Sunday, December 27, 2009

LEGOs and a New Laptop

Santa was very nice to our family. Mason got more LEGOs than he could possibly ever need, and I got a new .mp3 player (mine broke) and a new laptop. I'd been doing pretty well with the Mac that was given to me by friend and fellow writer Eleanor Arnason, but, I'm a PC girl, alas. More importantly, Penguin is PC. In order to do my revisions, I really needed a PC. Strangely, I feel guilty about this. I mean, I watch TV. I know Mac people are more cool than the PC folks.

Santa, however, neglected my most important wish. I am STILL hacking up a lung. I do seem to be improving, but it may be time to bite the financial bullet and go to the doctor (hang the expense!)

Even though Mason is off school for the next week, I'm back to "work" tomorrow. I have the last half of ALMOST TO DIE FOR to finish revising, and then my alter ego has a very tight deadline for the small press book she's been struggling with for over a year now (RESURRECTION CODE, aka "The Mouse Book").

Mason has taken to teasing me about the phone call my alter ego got from her editor/publisher and every once and a while he randomly pipes up with, "Uh, about that Mouse book...." implying that I need to get to work on it, least I face another phone call like that one.

Hope you and yours had a happy holiday of your choice!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recovering... Sort of

Ugh. I have been so sick. This is now week three of a bad cough that I just can't seem to shake. (I should probably go to the doctor, but, like many people in this country, I don't have decent health insurance. I have "catastrophic" coverage, so if I'm ever hit by a bus, I won't be bankrupted, but the deductible is so high I might as well not have any.)

Also in deference to the holidays (for me, Solstice), I've taken a break from working on my revisions for ALMOST. Now I'm back at work and I'm having such a rough time getting motivated. My editor has been so good about putting in notes like, "A little more explanation here?" that I feel kind of guilty that my first impulse this morning is to write, "No."

Plus, I had a near heart attack this morning (emotionally, speaking,) because a friend of mine wrote to me inquiring if I had any copies of Tall, Dark & Dead to sell her. Seems a friend of hers was looking to get his daughter hooking on a new vampire series after having devoured the Twilight series, and she suggested me. Only, when her friend went to find my books at his local, independent bookstore, he was told they couldn't get copies and thought TDD must be out of print.

Now Penguin has its faults, but they have always been really good about letting me know when my books are being remaindered so I can have a chance to buy some of the remaining stock before the books vanish off the face of the earth. (This is how my alter ego is able to still supply our local bookstore with copies of her OOP books, lo, these many years later.) So I was kind of shocked by this news. I quick fired off a "eek!" email to my editor (luckily, I didn't sound grumpy, just confused,) and she wrote back and told me that my panic was for naught. Tall, Dark & Dead is still in print. They have over a thousand copies at the warehouse waiting for some independent bookstore to make a request. She figured my friends' friend was dealing with a bookstore that uses a distributor that doesn't deal directly with Penguin and that the distributor was temporarily out of stock. Sending us all into unnecessary panic.

I assume the news of remaindering is on its way soon enough, though. With the series dead, I can't imagine the books will remain in print too much longer after the book comes out next May. I should start budgeting for a few boxes, as depressing as that might seem. I'd much rather be ready for the news.

Anyway, I hope you all had a good Yule/Solstice. I sure did. My parents (who are secular humanists/Unitarians) came up to celebrate with us on Sunday. They brought Mason all sorts of snow goodies, which is quite appropriate given the storms that are supposed to roll through here soon. I got some awesome loot myself: a year's subscription to InTouch (which I love for its trashiness) and well as money on my coffee card and a couple of Captain America tee-shirts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Urge to Click*

One of the things that often surprises my students is that, until very recently, every bit of editing that happened to my manuscript was on paper. My editor might email me her comments, but after that I was expected to do them and then print out two copies and mail them to New York. (One stayed with my editor, the other went to a copy editor).

Until very recently (like within the last two years), I would get a copy edited manuscript back with post-it notes stuck all over it where the copy editor or editor had questions for me to address. I was expected to make changes in a colored pencil on the paper where I could (or reprint a page or two if I had to) and mail it back.

Weird, huh?

Now, finally, and for the first time, I got back a commented/track changed manuscript electronically as my _editorial letter_.

Penguin has been starting to do this for copy edited manuscripts, but this is my first back-and-forth that's just between me and my editor. I think I complained here (or perhaps elsewhere) that I wasn't necessarily fond of the new electronic copy editing, if only because the temptation to fire back snarky commentary to the occasional dense question from a copy editor was VERY STRONG. When there were post-it notes to scribble on, it was much easier to resist. I had to pick up a pencil and crib out some long rant. Now it's a click away. Much harder to remain professional. Though I managed to do it -- I think.

However, I find I'm liking the track changes editorial letter. I'm getting a much better line-by-line sense of what my editor had trouble with and, I find, more compliments dashed in here and there. The "ha! funny line!" bits, even for an old hand like me, still go a long way. My editor's standard e-mail editorial letter always had a line in there about how I gave her a great read and all that, but, you know, it feels more real when I can see where she put in positive comments.

Plus, the urge to respond to comments here is very different. It feels more like a conversation with my editor. She tends to start out with, "What do you think of..." which naturally calls for a response both in the text and in the comments field. Of course it helps that I have a long, well-established relationship with her, and I tend to trust her judgement. :-)


* x-posted from Wyrdsmiths

Monday, December 14, 2009

Busy Week Ahead

No rest for the Wiccan, as the book cover says!

Srsly, I just got back my editorial notes from my editor for ALMOST TO DIE FOR. It's actually going to involve more than just a little tweaking. We're talking about adding another whole scene, which I'd considered but never figured out how to add in... (my editor can be surprisingly clever about such things.)

Plus, I got that call every writer dreads from my small press editor: "So, hey, [alter ego] about that book you're already over deadline on...." (No pressure!) Yikes. But I spent this weekend with a calendar and some serious consideration and I think I have a good answer for him, so I'm off to write that "Dear sir, I'm a total failure, but please spare me another couple more months..." (the check is in the mail!) e-mail.


Oh, yeah, and I'm ridiculously sick. I have this cough I can't shake that morphed into some kind of weird sinus-y mess. Hooray.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cough and a Proposal

At some point this weekend, I developed a hacking cough. No other sympthoms, just an annoying hack that hurts all the way down to the pit of your stomach. Bleah.

Today I'm hoping to get to work on a proposal idea I've had in my brain for an adult series for several months now. I'm have some problems coming up with some plot points, but I think I may actually break out "TAROT FOR WRITERS" and see what the cards suggest. Why not, eh?

Surviving the hack and getting some writing done are my big plans for the week. You?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Available for Pre-Order

Even though the copy edits are sitting on my desk ready for me to work on, I discovered that you can already pre-order HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD, the last in the Garnet Lacey chronicles on

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Get Your Tickets NOW!*

In my other persona as a science fiction author, I'm often asked to sit on panels where a bunch of us extol the virtues of being a science fiction writer/fan in these Twin Towns (seriously, there are lot of SF writers in Minneapolis/St. Paul). So I'm used to telling people we ARE the awesome, but even I did not realize the depths of our amazingness. Check this (this is NOT a joke):

The Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis will be presenting A Klingon Christmas Carol. The production runs from November 27th until December 13rd. Ticket prices are $18 for adults and $14 for students and seniors.

The best part is from the Mixed Blood site:

Scrooge has no honor, nor any courage. Can three ghosts help him to become the true warrior he ought to be in time to save Tiny Tim from a horrible fate? Performed in the Original Klingon with English Supertitles, and narrative analysis from The Vulcan Institute of Cultural Anthropology.

The classic Dickensian tale of ghosts and redemption adapted to reflect the Warrior Code of Honor and then translated into tlhIngan Hol (That’s the Klingon Language).

A co-production of Commedia Beauregard and the IKV RakeHell of the Klingon Assault Group.

Okay, not only is it a retelling, but it's also IN Klingon (with Vulcan commentary). How can you not love that? It's like we live somewhere between reality and ficition.

--- *x-posted from Wyrdsmiths

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh, hi... How Long Have You Been Standing There?

I know, I know. I've been a terrible blogger.

I had a nice Thanksgiving with family and friends and a dead bird and all the trimmings, and now it's time to get back to work and I'm really not relishing it, I'm afraid.

This morning, in my in-box, was the copy-edited manuscript for HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD. I managed to transfer it to my PC (I'm a Mac user these days for a laptop), look at it to see if all the formatting came through, and then, with a sigh, closed everything up. I have fourteen days to get this all done, but just not up for it today... on a Monday, after a nice, long, relaxing holiday.

I also need to get going on proposals for a new adult series. I think you've probably read that before if you've checked my blog at all in the past month, so you know exactly how far behind I am on THAT little project too.


Some Mondays are harder than others.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What are YOU doing?

Sorry I haven't posted much lately, but I really haven't had very much happening.

Mason is at home for one of his "intersessions," which means I've been very busy playing video games. I did turn 42 last Wednesday, which, as many of you know, is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

I also need to work on my proposals for some new adult series to replace Garnet, but I have to admit that my heart isn't in it. I think, perhaps, I'm still mourning.

How about you?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Writing with Children

My son Mason is home for fall break. He has a year-round school, and so, several times a year, he has a couple of weeks off when no one else does. Some people will be getting off for Thanksgiving, but he's off now for two weeks... which has ground my writing to a halt. I'd meant to spend this last weekend finally working up a proposal or two for a new adult series (I had a flash of an idea while driving everyone to work the other day that involves an accountant to a vampire) but I muffed it. I spent the weekend instead, enjoying the sunshine and raking leaves.

Which isn't exactly Mason's fault, but I'm hoping to pin it on him, anyway. :-)

Today I also spent outside, in the sun, so I'm sure that's his fault too.

Hmph. Okay, obviously, I have time to blog, so I probably have time to write. But do you ever find that it's easier to do things that can be interrupted when kids are around? I could get started writing, but I hate it when I'm in the groove and suddenly there's some crisis or other and I have to get up to take care of it. It's hard to get back in the mood, as it were. Then again, I used to write on the job and I never seemed to mind little interruptions then.

