On Blurbing

Is this thing on?

Is this thing on?

I get mail. And sometimes it isn’t hatemail! Okay, okay, often it isn’t hatemail. I do get more positive and constructive letters than angry, nasty screeds.

Well, most weeks I do. All part of being a woman on the internet, right?

Ahem. Anyway, this landed in my contact form queue, and after I replied I thought hey, there are probably other people who have this question too.

From: *redacted*

Subject:
Question Regarding Manuscrit

Message:
Hello,

I’m in the process of trying to get a manuscript published and I noticed that you offer editing services. Editing isn’t quit what I’m looking for so I wanted to touch base and see if there was something we could work out.

What I am hoping is to have an established author in the (somewhat) same genre be able to offer a front cover blurb/ few words on the story.
Since you were the one who inspired me to become a writer I wanted to reach out to you first. So I guess I’m wondering if this would be of interest to you (blurb below) and if so, how much it would cost?

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time,
*redacted*.

Blurb:
*redacted*

Again, thank you for your time.

This is very polite, and I can’t blame the person for thinking that’s how the whole thing works, given how movie quotes are farmed. Bonus points for being upfront and telling me editing isn’t what s/he’s looking for, extra bonus points for thanking me for my time. and triple-dog-dare-you bonus points for taking a very professional tone.

Here’s my reply:

Dear *redacted*,

Thank you for writing to me. I am honoured to be considered an inspiration.

Blurbing a book means the author who does so is putting their own reputation on the line for the work in question, and requires a significant time investment of reading the work in question. Standard industry practice is for an agent or publisher to reach out to the established author’s agent (or the author, if they have a personal/professional relationship with the established author) after the book has passed through editing, copyediting, and quite possibly the proof stage. Also, blurbs should never, ever be paid for. If an “established author” is offering to blurb your book for cash, it is a scam and definitely NOT in your best interests as a professional to pay them. Money, as Yog’s Law states, should always flow towards the writer.

I suggest you familiarise yourself with Writer Beware and other sites that can help you in your writing career, keep you from being taken advantage of, and familiarise you with best standards and professional practice.

Good luck,

Lili Saintcrow

I wish this fellow writer the best–the professionalism and politeness exhibited in the letter will carry them far. I also wish I could have helped them more, but charging for cover quotes/blurbs is NOT OKAY, is NOT PROFESSIONAL, and is a sign that some poor writer is being scammed. I’m not able to blurb half the books I want to, because my reading time is so saturated with research I can’t get them into the queue.

Got a question about publishing/writing? Hit up my contact form, and if enough people ask or it’s a really good question, I’ll answer with a blog post. (I can’t answer everyone, of course.) I’m also over on Ask.fm, but that’s more likely to get a very short answer.

STEELFLOWER News

steelflower I promised a big announcement yesterday, and I can no longer put it off. Not that I wanted to, but…you know. Big things make one nervous.

The gracious folks at Samhain Publishing are going to help me bring out another Steelflower book.

*winces a little at the screaming*

Now, I know you have questions, and I’m going to answer some of them here.

But I thought you said piracy killed the series, and that you wouldn’t write another one!

Yes. Piracy killed the series. I am taking a substantial financial hit to do this. I did not decide to do so because of the hatemail I received over being honest about why I wasn’t writing more of Kaia’s adventures. Said hatemail, in fact, only reinforced my decision not to do so before now. In fact, I fully expect to get more hatemail from people saying “You said you never would, I hate you!”

I have been in publishing long enough to know with some things, one just can’t win.

When is this happening?

That Sekrit Projekt I’ve been talking about? This is it. I’m writing Steelflower’s Song right now. The due date for the first draft of the manuscript is next April. It’s a long time because I have to fit other better-paying projects in around it too, AND because Kaia’s world is very complex and requires tons of research, not to mention relearning her language(s) and producing a novel about 100K words long.

Will there be a THIRD book too?

I don’t think so. I originally had plans for a trilogy, and then another collection of short stories dealing with Kaia’s earlier adventures. I think, however, that this second book is going to have to be enough.

OMG DARIK AND KAIA!

