, and you could win signed copies of Brush with Death, Shooting Gallery, and Arsenic and Old Paint.

Q The last book in the Art Lover’s series, Brush with Death, left us with Annie Kincaid partnering with the art thief Michael X Johnson to start an art retrieval business. What can we expect with Arsenic and Old Paint?

As Arsenic and Old Paint opens, Annie and Michael-the-thief have opened an art assessment business – an endeavor that has the blessing of the FBI art squad, since Annie and Michael are passing on information about suspicious types naïve enough to contact them for information regarding stolen art. Since Michael is still on probation for an earlier, he’s supposed to be making up for his earlier wicked ways. Unfortunately, he’s gone AWOL when the book begins, leaving Annie to wonder whether he’s gone back to thieving -- and more importantly, whether she should turn him in to the FBI.

Annie has been a fun character to write, because she’s evolved so much over the course of the Art Lover’s series. In the first book, Feint of Art, Annie was trying to keep a low profile as a faux finisher in San Francisco, fearful that her past indiscretions -–she was arrested for forgery as a teenager-- would be made public. By the time Arsenic begins, Annie is using her rare knowledge and underworld contacts to succeed in the art world – and ultimately to solve the mysteries she’s entangled in.

Q The Annie Kincaid series was first published by Penguin. The fourth book, Arsenic, comes from Perseverance Press. How did that happen? Did you pitch to them or did they come looking for you?

As you know the publishing industry is hard to predict. Though Feint of Art was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and developed a strong reader fan base, there simply weren’t enough bulk sales for Penguin to continue the series after the third, Brush with Death. By the time I found out they wouldn’t be continuing the series, though, I had already written a good chunk of the fourth manuscript.

I was disappointed that the series was canceled, of course, but turned my attention to other writing projects…until a reader suggested I talk to Perseverance Press, which specializes in continuing series books. I realized I knew some other of PP’s authors, all of whom loved their experiences with the press. They’ve been very professional and put out a great product – my editor, Meredith Phillips, was especially wonderful. I was so happy to be able to finish the book and re-visit with Annie Kincaid and her gang.

Q Will Annie Kincaid disappear after Arsenic? Will she make a cameo appearance in one of your paranormal stories? If this is the last book in the series, what about love interests: Michael X Johnson, landlord Frank DeBenton, and Josh the contractor? Are these love triangles (or is it a love square) going to keep developing or will you tie up the loose ends of her romantic life?

It’s not yet decided whether there will be more in the series – I’d love to write more (I have plot outlines for two more) but it depends on time and, I’m sorry to say, money. Right now my paranormal books are selling really well, so I’m writing furiously in both of those series.

After all, we all have to make a living ;-) Besides, I love writing the paranormal mysteries – what could be more fun than spending one’s days investigating and writing about witchcraft and ghosts? Still…returning to Annie and her gang was like visiting with old friends, with all their quirks and charm. And I adore the weirdness of the art world…I guess it’s obvious that I’m undecided! There’s just not enough time in the day.

In Arsenic and Old Paint, Annie does make a lot of progress with the men in her life. I created a romantic triangle entirely by accident – originally Michael, the art thief, was an obvious romantic lead; but Frank, Annie’s rather formal landlord, was not. When he and Annie started sending up sparks, however, Frank became a more three-dimensional character. At the same time Michael was proving himself to be less and less reliable – a quality that might be sexy at first, but gets wearisome over time. I’ve enjoyed having readers weigh in on who they think Annie should end up with – most people are distinctly “team Frank” or “team Michael” ;-) In Arsenic, Annie does make a decision… but then she finds that not all is at what it seems to be.

Q That you’re a very observant writer shows in the wonderful job you do weaving small details into the story that add life and texture to the scenes and characters. Do you keep a journal or a diary? Make notes on the fly? Or do these details simply stick in your mind?

I was trained as an anthropologist, so I usually attribute my skills of observation – some might call them my inability to mind my own business – to that profession. But then there’s a “chicken and the egg” argument – did I become an anthropologist because human behavior fascinates me, or the other way around? In any case, I think anthropologists and writers have a lot in common – we are constant, compulsive, observers of the world around us. I don’t keep a journal per se, but I do write down descriptions all the time – while I’m on the subway (public transportation of any kind is great for this sort of thing) or standing in line at the grocery store, hanging out at the local café…. People are quirky, odd, and idiosyncratic. I could never sit at my computer and dream up the weirdness that people display every day. In fact, most of the strangest bits in my books are real, lifted directly from the world around me, or from news stories.