I've talked to other stay-at-home writers and at least one agrees that she got more writing done when she had a nine-to-five. I think when we had our "real jobs" both of us felt much more comfortable carving out a minute here and there (stealing time from "the man") than we do taking time away from family obligations (even things like dishes, etc.)

Well, I'm off... to bake a chocolate beer cake. (seriously!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing Date that Wasn't Much Writing

Monday has become my social writing day. I get together with two other local writers (Naomi Kritzer and Eleanor Arnason) at a coffee shop here in Saint Paul and we, in the parlance of parenting magazines, "parallel play." We each pull out our laptops and write. Usually, there isn't much chatting other than a pleasant "hello" or "so what are you working on?" but, yesterday, for some reason, we were all feeling like talking.

I suppose I should consider yesterday some kind of a failure, but I don't.

There's something really important about face time with other professionally minded writers, even if we only end up talking about good places to dine out. Especially since, by chance, all of us that get together are currently "at home" due to choice or unemployment. Getting out of the house at all is important in those situations, I think. The writing life can become awfully insular otherwise.

Good friends and strong coffee are the fiber of a good life, I think.

Blessed be.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday Morning, WIP

Not much to report, really. I finished up my revisions for the last Garnet Lacey book and sent them off. Now I'm waiting on the editorial letter for ALMOST TO DIE FOR, the first of the new young adult series, and to hear what my agent thinks of the little paragraph pitches I sent her of ideas for new contemporary urban fantasy adult books.


In about an hour or so, I'm off to go pick up my friend and fellow author Eleanor Arnason and we're going to head to a coffee shop to write together. It's amazing to me how much more I get done when I'm sitting across from someone who appears to be working diligently on something. I don't know if Eleanor is over there playing Solitaire, but she looks so serious that I feel I should be too. It's clever of us, really.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

German Titles

As you know, Bob, I sold rights to my books to a German publisher. I just got news today that they will be re-titling my books, as the play on words didn't work in German. The first book, originally TALL, DARK & DEAD will be NICHT SCHON WIEDER EIN VAMPIR (Not Another Vampire) and the second will be, BEISS NOCH EINMAL MIT GEFUEHL (Bite Once More, With Feeling!)

I kind of like NOT ANOTHER VAMPIRE because, well, there are a ton of vampire books out there and it works as a play on that, but also it goes to Garnet past relationship with Parrish and moving to Sebastian, as well as the fact that Sebastian isn't your average vamp.

What fun!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Knowing Changes EVERYTHING

It's very weird to be working on the revisions for a book I now know will be the last of the Garnet Lacey series. Every tiny fragment of plot left untied (or left intentionally for later development), suddenly needs tying, tidying, removing.

Also, I'd originally wanted Garnet to struggle with suddenly BEING married and all the weirdness that entails. You know, the first weeks of your marriage when you suddenly look at over your lover and think: "Husband? Wow. Really?" But now that seems... a bit depressing (since I'd also had them have a few of those first spats that seem so much WORSE now that you've committed to each other forever.

I'm also disappointed that the "Scooby gang" don't show up until near the end of the book. I want to spend more time with William, Matyas, Parrish, Teresa, and the rest.

Sigh. Parting IS such sweet sorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whatca' Reading?

I took a vacation to Valaprasio, Indiana to visit Mason's grandma and brought along a bunch of books because, even though I have revisions I should be working on, I really needed a bit of "input." I read Amy Thompson's THROUGH ALIENS EYES which I enjoyed tremendously, and I started Cherie Priest's FATHOM and sort of start-stopped Sharyn McCrumb's BIMBO'S OF THE DEATH SUN (it's become quite dated or it hasn't aged well, I think.)

Anyway, it got me wondering... what are YOU kids reading these days? Anything fun? Anything mind-blowing? Anything you want to recommend?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And It's Away....

I've got a busy day ahead of me, but I just wanted to report some good news. As of ten o'clock last night, I officially delivered electronically the copy of the final manuscript for ALMOST TO DIE FOR. Now the only thing I have to do to complete my initial contractual obligations is to finish the proposal for ALMOST FINAL CURTAIN, the second book in the Vampire Princess of Saint Paul trilogy.


Although, I tell you, there's no rest for the writer. I finally got my revision letter for HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD from my editor and, as they got a bit behind in their schedule, they want the edits back ASAP. Luckily, I managed to talk them into a couple of weeks or my head would have exploded trying to finish ALMOST while revising HONEYMOON.

However, it's kind of like that Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times." For me, it's "may you have too many contracts." It's a funny problem to have since it's, ultimately, a good thing.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Cover!

Here's the cover for the last in the Garnet Lacey series, HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD.

As I noted yesterday, the publisher decided to go with a whole new look for this book. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Done... Mostly!

I don't think I remembered to announce this here, but I finished a preliminary draft of the young adult book, ALMOST TO DIE FOR. A writer friend turned around critique in record time, so I'm trying to kick some a$$ so I can have her revision suggestions done in time for my partner to proof it for "teh stooopid." (otherwise known as egregious plot holes, bad grammar and crazy spelling goofs.)

Also, hopefully, I'll have cover art to share. I got an email of the new cover for HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD, but I'm waiting to see if it's okay to share. Warning: they've decided to go with a new artist for the final book. And a new font. And a whole new look. So, be on the look out for the _TITLE_ when the book comes out. I'll remind you. :-)

Sorry to be so brief, but I have to get back to revisions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And Here A Miracle Occurs*

There's an old math joke that involves a complicated formula that goes on for a while and then the mathematician writes "and here a miracle occurs" and then goes on with the equation. Another mathematician standing nearby says, "Perhaps you could be more specific in this step here." My partner, who was a math minor in college, had a t-shirt with this on it because she had a professor who tended to skip several steps in the equation saying that those were "patently obvious to the casual observer."

The point of this little story is that I now find myself in the part of my proposal where I wrote "and then they settle into a routine," which is highly akin to "and here a miracle occurred" because the next scene is the grand finale and I'm not quite sure what I was intending to happen to build up to that.

Also, in case you were wondering "and then they settle into a routine" is NOT very dramatic in terms of story and pacing.

I think I came up with a solution last night (which involves a squid on the mantelpiece** finally going off, or in this case a witch on the mantelpiece,) BUT I still am left this morning wondering how to build up to the big finale.

Also, speaking of math, I discovered this morning that I can't count. Yesterday I thought I had eighteen days until my book is due. I actually had only seventeen (now, today, of course, we're down to sixteen.) Yipes!

Must go try make "and then they settled into a routine" exciting and foreshadowy.

Wish me luck.


*X-posted from Wyrdsmiths

** For an explaination of the term "squid on the mantelpiece" see the Turkey City Lexicon: A Primer for Science Fiction Workshops

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why is Anything Else More Interesting When I Have a Deadline?

I shouldn't be posting here at all. I should be writing. Like. A. Fiend.

In eighteen days my young adult novel is due at Penguin USA. I've got about a hundred or so pages to write. I suspect I'll make it, given how much I can write during the day. The real question is: how much time will my readers have to read it and for me to revise it after they find everything what is wrong with it....

And wouldn't you know it? The world is full of shiny. I have have dishes that need doing. Kitty litter to change, and, suddenly, it all seems so much more interesting than writing.

So... distract me! What are you up to today? Anything fun?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Young Adult Taboos*

Apparently, there are very, very few.

This question came up for me because yesterday I was in the middle of writing a scene in my young adult novel that's fraught with sexual tension. Something funny (and vampiric) happens which causes our heroine to flee from a make-out session with the hottie Witch boy. He thinks she's off to go, you know, find some condoms. She, meanwhile, is trying to put her fangs back in the box, as it were. Hilarity ensues.

I wrote this thinking, "ha! Great scene! Good job, me!" Then, I paused. When I was a teen (back before written record) this sort of thing would have been completely taboo. It would have caused parents, schools, the media, the Congress of the United States... to freak out.

So, like any modern writer seeking answers to such things, I got on the Internet. I posted a question about it on Facebook. I asked a group of SF/F writers (some of which are writing young adult books). I said, "Can I mention condoms in YA? Is it taboo?"

To a person, they scoffed at me. No, no, I was told. Hardly anything is taboo these days. Mentioning condoms is _so_ not taboo that if the possibility of sex between teens is on scene then the RESPONSIBLE thing is to mention condoms!

Someone also pointed me to this great site: Ally's Diary. Ally is Ally Carter a teen author of teen books. She's the insider's insider being both a YA author and an ACTUAL TEEN. Specifically, she's got a great post about this (and a few other things) called, "Wrong Questions... Which I now pass on to you as a great resource for this kind of wrong question... which us forty-somethings trying to write for the modern teen audience seem to always have.

I mean, that's the thing, isn't it? My own experience of being a teenager was long before cell phones, texting, yes, even computers. (Not just the Internet, kids, but computers themselves.) What was taboo for me and my generation seems, well, like child's play to this.

Plus, I don't remember even having a catagory called YA when I was a teen. There was the children's section of the library and the adult section. It seems, in a lot of ways, it's still the same... only with better marketing.

*x-posted from Wyrdsmiths.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Surrender and Dan Brown

I was over at Wyrdsmiths this morning and finally went through some of the "Smart Things" that Kelly McCullough posted yesterday, including this gem from Matt Hughes called, "No Surrender" which I whole heartedly recommend to anyone who either is just starting their writing career or in the middle of one of the many lows that come in the epicenter of it.

(Though for the record, I do find it difficult to take up a battle cry from that particular political bent from that particular country, but, alas, it does work perfectly for writers. And it in no way diminishes the point of his article.)

Also, this morning while sitting on the, ehm, "throne" I read the interview with Dan Brown (yes, that one, of Davinci Code fame,) in Entertainment Weekly. I have to count myself among his many detractors, however, I found his "screw y'all" attitude very refreshing... and I was profoundly struck by his discipline. Apparently, he gets up every morning at 4 am to write. He writes all day, but takes very regulated breaks during the day to exercise and makes time every week to work out with a personal trainer. I may not be terribly impressed with his artistry, but I can find no fault in his work ethic. You go, Dan.