They have a relationship. It’s a somewhat complex one.

But happy ending, right? With a happy ending?

I do not ever promise that. I do promise that they will have the right ending.

Okay, you said “financial hit.” What do you mean?

The folks at Samhain are being incredibly good to me. Unfortunately they’re somewhat of a small press, and consequently what they can pay me upfront–the advance–is not enough to live on while I’m writing. There are some ameliorating factors, but the fact remains that I am taking what could be much more highly paid working time and gambling that there will eventually be enough of a return to warrant the risk.

That being said, there are some things you, dear Reader, can do to help.

Like what?

Piracy is an ongoing concern. Don’t torrent or pirate books, and please discourage your friends from doing so. You can sign up for my Patreon–near the beginning of each month, I’ll be releasing first drafts of some brand new Steelflower scenes. That means for five bucks a pop you’ll get sneak peeks of the book before anyone else–including my editor–does. The first one will be going up tomorrow, so you’ve got time to get in on it.

Now is also a great time to pick up some of my other books, if you feel the urge. If you enjoyed reading my books, a rating or review at your store-of-choice is always welcome–they do help! And of course, you could show the folks at Samhain some love by checking out their other fine fiction offerings. If there are other things Readers can do to help, I’ll certainly announce them in the future as well.

I’m hoping I can keep the lights on and the fridge full even though I’m taking this hit. The cynic in me says Steelflower’s Song is going to be pirated as soon as it goes on sale, and that it will be just like the first book. The optimist in me is winning by a hairsbreadth by pointing out that I love Kaia and her world, and if I overwork myself for the next six to eight months I’ll be glad, eventually, that I did so, and that my Readers are going to be very happy about this.

It’s the last consideration that makes this worthwhile. I never gave up on trying to find ways to bring Kaia’s adventures back to my Readers, and I’m very glad I’m finally in a position to do so, however uncomfortable that position is.

BLOOD CALL Release!

BloodCall Yes, ladies and gentlemen, dear Readers all, BLOOD CALL is out today!

Anna Caldwell has spent the last few days in a blur. She’s seen her brother’s dead body, witnessed the shooting of innocent civilians, and been shot at herself. Now she has nowhere to turn-and only one person she can possibly call.

Since Anna dumped him, it seems waiting is all Josiah Wolfe has done. Now, she’s calling, and she needs his help-or rather, the “talents” she once ran away from. As a liquidation agent, Josiah knows everything about getting out of tough situations. He’ll get whatever she’s carrying to the proper authorities, then settle down to making sure she doesn’t leave him again.

But the story Anna’s stumbled into is far bigger than even Josiah suspects. Anna wants to survive, Josiah wants Anna back, and the powerful people chasing her want the only thing worth killing for-immortality. An ancient evil has been trapped, a woman is in danger, and the world is going to see just how far a liquidation agent will go…

Available now at Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

The genesis of this book was a dinner a long, long time ago, when my writing partner and I, a little tipsy, had a waiter named Josiah. I challenged her to write me a book with a Josiah, she challenged me, and now you get to read mine. (Hey, Mel? STILL WAITING. *evil cackle*) My editor at Orbit kept trying to find a way to buy it, and finally succeeded in persuading the bean-counters it could be a good investment.

Let’s prove her right, chickadees, shall we?

As always, thank you for being my faithful Readers, and let me also thank you the way we both like best–with another story. Hey-stay tuned for some Steelflower news as well! (But that’s–say it with me–another blog post…)

One Way to Spend

Tightrope Last night I drank wine and watched the first Magic Mike movie. It went about as well as one would expect. I could do a whole blog post of analysis, but who wants that? Suffice to say it’s a sports movie, has all the usual beats of of a sports movie and plot holes you could drive large automobiles through, and there are intimations of another, darker and more interesting movie struggling to get out from under the mess that never quite makes it. I would have loved the movie to star Joanna the psych major doing her fieldwork among Tampa’s male strippers. Or even something like The Wrestler, but about the Kings of Tampa.

Sadly, it was not to be. *removes tongue from cheek*

Anyway, that was one way to spend a Monday night.