Also, I worked as an artist for many years—basically, I had Annie’s day job painting faux finishes and murals in rich people’s houses. So I use a lot of those specific details in my books, to increase the authenticity of the story. Everyone’s daily life – the stuff that might seem mundane and dull to us-- is usually fascinating when viewed from the outside.

Q You are known for completing your manuscript right at deadline, maybe even fudging a few days. Do you workshop any part of your manuscript? If so, with whom? Do you participate in a critique group?

I love the idea that I’m “known” for something! Unfortunately, I do tend to work up to the very last minute. I think I do well under pressure and often need it in order to buckle down and commit to the words on paper. Sadly, that sort of schedule leaves very little time to ask for other people’s opinions -- though when I’m working with my sister I do get her feedback often. Also I have a couple of good writer friends that I bounce plot ideas off of, and I will occasionally ask for feedback on scenes that are particularly difficult. But I don’t belong to a critique group, so at this point most of the nitty-gritty back and forth is between me and my editor at the publishing house.

Q While authors labor hard at turning in a perfect manuscript, in truth, they all cringe at the thought of the infamous “revision letter” from their editor. What are your “revision letters” like? Are they short or do they require a significant rewriting of your original manuscript? Do you and your editor go back-and-forth several times during the revision process or is it a one-shot deal?

Maybe it’s because of the above, but I’m one of those writers who *loves* being edited! No matter how careful a writer is, we all need help with issues of continuity and those unconscious writing quirks – using the same words or patterns in our writing—that only fresh eyes can see. By the time I turn over a manuscript, I always dislike it and lose the ability to even “see” it anymore. That’s where those fresh eyes come in. All that said, I think I get off pretty easy since I’ve worked with some great editors, and I’ve never been asked to do any really drastic changes – like transforming a character’s motivation or background.

In my last manuscript, the first in the new Haunted Home Renovation series, the editor did ask me to change a trip out of town in order to keep the character closer to the renovation job she was working on. So I had to think of a way to accomplish the character development and serve the plot’s forward motion while keeping her closer to home. By then, though, I was excited to be back working on that novel –I’m fickle that way—so I actually enjoyed revisiting it. The hardest part, in that case, was shifting gears from the book I was then working on –one in the Witchcraft series-- and back again.

Q What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as an author?

To always have a sense of humor and roll with the punches. The publishing industry is quirky, readers are fickle, trends are unreliable…you just never know what will happen next. Moving between series has taught me to be flexible and responsive to my publisher’s interests. At this point, for instance, since my witchcraft books are doing so well it’s possible my original publisher will re-issue my backlist, and perhaps publish more of the Art Lover’s books. So you just never know what will happen.

Plus, rely on the support of other authors to help maintain a sense of perspective. And when all else fails, martinis go a long way toward easing the pain ;-)

Q You’ve got another two series written under your other pen name of Juliet Blackwell: the Lily Ivory witch mysteries, and the haunted home renovation mysteries. And there’s a woman fiction novel in the works. The writing, revision, and promotion for your books must overlap and create a lot of tension (a good thing in a narrative, not so good in real life). How do you handle those competing deadlines and obligations?

I really am fickle –whenever I’m working on one project I start thinking about the next, so to some extent shifting from one to the other keeps me excited and on my toes. The hardest thing for me, by far, is the time and energy spent promoting the books. I hate sales in general, and trying to sell myself can be excruciating. I do love meeting people, and traveling, and talking (as anyone who knows me can attest!) but setting up events and cold calling and going from one couch or hotel to another can be exhausting. There are periods of time when I pretty much forgo having “a life”, and have to limit time with loved ones. As a matter of fact, even as I write this I’m with a group of friends at a river cabin –they did all the food shopping and meal prep and all I had to do was show up – so we ate, drank, slept, swam, and now they’re all in the hot tub while I’m working on my book. I’m extremely fortunate to have such understanding friends!

Q The proposed women’s fiction story is a departure for you. What is your interest in such a project?

