Sunday, December 31, 2006

Astro Alert: Pluto Conjunct Galactic Center

Okay, here's a weird one from Apparently pluto and the galatic center are conjunct. How one calcuates that I'll never know, but here's what it all apparently means:

"Could there be a better time to access universal wisdom than when we end one year and begin the next? Recently reclassified Pluto has lost none of its power as it conjuncts the Galactic Center at 26 degrees of Sagittarius on December 29. At this time, you will have the opportunity to tap into the energy of the center of our universe."

"Pluto transits are often intense, and with this important conjunction you'll be ready to empower yourself and think more seriously about your destiny. On December 20, the new Moon in Sagittarius prompted you to put extra energy and intention into whatever you want to become stronger in your life. Moving beyond the familiar now will help you cultivate success."

"The Sun, Pluto and the Galactic Center are all occupying the same area of your astrological chart. That’s a lot of energy, wisdom and power in one place!"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Other Me News

Other me has some publishing news to report: Her short story “Indigo Bunting” a queer coming of age post-apocalyptic story is on-line as of today at Blithe House Quarterly.


Blithe House Quarterly : queer fiction lives here Blithe House Quarterly invites you to browse its Winter 2007 edition (Volume 11, Number 1) featuring new short stories by:Victor J. Banis, Sias Bryant, Trisha Collopy, Robert M. Dewey, James Friel, Lyda Morehouse, Rick R. Reed, Ruth Sims, and Jessica Wicks

Guest-edited by Lori L. Lake

Associate editor: Eric Karl Anderson

Photography by Nicole C. Russell

Executive editor and publisher: Aldo Alvarez

"_The_ journal, online or off, for gay short fiction. Blithe House Quarterly is one of the best literary sites on the Internet. Period."

"Internet-based fiction journals have become a significant force in publishing, especially for serious short fiction. In Web-only lit journals such as Blithe House Quarterly, the short-story form is alive and clicking." ~Baltimore City Paper

"Setting the quality bar [for gay and lesbian writing] is the phenomenal site Blithe House Quarterly. It's awash in awards and rightly so. Of all gay and lesbian sites, Blithe House is the golden child, the one to be entered in the Literature Olympics. None of the stories needs special cosseting as our fiction. Be skeptical and go see the site!" ~Gay & Lesbian On Line, 3rd Edition

"The central publishing arm of new queer fiction." ~OUT Magazine on Blithe House QuarterlyBlithe House Quarterly : queer fiction lives here:

**Winner of the Encyclopaedia Britannica's Internet Guide Award

** Featured in the January 2005 New York Times article on the literary magazine boom

**A GLAAD Media Award Nominee

Friday, December 15, 2006

Seeing Is Believing: Or Is it?

n my last class at the Loft, we ended up on a tangent about a book I’m currently reading which shall remain nameless. It’s a well known urban fantasy novel which has been receiving a lot of high praise. My partner Shawn read part of the novel and got so frustrated with it, that she threw it against the wall. She was so irritated that she actually suggested that I read it, so we could complain about it together.

Part of the problem with this book is the Big Reveal. The question of: when does your hero[ine] “come out” to other people about her magical power/the magic in her life/her magical boyfriend and how do the Uninitiated react to the news that there is magic in the world?

This issue Shawn had with this particular book is that everyone the heroine meets buys into the magic, without so much as a hiccup, in fact, they’re all eager to help despite the fact that their worldview should be shattered or at least upset a titch. That complete acceptance didn’t work for Shawn. (It’s still working for me, but I’m only a 100 pages in.)

Of course, as an author, there’s another tension, I think. Because you know the cover is going to show something fantastical and the back cover copy is going to hint at magic, you don’t really want your readers to have to wait for your heroine and the people around her to accept the magic the reader already expects. I’m having this problem in my current novel (Garnet’s third book: BLOODY CHARMING) because I have the opening where Garnet sees a wolf. One of my Wyrdsmiths’ colleagues is telling me that I’m over doing it with the werewolf “telegraphing,” even though I know that’s a bit of a red herring (I won’t say more for fear of spoilers.) My colleague’s point, however, is still valid. A SF/F/Paranormal romance reader is going to see a wolf and instantly assume magic is afoot. In this case, I want to play against that assumption, but I still have to be aware of it, and to not frustrate the reader so that s/he is shouting at the book, “Oh, for God/dess’s sake, Garnet, it’s a bloody werewolf! How dumb are you??”

The Nameless Book in question has a different problem. That is, I think the heroine accepts the magic in her life at the right pace, but the people around her swallow it far too quickly. “Oh, come on! It can’t be that easy!” was the complaint I heard Shawn mutter as she was reading. And, that’s the other issue a writer of paranormal/F/SF has to deal with – you don’t want your character’s friends to be instantly on board (unless there’s a pre-existing good reason, like s/he is also involved in a magical community of some sort) otherwise it feels like your heroine isn’t terribly challenged. If everyone buys into the magic and offers knowledge and help, then you start to wonder if the whole world isn’t actually magical and only the heroine is stupid enough not to have been with the program from the beginning. I think this author is actually aware that people might be thinking this very thing, because she has a spirit guide tell the character that she’s a brand new soul… thus excusing her for not knowing all this stuff about the magical world that everyone else seems to. As an author, I think that’s a bit of a cheat, because it’s also just as valid to have someone, just once, not know or not believe or tell her she needs to get back on her meds. Especially, since that can be done to humorous effect.

Still, I think it’s a tough question for all speculative writers. How do the other people in your heroine’s life deal with her magical crap? Do they buy it? Buy it skeptically at first? Think she’s crazy? Or, do you have them resist for a while until something magical happens that includes them? Obviously, you need to do what works best in your story, but thinking about how readers will react to other character’s reactions (will they see this as too easy? Too “hard” – as in they feel the magic is so obvious that it can’t be ignored no matter how cynical the character?) helps, IMHO.

Another solution a lot of urban fantasy writers have employed is the magical universe. If, for instance, the existence of vampires is common knowledge, then you don’t really have to deal with the issue of the Big Reveal – at least not where it concerns magic, anyway.

I also think this is a matter of taste. I tend to prefer my urban fantasy just this side of reality, which is to say, the more like the here and now, the better I tend to enjoy the book. I want that feeling of “this could happen to me,” if I could just side-step out of the mundane. So, I prefer incredulous friends.

How about you?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Kudos to Other Me

Other Me announces that she has an interview with Karin Lowachee at The Internet Review of Science Fiction. You have to be a subscriber to view IROSF, but if you are (or if you want to sign up for the privledge of reading this particular article,) go to:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Writing Under the Influence – The Embarrassing Bits

For my birthday, Shawn bought me the DVD of Rick Springfield’s pilot for “Forever Knight.” Though I’ve carefully kept the video cassette tape I had of it in good working order, I hadn’t really re-watched the movie since sometime last century (probably the mid-90s.) I had always vigorously defended it against the people who preferred the remake, because to this day I think Rick Springfield has a certain kind of sexy charm (which I never really got from the other blonde dude) and because of the overtly homoerotic scene with his master/Blood Sire (which, to my understanding, was changed to a woman in the remake). Given that this pilot was shot in the late 80s (pre-Ellen, pre-Will & Grace, pre-Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt’s Interview.), the homoeroticism of that scene should be considered pretty groundbreaking.

That said, it was pretty painful to watch.

I don’t understand movie-makers’ need give vampires the whole Klingon-bumpy forehead make-over when they manifest their powers. (Even Buffy did this). I suspect, however, this has something to do with the fact that we like our Dark Siders to be made ugly by their evil. White hats for the good guys and ugly, bumpy faces for the bad guys. God/dess forbid evil should be sexy and seductive, the way Dracula was written. Monsters have to be clearly monsters or we dumbwads out in TV-land won’t be able to recognize them.

Yet, despite how hard the show is to watch now – I think Forever Knight profoundly effected me as a vampire fan. I still love the metaphor of vampire as junkie. The way Nick Knight struggles with his will versus his desire for blood really still works for me, despite the bad 80s hair. The vampire bar scene was also one of the first of its kind (at least on screen) and, though it became overused in fiction (loved Buffy’s reversal of it, later) it’s still kind of cool after all this time. Also, I think that Forever Knight really was my first exposure to what urban fantasy could look like on TV. Nick Knight has a job; he’s a homicide cop – a perfect job for a vampire in some ways (though no explanation is given in the pilot as to how he managed to go to police academy during the day.) There’s also that great scene near the beginning where he tries to tan, and then goes home to close up the curtains and watch the sunrise via webcam, as it were. It was also the first time I thought about how vampires would probably like their blood slightly warm, as he sticks his in the microwave. A bit silly, but still nicely done.

It all seems so commonplace after years of Buffy, but Forever Knight really, for me, at least, put the vampire squarely in modern times and let him be a hero.

Yeah, I’m still a Rick Springfield fan. Embarrassing, yes, but I’ll still admit it.

Ya wanna make something of it??

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Astro Alert: Saturn Turns Retrograde

Because you NEED to know (from

Saturn is often considered the taskmaster planet. And when it goes retrograde? Well, there're no two ways about it: Issues of authority come to the fore, and a conservative attitude toward responsibilities creeps into even the most free-spirited souls. Whether consciously or not, you will probably experience the effects of Saturn's retrograde -- which will last until April 19, 2007 -- as a time to reflect on past decisions and learn from your mistakes ... and definitely not a time to charge easily toward your goals.

That said, Saturn's energy, which rules issues of control and organization, lends itself well to making sound judgment calls as well as wise investments, if both sense and sensibility are properly utilized.

