Monday, February 28, 2011

The truth about Sonya Bateman

A shroud of mystery has surrounded new league member Sonya Bateman...and, well, that won't do. Because, if the league of reluctant adults is anything it's a TOTALLY NOSY group of individuals. I volunteered to welcome our newest member and get the truth. What makes Sonya tick? How does she write those books? Does she have powers? Party tricks?

Sonya! Welcome! Welcome to the league. Hopefully the hood and robe have arrived in the mail, and I trust that you wore both when you placed the bag of ping pong balls in the night deposit box of your local bank, and also as you placed the “monster-head of success pentacle” decal on your front door per league diagrams. Mothicus will be looking for it.
Now that that business is over, Congrats! 
First off, can I just say, I love the concept of your book. You’ve got this unlucky small-time thief, and in an amazing, fun way, he gets a Djinn. LOL. But the Djinn has plans of his own. Dude, everybody and their brother seems to be loving this book.

People were freaking on Sonya's book.
In a good way.

“…witty and smartly written, Bateman puts her own spin on djinn magic. Plenty of action and memorable characters add up to an entertaining read that's tough to put down." ~RT Magazine
And okay, you went for writing about a DJINN. What possessed you??

Thank you! I’m so pleased to be here. And by the way, is Mothicus ten feet tall with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth? Because I think I placed the success pentacle upside-down, and now he’s moved into my bedroom and is eating all my Cheez-its.

Anyway...djinn! Well, they were under-represented in urban fantasy, and they weren’t too happy about it. So they came to me – I’m still not sure why – and said that if I didn’t write about them, they were going to start having poker night at my place. Let’s just say they don’t bet with money, and when they get drunk, sometimes their you-lose, five-minutes-of-pain-for-you spells can misfire and hit the wrong target. I had to protect my cats.

Plus, I’ve always been fascinated with the djinn. Not the big blue goofy kind, but the kind that when you wish to be happy for the rest of your life, they give you a chocolate bar and then shoot you dead while you’re still smiling about it.

* scribbles on list of what not to ask for when djinn appears *
Oh, hey, your video is great. Did you make this thing? It’s humorous, and it gives a fabulous sense of story.

Thanks! I did make the video – it was my first production with the fancy video editing software I bought just for book trailers. I spared no expense. I scoured the Internet for the best (free) film footage, procured (free) high-quality background music, and hired a professional voice actor (my husband – also free) to narrate. And it only took me about 50 or 60 jillion hours to put together (I blame the software learning curve).

For my next book trailer, I’m planning a title screen overlaid on a picture of my cats, and the sound of my head banging on the table. I’ll call it avant-garde (or, you know...easy).

Like me, Sonya used to work at McDonald's.
Let's just say, 'we know certain things' and leave it at that. 

OMG, I hear you on that video stuff. The learning curve is huge, and then on the other end, I personally got into microsecond adjustments. That is why the quality is so amazing on mine. lol

So, is the rumor true? About when you got the call? The blood and the French fries and all that? 

Sadly, I can’t deny the rumor...

I’ll spare you the long, grueling details of my writing “career” before my first sale – the short version is ten years, eleven novels, a thousand rejections. Obviously I wasn’t making a living at writing, so I had a few extra jobs. Most of them were at McDonalds.

My second agented novel (the first one hadn’t sold) had been out on submission for quite a while, and I’d given up on it months ago. It was after the holiday season, the middle of winter. I reported to McDonalds just before noon for a four-hour shift. While I was putting my coat and purse in the crew room, the office phone rang. One of the managers said it was for me.

No one ever called me at work with good news. Only house emergencies merited a work phone call, because they hated letting employees use the phone (too many of them abused the privilege). I picked up, and it was my husband. He sounded...odd. He said, “You have to call your agent. Right now.”

It doesn't look sinister, does it? But wait until Sonya
gets her hands on it... 
At that moment, I’d been eating a red-jelly-filled donut that one of my co-workers brought in. My hands started shaking so badly that I smeared the filling all over myself. We couldn’t make long-distance calls from the office phone, and I didn’t own a cell phone (still don’t), so I ran out of the office with red jelly all over my hands, screaming, “A phone! I need a phone, right now!”

The grill manager panicked and thought I was bleeding to death. There was a long moment of confusion before someone finally lent me a phone.

I called my agent. I didn’t hear much beyond “two-book deal with Pocket Books”. Shaking and crying, I called my husband back and shouted something unintelligible, which he miraculously understood.

Then I washed the jelly off my hands, and proceeded to spend the next four hours making double cheeseburgers.

So, you live in upstate New York with your husband. Do you have any pets? Kids? Other?

Sonya's kitties!
All of the above. There’s my husband and our son (14), my sister and her two boys (14 and 13), six cats, one dog who really wants to be a cat (apparently because the cats have all the fun), a part-time horse (he lives next door but prefers the taste of our grass), and a weekend son (16) who would rather hang out with my son and nephews than his younger brothers, and spends all his time here when there’s no school. He’s, like, in the Son Reserves.

I understand you do not fly on planes. Could you elaborate?

I don’t have wings. Therefore, I’m not meant to fly – so I don’t.

Whenever I say “I don’t fly,” people start quoting statistics at me about how it’s safer to fly than it is to drive, because more people are involved in auto accidents than plane accidents. They tell me it’s not at all frightening to be suspended a few miles above the huge rock we call Earth, in a contraption that weighs a few tons and should not be able to get airborne.

Here’s my theory. Yes, I have a better chance of getting into a car crash than a plane crash. However. I have no chance of surviving a plane crash. I’m not Bruce Willis in Unbreakable here. The car crashes, I’ll probably live. The plane crashes, I’m toast. No planes for me.

