Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We Got Some Nominees Up in Here!

It's been a banner month for the League of Reluctant Adults.

Romantic Times posted their Reviewers' Choice Award nominees. Dudes, the League scored a bunch of nominations!

Best UF Protagonist:
Nicole Peeler's TEMPEST'S LEGACY
Jeanne C. Stein's CROSSROADS

Shapeshifter Romance:
Michele Bardsley's MUST LOVE LYCANS

Paranormal Romance:
Michele Bardsley's NEVER AGAIN

Congratulations to all the nominees, both Leaguers and non-Leaguers alike. For the complete list of nominations, check out the Romantic Times site.

Also, as some of you know, the Goodreads Choice awards is also going on. Kevin Hearne's HOUNDED made it to the semi-final round. Richelle Mead's SUCCUBUS REVEALED made made it to the final round of the Best Paranormal Fantasy novels of 2011.

But this is only a hint of things to come. I predict that 2012 will be the year the League finally achieves our goal of total world domination. Send in your tributes and tithes now!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow White and the Competition

It seems like when Hollywood comes up with a big idea, more than one studio wants in on the action. The latest "competing" movies seem to be the Snow White movies. Two of 'em. One dark and gritty (Snow White and the Huntsman), the other more of a parody (Mirror, Mirror).

Competing evil queens: Charlize Theron vs. Julia Roberts. (Frankly, I think Ms. Theron easily edges Ms. Roberts out in the "fairest" category).

Competing Snow Whites: Twilight's Kristen Stewart vs. Some Actress I Don't Know.

Between the two of these, and based on the trailers, I'm more interested in Snow White and the Huntsman. However, the director of Mirror, Mirror is responsible for one of my favorite, visually stunning movies of all time, The Cell. So we'll see.

Based on these trailers, which do you think will be the winningest version of Snow White in 2012?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Next?

Soooo... NaNoWriMo is now halfway through. This is my first time. Yes really. I was a NaNoWriMo virgin until this year.


Because I didn't even know there was such a thing until after my first novel was published. And then I found that I was usually in the revision process when everyone else was diving into their NoWri and heading for the 50,000 word finish line, recorded in diligent little blog posts and complaining. This was before Twitter and G+ of course. And maybe even before FaceBook. Yes, it's been such a short time and so much has happened....

What hasn't changed is this: it's still a process which results in (we hope) 50,000 words of story recorded for whatever posterity you choose to reference. Well, it might be more if you've been extra busy and very very clever, not to mention a fast typist with a lot of time on your hands. (And if you are any of these, I hate you.) In A Month! (Yeah, That's a lot in not a lot of time and don't believe anyone who says otherwise.)

So now you look at your opus and you may think one of two things (right after "Thank Dog that's over" and "Go me!" --unless you missed the goal, in which case you're probably thinking that everyone else you know who capped the NaNoWriMo challenge is a cheating, rotten, untalented, goat-molesting, computer-shagging speed typist and a booger head. But I digress!) Here's the two things you may be thinking:

1) I have a novel full of awesome! I'm awesome! In fact, everything's simply wiggly-ducky-tail, kitty-whiskers, puppy-kisses, totally, fickin awesome right now! Wheeee! I'm going to get this baby published!
2) I have 50,000 words of crap. Where can I hide it?

Either way, the answer is: stop. Right now.

See, whether your NoWri is fabulous 50K or craptacular 20K (or a combination of the two), the first thing to do is realize that is is not a novel. Oh I hear some of you aspiring writers winding up the whine-o-matic about how I'm a published writer and I'm a snob and I just want to keep you down. But that's not it (well, maybe it is, but I'm sticking to my original story here!) What you have is a start. And at 50K it's a damned good start. So why stop now? There is so much more to do! (Oh, I know that sounds so mean after all you've done, but it's true!)

Yup, even if you choose to take your NoWri to the wonderland that is electronic self-publishing, you probably should do something to it first. Like... revise it. Spell check at the very least. Possibly--oh I don't know.... Finish it? Get someone else to read it before you format it for Amazon or Smashwords.

Some of you are now thinking "but it's wonderful the way it is" and I say that's the celebratory drinks talking. And the rest are thinking "Into the truck with you, Manuscript-beast!") No matter who you are, now is the time to rest a bit and get another perspective before you charge off to the next phase in your NoWri Adventure (or attempt to hide the body.)