I was surprised, however, that he doesn't seem to enjoy it. The article implied that after the sequel was turned in he plans to quit. At least for a while. But then I thought, well, okay. Maybe that's his thing. He just wanted to write a book and now that he's made multiple millions, he's going to retire.

The reason it struck me as so odd is that I can't imagine not writing. I think that if I made multiple millions and no one was clamoring for another book, I might retire to the life of a short story writer... or perhaps I might sit down on the French Riviera (or in my new Roman villa next to George Clooney's) and write something all for myself alone. But not make up stories? I can't imagine it.

I mean, connecting this to Mr. Hughes's inspiring article, I always thought that even if all the money dried up (which is much more likely than the multi-millions), I'd go in to a deep depression for several months (let's be honest,) and then I'd do the same damn thing: write something that I, myself find deeply satisfying. Maybe try my hand at a few shorts. But not write? I can't even picture it.

But speaking of a strong work ethic... it is now 23 days until ALMOST TO DIE FOR is due. I've still got a third of the book to go, but even if I only wrote 1,000 words a day, I'd finish with three days to spare. I'm trying to write double (at least!) so that I can get a first draft done in time for readers from Wyrdsmiths to eyeball it before it goes to my editor. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nose Dive in Production

Sunday and yesterday, I was hit hard by a nasty flu bug. My partner also left yesterday for Washington, D.C., so I was not only sick, but a temporary single-parent. Blurg.

I decided that the smartest thing was not to panic. My deadline is fast approaching, BUT I wasn't going to do any one any good trying to write while in a feverish haze. So I slept. I slept most of Sunday and nearly all of Monday (when I wasn't taking Mason to school, feeding him, or, ehm, driving the porcelain bus as we used to call it.)

My strategy seems to be paying off. I am brighter eyed and busier tailed this morning. Now, off to make words count and word count!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (3 of 3)

This is the third and final "book that wasn't" in the Garnet Lacey series. Ironically, when I finished writing this proposal I realized I'd neatly come up with a point which could have been "the end" for the entire series (although I stressed to my agent that was NOT my intention.) After receiving these proposals my agent wondered if Garnet was sustainable now that Sebastian and she were married. I argued strongly that they could have been. After all, in my personal life, I believe that real romance starts AFTER the "happy ever after," but, you know, the divorce rate in this country suggests I'm in the minority.

Anyway, without further ado, here's the book that might have been Garnet Lacey #8, which I had titled OVER MY DEAD BODY:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense.

In the back part of her mind, Garnet Lacey knows that vampires aren’t homebodies; it’s just not practical. After all, how do you explain the fact that you never age to your friends and neighbors?

Yet Garnet figures that concern is far in the future. Right now she’s got such a great life. She has a cadre of awesome friends; a house in the country that she shares with her husband, the day-walking vampire, Sebastian Von Traum, and two magical cats; and she owns her own business, Mercury Crossing, Madison, Wisconsin’s premier occult bookstore and herb emporium. In fact, things are going so well that Garnet decides to celebrate by hosting a pagan festival/psychic fair through the store.

Organizing the event took months, and finally the big day is less than a week away. Garnet has hired a big name in the Witchcraft community to give a keynote address and perform a women-centered/life-affirming ritual. There will be nearly fifty different vendors selling everything from amethyst crystals to zinc health pills. She’s got energy massage workers, astrologers, tarot readers, and even a few Morris dancers to liven things up. It should be quite the do. Everyone at Mercury Crossing is excited, especially William, Garnet’s co-worker and best guy pal, who’s become sort of a local celebrity and Irish shamanism expert since his abduction by the fairy folk several months ago.

Meanwhile, Sebastian has been out hunting... for a new house.

And the new life that comes with it.

After a very public battle with a vampire Queen, word has gotten out. The vampire hunter blogs are abuzz. There’s even some footage of his fangs on YouTube. Ghouls are flocking to Madison hoping to score. And Sebastian’s accountant Larry suggests that the time is ripe for the usual identity do-over so that Sebastian and his family can go back to a life of relative anonymity. Maybe this time in Ohio or perhaps even South Africa.

Garnet is busy with preparations for the festival -- put the Reiki therapists next to the crystal dealers, or? And who are these people claiming to be “Elementals”? – when Sebastian surprises her with a gift. She tears open the wrapping to uncover a key. To their new house, ehm, in Spain.

Sebastian’s offer is met with stony silence. Garnet can’t understand why they would EVER leave Madison. Her store is here! Her friends! Things are finally going well. No zombies in at least a week! Besides, the worst moment in Garnet’s entire life was the day she’d been forced to leave behind her previous life and start anew after the Vatican witch hunters murdered her coven. How dare Sebastian ask her to do that all over again. Besides, Garnet doesn’t even speak Spanish.

She puts her foot down; she’s leaving over his dead body.

Sebastian points out he’s already dead.

And already packed.

He plans to leave for Spain at the end of the week, with or without her.

She feels utterly betrayed. Don’t their vows mean anything? They do -- only for Sebastian, who is a thousand years older than feminism, what a husband says should be the law, at least in matters of life and death, which he insists this is.

Lilith, Garnet’s resident goddess who is more ancient than male supremacy, disagrees. But, when Lilith gets mad, Garnet has to get going. Or there won’t be much of their marriage left at all, much less anything else.

Ignoring the crisis at home for the moment, she throws herself into to work and the final arrangements for the pagan festival. Garnet had been hoping for relief, but nothing seems to be going right at the bookstore either.

William, who is running a very popular workshop track on faeries, has come down with a sudden and terrible fever. The parks and recreation site manager calls Garnet to report that a flood has damaged their proposed event location. When a freak gust of wind causes Garnet to lose some important paperwork, Garnet is instantly suspicious – she’s been through this sort of stuff many times before.

Magic is afoot!

But who, what, and why?

Garnet’s investigation into the supernatural forces at work is interrupted by the arrival of Mátyás, Sebastian’s no-longer-immortal-half-vampire son. He sympathizes with Garnet about Sebastian’s ultimatum. Mátyás doesn’t want to leave town either, but he’s been through this situation before. He likens the experience to being an army brat – sometimes you just have to relocate.

Well, she didn’t sign up for that. In the middle of their discussion, however, four very strange people enter the store. Garnet sees all kinds at Mercury Crossing, but never such devotion to color coordination. There are two men and two women, and each has chosen clothes of a single color: red, white, blue or black (with hair to match!)


Turns out they’re a rock band calling themselves “the Elementals.” William, who has struggled into work despite his fever, jokes that they must do covers of “Earth, Wind and Fire” then, eh? The woman in blue notes that doing that excludes water, and so no, not so much.

Okay. Weird and humorless.

Anyway, the band was passing through and heard about the pagan festival. Is it too late to audition?

When Lilith growls, Garnet considers the fact that all the disasters that have befallen her lately have been related to the elements: William’s fever is heat-related, the site was damaged by flood, and the strange gust blew away her papers.

Could it really be that obvious?

Garnet doesn’t have time to figure it out because William faints. The band offers to help, but Garnet shoos them away with a promise of a try-out later. Underneath her skin, Lilith jitters.

William mutters in Gaelic, a habit he’s picked up from his time on the other side, but eventually comes around. When Garnet presses him, he confesses he’s passed out before. He says it’s been happening a lot since his last big class at the store when they did an exercise to conjure a Brownie. When Garnet and Mátyás look at him curiously, he explains not the Girl Scout kind, but the Irish faerie which supposedly will clean your house in exchange for a bowl of milk.

She asks William if they were successful. He asks her if she’s seen his apartment lately? It’s still a tip. No, William is certain that it was a dud. But, it is kind of weird that he’s been plagued by poor health since. He’d been planning to see an expert at the pagan fair. Garnet shakes her head at him in dismay, but thinks nothing more of it as William seems to have things under control.

When she arrives at home, Sebastian is chasing fringe-pagan blog papperatizi off their lawn. The bloggers threaten to camp out in the nearby field until he consents to an interview (with the vampire, get it!?) He nearly bleeds them all on the spot, but a little Lilith show of force scatters the bad-punning hooligans.

The second Garnet and Sebastian step into their living room, their fight starts up again. Even though the harassment Sebastian is suffering is obvious, Garnet is near to tears when she looks around their home and sees all the memories in each piece of furniture and do-dad collected over time. Sebastian understands, but this is always what he’s done to survive. There’s a reason he’s been so successful for so long, he reminds her.

They sleep on it, though fitfully. The wind and rain rattle the window, and Garnet wakes up to see a shadow outside that looks like someone prowling around. When she goes out, she encounters a mud creature. Another elemental?

Garnet tries to talk to the muddy blob, but it attacks. Téreza, the almost-dead-almost-vampire-all-crazy ex of Sebastian’s, helps her and Lilith fend off the monster. When it shatters into dust, a corn dolly falls to Garnet’s feet.

She’s seen this before, too, and she realizes that she was distracted by the rock band. This isn’t elemental magic; it’s the damn faeries again – the same troupe that first stole William.

Despite the late hour, she and Téreza rush to William’s apartment. He’s sound asleep, but, after they wake William up, Lilith “smells” something She doesn’t like. Garnet has to fight to keep Lilith under wraps. Garnet tells William about Lilith’s reaction and they determine that maybe his Brownie spell worked better than he’d thought.

Garnet has learned to be cautious with her magic, and though her first impulse it to just banish the little imp, she takes a wiser first step. Along with Téreza, William and Garnet draw the faerie out into the open in order to find out more about what it’s doing here.

Turns out, the Brownie has a bit of a crush on William and has ever since he was abducted to the other side. She wants bring him back home with her, and hasn’t figured out how yet. Despite the nice offer, William says no thanks. That enrages the tiny fairy, and William’s fever gets exponentially worse. The Brownie plans to kill William. If she can’t have him, no one will.

