Winners! Revisions! Worm-eaten brainmonkeys!

The winners for the DEFIANCE contest are posted here at Deadline Dames! Thanks for all the great trivia–I learned an incredible amount reading those comments. My Readers have a vast store of knowledge. When I take over the world, I shall be depending on each of you to advise me.

My weekend was long periods of intense work broken only by moments of reaching for the next batch of Easter candy to shove down my gullet. Yes, that’s right–I was revising. Or, if you want to be precise, doing the first revision after an editorial letter for a book I wrote three years ago or so. I kept looking at the screen in disbelief, shaking my head and tasting vomit because I’d written something that sucked so hugely. Which is a normal thing for me during revisions, really, but looking at any work more than six months old is an incredibly disheartening experience. I take comfort in the fact that, while I might not know if I’ve gotten better in the intervening time, at least I know my writing style has changed.

This particular book started out at about 100K words, and now stands at about 125K. This is, for me, an absolute doorstop of a book. My editor wanted more more more, so I obliged, and since the work had good bones…well, I guess I’ll find out what she thinks in a little bit. Since I’ve finished and sent it back early, pleading for her to be only as savage with it as she must.

Notice I don’t ask for kindness. Kindness, while it may save whatever tattered shards of ego I have left, will not make the book better.

Anyway. I am looking forward to announcing this project as soon as I get the official okay-go-ahead. In the meantime, here, have some Chuck Wendig: 25 things a writer should know. I’ll just point and say, what he said.

After the push to get the revisions done (steady progress yesterday was marred by a corrupted file and the loss of an hour’s worth of work, thank God it wasn’t more, but it was in the last twenty fricking pages and I almost wept like the little girl I pretend to be sometimes when luring my victims in, whole ‘nother story, tell you later), catching up (mostly) on correspondence, and finishing a review that had been languishing on my hard drive for two weeks, I don’t have a lot of usable gray matter left in my tiny little skull. If you need me, I’ll be over in the corner rocking back and forth and reading about the Ardennes offensive. *whimpers*

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

DEFIANCE Giveaway!

That’s right, yesterday was the official launch of the fourth in the Strange Angels series, Defiance. I celebrated with Episode 2 of my podcast, Ragged Feathers. But that wasn’t nearly enough celebration, so today, I’m giving books away!

What you can win: There will be four (4) winners. I will be giving away three (3) signed copies of Defiance (note: if you’re outside the US, I will have to send books to you through BookDepository instead, sorry about that.) ONE lucky winner will get a set of all Strange Angels books so far–Strange Angels, Betrayals, Jealousy, Defiance–again, signed if you’re in the US, sent through BookDepository if you’re not.

What you do: In the comments of this post over at the Deadline Dames, you’ve got to tell me the best piece of trivia you ever found. I’m not talking about the most arcane, or the one you think will impress other people. I’m talking about that useless fact you found that made you deeply happy, made your socks roll up and down and your pants fly off. The winners will be picked with the help of Random.org; if the random spits out a comment number that has no trivia I’ll pick another. Remember, you must go to the Deadline Dames post to comment in order to win!

Ready? GO!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

DEFIANCE Release!

ETA: A new podcast episode about the Defiance release, a semi-coherent rant, and Reader shout-outs is now up! Hooray!

Now for the giveaway announcement. Tomorrow is my day to blog at the Deadline Dames. I’ll be giving away three copies of Defiance, signed if the winner lives in the US, shipped through the Book Depository if you’re outside. To win, you’ll need to leave a comment with the most interesting bit of trivia you know. So be thinking, until then.

***

That’s right–the fourth book in the Strange Angels series, Defiance, is officially released today!

Dru Anderson has always been a good listener. She listened to her dad, but had to gun him down herself when he turned zombie. She listened to the Order, but got nothing but lied to in return. She listened to Christophe, and lost the only friend she had left.

Time to buckle up, boys and girls. Dru Anderson is done listening. From here on out, she’ll face the King of the Vampires on her own terms. And if the Order has a problem with it, they can kiss their sweet little svetocha goodbye…

There’s a free excerpt here, and Defiance is available through Barnes & Noble, Borders, Booksamillion, the Book Depository, and Amazon.

If you want a signed copy, no problem! Just drop an email to the friendly folks at Cover to Cover Books. Of, you can tune in later on in the day to my giveaway. Stick around!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Winners, But No Bitter Screed

The winners of the Heaven’s Spite contest are now posted.

I know I promised a Friday writing post about process, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t get much of any use out of me yesterday or today. I’m having one of those weeks where I question my chosen career pretty hard. If it’s not piracy (Heaven’s Spite hasn’t been officially out for more than a week and the torrents are popping up like mushrooms) or plagiarism it’s someone implying NaNoWriMo is a waste because it encourages the plebes to write. Plus I just paid some taxes, and had a dentist appointment last week and other Life Shit piling up, so…yeah. I’m not an uber-happy little camper right now, and if you asked me to write about writing, what you’d get would be a pile of bitterness.

