Thursday, December 27, 2007

Archangel LOL'ed

My dear friend and alternate personality had her book, Archangel Protocol, LOL'ed by Jim Hines: Cool, huh?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Romance Contest -- Windy City

**permission to forward**

The Windy City Romance Writers Present the 2008 Four Seasons Awards

What to Enter: Up to the first 25 pages of your manuscript. No synopsis required.

Built-in discrepancy judging—all entries will be judged by three judges, and the lowest score will be dropped to determine final rankings

Save on paper, ink, and postage—only send three copies of your entry (only those guaranteed to be judged) and an electronic version of your entry on CD (in the event you final, we will print a copy of your entry to go to the final judges)

First-round judges: Experienced critiquers and published authors of the Windy City Romance Writers. (Only Windy City members judge this contest, and Windy City members are not eligible to enter.) Final-round judges: One editor and one agent for each category. Scores from both judges are averaged to determine the winners:

Single Title Contemporary: Lindsay Nouis, NAL
Danielle Egan-Miller, Brown & Miller Agency

Short/Long Contemporary: Diana Ventimiglia, Harlequin
Jennifer Schober, Spencerhill Associates

Historical: TBD
Kristen Nelson, Nelson Agency LLC

Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal: Leah Hultenschmidt, Dorchester Publishing Co.
Kelly Harms, Jane Rotrosen Agency

Winners in each category will receive an engraved plaque. All finalists will receive certificates and will be mentioned in the RWR. All contestants will receive a score sheet from each judge. In addition, judges are encouraged (but not required) to write comments on the manuscript.

Entry Deadline: March 1, 2008 (postmark date)

Questions? Visit our Website: or Contact Wendy Byrne, Four Seasons Contest Chairperson,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Erotica News

Even though this may not have a lot of cross-over appeal, I thought I should announce that Other Me got this piece of good news regarding the orphaned anthology: Periphery: Erotic Lesbian Futures. Her editor, Lynne Jamneck wrote:

"Steve Berman has just emailed me to say that Lethe Press would very much like to publish Periphery. He wants to have the anthology ready end of February, in time for WisCon 2008."

So, if you're a fan of other me's AngeLINK novels, the story she will have published there, "ishtartu," takes place in that universe, though not with any of the main characters.

Speaking of WisCON, other me just registered yesterday, so she'll be there with bells on! I, Tate, may or may not make an appearance. Depends on if I can find a good dress for the ocassion (and how this whole turning myself into Captian America thing is going.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Astrology Alert Saturn Retrograde

It has been rightly pointed out that the below needs an atribution. It comes to me via My deepest apologies. I almost always put this in quotes:

Saturn turns retrograde in Virgo on December 19. This is also the beginning of the end of 2007, and an ideal time for reviewing the past year’s accomplishments. Hopefully you’ve made strides toward success, or achieved your goals and have a clear sense of what’s next on your agenda for 2008!

This phase will last through May 2. Saturn's sway is even stronger in retrograde, and with the planetary ruler of discipline and responsibility peddling backward in fastidious in Virgo, you'll want to obsess over whether the plans you've laid can succeed. Don't sweat the small stuff! Do, however, take action to improve your chances for happiness and success in all your endeavors.

Saturn’s position in Virgo has been urging you to be more efficient. Can you sense the possibilities that will open up once you are more organized? Use the influence of this Saturn retrograde transit to inspire a list of prioritized goals. Then don’t be afraid to charge forward, full speed ahead!

Winter Rose Contest Published/Unpublished


Winter Rose Award for Excellence 2008: Published
Sponsor: Yellow Rose Romance Writers.
Fee: $20
Postmark Deadline: January 25, 2008
Eligibility: PAN or PAN Eligible.
Enter: romance novels published in 2007.

Categories: RS, paranormal, ST contemporary, historical, series contemporary, inspirational. Final judges: booksellers, readers groups, & librarians. Top Prize: silver rose pendant. FMI, entry form, and rules {}

Winter Rose Award for Excellence 2008: Unpublished
Sponsor: Yellow Rose Romance Writers.
Fee: $30
Postmark Deadline: January 25, 2008
Eligibility: not published in book-length fiction.
Enter: prologue/first chapter (25 pages max).

Categories: RS, paranormal, ST contemporary, historical, series contemporary. Final judges: editors. Top prize: partial read by agent, cash prize and silver rose pendant. FMI, entry form, and rules {}


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Get Outta That Slump! An On-Line Course

***Permission to Forward***

Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Academy announces an upcoming online workshop for January.

Workshop Title: Guerilla Tactics for Writers in a Slump
Presenter: Lori Wilde
Date: Jan. 2 - Jan. 16, 2008

Description: Have you been writing a long time and while you've received some recognition for your work you're just not getting the attention you deserve? Or, were you published once, then found yourself without a publisher and now you can't get break back in? Or are you currently published but your career seems to be barely bumping along?

This workshop is designed provide answers to those questions and catapult you onto the publishing fast track. Guerilla Tactics for Writers in a Slump will illustrate exactly what's holding you back and keeping you from being the writer you're truly meant to be.

Topics covered include
1. Identifying What's Holding You Back
3. Shifting Your Writing into High Gear
4. Toughing the Mind of the Writer Warrior
5. Toughing the Body of the Writer Warrior
6. Honing Your Battle Plan

About the presenter: Lori Wilde has written forty-one novels for three major New York Publishing houses. She holds a bachelors degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and a certificate in forensics. She volunteers as a sexual assault first responder for Freedom House, a shelter for battered women.

Recently, she received a two book contract from Warner books based solely on a 25 word 'high concept' pitch. When the sale-along with the pitch-was announced on Publisher's Marketplace, she was approached by eight film production companies-including Paramount and Warner Brothers-interested in optioning her completed novel for a movie. She is an instructor for a company who provides online community education to over 1500 colleges and universities.

Lori is a past RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. She's won the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Wisconsin Write Touch Award, The Golden Quill, the Lories, and The More than Magic. Her books have been translated into 22 languages and excerpted in Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Complete Woman, and Quick and Simple magazines. She lives in Texas with her husband, Bill.

Her website:

Deadline to sign up: Dec. 29, 2007
Fee: $10 CHRW members; $15 non-members.
RWA Membership isn't required; anyone can take our courses. Celtic Hearts members receive 2 free workshops a year.
Where to sign up:
Please fill out the online form.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Still Learning

Perhaps obviously from all the posts here, I send stuff in to any romance contest that accepts published writers. It's always a very strange experience when I get the score sheets back when my novel didn't make the cut (which is, btw, ninety percent of the time.)

A couple of days ago, I got one that fascinated me. One of the judges heaped on praise, including making a point of noting that she felt that I'd handled, of all things, dialogue tags effectively -- specifically not over doing the adverbs describing how people are talking, i.e, "he said angrily." She said that she was impressed that I allowed the dialogue to imply how things were said.

The other judge also made an issue of my dialogue. She, however, had problems with it. She thought that I had a tendency to over do my dialogue tags. I'd have people using the other conversant's name in dialogue and then also use the speaker's name, i.e, "You're being stupid, Garnet," Sebastian said -- even when there's only two speakers in the room.

Yeah, I do that. I'm going to be willful and say that even though I think I'm going to start paying attention to how MUCH I do it, I'll probably continue to do it at times. The reason I do it is simple: people talk like that. Or, at least, *I* do. I use a person's name in coversation, even when there's just two of us, for emphasis. Particularly when we're talking about something sensitive, I'll use the other person's name: "You know I'm right, Shawn." (To which, in real life, she'd reply, "Like hell, Tate.")

I use it also because I'm writing in first person. It's a very quick way to introduce the main character's name -- full name, when it's otherwise quite awkward to try to work in, as most people don't think to themselves, "I, Garnet Lacey, considered kissing my vampire lover, Sebastian Von Traum, on the lips!"

But if you're mad at someone, you might do a parent thing -- using someone's full name to show the level of trouble they're in -- and say, "Stop singing that annoying song, Garnet Lynn Lacey."

Even though I'm a bit defensive about my use of names in dialogue between two people, I'm now paying attention. I think that the worst thing that can happen to an author is when they think they've learned everything there is to know about writing and stop paying attention.

So I'm awake now. And that's a good thing.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Romance Contest: Between the Sheets

***permission to forward***


Announcing the Greater Detroit RWA annual Between the Sheets contest. Enter your best love scene, up to 10 pages - anything from sweet to erotic.