Saturn turning retrograde puts a challenging spin on achieving success, but the planet also rules issues of leadership, making this the ideal time to establish your own boundaries, strive for self-improvement and unleash your creativity on the world. Furthermore, when your goals have been met, you'll be that much more satisfied at having cleared this astrological stumbling block! On the way, you'll also have learned a lot about yourself and clarified your perspective.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Stupid Am I? No Wait…

...Don’t answer that.

It’s a very good thing that I’m hiding my face in the picture below, because guess what? My reading was _not_ last night. No, in fact, it will be on the date listed, which is to say NEXT Monday.

Worse, all my SASE students showed up at my house while I was calling Shawn trying to figure out how badly I goofed (did it start later than I thought? Different day?) because we’d arranged to practice our pieces ahead of time.

In the words of the immortal Homer: D’oh.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Other Me About Town


On Monday, December 11, 2006 from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm I'll be reading as Other Me at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408. The reading is in conjunction with the SASE Mentorship program. For more information call, (612) 874-2815.

Even though the reading is in a matter of hours, I still haven't decided what I'm going to read. According to the preliminary schedule I'm on dead last, so my thought was to read the "Second Coming of Emily" which I just started, and is no more than two pages long (I officially have fifteen minutes to read). The other option is "Tutivillus," which was published in Wyrdsmiths, but only a portion of that one since it's 4,000 words long.

I have no idea what to wear either.


Time to Lean, Time to Clean

When do you write? (and it’s corollary: How do you find TIME to write?) are questions I get asked a lot.

When I first started writing, I wrote on the job -- which I can’t actually recommend since I could have lost my job because of it -- and that spoiled me. I could write when I wanted to – which, it turns out, is mid-morning. I’m at my peek creatively from about seven thirty to eleven o’clock. When I became a stay-at-home parent, I was completely screwed up, since I discovered that the only time I had to myself was in the evening. Bio-rhythmically, I’m a zone-out-in-front-of-the-TV sort anytime after six. But, I had a paying deadline, so I couldn’t “wait for the Muse” or even my intellectually peek time. I learned to just start whenever, and write as much as I could.

Yet, when talking to fellow Wyrdsmith, Sean, I came to the startling realization that I don’t actually write very often these day, if you calculate actual hours spent. When I’m teaching, as I have been for the past three months, I write even less, because my scheduled time to work on fiction is post-Mason-bedtime (8:00 pm, reliably. While his official bedtime is 7:00 pm, we tell the story of going to sleep, and then he usually drifts off around 7:15 and then *I* wake up sometime before 8:00 and stumble out, bleary-eyed.) As you can perhaps tell, this is kind of a sucky arrangement, because I tend to end up with a half-hour nap right before I sit down to compose. The nights I teach, I usually don’t write at all because I don’t get home until after 10:00 pm and, given that Mason and company is up and out around 5:30/6:00 am… I need a few hours sleep.

Anyway, factoring in two nights of teaching, I write four or three nights a week for three or four hours. Maximum, I’m getting 16 hours/week writing time. But, on average, I’d bet it’s much closer to 10 - 6 hours/week. However, I don’t let myself go to bed unless I’ve written 1,000 words, which is how it is that I think I manage to make deadline (I missed one publishers’ deadline in my entire career, and it was because of a family death.)

Sometimes, however, like last night when I was struggling with a sex scene I spend my whole three hours pecking slowly at the screen, until I finally just give up because I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. BTW, I ALWAYS struggle with sex scenes, which is why when Shawn suggests I consider writing erotica as my next sub-genre, I told her no way. My writing would slow to a crawl if I tried to write more sex.

I’m writing about this, not to complain, but because I think people usually imagine published authors having unlimited amounts of time to write. They look at their busy lives and think, no way -- I just can’t make time to write. Granted, I’m the sort of person who is highly motivated by a deadline (oh, and honestly, a the paycheck that comes with book delivery), but I think that six hours a week is really very do-able. Keep in mind, I often take the weekend off from writing (although I wrote last night to make up for a particularly lax writing week) – so you really don’t even have to sacrifice family time for your craft. I don’t, anyway.

Hopefully, you feel inspired now. Go write. :-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Naming Names

The question of authors that inspire you came up on fangs, fur & fey and I thought my response might be interesting to people here.

William Gibson, and the all the various and sundry spawn of his “Movement” cyberpunk – I think everything I write is tainted by my first real sub-genre love affair. My fascination with Gibsonesque dystopias clearly imbues my gritty urban settings (because Madison, Wisconsin is the epitome of dark, urban grittiness… okay, maybe I was thinking of Other Me.) But, I think a case could be made that even in Tall, Dark and Dead, one can see the swirls of cyberpunk fingerprints smudging the edges of my worldview. There are a lot of punks in my writing – people who are a bit outside of the system. Plus, my vamps aren’t of the fluffy variety, they tend to fall on the darker side.

Katherine Kurtz – A major teen influence. I read every book of hers I could find and then spent hours writing fan fic and fantasizing that I was Alaric Morgan (among others.)

Eleanor Arnason – The first professional writer I ever met was Eleanor Arnason. I’d seen her speak at various science fiction conventions previously, but we bonded at a membership meeting for the National Writers Union over being both speculative fiction writers and writers of fiction (both rarities). She was the first person who made me think that it was possible for real people to become published authors.

Sandra Hill – The first funny romance I read was her Last Viking, a book that changed my mind about the romance genre in general.

Then in no order in particular: Fredrick Pohl, in particular, his novel Gateway. Star War the movie for me, but also the Han Solo books, particularly Han Solo’s Revenge. Ray Bradbury, George Alec Effinger, the Thieves’ World books, School House Rock, Sesame Street (especially the lovable, furry Grover), John Milton, X-Files, Marvel Comics and probably dozens of others that I’ve forgotten.

Who inspires you?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bragging from Other Me

Other Me insisted I share the cover from the Japanese edition of Archangel Protocol (Hayakawa Publishing, Inc.)

And, in doing so, I am reminded of a question that a student of mine asked last night. It was the lecture I like to call in my head the depressing reality of publishing money. With horror in her eyes, my student asked: “How do writers make a living?”

My answer was simply -- they don’t.

Most writers that I know have full or part-time jobs. A surprising number of us in Wyrdsmiths are living as writers, but majority of those are actually stay-at-home parents who are trying to make ends meet on the salary of our spouse (or spousal equivalent).

I can't speak for the others, but my ends don’t always meet.

Writing money – even after five published novels – is what I refer to as my “latte money.” It’s extra, not really even enough to count as supplemental. I teach to make more money, and I write the occasional bit of nonfiction to make more money. But none of it really adds up to a living wage.

This could depress me deeply, but I knew when I started trying to do this professionally that I’d never make a living writing and that only one percent of all writers really make major money from their writing. Writing is something you have to do because you can’t not do it or because if fulfills some deep inner need (or, if you’re a weirdo like me, it brings you enough happiness that the rest doesn’t matter.)

Writing doesn’t help me make a living, but writing makes living worthwhile.

Sappy, but, for me, true.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Difference between Urban, Dark and Contemporary Fantasy

There’s a discussion going on fur, fey and fangs about what the difference is between the categories above. I realized in replying to someone else’s post that I don’t really have a good sense of what separates urban fantasy, for instance, from dark fantasy.

Urban fantasy, as I understand it, ought to take place in a city. It was postulated that the moniker “urban fantasy” also promises grittiness. One commenter suggested that it implied stronger language, which I found kind of fascinating. Urban fantasy is going to give you f-word uttering, urban-dwelling faeries in leather, apparently. It’s also going to take place in the modern world with modern sensibilities. Urban fantasy is *not* going to involve castles and knights, unless somehow they’ve been transported to today. Urban fantasy may or may not include vampires in its metahuman denizens.

Dark fantasy, then, can happen at any time in (meta)human history. It most certainly includes vampires, because, as was pointed out by someone the “dark” part is really just a stand-in for the word “horror,” in a lot of ways. Dark fantasy is a story with fantastical elements that gets ugly, in the horror sense. There’s going to be blood spilled in dark fantasy, probably lots of it.

Contemporary fantasy takes place in the now, has a modern sensibility, includes any number of metahuman creatures, including vampires, but is usually more light-hearted in tone than any of the above. It can take place on a farm or a city, and isn’t necessarily “gritty.” My books probably fall into this category most strongly, though because of the strong romantic content, my books are labeled “contemporary romance” or “paranormal romance.”

Paranormal romances, of course, can take place in any time, in any place and are only distinguished from other romances by the fact that the heroine or the hero are metahuman. Most of paranormal romances, however, I think don’t tend to be particularly gritty or dark, though there are probably exceptions to this… as there are to all the “rules” I’ve tried to outline above.

I think that most fans of one of these categories will read all of them, although I found it fascinating that there were a lot of people on fur, fey and fangs who came down strongly in one camp or the other. I suppose if you prefer dark and gritty, silly romantic paranormal isn’t going to jive -- I myself, personally, read according to mood. I tend to prefer to dark, but silly can be a lot of fun when I’m in the mood for it. I tend to enjoy humor, even gallows’ humor, in everything I read.

What about you? Any preferences or quibbles with my definitions?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hippo Birdy To Me

Saturday, November 18th was my birthday. It was a good day. I got to have breakfast out with a friend AND dinner out with the one I love. I also got some fantastic presents, the best of which was a long, hot bath alone (without Mason.)

I always love to read the Star Tribune's yearly horoscope on my birtday. Here's what mine said about me:
"Your birthday today: You approach this year with great imagination and wonder. Therefore what occurs is much larger than is usually expected of thought possible. Figure out exactly what's needed to make a deal work and you'll pull it off in January. Love is lavished on you, and you go into the new year feeling whole. Aquarius and Virgo are your allies."