Sonya claims not to be like Bruce Willis in the
movie Unbreakable, a movie many hated but I loved it. 
You make a good point. And, if you’re an alert driver, that must help even out those car statistics. Hey, FYI next time you do book seats on a plane, the over-the-wing section is suppposedly the safest.

 When we spoke about this post, you noted that cameras do not work properly in your vicinity. You said, “Even my husband says pictures of me look like someone else entirely.” Huh...

Yes – apparently I’m possessed by the spirit of a buck-toothed, empty-eyed drooling moron who is attracted to shiny things, like the flash of a camera. Exorcism attempts have been unsuccessful.

August 21, 2017. Does this date mean anything to you? 

There are a few things on my list of stuff I have to see with my own eyes before I die. These include the aurora borealis, Japan (it’s going to be a really long swim), and a total solar eclipse. This date is the next eclipse with a path of totality that prevents me from having to fly to get to it (also, I can vacation at Myrtle Beach while it’s happening).

I plan to bring a few accessories along for the viewing. These may or may not include candles, occult symbols, and ground eye of newt.

Does Sonya have an evil plan? You must read this entire awesome interview to learn the answer.
Well, now, please don’t take this the wrong way, Sonya, because lord knows we have all kinds here in the league, but here’s the thing: Cameras don’t work in your vicinity. You don’t fly (is it possible that it’s really because planes don’t work in your vicinity?)  and also, you are strangely fascinated with these celestial events: the aurora borealis and the total solar eclipse happening in 2017.

Please don’t take offense, but is it possible you are actually a dark, supernatural being whose destructive powers destroy machines like cameras and planes, but your coup de grace of world domination will be the total eclipse? Seriously, not to cast aspersions. I guess I’m okay with it if the league members get a seat in your evil chamber.

Well, I’m not saying I’m imbued with dark powers or anything *hides Magical Amulet of Doom(tm) and assorted suspicious-looking dolls* but world domination might be in the realm of possibility. Oh, pay no attention to those gremlins over there. They don’t work for me, no matter what the little bastards might tell you.

Let’s talk about next projects. What are you working on these days? What can we expect from you next?

For my next trick, I’ll pull a rabbit out of a hat. Or maybe a demon out of Hell. I get confused about which one, sometimes.

The sequel to Master of None (Master and Apprentice) will be unleashed – er, released March 29, 2011.

The hotly awaited Master and Apprentice.
Is it March 29th yet?
Beyond that, I have the aforementioned demon (or of those) planned, and this rather industrious undertaking concerning the Fae, and I’ll probably develop some other ideas I have kicking around. I am determined to some day write a novel about a circus, despite my husband’s assurance that it’s “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, and if you write it, I’m never talking to you again.”

Sonya, excuse me but that sounds VERY mysterious! I am going to watching you, little missy. Hey, thanks so much for taking the time to clear all these matters up! And congrats on your awesome series!!

Learn more at Sonya's site!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why do UF heroes and heroines so often have messed up, missing or dead parents? ( can win a book!)

Does this look like a proper breeding ground
for a UF hero or heroine? 
I’m not making some big, original observation when I point out that urban fantasy heroes and heroines are often challenged in the family department. 

I myself killed off my heroine Justine’s mother, and her father lives in a heavily defended shack in the woods. (All the better to be prepared for that killer epidemic that's sure to come.) 

And her brother is a llama herder in Peru or something - I’d actually have to go back and check what I made him, that’s how important he is! 

Why is it so tempting for us writers to deprive an urban fantasy heroine (or hero) of a strong family? Read on at Stella Ex Libris...

Image: The Mokros Family, a public domain file from wikimedia commons

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Release Date Moved Back!

Gahh! It seems I'll be the League's only unpublished author for two weeks longer. The release date for Hounded is now May 3 instead of April 19. Release dates for Hexed and Hammered remain the same (May 24 and June 28), so that means I'll have three books out inside of two months. This has nothing to do with printing delays or anything icky; it's nothing more than marketing shenanigans, the inner workings of which are known only by My Publishing Overlords™. But you've gotta be careful pulling shenanigans on a Druid like Atticus. Let's see how he feels about the delay, shall we?

Whoa. It's a good thing, Atticus, I promise!

If you're in the Chicago area and decide to attend C2E2 from March 18-20, turns out Del Rey will be there for the first time and they're going to be giving away copies of Hounded, so if you'd like to score it early there's a hot tip for ya. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Forethought and Hindsight

Right now I am revisions a book that will come out next year (Silver-Tongued Devil) and promoting a book that I finished last year (Green-Eyed Demon). It's kind of like being a time traveler, only with less paradoxes and more stress diarrhea.

But if I were really able to travel back in time, I'd have a few things to say to myself before I started Green-Eyed Demon that wold have made today a lot less stressful.

1. When you go to New Orleans in a few months to research this book, be sure to take pictures. You'll kick yourself when it's time to promote this book and the eleventy blog posts you do on this trip won't feature one effing picture.

2. Speaking of that trip, do not go into the closet of your hotel room. It's totally haunted. Trust that shit.

3. You're going to worry about writing the chapter with the gimp and the midget. Relax. It'll end up being your favorite scene.

4. Have plenty of tissues ready when you write the last chapter. Trust me on this. Also? You'll never be able to listen to "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" again without tearing up. Way to go, ruiner.

5. You're going to be be tempted to order your weight in Mardi gras beads to promote this book. 20 dozen? Really?

6. When you tell Mr. Jaye of your plan to pass out said beads at book signings, he's going to become very interested in helping distribute these beads. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a selfless offer.

7. When you chose the title for the next book in this series, pay attention tot he initials. Do you really want your fans demanding you give them STD immediately after they finish their GED?

