Friday, September 14, 2007

Interview with Me

Romance Author Kelly Kirch interviewed both me and my alternate personality in Featured Author: Lyda Morehouse/Tate Hallaway on her blog.

Oh, and I just found out some amazing news.... MANY BLOODY RETURNS debuted at #30 on (drum roll, please) The New York Times Bestseller List. Hello? I, uh, could totally die happy now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quick Re-Direct: SF Novelist

My alter-ego posted over at SF Novelist about my theories that "writers live a solitary life" are a bunch of bunk. It's called "The Solitary Act."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prologues and Epilogues

I wrote this in response to a conversation started over at Wyrdsmiths:

Generally, I would be classified as a lazy reader. I always skip poems, snippets of musical lyrics, famous or imaginary quotes, or anything in italics that isn’t a place name or a date in front of “the good stuff,” i.e. the beginning of the action/meat of the first chapter.

In addition to being lazy, I also have a relatively low threshold for a science fiction fan for those things that might distract or confuse me. Thus, I’m leery of anything that smacks of a prologue that takes place hundreds or thousands of years before the main story, especially if it goes on for more than a couple of paragraphs. (I make the distinction “for a science fiction fan,” because I will actually give a book a fair amount of time before I expect things to make sense -- even as many as fifteen pages -- which I think long outlasts a lot of “mundane” readers who are unfamiliar with our genre.)

When I teach, I warn my students that there are plenty of readers out there exactly like me. You can’t count on your readers’ patience, particularly if that reader is an editor. My advice is always to work what you can into the story as backfill or flashbacks.

That being said, it was my editor who suggested that I highlight the main source of personal conflict (a face off with secret Vatican witch hunters that resulted in our heroine calling down the goddess Lilith for some serious smack down) in a *gasp* prologue. I fought it, but, in the end, I think she was right. It was a very concise way of getting out the information without having to continually interrupt the flow of the narrative to explain, ala “previously on ER.” I still worry that people may have skipped it. I did my best to make it short and action-packed, but… well; you never can tell just how lazy some readers will be. Keeping my own personal capacity for laziness in mind, however, I did repeat the information in smaller bits throughout the narrative where it was appropriate to do that.

Epilogues are something I’ve also only ever committed once. Well, okay, technically twice, but as the first time was on a trunk novel of mine, I don’t think it should count. In that case, too, it was a wrap-up scene in a stand-alone novel. It made sense to do that sort of “where are they now” scene to show, well, where everyone had ended up after the dust had settled.

I put an epilogue at the end of my third Garnet Lacey book for a couple of reasons. The main reason was that I wanted a quick way for the reader to see just how serious Garnet was about the personal transformation she’d gone through in the novel. The chapter ending was a crescendo on a mega-level; the epilogue was an ending on a micro one. And, this being a romance, it was also the more personal resolution. The second reason was that I really wanted to bring back a couple of characters that I’d thrown in for fun and have their earlier appearance gain more resonance (so I could possibly have them show up in future novels in the series, too.) Plus, I wanted to end on a funny note, which I couldn’t do in the resolution of the final battle, as it were.

The epilogue was also my attempt to come up with a solution for my previous problem with endings, which I wrote about here. I have a tendency to get to the end of the action and screech to a full stop, forgetting that the reader needs time to process everything that happened. E. B. White (in Charlotte’s Web) taught me about the benefits of the long goodbye. I suspect, had I had more to say, I simply would have made that last bit its own chapter, but as it came out only a few pages long, I decided to label it an epilogue.

As a reader, I have mixed feelings. As lazy as I am, I *always* read epilogues. But do I like them? I do when they provide this kind of secondary good-bye that I refer to above, and/or where there’s extra or tangential resolution that needs to be addressed that just didn’t fit in the big final showdown/reveal/whatever. As a set up for a next book or as a kind of a teaser, ala, in a horror book, a final image of the mummy peering down at our heroes? Not so much. I like to know that the ending is the ending, even if it’s in a series, and I’d feel cheated by an ending that seemed to only be there as a teaser for more to come or as a Lady and the Tiger ending.