So what do you think it really means? Another book contract? Fame? Fortune? Or...?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Question of Beginnings

[Cross-posted from Fur, Fey & Fangs.]

Tall, Dark & Dead actually starts with a two sentence question and answer:

“What’s the best way to keep Vatican witch hunters off your scent? Dress to kill.”

Dead Sexy also begins with a question:

“Who knew there were so many dead things in Madison, Wisconsin?”

The book I’m working on right now (tentatively called Bloody Charming) begins with:

“I was on my bicycle five miles out of town and thinking about what it might be like to settle down, really settle down with a vampire, like forever, when I saw the gray wolf on the side of the road.”

...which is clearly not as snappy as the other two, and may explain a bit why I’m still struggling with this sucker. I’ve started Bloody Charming three times now and can’t quite get things into focus. I’ve decided, in fact, to abandon perfection for the moment in order to keep moving forward.

I agonize over first lines. I’m convinced that they’re critical in hooking (hoodwinking?) your reader into buying your book. I know that when I’m thinking about book buying I often judge a book first by its cover, its back copy, and then by the first page or so of the author’s writing. Given that usually only one of those is in the author’s complete control, I figure I need to make my first page a real grabber.

How do you buy a book? How important is that first page (if you even read it)?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Astro Alert - Mercury Direct, Uranus Direct, Jupiter Enters Sagittarius

An update from

Enough review -- take action! As Mercury turns direct in Scorpio on November 17, it's time to incorporate everything you've learned during this Mercury retrograde period, which began October 28. Hopefully, you’ve done your research and are ready to forge ahead. Independent Uranus turns direct on November 19, bringing change and a desire to be totally true to yourself. Just what is that magical mixture that makes you unique? As you are contemplating that, Jupiter enters philosophical and travel-oriented Sagittarius on November 23 for the first time in 12 years. A new course must be mapped out -- are you ready?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cute Mason Pictures

Here are a few cute pictures of Mason(and Shawn) at the Rockford Barnes & Noble. These pictures were taken by our friends Besty and Warren Urbik. Isn't Mason just darling?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Big Box Store Dilemma

I desperately want to unequivocally support local, independent bookstores. Certainly, I go out of my way to spend time and money at Uncle Hugo’s, which is not only independent and bricks and mortar, but is also one of a vanishing breed – the science fiction and fantasy specialty store. I also try to push customers their way. For a long time they were the only store in the nation that sold new copies of the out-of-print books by other me.

Uncle Hugo’s is a writer’s dream. They’ve always ordered a lot of my books, hand sold them to customers with similar interests, they rarely send back “returns,” and they’re generally warmly disposed when I call begging for signing time when a new book’s release date rolls around. They’ve supported me despite a career change, and has always had a very broad definition of what constitutes SF/F and has always carried a number of paranormal romantic titles.

For their sake, I would wish all big box bookstores to be swallowed by the monster from the deep (or at least suffer tragic, mortally wounding sales.)


Then I go to somewhere like Rockford, Illinois, and have a fantastic signing at a --gasp-- Barnes & Noble, and suddenly I don’t know how to feel about all this.

I don’t think I sold particularly extraordinarily at Rockford. I probably sold a half dozen books (possibly a few more), but there was a surprising amount of foot traffic considering that this store was a stand-alone building in a big box store oasis that had more parking lots than trees. Because there were people wandering around, I was able to sell a few books based on my aggressive business acumen (which is to say I harassed someone into buying a copy of TD&D). I also handed out a fist-full of postcards advertising the next book, telling potential customers that the postcards were FREE, and if they decided they wanted the book after all, they could always come back and pick up a copy I’d signed. Hopefully, that sort low-pressure of approach will move even more books. Who knows? More to the point, B&N had ordered a fair number of TD&D and not only had signs all over the store announcing my presence, but they also had one of their friendlier staff walking around showing off copies of my books and telling people they had a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to meet a real, live romance author.

Plus, they bought me coffee.

It’s hard to hate people who buy you coffee.

I will never, ever abandon my local, independent bookstores, but there are certain advantages to these large box bookstores. You might find this counterintuitive, but I have had a lot easier time booking signings at remote venues by contacting big boxes. Once, when Shawn and I knew we were going to be traveling to Phoenix, Arizona, I tried like the devil to get any independent bookstore to give me a signing. I called several months in advance, but got bumpkin for a response. The most famous independent bookstore in Phoenix, Tattered Cover, explained to me that I could have a signing, IF I was willing to pay them. “Book signings, you understand,” the manager sniffed, “don’t net us any profit. If you want to rent space from us, you can. Fifty bucks an hour.”

I blanched. No way was I going to rent out a space in a book store that also promised absolutely no support in terms of publicity – It wasn’t even clear they’d order books for me. So, I gave up on the independents. I went on-line and searched for a B&N with a science fiction reading group. By chance, there was one in the Phoenix area, I called them and talked to their community relations person and had a signing scheduled by the end of a ten minute phone call.

That Phoenix signing was a big seller. I sold over sixteen books AND I met the reviewer who reviewed Other Me’s first novel for Romantic Times. The trip was a humongerous success.

And they bought me coffee.

Did I mention the free caffeine?

What do you think? Big box = evil? Or?

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Personal and The Political

In honor of Tuesday’s elections the moderator of Fur, Fey & Fangs asked the contributing authors to consider the political system their metahumans employ in their novels (ie the hierarchy of a wolfpack, coven, or murder of vampires). I can’t really answer this question because I don’t actually think there are a lot of vampires in existence in my universe.

I really struggled with this particular issue – that is, what’s the deal with vampires? How do they survive preying on humans without being discovered? Or should I go with the scenario made popular by Laurel K. Hamliton’s Anita Blake series, where vampires have become citizens in their own right and are subject to governmental rules and regulations like normal people.

I decided I couldn’t think of a unique enough reason that vampires would be part of the known world, so rather than risk blatantly ripping off Hamilton (or any of the other myriad of vampire writers who have chosen this route) I’d keep them in the magical closet, as it were.

That left me with the issue of how is that no one has discovered their existence? Even though the article I posted about the mathematical improbability of vampires has been negated by my devoted and mathematically-inclined readers, there is always the issue that if you had a murder (sorry, but I like that so much better than “coven”) of twenty or thirty vampires all living in a town the size of Madison, Wisconsin your food source would run out pretty quickly, I’d think. Or, at the very least, the local cops would start wondering about the quantities of exsanguinated bodies piling up in the county morgue.

I solved the first problem by giving my vampires the ability to stay alive without having to kill their victims.

For the rest, I figured that I had to limit the number of vampires. I’ve never specified the exact number of vampires in the world, but Garnet has met only a few. Two is considered one too many for Madison.

The ghouls know about vampires, of course. (Ghouls are volunteer donors to the vampires.) I’ve never really explained how it is that Sebastian and the others recruit them without giving away their true identity, but I’ve always figured vampires did use a bit of “glamour”/Thrall/cult of personality to keep the whole thing a kind of open secret in that particular subclass of people.

So my novels politics are local and personal, I guess.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Serendipitous Self-Promotion

Yesterday Shawn, Mason and I made a foray into the Valpo Barnes & Noble. Shawn has actually been looking for a fantasy novel by C. E. Murphy called Urban Shaman and Mason is easily amused by the Thomas the Tank Engine books and toys they have in the children’s section.

I, meanwhile, like to go to scout.

I snoot around to check the bookshelves see who of my friends in on the shelves and in what qualities. Then, I check to see if they have any copies of *my* books. When I don’t find my books, I usually don’t bother to make a fuss. I mean, I know how I would feel if some irate author came up to me while I was just doing my barely above minimum-wage job shelving books in a box chain store demanding to know why thousands of copies of her precious, important novel is not displayed prominently. I would think she was a diva. I’d roll my eyes, make nice, and put her name on my mental list of people not to go out of my way to help in the future.

Anyway, I’d found a couple of copies of WebMage by Kelly McCullough and a copy of Barth Anderson’s Patron Saint of Plagues. No Tall, Dark & Dead. I shrugged and went back to play with Mason. Shawn came up to me and told me she couldn’t remember the author of Urban Shaman and wondered if I’d be willing to ask someone if they had it. Shawn is shy and I’m not. We tend to do a lot of our division of labor based on this fact. So I was happy to ask after the book.

The clerk said that they had a copy of Urban Shaman and, on a lark, I decided to ask after Tall, Dark & Dead. Turns out the reason I didn’t see it on the shelf was because someone on staff was reading it in the break room. She told me she could fetch me that copy. I stopped her and sheepishly admitted that I was the author. I told her that if someone was actually READING it, I didn’t want her to take it from them.

She showed me where to find the other book, we chatted about various other books that we liked. She up-sold me on the sequel, and we parted ways.

Mason had found a book on bugs in the children’s section so we hung out for a few moments decided if he liked it enough to make it a worthwhile purchase. While we dithered, the clerk came up to me and asked me if I’d be wiling to sign their copy of Tall, Dark & Dead. I happily obliged, and she told me that she’s “stolen” it from the staffer who was reading it decided to buy it for herself. She also informed me that she already placed an order for another copy.

I was honored. Thrilled, even. And, I’d made a sale. All self-promotion should be so easy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It’s All About Me, Even When it Isn’t

Another reader on complained that the characters in TDD have no morals.