These are just a few lessons I'd teach my year-ago self. There are more, but you know what? She'd never listen anyway.

Also? GREEN-EYED DEMON is out pretty much everywhere this week. Go. Buy. Read.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pimpology 101

Hello, LRA readers! It is I, your humble Anton. You may know me from such books as Dead To Me, Deader Still, and Dead Matter, the first three books of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series. You may also know me as the guy in the bar at the fantasy convention who borrowed five bucks from you, bought himself a drink, then ran off before paying you back. For that, I'd just like to say I'm truly.. hey, look! What is that?! *runs off*

Well, guess what? It's that time of year again. The fourth book in the series is out! See the shiny cover? If you order now, I'll send you the thumb for free!

Actually, I may hold onto my thumb. It really helps with the space bar, and if I'm going to keep on writing, I'm going to need that damned thing.

And you know what? If I want to keep writing, I need to keep getting the word out there about the books.

However, talking about the new book here is a bit like preaching to the choir. I love you all and the support you give, but the League is sort of the safe place, you know? And not just because of the new security system we had installed in the Clubhouse after that 40-year old guy showed up dressed as one of Richelle's teen fangers from Vampire Academy (turned out it was actually Mark Henry).

So here's what I am asking of you, our fine League or Reluctant Adults Army (Adulterers, perhaps?)... spread the word to the unwashed masses out there who may not know of not only my books, but the rest of the League as well (but me first, as Dead Waters is on sale this week.. call me selfish!)

I thank you, and my cats thank you. Think of teh kittehs!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Confessions and Big Frikkin' Lizards!

Hi, folk! I guess this is my first REAL post here at the League. I’ve been mostly quiet up til now, ’cause I’m hoping that if I don’t make any sudden moves, the League-ers will forget to haze me. (their vision is based on motion, you know)

So I thought I’d start off my time here with a small confession. Nothing major, nothing earth shattering in any way. Ease my way into things.

So here we go.

I want to write something about komodo dragons. There. I said it.

See, I was watching this special on them, the other day (The joys of having cable for the first time in all my thirty-four years. First thing I do is watch nature documentaries, and RuPaul’s Drag Race.). And suddenly, they (komodo dragons, not to be confused with drag queens) were fascinating (Not that drag queens aren’t fascinating. You know what I meant.)! Did you know that komodo dragons actually highly intelligent, and capable of reasoning and planning? The special I watched said they were “the primates of the lizard world”.

And suddenly, I thought, oh wow! How can I work THAT into a story??? More specifically, how can I work that into an urban fantasy story? And not just some hero walking through a zoo saying, “oh hey, look at that komodo dragon.” C’mon, you know what I mean. Something COOL! And put in ninjas, and sharks with lazurs on their heads! (or something)

Realize that most of what I’ve written above actually came out of my mouth to my very amused (and preternaturally patient) loving hubby. He’s used to me doing this, you see. Something catches my eye, no matter how fleeting or infinitesimal, and my brain makes these leaps of “ooh, hey, what if?” and “oh, it’d be so cool if!” I’m an easily distracted, sugar-high squirrel, chasing a laser pointer.

So I wind up babbling at him for an hour about how to make magic-using komodo dragons (’cause shape-shifting ones are so last year?), or how they’d communicate, and for Pete’s sake, what would they be DOING in a city in the first place?

Needless to say, the komodo dragon idea never got off the ground, probably for the better of all mankind. Some ideas just aren’t mean to grow to fruition. Perhaps it means I’ve grown older and wiser, that I can recognize a colossally bad idea when my husband points it out to me three or four times. (doesn’t mean I wouldn’t write it, if I could just figure it out)

So I’m wondering, what’s the worst writing idea you’ve ever had? Did you go ahead and write it anyway?

OMFG I actually made a post!

Can you believe it?? Yes, this is my very first post at the League. Yes, I've been a very very bad Leaguer. And can you believe NO ONE has spanked me yet for being so bad?

So, first off, I have the cover for my next book, My Life As A White Trash Zombie (the first book in a new series,) and it is SO AWESOME I WANT TO CURL UP AND DIE OF THE SQUEE!

The artist is Dan Dos Santos, who also did the cover for Secrets of the Demon. I am seriously one lucky author!! I'm incredibly excited about this book and I'm really hoping that the anti-zombie folks out there will give this a chance. Trust me, it's not your typical zombie story!

Second, you see that tattoo on her arm? Here's a close-up:

I've decided that if by some friggin' miracle this book debuts on the NYT (i.e. the New York Times bestseller list) I will get that tattoo.

Yes, you read that correctly. I, who have no tattoos at all to date, WILL GET THAT TATTOO! So spread the word and get this bod some ink!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Poisonous blood + birthday balloons = CONTEST!!

***Winner of the signed copy of NIGHTSHADE is "Barbara E." Congrats! Please contact me at to claim your prize. Thanks everyone for all the great comments!***

Yeah, so it's my birthday today. I cannot tell you how much this fills me with glee. If glee means angst and pain. No, no, it's fine. Really. I love birthdays. This one, though... Ugh. It's a tough one. It ends in a zero. And it doesn't start with a two or a three. Whatever. WHATEVER!! *sadface*

All it means is I need to cheer my sorry, aging self up. A LOT. I want to give away a book! Yes, a book! Books make me happy! HAPPY HAPPY!!

My latest release is NIGHTSHADE and it's the first book in my new urban fantasy romance series. It's about a woman named Jillian Conrad who is injected with a serum that turns her blood both poisonous and irresistible to vampires and the dhampyr assassin who wants her to use that blood to kill a vampire king. It's a bit of a darker tone for me and I'm thrilled that readers are reacting very favorably to it so far. The mini-sequel is already out, a novella in the PRIMAL anthology with Lora Leigh, Jory Strong, and Ava Gray (which, FYI, hit the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list at #17 - Hooray!). BLOODLUST, the official second book in the series is out in July.