Lilith, Garnet and Téreza leap to William’s defense. A huge magical battle ensues. The Brownie might have won, except for one detail. Garnet has become much wilier about her own magic, and, when they first drew the faerie out, Garnet cleverly trapped it within a magic circle.

Without further ado, the trio sends the Brownie packing. Afterward, they do a general sweep of the rest of William’s place to clear it of stray bits of faerie (and there’s a lot.)

After the pixie is taken care of, things at the store settle down. The guest of honor for the festival arrives without hiccup, a new site is found, and all of the vendors are relatively happy with their assigned booths. Of course, there are a few headaches, but nothing of the supernatural kind.

Knowing she’ll either be leaving for Spain the next day or saying good-bye to Sebastian, Garnet can’t quite enjoy the event. Besides, ever since the faerie battle she’s been thinking about the destructive power of possessive love. Garnet considers letting Sebastian go on his own. She heads home depressed and reminiscing about all the great times she’s had with Sebastian. She remembers that first time they met and how they’d done a blood spell to convince the witch hunters who had been chasing them that they were dead.

That’s it!

Garnet explains her plan to Sebastian. They’ll weave a spell that will disappear them from the minds of all the fringe types. After all, most people know vampires really exist, but they just live in a state of denial that Garnet calls the Veil. Her plan is to strengthen the Veil around her and Sebastian. That way they can stay in Madison forever.

The only drawback is that everyone – even her friends – will forget that Sebastian is a vampire and that she’s harbors the Goddess Lilith. Garnet’s gotten used to the support from her friends about the odder parts of her life, but she thinks a price worth paying. Sebastian agrees with one caveat – one sign that the spell is broken, and they leave, no fighting, no questions asked. Garnet agrees.

The morning after the spell, Garnet is back at work, cleaning up after the festival. All her friends are there, and with a casual reference to Sebastian’s supernatural side, Garnet realizes the spell worked. They don’t know her secrets any more. Garnet feels a sense of loss, but, when William says something silly, her heartache eases. She knows that in time, it will all be okay again, and, at least, for now, she’s still at home.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (2 of 3)

Here's the synopsis for the book that would have been Garnet Lacey #7, which I'd called LADY IN DEAD:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense. As you'll see, each book builds on the last, which I thought was mighty clever. ;-) Also, I thought this one was going to be one of the funnier ones....

Ever since an incident when her Book of Shadows went missing and endangered her first vampire lover, Daniel Parrish, Garnet Lacey has been trying to practice a lot more caution in her Witchcraft. To that end, her day-walking vampire husband, Sebastian Von Traum, has been teaching her his precise, scientific art of alchemy.

Too bad she sucks at it.

Garnet, who harbors the immensely powerful dark goddess Lilith inside her body, isn’t used to not being instantly successful, particularly in an aspect of the occult arts. But when it comes to mixing potions and distilling herbal essences, she’s a disaster.

She’s blown up part of Sebastian’s sanctum sanctorum, broken countless beakers, and, worse, nearly poisoned the cats. When Garnet’s latest attempt starts a small fire that almost destroys the grimoire that contains the magic formula to Sebastian’s vampirism, he’s had it. His patience worn thin, Sebastian declares she’s the worst student in the history of alchemy.

Garnet knows he’s right. But she’s so angry (at herself, really,) that she has to stomp off for fear that Lilith will erupt and cause even worse damage. Lilith has been particularly on the surface lately, too, because Garnet secretly took a vow not to practice any magic at all until she could be careful enough to wield that kind of power responsibly. She hasn’t attended a coven meeting in months, and it’s starting to put pressure on Lilith, who needs the release that magic gives Her.

Garnet is standing firm, however. She took the oath because she wanted to be able to prove to Parrish that he was wrong about her. After the incident with the lost book, Parrish made it very clear that he considered her thoughtless and, in fact, dangerously careless. He hasn’t spoken to her since.

Now she’s afraid he might be right.

Dejected, she wanders around the farm for a while, but lately Teréza, Sebastian’s almost-dead/almost-wife who’s entirely crazy, has been acting even stranger than usual, ranting about The Mother and portents of doom. Whatever that means.

So, to escape the crazy that is home, Garnet heads to her usual safe haven -- Mercury Crossing, Madison, Wisconsin’s premier occult bookstore and herb emporium which she owns and manages. William, her co-worker and best guy friend, has finally found his niche. After having been abducted by faerie folk, he’s been teaching Irish shamanism as part of his duties at the store. But, even seeing William fails to cheer her up... after all, it was her fault that he was taken in the first place!

Strangely, it’s bad news that finally snaps Garnet out of her self-pitying mood. Her friend Izzy, who has started dating Parrish, comes into to Mercury Crossing completely freaked out. Seems that Parrish’s Blood Sire (actually, Blood “Mistress” in his case,) is in town and demands an audience. Having dated Parrish, Garnet knows how much Parrish fears this woman and also that he can not disobey any order she gives. Izzy fears that this other vampire-woman will take Parrish away for good, and she’s desperate for Garnet’s help in the matter.

Normally, this is where Garnet would randomly and thoughtlessly cast some kind of spell to try to keep Parrish and his Mistress apart. She’s determined not to use the easy way out this time, despite Izzy and William’s insistence that she just DO something NOW. Lilith doesn’t help either, as she’s ready to blow. There’s got to be another way, says Garnet. There must be something that she can do that will not only help Parrish in his predicament, but also prove once and for all that she can be trustworthy and prudent.

Garnet decides the first thing she needs is more information. Why is Parrish’s Mistress in town now? What does she want? Garnet doubts that the Vampire Queen would just answer the questions of a mortal, but maybe she’d have some respect for a thousand year-old vampire. And, Garnet just happens to know one of those!

Of course, Sebastian has no interest in helping Parrish one iota. They’ve been rivals for Garnet’s affection and, though he wouldn’t admit it, Sebastian is jealous of Parrish’s current relationship with his ex-almost-wife-now-zombie-slash-vampire, Téreza. Garnet is able to use that last bit to convince Sebastian, however. If Parrish disappears thanks to a Vampire Queen, someone will have to take care of Téreza, and that gets complicated awfully quickly if Sebastian gets involved.

Besides, Sebastian is a bit curious. Since he can travel about in the daylight, he hasn’t had much contact with the traditional vampire community. They decide that’s their in: as the eldest vampire in the Wisconsin area, Sebastian extends a dinner invitation to Parrish’s Vampire Queen.

She accepts, and the night comes for them to meet. Sebastian and Garnet have been preparing all day long, though they’re not entirely sure for what. Will she be expecting carrots or people to munch on? Does one address a vampire queen as Her Royal Majesty or Her Bloody Nightmare?

They decide the wisest course is to be expecting anything, so they have munchies in the form of veggies and ghouls (including Izzy and William, who refuse to be left out of the excitement, even if it means they might be someone’s snack.) Mátyás, Izzy’s ex and Sebastian’s half-vampire/dreamwalking son also insists on being part of the gala event, despite the awkwardness of seeing his old girlfriend with her new beau, Parrish.

The Queen finally arrives with Parrish as her consort. There are, as it turns out, many courtly rules of entertaining another vampire that Sebastian knows nothing about. Despite a rough start, the Queen warms to Sebastian (though she completely ignores Garnet and the other “mere humans.”) The Vampire Queen has heard of Sebastian by reputation and also because Parrish once promised her a copy of Sebastian’s secret elixir of immortality.

When Sebastian presses her as to why she’s come into “his” territory, the Queen tells him that she has two reasons. The first is to punish Parrish for his indiscretions. It seems he killed a LaCrosse Witch who briefly had control of him, (thanks to that missing Book of Shadows of Garnet’s again!) The murder was uncovered by local authorities and making the case go away took a lot of effort on the part of the Queen, who complains of having to cover for Parrish’s sloppy mistakes a lot in the past. Garnet bites her tongue, but gives Parrish a “ha, you’re not perfect either” glance.

The second reason is that Parrish has failed to reproduce. Everyone looks at Izzy, and William notes that it’s not from a lack of trying. Awkward silence follows that remark until the Queen explains that she gets her power from her progeny’s blood-children. Parrish has never made another vampire, and the time has come for him to do so. It is, in fact, a requirement for his forgiveness for his past. The Queen gives Parrish an ultimatum, make a vampire out of someone in forty-eight hours, or return with her to Europe as her slave.

Sebastian is confused -- didn’t Parrish turn/heal Téreza when she was caught in-between life and death?

As if on cue, Téreza shambles into the room and rushes to the Queen. Sebastian thinks it’s an attack and leaps to stop her, but the Queen embraces Téreza as her “child.”

Everyone is shocked, though Garnet remembers the strange things Téreza said about “the mother” coming. Sebastian is livid. Not only is he angry that his ex is under the thrall of someone associated with Parrish, but also that this vampire queen must have been sniffing around Madison for at least a year.

His fangs descend. The queen snarls back.

Lilith explodes everywhere.

The party is officially a disaster when the Queen is forced to flee in retreat, vowing vengeance on the house of Von Traum.

Parrish stays behind to help pick up the pieces. Garnet asks him why it is that he never made a vampire. He reminds her that his own transformation wasn’t by choice. It was an accident when he robbed a stage coach. He wouldn’t wish eternal twilight on anyone.

Meanwhile, several of the ghouls that Sebastian rounded up in case the Queen expected blood are desperately throwing themselves at Parrish, begging him to turn them into immortal bloodsuckers. Parrish and Izzy have a loud fight. Izzy thinks Parrish should just bite someone and be done with it; Parrish doesn’t want to be stuck with a stranger forever. A mumbling Téreza wanders around reminding everyone just how heavy that burden can be.

Despite having more information, things aren’t any better. In fact, Sebastian is convinced that it is worse. William notes that Garnet tried holding back, and the whole thing fubared. Izzy agrees that maybe it’s time for some old-fashioned, on-the-fly irresponsible magic, after all. Lilith murmurs that She’d be a whole lot calmer if some serious magic went down.

While everyone is distracted, Téreza is taken hostage by the Queen.

In the panic that ensues, the pressure on Garnet to break her oath is huge. But Garnet persists and says no way. She doesn’t want to make things worse.