I continue to be baffled by this criticism because, as I’ve said many times on this blog, the central theme of that novel is a question of morality. I suppose your average reader can’t relate to a heroine who has killed (or, depending on how culpable you believe Garnet was when she released Lilith, “allowed to die”) several people. For all intents and purposes, though, you could certainly consider Garnet a fairly active accomplice to murder.

I still believe she’s a moral person, however. She killed out of self-defense, a defense, I might add, which works for many juries in this country. She was also vastly out-numbered and out-gunned. Had it not been for her willingness to unleash Lilith, Garnet would have died that night. A point that I thought that I made abundantly clear throughout the novel.

She also is wracked by guilt. Yes, she can sleep at night and even joke about it, perhaps, (partly because she’s the queen of denial) but she’s also never been entirely convinced that what she did was the right thing, even though it saved her life. Garnet also unleashed something dark within herself and struggles throughout the novel to make peace with that. (Lilith is, in essence, a big, fat metaphor for the human capacity to do harm – and maybe even take pleasure from it. But my point is not to glorify that, but to expose it.)

Maybe people don’t like that darkness. Or maybe I failed on some level for these readers, and my intentions are not all there in the pages of the book, despite my best efforts.

It’s interesting to me that this particular reader also thinks that Garnet slept with Parrish, which she most certainly does NOT. They get close – partly because Garnet is feeling a pang for something familiar and Sebastian has just revealed his darker side, which she initially revolts against. Garnet kisses on Parrish, she wants him, they get naked, but then things stop.

The stopping is kind of the important bit.

Isn’t it?

Or am I to assume then that the readers who find Garnet and company immoral are the careless readers?

This may all boil down to the cover art. While I love it, and I think it helped sell books, there is a bit of a disconnect – my book isn’t nearly as light and airy as the cover suggests. (Ironically, I’d proposed an even lighter book, but the editor who bought it said he wanted it darker with more sex and violence.) So, anyway, maybe the readers who can’t connect to Garnet were expecting her to be something else despite the bloody, murderous image in the prologue (which perhaps a careless reader might skip?) and all the references to the Dark part in dark goddess Lilith.

I don’t know the answer, but, what I do know is that I should never read my reviews. They make me crazy and, like right now, stop me from writing. I know I can’t please everyone, but part of me tends to take this kind of criticism personally. I feel like the comments are directed at me, rather than at the reader’s experience of my book.

I suppose the reviewer in question would just say I was being self-important.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beginning at the Beginning is a Stupid Thing To Do

I’m finally sitting down to start Bloody Charming, the third in the Garnet Lacey vampire chick-lit series, and I’m stymied. I can’t seem to figure out where this story starts.

The funny thing is that I have an outline that details the plot from beginning, middle, and end, so it’s not like I don’t have a handle on the story itself. I had, in point of fact, begun at the beginning, which is to say, sometime before the action starts. I’d had Garnet on a boring little bicycle ride home interrupted by the sudden appearance of a wolf. Cool though that image was, I realized that what followed was a lot of meandering as Garnet went though her day, essentially being happy.

Not cool.

So tonight, I restarted the novel at the first gathering of Garnet’s potential coven. I’m much happier with that because there’s action… though I realize the conflict is still not center stage. I’m going to have to rework that in revisions, because I’m also throwing a lot of new people at the reader all within the first ten pages. I think that I can make that onslaught of names work if there’s a core story for the reader to follow – which is going to be Garnet dealing with Blythe, the sexy comparative religions major, who is hitting on Sebastian.

It amazes me how bloody difficult writing is. I’ve been teaching writing for years now and I have any number of sort of “pat” phrases that I tell my students over and over. One of them is that they need to start their story at the moment of conflict. Start, I tell my students, with a problem statement, not unlike the thesis of a paper -- so that your reader knows what the hypothesis is going to be, what answers they should be looking for. State the novel’s core conflict in the first sentence (or thereabouts.)

Yet, when it comes time for ME to sit down and write, I flake. I get distracted by the pretty, by the fun.

Now I have to pay the price. I’m going to have to take my own advice.

How annoying is that?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Because It COULD Happen

(Cross posted to Fangs, Fur & Fey)

On of the questions asked of authors on the Fangs, Fur & Fey list was: "Why do you write urban fantasy?"

I have to first start by saying that I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. I read a lot of it as a teen/young adult (which was some time ago now), probably for me the most memorable of which was Emma Bull’s WAR FOR THE OAKS. I still read a lot of it, in fact.

This is going to sound extremely fannish/Mary Sue, but what I love about urban fantasy, is that, well, that it could happen... to me.

When I was a kid, I loved to play pretend. I had the kind of overactive imagination that sent me into Hixon Forest every day of summer vacation with a wooden sword and a couple of willing friends. I’d still be there, except at some point it became somewhat socially inappropriate for me to tell people to call me “Zurg, Amazon Queen of Venus.” (Except maybe in the bedroom, but that’s another story.)

Urban Fantasy is an invitation to play again. Because the settings are contemporary, I can imagine that that unwashed looking guy talking to himself two seats in front of me on the city bus is, in fact, a werewolf. That’s the sort of stuff I like to play with in my own novels (and in the enjoyment of other people’s)... the taking of real things and added a supernatural or paranormal spin on them. I mean, what if all the guys/gals who talk to themselves are, in point of fact, talking to something real? What if those plastic bags blown around by the wind are messengers to some kind of new breed of urban faerie? My friend Kelly McCullough based a whole universe in an as-yet-unsold fey book called THE URBANA on that idea.

It makes walking to work more interesting, you know?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

As If You Needed One More Blog To Read...

I was just invited to join a new LiveJournal community that might be of interest of readers of Tall, Dark & Dead. It’s a collection of paranormal romance writers called fangs_fur_fey/

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

British Cover

Here's the British cover for Tall, Dark and Dead. (Yes, they realize they mispelled my name. It's being fixed.) Outside of that, I think it's awesome.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Astro Alert:Mercury Retrograde, Neptune Direct, Jupiter Square Saturn

Your up-to-date astrological information here!

This from

"Are you thinking of making some lifestyle changes? The Jupiter square Saturn on October 25 is the perfect excuse to cut back on any excesses and to assess the areas of life where you are overcommitted. And with Neptune ending its retrograde -- a phase that began last May -- when it turns direct on October 29, you are tuned into your hopes, wishes and dreams. Now is the time to incorporate these ideals more deeply into your life."
"But wait! That rascal Mercury turns retrograde on October 28, a period that will last until November 17, so it will be essential to do a thorough review of your plans before making any life-altering decisions. Start reviewing old contacts, ideas and plans. What have you accomplished? Are you stuck in a rut? Though communication snafus and misunderstandings abound during any Mercury retrograde period, it's also an ideal time to analyze, evaluate and effect real change."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Math Disproves the Vampire

World Science has an article that shows that vampires can't exist, mathematically speaking. Check it out: Math vs. Vampires: Vampires Lose".

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Garnet and Sebastian Short Story News

As you know, a short story I wrote featuring our very own Garnet Lacey and Sebastian von Traumm will be coming out in an anthology edited by Charaline Harris. I just got new and improved information about its release date. See the note below:

I just wanted to catch you up on the status for MANY BLOODY RETURNS. Ginjer Buchanan at Ace has read the manuscript and loves it. (That is a quote!) And though I'd thought it would be a paperback release, the book will be a September 2007 HARDCOVER release.

Cool Yule!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Lizard Man of... My Hometown?

Now I’m reading Hunting the American Werewolf by Linda Godfrey and Mason has wanted to look at all the monster pictures. While flipping through the book, we came across a reference to my hometown. Apparently, in 1994, there was a sighting of a lizard creature sulking near the water front of the Black River near the Hardee’s of Clinton Avenue Bridge. What’s amazing to me is that this BLOCKS from the house I grew up in and where my parents still live.

According to Linda Godfrey the author of Hunting the American Werewolf, it all started when a man and his teenage son went walking with their dog and the dog slipped its leashed. They started hunting for the pooch, when “Suddenly, a movement near a tree caught their attention and they trained the flashlight in that direction, hoping to find the runaway hound. Instead, they were astonished to find themselves looking at a creature standing on two legs in front of a tree, something taller than a man and covered with mud-colored scales. Its eyes were yellow and slitted....”

Then she goes on to talk about all the mysterious drownings that happen near LaCrosse. Except, most of those drownings, while tragic, aren’t terribly mysterious. They tend to involve college kids who go bar-hopping – LaCrosse’s main bar street, Third Street, is as you might guess, a mere three blocks from the Mississippi – and wind up in the river. She makes a number of connections to the Mississippi and various Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) legends of monster snakes that drag unfortunate victims to watery graves, which would be a fine stretch, except the sighting of this lizard man was on the Black River. I know, because that’s the public beach I grew up swimming in every summer for nearly seventeen years.

Clearly, I have a lot of paranormal leanings, and I honestly believe that LaCrosse is a very magic town. A Menominee legends says that where three rivers cross there will never be a tornado. Despite the fact that the Midwest is plagued with tornados, LaCrosse (which is the junction of the LaCrosse, the Black, and the Mississippi rivers) has never been hit by one. There are gorgeous, wild Bluffs surrounding the town and undeveloped marsh land that cuts the city into the north and south sides. I could see how a magic creature could feel at home in LaCrosse and could, in fact, stay fairly undetected for a while.

But, I’m not buying this one.

I think the fact that Godfrey admits that she gets this story second hand and the fact that it happened in a place that I’m so intimately familiar with really stretches credibility for me. I will say that when I was growing up (70s and early 80s), the shoreline of the Black River was left undeveloped. I used to roam past the beach barriers and hike for miles through willow and weeds… and it was spooky. But, after I left, there was an attempt, I guess, to gentrify the area and the city clear-cut of all that wilderness. You’d think if there were a selkie or a lizard man living there, someone would have seen evidence of it, when the area was much more wild.