Anyway, I want to give away a signed copy of NIGHTSHADE to a randomly selected commenter. International entries welcome. And no, I don't want anyone to sing happy birthday to me or blow up some balloons or send me any gifts or money. Wait, maybe I should rethink that last one.

What I really want is for you to type the first line of whatever your current read is along with the title and author. I'm curious what people are reading and what the first lines are. So there you go. Enter to win!

I'll pick a winner Sunday, February 20th at 10:00 p.m. EST. Good luck!

In the meantime, I'll just be over here in the corner. Aging rapidly.

Michelle xoxo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things!

ACK! I missed my posting date here at the League. I have an excuse! (OK, I have a bullshit reason, which is not an excuse and I'm totally a dweeb for forgetting, which is not the same thing.) Well, sort of late and sort of an excuse because I'm supposed to post today--which I am, right now--but it was supposed to be by 5 AM. And y'know, it's like... not that early. 'Cuz I'm sooooo not a morning person and I was kind of... not thinking about it last night. 'Cuz I was busy!

Busy doing what? Well, y'know-- Hey! None of that! There was this leak, see? In the boat deck. The stern deck right over the bed. Right in front of the main hatch. And it's, y'know, leaking!

So... it's been raining. Because, y'know, this is Seattle in February. And it rains here. A lot. Especially in February. And I was distracted by the water that was sneaking in through the heater in the ceiling and trying to ruin my very expensive new mattress. And the thing about boats is the leak is almost never where you think it is. So you patch that... and it doesn't work. So you patch this... and it doesn't work.

And then you start sacrificing small animals to arcane gods and searching their entrails for hints to where the leak really originates. And then you go on a woodwork safari, like a waterlogged and sawdust-encrusted Indiana Jones searching for the Lost Sanity of the Boater. Up the river without a canoe. And there are Snakes! Good God, why did it have to be snakes?!

OK, so... maybe not snakes, but there are spiders. And it's wet! And there's this wood rot stench that's worse than the Okefenokee in mid-August with a whole Body Farm of corpses. All right... maybe not that bad, but pretty bad.

And the neighbors keep passing by in the rain and say stupid shit like "got a leak, huh?" and "when you're done with that one, you can come over and find mine, ha ha ha...." Why does anyone think that's funny? And can I kill them now?

Also, the male person known as Mr. Kat usually insists that whatever I think is the problem isn't and can't possibly be because... well, because. Because water flows uphill on boats and somehow the leak in the deck must be related to the doors being on tracks and it must be the tracks leaking. Uphill. Because the crack in the center section of the decking couldn't possibly be the problem, even though it's swollen and right over the stupid radiant heater someone installed in the roof of the Master cabin! Noooooo!

Whose asshatted idea was it to put a bun warmer on the ceiling. In a wooden boat? And run heavy electrical wire under a frequently wet wooden deck to this same ridiculous installation? I mean... do they come from a planet where electricity and water are bets buds? Where heat doesn't tend to rise? Or were they, perhaps, thinking of the "bun warmer" for warming their own buns? And if so, what position did they stand in that put their butt so close to a heater in the ceiling?! Maybe they really are asshats! OMG! The previous owner was a cannibal who wore his victim's butts as hats!


No, wait.

I think I'll just put a plastic patch over the part of the boat I think leaks and see what happens.

Well... lookee there: it stopped leaking.

hah. I'm right.

Which was why this post was late.

And why we Can't Have Nice Things! (Damn it.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Day After Valentine's Day . . .

Is just another day . . . or so you might think.

Only it's not!

Because it's the day Jaye Wells and I start back up at Babel Clash! We'll be snarking and pontificating for two whole weeks, people! It's madness!

So to inaugurate what will be a fortnight of Jaye and I twisting everything you once held sacred, and in honor of Valentine's day yesterday, I thought I'd give you one of my favorite twisted love songs:

It's the Bravery with Hatefuck. Ohhhhhhh yeah . . .

And if you're like, "Who the hell are you, Nicole Peeler? No one's been blogging on this site for so long, I don't even remember any of you bitches," fear not!

You can find out who I am here.

And next month, over at my publisher's, you can download my first book, Tempest Rising, for only $2.99. I'll post updates on my website, but my very own Orbital Drop should start March 1st.

Let me and my publishers know what you think of this idea. Are you more likely to try a new series if the first book is super cheap?

Thanks for visiting, thanks for commenting, and thanks for being YOU. *snuggles*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Unicorn WTFkery


Hi, I’m Allison Pang and this is my first (and quite possibly last) post at the League of Reluctant Adults. >_<

 Of course, it is Valentine’s Day, and that comes with its own set of issues…so I’m not actually going talk about that at all. Not that I’m against a holiday celebrating love or anything, but I’ve never been a fan of forced displays of affection for the sake of commercialism.


So, that means I’m going to talk about unicorn pr0n wtfkery instead, which is neither commercial nor anything romantic or particularly celebratory. (At least, I hope not.)

In truth, my one claim to momentary fame has a lot to do with a certain panty-sniffing unicorn character that I write about. Part frat-boy, part Yoda, Phineas is by far the most popular thing to come out of A Brush of Darkness, and I’m often asked about how I thought up such a crazy character.

Personally, I’m not sure he’s all that unique. I just took everything about unicorns that we generally know – the pure, noble, chaste parts…and reversed them. (Unicorns are often pretty dynamically charged sex symbols anyway - it’s not like a creature with a big phallic symbol sprouting out of his head could really be seen as anything else. Don’t believe me? Check out the plush stuffed peniscorn here.)