I know some people refer to December as National Novel Revision Month and that works for some people. For others it may be National Novel FINISHING month (it probably will be for me.) Even if the NoWri is kind of smelly and broken, don't just shove it under the bed and pretend it didn't happen. There's something there. OK, so a lot of it will be crap--rough drafts are by definition craptacular and often even shittastic. A few reach the pinnacle of fucktabulous and that's really saying something in the "this stinks" department. And yet... things still get published. (I know from personal experience that wreck-alicious rough drafts--or "Draft Zero" as some say--can still turn into good books; just ask my editor. Hell ask any editor.)

Because the writer doesn't just throw it out to the public at the tender age of 50K and one month. They coddle it a little, feed it a little, pretty it up and take it out for lunch....

And then they beat the ever-loving poo out of it! They get their friends to poke it with sticks and they call it names and they lock it in the closet for a week before they look at it again.

And then they go back to work and make a better version. A complete version. A shiny, happy, lovely version. With all its subplolts intact, and its characters rounded, its plot clean and its prose sparkly--or at least not so rough and misspelled.

And then they dress it up pretty and take it out to meet the Editor....

And thus are novels born. Some won't make it. Some won't try. Some are just exercises and learning experiences and that's fine too--but you won't learn if you don't look at what you did. And there will be a few that, even after the extra polish, are still just turds. But don't make that decision in the sweat of crossing the finish line. Take a moment to savor the victory, or spit out the bitterness of defeat....

Then consider your own personal goal in having participated in NaNoWriMo: what did you want to get out of it? Did you just want to try to write that much in a month? Did you want to write a specific story? Did you want just to beat your writing chops into shape a bit? Did you want to get a good start on a longer work? (Or in my case, finish one.)

Did you get that?

That is what is important. Not 50,000 words, not "a novel" instead of short stories or poems, not how well or how much anyone else did, not what your publisher will think--or if you can get one. Did you meet your goal? Are you happier with yourself as a writer now that November is over?

These are the things you take away from NaNoWriMo. And perhaps more.

While you're deciding what to do next, here are some places to think more about NaNoWriMo and what to do in December:

Jim C. Hines's blog on NaNoWriMo (gotta love Jim!)
Beth Cato's After NaNo post at Women On Writing
Holly Lisle's post on How to Revise Your Novel

Me, I'm going to finish this beast and get it off to the editor. Before she sets the hounds on me....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dr. Peeler's Five Laws of Nanowrimo!

Howdy folks! I'm doing Nanowrimo this year, and I thought I'd share my thoughts on how to engage with National Novel Writing Month successfully.

"But you haven't even finished successfully, Dr Peeler," readers may be thinking. "You are only halfway done!"

This is true. But what I've noticed these first two weeks is that Nanowrimo is mostly what writers do, when they're on deadline. A few thousand words a day is not much for us, especially if we write genre fiction. On Twitter, writers with contracts for 3-4 books a year (a pretty standard number for those who actually make a living writing) often talk about writing five thousand or more words per day.

And that's partly why I like Nanowrimo as a learning experience for aspiring writers. It's nice to think of writing as this wonderful enterprise where one sits in a puddle of sun, scribbling and laughing and eating bonbons. The truth is much uglier, oftentimes a bit smellier, and definitely involves other physical reactions than laughing, dread being at the top of my own list.

So here's how I get through my novels, and here's what is making Nanowrimo actually quite easy for me. I know how obnoxious that sounds, but I want everyone who wants to be a writer to think about what I'm saying. Think of me sweating, and swearing, and spending mornings, unshowered in my pajamas, frantically typing while wondering how I'm ever going to get through it all.

That's called being a writer.

And here's my top five tips on how to do it:

1) PLAN.

I don't care how you plan. I don't care if you outline (although that's my method), or storyboard, or write on cocktail napkins or tattoo your inner thighs with random plot points.

BUT YOU MUST PLAN. Writing an actual manuscript is not about vomiting out great ideas. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Furthermore, there are no original great ideas. What there is, however, is the possibility of heartfelt execution that brings something nuanced to those tropes we've been battering about ever since humans started scrawling on the walls of their caves. So plot! Think about what you're doing! Think about how you will do it! And write something down, on something, somewhere.