Just a note about endings in general: take heed, gentle writer. If you end a book in a cliffhanger there are readers, like my partner, who, after tossing the book across the room with a strangled war cry, will write your name down on a list of “authors never to buy again.” (My partner lives and dies by her lists. If you’re lucky enough to be on the alphabetized one kept in her wallet, she will buy everything she finds by you.) Yes, this is even in a book clearly labeled Book One of the Such-and-Such Series, because my partner reads fast enough that leaving a character in a life and death situation is only acceptable if the next book is already sitting on her bedside. Making someone wait a year just to "turn the page" is cruel and unusual punishment in her mind.

I guess my final word about epilogues and prologues is as simple as something my mother once told me: everything in moderation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Review: Many Bloody Returns

This one from Romance Reviews Today

MANY BLOODY RETURNS: Tales of Birthdays with Bite – Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner, Editors
Ace (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-441-01522-1
September 2007
Anthology – Paranormal Fiction

I don’t know about the rest of you in reader land, but I’ve always had a fascination for vampires and other things that go bump in the night. Imagine my delight when I received an anthology about one of my favorite subjects – vampires. To make things even better, some of my very favorite authors are included in this anthology. Well, vampires, birthdays, and my favorite authors combined were guaranteed to make this a great read for me, but an unexpected bonus is that I was able to read short stories by authors I’ve long considered trying – such as Jim Butcher. Come along with me and get a glimpse of some of the dark, sexy and sometimes deadly creatures created by thirteen outstanding authors.

Dracula Night by Charlaine Harris takes place in the world of Sookie Stackhouse. In this little vignette, it’s Dracula’s birthday -- yes the original vampire -- and Eric Northman the big, bad and scary Viking vampire and one time lover of Sookie is throwing a birthday bash to end all bashes -- all with the hope that Dracula will show up. Eric is like a kid at Christmas, and his eager enthusiasm has Sookie a little worried. Dracula Night is classic Harris -- with all the angst, humor and…dare I say… blood her fans have come to love.

The Mournful Cry of the Owls is a tale brought to us by Chris Golden and is eerily entertaining. A little strange but completely fascinating tale of a young woman’s coming of age -- and the truth about herself that she is soon to learn. Readers are sure to want to read more from this author.

Told in the first person, I Was a Teenaged Vampire is a well written, if rather pointless tale by Bill Crider. It tells the story of how one young man’s quest to grant his sister’s birthday wish (so she won’t beat him up) changes his life in ways he could never have imagined.

Twilight by Kelley Armstrong takes place in the world of her Women of the Other World series and features the vampire Cassandra and the anniversary, or birthday, of her death and new life as a vampire. A somewhat sad tale that will have readers wondering what the future holds for Cassandra, Twilight is one of my favorite stories in the anthology.

From well know author Jim Butcher, we have a tale from the Dresden Files featuring the wizard Harry and his vampire brother Thomas. In It’s My Birthday Too, it’s Thomas’s birthday, and Harry has to track him down to give him his gift. Unfortunately, he finds more than just Thomas at the mall -- he finds a crazed vampire and a store full of innocent young people who need protection. Wow! This was an amazing little story that has made me decide I definitely want to read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series -- now if I can only find the time!

In Grave-Robbed by P.N. Elrod, vampire Jack Flemming comes to the rescue of a damsel in distress, or the damsel’s sister at any rate. Jack is determined to stop the charlatan medium from tormenting the young widow -- and from robbing any more graves. A fast and short story set in the late 1930s, Grave Robbed is an entertaining piece of fiction.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life by author Rachel Caine is the story of how Eve Rosser celebrates her eighteenth birthday and declares herself emancipated from the vampire protector of her family. Unfortunately, now she is just fresh meat and fair game for any vampire who can catch her. A terrific short story that is sure to wet readers' appetites for the other books by Ms. Caine -- I know I’ll be looking for them!

The Witch and the Wicked by Jeanne C. Stein is a very different tale about Sophie, a caterer who is also a witch. Sophie’s decision to change careers after her latest client goes up in flames is understandable. But her decision to mix the ashes of a recently deceased vampire (the candles on his birthday cake, made by Sophie, lit him up like a Christmas tree) in her face creams does more than just make her look twenty years younger. This tale could also be called “Be Careful What You Wish For.”