Wouldn’t you?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Marry Me, You Vamp!

From the Vampire Vixen’s chat list, J.C. Wilder (once again) had something interesting and provocative to say, “I heard Virginia Henley speak many years ago and she made the statement, ‘Women would love to sleep with my men but they'd be crazy to marry them.’ - I feel that way about the vamp. They're dark, deadly and ultimately sexy but one would have to be crazy to truly trifle with one.”


That’s part of what irks me when readers of TD&D complain that my vampire character is morally reprehensible. I want to say, “Well, Duh. He’s a vampire. He EATS people.”

I totally understand the appeal of the romantic, tragic vampire. I think, however, it’s easy for post-Buffy fans to forget that the traditional vampire is a killer. He can have remorse, but he still needs to kill to survive. Most vampires aren’t like Angel. They may not be soulless (depending, of course, on the author’s rules regarding such things) but neither are they without sin. (You may say Angel had his Angelus, but I’d counter that in many respects those were two completely different people – one entirely possessed by a demon and the other burdened with a soul. I liked both, though Angel was more interesting to me because he was more self-aware and introspective.)

Anyway, it’s in the sinner that I find interesting literary ground. This question of can a killer be a “good” person interests and excites me. When I sat down and conjured up Garnet, I wanted this question to be central to her personality, too.

I love romantic comedies, and I always knew that I wanted TD&D to have some light-hearted, if not downright humorous moments. However, I didn’t really want a silly, vacuous heroine. I wanted someone who would be equal in strength (ala Garnet’s magic and Lilith, who, if unleashed could eat the vampire for breakfast) AND in emotional depth (she has her secrets and her darker side, too.)

Would I really want to marry Sebastian? No, not particularly. He’s a decent enough sort, a day-walker, and filthy rich… but he still drinks blood and he’d need a source for that blood and it couldn’t be me – not forever, anyway. Plus, I’m not sure a vampire would ever be able to settle down and lead a truly normal life. There is, after all, no statute of limitations on murder...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Market Killer Strikes Again?

Ever since Other me wrote cyberpunk into the ground, I've been joking that now that I've transformed into Tate Hallaway I'll do the same for the whole vampire chick-lit craze.

Guess what's being reported on Vampire Vixens' yahoo group?

"In the publishing world trends come and go like the hems of dresses. According to a lot of publishers I'm hearing, 'We're not interested in vamps, we're all bought up' of the sales are 'slipping'. This is just my opinion but, if the sales are slipping its because of the NY 'rush' to fill the shelves with vampires. This has happened with every 'trend' and the quality begins to slip as they make that mad dash to catch the trend.
What do you think, are vampires dead?" (from J.C. Wilder)

Sounds like I may have done it again. Any requests for the genre or sub-genre I should wipe out next? Inspirational romances? Space opera?


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Black Dog of Père LaChaise

I’ve been reading The Beast of Bray Road, and there is a section in the book about supernatural black dogs, who guard certain graves.

Shawn and I have long been cemetery aficionados – to the point of having photographs hanging in our house of striking or interesting headstones. For me, cemeteries have always been peaceful, contemplative places. When I was a teenager, I used to bicycle out to the pauper’s cemetery on Campbell Road and sit in the shade of the oak tree just to be alone with my own thoughts. When Shawn and I lived on Girard Avenue in Uptown in Minneapolis, we spent a lot of time strolling the grounds of Lakewood Cemetery. I almost never find cemeteries to be spooky or creepy –with two notable exceptions.

The first was our trip to London when we visited Kensel Green. The problem with Kensel Green, despite the fact that it was WAY OUT (we had to take not just the tube, but the train) and we arrived at dusk (generally a creepy time of day), but also that it is as old as the more famous Highgate, but unlike it, it has remained open. Highgate, which is much larger, is filled. Once filled, they closed. Not so Kensel Green. Along one wall, we stumbled across moved or removed headstones. Plus, Kensel Green is old enough that when above ground crypts are in disrepair, there is a certain… shall we say, smell, which was made stronger by the classic London drizzling rain.


We searched for Charles Babbage, who is supposedly buried there, found Christopher Wren instead, and then left in a hurry.

The next year, in 1995, my parents, Shawn and I traveled to Paris. Shawn and I took with us a great guide book we found called Permanent Parisians: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of Paris. Despite our Kensel Green experience, we had a lot of fun roaming the cemeteries of the London area. Plus, Paris has one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, Pere LaChaise, where many, many famous people are buried: Heloise and Abelard, Moliere, Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stien, Proust, and, of course, Jim Morrison (of the “Doors” fame). The cemetery covers acres of land and has gravel roads (complete with street signs) intersecting it. It’s a gigantic necropolis. We were in heaven!

We got lost somewhere after finding Balzac and were paused on the road, consulting our map. That’s when I saw it. The black dog. It was running towards us, through the headstones, barking fiercely. Given how many cats run wild in the cemetery, the thought of a supernatural being never crossed my mind. Our only thought was: run, run away fast. We ran, keeping the dog in our peripheral vision. We crossed the next intersection and it was gone. I hesitate to use the word disappeared because, despite writing about the paranormal, I tend toward the rational. But, it was gone. “That was weird,” we said, and then we went on with our trek.

Only later did I hear about the legend of the black dog. Then, I started to wonder – had we seen one?

To this day, I don’t know.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Web update

I've updated my web page to include the art for DEAD sexy, the back cover blurb, and most importantly a link to an excerpt of the first chapter of the newest Garnet Lacey book!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Owwwwwooh, Werewolves of Wisconsin!

My trip to Oshkosh was, as I predicted, not terribly profitable. However, it was _very_ entertaining. First of all, I got to meet my host family’s friends and I had that instant feeling of being among "my people." These are gaming, science fiction, fantasy, TV and movie fans – geeks, even. Ah....

Even though I sold exact zero copies of _Tall, Dark & Dead_ at Apple Blossom Books, despite all the promotion that Candy, the owner, did for me, I ended up buying several books about subjects that I think will make their way into the novel I’m currently working on (tentatively called) _Bloody Smashing_, book three of the Garnet Lacey series.

For instance, did you know that Wisconsin has its very own werewolf?? Well, according to Linda S. Godfrey who wrote _The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf_, it might. The cool thing is that this is non-fiction. These are unexplainable sightings that actually happened to people in an area not terribly far from Madison -- the town where the Garnet Lacey books are set.

Plus, Candy pointed me to several other cool books, including _Weird Wisconsin_ which I plan on ordering from her soon.

What I love about this is that when I sat down to decide where I was going to set the Garnet Lacey books, I picked Madison both on purpose and somewhat randomly. Let me explain. I love Madison and I make a yearly pilgrimage to State Street and surrounding environs. It’s a very funky, cool place where I could quite easily imagine vampire and other paranormal things hanging out (and not being bothered much, since it’s such a eclectic, accepting town in many ways.) Plus, there really is an occult bookstore on State Street (Shakti Bookshop).

But, even though I grew up in Wisconsin, I’m not from Madison, so the decision was a tad random… so it’s wonderful when I discover that my home-state is, in fact, EXACTLY the kind of place where werewolves and such could live.

Anyway, if you’re interested I found out that Weird Wisconsin has a web site. And, I found Haunted Wisconsin too!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another sale!

It's been a crazy year for Other Me. I just heard from Yoon Ha Lee at the The Internet Review of Science Fiction that my interview with Karin Lowachee will run in their forthcoming issue.

It's a good interview, in my HUMBLE opinion. It was an interview I did because her book CageBird, which I read as part of the Philip K. Dick award committee work, got under my skin. I thought it was an excellent, but difficult book, and I really wanted to know authorial intent. Karin's answers surprised me, and hopefully, they will you too.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Frak You, BSG….

I finally finished watching all of the BSG 2.5 episodes, and I’m never going to watch the show again; I’m that mad.

I think the writers of the show completely misunderstand why I’ve been tuning in. I don’t care about the toasters, their plan, or whether or not the lost colonies ever find Earth. I care about the people. I want to see them interact, every day, with each other – on the ship or on the ground, under stress or in peace. I don’t care about the wham-bam action (yes, it makes my heart pound… but why does it make my heart pound? The pretty explosions? Oh, ORANGE! Wow, THAT’s why I’ve been tuning in, because I love the orange explosions so much… oooh, you added yellow, wow-whee.) No, you fraking idiots. Explosions themselves don’t make good drama. For me it’s the characters, and now...









...“one year later” I don’t know these people any more.

I understand that the writers wanted to skip what they perceived as the boring parts (peace) and get back to the Cylon action.

Whatever. That's for crap storytelling, people. Who do you think you are, George Lucas? (Oh, and guess what? I hate HIM, too.)

I think they miscalculated my attachment to these people. For instance, I would have hung on for an entire season of peace, because with 50,000 people struggling for survive on a planet “ruled” by a corrupt president, a degrading military, there isn’t such a thing as “peace.” No, in fact, that’s drama. Human drama.

