Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?
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
I met Hammond (along with Kat Richardson, Cherie Priest, and Mark Henry) at NorWesCon 2008, back in the Precambrian days when the League of Reluctant Adults sperm and egg where still in the literary petri dish. Interestingly, though we were in the SeaTac area, like me, Hammond was also from Denver.
You'd never guess by looking at this unassuming face that Hammond writes some of the grittiest science fiction available, with two novels, kop and ex-kop on the market (book 3 in the series, kop-killer, is due in 2012). The man knows despair, treachery, and beat-downs. His protagonist Juno Mozambe is a bad cop in a world of bad people, bad politics, and bad luck. Hammond has drawn upon world history and his international traveler experience to create Lagarto--a colonial backwater planet plagued by neglect, corruption, and conspiracy--a world as evocative and disturbing as anything presented by Richard K. Morgan (another personal fave). It's third-world future noir at its most chilling.
Hammond was invited by Jeanne Stein and me to bring his pervy and brutal sensibilities to the Pearl Street Grill critique group (where wings and beer help ease the sting of writerly bloodletting). Hammond has the honor of introducing the concept of "robo-vagina" to our critique lexicon.
Hammond is working on a new story, Tides, of another backwater planet (literally--the Empire overlords terraformed the planet and demolished most of the land to make room for more ocean) and another flawed hero--Jakob Bryce--a government assassin whose moral compass quickly turns in circles. Send Hammond major writer mo-jo so this great manuscript finds a welcome home.
On the Mario front, I have a short story, "No Soy Loco," in the anthology, You Don't Have A Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens, from Arte Publico Press. We've been getting very good reviews. My contribution features mysterious voices, a drunken abusive dad, alien criminals, eye gouging, and a teenage boy getting his hands impaled to a Ouija board. Fun stuff!
Fellow Denver writer, the award-winning Manuel Ramos, also contributed to the anthology with his story, "The Back Up." Here's a KUHF podcast of the erudite Ramos discussing his path to literary success (via the lawyer route) and his involvement with the Chicano protests of the 70's.
What? You don't usually see funeral wreathes at a con? Well OK I admit I don't usually either, but in this particular case my dear friend Eleanor came straight from a funeral to the convention, carrying the spray of flowers that had been on the coffin--because who really wants to keep all those funeral flowers? And the answer is: SF Fans! (and friends of the deceased who are nice enough to carry them away.)
And what do you need most after a funeral? A Drink! That's right. So plainly one needs both funeral flowers and a pile of alcohol in order to really enjoy a convention because, as they say, live now, for tomorrow we may die. Or go home and take off our corsets and Vulcan ears and go back to work. In the midst of life we are in the presence of death. And taxes. And drininage. And shenanigans.
Which includes people dressed as Grover the muppet--no I hadn't been drinking when I saw it--and small dogs riding on scooters--yes I HAD been drinking when I saw it.
Cons are not for the sober--at least not the sober of attitude. The marvelous thing about conventions is that not only do you see every thing you ever thought you'd never see, but you get to have as much fun over that fact as you can stand. In fact, you should be having fun--because if it's too much work why are you going at all? Even if you're working the show, it should be fun because life's too short--and so are cons--to not enjoy yourself.
And thus we accept both the funeral wreath and the Manhattan cocktail on the rocks (because we forgot to bring our shaker and cocktail glasses). And we adore the cute dog on the scooter and the author in his bunny suit and the man dressed in a blue body suit and feather fans that are doubling as wings and the woman in green body paint and the child whose head is being eaten by a teddy bear as much as the company of our friends while we also ignore the cost of the drinks and food in the bar.
So put on your Grover suit and come to the bar. We've got plenty of flowers and I'm making Manhattans! (Because the muppets must take Manhattan.)
You might ask what Earth Day has to do with a paranormal fiction blog. Well, I'll tell you. Who has a bigger interest in the earth staying beautiful than vampires? Because, hello, immortal. Who wants to live for eternity on a blackened rock covered in toxic sludge? Plus, vampires also want to protect their most precious natural resource--humans. How will they get their blood if we poison ourselves into extinction? They won't. And that's just sad.