Blood Wrapped by Tanya Huff is the tale of a wizard and vampire who are experts at finding missing people. When a little girl is abducted from her yard, Henry and Tony are determined to find and save her before harm befalls her. A suspenseful tale by a very talented author.

The Wish by Carolyn Haines is the tale of one woman’s tragic loss and her battle with the spectra of death. After years of wishing for death, Sandra has changed her mind. Death has visited Sandra before with tragic consequences -- now Sandra is determined that her fate will not be decided for her -- she alone will determine her fate. A truly remarkable tale, The Wish will leave you wiping away a tear or two.

Fire, Ice and Linguini for Two by Tate Hallaway brings readers a brief glimpse into the lives of Garnet Lacey and Sebastian Von Traum, from the Garnet Lacey series. It’s Sebastian’s birthday, and even though Sebastian believes his birthday is a curse, Christmas Day, Garnet is determined to prove him wrong. Unfortunately, after their car breaks down on the highway and a storm blows in, Garnet and Sebastian find themselves in the clutches of a nasty weather demon. A fun and humorous tale with an edge of darkness, this little story is a treat.

In Vampire Hours by Elaine Viets, a woman, Katherine, knows that her marriage is over. But she doesn’t want to face it. If she confronts Eric about the affairs she knows he’s been having, she is afraid he’ll divorce her and she’ll end up like so many of her friends. With no skills and little education, she fears she’ll never make it on her own. But sometimes, a woman has no choice, and when a tall, dark and handsome stranger offers Katherine the gift of immortality and the opportunity for vengeance -- what do you think she will do? They say a woman scorned is a deadly enemy -- if that woman happens to also be a vampire, tarts and faithless husbands beware.

How Stella Got Her Grave Back by Toni L.P. Kelner is an intriguing tale about a woman searching for...well, her grave. But it’s more than that. Stella left home a vampire when she was eighteen years old and she’s never been back. But this year, for her birthday, she wants to visit her hometown and her grave. Imagine Stella’s surprise when she finds that her marker is missing and a Jane Doe is buried in her place. Stella and her vampire lover, Mark, decide to find out if they can discover the identity of the Jane Doe and have her removed from Stella’s grave. Stella wants her grave back, but she also wants to help Jane Doe get home. An intriguing tale by an author who is new to me, I enjoyed this short story very much and will be looking forward to reading more from Toni L.P. Kelner.

Thirteen tales, each with a birthday and vampire theme, MANY BLOODY RETURNS is an anthology no paranormal fan should miss. From the sad and poignant The Wish to the truly bizarre The Mournful Cry of Owls, each story is entertaining and engaging. Whether you’ve read these authors in the past, or they are new to you, I guarantee that this anthology is the perfect book to read while contemplating your “to be read pile,” Who knows, you may be just as inspired to search out new authors as I am.

Terrie Figueroa

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Review Dead Sexy

This is from Bibliogramma (LJ):
Dead Sexy, Tate Hallaway

This is the second of Tate Hallaway’s supernatural romance novels, featuring the adventures of Garnet Lacey, witch on the run with a penchant for getting tangled up with vampire lovers, vengeance goddesses, and just plain wonderfully weird shit.

Garnet is trying to live quietly in Madison, Wisconsin, following the murder of all the members of her coven by a Vatican hit squad, and Garnet’s overshadowing by the goddess Lilith – who promptly took out the Vatican assassins. But it’s hard to hide that many bodies forever, and now the FBI is looking for her for questioning. And if that wasn’t bad enough, suddenly the town is just crawling with zombies – and you know that’s always bad news.

Hallaway – who is actually the alter-ego of Lyda Morehouse, author of the Archangel Protocol books – has a delightfully light touch that carries the reader through twists and turns of plot as Garnet tries to keep the FBI agent from finding out too much, deal with the zombie invasion, and keep current lover Sebastian from finding out that she’s letting former lover Parrish crash in her storage locker.

Dead Sexy is quick-paced, cleverly tongue-in-cheek (what else can you call a book that opens with a zombie buying a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Voodoo - with counterfeit cash?) and a hell of a fun read.