I’m not up to a bitter screed right now. (For once, yeah, I know. Call the press.)

So I’m just going to say this.

If you love to read stories, great. Don’t pirate them, because the end result of pirating is less stories for you. Write if you want to. Understand that making a living by writing is not easy and calls for professionalism and hard work. If you’re gonna do it, do it, and let me be the first to congratulate and support you. If you’re not, that’s okay, I wish you luck. Either way, brush your teeth, get enough sleep, hug the people you love and tell them what they mean to you. Watch out for ninja terminator squirrels.

And have a great weekend. See you Monday.

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Mental Health, and Pumpkin Butter

I should know better than to declare any day a mental health day. It only leads to trouble. Still, all’s well that ends well, and it’s only 11AM.

How was your Samhain, dear Reader? Ours was fabulous. The pumpkins were carved, the trick or treating was accomplished–and let me tell you, I’m shocked that the Little Prince was finished only an hour or so into the trick or treating; in my day we went until the porch lights flicked off. It was a couple of very tired, very happy little ones I put to bed after the ceremonial burning of the New Year wishes on perfumed joss paper. This is the only holiday I really go all-out for, and I love it every year. I even attended a party this year. Our across-the-street neighbors threw a Halloween bash, and I went to a real actual grown-up, social party. It’s been years.

You can tell I don’t get out much.

I had an extra pumpkin, so today I’m attempting to make pumpkin butter for the very first time. We’ll see what happens. Also this week, I think I’ll attempt curried squash soup. I feel the need for comfort food, and although I hate squash with a passion (long long story) I’m told the soup is quite good. Curry will overcome my squash-loathing.

News! I will be announcing the winners of the Release Week giveaway on Friday. On November 13 I’ll be at the Auburn Public Library, from 2-3PM. I’ll be talking about how much I love libraries, the Strange Angels series, and answering all sorts of questions. You can bring your books, too, and I’ll sign them. No word yet on whether we’ll have books to buy.

I’m also trying to get together another giveaway for the newsletter. I know I haven’t sent out a newsletter in a while, but it’s about time. It’s just been…well, you know. Even if I don’t say much about it here, I think it’s obvious that the past two years have been…interesting. Thank goodness everything is calmed down and getting back on track now.

Also, today is the first day of NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure I’m participating this year; I have to see what my revision load for the last Kismet book is. If I do participate it will probably be something steampunky. If you’re doing NaNo this year, yay for you! Count me in for cheerleading you on!

That’s about all the news for right now. There is more SquirrelTerror, but I have to wait until I can really sit down and do it justice. Frankly I’m a little creeped out by the whole thing, but…well, you’ll see.

Anyway, today is for recuperating from Halloween. (“Candy is goooood,” the Little Prince chimes in.) And the pumpkin in the oven is starting to smell kind of…good. I’ll wait until the molasses and sugar and apple cider vinegar is added to really make my decision on the whole pumpkin butter thing.

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Heaven’s Spite, and Giveaway!

That’s right, it’s the release week for the fifth Jill Kismet book, Heaven’s Spite.

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away three signed copies, over at the Deadline Dames. I regret that I can only ship inside the US, but that’s the way things are. To make it even, I’ll also be giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate. And what must you do to win these wonderful prizes?

Simple! Just comment on this Deadline Dames post by midnight on Sunday, October 31 (the witching hour on Samhain, even). But not just any old comment, please. You can give your favorite quote, give a Dame a compliment, tell us your favorite Halloween candy or spooky story. The winners will be picked with the help of Random.org, and I may pick a special prize for originality. You never can tell.

I’ll announce the winners next Friday, and (I promise! I promise!) will have the long-awaited next Process Post then.

Thank you for reading! I’m very excited that Jill’s next adventures are out in the world.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

The Damndest Questions

Morning. (Insert yawn, gap, and stretch here.) Links first! There’s an interview (10 Favorite Things) with me over at Book Chick City, as well as a giveaway. And decluttering your life. (Been doing a lot of that lately.) You can make jelly out of Mountain Dew. But if you want something a little less jet-fuel and a little more tasty, gingerbread pancakes are probably a good bet. (Thanks to Reader Kathy McC for that last one!) Last but certainly not least, tolerance in two stories: New York Mayor Bloomberg’s recent speech, and a piece on Abd el-Kader and the Massacre of Damascus.

Whew. That’s a lot of links.

Every once in a while, I like to work some retail to keep my hand in. Being on-call on a volunteer basis for that certain local used bookstore suits me fine. Yesterday I opened and closed the store, and as usual there was a certain amount of craziness. The owner calls it “the Vortex” because the weird swirls around and around, and sometimes funnels through with a gurgling noise.