The gang pursues Parrish’s Mistress. As they follow her trail throughout the Madison area, Garnet begins to realize that she has been irresponsible – though not the way she first thought. She admits to herself that her reasons for hanging on so tightly to her oath are less pure than she’d like. She’s scared. It’s been so long now since she’s done magic (and the focus has been so much about her screw ups), she’s too petrified to do anything.

When the gang finds themselves the victim of a frustrating wild goose chase, Garnet unveils her plan. They will do magic. Sebastian, Parrish, Mátyás and she cast a blood spell that enhances their ties to Téreza. The four of them, Garnet hopes, have more pull than one stranger, even if that stranger is the vampire who turned Téreza.

When they finally uncover the queen’s hideout, a big battle between vampires ensues. Parrish’s Mistress is able to use her powerful glamour over Parrish to turn him against Sebastian, Mátyás and Garnet. Just when it looks like all will be lost, Garnet’s spell kicks in. Téreza surprises everyone by betraying the Queen. Plunging a stake into her heart, Téreza “dusts” her maker. Parrish spends a few frantic moments expecting his own demise, but instead he’s suddenly infused with the mantle of power. As the eldest existing progeny of his queen, Parrish becomes the new “monarch” of his family line.

Unfortunately for Izzy, Parrish’s new responsibilities will take him away from Madison from time to time, but Parrish reminds her that vampires are ramblers by nature. It’s impossible to live in one place forever.

Meanwhile, Garnet’s confidence in her magic (and her ability to be responsible) is restored. She and Sebastian agree that he can keep his alchemy and his sanctum sanctorum to himself.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (1 of 3)

Some time ago, I promised to post the proposal for the Garnet Lacey books that didn't get the greenlight. Here's the first one, which would have been book 6, which I called DEAD AND MARRIED:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense.

Do you ever have one of those days when you can’t find anything? You put down your keys for a second and poof! They’re gone. Garnet Lacey has been having one of those months. But, really, given everything she and her husband, the day-walking vampire Sebastian Von Traum have been through lately, losing a few little bits and bobs doesn’t seem like anything to worry about.

After all, everything has settled down since the honeymoon she and Sebastian tried to take to Austria (they ended up in Minneapolis and chased by an ice giant, but that’s another story.) Garnet is looking forward to just relaxing and starting fresh. Her new motto is: no looking back, only forward!

Except the past has a way of haunting you, especially when you’ve been careless, doesn’t it?

In fact, Garnet’s history resurfaces on eBay, of all unlikely places. One day, while bored at the occult bookstore she manages in Madison, Wisconsin, Garnet flips through various listings for magical items for sale online. In amongst the tarot cards and Ankh necklaces, she sees a listing for a Witch’s Book of Shadows containing spells that sound strangely familiar.

When she takes a closer look, Garnet is stunned to discover that the book is none other than her own personal journal that she was forced to leave behind in Minneapolis the night she fled the murder of her coven at the hands of the Vatican witch hunters, the Order of Eustace.

Worse, it seems that her book is already sold to someone whose online handle is “righteous1” which sounds suspiciously as though it might belong to someone from that very group. If a member of Order of Eustace has her book... well, that could mean real trouble. They have magic users called “sensitives,” who could turn her spells against her. Not only does the book contain Real Magic, but, if Garnet remembers correctly, there’s also secret information about her first vampire boyfriend, Daniel Parrish.

Garnet must get the book back!

After doing a bit more research with her co-worker William and enlisting the aid of “Slow Bob,” an employee who happens to be ABD in Computer Science at UW (and a bit of a hacker), Garnet uncovers a name and address for “righteous1.” As luck would have it, he lives only a few hours away in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Garnet had been planning on closing the store for a few days for remodeling work that week, anyway, so she and William plan to head off for LaCrosse first thing the next morning.

Sebastian, however, is a bit miffed to discover that Garnet plans to swan off for a few days on what seems to him to be a grand adventure. He’s been stuck at home with his no-longer-immortal-half-vampire son, Mátyás, who has been driving everyone (including the house ghost, Benjamin,) crazy moaning about his recent break-up with Garnet’s friend, Izzy. Garnet suggests Sebastian could come along, but he insists someone has to “mind the store.” Thus, Sebastian agrees to stay behind and watch over the contractors ONLY if Garnet takes Mátyás along with her. Convincing Mátyás it would be good to get out of the house is another matter entirely. Only after Benjamin, the poltergeist, quite literally pitches a fit, does he concede to join them.

Before they go, however, Garnet wants to warn Parrish about the possible breach in his security. She searches for Parrish, who has been babysitting Sebastian’s ex-fiancé, now-mostly-dead-zombie-vampire Téreza. It’s not hard to find Téreza since she all but lives in their barn. But according to Téreza, Parrish has been absent for several days. It’s just Garnet’s luck. Parrish is one more thing that seems to have gone AWOL lately.

In the early dawn of the next morning, they’re ready. The plan is to take Sebastian’s car, but Garnet can’t find the keys (again!) She kicks herself for being so thoughtless, but William offers his car. Once everything is ready, they’re off.

Garnet is a bit grouchy and groggy, having had nightmares the night before. The dreams involved the genie she loosed by accident in Minneapolis many years ago, as well as an errant faerie troop. But, she shrugs the whole thing off as her guilty conscience talking. You see, all of the spells-gone-wrong were in her missing Book of Shadows. If only she’d been more careful as a young witch!

She broods about the indiscretions of her youth until they stop for breakfast in Fort Douglas near the Wisconsin Dells and come out to discover someone’s stolen their car. It would all seem like a case of extreme bad luck except for the strange little corn dolly they find in the spot where the car had been, almost as if left in trade.

Faeries enjoy making exchanges like that, don’t they? Holy coincidence, she’d just been dreaming about faeries! And, faerie mischief would also explain all the missing baubles of the past few months! Garnet connects the dots. All her misplaced stuff started just about the time “righteous1” got his (or her) hands on the book!

After filing a police report (William insists) and while waiting for Sebastian to come pick them up, the trio ends up exploring a very strange standing rock park containing caves and caverns. As she’s wandering through a section on her own, Garnet encounters another dolly in the middle of the path.

At the same moment, William goes missing.

This time the dolly contains a cryptic message in Gaelic (faerie language, apparently,) that implies what Garnet already suspected. The new owner of Garnet’s journal has done something to send the faerie after her. Garnet knows that spending time in the land of faerie can be extremely dangerous. William must be returned to his own reality as soon as possible.

Despite the risks inherent in doing deep magic on the fly, Garnet and Mátyás try using a spell to retrieve William. They can glimpse William on the faerie side, but they can’t quite grab him – William’s leather bracelet breaks off into Mátyás’ hands – and he slips away.

Garnet determines that there’s an element to the original spell cast by “righteous1” that she can’t reverse because it must be performed exactly as she had written it years ago.

Now they’re desperate to rescue William and the book. When Sebastian arrives, they resolve to hurry to LaCrosse. Knowing William is in serious trouble, the tension is high. Luckily, Mátyás discovers that he can contact William anytime thanks to the bracelet. Faerie land is, in many ways, a dream, and Mátyás is the boogieman and can dreamwalk. In this way, they’re able to let William know that help is on the way.

However, as they drive, they must dodge faerie dust storms and the ubiquitous springtime construction of Interstate 90. Sebastian and Mátyás start to snip at each other in the way of fathers and sons, and Garnet is ready to abandon them both at the soonest opportunity.

With the help of Garnet’s inner goddess Lilith, they make it to LaCrosse mostly uninjured (Sebastian’s classic car is scuffed a bit by the dust.) Now they have to play detective to find the location of “righteous1.” Despite constant bickering interrupting her thought process, Garnet tracks “righteous1”’s campus address through a little social engineering. Seems “righteous1” has a bit of a reputation. He’s set himself up as a warlock, though it seems more to attract the ladies than anything else.

The women Garnet chats up at the college center say that Sylvan (aka “righteous1”) hangs out at a bar on Third Street every night. They give Garnet directions and wish her luck. With all the delays, the sun has set. Sebastian says he senses another vampire nearby.

It’s Parrish. He’s been on the hunt for Sylvan/”righteous1” for some time. Seems Sylvan might be a practitioner, but he’s not adept. He’s triggered Garnet’s old spells haphazardly, including the faeries and some that affect Parrish personally. Garnet used her Book of Shadows to detail everything she learned about vampires through her love relationship Parrish, and some of it is more than personal, it’s damaging.

Parrish is ready to kill. Garnet thought she was tormented by the silly tricks of the faerie, but Sylvan has been ruthlessly (if stupidly) playing with his power over Parrish.

Sebastian doesn’t want bloodshed. It’s too risky, especially since Parrish has a reputation as a sloppy killer. At the implication of carelessness, Parrish reminds Garnet that none of this would have happened if she wasn’t so casual about her magic.

Garnet sputters, but slowly realization sinks in... she’s not unlike Sylvan. She’s been very incautious about the very real power she wields. It was her that originally loosened the faerie in Minneapolis and, the more they hear from William, the more it becomes clear that it’s her the faerie have targeted – not on orders from Sylvan so much as a personal vendetta for disrupting their lives.

Later that night, they find Sylvan. He’s obviously a sad poseur, but Parrish still wants to see him dead. Sebastian has to hold Parrish back, but it’s too late. Sylvan spots them and unleashes a djinn from Garnet’s Book of Shadows. They end up fighting the djinn off and it chases them to the place where three rivers meet at Riverside Park. Everyone works together and they’re able to turn the djinn to their own purposes and retrieve the book.

Once they have the book, Garnet finds the faerie spell. She’s appalled at what she sees. She’s every bit as sloppy as Parrish proclaimed. But she puts that aside for the moment and carefully, precisely unwinds the spell to free William.

William comes through all right, though with a new penchant for Gaelic. Parrish, however, is furious at having been denied a kill and the satisfaction of destroying the book. Garnet rips the book to shreds and tosses it into the river, but Parrish doesn’t care. He’s still angry with her for having exposed his secrets. He refuses to forgive her and storms off into the night.