You know yourself. No one else does. People will say, "Oh, you HAVE to write in the morning," or, "I get all my best work done at night." I don't care if you do your best work on the toilet, wearing a tea cozy on your head. If that's what works for you, that's what works for you.

That said, you do want to spend a little time thinking through your schedule. There will be days that you can't write, so you might have to make up for those days over that weekend, or the next day. There will be days that you definitely can't write in the morning. But what if you do your best writing in the morning? Maybe that's a situation in which you don't write one day, but get ahead on any other work or chores using that time, and then write the next day, knowing you have all morning. So basically, if #1 is Plan Your Novel, #2 is Attempt to Plan Your Life. Obviously, that's easier said than done, but do make an effort to figure out what works for you and how you can achieve your optimum writing time. Then, constantly reassess as things change.


The great thing about Nanowrimo is that it introduces people to other writers in their area. Reach out to them! Attend Write-Ins if you can. If you're someone who does actually live in the middle of nowhere, and there really isn't anyone else around, reach out to your family. Someone's always working on something--taxes, PTA posters, whatever. Tell them you'd love to set aside some "working time" at a cafe, or your house, or their house, or in the middle of a stream. It doesn't matter. What matters is not feeling so alone in this endeavor. And this idea of reaching out is actually a really important part of writing, for all of us. Writing can be very solitary, and so Nanowrimo helps facilitate what other writers have to do on their own--finding people who commiserate.


I think that, for a lot of people, the idea of writing 50,000 words is hugely daunting. No matter how it's written, 50,000 (fifty thousand, 50k, etc) is a huge number.

That said, keep in mind that 50,000 words isn't even a "real" novel. It's a novella, at best. I'm not saying that to be a jerk, I'm saying that to remind everyone that 50k is an arbitrary number.

So that's why we shouldn't focus on the fifty. Instead, focus on more manageable goals. Focus on daily word counts, or on weekly word counts. Focus on the quarter-mark and the halfway mark. We should also reward ourselves at each milestone. Because any words written at all is a coup. Which leads me to....


I don't care if you wrote 1,000 words, or 49,995. To me, it's not about "winning" Nanowrimo. As an educator, and a professor of creative writing, I think that attempting Nanowrimo can teach people so much about themselves and their real relationship to writing. The key is to self-assess, no matter how many words one accomplished. Maybe someone "wins" Nanowrimo, but they hated every minute of it, and they hate what they wrote. Such a person should think about whether he or she really wants to be a writer. Conversely, maybe someone only wrote 20,000 words this month. But if, upon assessing her progress, that person realizes that she loved every minute of the process, and she loves her book, and that 20,000 words x 5 months=100,000 words=one whole novel, I would consider such a result a much greater reward than a "winner" icon.

So those are my five rules for Nanowrimo. A sixth might be NOT to fall into the trap of snacking while writing, as down that road lies obesity, but that's another rule for another day. ;-)

If you want to add me as your Nano buddy, I'm NicolePeeler. To all, good luck with writing! And keep on trucking!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing for Myself

One of the interesting things about being published is that your words aren't always your own. Or your time, really. Before I had a contract I could write whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Silly stories, or smutty bits of fanfic, huge posts in online role-playing games - the writing was "just for fun." Except when I got serious and started pushing toward what I needed to do for publication.

And the thing is, I got my contract very quickly. A Brush of Darkness was my first real attempt at getting published (though I hadn't really meant it to be - it was supposed to be my "learner" book. Fate is odd that way, I suppose.)

But one of the trade-offs to that is that I don't have a trunk full of additional manuscripts I can pull from. I'm writing as I go - which means contracted work comes first, even if I get struck with inspiration for something else. And clearly, every author is different. I'm a slow writer and I've got all that "Real Job" stuff to deal with, along with a couple of sproglets. So my writing time is limited...and as much as I might like to take off with one of these fabulous ideas that hits me throughout the day, I can't really justify it when I've got a deadline hanging over my head. (At least not much - sometimes I do write some things down - I've got an idea notebook I keep with me for these sorts of things. As long as I write it down, I can come back to it.)

Some days, it's hard to stay focused, particularly when the new ideas start knocking and demanding to know when it will be *their* time.