I want to have seen the military decommissioning – the decisions to do that, the arguments Adoma may or may not have given for continuing it. I want to see what happened the day Starbuck decided to get married (what the frak, btw? Does she really seem like the nagging, yet devoted tent-wife we see in the snippet of the “now”? How did THAT transformation happen?) I want to see Callie and the Chief work through his violence issues (is it just me or has that guy gotten away with murder and assault with almost no consequences?) I want to see Apollo so give up on life that he lets himself get fat (oh, and if there was no longer any reason to tune in, a fat Apollo pretty much clinches it for me; I like my pretty boys, pretty, thank you.) How did the XO become the sole, sober voice of reason, “You and I both know the Cylons could show up any day?” (And his wife stayed on the ship? Five minutes earlier in the episode, he said she could go cat around without him.) Giaus as completely corrupt? (Yeah, he had his moments, but when the nuke blew, he seemed striken… what makes his character interesting is that conflict between being human and being a completely misguided, manipulated cylon-fraker. He HAD been one of my favorite characters. Not no more.)

And now I hear from my friend Rick that they’re going to skip ahead another year or more? I’m supposed to go the BSG site and download a few minutes of condensed storytelling to satisfy my need for ACTUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

No, not interested, thanks.

I’m too mad. And, frankly, I don’t care any more. You rip out the stories of these people and you rip out the heart of the story. That’s a quick bleed-out. I’m done.

Oh, but thanks for the black fighter pilot... too little, too late, especially since he doesn’t get a story. Apparently no one does any more.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This Just In...

An search just showed that Dead Sexy is now available for Pre-Order! Hurrah!

The Hard, Cold Reality of “Book Tours”

I leave for Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Friday afternoon. I’m headed off to stay with a friend of a friend and stop into OshCON and do a signing at Apple Blossom books in Appleton.

Before I was published, I had this crazy idea that publishers arranged and paid for authors to go on book tour. They don’t. At least, they don’t pay for mine. No doubt there are some authors who get the royal treatment of fifty states in fifty days, the tab picked up by Houghton Mifflin or Penguin USA or whoever, but that’s a select few… and, more to the point, no one *I* know.

How did I end up doing the signing in Appleton, you ask?

Well, sometime after my book first came out in May this friend of a friend in Oshkosh read Tall, Dark & Dead and loved it. He’s also involved with OshCON and he emailed me to see if I was interested in attending the con in October. I said I was, but it’s a bit of a drive for me (several hours by car) and I have a young family at home who will have to make arrangement to survive the weekend on their own. Sensing my hesitation, Phil (my friend of a friend) sweetened the deal: how about I see if I can help you arrange a signing at one of my local bookstores? Or maybe two? “Oh,” I typed, my eyes twinkling, “That’s starting to sound worth it. Especially if you’re willing to make initial contact.”

Because while I love to do signings – what could be cooler than people coming up to YOU and asking for your signature on a book they loved? – I HATE arranging them, especially in places where I’m not local.

I’m not a shy person, but there’s still something in me that inwardly cringes when I have to dial a bookstore’s number and try to convince them that I’m a good bet for a signing. The thing that you may not know about book signings is that they rarely sell a lot of books. I’ve been told by booksellers that if you sell a half a dozen (that’s SIX) you’ve done really well. Many times a bookstore will only order several copies knowing that even those might not “move,” which backfired once… I had a signing in my hometown. It was my first published book. I got some media attention – the Sunday paper ran a huge article the day of the signing, plus my parents told everyone who had ever known me – fifty people showed up. Great for me, except the book store had ordered fifteen copies. Luckily, I’d thought ahead and brought book plates to sign. After that, I started carrying extra copies in my car, though I’ve only had cause to use them once since then.

Normally, it’s crickets. The resounding sound of emptiness.

The class I took in publicity said that the point of book signings is not to sell books, it’s to talk to booksellers and get them excited about “hand selling” (talking up your book to customers who ask, “What’s good?”). Even though I know that’s what I’m supposed to expect, it’s still disappointing to drive (eight minutes or eight hours) to sit in a mostly empty bookstore with that wistful, yet doomed expression of someone whose date is never going to show….

When book signings are local, I can do something to mitigate that depressing experience. I can print up and send out postcards announcing the signing a week or a month in advance to my friends, acquaintances, people to whom I’ve taught classes, etc. Then, usually, some people show up. When the signings are out of town, like this one will be, I’m at a loss as to what I can do. Now that I’m writing romances, there’s the possibility of contacting the local RWA chapter and seeing if they will, at least, run a notice in their newsletter to members… but, this brings me right back to that slimy feeling of asking people to do something for me that doesn’t net them much in return.

A more robust self-promoter than myself would send off press-kits to the area newspapers in hopes that somehow I will have written a press release that makes an Oshkosh reporter psyched that an out-of-towner that has no connection what-so-ever to their city has come to sign one of a million paranormal romance. It’s a tough sell. What usually happens is I work like a dog to come up with a clever hook about my work, write up and print out the press releases, gather up reviews and articles about me for a press kit, go to the effort to make them pretty, yet accessible, spend the money to ship them off…

…And get zero response.

So, I'm off to Oshkosh to listen to their crickets. Wish me luck?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Copyedited Manuscript Delivered

Yesterday evening I FedExed the copy-edited manuscript of Dead Sexy back to New York. I have to say this was the cleanest copy I've ever had to approve... which, frankly, unnerved me. I'm used to having to do all sorts of crazy last minute changes. This time I only had to answer a couple of questions, fix one herb, and that was it.


Still, the book is that much closer to being ready to hit the shelves!

Now, I need to start working on Bloody Smashing... just one more episode of Battlestar Galactica, then I can start...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Respect for arthropods (and other ick!)

When I asked Mason what I should blog about this is what he suggested:

“Dear dot-com.,
Nothing else. Now let’s look at ‘deep sea’ + ‘ocean creatures.’”

He’s just discovered the wonderful powers of google, and that there is a world of images of his favorite things: hammerhead sharks, Brazilian wandering spiders, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, black widow spiders, harvestmen (the arachnid family that daddylonglegs belongs to [pictured]), giant squid, etc. Whenever he sees me sitting at the computer, he always comes up to me and tells me what search words he wants me to use (even when I’m not online.)

I have to say that I have learned to enjoy things -- and by "things" I mostly mean arthropods, a.k.a "bugs" -- thanks to being a parent to a curious boy like Mason. Even though it means sometimes picking up millipeds in my backyard and inwardly thinking "eew".... I tell myself that by not cringing and shrieking like the Nelly Queen I truly am, I am hopefully fostering exploration, etc., etc. for my budding entomologist.

Monday, September 25, 2006

TV May Be Evil...

...But it taught my three year-old to say "hypengyophobia" (the fear of responsiblity.)

In case you're wondering he learned that word from "Charlie Brown's Christmas."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tate at the Sprawl

As part of the Midwest Fiction Writer's Harvest Fall Festival, I will be answering questions and signing Tall, Dark & Dead on Saturday, September 30, 2006 starting at 7:00 pm at the Sear's Court in the Mall of America along with Jennifer Cruise, Bob Mayer, Barbara Samuel, Judy Baer, Kathleen Eagle, Lois Greiman, Michele Hauf, Maureen McKade, Patti O'Shea, Wendy Rosnau, Roxanne Rustand, and Cynthia Williams. It should be quite the event.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dead Sexy Cover

Here it is! The cover for DEAD SEXY, the second book in the Garnet Lacey series.

The back copy reads: I should’ve known I’d never get away with murder. Especially when the people I accidentally unleashed the dark Goddess Lilith on were Vatican witch hunters. Besides, I’ve had other things to worry about. I really don’t want my vampire boyfriend to find out my vampire ex is stowing his coffin in my basement...

Meanwhile, pesky frat boy zombies are popping up everywhere, even at Mercury Crossing, the occult bookstore I manage. And if that weren’t enough, I’ve got a gorgeous FBI agent hot on my trail.

What to do? A teensy little love spell might encourage cute FBI guy to listen to my side of the story, and I could break it any time…right? Between love spells gone wrong and sharing my body with the Goddess Lilith, a plea of innocence won’t be so easy to conjure up...

Post Script: The cover artist is Margaret Gockel and it was designed by Monica Benalcazar.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A New Pluto?

This was sent to me: and it made me wonder. If we were to adopt a ninth "new" planet, how are astrologers going to deal with it? Pluto is the former-planet-now-dwarf-planet that currently rules Scorpio (my sign) and I have a lot personally invested in its "atributes." What if they get reassigned to this up-and-comer?

I don't know if I can cope.

More Garnet on Tap!

First, I just heard this morning from my agent that Anne Sowards at Berkely bought BLOODY SMASHING -- the third installment of the Garnet Lacey series, which continues the adventures of Garnet, Sebastian Von Traum and the gang at Mercury Crossing. They want a delivery of May of 07, so that means it will be out some time in spring of 08. DEAD SEXY (book two) is already delivered and will be out in 07. Hooray!

Secondly, I'm not sure if I ever followed up about the short story that I submitted to Charaline Harris' vampire birthday anthology MANY BLOODY RETURNS (Ace - paperback). My story called "Fire and Ice and Linguine for Two" has been delivered, accepted, revised and is now also waiting for publication. It's a short story featuring Garnet and is about Sebastian's birthday.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Problem With Catch Phrases

My homework for my publicity class is this: “Seriously evaluate your work and look for the threads or core story that pull at your readers’ emotions on a subliminal level. Once you find it, you may have to simmer and boil your message down to get it short, snappy, and concise.”

I have a small problem.

The theme of Tall, Dark & Dead is actually one that a number of readers are reacting to negatively on A couple of reviewers have written in to say that they find the main characters somewhat (or entirely) morally reprehensible. I didn’t intend for readers to find my heroine and hero unlikable (and, it should be noted, *most* readers aren’t finding them unsympathetic), but I did want my protagonists to wrestle with a fairly hefty moral issue honestly. That is to say the theme is a prickly one: “When is killing acceptable?” I think that this bigger issue, especially when diffused by a chick-litty chatty, romance heroine, is perfectly acceptable, even laudable in a vampire novel. Vampires, after all, by their very nature, are killers. Who better to have this kind of thematic conversation with, right?