Remember this ad?
But on with the show!
First and foremost, the new season of Doctor Who premieres this weekend, for which I am VERY excited, and you should be too! Why? Well, if you're writers, it's fascinating to watch, as it is written by Stephen Moffat, who wrote Coupling, the current Sherlock Holmes, and his storytelling is effing spectacular! Plus, none other than Neil Freakin' Gaiman himself is writing episode four, and it is almost certain to rock.
I got to see the season opening two-parter early, earning me much hate from a certain contingent of fanboys and girls out there, but I went so I could tell you this... it is both the creepiest episode I've ever seen and also pretty mind blowing. A LOT happens, and even the cliffhanger between one and two will have you going WHAT?!?!? Hell, the end of two had me going WHAT?!?!? also... that's how awesome it is. Make sure to catch it. The first five seasons are available on Netflix's Instant Cue.
Here's a little lead in fun for the show, brought to you by super Who-vian Chris Hardwick, aka The Nerdist.
Secondly, there's a new movie coming out, Dylan Dog, that I want to see succeed! Why? Because it's about a paranormal detective guy in a leather coat who looks incredibly like Simon Canderous. Okay, it's based on a long running Italian graphic novel, but Brandon Routh looks and acts totally like my precious Simon! And if that movie does well, perhaps Hollywood will be interested in picking up my urban fantasy series as a movie franchise! Take a look at faux-Simon in action.
I mean, it could happen, right? I'll not hold my breath, but I think a successful paranormal detective movie could provide an opportunity to the rest of us UF writers out there.
Oh wait.. I guess I did bring it all back around to talking about me... I guess the balance of the universe is restored! Carry on. Hope you enjoyed the clips.
So, with this momentous date looming down on me, I agonized over what I should post. Should I address some of 4/20’s less savory reputations? Should I let it slide by, with nary an acknowledgment? Should I perhaps kick it to the wayside, and devote my post to Earth Day, but a scant two days hence?
Well, first off, we should establish that I have no knowledge base to post from, regarding 4/20. I was, sadly, a good girl. A good student. A drama geek. A – dare I say it? – nerd. For further proof of just how big a dork I was, see this post at my blog. I would post a picture of me from those bygone days, but I’d probably lose all my fans. (All five of you. Hi!)
I didn’t even know what 420 supposedly meant until I was well into my college years, and even then, I wasn’t sure someone wasn’t yanking my chain. I mean, really? The numbers 4 and 20 have some nefarious meaning?
So, like any true nerd, I had to do some research. Where did this come from? Why? Snopes.com to the rescue! Apparently, my information that this was a police code for marijuana use was incorrect. Part of me was sad, and part of me was just satisfied that my instincts had been right!
It did occur to me later that looking up things to debunk the 420 myth was probably the nerdiest thing I’d ever done (at that point in my life). My quest to someday be one of the cool kids had definitely been set back at least three spaces. Still trying to make two of those spaces up, as we speak.
So what this is, is a really long way of saying that I have no experiences with 420 upon which to expound. What, you expected a writer to be succinct? (At least half of you just said "Suck what?" Cheeky monkeys.)
(Next month, my post is on 5/20, an even MORE infamous date. It’s my wedding anniversary)
Jeanne Stein here:
Nicole planned a tour of some of the locations featured in the Anna Strong series. She asked me for some details and then went to work on the tour. I'm going to let you see and hear what they found!
Wow what an adventure we had! :)
We took a lot of pictures; sadly we dropped the good camera and ended up taking a lot of pictures with our cell phone. So not sure if you can use or would want to use any of them but I'm happy to share all these pictures with you.
Nikki did such a great job at walking me through the books. She did this whole tour guide with stories of who, where, and what. It was really nice.
We found a real biker bar in El Cajon, the closest one to a biker bar here in town is Hi Cera and well that is a dive but not a biker bar. Dego is a true Hells Angels Biker bar so we went over there took a picture, wow it was a rush too just picturing Anna, and David doing a bounty in there.
We went to Sea Port Village- (Could this be the view from Anna's office?)
Her Cottage (tried to pick which one we thought),
The view from Avery's house a top Mt. Soledad:
Balboa Park. Can you spot the secret doorway?