I tried to warn her this was the rule more than the exception in working retail. She didn’t believe me, having been stuck in the corporate hell of a cubicle job for years.

Now she believes.

Anyway, yesterday I got called “Peggy”, was sized-up by a cologne-dunked man buying mythology, found textbooks online for a half-drunk college student, drank and made a lot of coffee, took in a lot of books, hand-sold some of those same books less than an hour later, explained why Clancy hardbacks just don’t sell, and just generally chuckled and meandered my way through the day. If one must work retail, a bookstore isn’t a half bad place to do it.

One funny side effect, though, is that people wander in with the damndest questions.

* “Where’s the liquor store that used to be here?” Answer: “It’s moved about a block and a half up the street, and that was over twelve years ago. You can see it from the edge of the parking lot. Good luck.”

* “Do you have a phone book?” Answer: “Yes.” Then a long beat of silence. Finally, the second question will come up, which ranges from “Can I borrow it?” to “Can I look something up in it?”

* “Do you have maps?” Not heard as often as just a plain, “Where’s X?” X can be the local museum, any other local business, any business in Portland, a random street number, an address, or (on certain memorable occasions) someone specific’s house. Usually, the people asking for someone’s house are pupil-dilated, disoriented, and have to learn to live with “I don’t know. Are you all right?” for an answer. People just think that when you work in a bookstore, you Know More, and will disperse that information rather like a search engine.

* “Where’s your bathroom?” OK, a lot of retail places hear this. It becomes time for a judgment call as soon as the words are uttered. Because for some reason, the loo of a bookstore is apparently second only in desirability to pub or music-store loos as a place to shoot/snort/whatever. So the answer ranges from “We don’t have one” to directions.

* “I’m looking for a book…but I don’t know the title or the author.” Answer: “Well, what do you remember about it?” Between what people remember of the cover or (less frequently) the story, we can usually find it. The owner used to laugh when I told her she would get this question and soon develop an encyclopedic knowledge of cover art people are likely to remember, as well as a finely-sharpened intuition about what title people are really looking for based on what they remember of the story.

* “Do you sell…magazines?” Answer: “No. Especially not those kind of magazines. Check the gas station down the street.” Which really, they don’t have any either, but it gets the men who come and ask this particular question out of the store. I mean, occasionally a dude will come in looking for a Ladies Home Journal or something, but that is by far the exception. Mostly they’re looking for Playboy. (For the articles. Yeah. Right.)

* “Oh…damn…where’s the bar?” Answer: “Right next door.” Yes, there’s a bar next door. Sometimes drunken patrons are sent over with trivia questions so we can settle the bets made over shots of something-or-another. Plus, their karaoke comes throbbing through our walls at night. It’s…interesting.

* “Where’s your fiction?” Answer: “What genre?” And a quick list: litfic here, mystery and spec fic (sci fi and fantasy) and horror and romance around the corner there, suspense and spy fiction in this room here, westerns up front…and nine times out of ten, the questioner will simply look at you bug-eyed and repeat, “Where’s your fiction?” Which generally means they have rarely been in a bookstore before and want a recommendation, because they don’t know what the hell they want, but they want something, dammit, and it’s YOUR job to see they get it.

* “Are you hiring?” Answer: “No.” Bookstores are pretty desirable places to work, either because the questioner thinks we’re edgy and snarky a la music stores, or because they think it’s easy. Just drink coffee and read all day! They have no idea about the customer service, the answering questions, the art of buying books and weeding the shelves to make sure they can breathe and tempt consumers, the little maintenance tasks…I could go on.

* “Do you buy books?” Answer: “We do, for in-store credit. We do not pay cash.” Around the end of the month we get this question about twenty times a day over the phone at least, and a few times in person. It’s amazing, though–98% of the questioners then say, “Oh, thanks.” And hang up. Or just hang up without the thanks. Sometimes they try to argue. “But I have pristine hardbacks!” (I am not kidding.) The most fun, however, came when I was working in new bookstores and people wandered in to ask this…

Every bookstore I’ve ever worked at (they’ve mostly been used bookstores, natch) has a board set up in the employee area with variations of these questions in different boxes, and some way of marking them off. It’s just like Bingo, only with retail and caffeine. Days when you get a bingo used to mean drinks after work for everyone on shift. Nowadays they’re more likely to spark a flurry of emails, mostly variations on “Guess what happened THEN?”

If you get a blackout on that board, though, it always means drinks after work.