Garnet, Sebastian and Mátyás head back to Madison. Garnet is dejected, mostly because she feels Parrish’s point is far too valid. On the way home, Sebastian reminds her of a previous offer he’d made to teach her alchemy. She asks how that would help. Sebastian explains that alchemy is a precise science, and if she can learn it, she will learn to be thorough and meticulous.

Heartened, Garnet agrees. Mátyás, meanwhile, has hooked up with one of the women at UW-LaCrosse. Seems everything will be all right, after all.


Friday, September 11, 2009

New Cover!

Here's the preliminary (but 99.99% finished) cover for my new young adult novel, ALMOST TO DIE FOR, which is scheduled to be an NAL Trade in August 2010.

In case you've forgotten, the back cover copy says:

On her sixteenth birthday, Anastasija Parker’s present winds up being the shock of a lifetime. When her mom referred to her absentee dad as a deadbeat it was actually half true—he’s a vampire. And a king, no less. A king who wants his daughter to assume her rightful position at his side. But, thanks to Ana’s mother, the blood of a witch also runs through her veins…

Too bad vampires and witches are mortal enemies.

With her parents gearing up for an all out brawl over her destiny, Ana’s about ready to scream. But things get even crazier when a male witch and a brooding bad boy vampire start vying for her affection. Then the barely leashed tension between the vampires and the witches starts to boil over, and Ana has to figure out once and for all if she wants to become heir to her dad’s throne. And deciding your eternal destiny is a pretty big deal for a girl who just wants to get through high school

Slacktivist on Vamps

My friend and fellow writer Naomi Kritzer pointed me to this post on vampires and the effect of the Christian cross on the Slacktivist's blog. Even though I'm not a Christian, I like this interpretation quite a bit, especially when you consider what the Slacktivist says about what s/he considers "true" vampires.

The question comes up: why does garlic work? The answer I always heard was that it was a well-known folk cure to thin the blood. Those of us with heart problems in their family history would *still* do well to consume a lot of garlic or take garlic supplements. (It's a natural cholesterol lowering agent.)

But I also liked the commenter who brought up the "smell of the grave" bit. I hadn't heard that.

In other news, I got my cover art for ALMOST TO DIE FOR yesterday. As soon as I find out if it's okay to do so, I'll post it here. Preview: it's awesome!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Twitter Dweeb

Someone from another group sent out a link to Inkygirl's blog Twitter for Writers (Part 1). And, I have to say, I feel like a complete idiot. I had no idea about any of this stuff. Twitter chats? Wow. Who knew? You kids and your interwebs. You're so inventive.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Happy Endings and Personal Taste

Interestingly, they were talking about happy endings over at Wyrdsmiths yesterday. I was thinking of this on Sunday, because I had a chance to finish a book I checked out from the library called THE MAP OF MOMENTS by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Bantam, February 2009), which I rather enjoyed.

The story follows a history professor, Max, who returns to New Orleans for the funeral of an old lover, Gabrielle, who died in Hurricane Katrina. Gabrielle betrayed him with another man and Max left her and the city behind after that fateful day that he stumbled in on her and her new beau. Very quickly we learn that all in not what it seemed with Gabrielle. She was part of something dark and strange that’s tied to the very history of the city. In a drunken romantic impulse, Max allows himself to believe in a magic potion that a conjure-man, Ray, gives him along with a mystical “map of moments.” (Which is one of the coolest bits in the book).

As I mention, the setting for the novel is New Orleans six months after hurricane Katrina. I have no idea how accurate the descriptions are, but they’re certainly fascinating and heart-wrenching. Some parts of the world-building/magic system were also compellingly interesting – the map, a swamp demon, etc. Although I’d be curious what my friend Harry, a native of New Orleans, would say about it all, honestly. But, not knowing any better, I found both the setting and the world-building carried the story when the narrative stumbled.

Which it didn’t do often, although I’m not sure how I felt about the ending. I always tell my students at the Loft that for a story to feel complete, the hero/ine has to change. Max certainly does that over the course of the book. But, quite intentionally, the book ends in the same place as it began... and, well, it’s sort of depressing. My friend Eleanor says she won’t write a novel or a story that doesn’t end happily, because too much of life ends in complicated unhappiness. It’s this later place that MAP OF MOMENTS leaves the reader in the final chapter. I suppose it’s a rather grown-up place that should be satisfying in a complex and dark world, but, well, I was left wishing things had gone differently. I can’t say that’s a flaw, however. It’s a matter of taste.

In the end, I decided I was satisfied, even if I didn’t like the conclusion. So I give it a thumbs up.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day

I don't know how many people really celebrate this particular holiday, but my family always gathers in LaCrosse, Wisconsin (my hometown) to sit on a curb on the northside of town to watch local union members march carrying flags and toss candy. I wish, actually, I'd remembered to pack my National Writers Union t-shirt that reads, "Metaphors Be With You" on the front and shows the united autoworkers logo on the back (the NWU is a sub-local of the UAW, which always made me weirdly happy.)

After that, we're going to pack up and head back to the Twin Cities. I'd hoped to get my proposals started this weekend, but instead it became a sort of last hurrah of summer, with hikes in Hixon Forest, the LaCrosse River marsh, and the Copeland Park water park. Mason actually spent several hours on the banks of the LaCrosse smearing mud all over his body and being admired by passers-by on the overhead bridge.

Tomorrow, I'll begin work in earnest as it's Mason's first day of FIRST GRADE. Big day!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Writing and Such

I realize I haven't posted here since I dropped the no-more-Garnet bomb, and I feel compelled to at least tell you all what I've been doing lately. As you may remember, the first of my new young adult series is due at the publisher October 15. That's like, well, TOMORROW. Okay, that's how it feels anyway. In order to get that done I have to write at least a couple thousand words a day. Which isn't so hard right now when what I'm doing is translating what I had written in third person into first, but it's probably going to get much harder after that. The only good news is that Mason is back at school starting the 8th, and I can focus all my day time and energy (as well as night) to getting that "in the can."

I'm also trying to come up with ideas for a new contemporary urban fantasy series. I've got about a half dozen little "shorts" (a paragraph pitch) that I'm considering for development into larger synopses. I've got one I'm really pretty excited about, but who knows if it's "fresh" enough to excite my agent or, perhaps more importantly, my editor and her bosses. Fingers crossed.

I also sort of wish I had a better sense of what my publisher would be interested in seeing from me. Should I shy away from vampires and go for urban fantasy or...? I have no idea. My plan is to send several proposals through my agent and make sure that at least half of them *do* include vamps, while also trying out some of my more "fresh" and way out ideas.

Honestly? I'm a little stressed about all of it. My weight has totally suffered from the stress too. I haven't been able to get to the gym thanks to Mason being home and I feel as plump as a ripe tomato.


Friday, August 28, 2009

The End of an Era

I'm not sure what the on-line etiquette is in this situation, but it seems like important news to pass on so...

First of all, may I have a moment of silence while I speak the benediction? "Gucci, Gucci, Garnet. You were a good series."

Yes, Garnet Lacey is no more. The book I finished this year, HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD, will be coming out in May of '10 as scheduled. However, my editor turned down the proposals my agent and I sent for books 6, 7 and 8. As far as I know, all the previous books are still in print. I haven't heard that they're going to be remaindered right away or anything.

Yesterday was my day of mourning. I wailed and gnashed teeth. But it was a rather less dramatic affair than you might imagine because I *am* still contracted for three books in the new young adult series. And, as I told Shawn, we're not really _out_ anything, since, most years, I only write one book a year anyway. More to the point, Penguin was actually quite gracious. They told my agent that they're interested in possibly seeing a new series by me. So it's not like they said, "And don't let the door hit you on the way out." In fact, quite the opposite. It's hard to be too depressed when this really does feel like an opportunity to propose something fun and fresh. My editor would like to see contemporary urban fantasy, but that's a mighty wide pool. I'm kind of excited to start pondering ideas. I think I've mentioned this before, but I actually really, really LOVE writing proposals. Most people dread the synopsis, but I rather embrace it. It's a funny thing.

Speaking of which, I thought that for fun, I might post the proposals of the Garnet books that Shall Never Be over the next couple days so people can see what might have been...

Meanwhile.... be vewy quiet, I'm hunting ideas!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Review of Dead Sexy

What's that old phrase? You can't please all of the people all of the time? Well, this review over at "The Good, the Bad and the Bookish" seems to start out favorable and ends with an "eh."

She says she wouldn't seek out the next book in the series, but if she happened across it she wouldn't scream. (um, ouch?) So I offered to send her one. I hope she takes me up on it.

But, you know, it's kind of instant karma in a box, innit? Given my reaction to Beckett's book, I can't expect the Universe to pull punches, now can I?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reading and Writing

A long time ago, back when MiniCON was big, I attended a panel that Alan Steele was on. I no longer remember what the panel topic was, but I remember him talking about how he had these tremendous periods in output (writing) followed by a cycle of input (reading.)

Well, even though I'm still in the middle of writing my young adult novel, my input valve must be stuck or something because I've been reading like CRAZY. I've just narfed a bunch of graphic novels in the manga series HIRAKU NO-GO (about a bunch of kids, a ghost, and professional "Go" playing in Japan) and I finished a novel by Australian author Bernard Beckett called GENESIS (hardcover, Houghton Mifflin Harcort, 2009). (I have a long extended rant... er review of the book over at my alternate personality's LiveJournal blog Warning: SPOILERS.)

Anyway, that always leads me to wonder... what are the rest of you reading these days?

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Review: DIID

Vampire Genre has a short, but very complimentary, review of Dead if I Do up at their site:

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Yesterday afternoon, I was laying on the bed thinking I should either nap, meditate (which is really, for me, just guided napping,) or start writing. Since I could barely keep my eyes open I went for meditation/napping. I settled in on the bed, plugged in to my mp3 player, but I paused because I heard the sound of a train rattling in the far, far distance. I thought: "Huh, a train," because, a train passes quite close to our house and we can often heard it rumbling through the neighborhood. Two seconds later the tornado sirens went off. Mason and I scurried off to the basement, but as it was only just pitter-pattering rain, I still didn't make the connection. And, honestly, because it's Wednesday, if I didn't have a weather radio that automatically tells me if this is a drill or a real advisory, I probably wouldn't even have hurried us off to the basement. (Even though it wasn't the first Wednesday of the month, my little radio goes off weekly on Wednesdays.)