Here, have the Onion reporting on Harper Lee’s new book. Trust me, it’s worth it. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

There’s about 117 pages of Gallow 2 copyedits to get through today. If I make it, I’ll reward myself with a different movie, maybe. Or just collapse on the couch and drool my way into the evening.

Right now, either seems a good option.

REVIEW: The Siege

The Siege - Cover I finished Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Siege yesterday. His Captain Alatriste books are autobuys for me, I love that character with a fiery passion. The rest of Perez-Reverte’s oeuvre is good enough to warrant a look whenever I find it. His Queen of the South is, in my humble opinion, one of the few times a male author has actually written a believable female character, and of course The Club Dumas–with its attendant movie The Ninth Gate–is just straight-up fantastic, even if the latter is directed by Roman Polanski.

The Siege was a bit difficult in places, because even though Perez-Reverte’s written a believable woman once or twice, there is no guarantee for any of his other female characters. There’s a certain amount of brutal historical misogyny–the setting is, after all, Cadiz in the Napoleonic era–but the one female main character, Lolita Palma, is…problematic, at best. (I mean, really, you’re going to choose that name for a grown woman who’s supposed to be this serious, spinsterly paragon?) Palma’s relationship with the corsair Pepe Lobo veered into quasi-romance when it shouldn’t have; it could have been much more effective as a friendship based on mutual respect. Poor Dona Palma was sadly misused; I could have read a whole book about just her if the “ohGod gotta put a romantic subplot in here” bug hadn’t bitten the author. Also, Ricardo Marana, Lobo’s first mate, is the tubercular Doc Holliday to Lobo’s nautical Wyatt Earp, and I could have read a whole book about just their exploits, too. I didn’t get enough of Marana, the Letter of Marque corsairs, or a believable Palma.

The rest of the book is a murder mystery set during the siege of Cadiz, and it’s full of the sort of historical detail I’ve come to expect from Perez-Reverte. The French artillery captain Desfosseux is the hands-down the most enjoyable way I’ve ever read about trajectories and cannon fire; the taxidermist Fumagal served nicely in his appointed role and could have filled a whole book in his own right, but where The Siege really shines is in its sounding of the depths of Rogelio Tizon, the unscrupulous, oddly magnetic comisario of Cadiz’s police force.

Tizon is a nasty bit of work. Cruel, venal, and brutal, he’s also strangely engaging. He makes no excuses for what he does, and it’s that honesty that gives him depth and interest. He veers between offhandedly calling most women “whores” to deciding not even a “whore” should be brutally murdered–whipped to death with a wire whip, their backs flayed to ribbons and internal organs exposed. It’s those murders and the choices Tizon makes while hunting the murderer that function as the spine of the book. Tizon’s chess-playing alter ego Barrull was my initial guess at the murderer, and sometimes I think it might have been more satisfying if he’d turned out to be the actual killer instead of just a scholarly foil for Tizon and a way for Perez-Reverte to do some exposition. The added layer of mystery–the murderer invariably chooses places where a French shell has landed (or memorably, is about to land) is well done, treading the edge of believability and a chilling meditation the eerie logic of chance and instinct.

There are….problems, though. It’s telling that as well as making Dona Lolita Palma into a soapy paragon of a love interest instead of a believable character in her own right, only one of the murdered girls (because of course girls are the killer’s preferred target) is “respectable” and she is the one that ends up being “avenged.” The others are almost doll-like, their bodies only there to provide Tizon with his angst and to mark his changing (or slowly revealed) inner landscape.

There’s plenty in the book to love–the historical details, the naval battles, the picture of a city on the brink, the unblinking enumeration of all the things a siege does to human beings trapped by war, and some outright lyrical writing even in the middle of describing brutality. I’m glad I read it, but I hope next time Perez-Reverte treats his female characters as, well, human beings in their own right, as he’s sometimes done so memorably in the past.

All in all, two thumbs up, recommended, checked out from the library and would buy to keep in my personal library.

Relaxation Can’t Hurt

"Castle Romeo" atmospheric nuclear test - March 1954 I expected an apocalypse yesterday, and it didn’t happen.