Final judges: Leah Hultenschmidt, Dorchester; Diana Ventimiglia, Harlequin/Silhouette; Elaine English, Elaine P. English Literary Agency

1st Place: $100; 2nd Place: $50; 3rd Place: $25

Open to all RWA members unpublished in book-length fiction, $20 entry fee, multiple submissions allowed. Deadline: February 14, 2008. Entry includes one page unjudged setup. For more information, entry form, and guidelines,go to or email

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On-Line Class: Taxes for Writers (Hobbist, Semi-Pro, & Pro)

The Online Campus of Hearts through History Romance Writers Present

Class: Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Taxes
Instructor: Diane O'Brien, CPA/Attorney At Law/Writer
Dates: January 6, 2008-January 31, 2008
Registration Deadline: January 6, 2008
Fee: $10/HHRW Members, $20/others
Registration: www.heartsthroughhiRegistrat (click on HHRW Mall, then CampusFMI: _classes@heartsthrouclasses@hecla_(

Class Description: Do the letters I-R-S strike fear in your heart? Are you confused about how to report your income and deductions? Have no ideas what records to keep? This class is for you! This informative yet surprisingly entertaining class will address critical tax issues for both the beginning and experienced writer, including: (1) the myth of the "Hobby Loss" rule; (2) federal income tax forms relating to your writing business and how to properly prepare the forms; (3) business expense deductions, including the options available and the pros and cons of each option; (4) self-employment taxes - what they are, how to compute them, and when they are due; (5) red flags to be aware of; (6) record keeping for your writing business; (7) whether incorporating is right for you; (8) state sales tax issues; (9) setting up a retirement for your writing business. You'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about taxes in this useful online seminar. What's more, you'll get to pick the brain of an experienced CPA/tax attorney without incurring outrageous fees! And, don't forget, the class fee is tax deductible!

BIO: Diane O'Brien Kelly is a CPA and tax attorney with almost two decades experience in federal and state taxation. She spent several years with international accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwick, and has also served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas. Diane currently works asa tax attorney in Fort Worth. Diane writes humor and romantic comedies, as well as an occasional article on taxation when she's feeling exceptionally boring. Her work has been published in Writer's Digest Yearbook, the Romance Writers Report, Byline magazine, True Love magazine, the Fort Worth Business Press, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Northwest Family News. She is a tax columnist for Nink,the newsletter of the writers'group Novelists, Inc. Diane publishes a new short humor piece each month on the "Blarney" page ofher page of her website, , www.dianeobrien taxtips on her "Tax Tidbits" page. She distributes a quarterly newsletter, "The Blarney Blub," which is chock full of great tax advice. Diane speaks on taxation for writers and teaches a Writer's Workshop at her local rec center. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors. Diane lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her husband, two children, and enough cats and dogs to violate several city ordinances.

Format: Course is conducted via Yahoo Groups email with lessons and Q & A., http://www.dianeobrienkellwebsite

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

OMG! My Life List Has Expanded!

Do I need to say more???

Mason and I, who have been playing the license plate game for nearly a year now, have finally seen all 50 states (as well as several Canadian provences.) Mason and I spotted the elusive WV license plate at the Mall of America in the "Florida" level parking lot on the east side. It was a truly momentous moment. We parked as soon as we could, and then ran out to see it up close and touch it. It was on a silver mustang. Then, we did the happy dance of joy.

My life is, in one small way, more complete.

Tarot Card Plotting : An On-Line Course

***Permission to forward***

The Online Campus of Hearts through History Romance Writers Present

Class: Plotting with Tarot Cards

Instructor: Elizabeth Delisi
Dates: January 7, 2008-January 21, 2008
Registration Deadline: January 7, 2008
Fee: $10/HHRW Members, $20/others
Registration: www.heartsthroughhiRegistrat (click on HHRW Mall, then CampusFMI: _classes@heartsthrouclasses@hecla_(

Class Description: Are you looking for new ways to breathe life into your outlining process, your plots, your characters? If so, have we got the course for you! Elizabeth Delisi, a.k.a. Madame Liz, will teach you how to use the ancient art of the Tarot to develop stories, plots and subplots, heroes, heroines and villians, and more. You'll learn the history of the Tarot, how to choose a deck, how to read the cards, and how to use those readings to develop and improve your writing. There will be four lectures, four assignments to be posted to the list for all to comment on, and naturally all questions will be answered. Lecture One: History of the Tarot, and Choosing a Deck; Lecture Two: How to read Tarot; Lecture Three: Using Tarot to Develop a Plot; Lecture Four: Creating Characters with Tarot.

BIO: Elizabeth Delisi has wanted to be a writer since she was in first grade, and probably would have written in the womb if she could have convinced her mother to swallow a pencil. But life hasn't always gone the way she planned, and on her road to publication she worked as a motel maid, waitress, secretary, administrative aide, substitute teacher, and newspaper reporter. Elizabeth's novels include a FATAL FORTUNE, first in the Lottie Baldwin paranormal mystery series; LADY OF THE TWO LANDS, a time-travel romance; and SINCE ALL IS PASSING, a suspense. She's written contemporary and paranormal romance novellas for ONE TOUCH BEYOND; ENCHANTED HOLIDAYS:HOLIDAY HEARTS; HOLIDAY HEARTS 2:and CUPID'S CAPERS, and has also published two short story collections, MIRROR IMAGES and FENUMBRA. In addition to her writing, Elizabeth edits for several small publishers and individuals, and teaches online writing courses for Writer's Digest. Elizabeth lives in New Hampshire with her husband, dog and cat. She enjoys hearing from her readers at_elizabeth@elizabethelizabeth@_ ( and invites everyone to visit her website at www.elizabethdelisivisit

Format: Course is conducted via Yahoo Groups email with lessons and Q & A. FMI: _classes@heartsthrouclasses@hecla_(

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

LOCUS Bestseller (Hardback!!!)

Hey, I just found out through the vampire underground that Many Bloody Returns made the LOCUS bestseller list for December. Whoot! We also, apparently, are going to have Polish and German editions of the book. Go us!

English 101 On-Line Course

**Permission to Forward**

The Fiction Writer's Self-Editing Workshop

Instructor: Rhonda Stapleton
Dates: January 14 - 28, 2008
Cost: $20

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: Do you find yourself overwhelmed by confusing grammar, punctuation, and editing rules? Don't despair! The Fiction Writer's Self-Editing Workshop is the place for you. Whether you're a beginning writer or seasoned author, you can learn simple, straight forward tips for self-editing. Topics discussed include punctuation use, point of view, trimming the fat, using concrete/vivid language, frequent errors, style tips, breaking the rules, and more! The course is highly interactive - students will get hands-on editing experience, as well as practice through assigned homework. Students will also receive a list of helpful editing/style books and websites for a reference guide.

INSTRUCTOR'S BIO: Rhonda Stapleton obtained her Master's degree in English from Cleveland State University. She has a Bachelor's degree in English from CSU, as well. Rhonda is a Principal Editor at Thomson West, a legal publishing company, where she has worked for the last five years. In addition, she has freelance edited novels, theses, student papers, and a college writing textbook. While attending Cleveland State, Rhonda worked in The Writing Center for two years as a writing tutor for undergraduate and graduate students. She also taught ENG 105 and ENG 106, college credit courses that give students hands-on tips for writing papers, from brainstorming topics to self-editing. The courses correlate with introductory composition courses ENG 101 and ENG102.

Full details and registration at the Heart of Dixie website,<> Questions: Contact the Coordinator at <>

Monday, December 10, 2007

Romance: The Basics On-Line Class

***Permission to Forward***

January 7-February 1, 2008
The Basics of Writing the Romance Novel
Instructor: Terry Irene Blain
Cost: $25.00 payable by PayPal
Deadline to Register: January 2nd
Go to for more information and to register.

This class will cover the basics of writing the romance novel for the student interested in starting a novel or who has started a novel. The class consists of eight lessons and interactive homework assignments which will introduce the writer to the tools needed to become a successful novelist.

Lesson 1: Character, Conflict and Motivation. How to construct your character, the conflict that will drive your story andthe motivations of your character
Lesson 2: Plot: A look at several methods of plotting, their strengths and weakness. Suggestions of films to watch in preparation for Lesson 3
Lesson 3: Plot and Character in Action: Taking the information from the first two lessons and see how the ideas of character, conflict, motivation and plot are portrayed in the films suggested in Lesson 2.
Lesson 4: Think Guide: Questions you need to think about and ask yourself before you start your own story. Or, if you've already started, how to check to see if you're on the right path.
Lesson 5: Point of View: What it is and how it's used.
Lesson 6: Hooks: How to open you story, the key to getting an agent's or editor's attention. Chapter hooks, how to keep them reading.
Lesson 7: Dialog and Show Don't Tell: Some important tools of the trade
Lesson 8: Synopsis, ms. formatting, word count, query and submissions. Tools you'll need to sell your ms.

About the Instructor: Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow in a large Midwestern family witha rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestor's adventures with Indians, wild life and weather so naturally she gravitated to the study of history. She holds a BA and MA in history as well as a BA in european studies and had taught history at the college level. Her first published romance, KENTUCKY DREAM, finaled in the Golden Quill 2000 contest in both Best Historical and Best First Book category, winning Best First Book. Learn more at her web site:

Deadline to Register: January 2nd

Go to for more information and to register.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Golden Heart Prep Contest

***Permission to Forward***

North Texas RWA's Great Expectations Contest

Is your manuscript polished and off to the Golden Heart? Just have a polished first chapter? Well, have we got a GREAT contest for you !! Lots of feedback, category-specific score sheets, a super-fast turn-around,electronic or paper entries accepted.