Phin is small and obnoxious and a complete lech, and that seems to work, but I’m certainly not the first person to write about perverted unicorns.

I’m not even counting FrançoisRabelais’s reference: “…out of each of their foreheads sprouts out a sharp black horn, some six or seven feet long; commonly it dangles down like a turkey-cock's comb. When a unicorn has a mind to fight, or put it to any other use, what does it do but make it stand, and then 'tis as straight as an arrow.” Keep in mind that the characters were visiting a place known as “The Land of Satin,” so draw your own conclusions there.

No, I speak of one Aubrey Beardsley – who was an artist/writer from the late 1800’s. Although his erotic art was his general claim to fame, he also started a novel of sorts known as Under the Hill. (Incidentally, Under the Hill was actually a retelling of the Tannhäuser opera by Wagner – which involves a poet visiting the underground palace of the goddess Venus – aka Venusberg and his adventures there. I find this rather ironic, since much of the worldbuilding lore I based A Brush of Darkness on was drawn from the Thomas the Rhymer poem…which is about a poet drawn into the court of the Faery Queen and his adventures there…yay, full circle. Guess there really isn’t anything original out there after all.)

At any rate, in one chapter of Under the Hill, Aubrey writes about Venus and her unicorn, Adolphe. While the language is certainly a bit flowery in places and a bit tame by today’s smut standards, it becomes pretty clear that Venus essentially gives a hand job to her unicorn. (He has a scarlet John, you know.) She does this every morning. In fact, no one gets breakfast until she completes this act…upon which she consumes the results.


All of a sudden, Phineas seems pretty tame by comparison. And no, I will never be writing up an Abby/Phin manual expression scene. Ever.

Assuming you haven’t reached for the bucket of brain bleach yet, I want to express my utter disappointment that the website does not have either unicorns or pr0n. However, should you wish to buy that awesome puking unicorn sticker up above, go check out Unicorns Rock for that and other fabulous unicorn WTF items.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Susan Lucci is a Vampire!

Okay, so the title isn't true (to the best of my knowledge). But it got your attention, didn't it?

I have a confession to make. My name is Kelly Meding, and I watch soap operas.

Kind of.

I never used to understand soap operas. The format confused me, as did the multiple, overlapping story lines. I thought the acting was goofy, the way it was filmed looked funny, and all people ever talked about was who was sleeping around on or betraying who. Granted, this was all from the perception of a thirteen year-old who'd spent part of a summer watching "The Young & the Restless" with her grandfather.

Fast-forward seventeen years later, and my perception has changed quite a bit. Long story short, several coincidences via Twitter and YouTube got me hooked on a story line unfolding on "One Life to Live." As I went back and watched online eps, I found myself wanting to learn more—not just about other characters peripheral to this story, but about soaps in general. So I started doing my research, and I chatted online with some fans.

Fans who've been watching these shows for forty or more years. FORTY years. It's amazing to think that some of these soaps have been on the air for more than five decades. The history is amazing, and the fans are intensely loyal. I admit, I'm fascinated by the whole thing, and I have a great deal of respect for the people who create them. Not just the actors who have only a few days to learn upwards of 50 pages of dialogue, but also to the writing staff who create and breakdown story lines that will span months of airtime (months doesn't sound like a lot in primetime, but in daytime, they air five days a week, so you do the math).

After enjoying a selection of stories from "One Life to Live," "General Hospital," and the now-canceled "As the World Turns," I have a healthy new respect for soap operas. And I can see the humor in their clichés, too. Clichès that have invaded not just daytime, but also primetime television and books (see! I tied this all back to writing!).

We've all see those fun Top 10 lists. They're compiled to be both entertaining and informative.

This isn't a Top 10 list.

Instead, this is a How Soap Opera Clichès Really Aren't That Different From Your Favorite Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Plot Twists.

Tell me if any of these bits of cliche avoidance advice sound familiar:

If you plan a specific route for any kind of long-distance trip, deviating in any way guarantees that you will crash. Especially if this trip occurs during impending bad weather. Also, if you have inadvertently informed your Worst Enemy of these plans, he or she will try to cause a crash and/or run you off the road (impending bad weather still applies).

If you don't know who your mother/father is, it is almost guaranteed that they will be revealed as your Worst Enemy at some point in the future. It is also likely they will attempt to kill your supposed real parents and/or a beloved sibling or two. Treat them with caution.

If you have an Evil Sibling/Evil Parent/Evil Dog Skip, do not allow a lingering sense of love for them tempt you to let them live after stopping their latest Rampage of Evil. They are evil. They will only return later on down the road to Rampage Again and kill more people, and you will probably be blamed. Take them down now and save yourself endless sequels (one or two sequels is okay, just don't overdo it).

If there is the tiniest chance you aren't the father of your wife/girlfriend's baby, then whisk her far, far away from anyone who knows you, have a DNA test performed, and guard those doctors performing the tests until the results are back. If you hang around town and hope for the best, someone is going to screw with the results.

If a hot stranger comes to town and you feel an unexplainable connection to him/her, investigate them thoroughly and order a DNA test before you allow yourself to fall in love/sleep with him/her. It will avoid the scary possibility of bedding a long-lost relative.

If someone comes up to you--even if they are a dear and trusted friend--and asks, "Do you want to know a secret?", clamp your hands over your ears, scream "NO!" and run away yelling "Lalalalalalala!" at the top of your lungs.


Familiar, no?

As goofy and fun as clichés can be, though, I have picked up a few good writing tips by watching soap operas. So I will leave you with those:

You can tell a good story with limited locations.
Anyone can come back from the dead at any time, given the right circumstances.
Don't bore your audience.
Good stories can unfold slowly, building up over time.
Every once in a while, something needs to blow up or burn down.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Taking your work home with you

I recently announced that I'm expecting a baby in August, which was met by a wonderful and overwhelming flood of kind notes and congratulations. It also triggered a few questions which weren’t entirely unexpected—such as if I'd be giving the baby a "vampire name" or buying the baby "vampire clothing."

