Monday, February 27, 2012

Special Guest: Cathy Clamp

Happy Monday, Leaguers! Today, Cathy Clamp is here to dish on the latest release she wrote with C. T. Adams under the pen name Cat Adams. THE ISIS COLLAR comes out on March 13. Give her a big League welcome!


So what’s with all the Zombies, anyway?

I know most of your regular League members, but the lovely Jaye Wells was the one to suggest I drop by today to talk about our upcoming release, THE ISIS COLLAR. “Our” meaning myself and C.T. Adams. I’m the Cat. She’s the Adams of Cat Adams. We’ve written a lot of books together, in the Tales of the Sazi and Thrall worlds, along with our new series, The Blood Singer but this one was freaking FUN to write because it’s about ZOMBIES!

First, our heroine Celia Graves is half vampire. Oh, sure, you say, like a thousand other heroines. But Celia is different. She doesn’t really want to be a vampire. She doesn’t want to be a siren (the other part of her heritage) and she really doesn’t like getting involved in all this crazy psycho stuff that keeps happening to her.

Like today, for example. A friend calls and wakes her up from a well-deserved sleep. Her friend is a clairvoyant—lots of those in Celia’s world. But this one, Dottie, is particularly good. She tells Celia that there’s a bomb at a grade school and Celia (and ONLY Celia) has to be the one to get the kids out. Well, right there you know there are problems, because that’s what cops do. That’s what principals do. It’s not what bodyguards-to-the-stars do.

Except, well . . . it’s Dottie. She’s over eighty and can be crotchety when she sees the future. So Celia goes. As you might guess, the principal says no, you can’t take the kids out. The cops say no. There’s no hint of any bomb. They escort her out. And then, naturally, is when all the crazy psycho stuff starts to happen. A tripwire spell goes off when she crosses over the threshhold. It slows time inside the building. If there really is a bomb, there’ll be maximum collateral damage because nobody can get away. Celia manages to get the authorities notified (you’ll love how!) and gets the kids out. Well, almost all of them anyway. She gets caught in the bomb blast with the last kid and has to dive out the window. Those reinforced windows are tough on the clothes and skin!

One of the benefits of being part vampire is you heal quick. Until this time, of course, when the crazy psycho stuff keeps happening. Not only does Celia not heal, she keeps getting worse. A bad limp, a nasty headache and growing bruises on her legs that none of the doctors can diagnose.

Do you know how difficult it is for doctors to diagnose things that are really old, or really rare? A hundred years ago, a halfway decent doctor could diagnose measles and mumps and shingles because they happened every day. But they don’t anymore, so the symptoms are tougher to figure out. A decent doctor in Panama could pick out a case of malaria at a hundred paces. An African doctor can spot a case of Ebola without hardly trying. But those sorts of diseases don’t really happen much in southern California. Not in today’s world, or Celia’s world. So nobody figures out that what she has is a rare disease related to leprosy that turns people into zombies, until it’s too late to help some of the people who were caught in the school.

What happens next and how does she figure it out? Well, that’s why you’ll need to pick up the book and read it, silly! But the FBI is involved, as is the Center for Disease Control, plus mages and demonic entities and lots of other cool stuff! Here, let me give you a taste of what you have in store:


I shook my head. “My leg’s been bothering me since the bomb in the school.”

Crap. I shouldn’t have said that. I could tell from his reaction that he didn’t know what I was talking about. How could he? I doubt it had made the papers back east. His eyes went wide, then narrowed suspiciously. “Bomb? School? What the hell, Celia.” He looked at my leg and sucked in a sharp breath. “What attacked you? That looks bad. Have you had a healer look at it?”

I looked down but only saw the denim of my jeans. “I’ve been to doctors and witch doctors. None of them can figure it out. What are you seeing that they haven’t? The latest one thinks there’s a spell on me but I don’t know if they’re connected.”

He knelt down next to my leg, moving one of the chairs out of the way in order to put both hands on my calf. Dr. Sloan walked in the door just then, followed by Rizzoli. His brows rose so high it looked like his bushy eyebrows were a toupee that I felt I had to explain. “It’s not what it looks like.”

Bruno didn’t even look up. “This is bad, Celie. I mean like killing you bad. What is this?”