I'm glad I did.

The tornado that touched down was quite a distance from us. Across the river and in the Portland Avenue and Downtown areas of Minneapolis. But, you know, that's much closer than I really ever needed to be. My sympathies go out to everyone directly affected.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Killing the Muse*

Jim Butcher recently joined Twitter. Encouraged by many of the people I already "follow," I checked out his tweets. His very first one was strangely profound. He wrote something to the effect of "Author kills Muse. Film at 11." Subsequent posts made it clear that his reason for "killing" his Muse is that he's behind on his deadline and he can no longer afford to wait for inspiration to strike. He's just got to knuckle down and write.

Like I said, I found that surprisingly insightful.

I always thought that someone in the stratosphere like Jim Butcher had the luxury of waiting on his Muse, you know? I know that the rest of us down here scrabbling in the dirt have to write whenever we can squeeze in time at the computer. But, I guess I thought that once you kind of "made it" you could just sip martinis poolside and wait for that shining Goddess in white to appear and smack you upside the head and say, "Time to write! I've got a great idea for you, pal!"

It's kind of nice to know that's not true. I guess I remember reading in Stephen King's book about writing that he thinks it's a good idea, if possible, to sit down at the computer at the same time every day so the Muse knows where and when to show up -- even if She doesn't deign to come every time, his point is that if you make it a regular habit, eventually She'll get the invitation and appear. But I also sort of thought that "Stevie" (as he calls himself throughout the book) was kind of just saying that for us lowly not-yet-as-great-as-he sorts.

Maybe not. Maybe everyone struggles with writing when they don't want to.




*X-posted from the Wyrdsmiths blog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer in Full Swing

I've been lax about posting here because summer at Chez Hallaway is in full swing. In fact, I think my family is still recovering from an exhausting (yet relaxing) weekend up at our friends' cabin in Siren, Wisconsin. It was exhausting because the weather cooperated and so we spent oodles of time in the water -- swimming, floating, playing beach tag, building sand castles, kayaking, and generally exhausting the grown-ups.

Yesterday, we were all so cranky at being back in the real world. It sucked.

Today is better. In fact, I got started a bit on the third re-boot of the young adult novel. My editor said, having read the new and improved bit I sent her, that I probably should just writing the thing in first person. Right now I can hear my partner and Naomi, the Wyrdsmith that complained the loudest that the whole thing should be in first person, laughing at me. I resisted first person because... well, because I really wanted the challenge of writing in third. Something new to me. Something to stretch me a bit. Alas, a highly commercial venture is not really the place one should attempt to stretch one's self. :-) Maybe I'll work in third person in some short stories.

But the good news is that I finally wore Mason out up at the lake. He's been very inwardly focused for the last couple days since we've come back, and I think that he finally got enough excercise and sunshine for a little while. I was actually able, like I said, to get some writing done. During the DAY. Awesome, no?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Writing Biorhythms

Do you have a time when your brain is better suited for writing?

I know I do. As a professional writer, I've trained myself to write any time, any where. However, the fact remains: I write better during daylight hours, preferably between 9:00 AM and noon.

Yesterday, I took Mason to the beach for three hours. We played and played and I thought for certain he'd be tired by the end of the day after all that healthy sunshine and exercise. He did get to bed at a reasonable hour, but then guess what? I was tired too! I did get a bit of writing done after hours, but I have to tell you, writing at night, for me, is just plain HARD. I can do it, but it's not "natural" for me, you know?

Strangely, I think I got in the habit of writing during the day when I had a regular job. I was the world's worst employee. I tell my friends in business: "Never hire me." Because I'm the consummate slacker. I get only enough done not to get fired, and I spend the rest of the time stealing your office supplies and writing my novel on company time. I wrote five novels while "working" full-time that way. Bad. And, like I said, the 9 to 5 mentality still infuses my writing brain. My brain thinks: office hours = writing hours. After hours = play and sleep. Now, with child at home, that's reversed.

It's hard to retrain the brain, though it can be done. I've now written nearly as many novels at home with small child as I did with a regular job. Many a midnight oil has been burned. But... I still don't like it. Even after years of writing this way (although now, only during summer,) it's still a bit like pulling teeth.

So how about you? All things being equal, when do you write best?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Plans. Yours?

This morning started out with the whole family at the eye doctor. Mason has been adjusting his glasses a lot, and at his yearly physical had some trouble reading the eye chart with his glasses on.... so, no surprise, his perscription has changed. Alas, he and mama had some disagreements about which glasses looked best on him. Mason is a lot like me. If he had his druthers, he'd wear glasses festooned with a lot of BLING. And they'd be hot pink.

Mama is a bit more conservative to say the least.

We all ended up a bit bent out of shape after that, however. Now Mason is in the other room playing some video games while I catch up on my interneting. Our big plan for the day is to go to the beach. I'm really hoping that today I can wear him out a bit better. Yesterday, I'd hoped to coax him out on a big adventure so that I could get some writing done after bed time. But, ultimately, I'm learning that it seems to be nearly impossible to actually exhuast that child. Me? I'm out after two hours of hard core sprinting. Him? He's just getting revved up. So, needless to say, while I opened up my computer last night I did not get a lot done. However, I did reveiew my new beginning and I'm very proud of it. I think it captures the tone I want much better. I'm kind of tempted to send it on to my editor, Anne... sort of to reassure her. I don't know. Maybe.

Anyway, how are you on this fine Tuesday morn?

Monday, August 10, 2009

YA Back Cover Copy!

Last week I approved the back cover copy for the young adult novel I'm currently working on called ALMOST TO DIE FOR. It's a new series for me. It's not in the exact same universe as Garnet and Sebastian as you can see from the bits below, but it still has plenty of witches and vampires. According to Penguin USA, it will be out in August 2010.

Here's the back cover copy:

On her sixteenth birthday, Anastasija Parker’s present winds up being the shock of a lifetime. When her mom referred to her absentee dad as a deadbeat it was actually half true—he’s a vampire. And a king, no less. A king who wants his daughter to assume her rightful position at his side. But, thanks to Ana’s mother, the blood of a witch also runs through her veins…

Too bad vampires and witches are mortal enemies.

With her parents gearing up for an all out brawl over her destiny, Ana’s about ready to scream. But things get even crazier when a male witch and a brooding bad boy vampire start vying for her affection. Then the barely leashed tension between the vampires and the witches starts to boil over, and Ana has to figure out once and for all if she wants to become heir to her dad’s throne. And deciding your eternal destiny is a pretty big deal for a girl who just wants to get through high school.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"Murphy's Law" for Writers

The last couple of days since Mason has been off school for the summer, I've been pressed for time to write. Most of that is a problem of my own making, because, since he only has a month off in his year-round school schedule, we've been making the most of what we have by going on "adventures" to the local wildlife parks, etc. It's been great fun. Tiring, but great fun.

I haven't written much of note, however.

So what happens? The last few days my brain has bombarded me with ideas for short stories! My friend Sean M. Murphy came over a couple nights ago and we thought up an awesome first contact story. Yesterday, my brain went off on a tangent about the crazy things we're willing to do to stay thin and beautiful and I crafted a whole story arc around that... and this morning I woke up with the thought that's over in my Twitter feed.

Gah! Why does this always happen when I have NO time to write the projects under deadline, much less the ones that are bubbling to the surface!!!???

Monday, August 03, 2009

Hello, Monday

It's Monday, do you know where your motivation is?

I don't.

Once again, I find myself sitting at home waiting for a repair person to show up. This time the drier croaked. It no longer heats. We've been hanging our laundry on the line outside, which has been kind of cool, but a bit tedious, honestly. How did those Colonial women do it??

Also, my son is now officially on summer vacation. For those of you who have tuned in late, he has a year-round schedule. He still gets three months off, just not all at once. It's a schedule that's perfect for ME, because it means that my writing goes fairly well uninterrupted for months at a time. But now we're both rattling around at home. I should be writing now since he's occupied watching TV, but... you know, the internet is so SHINY!

It's suppose to get warm today -- in the upper 80s (F), so maybe after the repair person goes, we can hit the beach.

Need to find that motivation. Where did I put it? Is it here in this coffee cup, I wonder?

Friday, July 31, 2009

An Interview with Moi

LoveVampires did an interview with me, which you can check out here: Probably my favorite question to answer was the last one: "If the Garnetverse were real and you had to be one of your characters, who would you be and why? My answer might just SURPRISE you....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

General Grumpiness

I have to shake this grumpy mood that's settled over me. I'm not sure what's going on, because today is absolutely beautiful. It's sunny, in the seventies (which, in my world, is damn near ideal) with a cool breeze, and I have good food waiting for me for lunch, including homemade French bread that I made yesterday.

I think it may just be a let down after the awesome that was yesterday. I had two wonderful friends to hang out with in my backyard yesterday, and a lot of good conversation, laughter, etc. Now I need to put nose to the grindstone and that's always difficult after such a fun day.

Plus, my editor was only lukewarm about the beginning of my YA novel, and that's definately cast a pall over everything.

*sigh* I just want to be recognized for my genius. I don't want to have to actually WORK for it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ugh... Is the Weekend Over Yet?

Strangely, I'm HAPPY the weekend is finally over.

My son turned six this Friday, and somehow his birthday managed continued non-stop until five o'clock on Sunday. Friday it was presents and swimming at grandma and grandpa's hotel until late (for a six year old, anyway;) much of Saturday at ComoTown, which is an amusement park attached to our local zoo; and then Sunday a backyard party involving ten three to six year old boys (well, one was a girl, who held her own nicely,) who tore up the yard and generally had an awesome time splashing in the pool, squirting each other, and getting hopped up on birthday cake and Popsicles.