Bother. Suppose I should get back to work, then.

I am told that Trailer Park Fae is having a good initial showing! Thank you very much. The better it does, the more likely I’ll be able to continue the series. (Hint hint. Nudge nudge. Say no more, say no more.) There. That’s my contractually-obligated cheap shilling for the week.

This morning’s run was slow and heavy, despite being an easy 5km. The cooldown, walking home, took me past a knot of men standing around a DitchWitch and a concrete cutter, sharing a joint while they divvied up the day’s work. I’m, um, not sure getting blazed right before handling that sort of machinery is a good idea, but I suppose a certain amount of relaxation can’t hurt. I’m also not sure the guys trying to hide the joint as I passed could tell I can still understand Spanish pretty well, even though my four years of high-school language lessons are regrettably dusty. Yes, I did know that wasn’t a cigarette, yea, I know you made a joke about me and my dog being two bitches out walking–but thanks, young dude, for commenting that my ass is just right. I think so too.

When we turned onto our street, B and I were greeted by the sight of a squirrel darting under a truck. B immediately perked up and trotted forward, stopped only by the leash, and I checked nervously to make sure I was still wearing shoes. We crossed the street, much to B’s dismay, but the squirrel made it into a neighbor’s juniper bush and began to chitter-scream something that sounded suspiciously like “Vive le Squiiiiiiiirrrrrl!

This doesn’t bode well. Later today I’m going to go talk to Emphysema Joe–he’s been hiding in the very back of the green since the Flying Gnome Disaster. I think he still feels a trifle ashamed. (And well he should, but enough is too much, as one of my grandmothers used to say.)

There’s more copyedits, too, on the second Gallow & Ragged book. *cracks knuckles* I’d better get started.

photo by:

TRAILER PARK FAE Release!

I didn’t really sleep last night. Release day nerves always get to me, no matter how many books I have out. SO, this wavering, tired morning, I present to you…

Trailer Park Fae.

Trailer Park Fae Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or the fact that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the Half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae – by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife.

Her name is Robin Ragged, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding…

Now available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and independent bookstores!

Thanks are due to Mark S., whose dream (the elves are dying) touched off the chain in my head that would become Gallow, and to my writing partner for both telling me about it and encouraging me to write it. Thanks are also due to Miriam Kriss, who said it would sell, to Devi Pillai, who has now edited twenty of my books, and Lindsey Sterling, who did NOT strangle me when I changed things at the last minute. A significant thank-you must also be given to a certain AT3Sparky, who kindly answered all my pestiferous questions about polearm fighting.

A lot of people have asked about the cover–it’s a Dos Santos.

I am hard at work on the third Gallow and Ragged book now. If anyone needs me today I’ll be quivering in the corner, nauseous with release day nerves. This never gets any easier. You’d think it would…

AGENT ZERO Cover Reveal!

So, I do this thing–I sometimes write books expressly for my bestie and writing partner Mel Sterling, and then when they’re done I send them to my agent, and somehow or another they sell. (Hedgewitch Queen, I’m looking at you.) So if you’re wondering how I came to write a book about a virus-soaked superspy and a tired, divorced waitress…well, that’s the short version. The long version involves “Jeremy Fucking Renner Talking,” wine, salacious jokes about biology, and lots of hilarious emails where I complain about the characters and Mel laughs at me, and other emails where I send chunks of the books in process guaranteed to make her happy.

So. Here’s the grand cover reveal of Agent Zero!

Agent Zero

After barely surviving an IED while serving his country, Reese was whisked away by a shadowy government agency and somehow…enhanced. Now he’s an agent—smarter, faster, stronger, deadlier—and he executes his missions with cold precision. But when he’s inexplicably drawn to a down-on-her-luck waitress, Reese learns he’s not the emotionless man he thought the agency had made him.

One minute, Holly Candless is getting fifty-buck tips from that strange, but seemingly harmless customer. The next, she’s kidnapped, injected with something and rescued by Reese. Suddenly, they’re on the run from the very government that wants Reese reprogrammed—and Holly dead. Now keeping Holly alive is not only Reese’s primary mission, it’s his sole chance at love…

And their only shot at survival.