“That’s a very good question, Mr. DeLuca,” Rizzoli interjected. “What do you think it is? None of our Bureau people have a clue.”

“Joh . . . Creede is working to unravel whatever’s attacking my aura around my head. Is the problem with the leg the same thing?”

Bruno shook his head. “I don’t know anything about auras. Not my specialty. But this is attacking your flesh. That I’m good at. It could well be the same. I’d have to compare notes with . . . John.”

“Hey, a witch with the Bureau, Gail Jones, said top mages like you can identify the caster. Any idea who to talk to about this mess?”

He looked at me, his eyes both surprised and suspicious. “This is a spell? Wow. I pegged it as some sort of magical bacterium. It doesn’t feel like a spell at all.”

“Magical bacteria?”

Dr. Sloan nodded. “Oh, yes. The Center for Disease Control doesn’t talk about it much, especially not in public, but there is a magical branch of the organization for viruses that mutate and bacteria that can be magically transmitted to create plagues, changing from a magical event to something that can affect more than the original target.”

“Wow. That’s seriously scary. But one’s physiology and the other is . . . well, magic.”

Bruno let out an odd chuckle. “Magic is part of my physiology, Celie. If I caught something that backfired from a spell, it’s possible I could pass it on to family members. Even human ones. After that . . . well, it could take off. Like this has.” He motioned to my leg. “I think we need to call in the Center for Magical Disease Control to take a look at you. In fact, I’d like to look at your skin myself.”

I couldn’t help but smirk. “I’ll just bet you would.”

He didn’t smile in return and that made my stomach hurt. “I’ve got an ugly suspicion. But first I need to put you in a quarantine casting circle.” He looked at Dr. Sloan. “Could we use the lab for this? We might need the restraints.”

Suddenly I was less than excited about this idea. “What exactly do you think I’m going to do, Bruno?”

He paused and his face was set in stone to keep from showing me what he was really feeling. When he finally spoke it chilled my blood.

“Scream, Celia. If I’m right, I think you’re going to scream.”


If you’re intrigued (and you know you are) go out and buy THE ISIS COLLAR by Cat Adams right away! And if you’ve never heard of Celia Graves’ earlier adventures in BLOOD SONG, SIREN SONG and DEMON SONG, they’re on sale until the release of ISIS! It’s a really good sale, too: only $2.99 for a Kindle download. Heck, that’s three for the price of one! And if you’re a print fanatic, they’re also on sale at Amazon on a 4-for-3 special. But lots of other retailers have them on sale too, so go to our publisher’s website, scroll all the way to the bottom and choose your favorite store.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whatcha, Whatcha, Whatcha Want?

Publishing wonks and mouthy authors often talk about what's the next big thing in fiction. What will be the new vampire?!? Is chick lit dead and what will replace it? Amish space opera will be the next big thing!

It's exhausting. And I've noticed it's not often that we take the time to ask you, the reader, what you want.

Well, today's your lucky day. Let us know what kind of stories you want to see. Since most of us are paranormal romance or UF authors, we'd love to hear what you'd love to see more of int hose genres, but don't feel limited by genre. What kind of stories are you looking for and not finding right now?

We just ask that you please be respectful because The League is not about bashing the work of our colleagues.

Annnnd go!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Contractual Differences

Warning: Very Long Post!

In the past few weeks and over the last couple of years I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints from writers that basically boil down to “I’m being screwed by a contract clause.” And this isn’t just from new authors who had no prior experience with publishing contracts, but also from experienced authors making the jump to independent e-book publication, boutique/small press and other scale/medium shifts. Many of you may be aware of problems with Dorchester publishing about two years ago in which they dropped print publication and went to electronic only, or instances of Kindle price drops that took authors by surprise, and the recent news that L. J. Smith has been ousted from her long-running bestseller series The Vampire Diaries by the enforcement of her work-for-hire contract. All of these cases and a lot more are the result of one party or the other misunderstanding, not reading, or mis-interpreting/abusing a clause in their publication contract. Lest you become the next poor bastard in line, here are some points for all writers to consider when signing contracts.