Actually, given that there were only a few head injuries on Sunday, I think things went pretty well. I know that the kids had fun. And, despite our specifically asking for NO PRESENTS, Mason got overloaded with gifts of all kinds. At least the grandparents stuck to the rule, because they chipped in to help buy the LEGO Star Wars, Millennium Falcon. Which, btw, is awesome to behold... even in it's current state of a zillion pieces and ginormous box.

I'd been hoping for a respite from the chaos this morning, but the first thing that happened was that Mason forgot his glasses, and I spent nearly an hour searching for them at home before returning to his school to give them to his teacher. (Yes, he's still in school. It's a year round program. He'll have August off, as well as two other months, just not all in the summer.) Then I got an e-mail from my agent for me to send copies of my novels to the German publisher who wants to publish them... and a number of students in the last I guest teachered in last Wednesday would love for me to review their work -- oh, and a local author is looking for a blurb... and... and...

I just want to nap.

How about you? How's your Monday shaping up?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Life, with Interruptions

Today I'm stuck in the house while an electrician messes about with, well, electricity, I suppose. We're removing a few wires that are kind of frayed and dangerous over our backyard, as well as having a few outlets installed.

I've also put my young adult project on the back burner momentarily, as I'm kind of waiting to see what my editor, Anne, thinks of the first sixty pages that I sent her. I won't hear back until sometime next week, as she's currently off whooping it up at ComicCon in San Deigo. (I'm deeply, deeply jealous.)

Instead, I've returned to my alter ego's small press project, which is finally, FINALLY picking up steam (or so it seems THIS TIME, at least.) I think my new infusion of excitment has to do with a great conversation I (uh, she?) had at a reading club that was discussing Messiah Node and J. Michael Straczinski's SPIDER-MAN.

Well, since I don't know what might happen with the electrical power, I'm going to sign off for now and actually get back to said project.

See ya on the flip side!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting My Geek ON

Sorry I haven't been posting here, but I've been getting my geek on elsewhere. I've been slowly catching up with the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN titles from several years ago, and now a whole flood gate of life-changing stuff has been poured into my brain. And honestly? I'm still trying to cope.

Meanwhile, I hope have some official teasers for the new books up in the next couple of days.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Pressure is ON

My editor and I were chatting on-line this morning over the back cover copy for my two up-coming releases, and she casually mentioned that she tweeted that my new young adult book, ALMOST TO DIE FOR, could be described as Twilight meets The Princess Diaries.


No pressure or anything.

Ironically, I had been planning on working on my alter ego's small press project today (it is Friday after all) and now I'm looking at my young adult, thinking: "Is it funny enough?" Aaaaargh!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The plumber arrived yesterday only an hour later than promised and did the work in about two; everything was fixed by three o'clock. The bill was not astronomical, either. Love my handyman service. I kiss them.

In other news, you might notice on the sidebar that I am now Twittering. I tweet. I hear all you kids are into it. Please feel free to follow me or friend me or whatever.

Today is promising to be very busy. After I pick Mason up in a couple of hours, I'll be headed off to Barnes & Noble to pick up a book of weird hauntings that I put on reserve on Tuesday. Mason also wants to check out the Star Wars section, since we didn't get to it during our last visit. (He got stuck in the humor section, reading GARFIELD.) Then, it's off to pick up our CSA (community supported agriculture) box from Driftless Organics, and then a little cat herding as we try to get Ms. Deliah (the cat Barney is largely based on) into her carrier and off to the vet for shots and "animal wellness" check-up.

I think Mason gets another fast-food dinner, which is only ironic given all the farm-fresh, organic produce we'll have in the car.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday Suckage

I recently read an article in the Star Tribune that Monday is no longer the number one day of the week to commit suicide. Now, it's hump day: Wednesday

Today has been one of THOSE days, and if I wasn't a naturally cheerful and zen-like in my approach to certain areas of my life, today's events might, at the very least, cause a serious ulcer.

My partner is off to Seattle today for a conference for work. Consequentially the household was awake by 5:30 am, which is a time of day I consider quite despicable for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that most of the time the sun isn't even awake yet. So why should I be, I ask you! That was, it turns out, only a minor inconvenience.

After doing her usual getting-ready morning bits, Shawn came upstairs and sat down on our bed. Her face looked ashen. She said in a solemn tone: "Bad news. Really, really bad news. We have a leak."

I don't talk much about them on this blog, but I own several fish in large tanks, and my first thought was, "Oh no! Not the fish tanks." So I was actually strangely relieved when she explained it was the kitchen ceiling. Oh, I thought, just the kitchen ceiling.

Wait. The kitchen ceiling? That's not good.

We live in a house that is approaching its hundredth birthday. There are any number of things we look at and think, "We're going to have to replace that one of these days." Most of those things obligingly chug along and we never have to worry. We've always KNOWN that these pipes are a problem. They're probably some of the last remaining lead pipes in our house *and* we had our handy-person gerry-rig a connection to the upstairs faucet because they were rotted. We were just doing that homeowner finger-crossing dance this whole time, waiting for... I dunno, a lottery win or something.

Alas, I'm now awaiting a plumber, and probably a huge bill. But, as we like to say in Minnesota, it could be worse. We have a working downstairs toilet (thanks to the same people who are coming today, and, really, someone could come TODAY. That's huge.)

I haven't gotten a lot of writing done yet today, as I spent this morning moving breakables and furniture out of the kitchen, since, watching the spreading water stain, I suspect much of the ceiling will have to come down for the repair.

Wish me luck... or maybe don't. Maybe break a leg or pipe or something.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

W.I.P. and Reading

I finally handed out the first fifty pages of my newest work-in-progress (the young adult vampire/witch series) to Wyrdsmiths last week. I'm now trying to untangle their comments, my thoughts on them, and do some revision. Interestingly, some of the issues people had were with "world-building" (something I pretended to be an expert on yesterday), and, thus, I spent a good deal of last night talking to my partner about the world of these novels and my vision for them.

And now there's a psychic cat... or maybe it's a ferret.

That part is still undetermined.

Also, sometime last week I got my latest (and last) issue of TALEBONES (issue #38, Summer 2009). I started reading it right away, and, because I'm kind of pedestrian, I started at the beginning with Mary Robinette Kowal's "Ginger Stuyvesant and the Case of the Haunted Nursery." (Nothing about her story was pedestrian, I only say that I'm kind of pedestrian because I think it might actually be wiser to skip and jump through any collection of short stories.) The story takes place in that time of the "Spiritualists" in 1920s in a British manor. Our heroine is an American medium who can see and communicate with ghosts, and has a strange sort of desire/affinity with the otherside (in that without the anchor of the seance circle, her spirit wants to just leave and follow the spirits.) The ending wasn't incredibly "ah-ha!," but it was an engaging, well-told story none-the-less. I was particularly enchanted with how the medium interacted with the ghosts (and the ghosts with their obsessions), as well as the sub-plot that involved a non-believer husband. A good, well-told story. I'd recommend it, particularly if you like ghost stories.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Me, Elsewhere

Today, I'm guest blogging at Victoria Janssen's blog and talking about World-building. Come by and check it out if you get a chance.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Tradition of Reading

In the years B.C. (before child), my partner and I had this wonderful habit of reading to each other during the performance of arduous chores, particularly she would read to me while I was doing the dishes. We recently resurrected this tradition. Now, not only is the kitchen cleaner on a more regular basis, but I also get the pleasure of hearing various horror short stories in collection (the book we chose for this time.)

A couple of days ago, she read me “Sredni Vashtar” by Saki (H. H. Munro.) If you are a fan of horror, you may know the author from her/his more famous “The Open Window” (not to be confused with the movie classic “Rear Window.”)

“Sredni Vashtar” is the name of a weasel that a young, sickly British boy discovers caged in the back corner of a mostly-forgotten garden shed. There is also a hen living there, upon which the boy lavishes attention (because, in the way of British boys in novels and short stories, he doesn’t get much love from his nanny or completely absent parents.) But, it’s the ferret/weasel that he *worships.* Literally. On “holy” days or days to celebrate certain personal victories, the boy brings Sredni Vashtar delicacies which he places lovingly and with much ceremony in front of the weasel.

Creepy right?

What’s kind of interesting about this story? It kind of plays with your horror story assumptions. You know something bad is going to happen involving the weasel, but I, at least, was totally routing for the boy to get his way over the awful nanny, especially when she decides he spends too much time in the shed and is determined to sell off the beloved hen and… kill? (it’s implied, but not really stated) Sredni Vashtar.

I don’t want to give away the ending, in case you decide to look it up for yourself, but let’s just say I was deeply satisfied by the ending even though part of me knew it was morally wrong to feel that way.

A very worth while short. And it sort of makes you ask yourself: do people make their own gods? Did this boy invest Shredni Vashtar with magic powers simply because he BELIEVED, or… is everything that happened just coincidence???

Cool premise, don’t you think?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

More Comic Book Talk

Over the CONvergence weekend, I house sat the kitties of a fellow Wyrdsmith, Bill Henry. He's also a comic book fan, and on his living room table was a set of steampunk graphic novels: Freak Angels by Warren Ellis.

I have to say, I haven't read much steampunk but I rather enjoyed this, though I only got through the first volume and a half before Bill returned from his trip, and I had to leave them behind. The world isn't your typical (from what I understand, anyway,) steampunk, in that it's a fantasy future in which London -- much of the rest of the world as well? -- has been flooded and some other incident (which our heroes may be at least partly responsible for) ended civilization as we know it. There are eleven odd young adults, the Freak Angels, who are psychic and who are running White Chapel or one of those other neighborhoods in London. There's a mystery involving a rogue member who is misusing his powers and some people from over yonder who come in by boat and get their a$$es handed to them by the Freak Angels.

I'm actually uncertain where it's going or what it's about, but it's very compelling writing despite all that, and I'm going to have to lean on Bill to fork over the next issues. Or heaven forbid, go out an buy my own dang copies.

Is that a recommendation? I don't know. I haven't had enough coffee yet to be be more coherent.