It’s exciting to ponder writing a novel that’s not explicitly a mystery. I say explicitly because I think most stories are mysteries in the deepest sense: will she or won’t she? How will he live without an income? How long can a person stay angry at family members? Etc. But genre mystery readers have certain expectations about how a story is presented and resolved, and while I love writing genre mystery and urban fantasy, I’m excited to see whether I can rise to the challenge of an entirely different kind of fiction writing.

Also, I have a great idea for a story told from multiple perspectives, one that deals with love and betrayal and personal connections. And while I call it “women’s fiction” – because that is what publishers have called it – I have to point out that “women’s fiction” is a strange title for this kind of book. Why don’t we call books written by and about men “men’s fiction”, for instance? Especially considering the fact that women buy the most books, I think it’s funny that the industry still insists on labeling novels as “women’s” stories.

Q You’re on Twitter and Facebook; any thoughts as to their utility to you as an author?

Unlike some people I know, I’m not particularly pithy and clever so keeping up with Twitter and Facebook isn’t easy. I welcome any and all cyber “friends”, but I’m not connected every day, or all day. I try to check in at least every couple of days, but there are periods when I disappear for weeks at a time. For me the greatest utility lay in the immediate connection I can have with readers and other writers and reviewers.

Twitter has been called a virtual “water cooler” -- great for those of us who work at home and don’t have a lot of interaction with others during our working hours. It’s fun to check in with Twitter and “chat” with friends for a few minutes before returning to work. It can be a distraction, though – recently I had to move my computer into a writing nook that is not wired, so I can keep myself from checking in obsessively.

Facebook fan pages are great because not only can I communicate directly with people who enjoy my books, but they can interact with each other. As one fun example, my neighbor’s cat Oscar (who serves as partial inspiration for my witch’s familiar in my witchcraft books) has his own fan page on Facebook, and a bunch of my readers have migrated over to join his fan page. That sort of thing cracks me up.

Q If you had one wish for your life as an author (other than a monsoon of money), what would it be?

Someone to do promotions for me! I also wouldn’t mind some kind of job security – knowing you’d have contracts for five or ten years down the line, for instance. I think all artists live in unsure circumstances, which might keep us on our toes, but it’s tough.

Q In Arsenic, Annie visits a sex club. You have mentioned that you visited a local sex club. What was the experience like? What surprised you? What did you learn that you couldn't from the internet, books, or an interview?

Yes, I wanted to get an eyewitness account of a particular sex club in San Francisco. I had read accounts of it on-line, but as we all know there’s no substitute for real hands-on research…so to speak. And I am nothing if not dedicated to my craft ;-) Seriously, though, I decided that if I was going to include the scene it needed an air of authenticity, and how often does one have an excuse to research a place like that? I asked a friend, who is very tall and buff –and the sweetest guy in the world-- to take me. He agreed, and my friend Mary (tall, blonde, lovely, ex-goth—she’s in the books) insisted on accompanying us. When we showed up, Chris was dressed in a black leather jacket, jeans, and a scowl. He looped one arm around each of us women, and glowered at everyone who dared come near us. It was an interesting evening; much like I wrote it in the book, though, it was fascinating but not particularly sexy in any way. At least not for me. Then again, if I hadn’t been with an overprotective gay man and a girlfriend, maybe my experiences would have been different ;-) You never know . Guess I’ll have to keep that for my next book.

Q Now about the cover art for Arsenic. Was that a painting you had already done or did you paint it especially for the cover?

I painted the picture specifically for Arsenic and Old Paint. A lot of people might recognize it as a take-off of The Death of Marat, by David, a painting that figures prominently in the book. I wanted to give readers a mental image of the painting that is discussed in the story. Ever since I began writing these art mystery novels I wanted to paint my own covers, since I –like Annie Kincaid-- like to paint in a classical style and make things look “old”. When the series moved to Perseverance Press, I mentioned this to my editor, and she was enthusiastic about the idea. Her only caveat was that she was concerned the painting would look too much like the original, possibly courting copywriting issues. So I changed the scene to look more like the one discussed in the story, but still made it recognizable.

It was a special pleasure for me to be able to combine two great loves-painting and writing this book!

Thanks Hailey!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I know from experience that you’ve got a great readership, so I appreciate the chance to guest on the Biting Edge. I hope folks will stop by my websites, and, and come visit on Facebook (as Hailey Lind and Juliet Blackwell) and on Twitter (@julietblackwell).

If you're curious what Julie (as Juliet Blackwell) sounds like, enjoy this video.

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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