There are two types of publication contract in the storytelling-for-profit world: license of rights; and work-for-hire. They are not the same, though the contracts may have clauses in common and the differences can therefor be confusing. If you are a self-published author—and this includes all writers publishing directly and exclusively to e-book via Amazon, Smashwords, B&N or whatever—you are not under a publication contract, because you are the publisher; rather your contracts are for distribution, display, sale, and promotion (and if you are selling physical books, you also contracted and paid for the print and bindery work and probably the editorial and proof reading yourself), which are part of the contract publishing process, but are not, in fact, “publishing.” This is not a slam, but a clarification of the difference between contract (“traditional” or “legacy”) publishing and self-publishing. However, a lot of the pitfalls of contracts still apply to self-publishing authors.

I’ll start with a clarification of terms.

License of rights is the contract type that the majority of “traditional” authors operate under: the writer/creator owns every aspect of the intellectual property that they made (the story, the characters, the situation, the film rights, the print rights, the e-book rights, the audio-book rights, etc.) and they merely give other people limited, legal permission (“grant a license of rights”) to do specific things with that IP in exchange for money or other valuable considerations. The writer controls and retains all the other rights that weren’t specifically or inclusively licensed in that contract. When the contract comes to an end, the licensed rights revert to the author and they continue doing whatever they like with them. (The self-published author also retains all their rights, but they do not license them to anyone—they do the job themselves or contract someone to do it for them without giving anyone a license to exercise their rights for them—a fine, but important distinction.)

Work-for-hire is usually solicited by the publisher/distributor/packager/studio/whatever and the writer does not own anything, but works to a specific requirement in exchange for an agreed upon amount of money. The intellectual property is created for the company, under contract, and all the rights are theirs; the writer is merely a contractor who walks away with money in their pocket once the terms are fulfilled and they retain no rights to the work. (This is the polar opposite of self-publication.)

Now onto the contracts themselves....

First off, contracts bind both parties. Pay attention to the balance of the contract and what you get in exchange for what you give. The publisher/agency/distributor/press/Amazon always has protection clauses if you fail to fulfill, or otherwise break, the contract, but there should be clauses that give you recourse if they fail or break, as well. The terms of failure or breakage for both parties need to be clearly spelled out. For instance, if the press goes out of business while the contract is still in effect, what happens to your story? Do you get your rights back? There are a lot of other balance of power issues to consider too: How long is the term of the license? If this is a work-for-hire, can you mention it on your resume or is it “ghost work” which can’t be mentioned? There should also be a clear description of who’s responsible for what, like promotion or editorial services. If it seems the publisher/distributor/agent is getting the better deal, they probably are—and at the moment most publishing contracts favor the publisher/distributor/agent over the writer because they are the party in lowest supply but high demand, which gives them more power than you—but they shouldn’t be abusive about it. You have more options now than ever before and you don’t have to take a bad deal just to get your book out. (There is always self-publishing, but read on, first.)

Regardless of which type of publication you’re pursuing, you don’t have to have an agent, but you do have to have someone knowledgeable to vet—and in some cases negotiate—your contract before you sign it. Publishing contracts are notorious for clauses that seem straightforward, but aren’t, and for language that seems like plain English, but is actually specialized business terms, as well as the sort of linguistic pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain handwaving and smoke that misdirects from clauses to which you should be paying a lot more attention. If you don’t have an agent, a publication or media contract lawyer will be your best bet, a general contract lawyer the next best. They aren’t the cheapest folks in the world, but most can power-read through a contract in less than one $200/hour hour and tell you what it really means and where you should ask for a modification, clarification or outright removal of a term/clause. They can also interpret industry specific terms like “work for hire,” “display rights,” “electronic deposit,” “elevator,” “discount rate,” or “on acceptance,” which aren’t quite what they sound like. If you just can’t afford a lawyer—I know a lot of us can’t because... well.. we’re writers—at least reach out to other, more experienced writers in your genre*. Every professional writer in the business has been—or will be—bitten in the backside by the unexpectedly sharp fang of a contract clause sometime in their career, so you’re not alone and there’s no shame in asking for or hiring help. Don’t be a pain in the ass about it, ask politely, get more than one opinion from diverse sources, and you’ll do well—or at least better than a lot of people.