Deadline = December 29th
enter = 25 pages & a query letter
fee = $25.00
judges = Contemporary Series: Megan Long with Harlequin Books, Erotic Romance: Raelene Gorlinksky with Ellora's Cave, Historical: Tessa Woodward with Avon Books, Inspirational: Melissa Endlich with Harlequin Books, Mainstream w/ Romantic Elements: Liza Schartz with NAL, Romantic Suspense: Allison Bandau with Berkley/Jove, Single Title: An editor TBD with Grand Central Publishing(formerly WarnerBooks,) Special (FFPTT): Chris Keeslar with Dorchester Publishing, Young Adult: Karen Chaplin with Puffin/Speak Books.

For detailed information, check out:

Kindle Concerns

There's been a bit of on-going discussion about's new e-book reader "Kindle." I discovered my book Tall, Dark & Dead is available in Kindle format. When I expressed some concern about this on BroadUniverse, I got a lot of confused looks, electronically speaking. When I asked if I was going to "get any money" for this, people patiently explained to me the Kindle was new technology and that OBVIOUSLY I wouldn't know if I was going to make a profit on it until I got my royalty statement.

Here's my reply: That's not how things normally work. When SF BookClub, for instance, wants to change the format of my book, i.e. publish its own version, they pay Penguin USA a fee UP FRONT -- an advance -- for the rights to do this. A percent of this advance is credited to my royalties. Any time anyone changes the format of my book (audio, book club, e-book), Penguin should get an advance BEFORE they make that new format available.

Of course, I may see royalties from the sale of my books on the same way I see royalties from any bookseller. But, think about it. If Uncle Hugo's decided to make an audio book of Tall, Dark & Dead available to their customers, Penguin USA would sue their a**es. Uncle Hugo's, though they have copies of the book laying around that they paid for, doesn't have the right to do anything but sell them in the format they bought them in. Can you imagine if SF Bookclub (or, let's say, I) said to themselves, "Hey, I know let's make an e-book of this book I bought at the store today. I'll just scan the pages here and I'm golden. I'll put it up on the web. Anyone can buy it."

That is exactly what did.

Penguin owns the right to all formats that my book could potentially appear in (book club, audio, e-book, etc.), in order to stop people from just randomly making their own versions available., as far as I understand it, certainly never paid Penguin an advance, because I'd have heard about it from my agent. This is the money I'm talking about.

It's not greed that makes me concerned, although I would expect to see some profit from any format change. If Bob Smith wants to sit down with Audacity and make a audio version of my book, I think he'd get sued for copyright infringement, which this is. Bob Smith doesn't have the right to SELL my book in any format other than the one Penguin Putnam produced (or any other publisher who bought those rights from Penguin.) And, Penguin doesn't have to wait for Bob Smith to make a profit. They should be paid in advance of publication of the new format. Period.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kudos to Minnesota!

(December 6, 2007) — Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra today received a Grammy Award nomination for their acclaimed recording of Beethoven’s Ninth (Choral) Symphony, the third release in a five-disc cycle of the Beethoven Symphonies recorded on the BIS label. The nomination, the Orchestra’s first during Vänskä’s four-year tenure as music director, comes in the Best Orchestral Performance category. A full list of nominees is available at the Grammy Awards website,


My alternate personality has just joined Facebook, and I'm planning to open up an account for myself. However, my alternate personality just got bitten by a werewolf, and I'm wondering if any of you out there know if you can chose to join the game or does it have to be random? Thing is, I think it would be cool, of course, to become a vampire. Anyone willing to help me out?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

OnLine Class: Productivity

Online class: January 2-31, 2008
"Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors: Allow Writing Productivity & Creativity To Soar"
by Margie Lawson
Registration $30 at

Check out the new, expanded version of DSDB. It's Margie Lawson's popular and successful course with FIVE NEW TOPICS: The Power of Sleep, Stretch Breaks, Blasting Writer's Block, Optimizing Productivity, and . . . Simple Self-Hypnosis.

What's preventing your success? Thoughts? Behavior? Low energy? Procrastination? Perfectionism? Overdoing? Counter-productivity? Negative self-talk? Disorganization? Time mismanagement? Unrealistic expectations? Defeat your self-defeating behaviors with this one-month mental boot-camp. You'll explore the new topics, plus the list below, and more!

* Address the three fears that paralyze writers:
* Analyze yourself: Strengths, Weaknesses,Opportunities, Threats
* Challenge your internal dialogue
* Redirect resistance and manage your moods
* Duct-tape your Inner Critic
* Protect your priorities
* Practice Conscious Competence
* Apply Margie's DUH Plan

Margie Lawson’s resume includes counseling psychologist, college professor, hypnotherapist, and keynote speaker. Margie analyzes writing craft as well as the psyche of the writer. She presents 1) Empowering Characters’ Emotions, 2) Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices & More, and 3) Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors in full-day master classes internationally. For more information, visit


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Submission call for Traps and Terrible Beauty

From Broad Universe:

Scott T. Goudsward and Lisa Manetti are editing two upcoming anthologies for Dark Hart Press. His is called "Traps" and hers is called "Terrible Beauty."

Each anthology pays $.01 per word up to 7,000 words. Story length is 1,000 to 7,000 words. Submissions close on 12/31/07 for both anthologies.

More information and guidelines can be found on the website for Dark Hart Press at A little more information... Dark Hart is owned by three women. They're a new press, but they are getting a ton of great exposure in horror circles, at the moment, and they hit a lot of east-coast cons to try and keep that rolling. They take all sorts of dark fiction (dark fantasy, science fiction, horror,cross-genre romance but not erotica). They are actively seeking novels, as well as anthology shorts. Strangely, they seem to get a lot of novels from male authors but anthologies have some women submitting. One of the owners, Pam Marin-Kingsley, and one of her authors, John Dimes, can be seen here with Judy Comeau (Tombkeeper) for Count Gore's show... Reviews of three of their first four stand-alone books can be found at

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On-Line Query Letter Workshop


Announcing the Heart of Carolina Romance Writer's January Online Workshop: Query Letters That Sell and Submission Packages That Shout, "Buy Me!"

Instructor: Julie Rowe
When: January 1-31, 2008
Cost: $15 for HCRW and CRW Members, $20 for All Others

SPEAKER BIO: A double Golden Heart finalist in 2006, Julie Rowe has had multiple requests for full or partial manuscripts from editors and agents from her query letters and has also sold many magazine articles from a query letter. Her work has been published in a variety of publications including the Fort McMurray Today newspaper, Today's Parent magazine, Reader's Digest (Canada), Writer's Digest, Canadian Living, the Romance Writer's Report and various RWA chapter newsletters.

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: This workshop will focus on writing fiction query letters from both a romance writer and magazine freelancer's perspective. Participants will be coached on how to turn their fiction query letter into an effective sales pitch, their cover letter into a fabulous calling card and their submission package into one that stands out from the crowd. Topics covered by this class will include:

What is a query letter?
Elements of a good query.
Start with your title.
Your writing credentials.
The pitch.
Endings & pulling it all together.
Query letter checklist & presentation tips.
I got a request for a partial/full - now what?
Cover letters.
The submission package.
Interpreting rejection and revision letters.


REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Cost for the workshop is $15 for HCRW and Carolina Romance Writers members, $20 for all others. The workshop will run from January 1-31. Registration deadline is December 27th. Once registered, you will be subscribed to the workshop loop prior to and for the duration of the class. To register, please visit the HCRW website at: and click on the Online Workshops page. You may pay by check made out to HCRW or by credit card (via Paypal on the site). PLEASE NOTE: You do not need a PayPal account to use PayPal and you may pay by credit card through PayPal. However, if you want to join this class, but prefer to pay by check or money order, please print the registration form and sendy our check or money order made payable to HCRW to: HCRW Online, PO Box 80412, Raleigh, NC 27623.

You may contact the coordinator at : with questions. If you pay for a workshop and do not receive an invitation to join the workshop loop by the first of the month, please contact Elizabeth at Cancellation and refund policy: No registration fees will be refunded. All payments for a workshop must be received by the registration cut off date. Late payments can be applied to a future workshop of the applicant's choosing. If a workshop does not have 10 students enrolled by the first of the month, the workshop will be canceled and registration fees will be applied to a future workshop of the applicant's choosing. Hope to see you in class!