There is a house in Hillcrest, we always said reminds us of the Witch's house. So we drove over there took a picture. :)
Driving near the Coronado Bridge flashed the memories of Anna being in Coronado and searching for Burke.
We wanted to go to the Sea Cliffs but didn't get a chance to go, there happened to be a big surprise waiting for me at the end of the day and we had a time crunch so had to cut it off by 6pm so Avery's was our last stop. :)
This was an amazing birthday, with your help all your books we had a wonderful day.
So amazing! :)
I couldn't have been more surprised or pleased that a reader went to this much work to bring Anna's books to life. It was the nicest compliment I've ever been paid.
Which was a long way of saying that I have no ideas for today's post here at the League. Instead, please watch this preview for the new Taylor Lautner movie. If it isn't already known, I am an unapologetic Twihard with a sixteen-year-old level of maturity. Therefore, I am all over this awesome-looking movie. ALL OVER IT. RAHHH.
A few nights ago Mr. Kat and I watched Wild Target, a rather silly English film starring Bill Nighy (who played Davy Jones in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies) and Rupert Grint (whom you may know as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films) and Emily Blunt (title role in The Young Victoria).
It was quite silly and reminded me of another couple of goofy hit-man films we'd seen: Assassin in Love, The Whole Nine Yards, You Kill Me, and Grosse Point Blank Obviously we're into sex and violence--especially if it's silly.
Yes, I know.... I like films about people doing people in and making it funny. But I like films about bad guys with a heart of gold, even when it's not funny, too. I loved The Professional, even before the recut--and I swear it's the only thing that keeps me believing Natalie Portman is actually a good actress in spite of the Star Wars fiasco. I even like the films where no one's nice; I've seen The Day of the Jackal and The Eiger Sanction. I've seen every James Bond film ever made in English--including part of the first made-for TV version in black and white. I've watched Hardboiled and The Replacement Killers. I've seen Boondock Saints and Collateral. And of course, RED.
And I have to admit, I have a preference for films that have tough women and quirky senses of humor and... well... guns:
Really what's not to love?
And holy mother of god, I am paying for it.
I feel like a 100-year-old, who has been hit by a truck, and then whose broken, bleeding carcass was then set upon by young, strong boys with sticks.
I feel like poop.
Warm and wrung-out, fresh from the bunghole.
I don't think it helped that, living in Greensburg, I never leave the house or socialize. So even working my tongue in speech was tiring for me, let alone doing so while drinking! With other people! In a bar!
It also didn't help that RT was in California this year. I mean, seriously, California is fucking far away. I can get to London from here in only an hour extra!
So when I got back I was like, "I WILL RECOVER," and I set upon a post-RT recovery regimen.
Now, for those of you manning my tweets, you've probably noticed that the recovery regimen hasn't been going well. It's the end of the semester, and that's something I can't recover from till the last of the papers are graded and the last final is put to bed.
But I seriously thought I was going to die at hot yoga today. I haven't been since the Sunday before last, which is over a week. That's like dog years, in hot yoga. Every day of missing hot yoga is like a month you might as well have spent injecting lard into your veins while refusing to move a single muscle.
So after a week and a half, I was back at square one. And by square one, I mean hot mess of pain and horror.
I nearly passed out twice (for realz) and did think I was going to puke once. At one point I'm lying there, panting, in child's pose and I'm thinking, "Why the fuck am I here?" Then I smelled my sweat, which still faintly reeked of Maker's Mark and fried bar food, and I was like, "Oh, right. That's why I'm here. I have sinned."
And of course, as soon as I left the yoga studio, I felt amazing. I was like, "Yeah! I'm strong! I'm powerful! I only almost barfed once, go ME!" Cuz that's the evil of the yoga. It's like the hair of the dog . . . you forget the pain in a sweep of pleasure that only brings more pain.
Because, yes, I'm currently lying in my slightly damp dressing gown, not showered and mildewing in my own funk, with only my fingertips capable of movement.
At least I could write this blog post.
So what's the moral of this story? It's that I need to get a fucking life, because otherwise another big convention will kill me. I should keep conditioning the body with the running and the yoga, but I have been neglecting my liver.