Don’t sign anything until you are utterly sure what you’re getting into! No one means to be a shark, but sometimes they just can’t help themselves--these are corporations after all (it’s in their nature, as the scorpion said the the frog) not people--and you don’t want to be the chum. Especially now when the publishing industry is in a howling hullabaloo, it’s easy to feel pressured or desperate or confused and to find yourself on the short and pointy end of the contractual stick as a result. Take a breath, be calm, pay attention, and look ahead—contracts can be in force for years, so don’t sign in haste to repent at leisure.

Read every single word—no skipping over “the boring bits” or the repetitions—in the proposed contract. Sounds obvious but a lot of people blip past the clauses that seem the same as a previous one after a while and this can bite you in the ass very hard. Just because it looks the same on first glance, doesn’t mean it is the same—one word or number changed, one plural rather than the singular, one proper noun rather than a general noun can make a huge difference in what’s going to happen once the contract is in action. Also, don’t assume you understand a term and then skip over the explanation of how it will be applied or under what circumstances—or, worse, don’t read the definition of terms on the last page. Apparently-obvious words like “discount,” “reserve,” “net,” and “remainder,” have specific meanings and impact and can cause you considerable distress. Ditto terms like “damage to sales” or “at publisher’s/distributor’s/licensee’s discretion,” which look a little scary can be very scary in action. Discretion sounds like such a nice word, doesn’t it? Sounds like we’re going to be discreet and careful, right? Nope. What it means is “we get to do what we want when we want to and you can’t stop us—or force us to do it if we’re not in the mood.” That is one tricky little word—so keep a sharp eye on any word or term that might not mean what you think it means and don’t let them slip past because the contract was long and boring to read.

Don’t rely on friendship to save your ass. The contract may be offered by your absolute bestest buddy in the business and you trust them, but you can’t rely on your buddy still being in charge when ugly contract clauses come into play. They have no more choice about enforcing those clauses than you do since contracts bind both parties. So if the contract or a clause in it gives you the heebie-jeebies, ignore your friend’s assurance that “that never happens;” the clause wouldn’t exist if the situation was impossible and “never happens.” No matter how unlikely, if it happens to you, you’ll still be screwed. Negotiate a change you can live with if (gods forbid) the situation at issue does come to pass, or don’t sign. I’m serious. No matter how badly you want it, some things aren’t worth selling your dignity, your baby, or your soul for.

Don’t get greedy. Just because someone is offering you 70% royalties on your e-book, or a six-figure advance for your YA Epic Fantasy trilogy that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a great deal. Look hard at the terms—no matter whether the contract is licensed, work-for-hire or self-publishing. What are you really giving up to get that nice chunk of money? What hoops do you have to jump? Is it worth it? How long will it take before you get all (or promised installments) of the money? Do you have to put up any money yourself? Or bear costs like cover design, paying for the proofreader, promotion, advertising, or required travel on your own? Will you be unable to sell other stories to other publishers—or to self-publish—while this contract is in effect? How much control do you retain over the rights or the packaging or the sale price? Take for instance Amazon’s Kindle contracts: you have an option of taking a 35% royalty or a 70% royalty. Sounds like a no-brainer—who’s going to opt for less money, right? But look at the clause that allows Amazon to reset your price at their discretion. What did I just say about discretion? Yup, that means that Amazon can change your price whenever they want, to whatever they want, and keep it there for as long as they want. So without any warning or permission, you’re suddenly not making 70% of $2.99, but 70% of $0.99—oh wait... when the price is set below $2.99 you don’t get 70% anymore: you get 35%. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Because you signed the contract that exchanged price control for profit percentage—control versus money. Which do you want? Sign the contract that offers you the clauses you’re most comfortable with in the longest term.

Always consider the worst-case scenario. Remember what I said about the “it never happens” clauses? Every time you see one, stop and think about what the impact on you will be if that terrible thing comes to happen. And if you aren’t really sure what that funky clause is all about, ask! For instance, discount** and remainder*** clauses are often ignored until the writer gets pinched by them, because they think the situation can’t happen—no publisher who’s paying for your work would just throw your book away or sell it at a loss like it was an unwanted roll of toilet paper... would they? But publishers, retailers, and distributors do both these things regularly to protect their longer-term business investments and cut losses and while you often can’t do anything about it in the contract, you can at least understand what these clauses do, what circumstances bring them into play, and how you can prepare to counter them or ride out the storm.