Laura Maldonado
Heart of Carolina Romance Writers ~ RWA Chapter 114

Monday, November 26, 2007

Asto Alert: Uranus Direct

This breaking astrological news from

Uranus turns direct on November 24, triggering a powerful time known for change and surprising events. With Uranus, planet of liberation and freedom from earthly bonds, straightening out its course just hours before the full Moon, your need for independence and freedom will be heightened. Remember to honor your emotions, but keep the feelings of others in mind as well. While change is in the air, remain flexible as you ride out this roller coaster of a transit. Now is the time to break free of routines and patterns that no longer fit, trusting that the new pieces of your life will settle later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SF&F Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction Contest

This one from BroadUniverse:

Odyssey Con, a science fiction convention in Madison, WI, is sponsoring a contest for 500 words or less, paragraph form, to be judged by Bruce Boston. Preliminary details can be viewed at $500 to winner; $10 entry fee. PayPal should be available on the OddCon site by December 1, but you can also mail a check or money order.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Over the weekend, I turned forty.

I spent birthday-actual driving back from a visit with the in-laws in Indiana. As I told Shawn when we arrived home, "You know how you sometimes have birthdays and you don't feel a day older? I definitely feel forty after driving nine and a half hours."

Today is birthday-observed. It's been spotty so far, though in a fit of retail therapy I bought a terrarium. It is now the home for a slug which Mason and I discovered crawling on the sidewalk this morning. We were on Summit Avenue, strolling around looking at the beautiful houses there (and surreptitiously hoping that "Mr. Cat" -- a cat we've seen several times before -- would come out and follow us down the street in his usual way.) Shawn also took Mason and I out for lunch, and now in a few minutes I'm going to be headed off to the gym to work out. Much fun!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Romance Contest

***Permission to forward***

Chicago North RWA's 10th Annual Fire and Ice
Contest Fee: $25/RWA Members - $30/non-RWA Members
Postmark deadline: February 1, 2008
Eligibility: Not published in book-length fiction in last 5 years.
Enter: prologue/first chapter (25 pages max.)

Categories/Final Judges: Historical: Hilary Sares, Kensington, Mainstream Fiction with Strong Romantic Elements: Allison Brandau, Berkeley, Paranormal: Nephele Tempest, Knight Agency, Series Contemporary: Gail Chasan, Silhouette Special Edition, Single Title Contemporary: Scott Eagan, Greyhaus Literary Agency Young Adult: Michelle Andelman, Andrea Brown Agency

Top prize: $30.

Winners announced at Chicago North's Spring Fling Conference All entries come from outside Chicago North RWA. FMI, entry form, and rules,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Astro Alert: Mars Retrograde Today!!!!

This important announcement from

Does it seem more difficult than usual to find forward momentum? Do you feel like you are trying to move a mountain? Whether it is a cause that is close to your heart, a relationship or a project that you would like to advance, it's time to put on the brakes, slow down and make a U-turn, as Mars turns retrograde starting November 15.

Mars turns retrograde once every two years. And when it does, as with any retrograde period, it's time to review events already set in motion. Since Mars is going retrograde in the emotionally intense water sign Cancer, make sure you pay attention to your feelings, including instincts and hunches. Actions are now governed by your heart and gut, rather than by logic. If something doesn’t feel right to you, stop, review and make necessary corrections. Remember to pace yourself, since you will be in the review process until January 30 of next year! That’s plenty of time to prepare for putting plans into action once Mars turns direct.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Workshop: Enlivening a Scene (Romance)

***Permission to forward***

Outreach International presents:

TITLE: Breathing Life Into A Scene
DATE: December 10 - December 14, 2007
INSTRUCTOR: Beth Cornelison
COST: $10 Outreach Members/Others $20
Deadline to receive application and payment: December 7, 2007

For more information on this class or to register go to:

Course Description:"Breathing Life Into A Scene" offers a step by step approach to layering vivid details about setting, emotion and character into each scene you write. Silhouette Romantic Suspense author Beth Cornelison will show you how to select the right details and character-specific information to place your reader in the scene and make a powerful impression, without bogging down your pace. Elements discussed include environment, setting, costume, five senses, physical presence, mood and emotion. The workshop helps writers select the best details to support their story, weave it in through character perceptions, and avoid slowing the pace with unneeded information or overlong description. Well-chosen description can make your writing come alive and lift your manuscript out of the slush pile!

Bio: Three-time Golden Heart finalist, Beth Cornelison received her degree in Public Relations from the University of Georgia. She debuted with Silhouette Intimate Moments in April 2005 and her June 2006 release, IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY, won the Golden Heart in 2001 and received a Top Pick from Romantic Times. In September 2006, she made her hard cover debut with Five Star Expressions with CHASING A DREAM. Her latest book from Silhouette Romantic Suspense, DANGER AT HER DOOR, was released in August 2007. Beth has served as the conference coordinator and contest coordinator for her local RWA chapter and has presented workshops to numerous conferences across the country. Mrs. Cornelison lives in Louisiana with her husband and son.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Re-Direct: Analysis of Successful Openings

Thanks to one of my students (Gary) who found this post over at Slushmaster's LJ: It Came From the Slush... And Survived! Interesting stuff.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New License Plate (Still no WV)

Many months ago, Mason and I were obsessively scouring Saint Paul for license plates from around the country (and the world.) We've seen all but one of the fifty states (plus Washington, D.C.) and many of the Canadian provinces. We still haven't seen West Virginia, but a couple of our friends have spotted the elusive plate, so we know that Mason has conjured one into the area.

Today, however, we saw a Consul plate parked outside of the governor's mansion on Summit. It had the call letters: "PK," which wikipedia informs us stands for Norway.

Cool, huh?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cover Art!

OOh!! I am so excited!!!!

One of the best parts is that she is wearing one of the actual outfits Garnet favors. Cool Yule!

Here's the back cover copy: I’m on the top of the world. The Vatican witch hunters think I’m dead, the FBI has closed my file, I might get to buy the occult bookstore I manage, I’m co-founding a brand-new coven—and the vampire I love has just proposed. How lucky can a girl get? Wait, wai—

Oh, crap. I’ve jinxed myself. My fiancé, Sebastian, is missing and I’m worried sick. Has he been kidnapped? Or could he have run off with that leggy blonde from the coven? Now I’ll have to seek the help of my future stepson—the same brat who once turned me over to the Catholics, all for a pimped-out Jag. Plus, the Goddess Lilith, who camps out in my body, has been making embarrassing appearances. Now all I need is some crazy killer on my tail. Hold on, hold—

Double crap.

Also, if you're itching to read the first chapter you can find it at my website: Romancing the Dead Excerpt

Love Scene Contest (Romance)

***permission to forward***


Announcing the Greater Detroit RWA annual Between the Sheets contest. Enter your best love scene, up to 10 pages - anything from sweet to erotic.

Final judges:
Leah Hultenschmidt, Dorchester
Diana Ventimiglia, Harlequin/Silhouette
Elaine English, Elaine P. English Literary Agency

1st Place: $100
2nd Place: $50
3rd Place: $25

Open to all unpublished RWA members, $20 entry fee, multiple submissions allowed. Deadline: February 14, 2008. Entry includes one page unjudged setup. For more information, entry form, and guidelines, go to or email

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On-line Agent Class (Romance/Mystery)


Southern Magic is pleased to host an on-line workshop, Everything You Wanted to Know About An Agent But Was Afraid to Ask, with literary agent Caren Johnson.

Description: This is a soup to nuts guide on what an agent does, how to work effectively with yours, and danger signs in any agent/author relationship that you should watch out for. Come join us to ask questions,learn about the benefits and drawbacks of having an agent and when you really need to have one.

When: December 3 through 14, 2007

Cost: $10 for Southern Magic Members, $15 for All Others

Class Advisor: Caren Johnson began her literary career at the Peter Rubie Agency. She stayed for three years, working her way up from intern to agent. She went on to work with Nadia Cornier at Firebrand Literary for a year before starting her own agency in early 2007. She works closely with each of her authors, not only acting as an agent, but offering career guidance and publicity consultation. Her goal is to make sure each of her authors gets published and has a long-lasting, lucrative career.

Caren is full up at the moment with wonderful romance and mystery authors(though any who have written brilliant novels in these genres are more than welcome to submit to her as she is always on the lookout for great contemporary romance, exciting romantic suspense and fun mysteries). She is currently looking for women's fiction in the vein of Monica McInerney, Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, Sue Monk Kidd, and Laura Moriarty, fiction in thevein of Lisa Lutz, Christopher Moore, Michel Faber, Kate Atkinson, Louisa Luna, Audrey Niffenegger, and Jeffrey Eugenides, and YA in the vein of Scott Westerfeld, Stephanie Meyer, Markus Zusack, Gabrielle Zevin, Libba Bray, and Kevin Brooks. In nonfiction she is currently looking for more narrative nonfiction in a variety of subjects, pop culture, women's interest (though no self-help), humor and quirky gift books.

Please check out her publisher's marketplace page at

Registration deadline is December 2 via PayPal/credit card.