Coming September 1, 2015! Pre-order now on B&N and Amazon.

I hope you guys like it when it comes out in September. Now, I’ve got this werewolf priest homage to Ladyhawke to write for Mel.

It’s gonna be a long summer…

Bundle of Cheer

Duck is judging us all.

Duck is judging us all.

Odd is groaning, the Prince can’t find his shoes (six pairs, and he can’t locate the ones he wants) and Miss B has her nose firmly glued to my calf. The Princess made snickerdoodles last night, so a sugar jolt right after toast made both kids extremely active for a few minutes. I can’t seem to get enough caffeine in, Bandit keeps talking and talking, and all in all, I want to go back to bed.

Sadly, I am committed to being vertical and actually working, so it’s going to be some tea and Olympic-level self-restraint. At least I got the proof for The Demon’s Librarian re-release done, and have only to turn it in. We’re almost out of milk (Christ, I swear the kids bathe in the stuff) and the apples are gone…

Oh. Wait. It’s Monday.

That explains everything.

I’m getting a lot of mail asking me to “Please write more Bannon & Clare!” Guys, I’m not able to write more of them because they didn’t sell well enough. I’m dreadfully sorry, but there it is. I had four more books in that series planned, but it just wasn’t to be.

I do have some tentative good news on the Steelflower front. I can’t say anything just yet. It remains a severe financial hit for me to continue with Kaia’s adventures, and I have children to feed. Not to mention the dogs, who will hold off on eating me for a while, and the cats, who most definitely will not. *sigh* Maybe it will all work out, I don’t know. Right now I’m so damn tired of people demanding things I can’t do without harming myself, I’ve grown a bit sharpish.

All right. Today I go over revisions for Roadside Magic. Soon I’ve to get the third Gallow & Ragged not just boiling in my head but on the page. The problem with getting most things done early is that people begin expecting it, and exhausting myself by scrambling begins to become the norm.

I’m just a bundle of cheer and happiness today, aren’t I. I’m going to go cue up the Pet Shop Boys, fetch my brass knuckles, and have a talk with Monday. We’ll see if it makes the week behave…

Things Not To Send An Author

snobgooseI need a new tag for the “I get mail…” stories. Here, have this little gem:

Date: April 6, 2015 at 6:18:59 PM PDT
Subject: Rose and Thunder can be a Bestseller.
From: *redacted*
To: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com

Hi Lilith,

I must say that’s an outstanding book you got out there. It has readers appeal, but you need to push it a bit.

You can check out *redacted*, they will direct up to 50 of their avid readers to purchase your book on Amazon and these reviewers will then post good reviews on your Amazon book page.

I once posted reviews for them in exchange for gift cards before i started my M.Ed program. Imagine having 50 readers post great reviews on your book page, that’ll definitely land you on the bestsellers list. I believe the many positive reviews from *redacted* will greatly help your book.

Thanks for putting out such an enjoyable book, but please promote it.

Regards,

*redacted*

Let’s just count the things wrong with this. First, you sent it on release day, so what are the chances that you’ve actually read the book? Close to zero, I fancy. Second, it’s a huge insult to think I’d purchase reviews, positive, negative, or otherwise. Third, for someone who claims to be in a Master’s of Education program, you should have at least enough common sense to know how insulting the mere suggestion is, and how ethically repugnant it would be for me to even consider. Fourth, your closing needs a little work–“Thanks…but please promote it,” is incredibly insulting as well. Deigning to tell me about a pay-for-reviews scheme and implying that I’m less than intelligent for not “promoting” my book to your exacting specifications is even worse. (It’s like a skeezy PUA attempting to neg me, for God’s sake. GROW UP.) Personally, I much prefer to do my promotion in less ignoble ways, thank you very much.

So, readers, here’s a way to be amazingly rude to an author, and if you’re a new author, taking this sort of email up on its offer is sketchy at best, a waste of money and a nasty skeleton to have in your career closet at worst.

There. A teachable moment, courtesy of someone who should have known better. I think it’s time for some tea now.