Don't short-sell your future. Most traditional publication contracts include a "first refusal" or "next project" clause and various clauses about when and how your rights revert to you. First refusal gives the publisher the exclusive right to look at and offer for your next project of a certain type, length, or relationship to the current contract and you can't legally show it to anyone else unless and until the first publisher rejects it. Basically this locks you into that publisher in some way until they decide they aren't interested in you anymore. On the one hand, you have the security of knowing the publisher will at least take a look at and probably make some kind of offer for the next manuscript, but if the clause is overly broad it can tie you to that publisher for a long time. If your relationship with them is going sour, you won't want that and neither will they, but... well... you're both bound to it. The rights reversion and/or "out of print" clauses are usually pretty straightforward with respect to print books, but with the excitement over e-books they can sometimes be abusive and draconian. For instance, Simon and Schuster attempted to include language in contract several years ago that defined a book as "in print" and therefore S&S's contractual property, so long as a single electronic copy for POD used existed anywhere in S&S's database or network. Although they claimed this wasn't meant to keep the rights with them in perpetuity, that was the effect the clause would have had. So many people objected to the clause in public that S&S removed it, but variations on it still rear their ugly heads. Don't let the publisher sit on your rights by a technicality. Limit these clauses by making them as specific as possible.

And one last thing for now: if you can’t find a downside to the contract, you’re not looking hard enough.

*Asking within your genre often reveals information that’s specific to the publisher or group you’re contemplating working with and, in some cases, language will be different but the meaning will be the same, so if you’re writing Romance, for instance, you may find other Romance writers the most helpful. Not that writers from other genres won’t have seen the same or similar clauses, but you’re more likely to land help from a writer, agent, editor, or experienced assistant who knows exactly what that clause means coming from that publisher.

**Discounts are abnormally low wholesale prices that cut the publisher’s profit too deeply, so the writer’s royalty is then cut to compensate. Deep discounts became a common demand during the ascendency of the big bookstore chains and “big box” stores like Costco and Amazon. A set percentage discount clause rather than a floating percentage against wholesale price can mean that when a powerful buyer demands a wholesale discount at or below that percentage, the author ends up being paid for their first-run books as if they were last year’s garbage. Pay attention to discount clauses and make sure you ask what the common wholesale discount currently is before you sign.

***Remainders are books that come to the end of their expected shelf life—usually fancy hardcovers and that sort of thing—that are slated for deep discount (and sometimes destruction in the case of mass-market paperbacks which are “pulped”). Remaindered books are usually marked or “stripped” and then sold to jobbers for pennies on the cover price. The author will then receive the “discount” rate payment for those books and the books will be removed from regular sale and the publisher’s inventory. That format or title will then officially go out of print, never to be seen again, in all likelihood. The author may be offered the chance to buy remainders of their own books at a slightly less favorable discount than the jobbers before the books are stripped, marked, and dumped. If you can afford them and have the storage space, remaindered hardcopies or special editions can occasionally become profitable for authors to sell themselves after the edition is out of print and therefor collectible, but you’ll have to invest in a large number of them and store them properly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not a Valentine's Day Post

Not that I have anything against Valentine's Day. It is what it is and if you enjoy it, great! And if you don't, great!

(See, easy to please here.)

Besides, by the time you read this I'll probably be in recovery from getting a portion of the nerves on the left side of my spine burned out. (Don't worry - it's out patient. And hopefully painless. After all, if the nerves aren't firing, what's to hurt, right? Maybe. It's been a long time coming and a last ditch effort to try to get me some relief from years of chronic pain. And hey, if I'm lucky and it works..I'll be able to go back a few weeks later and get the rest of them fried. )

Still - doesn't exactly put me in the mood for romantic blogs posts, so I'm just going to skip all that and plug my upcoming release, A Sliver of Shadow!

Which comes out February 28th! And continues the story of Abby, Brystion and a certain perverted unicorn by name of Phineas.  (And a slew of new characters as well. Not to worry though, lots of the original characters are back too.)