The class is conducted through a YAHOO group format and you will receive an invitation to join at the time you pay. For more information, please check out our website at and click on the WORKSHOP icon.

Friday, November 02, 2007


I just noticed that you can now pre-order Romancing the Dead on!!!! That means that I'm going to have to take some time this weekend to put up an excerpt on my website.

Oh, and I notice that is having one of those bargain price things for Tall, Dark & Dead again.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Astro Alert: Mercury Direct

Breaking astrological news from

Mercury turned retrograde on October 11 in the determined water sign Scorpio, encouraging you to revisit and explore your ideas and conversations. By October 23, Mercury re-entered Libra and fairness became the top priority. Now, the messenger planet turns direct in Libra on November 1, signaling that it is time to put everything you learned during the past three weeks into a cohesive plan of action. If you have done your homework, you will find yourself moving forward with confidence –- which is just what using a Mercury retrograde period is all about!

Certainly, confidence should be influencing your love agenda now. If you have been hesitant to make that first move, now is the time to abandon inhibition and let that crush know that you want to take things to the next level.

"Mummy Dearest" in the Star Tribune

Here's a photo of Mason (and my alternate personality) that appeared in today's Star Tribune. There's on block on Sargent Street in Saint Paul that goes all out for Halloween -- every single house is done up and entire families (including their dogs) are dressed up. We stumbled across it on a tip from our dear friend Sean M. Murphy. I'd like to give credit to the staff photographer who took the photo (Jeffery Thompson), but the Star Tribune has the crappiest on-line search engine I've ever used.

Here's the link:

New LINK! Here's a slide show that has lots of Mason pictures and some audio of me mentioning that his costume is "rotting.":

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Just want to wish all y'all a happy Samhain.

Blessed Be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Small Minds Hobgoblins

My high school English teacher used to have a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson hanging on the bulletin board that baffled me for years. It read: "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." (Apparently, there's more to it.) I'm reminded of it, however, every time I receive a copy edited manuscript from my publisher.

That may sound like a dis on copy editors, but it's not meant as one. I say thank goodness for copy editors or my readers would have to spend all their time writing me angry letters complaining about all the little inconsistencies that riddle my work. No, it's my mind that doesn't suffer details very well. I apparently (mis)took Emerson's quote to heart and now my brain jettisons "little" consistencies. Ask my writers' group if you doubt me, but I'm lucky if I manage to spell my main character's name the same way throughout a five hundred page manuscript.

Even though I've always written books that are part of a series, I rely on my brain to keep track of the world-building details. I realize exactly how foolish this is, but I almost never re-read a novel once it's gone to press. Part of that decision is the fact that I'm usually deeply sick of the book during the process of getting it to publication. I've read and re-read the damn thing so many times (in draft, final draft, editorial revision, final revision, copy edited manuscript, page proofs, etc.) that the thought of looking at it again for even a second makes me cringe.

One of the reasons I don't look back at my earlier work in the same series is that I like the freedom that not-knowing-I'm-screwing-up affords. I should say that I've never violated a character's history with my cavalier attitude toward consistency, but my alternate personality messed up the time-line in the AngeLINK universe because a copy editor had corrected a date (to make it consistent with a presidential election year) and her brain had never made the "final edit," as it were. So the books following Archangel Protocol are actually off by two years. Only one reader noticed the mistake and she did because she was re-reading the books on the line-by-line level in order to write fanfic. Even so, I hope I get a chance to fix that at some point because it now bothers me.

You'd think, then, I'd learn, right? Not so. Since that mistake, I'm slightly more willing to do a quick word search through the electronic version of my final draft to check certain details, but I'm still fairly adamant about not letting a little thing like accuracy stop me from writing. I should clarify, however, that I'm only talking about little, harmless details. We all know that if a writer isn't careful and consistent with the important details, you can loose your readers. I even try to be pretty careful with what I call "blocking," which is to say whether or not a character is sitting or standing and what color shoes they're wearing — although I have a copy editor to thank for noticing a character's switch from combat boots to high heels.

God forbid something like that actually make it into print, but I rarely let those things worry me at the start. I write to get the story out and then sweat the details.

Or, later, thank the higher powers that a copy editor catches them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reading Beyond Yourself

At a local Barnes & Noble in the children’s section, I overheard a mother tell her children, “Remember what we talked about! Pick something in your reading level!”

Now, I admit that I didn’t know what was going on there, and it’s entirely possible that this parent was admonishing her children not to chose a book that was below their abilities. She could have been worried about adult content, but, as I said, I was in the children’s section. Whatever the case, my impression was that this mother wanted her children to stick to those artifical age ranges that are printed on the back of picture books and YA novels, and, frankly, I was horrified.

I find this distressing if only because I read LOTS of books that were well beyond my reading “ability” when I was young, which is how the heck I got better ability, you know? I have never, ever told my son Mason that there was a book he couldn’t try to read. As far as I’m concerned, unless there’s graphic violence, sex, or swear words, it’s all good. (Actually, he’s already read some swear words over my shoulder. Luckily, he doesn’t have all the rules of pronunciation down and so he thinks a** is said “iss.”)

This desire to protect young readers baffles me. And it seems to be prevalent. We were once at Red Balloon, a children’s book store here in Saint Paul, and the sales person tried to take a chapter book away from us. She nearly snatched it from Mason’s hands because she didn’t think it was appropriate for my then three year-old. When I asked her why, she said, “Well, the stories are too long. He won’t have the patience.” At that age, I’d already read all of Charolette’s Web and much of Bambi to Mason, so I just looked at her with a stunned expression. “How would you know?” I asked. Then I said to Mason, “Never let anyone tell you what you can or can’t read.”

And anyway, at that point, I was still reading to him. It’s not like there would be words he couldn’t ask me what they meant, you know? More to the point, the last time I checked there’s no rule that says you have to finish a story you start. We’ve still never finished Bambi because we get to the chapter where Bambi’s mom is killed and Mason wants to start over. So we do. I figure he needs time to process. Processing what you’ve read is part of learning, IMHO.

Mason’s grade school also seems to have a “reading level” restriction they enforce. Everyone’s library card is color coded for the level they’re supposed to be reading at. I overheard a librarian ask someone to take a “Goosebumps” book back because it wasn’t at their reading level. This was a seriously disappointed looking kid. Again, this may be done in order to make sure that children are challenging themselves appropriately, however, I don’t really get that either. Who doesn’t love the comfort of a “simpler” book occasionally? I know that I didn’t discover Leo, the Late Bloomer until I was a teen, and it was still extremely meaningful to me. Plus I have to ask, what adult doesn’t love a certain YA about a young wizard in training?

But, as for reading beyond yourself, the last time I checked no one has ever been seriously injured by reading a hard book. Well, okay, there was that one time I was so excited to start a book I’d checked out from the library that I was reading it while riding my bike on the way home. I ran into a parked car. That’s my only reading injury to date.

There are books that scared the crap out of me as a kid. I read Amityville Horrorat a tender age and now the name “Jody” sends me into screaming heeby-geebies even as an adult. However, I learned an important lesson: you can close a book. If a book is beyond you on an emotional level, you can wait and pick it up later. There are several books I attempted that I just didn’t get all of until much, much later. I’d heard that there was SEX in Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but damned if I “got” it the first time I read it. When I came back to it as a young adult, I understood.

In fact, my partner and I have bonded over the fact that we both remember the day we got to go to the “adult” section in the public library on our own. Both Shawn’s folks and mine never hesitated to check out books from that section for us, if we were interested… but there was a thrilling sense of wonder the moment it was okay for us to have ANY book in the entire library for ourselves alone. I think that reading beyond your ability is what makes readers out of people, you know? If I hadn’t tried The Hobbit in sixth grade, where would I be now?

I didn’t “get” a lot of it, but I was AWED.

And I still am.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gaylactic Spectrum Awards

Vellum - Hal Duncan (Del Rey)

Carnival - Elizabeth Bear (Bantam)
Dragon's Teeth - James Hetley (Ace)
The Growing - Susanne M. Beck & Okasha Skat'si (P.D. Publishing)
The Privilege Of The Sword - Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra)
Smoke and Ashes - Tanya Huff (DAW)
Snow - Wheeler Scott (Torquere)
Spin Control - Chris Moriarty (Bantam Spectra)
The Virtu - Sarah Monette (Ace)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Writer by Any Other Name

Over at Wyrdsmith's Kelly's open call for questions/comments generated some interesting questions. For instance, Michael asked: When did you feel comfortable calling yourself a writer to others?

Sometimes I still don't.

A friend of mine bought me a great ball cap that says "writer" on it from Writers Store. I was a little nervous about wearing it in public because I knew what was going to happen.

Stranger: Hey, nice hat.
Me: Uh, yeah. Thanks.
Stranger: So are you a writer then?
Me: Yeah, I am. (Internally bracing for the follow-up)
Stranger: Anything published?