For it, too, needs a workout.
And with that, I'm going to leave you with my most favoritest recent moment of Zen: The Dick Attack.
You can thank me later.
However, an hour after my plane touched down in Virgina, my father-in-law suffered a terrible stroke and subsequently passed away Monday morning. So obviously, my brain just isn't in a good place for anything particularly snarky or witty right now. The funeral is today, in fact, and I'd like to keep that part of things to myself.
In the meantime, I want to give a shout out to my fellow Leaguer, Jaye Wells, for having one of the top 10 UF sidekicks - as polled by Tor. (Along with yours truly. Go Team Giguhl and Phin!)
Also, a number of Leaguers are in the Bitten By Books 2011 Smackdown (also including yours truly), so go check that out and champion your favorite Leaguer, whoever they are. :)
I needed something worthy of the League. We're Reluctant Adults, after all, and snark is our mother language. It's an art form, really, and it also isn't a proper week at the League without someone mentioning someone else's ta-tas.
Fortunately, Kevin Hearne saved me last night from falling back on a completely mundane topic when he posted this on Twitter:
For those of you who've never heard of Rocky Mountain Oysters, check it out:
Not too scary, right? They look like fried chicken livers, or even those popcorn chicken things they serve at KFC.
But this is where they come from:
Sorry, kids, they're not oysters. They're not even shellfish. They're bull testicles, typically deep-fried and served with some sort of dipping sauce. And now, thanks to my randomly tweeting about an episode of one of the random food shows I watch ("Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," because R.M. Oysters are pretty tame for Andrew Zimmern) you'll get to read about them in one of Kevin's books!
And I suppose turnabout is fair play. Since Dreg City 4 is already turned in, I'll make Kevin a public offer: if DC 5 happens (*fingers crossed*) I will accept a similar challenge to include something really weird in the book. *nods*
But for you, dear League followers (you poor souls), a question inspired by Rocky Mountain Oysters: What's the weirdest thing you've ever put in your mouth?
This year's RT was quiet but still packed with the usual mix of solid business by day and wackiness at night. I'm not feeling particularly witty right now, so rather than expound much on the week, I figured I'd let pictures do most of the talking for me. I give you...
10. Samhain Steampunk Tea Party
Ray guns, wax mustaches, goggle top hats, and finger sandwiches. I really, really wanted to win a hat or ray gun, but alas, luck was not on my side. Probably just as well, seeing as those things would've raised a lot of questions from TSA agents when I returned home.
9. Ellora's Cave Bollywood Party
The EC parties are known for their "male entertainment," but this year they hired professional Bollywood-style dancers to come in and perform. They also gave us finger cymbals on the table and cool coin-fringed veils so that we could be ready in case any impromptu musical numbers broke out on the dance floor. Photo credit: buriedbybooks
8. Heather Osborn
Samhain Publishing editor and longtime pal Heather Osborn (who helped organize the steampunk party) was a constant delight at the con and a life saver at the book fair. For the second year in a row, she jumped in and helped with my signing line by going through and giving out post-it notes with names. Here she is doing the Dance of the Seven Veils, post-Bollywood party.
7. Faery Ball, with Fairy Dog
I've seen many things at the RT Faery Ball. This, however, was the first time I have ever seen a fairy dog there. Astonishingly, this was one of a few other dogs I saw dressed up throughout the con. I hope this means we can expect a pet costume contest next year.
6. Faery Ball, with Andrew Shaffer
Call me old-fashioned, but whenever they can get men on the faery court, it's always a good time. I'm pretty sure Andrew went and filmed a video reboot of "Rock Me Amadeus" after the ball. Photo credit: Victoria Dahl
5. Faery Ball, with Jaye Wells
The Faery Ball had a "Venetian" theme this year, and so masks were used as part of the table centerpieces. Jaye models one of them here, proving she would make an excellent serial killer and/or extra from a Prince video.