And if you haven't read A Brush of Darkness, no worries - it's up for free over at Pocket After Dark for the entire month of February. (As well as a sneak peek at the first couple of chapters of A Sliver of Shadow- 1st chapter is available now, 2nd will be up starting Feb 15.)

...and here's a little sample of SoS to get you started:

“Who’s my little man?” The unicorn crooned at Benjamin and then winced when a hank of beard became the baby’s newest form of entertainment.

“Keep that up and you’ll be a baldy chin,” I retorted. “And I don’t recall asking your opinion. Not that that’s ever stopped you before. Talivar around?”

“Nope, burned the coffee again. Ran out to get more.” A snort escaped him. “He’s even worse at it then you are.”

“Probably something about being a prince and not having to actually cook for himself. At least he’s trying. More than I can say for you.” I stooped to search for my Crocs, pushing through dust bunnies and clumps of what suspiciously looked like unicorn droppings. “Christ, Phin, use the toilet or go outside or something.” I snatched my hand away.

“That’s not me. I think you’ve got mice.” His tone became wheedling.

“I’ll bet. Just clean it up.”

“With what? Gonna turn my tail into a broom?” The furred tuft in question flicked as if to make the point.

“I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Besides, aren’t unicorn horns proof against poison? Purifying water, that sort of thing? Surely something that can bring a dead man back to life can disinfect like Lysol?”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reread in 2012

Cross-posted from Organized Chaos.

I've been having a bit of a reading crisis this year. In 2011 I read a crap-ton of books--over one hundred. This year, I've read one and a half. Yeah, forty-three days into the new year and I've read one and a half books. Half might not even be accurate; I think I put it down at about a third.

I can put part of the blame on the weather. Winter depresses me, and I don't want to do anything except plop on the couch and be a potato. Cracking open a book feels like too much work; television viewing requires a lot less brain power than reading. Another part of the blame can go to the overwhelming tower that is my To Be Read pile. And it doesn't help that more great books are coming out ALL THE TIME. I can't make any real progress, and I can't seem to choose between them, so I let that intimidate me into just not reading anything.

Yes, bad Kelly.

The other day, I skimmed a review of a book I'd read and loved, and it made me want to read that book again. So I picked up my Nook with the intention of just glancing through a few good scenes, and two hours later I'd reread a good quarter of the book. Oops.

It made me think about the books I've loved and would like to read again. There's something wonderfully comforting about rereading a book--revisiting those characters, reliving their adventures and love and losses. Because of my To Be Read pile, rereads always seemed out of the question. I had too many new books to read, so I couldn't waste time reading something again.

Why, though? Why not? Books gave me a love of reading from a very early age. Certain books made me want to be a writer, so why not go back to those wonderful memories and read a few books again?

So I have decided something: I'm going to allow myself to reread some favorites this year. First I'll finish the two books I have in progress (one new read, one reread). Then I'll reread a few books I love and haven't read in a while, starting with this one:


What books have you read more than once? Are there any books you reread on a regular basis? Anything you want to reread, but don't have the time?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blood and Bullets meets Burned

Today we have something a little special. James R. Tuck, is the author of the Deacon Chalk Bounty Hunter series. His first novel, BLOOD AND BULLETS came out this week and rather than do a standard interview, James and I decided it might be more fun to provide an interview between two of our characters.

Of course, given that James's main character is a monster hunter and most of my characters are monsters, a face to face meeting would have been out of the question, so this one starts with a phone call from Evelyn (my ex-reporter nukekubi featured in BURNED... which came out last week) to Deacon. Call it a fact finding mission.

Let's skip past the niceties and straight to the questions, shall we?


Evelyn: You're a monster hunter, one of the most important questions for a nukekubi (who has never killed a human, but has slain many vampires) is this: How do you define monster?

Deacon: A monster does evil shit. Simple and straight to the point.

I used to say a monster is anything not human, but life is messy and hell, I'm not stock-from-the-factory human anymore myself. So I had to adjust my definition.

But I don't have a lot of time for moral equivocations. I can't handhold anybody through their personal trauma. If you have a troubled past, did some evil shit back in the day then you had better have pulled your head from your ass before I catch up with you.

I believe in Redemption, but it's not my job to give it out. You find that on your own time. But if you are doing evil shit then I'll stop you.