Maybe if I lived in New York or, really, anywhere other than taciturn Minnesota, I would probably see this conversation for what it could be: a chance to pitch myself and my work to people I meet on the street. Instead, I find myself blushing because I know what I'm about to say is a great big brag (a no-no in Minnesotan): "Yes," I say. "I've had six books published."

Either people are suitably impressed at this point, or suddenly very suspicious. "Really?" They ask, "Anything I would have heard of?" This is where I start regretting my fashion choices. Yet, at the same time I understand what people are really asking, and what I think is at the heart of Michael's question.

Society only values proved success, not process.

I'm a writer to the majority of strangers I meet on the street ONLY if I meet certain conditions: 1) I've published, 2) I've had my book published by a credible (in the case of the stranger this means THEY'VE heard of them) New York publisher, and/or 3) I can show success via awards won that they've heard of or best seller lists they know of.

However, I think that waiting until you can meet all of that criteria before calling yourself a writer is selling yourself (and the process) short. When I teach, I tell my students that they are writers the moment they finish their first short story or novel. If you're sending stories out and collecting rejections, you're a working writer.

Still, it's hard to answer when you meet someone for the first time and they ask you what you do. When you say, "I'm a writer," and you have another job, no one believes you. (Oh, they're thinking: it's the whole -- I'm your waiter, but I'm REALLY an actor syndrome.) I don't think that this assumption is necessarily malicious (though it can feel that way), instead I think people understand on a gut level that "making it" in our profession is really difficult. But, because it _is_ so difficult, I think the earlier we embrace the title writer, the better we can cope with "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" which is the writing life.

For me, it took joining the National Writers' Union before I could tell people I was a writer. For one, going to meetings of the local chapter meant that everyone I met was also a writer. I didn't have to explain myself or all the ins-and-outs of the writing life about which the majority of the public has so many misconceptions. Once I got comfortable saying, "Hi, I'm Tate Hallaway. I'm a fiction writer," with my _own_ kind, I found I had less trouble "educating" strangers who turned their noses up the second I said, "No, I'm not published yet."

I wish I hadn't waited so long, but sometimes you have to believe the truth yourself before you can explain it to someone else.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not Much of A Review, but Nice

This isn't much of a review, but google alerts pointed it to me, and I thought it was nice:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Reviews of MBR

Here's a nice review of Many Bloody Returns that I found on LJ. It doesn't really say much about any of the stories in particular, but the blogger is very happy and jumps around a lot (as it were). Check out:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh, I Forgot to Meantion!

So, while I was signing stock at the previously mentioned event, I noticed something interesting in Tall, Dark & Dead... it's in a fourth printing!


Also, and given my previous discussion, you'll find this amusing: I've booked another signing. It looks like fellow Wyrdsmith Kelly McCullough and I will be joining Lois Greiman and Michele Hauf at the Northtown Waldenbooks on Saturday, October 27 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. The Waldenbooks is located at 212 Northtown Drive NE, Blaine, Minnesota 55434. For directions or more information call: (763) 780-1264.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Signing Weirdness

The signing at the MoA was.... interesting, as we like to say in Minnesota.

Alas, I was also looking forward to seeing Sujata Massey, but she didn't show up. Though I came prepared, we didn't end up doing the ten minute readings either. I bought more books than I sold (but that actually happens a lot more than I'd care to admit.) On the positive side, I got the chance to hang out with Michele Hauf and Emma Holly, who are always a hoot, and, of course, my friend Kelly McCullough. Mason, my son, got to go to Lego Land with Shawn and he thought that was pretty dang special.

I wonder about booksignings, sometimes. I mean, I've had some really successful ones, including one which was a disaster in the other direction because the bookstore didn't have enough books on hand and I sold out within the first ten minutes. Lately, however, it's been surprisingly difficult to muster enough support from friends and family to get people to turn out to signings. When I do signings at smaller venues at speciality stores, I'll often make postcards that I hand-address to everyone I've ever known. That helps. I'll get a 10% return on those (if I send out 100, 10 people will show.)

But you can only really do that once, you know? People don't show up again and again to buy a book they already have.

Plus, I tend to have better luck with signings that are in the Twin Cities proper. There's some reluctance (which I can totally understand, actually) for people to drive out to various suburbs to pick up a book that they can have Amazon deliver to their doorstep. Goddesss knows, I'm lazy. I often intend to go support my friends and then find something better to do on a Saturday afternoon.

Book signings are one of those mainstays of being a published author. But are they really useful? I've heard people say that signed books don't get returned, so it's worth going just to sign all the stock for the bookseller. But, I've also heard that's not true, since the covers are ripped off returned books so a signed book is of no more value than a non-signed one. Yet booksellers have also told me that signed books sell better in the store, so they're worth doing for that. But, I don't know. I sometimes feel like the hassle you've put the store through isn't really worth what they get out of it.

My question is what do you think about book signings? Do you go to them? What makes you want to go?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Info on MOA signing, Satuday, Oct 6

Date: October 6, 2007
Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Place: Macy's Court, Mall of America

Booksigning and fundraiser.

Midwest Fiction Writers and Barnes & Noble come together to raise money for The Minnesota Literacy Council.

You'll want to take advantage of this rare opportunity to meet so many local authors and purchase autographed books with a portion of the sales going to The Minnesota Literacy Council. Join us on Saturday, October 6 at 5:30 in the Macy's Court of the Mall of America for this once-a-year event. Hear authors read excerpts from their books. Visit favorite authors and discover new authors. Signing will be Midwest Fiction Writers authors Judy Baer, Helen Brenna, Kathleen Eagle, Anne Frasier, Jay Gilbertson, Lois Greiman, Tate Hallaway, Michele Hauf, Emma Holly, Patti O'Shea. Joining them in this event will be local authors Sujata Massey and Kelly McCullough as well as author and creativity coach Eric Maisel.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Sound of Writing

I posted a bit about my personal relationship with music and writing over at SF Novelists: The Sound of Writing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

So Many New's Tim Pratt's

Tuesday was a big release day in the paranormal/SF universe. My friend and colleague Tim Pratt (writing as T. A. Pratt) also has a new book out that I think y'all might like:

What was your inspiration for writing Blood Engines?

There were multiple inspirations. I’ve been writing stories about the main character, sorcerer Marla Mason, for years, and finally decided it would be tremendous fun to write a whole novel about her. The novel is also something of a love song to San Francisco, and I had a lot of fun exploring that city and its history. Plus, I’ve always been fascinated by Aztec mythology, so it was enjoyable to write a novel where the villain is a devotee of those bloody old gods. I managed to work in various other fascinations and obsessions, too: poison dart frogs, hummingbirds, Emperor Joshua Norton, snake gods, sex parties, oracles, and other nice things.

Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

Stephen King is probably the biggest influence — I started reading his novels when I was eight years old! Charles de Lint and Jonathan Carroll are also huge influences. These days I like George R.R. Martin and Scott Lynch a lot.

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

While I enjoy reading some mimetic fiction, I get bored in my own writing if there are no gods, monsters, or miracles. I especially like contemporary fantasy, because I like the tension created by the juxtaposition of the familiar with the magical.

Why did you decide to make Marla the chief sorcerer of her own city?

In the early stories I wrote about her, Marla was dangerous because she had power without focus. In order to make her more vulnerable and sympathetic, I wanted to give her something to lose. Thus, I made her responsible for the well-being of her own city. The responsibility puts tremendous stress on her, but it also gives her a profound sense of purpose.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I like to cook, read, play video games, spend time with my family and friends, take walks to the lake or the farmer’s market, and see movies. The usual things.

What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

For this book I read a lot about Aztec mythology (The Codex Chimalpopoca is no beach read, either, I’m telling you), and wound up reading a fair bit about San Francisco’s history, too (I would especially recommend Tom Cole’s A Short History of San Francisco — it’s smart, accessible, and, well, short.) The only preparation I do for writing is making sure I’m sufficiently caffeinated.

Marla loves kicking ass. Is that your favorite thing too?

I haven’t been in a fight since junior high. I’d rather have a war of words than fists anyway.

What are you writing now?

I’m working on the fourth book in the Marla Mason series, Grift Sense — having already written book 2, Poison Sleep, and book 3, Dead Reign. The books are being released six months apart, so getting all the books written in time is sort of a marathon that’s also a sprint, and sprinting a marathon? That’s hard on the system. But I’m still having tons of fun.

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember. (I wanted to be other things, too — an actor, a rock star, an artist, a chef.) But writing was always there, and I’ve been doing it steadily since at least third grade. (I think learning to write in cursive was a turning point for me!) As for how I got where I am now… sheer persistence. I write, I send stuff out, I write some more. Writing, at this point, is as necessary and familiar as eating and sleeping.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

I have no typical day. I have one day a week off from my day job — Wednesdays — and tend to do most of my writing then. In the morning I spend a couple of hours doing freelance non-fiction work. Then I have lunch, take a walk, think about my story, and come home and write fiction for a few hours. Though if I’m up against a deadline, I just write pretty much every chance I get — before work, after work, on lunch breaks, late at night.