In an effort to soothe the "wanna-be ideas", I am going to attempt a small pet project in the upcoming months that I'm pretty excited about, namely in the form of a web-comic. It's strictly for fun at this point, but since I've always wanted to try my hand at writing graphic novels, it should be a good way to get my feet wet.  My artist (Aimo) is actually a licensed sketch-card artist for Marvel and LucasArts, and if you're at all familiar with Bioware's Dragon Age or Mass Effect fandoms, you might have seen her work in the form of numerous character sketch cards and fan-comics.

We'll be doing an original story, though I'm not sure how many issues at this point. (Even when I think small,  the story-arcs get big sometimes.) I'll post more details as we get closer to going live- Spring 2012 is our current aim. (We'll be posting it over at - not linking yet because it's still in development, but thought I'd throw it out there as a heads-up.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

To err is who man

We all make typos. There's no getting around it. If you're human and type a lot, you will make typos. That's what beta readers and editors are for. Plus, in this day and age, you've always got a spellchecker handy to flag your mistakes for you. It's kind of hard to let a typo slide if Microsoft Word tells you in red that you spelled something wrong.

Unless, of course, your typo isn't misspelled. This is a problem I have all the time. When I'm typing quickly, I substitute words that sound like the word I intended to type. It's like my brain is hooked on phonics. And I don't mean I have a homonym problem. I know when to use they're and their, cast and caste, etc. No, I substitute words that sound *like* the word I intended--but not exactly like it. Like so:

I arrived at seven on the doubt.

Yeah. I probably don't need to tell you that I intended to use "dot" there. This one's obvious too:

Our leaves depended on it.

That doesn't make sense, unless perhaps it's spoken by some harried gardener who needs to get a yard cleaned up ASAP. And seriously--I do these ALL THE TIME. I'm currently going over the second Bloodlines book and am in awe of all the sounds-alike substitutions I did while typing the first draft. None, however, are as magnificent as this one:

I found the candles--atrocious air freshening ones that smelled like fake pain.

This was supposed to be "fake pine," but man, I'm not going to lie. Fake pain--whatever it smells like--sounds awesome. Does it smell like Teen Spirit? Can I find a way to spin this into money-making merchandise with fake pain scented candles or cologne? That typo is so good, I kind of want to leave it in there.

Am I the only one who does this kind of thing? Is there a name for it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best Names Ever

So I'm watching American Horror Story, and I have to say, the show has become addictive. It's unflinchingly dark, and extremely violent. I absolutely love what the writers are doing with the characters of Violet and Tate. And here's something that I thought was tres cool indeed:

Tate + Violet

Taint + Violent

See that? Isn't that AWESOME???

What other couple names from books, television shows, plays or movies can you think of are either intentionally or accidentally awesome plays on words?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Story Muse

In one of the more haunting issues of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman—#17 to be exact—there is a character named Richard Madoc who becomes cursed with more stories than he can possibly write down. Instead of facing writer’s block, he’s dealing with writer’s diarrhea, and he goes quite batshit as a result. It’s a fabulous issue, and completely terrifying in many respects to any author. I recommend it—as I recommend that whole series.

I have not yet achieved Richard Madoc’s level of batshit. But it does seem that I’m getting more ideas for stories than should be allowed. I’ve started several different ones in the past couple of weeks, all of them shiny and new, when I should be working on the book that’s under contract. I’ve been working on it too, of course—but the ideas keep coming. Since I’m kind of a slow writer, I get excited by 2-3,000 words per day when that’s pretty meh for most writers. (I tried writing with Nicole Peeler once. That was an exercise in humility. She wrote like 1,500 words in an hour and I only shat out 553. She is super-fly T.N.T. ) So when I wrote 3K the other day I was ecstatic, until I remembered it wasn’t on my novel, but on a short story for which I’d never be paid. Arrrgh!

No. You know what? Wheee! Writing the stories was fun, damn it! And I am still enough of a newb to find all the writing fun. I’m not sure when I’ll find time to finish the stories, since the beat of the deadline drum grows ever louder, but they do serve to help me blow off some steam when I feel temporarily stymied by events in the book. And that, more than anything, is why I refuse to get too upset by getting distracted. When a book is giving you trouble, working on alternate projects always keeps you productive.

There are days, of course, when nothing helps. On those days, there is pie.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Three things I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd need as a novelist

Up until recently, the profession of novelist really hadn’t changed, well, for eons. In fact, until the past decade, it was a pretty backward-looking profession, which was something that made me eager to join it. 