That's my job.

How do you define what a monster is?

Evelyn: I used to let a group of vampire hunters, The Pythagoreans, make those choices for me, but that was the easy way. Not everything is black and white.

Speaking of which, a... friend... wanted me to ask "Have you ever retired a human by mistake?" I think, Greta meant it as a sarcastic Blade Runner quote, but I think it raises an interesting question. I'm sure you run into your fair share of human monsters while tracking the supernatural ones down. How do you deal with them?

Deacon: The Pythagoreans? Oh man, glad you got shed of those assholes.

Greta sounds okay if she's quoting Bladerunner.

To answer the question, I always keep in mind that I'm not a cop. I leave the fine details that need investigation to them. Let them sort it out, it's why we pay taxes. When I get involved it's usually a pretty clear scene as to who is evil and who ain't.

But if you throw in with monsters then welcome to the crosshairs.

It's like my dad used to say before he left this shitty old world "Birds of a feather get cooked in the same pot."

So I have run across the occasional sunnuvabitch that needed to be set straight. It's part of the job. Do it, move on. I don't feel bad.

So are you vampire only? Or do you take on all kinds of monsters?

Evelyn: Right now it's mainly vampires, but I've handled demons, and the occasional rogue therianthrope. I'm working something of a long term reclamation gig right now. Kind of a there's-still-good-in-her deal.

I'm not sure if you ever make an exception and do those, but worrying about whether or not I should is my own personal monster, I suppose... The one's I think I could have saved. Maybe even should have saved. That and weregeckoes. Those things just aren't right.

How about you? What is the monster that scares you the most?

Deacon: Never ran into a Were-Gecko. I had to put down a crack-dealing, child molester Were-Polar Bear though. I've cleared my town of almost all the Were-wolves and Were-Panthers. The Were-wolves were a pain in the ass. They were run by this asshole named Krueger, a white-power, wannabe viking, skinhead, piece of shit. A real turd. They used to go "recruiting" finding skinheads int he area and infecting them with lycanthropy to build their gang. They had a throwdown war with the local Black Panthers which were made of actual black Were-Panthers. That was a mess and a half.

As far as scary goes, well, that would be Angels. Those golden bastards are wicked scary. That whole "personification of the Wrath of God" thing just gets way too heavy. They didn't cover that shit in Catechism class.

As for the redemption gig, I have a good friend, hell mentor really, named Father Mulcahy who handles that end of the business. I save the bodies and leave the souls to him.

Do you have a mentor now that you are out from the Pythagoreans? Or are you flying solo?

Evelyn: I think if I told you who my mentor was, you'd want to drive into Void City and try to kill him or her, so I'll table that one.

I know the answer to this one may take us to a dark place, so feel free not to answer, but how did you wind up hunting monsters?

Deacon: My family was killed by monsters. ........

I don't want to talk about it. No offense, but we aren't there yet me and you. You seem nice, but not that damn nice.

A monster killed my family. I killed him and now I will kill everyone of them I find.

Nuff said.

On to a different topic, I'm not coming to Void City anytime soon. I've got my hands full right now with a bloodsucking hell-bitch that set me up and tried to have me offed. I was on my way there when I got your call. Besides, after chatting you up, I think you might just work out okay.

You did realize I took this call to check you out right?

Evelyn: Fair enough. My origin isn't quite so dark, but when humans or ex-humans start hunting monsters it's usually not for the fun of it.

If it helps, I'm sorry you had to go through that. But about the call, yeah, I knew there would be a little mutual scoping out. The only reason I tracked down your number in the first place was Greta heard about you and wanted to make sure she could pick out your heartbeat from a distance... and this way we avoid her trying to find out in person. Which wouldn't go well for anyone involved and part of my job is trying to rein her in and redirect her appetites toward more appropriate targets.

Yesterday, for example was a great day for us. Instead of feeding on any humans, she drained five vampires, three bulls, and... Okay... The dog was unfortunate, but it *was* a stray...

Deacon: Watch your step Evelyn. You need to be careful or I might just come to Void City anyways. I hear there's a mustang that needs to go head to head with the Comet so that might be reason enough.

Keep your head on straight, watch who you trust, and call me if you need me.