Where do you write?

Mostly at my desk in my office, which is in fact a tiny little nook just off the kitchen. If I’m feeling stir-crazy I’ll walk down to a cafe and write longhand there.

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

I like writing first drafts, because that’s where the fun and excitement is, though in truth I’ve started to really enjoy revision in recent years — it’s not the white heat of creation, but it’s a fun and challenging exercise in craft. As for what’s hardest… all the business stuff. Copyedits. Proofreading a book I’ve already read ten times and am thoroughly sick of looking at.

What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

I’m not sure SF/Fantasy has a particular purpose that’s different from the purpose(s) of all literature, which are variously to edify, to entertain, and to illuminate the human condition. Though if pressed I might just quote G.K. Chesterton: “Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be defeated.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just Show Up

Last night in writing class at the Loft, I passed on this amazing bit of wisdom to make writing easier:

"Just show up."

The idea being that if you make a special time for writing (Stephen King in his book On Writing suggests that it be a consistant time, say: every night at 7:00 pm, for instance) writing becomes easier. King says that showing up at the same time and place helps your Muse "know where to find you." As silly as that might sound, I think he's got a point. If you know that the time you've set aside for writing is FOR WRITING and you get in the habit of doing it, it becomes easier and easier to get words down on paper/screen.

The big problem with this advice is that, lately, I can't seem to take it.

Oh, I show up, all right. I've got my laptop out, coffee in hand, and... then I surf the internet for an hour and a half. Plus, I don't know if it's something astrological or what, but I can't seem to get anything of substance done. Last few days have been a whole series of stupid, annoying events that have kept me from concentrating on anything, much less writing.

I'm also beginning to think that I'm going to have to start writing at home, away from an easy wireless connection. (The neighbors actually have wireless that I can often hop on to, but to get it, I have to sit in a particular room.)

I'm actually quite excited about the new novel (DEAD IF I DO) because... well, I don't want to spoil anything, but Teresa, Sebasitan's not-quite-dead wife/betrothed shows up. Hillarity ensues. And I love writing the funny, which is why this block is particularly frustrating.


What? I should go write? What, now?


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bargain Prices at B&N Again

I supect that anyone coming to this site has probably already bought a copy of my first novel, Tall, Dark & Dead, but in case you haven't (or you know someone you'd like to buy one for). They are on ridiculous mark-down at B&N again, selling for a mere $4.98.

There are shipping costs, of course, and these books are often scuffed or otherwise marked, but... well, it's a heckuva deal, as we say here in Minnesota.

Interview: Kelly McCullough

Full disclosure: Kelly McCullough is a fellow Wyrdsmiths. However, I think he's a great guy and a great author and he has a new book coming out today that I'd love y'all to check out, even though it's not especially romantic (though it is urban fantasy). Here's an interview with him to help get you interested:

What was your inspiration for writing Cybermancy?

There are a number of reasons I wanted to write this. First, I wanted to write something else in the WebMage universe (this was before WebMage sold) because I really like hanging out with these fun, funny characters, and I love the world. Second, there was unfinished business left over from WebMage, most notably Shara's injury/death which happens off screen. Finally, and maybe most important for the arc of this book, the Persephone myth has always made me terribly angry. Here is a young goddess who is condemned to be eternally bound to her abductor and rapist, Hades the god of the dead. It's appalling and the injustice of it something that I found that I really wanted to write about.

Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

I was raised on Tolkien and Asimov and Shakespeare, and I still love them all, particularly the Lord of the Rings, Richard III and a Midsummer Night's Dream. I discovered Roger Zelazney and H. Beam Piper when I was a little older, and Zelazney is certainly one of my strongest influences. My favorite writer as a writer myself is probably Tim Powers. I always learn something when I reread him.

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

The fact that the genre puts no limits on my creativity. What I'm most drawn to as a writer is world. I love to invent whole worlds with their own internal logic and rules, and realistcally where else do you have to scope to do that? I also love both as a reader and a writer the sense of being taken completely out of the here and now.

Why did you decide to make Ravirn a hacker/sorcerer?

I started the WebMage series from the idea of a magical internet that tied worlds together like webpages and used code for spells. If I wanted to really explore that concept in depth I needed someone who could do more than just use the magical equivalent of web-browser, I needed someone who really understood how the coding worked. That meant a hacker and in the context of the world I was writing, that automatically made him a sorcerer too.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

Well, writing really is near the top of my list for play as well as being my job. I really enjoy sitting down to work every day. But I also love walking and biking with my wife. I'm an avid videogamer, mostly role-playing stuff like Final Fantasy, but also puzzle games and stuff like Ratchet and Clank, all of which I play with my wife. Like most writers, I'm an avid reader, though more non-fiction than fiction these days.

What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

I didn't need to do an enormous amount of new research for Cybermancy, since it's the second book in a series. I did do a refresher on my general Greek Mythology and especially on the details of Hades and the Persephone story. I also have to constantly update my computer knowledge base, but that's just part of my ongoing non-fiction reading. I really do more general research than I do specific stuff for any given book. As a part of being a writer I try to have at least a couple of serious non-fiction books going along with keeping up general and scientific news. That's probably a good two hours of every day, often more and part of what I think of as my job.

Ravirn loves hacking and cracking. Is that your favorite activity too?

Actually no, I'm aware of programming and hacking (my mother's a computer geek as are a number of my close friends), but I've never been much interested in the mechanics of how my computer works.

In Cybermancy, Ravirn finds himself breaking into Hades to bring back a dead friend in the mode of Orpheus. How do you put yourslef in situations like that as a writer to try to make them believable?

It's tough sometimes. Ravirn is stronger faster and more durable than I am. Many of the things he attempts would pretty much kill me. On the other hand, since he's a figment of my imagination and hence only a part of me, I like to think I'm smarter. I also get to manipulate the world he lives in to make things harder or easier as seems appropriate. The other thing to remember is that believable and real are not necessarily the same things. There are all sorts of things that happen in fantastic fiction that are completely unreal but believable in the context of the imagined world. There's a shorter answer and maybe I should have given this first: I really like playing make-believe.

What are you writing now?

Two things actively, with a third hovering off to one side. My main project is MythOS which is the fourth book in the WebMage series and will be out in 2009. I'm also writing the first book in a new contemporary fantasy series. I was really inspired by a recent trip to Halifax and this book is the result of that trip. I'm trying to get the first three chapters down while the experience is still fresh. It's kind of a reward. Once I've got my WebMage done for the day (never less than 1,000 words) it's kind of fun to play with some other characters. I've also got the second book in YA fantasy set in World War II that I've been playing with. The first book went to my agent a few months ago, and I really love the idea, but I promised myself not to start until I've finished MythOS.

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

No. If you'd asked me what I wanted to be when I was between the age of 11-22 I'd have said an actor or a stunt man or maybe set designer. My degree is theater and I grew up on and around the stage. But then I met the woman who I would later marry and realized that between the hours and the travel, theater wasn't entirely compatible with having a happy home life. At about that same time I got my first computer. One day I was kind of trying to figure out what I could do with my life if I gave up theater, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to writer a novel. So I did. I'm no working on 12th and 13th and I've never looked back.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

On a good day I get up around 8:00, hop on the treadmill and use my laptop to read the news while I put in 3-5 miles. Then breakfast and a shower and off to my office for 5-8 hours of writing time. I do that five days a week with occasional variations for research days, editing, dealing with promotion, that kind of thing.

Where do you write?

In summer I work in a second floor screen porch overlooking a really lovely park in the small town where I live. In winter I sit in our south-facing TV room and soak up the sunshine reflecting off the wood floors. That's the routine, but I'll write anywhere and have, including tucked into a corner at the Air and Space Museum in D.C., on planes, in coffee shops, etc. My real office is my laptop.

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

The easiest thing is world. My brain is really wired to create large-scale magical systems and the historical structures that go with them. Hardest is character. I'm not a natural character writer and I've really worked hard to get where I am with it.

This isn't you first book, tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

Right now, it's really only WebMage and some short stories in various magazines and anthologies-a couple of those are available for free reads at my website, I've also got a collection of hard science fiction short stories in an illustrated collection called Chronicles of the Wandering Star, but that only available to teachers since it's part of a middle-school science curriculum. The funny thing about that is that since it's in a number of large school systems, probably more people have read that than all my other stuff combined despite the fact that you can't really buy it.