Well, it worked enough to sell the book to my editor. I mean, I feel that this kind of moral question is very effective as a theme for a novel and as a conflict for a character, but I don’t know how well it’s going to boil down into a happy, snappy catchphrase with which to brand myself. “Tate Hallaway, the funny violence philosopher!”

Somehow I’m not hearing the cha-ching of bestsellerdom with that one.

The other approach, I suppose, is to try to position myself as the vampire chick-lit lady, except that brand already belongs to a number of authors. Probably the best well known being: Charaline Harris, Kim Harrison, MaryJanice Davidson, et al. So, how do I stand out, especially when my core story is so prickly?

Even my locale has even been taken. Whereas Harris is the Southern Vampire writer, Davidson has claimed the Midwest (being from and placing her novels in Minneapolis/St. Paul). My novel takes place in the Midwest also, but in the quirky capitol city of Wisconsin -- Madison. My main character is a Witch, but then so is Kim Harrison’s. My novels have an astrological element, but it’s not terribly strong in the second book. It’s probably not enough to "brand" myself with at any rate.

You begin to see my problem?

I suspect this tendency of mine to want to write about things that… well, matter (at least to me)… continues to get me into trouble (I believe this may have been part of my downfall in my other persona). I’m difficult to “brand” because, while my themes might be universal, my answers are personal. And, not, as the reviews are showing, always entirely things people who pick up a cartoonish covered romance really want to think about.

A better person would know how to spin this. I don’t.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Astro Alert! (And a Review)

First, the important stuff:

Lunar Eclipse in Pisces
Do you have an urge to howl at the Moon? With the September 7 full Moon lunar eclipse in sensitive Pisces you may feel a bit thin-skinned. Yet, there isn’t a better time to tune into yourself and take stock of where you are and what you want. See if you can take some time away from your busy schedule. Turn off your cell phone, hire a babysitter or take a personal day from work.

Because full Moons, even lunar eclipses, represent a culmination of what you set in motion during the last new Moon, you should review what you've started since the new Moon on August 23. Between now and the next new Moon later this month, on September 22 (also the date of the autumn solar eclipse) -- get a plan together to make changes that will make you feel more comfortable.

But for now, do yourself a favor. Watch a beautiful sunset, listen to a serene piece of music or sit quietly someplace where you can hear yourself think. You’ll be glad you did!

So says

Also, Michele Hauf returned the favor and wrote a very nice review of Tall, Dark & Dead here: Have You Read This Yet?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Branding or Bondage? (Yes, This is About Writing, Not Sex)

I’m taking an online class on self-promotion from the women who run Blue Moon Communications, and the first set of lectures are all about how an author “brands” (as in builds a brand name for) themselves. If you haven’t heard of this concept, consider yourself lucky. The idea is that any product (even things like authors or museums) can benefit from the kind of advertising that works for say, Coca-Cola. A consumer is supposed to form an association with you and your work, which solidifies a particular image in their head, like when I say “McDonald’s” you think: fast, ubiquitous, cheap, and utterly evil food. Okay, you’re not supposed to think that last one, but you get the idea, right?

Lot of people buy into this idea as a good thing. When I was still working at the Minnesota Historical Society, I sat through an entire meeting devoted to getting to the core ideas MHS wanted to express as they began the process of branding themselves. My local chapter of RWA has had special lecturers come in and teach authors how to do this also.

Here’s my problem: I’m not convinced this is a good idea for authors.

However, I can see this sort of advertising working well for places like Minnesota Historical Society. Even though it might be a nebulous idea like ‘fun learning,’ what MHS produces can be distilled into sell-able concepts or information bytes.

One of our first assignments for my promotion class was to think of three well-known authors and to consider what their brand might be. All the people I could think of – Stephen King, Anne McCaffery, and J.K. Rowling – might have been “branded,” but they were also pigeonholed. Stephen King is the horror guy, Anne McCaffery is the dragon lady, and J.K. Rowling is the kid wizard woman, even though they might want to be someone else. They’re stuck delivering stories in that same niche. Not “branded,” so much as in “bondage.”

Yeah, you’re saying, but branding clearly works. Those guys are famous! I’m sure they’re crying all the way to the bank. I mean, once you’re THAT famous, presumably you are writing fulltime and may have the time to write what you want on the side under a pseudonym… or maybe you finally have enough money that you simply fall into some kind of intense bliss of uncaring joy.

I still don’t buy it.

Part of the problem is that I don’t believe this works from the ground up, only in reverse. Let me explain. Stephen King, Anne McCaffery, and J. K. Rowling didn’t set out with a brand in mind (especially King and McCaffery, they both started writing in the 1970s). They wrote what they wanted to. It just so happened that what they wrote struck a cord in the (inter)national market. They wrote what people wanted, WHEN they wanted it. By accident. Not by design. My point is, they were already bestsellers. To my knowledge, none of them set out to be the dragon lady or horror guy or the whatever babe du jour.

I’ll grant that perhaps one of the salient features of being a bestseller is writing something that’s easy branded. A simple message is a broad one. That makes sense to me.

But I’m not entirely convinced that distilling one’s own work into a sellable catch phrase is really going to suddenly translate into a broader appeal, especially when the book is already out there. The assumption is that an author continues to build their brand-name recognition with each book. This is great a great idea… if you can last that long. One of the reasons authors are so desperate to try ideas like branding, is because the reality of the book buying world is that books don’t have a very long shelf life. That, my mentors at Blue Moon would tell me, is why you brand the AUTHOR, not the book.

Again, great in theory. Let’s say an author brands herself the telepathic dolphin chick, and no one wants stories about mind-reading sea mammals? Well, then, my instructors very bluntly explain that if the books the author writes bomb, s/he needs to take on a penname and try again. You’ve effectively killed the author by branding them to the type of books that died (of course, this happens anyway, because of the way books are bought by chain bookstores.)

Whereas I can see that authors who already have established reputations can be said to have a brand, no one that I can think of has risen out of the unwashed masses by branding themselves as, say, the tarantula chick-lit writer. And I don’t know what branding yourself the sassy arachnid author gets you, other than the potential to have to be that for as long as people want stories like that and you’re forced to change your name and do it all over again.

That’s not to say that I don’t think some of the advice given as part of this whole branding idea isn’t sound. It’s perfectly reasonable to consider what your theme is and to try to have it reflected in your web presence, in print, in your professional demeanor. In a lot of ways, because the publishing industry is set up in such a way that branding is its own self-fulfilling prophesy (which is to say, you get sort of branded by the marketing department anyway, and, as I said, big chains attach your name to your sales figures so you sink or swim with your series no matter what), you might as well try to paddle the boat rather than just going along for the ride. But, I don’t think an author should fool themselves into thinking that if they can crack this mythical branding nut, they will suddenly find themselves on the New York Times bestseller list.

I really think that the only way you get to be a bestseller is by luck.

Or by magic.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Speedy, Fun Read

Michele Hauf
Silhouette Bombshell (September 2006)

In this fast-paced romantic adventure novel, it’s all about speed for Jamie McAlister, a former criminal getaway driver, who is attempting to go straight in Michele Hauf’s GETAWAY GIRL. Of course, her first pick-up for the “good guys” goes horribly wrong, and Jamie ends up entangled with sexy bad guy Sacha Vital, an expatriated American living in Paris who is trying to escape the shadow of his criminal father.

I had a great time reading this novel, even though I usually prefer romantic stories with a bit more speculative twist. This is a straight-forward action-adventure novel, but Hauf handles the plot twists and turns with the same skill as her fictional Jamie steers her “bimmer.”

Jamie is a fun heroine, very chick-litty-chatty, who creates a theme song for everyone she meets. Granted, being the old fuddy-duddy that I am, I don’t know every song she refers to, but I can usually get the gist of them from the titles. The secondary characters are likewise intriguing. I was particularly drawn to Dove, the omni-sexual information broker, and Fitch, the Southern woman-of-a-certain age hacker and Jamie’s main contact for her various driving jobs.

Additionally, I enjoyed “revisiting” Paris throughout the pages of this novel. I’ve always been a bit of a Francophile, and getting to wander the arrondissements with Jamie was a treat.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun, fast read.

If I may go on a small riff, however, without detracting from Hauf’s read?

[RANT] There’s a small reference when the two lovers are reminiscing about their first anonymous encounter, when Jamie says in the moment after sex, “I’d thought it was the first time in a while that I truly felt happiness, as well.” What’s up with this? It reminded me of my biggest disappointment in “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer,” which is that when Angel is cursed to lose his soul after experiencing one moment of pure happiness -- that one moment is after sex. It’s not that I’m a prude, or that I think that after-glow isn’t wonderful. But wouldn’t it have been nice if one rainy afternoon, while sitting on opposite ends of the duvet reading, Angel just burst into evil-Angelus?

Most of my moments of pure happiness have happened in intensely mundane moments like the one above. But, then maybe my recognition of these kinds of moments is why I’ve been in a relationship with the same person for the last twenty-one years. Of course, most romances are about first blush, not the maintenance of a two-decade (and still going!) long love. Joss Whedon, with his quirky outlook, could have pulled off an Angel-turns-bad-while-quilting moment, but I didn’t really expect one from Hauf. GETAWAY GIRL isn’t that type of book, nor should it have tried to be, but it just sparked this thought.[/RANT]

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saturn/Neptune Opposition! Pluto Direct!

I know you always turn to me for these sorts of things...