4. Mr. Romance Pageant
Yes, no RT is complete without the Mr. Romance Pageant. It never disappoints. This year, contestants had to dress up like Hollywood characters. This Spartan is Len, the winner of the pageant and whose prize includes appearing on a Kensington book cover in the near future. Shadow Heir comes out next year, Kensington. Just sayin. Photo from buriedbybooks
3. Spider-Man in the Bar
No, you read correctly. While heading down to the bar one night, a group of friends and I saw...well, Spider-Man. He was just randomly walking through the hotel. We have no idea why, but hey, this is Los Angeles.
2. Book Fair and Teen Day
The last day of the con is always my favorite because that's when the doors get opened to the public. I signed for 3 hours and got to meet tons of readers, like Jaime here. This year's book fair was followed by an absolutely amazing Teen Day, for fans of YA books. More panels and chances to hang out ensued, and I had a pretty amazing time. Thanks to everyone who came out!
1. Illicit Burger Party
Last but not least! Heather and the Samhain gang tempted us all week with promises of an In-N-Out burger party in their hotel suite on the con's last night. Well, sure enough, when the time came, Heather arrived with 100 burgers, and we descended upon them like the mob of starving animals we were. All was well--until someone called hotel security and complained about the noise from our feasting. A security guard showed up and made all of us leave. He also refused to take any burger bribes. Ah, well. It was good fun while it lasted, and fortunately, the bust didn't come until after we'd all eaten.
Thanks for the fun, RT. See you next year in Chicago.
See if you can follow my thought process:
In any ecosystem, when one natural predator dies out or is diminished, the ecological niche they occupy is taken by another predator. So... with the reduction in the total number of vampires in Void City after the events in Crossed (Void City, book 3), it seemed only natural, that I bring in wererats. Until I started writing it and the wererats didn't show up.
I didn't know why they wouldn't show up. They simply didn't. I had a problem and my conscious brain didn't know it, but my subconscious totally thought I was being a moron. My subconscious was all about the chupacabra. I caught myself googling them and complaining about how much cooler they could be... and then going back to trying to shoehorn wererats in book 4.
When I finally tried putting them in, it was obvious they'd been the right creature all along. Vampires drink blood. Chupacabras drink blood. Wererats don't drink blood... Of course then I had to think of ways to make chupacabras cooler. After all, these things were going to go toe to toe with Greta (my female vampire uber killer and daughter of the main character). That's when I stumbled on other funky ideas like mobbing behavior and how, in the news, whenever they kill a "chupacabra" it's always revealed to have been nothing more than a parasite infected coyote or similarly mange-ridden animal.
After that, it got even easier. A pack of chupacabra aren't a pack, they're a plague (like rats) and they don't have Alphas, they have Prime Contagions and... what if they can infect humans and turn them into chupacabras with the quills that run down their backs and tails? And... And.. And...
In other words, a floodgate of data opened up about why these monsters are actually quite scary and so, when Greta meets them (instead of the wererats she was originally going to uncover) it makes more sense. Here's an unedited excerpt from Greta's POV:
Seven curious creatures sniffed around the edge of the hotel yipping to each other in a series of hisses and barks, that might have been a language. Cracked grey skin hung from their muscular forms, with patches of fur turned greenish-gray by the presence of what smelled like moss or lichen. A ridge of tuberous spines, larger and thicker than, but similar in principle to, a porcupine's ran down their backs growing longer and sharper at the end of their kangaroo-like tails. Broad boar-like muzzles ruined the canine-cast of their muzzles and dark black forked tongues that tasted the air. Claws tipped the fingers of their very prehensile looking hands, but even bigger talons curved raptor-like at the ends of each massively splayed-digited hind paw.
Their scent, equal parts: sulfur, iguana, and dog... with a hint of lime, rolled about my nostrils, catalogued, not to be forgotten. The stink of human fear coated the air, too, but not in equal measure.
"Look how they herd that hooker and her john," I elbowed Evelyn. "They aren't bad. Watch how the big one is deliberately leaving an opening for one of the two to bolt."
"That's on purpose?"
"Sure." I stood. "They could tear the two of them to pieces, but they're careful. I think I like."