What's intriguing to me about this is how personal an author's work becomes in the eyes of many, more so than other jobs. No one suggested I get baby clothes with the Microsoft Windows logo on them, in honor of my husband's employer. And when my brother (who works at Pfizer) and his wife were expecting, no one asked if they were going to name the baby Rogaine.

An author's job is perceived differently, and I think there's probably good reason for that. My brother doesn't need to decorate with pill capsules or consume all the drugs he manufactures in order to do his job well. There isn't an attachment there. But, I can say with certainty that the worst things I've ever written were scenes where I just wasn't emotionally invested in the content. The best scenes I’ve created--in the eyes of others too, not just me--were those in which I just loved everything that happened. I could feel the action and the characters' emotions. That connection translated to good writing.

Now, does that love of what I'm writing equate to an obsession with vampires in my personal life that trumps all other interests? Eh, not so much. I really don’t relish the thought of getting an all-black wardrobe for my child or doing a bat-themed nursery. (Actually, if I could do the nursery in fluffy, pastel-colored bats, I might be on board with that). My point is that there's a line here. The content of what I write doesn't have to consume all of my waking interests, but my heart definitely has to be in what I'm writing. The day I'm indifferent toward the urban fantasy/paranormal genre is the day I need to switch it up and starting writing Scottish historicals.

So, my questions are: what are others' experiences with this? Are you a writer (or do you know of a writer) who actually dislikes the subject matter but writes about it anyway? Is it possible? Fellow urban fantasy peeps, do you find yourselves owning (either through gifts or your own acquisition) copious amounts of demon and zombie accessories? Are you constantly associated with what you write? And perhaps most importantly, am I dismissing this vampire baby theme too quickly? Because that picture's pretty cute...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Those Wonder Moments When The Character Takes Over

There I was, minding my own business, writing with a blanket around my shoulders (It's frick'n cold in Alabama right now)... you know, the usual, when something happened. Eric, my angry, forgetful, brutally honest, and shamelessly unapologetic vampire was getting himself into trouble for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to wrong woman.

I was sure she was going to throw a punch. Absolutely certain, but instead, the chapter ended. Now, that happens. In Crossed, I jumped back and forth between two characters in one of the big fight sequences. Or, in other places, a scene ends mid fight and I kick over to the next chapter either in a different point of view (maybe to Talbot, Eric's cat-like friend or Tabitha, Eric's bride and fellow vampire), or just to give Eric a chance to start the next chapter (and the fight) off with something funny and obnoxious, but not this time.

This time, I jumped outside the fight scene altogether. I don't think that had ever happened to me before. I wasn't even sure why, but I rolled with it because my process is very organic (I'm a Pantser) and man, those are some of my favorite moments writing. Not when the story goes in a direction I hadn't planned (because to be honest that's a pain in butt sometimes), but when, as I'm writing a character's POV, we click and I have that "Aha" moment. Those are awesome.

The following is spoiler (a vague one) for HUNTED (Void City, book four) so if your worried or haven't read CROSSED yet, just skip down a paragraph. In this case, the thought process went like this: Greta (Eric's vampiric daughter) was on the roof nearby. (We know this, because that's where I left her in the previous chapter.) Vampire's have incredible senses, particularly their hearing. Greta loves her "Dad" and I had forgotten a threat Greta made in a previous book, but Greta hadn't, and as I typed the words: "What did I tell you I'd do?" I remembered exactly what Greta was talking about and I darn near giggled when I said, "Oh crap. It's on now."

Of course, the best part, for a writer (or this one anyway) is when your editor notes one of those moments with a "love this" or, later, once it's on the shelf, a reader or reviewer highlights one of those moments as their favorite or a point where they were pleasantly surprised or shocked (in a good way) to see the novel go the way it went. So, for you writers out there, does this ever happen to you? Doesn't it rock when it does? And for you readers, can you tell when it has happened?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Which Jackie Posts Videos

I'm in writing hell at the moment; my current WIP is giving me a case of hives--which, I suppose, is appropriate, considering that I'm writing about the Horseman of Pestilence. Still. Grrr. So I'm going to take out my frustration by kicking through a board.

Well, point of clarification: I've previously kicked through the board when I was testing for my advanced green belt in tae kwon do. Tax Deduction the Elder recorded it. And so, I'm going to post it here for your viewing pleasure. I've been taking tae kwon do for a little more than a year. This is part of my training to be an urban fantasy heroine. Really. Can't you see me whipping off my glasses and standing on my tippy toes to kick someone in the shin? All I need now is some spiffy magic ability--which, frankly, could be the ability to wear leather pants A) without pantylines and B) with full range of motion--and then I'd be set.

So: me, kicking through a board:


(Hmm. Just tried to view on preview, and it didn't show up. So, here is a back-up video of me smashing a board with my hand, courtesy of my TKD instructor.)

See that? Training to be a badass!

Okay, yeah, I'm going crazy with my WIP. I'm on the 18th version of the draft. Yes, that's right. Eighteen. That's just wrong. And this is after weeks of not being able to move forward with any version of the draft. I know from experience that for me, when I hit writer's block, it's because I've taken the story in the wrong direction. Which is dandy, but what to do when you don't know which direction to take it?

Sigh. I'm thisclose to blowing stuff up in a spectacular explosion. Or maybe just include penguins. You can't go wrong with penguins. (What? I learned that from The Muppet Show.)

Maybe I should make my WIP a Hawaiian musical. With penguins.