What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

Two things really. One is true of both F&SF and Fantasy, the other is true of SF alone. The first, to carry us out of ourselves. I think one of the greatest services fiction does is to allow you to be someone else someplace else for a while. It allows you to transcend the day-to-day and that's really important for the human psyche. The second, to explicate and advocate reason and science. The methodology that is science is one of humanity's most powerful tools and SF is the fiction of science. It can both generate a sense of wonder in the reader about subjects scientific and put those same subjects into story which can help a reader make sense of the ideas.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Best Book Ever" Says Author's Mother

I used to have a silly fantasy about getting a cool cover quote from a really famous author that read, "Doesn't suck," Stephen King, author of LATEST NOVEL and "Couldn't get enough of it! By far the best book in the entire world," Rita Hallaway, Mother of Author. But, you know, my sense of humor doesn't sell books....

My question is: do cover quotes?

I will admit that sometimes a good cover quote will help put a book over the top for me. However, I've usually gotten pretty far with a book if I'm reading the cover quotes. I already have in my hand either because the title or the cover intrigued me or the book was shelved under "managers' hard SF picks!" or someone --usually my partner -- handed me the book and said, "Check this out."

I'm also on the look out for what I call "suspect" blurbs. You know the ones that don't really say anything or say things that could be construed as a subtle slam, ala (and this a real quote I found once) "No one writes quite like [blank]." My partner who read the book in question later said she figured what famous author must have meant was "No one writes quite as badly as [blank]." I'm also nervous of any quote that has too many ellipses, ala "This book... number one... fabulous!" Makes you wonder if the original read "This book [is no where near] number one; [it's so bad that I wonder why anyone would call it] fabulous!"

Yet, my editor gets really excited about cover quotes. I met MaryJanice Davidson (author of UNDEAD AND UNWED) at MBA, a booksellers' trade show and introduced myself as a fellow Berkley author with a new vampire book coming out. I asked her if it would be okay for my editor to send her my book for potential blurb. When I told my editor, she was thrilled -- and doubly so when a very positive quote came back. My editor also updated me weekly with the various paranormal romance superstars that agreed to blurb me. Clearly, for her, getting these kinds of quotes was extremely important to the selling of my book.

Personally, I'm a bit unconvinced, if only because people have used *me* to sell books. I read and blurbed a great book called WISH CLUB by Kim Strickland. But, given how new I am to the romance field, who on earth thinks anything I might say about a book would help sell it?

And what about that? Do you ever get turned off a book because you've never read the author who blurbed the book (or find out that the quote comes from a writing spouse)?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So You Finished DEAD SEXY...

...and you're looking for something like it to read next? May I make a suggestion? Why don't you try Mindy Klasky's Sorcery and the Single Girl?

Here's a short interview with her to whet your appetite:

What was your inspiration for writing SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL?

When I wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, my theme song should have been "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". That book was completely light and fluffy, a fun escape from a busy work week, family commitments, etc. When I had the opportunity to write another Jane Madison story, I wanted to dig a little deeper - to look at the decisions that we make with regard to friends and jobs, the tough calls that force us to decide what is important to us. (I wasn't willing to give up on the fun, though :-) )

Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

When I was growing up, I read a lot of classic fantasy - J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Anne McCaffrey?. I devoured Patricia McKillip?'s books, and I practically memorized every word of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series.

Now, I read much more broadly, alternating between genre fiction for fun (my favorites in the past year have been Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES/PRETTIES/SPECIALS trilogy) and literary fiction for musing(most recently, Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN). I also read a lot of non-fiction, especially popular non-fiction on narrow topics, like COD and SALT.

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

I've always enjoyed the sense of possibility in speculative fiction, the ability to explore other ways of thinking, other ways of being. Even as my own writing has shifted from classic fantasy (SEASON OF SACRIFICE and the Glasswright Series) to paranormal romance, I've continued to draw on the Sense of Wonder that first addicted me to reading.

Why did you decide to make Jane Madison a librarian?

I work as a librarian in my day-job, managing seven libraries for a fourteen-office nationwide law firm. In the course of that job, I've met hundreds of librarians who live fascinating lives. Yet, in the eyes of the public, librarians are still the people who say "shhhhh". I wanted to write about Jane Madison to make people realize that there's a lot more out there beyond the stereotype.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I spend a lot of time watching baseball - I married into Red Sox fandom. To justify the time I spend in front of the television, I quilt - entirely hand-pieced and hand-quilted wall hangings, with a bias toward traditional patchwork patterns.

What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

When I start a novel, I create a spreadsheet. One column lists, in a few sentences, what happens in each chapter. The other columns track the number of pages, the number of words, and the date that the chapter was last modified.

When I'm ready to start writing, I just roll up my sleeves and go. I conduct a fair amount of spot research as I'm working. My characters tend to be much more fashion conscious than I am; I often need to check the name of a designer or a color of make-up. I also find myself regularly tracking down the qualities of various crystals and plants -- the essential "props" for Jane's witchcraft.

Jane and her best friend, Melissa, quote Shakespeare to each other frequently. Are you a fan of Shakespeare?

For years, I've held season tickets to the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C. They do a phenomenal job with their productions -- even when the plays are not my favorite (and they present a wide range of classical theater, not just Shakespeare), their sets, costumes, and lighting design are spectacular. I used to stage manage plays in college, and Jane's love of Shakespeare brings that avocation back to me.

If you were Jane Madison, and you discovered that you were a witch, what would you do?

I probably wouldn't handle the situation a whole lot more gracefully than Jane does. She reaches out to her best friend right away. I would probably try to keep my powers a secret for as long as possible, because I'd always sort of worry, in the very back of my mind, that I was absolutely, totally, completely insane.

What are you writing now?

I'm hard at work on the third novel in Jane's series, MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL (which will be in bookstores in October 2008). After that, I have a new series for Red Dress Ink, about a stage manager who discovers a genie in a magic lantern.

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

When I was in seventh grade, my best friend and I decided that we would spend our spring break writing a sequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS. (Oddly enough, we didn't get it finished in nine days.) I learned, though, that I loved creating characters, building their personalities and then tossing them into challenging situations. I wrote off and on all through high school but fell away from writing in college. When I started law school, though, I was desperate for something to balance the dry cases that I was reading. I wrote my first published novel while I was working as a trademark and copyright litigator at a major law firm. Eventually, I quit practicing law to become a librarian (in part, so that I would have more time to write!)

What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

In a perfect world, I wake up each morning at 6:00, work out until 7:00, write until 8:00, then eat breakfast, shower, and get ready for work. (I have to be in the office by 9:30.)

In the real world, I travel a lot for my day-job, and publicity and promotion tend to sponge up my weekly writing time. I usually set aside one or both days of the weekend to write for three or four straight hours. When deadlines are approaching, I forfeit a week of vacation from the day-job, using the nine days (work-week, plus two weekends) to pound out around 35,000 words (approximately a third of a novel.)

Where do you write?

I have a home office on the ground floor of my three-story townhouse. I sit at a desk that I bought at IKEA about 15 years ago; it looks like leftover hardware from the space shuttle, but it has the best ergonomics of any computer desk I've ever used. I use a five-year-old Dell desktop computer, running Windows XP, and I write using WordPerfect? 10. I keep an Excel spreadsheet to track my story outline.

(When I'm traveling, all bets are off - I write on a hotel bed, on a couch, on a chaise lounge, wherever I can find a surface to balance the laptop I'm using -- which might be my own, a friend's, or a loaner.)

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

I have a very difficult time starting a new chapter - the blank screen intimidates me, and I find a hundred and one excuses to keep from writing. (I have forbidden myself from playing FreeCell?, and I had to remove Tetris from my computer entirely.)

I love editing chapters that are already drafted - I truly enjoy reviewing the flow of the language. On my final pass of editing, I read everything out loud, so that I can make sure the sound is as close to perfect as I can make it.

This isn't your first book, tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

I have six traditional fantasy novels - SEASON OF SACRIFICE (a stand-alone novel about twins who are kidnapped from their medieval fishing village and taken to an inland town, where they are expected to participate in a terrifying religious ceremony) and the Glasswrights Series (GLASSWRIGHTS' APPRENTICE, GLASSWRIGHTS' PROGRESS, GLASSWRIGHTS' JOURNEYMAN, GLASSWRIGHTS' TEST, and GLASSWRIGHTS' MASTER.) The series tells the story of Rani Trader, an apprentice in the stained glass makers' guild who witnesses a murder and is accused of being the killer. She's forced to go under cover in her society's strict castes to unmask the true assassin.

I also have one other paranormal romance, the first of Jane Madison's stories, GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT. It's about a librarian who finds out that she's a witch. But you probably knew that already :-)

What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

Different genre publications have different purposes. Some are truly written to entertain, to take us away from the cares and worries of our daily lives. Others are written as cautionary tales, to warn us about the dangers of politics, of science, of society, of whatever. Still others are written as elegies, reminding us of great men and woman, of leaders who may have never lived. The best genre fiction combines many (or all) of these functions.

Part of the purpose of the Jane Madison books is to raise money for First Book - - a national charity with the mission of giving underprivileged children their first books to own. I donate 10% of my profits on both GIRL'S GUIDE and SORCERY to First Book.