The hooker, a bedraggled blonde in hot pants opened her mouth to scream, but when she did, the creatures hissed, tongues vibrating and extended. Her face twisted in confusion and she tried to scream louder, but nothing made it to my ears except the hissing. "Noise cancellation." I stepped up onto the steel rail and leaned out for a better vantage. "How cool is that? I didn't know chupacabra could do that?"
Have you ever run into a point like that in your writing (or reading) where the scenes could be fixed by just putting the right monsters in it? What are you favorite underused monsters?
(Note: I should point of that the not only is that excerpt a clip from an as yet unpublished novel and is copyright 2011 Jeremy F. Lewis, but that there are other FREE samples of my fiction over PocketAfterDark.com .... a free short story about Vampires and Chocolate and another vignette of Eric and Greta at the beach) While you're over there, you could even vote for Void City as your favorite Urban Fantasy city.
Yes. This is the question I ask myself each and every time I get a new contract.
So agent hashes out da moolah and then…
|Out May 3!|
O' course, once I lose me cherry on May 3, Del Rey is going to publish me twice more this year—HEXED comes out on June 7 and HAMMERED on July 5. It's the same sort of release schedule that Del Rey did with Stacia Kane's Downside books last year. I think I read somewhere on Stacia's blog that it was kinda stressful (though I might be imagining that). Whether I imagined it or not, I'm starting to get an inkling that it's going to be a pretty intense three months, but mostly I'm just excited right now.
If you'd like to get some Sneak Peekage for FREE (it's a try before you buy kinda deal), then you can go to Suvudu on Friday, April 8, for a continuing feature they run there called 50-Page Fridays. There, from the comfort of your own browser, you can read the first 50 pages (or so) of HOUNDED.
If you can't wait until the 8th and you'd rather have a peek that's really more like the voice of melted chocolate in your ears, you can click here for a five-minute sample from the audiobook of HOUNDED, read by Luke Daniels. He starts on page one and gets you all the way to the bottom of, ah...page three. It's a really more of a delicious flash than a peek.
I'll pick a winner at random after I return from RT. :)
Congrats, Donna! I'll email you soon for details, and mail you a copy of Master of None.
And now... here's how everybody wins! If you're interested in my djinn series, you can read ALL of Master of None online for free at Pocket After Dark, all this month. All you have to do is join the PAD community (which is also free! Everybody loves free...).
Go here to check it out!
You can also read the first two chapters of Master and Apprentice (that's one more chapter than I have on my website. Exciting!).
Not enough free stuff for you? Well, okay. Because I love you, I've got another free read for you coming up.
I have an alter ego slithering around under the name S. W. Vaughn. Some folks believe S. W. is a guy (according to Amazon reviews). Some think S. W. is a psychopath writing from prison. This may be because my alter ego writes ultra-violent fiction, whether it's urban fantasy, erotica or thrillers.
S. W. Vaughn currently has 4 out of 5 books in a thriller series available through Lyrical Press. The House Phoenix series is an epic saga of underground street fighting, drug lords, prostitution, Japanese gangsters, transvestites and crooked cops. And starting this Tuesday, April 5, the first book in this series, BROKEN ANGEL, will be available FREE from Amazon for the Kindle (and possibly free in any ebook format direct from the publisher -- I'll update this post when I know that for sure). **Change of plans here -- see note at the end of the post :-(
If you don't have a Kindle, and you want this book free anyway, email me at email@example.com starting this Tuesday and I'll send you a PDF.
But you should download a copy from Amazon anyway. Because I want to give this book away to a million people, and if Amazon kicks it up toward the top of their lists, more folks will see it.
So, there you go! Free stuff. Happy I-just-luv-ya day... and happy reading! -Sonya
**ETA: Apparently, Amazon does not allow you to change the price of a listing to "Free" or "$0.00" -- like nearly everything Amazon does, there is some secret mystical formula they use to decide which books to offer free, and they ain't letting me in on it, despite numerous e-mails and phone calls.
So, to anyone who's read this post, or is checking it out for the first time: Want BROKEN ANGEL free? Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll send you a copy. That's how much I want you to be able to have it. I will manually become a free bookstore, without Amazon's support or distribution.
Take that, Amazon!!
ETA #2: Broken Angel is now available for free on Smashwords! http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/51526