Budding scientists and engineers aspire to do new things, but for most of my youth, I aspired to be like writers who lived decades before me. My picture of success was pretty old fashioned: a stack of books, and I would build that stack by working hard. And my computer was just a souped-up typewriter.

Crystal ball

The last thing I thought I would want or need as a writer was a crystal ball! Who cares about the future? Que sera sera, biotches!   

Hah. That has totally changed. I've never been more obsessed with predicting the future as I am today as a writer of novels. I change my mind every other day about what my priorities should be in this crazy new climate. New and different things are important. Nobody agrees on anything except that things are changing. Will I make a decision today that I will regret bitterly in three years? Never in my life have I more badly wanted a crystal ball!


This, too, is a recent phenomena! In my 20s and 30s, the biggest distractions (beyond the day job) were squirrels and cars out the window, which was totally fine. But now, during pauses for thought or hard spaces in my fiction-writing work, I’m way too aware that there is a party in the next room full of many friends (aka twitter!) or the exciting ding of the email (could be something wonnnnnderful!) I never imagined I would have to enforce periods of detachment from communication with a selection of timers, from the 25/5 minute dealio of FocusBooster to my dashboard timers.

And then, there are the #1K1hr things on twitter, which I’ve begun to really enjoy in certain first drafting modes (though, I rarely go above 500 words. I’m slow). Anyway, that requires a timer, too. 

It’s all very robotic. I feel strangely automated. Like a Borg.

Spreadsheet with numbers

This is the biggest freaker, that I would ever need to track things like numbers on things like spreadsheets. But now that I’m involved in a self-pubbed anthology (Wild & Steamy—currently FREE, by the way) and about to put out another self pubbed novella, I’m suddenly involved in tracking things, gaining various insights that numbers can provide.

I’m learning to use Excel, a program that sat unused, even somewhat disdained, in my Microsoft office folder.

Someday when I'm a more savvy writer, ideally I will track the sales of all my books, the way I see other authors doing. Publishing companies are starting to give authors numbers and data—one of my publishers, Random House, has plans to follow suit, and I think my other pubs—Audible and Samhain—give it pretty readily (note to self: check that!)  but in the meantime, there are bookscan numbers from Amazon, which I never look at, but should. 

I imagine myself someday as that more savvy author applying my new Excel spreadsheet skills to plotting and tracking these numbers against various online activities.  Because, it would help me know how to best spend my promo time. Which translates in to more writing time.


Making sense of things, creating order from chaos, writing stories for people to read, it all still has lots of old fashioned aspects to it. It's just weird how it’s changing so suddenly and rapidly.

I don’t think it’s bad; actually I think it’s healthy when things change and evolve and get influenced from new quarters. Language itself is constantly changing in much the same way. It’s just...weird

What about you? What do you need these days for your various endeavors that you never thought you’d need?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Write naked if you have to!

We've made it to November. Whew! That means it's time for... NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month. If you've got the novel-writing itch, then scratch it with NaNoWriMo.

This year I’m an official participant because I need to finish a work-in-progress. Right now, I’m what is charitably called “in-between-contracts,” which in industry parlance means I got bupkis in terms of book contracts.

This year my publishing credits were limited to a short story in the mystery anthology, You Don’t Have A Clue, and an essay in the collection, An Elevated View--Colorado Writers on Writing.

Since my last contract I’ve been fielding proposals--the first three chapters, an outline, and a synopsis--in hopes of scoring an advance before I have to write the whole manuscript. I got nibbles on three proposals with this caveat: the editors want to see the completed manuscripts. Ugh. So enough pounding my pud, time to finish one story and send it off. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in. Do or die, brothers and sisters.

Last month, the League was frothing at the mouth (we froth well) about Write Agenda and the way they’ve dissed our buddies at Absolute Write Water Cooler, Writer Beware, and John Scalzi at SFWA. So the League smote back with what we do best, snark and more snark. Now those sneaks at Write Agenda have gone and done the unthinkable. They’ve listed four Leaguers as Recommended Authors: Jaye Wells, Kevin Hearne, Nicole Peeler, and myself. What must we do to set these guys right about our true pervie nature and threat to public morals? Post pictures of our League orgies? Then so be it.

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