Clearly, I'm at the end of my rope. So I figure it's time for something drastic. So I should...

A) Give the protagonist amnesia!
B) Send the protagonist back in time!
C) Have the protagonist meet Someone Famous!
D) All of the above!

I think I'll go with option D. Who knows? Maybe it will work.

Unless someone has A Better Option...?

Really. I'm open to suggestions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pop Quiz

(Sorry, guys, this one isn't funny. I'm so mad over this I literally can't think of anything else right now.)

Okay. Here's a little quiz for you.

Let's say you're...a psychologist, who was once licensed and practicing but let your license lapse because you were doing something else. Let's further say you've written several bestselling books based on your gosh-golly sincere desire to "help" people. And how about adding a TV show to that, a TV show which trades on that gosh-golly-caring persona, and relies heavily on your former psychology practice, and all of that stuff. Let's say you have a website with advice and tips on how to report child abuse, help addicted family members, etc. etc.

Got it? Okay.

Now. let's say you're contacted by a woman who wants help because the "usual" punishments haven't succeeded in changing her seven-year-old son's behavior, and she's now resorting to things like pouring hot straight tabasco sauce into the child's mouth and throwing him into ice-cold showers for punishment, while screaming and calling him names.

What do you do:

A) Call local authorities and report this woman

B) Ask her to videotape herself "punishing" her child

Okay. So just for the sake of argument, let's decide you went with answer B. Perhaps--if we want to give it the most charitable explanation--you thought the videotape would result in a faster and stronger conviction of this woman for child abuse, being concrete proof. Perhaps you thought that sort of direct evidence was necessary.

The videotape arrives. It was filmed by the woman's ten-year-old daughter. In it, this woman berates her seven-year-old son--seven years old--for getting into some sort of fairly minor trouble in school. She performs all of the acts she mentioned in her letter while the child screams and begs for mercy. The video is absolutely grueling to see.

What do you do:

A) Immediately call local law enforcement and arrange for them to see the video immediately. Offer to testify at her trial and--seeing as how you're a psychologist and an aw-shucks good-guy type--offer the child some help and counseling to get over the trauma.

B) Alert no one. Rub your hands together and dream of the ratings this video will bring in, when you get to air the torture and humiliation of an innocent child on national television.

If you answered A to either of those questions, you're obviously not Dr. Phil McGraw. He answered B to those questions, and he makes me fucking sick.

This is a man who has the nerve to include a page on his website about how if you witness child abuse you should immediately call 911, or get a license number/description to call police later, or whatever. Apparently those tips only apply if you can't suck up some more ratings and thus profit from the abuse you encouraged. Ratings are clearly far more important than a child's pain, right? Hey, you won't even get a tax break for helping that kid!

The mother's question and the video arrived at Dr. Phil's office in November. This woman has just recently been arrested.

Why has she just now been arrested? Because the episode didn't air until recently. No one from the Dr. Phil show--from Phil himself all the way down to the production assistants--bothered to call authorities. No one, not one of them. Not a single fucking one of them thought maybe they should speak up about this--certainly not Dr. Phil, who had he not allowed his license to lapse would have been committing a crime by not doing so (psychologists are Mandated Reporters) and could have had his license taken away. [That list is from the state of Illinois site, but psychologists are Mandated Reporters in every state as far as I know.]

Instead, the police were contacted by viewers of the show. Hundreds of them. They, at least, understood what it is to be a human being with feelings, and a member of a society. They at least understood that it is the responsibility of every decent adult in the world to make sure our children are protected. They at least understood that some things are more important than getting people to watch your fucking TV show.

Seriously, how can someone who behaves that way consider himself any help to anyone? How can someone who behaves that way sleep at night, and how can other people actually look at him as if he has any ability to counsel or help them at all? I'm sorry, but to counsel people effectively you need to understand them and their feelings, and to understand feelings you must first have them, which that man apparently does not.

What's more upsetting about this is that no one is talking about it. No criminal charges have been brought against Dr. Phil and/or his producers, at least one of whom encouraged this woman to abuse her child for the camera. No one even seems to be discussing his/their responsibility in this matter, and his/their absolutely shocking lack of empathy, ethics, and care as related to this incident.

So next time you see Dr. Phil playing his gawrsh-I'm-just-a-guy-who-cares routine, remember that this is the man who condoned the abuse of a seven-year-old boy in order to make money off of it, and didn't even bother to help the kid out after the money was made.

Like I said, sorry, but I'm just seething over this. next time I'll be cheery again, I promise.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's an Early Valentine!

Sometimes, when a writer's books don't do well, the best thing they can do is abandon their name and create a pseudonym. I created two. Daniel and Amanda. They don't always see eye to eye. In fact, sometimes they come to blows. Daniel enjoys YA books and writing teenage angst and secret love. Amanda gets off on hardcore porn and tripping the elderly. But somehow, these two found each other...

(give it a minute, takes a few to load <--heheheh. Load)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Come out and see both this weekend in Denver! Actually, I'll be there too, at the Broadway Book Mall on Friday and the Art Salon on Saturday. Until then. What do y'all think about pseudonyms?

Monday, February 7, 2011


FIRSTLY: we're getting our asses organized. Like, starting now, with this post, we're officially more organized than we were five minutes ago! If all goes according to the League's Multifarious Plans, we're going to stick to a Calendar Thingie and POST REGULARLY! Last I heard, you'll get a different author posting something every day from the 1st to the 21st of each month. And then, on those remaining nine days of each month, either CRAZY SHIT or ABSOLUTELY NOTHING will happen! There's nothing in between, see. I'm supposed to slap something up here on the 7th, so the next time you'll get a post from me is on March 7, unless I pop in and unleash some CRAZY SHIT during February's last chocolate-coated gasp of a week. Mark Henry's got the 8th of each month; Stacia Kane's got the 9th, and so on. We might start doing these posts with a theme, too. March might be SEX MONTH, for example, so you'd have 21 days of sex posts PLUS crazy shit at the end! Clearly, this needs to be your first visit every morning before you scan the news/browse porn/check email.