As the phone goes dead, it's quite possible that Deacon hears Evelyn's frustrated mutter, "There, I called him and you heard his heartbeat. Now would you please put my head back on?"

For more about James and to find links to free fiction and other cool stuff, you can check out his website at and for more about me and to check out my free fiction scoot on over to .

Sunday, February 5, 2012

6 things on a Sunday

Through the 7th! 

1. Awesomeness. 

I’m so excited that Pat Rothfuss and the worldbuilders team has EXCEEDED the goal of $250,000 donated to Heifer International, an incredible, fabulous charity!! There is still time to donate (it runs through the 7th). Not only do you give to a great cause, but for every $10 bucks you put in, you are eligible to win books and many many other mind-bendingly wonderful prizes. It’s the ultimate win-win lottery. A ton of league books are in there, and so much more. Check it out here and here.

Heifer International is awesome!

2. Comma freakout. 

I have been close-proofing Devil’s Luck, my novella about my character Simon, which I am going to self publish. I have had it professionally copyedited, but am now reading it over and changing things around and suddenly I feel like I don’t know how to use commas anymore!

Commas used to be so natural for me, but when I really think about them, then my understanding of them falls apart. It’s like that old story of the centipede, and somebody asks it how it walks with so many legs, and once he starts thinking about it, he can’t walk. It doesn’t help that I have been edited through the years by editors with different comma-using styles, the open and the closed, and my Chicago Manual of Style is possibly a few years old. 

What is a comma?

3. Website freakout. 

I have been re-building my author site, a project I started a couple of weeks ago. It’s not up right now - it’s still my crappy old author site there. Honestly, I thought it would take a weekend, but that was before entering the odyssey of tutorials and crazy frustration and OCD perfectionism that is this process. I’ve been in trying to get it EXACTLY PERFECT, of course. My new site is turning out so freaking complex, but I think it looks cool. I sort of think I will get it up today, but honestly, I have thought that on many other days. Either there’s a snafu with the way-too-complicated-for-me theme I’m using, or I get a new idea for something to add or change. 

My website building process

4. Voodoo. 

So, my new site is sitting on a development url right now, and I’m kind of scared to even look at it this morning. One morning when I looked at it, I’d changed one page the night before and all these other ones had inherited the change that weren’t supposed to inherit the change. So I changed them back, and then that changed other pages. And then I changed those others back and…etc. It was like a morning of whack-a-mole. 

I know that right now the hyperlinks are bright purple, and I haven’t managed to change them to a better color, not for lack of trying, but I have decided to leave them as is, just to not mess with my luck, like the website gods might bite off my beggarly and shaking hand if I put it out, asking for this one last crumb of design goodness. Yes, that is the level of my mastery; it’s quite primitive! 

What I’m really scared of is that it will fall apart when I migrate it to my normal URL. Actually, I’m petrified of this, even though Hostgator assures me they will help. But maybe if I leave the hyperlinks in that messed-up purple, my site will remain whole somehow.

Helpful in website building.

5. Quandary. 

One of my last quandaries on the site was whether to put up the home page “billboard” many authors have where there is a glowing quote or two or three about their work. I had this whole design done without thinking about that home page quote. And at that point, putting a quote on the home page would completely wreck the cool design.

In my regular job as a copywriter, I work with designers who sometimes complain about this sort of thing, like this or that copy or subhead will mess up their design, and my feeling is often, "Screw your design, it’s the content that’s delivering the message!" But here, I was on the opposite side. Or, both sides. I had a discussion with blogger galpal who typically doesn’t notice the home billboard quote, and that made me feel better, and partly, my thinking was, they’re at your site, do you really need to sell them? But then I still felt uneasy. It then occurred to me that there are two main audiences/purposes of author’s site: to provide more info and resources to those who have read your work, and to build credibility and interest for those who haven’t read your work, and that last group is who the billboard quote is for. But really, who knows! It's all sort of voodoo, in a way. Anyway, I figured out a solution that wouldn’t wreck the design. Yippee! 

6. It's not a wonder I have such trouble building a website when I can't even get the font to look right here in blogger. Either it's tiny or giant. Ack! 

Anyway, happy Sunday friends! 

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