I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life, and a good proportion of them have been service or retail oriented. You get to see the best and the worst of humanity. I have a special place in my heart for working in a bookstore, though. Even on blackout Bookstore Bingo days, the regulars and your fellow employees more than make up for it. The joy of matching the right book with the right person, too. Those times that someone returns and says, “You recommended X to me, and I LOVED it!” make one happy to be alive. Plus, geeking about Litrachur with the oddest people–people you wouldn’t think twice about talking to if you saw them on the street, or people you would simply never meet because their slice-of-life is so different from your own–has to be one of the most sublime acts of social and intellectual connection I think I’ve ever experienced.

The greatest thing about it, though, is that working in a bookstore provides such awesome material. Nothing is as absurd as real life, nothing. Fiction has to obey rules. Reality is far zanier than anything a writer can come up with, but you can strip-mine it for the telling quirk, the tiny detail, the internally-consistent eccentricity.

I don’t get paid for any of the volunteer hours I put in. I have to tell you, though, the experience of the daily Vortex spin damn near pays for itself. At the very least it provides me with hilarity I don’t have to watch on a screen. And it reminds me that people are the most strange and wonderful oddities the Universe has going at the moment.

So if you’re working retail today, I salute you. I hope you’re getting great material. And I hope you’re only crossing off a few of those bingo squares…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Tonight’s The Night

Regular blogging will commence shortly. I know I haven’t been popping in much to say much of substance here. Deadline hell looms, as always, and I’m getting everything situated for another school year, as well as cleaning house emotionally, so to speak.

BUT, things are calmer. Summer is winding down, which means the publishing world is picking up speed again, thank goodness. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about my path to publication, since that’s the theme of the week over at the Deadline Dames. (You can read Dame Devon, Dame Jackie, Dame Rachel, and Dame Keri from earlier this week!)

But today, I’m sending in a first draft (gods willing, if I get this done) and heading out to Beaverton for my 7pm signing at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s. I will be reading from Defiance, book 4 in the Strange Angels series. (I am hard at work on the fifth and final book as we speak.) I will also be bringing prizes to be raffled off!

That’s about all the news. I’m going to dive back into this draft so I can hopefully give an editor a pleasant surprise before the weekend.

Hey, it could happen.

See you around!

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Happy Dance and Defiance Reading

Today is just turning out well all over. The Little Prince is thrilled with his new rock climbing gear, my friends are happy little bandits, I saved an online sale for the bookstore by remembering where a specific book came from, and the big news…I can’t share the big news just yet, but it’s a weight off my mind and it means I get to do something completely new that I’m so excited about, I can’t even tell you.

The heat’s also broken today. It’s a comfortable almost-eight degrees instead of over-ninety-heading-for-a-hundred-and-my-God-humid. I still feel a bit logy and slow and swollen from the heat wave, but that will fix itself. Plus I’ve been climbing, and consistently reaching the top of even challenging 5.9s. The Prince attacks the rock wall like it’s personally insulted him, shimmying up like he’s part monkey. It’s awesome to see him figuring out where to put his hands and feet, and every time he gets down off the wall he’s wearing this huge grin.

There’s just all sorts of good things happening. Last weekend was bizarre, yes, and I’m still spinning a bit from it…but I am reminded, once again, that there are good things and if I’m patient, the good things outweigh the bad.

So. Tomorrow at 7pm I’ll be reading from Defiance at the Cedar Hill Crossing Powell’s. I’ve posted the event on Facebook and Goodreads if you want to spread the word; I’ll also be bringing a few signed books to raffle off, so that’s good. ALSO, there’s an Amazon preorder link for my upcoming Harlequin Nocturne, Taken. (Thanks to Tez Miller for the link!)

Now I’ve got to go run off some of this excitement. And, oh yeah, get some work done. If you hear someone shouting, “YAAAAY!” today, don’t worry. It’s just me.

Over and out.

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Hey, Jealousy!

All right! It’s release day for Jealousy, the third in the Strange Angels series!

Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha–half vampire, half human, and all deadly. If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people.

But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little. Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something.

Or as if she’s in danger.

Someone high up in the Order is a traitor. They want Dru dead–but first, they want to know what she remembers of the night her mother died. Dru doesn’t want to remember, but it looks like she might have to–especially since once Christophe returns, he’ll be on trial for his life. The only person who can save him is Dru.

The problem is, once she remembers everything, she may not want to…

I am currently suffering the writer’s version of performance anxiety. I plan on hitting the rock wall today to combat it, plus there’s revisions on another book and fresh wordcount to get in. Work really is the cure for everything that ails me, at least lately.

But I don’t want to go without saying thank you to the people who helped make today’s release possible, from my writing partner to my agent and editor, to the great team at Razorbill, to my children and my sisters, to my friends CMH and SZ, and everyone who told me to just get on with it.

Most of all, dear Reader, thank you. I shall thank you in the way we both like best, by telling you a story. I hope you like Dru’s continuing adventures…

You can buy Jealousy at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound, and Amazon. Signed copies are available! There’s also a chance to win the whole series at the Strange Angels official website.

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