SECONDLY, welcome debut author Allison Pang to the League! Here is what we know about Allison so far:
1. She can put her legs all the way behind her head.
2. She wrote an awesome urban fantasy debut called A Brush of Darkness. It has a horny unicorn in it, so of course that means you must purchase it right now!
3. She likes thigh socks. Therefore, we like her.
Note: That is not Allison's couch. Hers is much more attractive. Say hi to Allison in the comments, solicit thigh sock pictures, go grab her book—it's a hoot!—and before too long she'll be posting here herself.

THIRDLY, Jaye Wells and I have decided that too few people drink out of flagons anymore. Used to be whenever you visited an inn, people were always drinking out of flagons. They were like, "Fuck pints, pints are for wussies. I want a FLAGON!" (Curiously, nobody "wenches" anymore, either, as in, "Conan, what are you doing?" "I'm wenching, you dog." The verb "to wench" seems to have fallen out of favor concurrently with drinking out of flagons. Coincidence?) My new personal quest—a Grail Quest—is to demand flagons at drinking establishments until they finally supply me with one. Will you join me?

FOURTHLY, I am just over two months away from my own urban fantasy debut, so I have flipped the switch in my brain marked "Shameless Pimpage." I'm currently running a little promo for pre-orders of Hounded placed on or before February 15. Pre-order my book (Here's a link to help you find a nice spot to do so) and shoot me an email with your snail mail address, and I'll send you a signed, personalized bookplate wheresoever ye may be. YES! International peeps, I will send one to you too! I've already sent three to Canada and I'd love to sling them elsewhere to make myself feel more cosmopolitan! I'll take your word you pre-ordered; just email me at and I'll either make something up or send you something specific, according to your wishes. Come visit me on my blog if you haven't before—it's a good time. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why do we like to play God?

I was asked in a recent interview if creating visual art and writing fiction had anything in common. I answered that for me, my painting and fiction writing run on parallel tracks and have little to do with each other except to compete for my time.

I added that our need to create may be a God complex, where we decide to create work in our image as a reaction against the circumstances of our existence. This creation is a means of self-expression and can take many forms: writing, painting, sculpting, music, cooking, knitting, sewing, customizing cars; basically you take some stuff and turn it into something else.

What is this compulsion to create? When I was in college, my dad told me that art was a waste of time and since I personally didn't know any working artists (other than art teachers), I couldn't disagree with him. An office job was what I should aspire to. So I gave away my paints and sketch pads and tried to forget doing art. But I couldn't stop drawing or thinking about painting. I bought another set of watercolors and got back into slinging the paint.

So do my visual art and writing fiction have anything in common? I'll amend my previous
answer because upon reflection, they do. Back in the sixth grade, Mrs. Anderson paired up the students in her English class, with the assignment of writing a book (more of a booklet, about 20 pages). I was teamed with Stuart Williams and we were both crazy about Star Trek (the original series). While the other students were writing and illustrating their books about lost puppies, Santa having his sleigh stolen, what-have-you, Stuart and I got busy creating a science fiction saga. When it was time to turn in the books, he and I didn't have ours. Since Stuart and I were good students, Mrs. Anderson asked what we'd been doing for the last six weeks. We showed her a thick binder filled with drawings, schematics, crew rosters, star charts, uniforms, story boards of battle scenes. Basically, we'd been overwhelmed by what turned out to be a star ship epic. Even though we hadn't completed the assignment, we'd done more work than everyone else, and she gave us A's.

While that binder is probably rotting in a landfill, the story didn't die. I kept turning it over and over in my mind, constantly day-dreaming about the plot and living in a world that was a lot more interesting than life in dusty Las Cruces. I jotted my ideas into a series of sketchbooks, with drawings, maps, and narratives. One time, I invited the preacher's son to my home and showed him the sketchbooks. He told the cute girls at church that I lived in a silly cuckoo land. Bastard. After that, I kept the drawings to myself.

Years later, in critique group, one of our members decided to show us what she meant in her story by bringing out sketchbooks of her fantasy world. I had found my tribe!

I guess like most of you writers and artists, if measured strictly by time spent vs. money earned, we might be better off cleaning carpets or bookkeeping. But God Himself, or Herself, wasn't content maintaining the universe as it was. So there.

Plus! This Tuesday evening, Feb 8, catch Jeanne and me at the Smoky Hills Library, 5430 South Biscay Circle, Centennial CO (303-542-7279).

And now, for the important news: Mark Henry is coming to Denver! Yes, the premier zombie enthusiast and snark stylist will be in the Front Range to flay us with his wit and prose.

This Friday, Feb 11, 7pm, at the Broadway Book Mall, 200 S Broadway, Denver, CO. He'll be signing his latest massmarket release, Road Trip of the Living Dead, and Battle of the Network Zombies.

And then, Round Two of Mr. Henry at the Scorned Lovers Art Show. Saturday, Feb 12, 6-9pm at the Art Salon, 2219 East 21st Street, Denver. At York St near City Park for you locals. Mark will lock arms with Denver poet Kate Redmond in a special erotic reading that promises to show that nothing is too lowbrow for us. Eat special Valentine's cupcakes and browse the awesome artwork. Enchant a new lover or hex a treacherous past amante by jabbing a pin into the giant Love VooDoo Doll. Work out your contempt at broken romance by helping us demolish the Scorned Lovers piñata with the big black Love Stick. It's the other side of love and we've all been there. You be here!

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