My newest Astro Alert from says this:

Amid much astrological intensity (including the controversial reclassification last week of Pluto to a "dwarf" planet -- see below), serious Saturn and idealistic Neptune begin the first of three oppositions starting August 31, while Pluto gets ready to turn direct on September 4. The result? You are likely getting clearer and clearer about what you do and do not want in your personal relationships -- and the world is too.

Indeed, from the global to the personal, human beings have an unwitting tendency to cyclically nurture -- or damage -- their relationships; to attract friends as well as foes. The upcoming planetary shifts represent the perfect time to get a handle on this aspect of human nature, and rethink the instinct to ... well, not think about the effects your actions have on others.

Also, because I'm sure you've been wondering what astrologers have been thinking about the whole Pluto-not-a-planet problem, here's their note on that:

The Pluto Predicament
Pluto joined our solar system’s family of planets in 1930. Seventy-six years later, as astronomers have discovered more and more orbiting bodies, including asteroids, comets, moons and as-yet-unclassified bodies, the International Astronomical Union has reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.

But this doesn't mean that you should disregard Pluto's place in your charts! It hasn’t left the solar system; it's just in a new category.

Historically, astrologers have examined events in the world at the time of a planet's discovery for clues about what it represents. As god of the underworld, Pluto represents power, transformation, the cycle of death and rebirth, and the process of breaking down and rebuilding. And now the status of Pluto itself is transforming -- a sure sign of its power and influence!

Time will tell if the scope of Pluto's symbolism will decrease as a result of its reclassification. In the meantime, Pluto retains all its astrological significance, as it continues to orbit our Sun.

Monday, August 28, 2006

New Review

Check out the review for Tall, Dark & Dead at

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Mammoth Creation Project

Apparently, there is a group of Japanese scientists hellbent on reproducing a wooly mammoth (from sperm frozen in permafrost and an elephant's egg). The thing I find cool about this is that they already have permission to house their creation in a national forest in Siberia.

That's like the guy who wrote The AntiChrist and a Cup of Tea who surrenders his copyright in the event of the tribulation (beginning of the end of the world.)

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah. Not sure exactly what kind, but a certain amount of it, clearly.

If you want to read the article that inspired this ramble, check out: World Science: Bringing Back the Extinct

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Now turn to page 135, Everyone…

Second paragraph, near the end, begin reading: "My favorite mug, a blue and brown glazed, hand-thrown pottery one made for me by my friend Frank out in Oregon, had been left with so many other important things in Minneapolis."

Today, Frank sent replacements.

In his August 14th letter, he writes: “Dear Garnet: A little bird told me (actually I think it was a turkey vulture, but my ornithology is kinda suspect) that you were in need of replacement tea mugs, as you’d been reduced to discount bin specials from the Giga-Mart....”

“Geez, [Tate], give a fellow a little warning, will you? One minute I’m sailing along, navigating the plot convolutions of the contemporary vampire romance, the next I’m laughing so hard I nearly fall off of the bed. ‘My friend Frank out in Oregon....’ Does that count as placement?”

No, my dear Frank, but this does:

Check out the fantastic pottery work of Oregon potter Frank A. Gosar, as featured in Tall, Dark & Dead at his web site: Off-Center Ceramics

In my opinion, one of the best parts of being a writer is getting to slide bits of your real life into your novels. When I thought about all the things I’d leave behind if, like Garnet, I had to flee in the middle of the night, Frank’s pottery was one of the things I’d miss (his artwork, too! I have a couple of watercolors of his on my walls.) So, I decided to write him in. Apparently, there’s a term for this phenomenon: tuckerization. Frank found it on wikipedia: a "tuckerization" is the act of using a person's name in original fiction as an in-joke. I wouldn't say that I used Frank's name so much as an in-joke, but more as an homage to a good friend and a marvelous potter.

Now go buy some of his stuff (your friends NEED some for Christmas/Solstace, you know they do), or read about the life-sized ceramic cow he hand-built for his MFA terminal project. Or listen to his morning show on KLCC (89.7 fm/NPR), The Saturday Cafe.

More Thing I Never Needed to Know

A dear (yet evil) friend of mine and fellow fantasy writer Naomi Kritzer sent this news article from Appril 2006 which appeared in the Nikomis East Neighborhood Association's Back Yard newsletter to me. Shark Tales No More: Live Sharks Caught in Minnehaha Creek explains how Hurricane Katrina has sent bull sharks (those that can live in freshwater) further up the Mississippi than ever before -- including an 5 foot adult male found alive in Lake Pepin (in the winter!) and two pups (one of which is shown here) found Minnehaha Creek, a park Mason and I frequently swim in and hike around. The ending of the article is particularly unnerving to me, because I was totally one of those kids who was mocked for not wanting to swim in the Mississippi after "JAWS" came out (and I only saw the poster, as I was too young to see it in the theatre.) Now, all I can say is... ha! Sharks were probably swimming around in the Mississippi that whole damn time.

Edited at a later date: Oops. I guess I was April Fooled. Nevermind.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Going to the Post Office!

The revisions for DEAD SEXY are done! I printed up the final copy and will be headed off today to Kinko's/FedEx.

If only that meant I could sit back and rest...

... alas (and I'm not REALLY complaining, mind you,) I have about 8,000 more words to write on a short story about Sebastian and Garnet that (with any luck) will appear in MANY BLOODY RETURNS a vampire/birthday-themed anthology edited by Charaline Harris. The good news? I figured out my plot last night. Now I just have to get all the pretty images out of my head and on to the paper. The easy bit, right?


Off to the post office!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Diveriscon Schedule

I'm going to be at Diversicon this weekend, and here is my schedule:

Noon-12:50 Vampire Chick-Lit. The hot new thing is dead. Let's talk about who's writing it and what they're writing about. mod., Tate Hallaway; Richard K. Lyon, Sybil Smith, Jody Wurl.

5:00-5:50pm Feminist Romance. Very often romances in short stories an dnovels follow very patriarchal rules, even when fairly feminist individuals are writing. What does a faminist romantic storyline look like? What don't we see these? How can writers who like to think of themselves as feminists avoid falling back on the old standbys? mod, S.N. Arly; Paula L. Fleming, Catherine Lundoff, Rebecca Marjesdatter.

Writers' Group Blog

My writers group, Wyrdsmiths, has just started a group blog. This blog is intended to be about writing, the craft of writing, the writing life, and anything else we feel like talking about. The group is comprised of a number of published and award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors including: Eleanor Arnason, Naomi Kritzer, Kelly McCoullough, and Lyda Morehouse.

Check out the

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Other Me Reports a Sale

Other Me has been a very busy short story seller this year. In fact, she has some more good news to report.

"I just heard from Eric Heideman, editor of Tales of the Unanticipated, that my short story about furniture obsession, the 1916 Irish Uprising, and time-travel, called 'The Van Buylen Effect' sold for issue #28, scheduled to come out in late 2007 or early 2008."

You go, Other Me!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Revision Crunch

Sorry I've been such a spotty blogger, but I got my revision letter for Dead Sexy from my editor Anne Sowards. She had some substantial issues with the romance as I'd written it, so this has been a fairly major overhaul. It's going quickly, though. I'm one of those strange critters who actually enjoys revising.

Plus, I've been reading Grammar Snobs Are Great, Big Meanies: A Language Guide for Fun and Spite by June Casagrande, which is just tremendous fun. Some of the reviewers on don't seem to like it much, but I've enjoyed what I've read so far (perhaps she flubs the ending? Can you do that in a book about words?)

I'd hazard a guess (by skimming the first reviewer's comments) that the people who are offended by the book are, in fact, grammar snobs themselves and don't like being put in their place. I like the book because though I want to be a grammar expert, I'm not (and I know it, and I, like her, have been terrorized by grammar snobs in my past.) This is not a book for someone who wants to be proven right, rather a book that enjoys language and the modern usage of it. The fact that Casagrande discusses in great length why The Simpsons is the most grammatically correct TV show on today tells you a lot about the kind of person who should be reading this book. That person would be me

(not "I").

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Value of Hanging Out with Other Writers

I've been thinking a lot about writers' groups in the past couple of days, and I was just reminded of one of the best reasons to be in one...

...for the company of people who UNDERSTAND.

My friend and fellow writer Rachel was over for lunch today and, as writers often do, we got to talkin' shop. She told me about some positive rejections she got from magazine editors and how two stories came back with editor comments. I stopped her and said, "Wait. Are you saying they want to see the stories again? Like, an informal request for revisions?" "Oh, yeah," she muttered. "I should really get to those some time."

Some time, grrl! How about today!

Thing is, the other people in Rachel's life just don't really get it. There's no one who says, "Uh, yeah. You should do that. I would've! Yesterday!" Because to them, one rejection is just like another.

We all know the truth. If you get the yellow rejection from Realms of Fantasy you're moving up the ladder, that much closer to the written "I liked this, but I just bought a telepathic rabbit story. Feel free to send more when you have something new."

And We all know that when you get that last one, you send something off the next day, if you can.

Even when your spouse/lover/partner/pool boy/S.O. is extremely supportive, there's nothing quite like having another writer in your life who understands that you ARE a genius, who is, in point of fact, just waiting for some editor somewhere to recognize you for what you are. Someone with whom you can (as I like to call it) cast the rejection slips (there should be a word for this thing we all do where we ponder the meaning of cryptic wordings ala "didn't quite grab me" vs. "didn't quite work for me, alas" -- rejectomancy?)

My writers group fills this need for me. Rachel and I will just have to do lunch more often, because writers need this stuff.

Maybe even more than caffeine.


But don't quote me.