Winners!

All right! We have the winners from our Friday contest.

Our first winner, of this marvelous tote bag (that you can carry Dame Keri’s latest release home in) is: Comment #19 from Hope, who said “Keri, I love your character Riley, please don’t end the series for a nice long while!?!

Our second winner, of this kickass coffee cup (good for sipping beverage of choice while reading Dame Keri’s latest release) is: Comment #89 from darchole, who said: “Congrats! I preordered mine a while ago, when it shipped I kept checking the tracking to see when it whould get delivered. Number 8 is already on my wishlist to buy when it comes out.

And (drums please) the Grand Prize winner of the $10 Amazon gift certificate (so you can buy…whatever you want) is: Comment #47 from Firewolf, who ended by saying “Congrats Keri! That is awesome.

All winners were chosen with the help of Random.org. Winners, please contact me no later than Tuesday, April 7 at midnight; include your snail mail address so we can send your prizes pronto! Thanks for commenting–and congratulations once again to Dame Keri and her New York Times Bestselling New Release, Deadly Desires! *cheers and fanfare*

Soothing The Savage Writer

Dame Lili
Dame Lili
No, I’m not having a Cassie Edwards fest over here. I actually had two big blog posts in mind for this week–one about epublishing and another about music. The epub post is going to have to simmer a bit more before it’s ready, so you get the music post. I know, que lastima, right?

What makes this vaguely funny and synchronous is that I just clicked through to Wil Wheaton’s post about music today too. Then, while I was on the treadmill, I thought about it some more. The IPod served up a lot of music from past book soundtracks, which just sealed the deal.

Some days, the universe, I swear she speak to me.

Music is a very integral part of my writing process. I know there must be writers who don’t write to music, but I can’t imagine it. It was always a part of my creative process, from the very first mix tapes (remember cassettes? Jeez, I feel old now.) I recorded off the radio to the advent of ITunes and the idea of “book soundtracks”. Which I would have arrived at sooner or later, but my friend TrashGlam put together a mix CD for smoke back when it was just a collection of pages I printed and bound at Kinkos. It had the the Cardigan’s Erase and Rewind for Rose and Garbage’s Number One Crush for Michael, and if that isn’t a description of their dysfunctional relationship I don’t know WHAT is.

So the “book soundtrack”–a playlist for a certain project–was born. Later I found out other people (like the Selkie) had been doing the same thing for a long time, so I can’t claim to create it. But I can claim to be utterly delighted with the idea and to have stolen it with no remorse, and used it shamelessly.

The stereo sees more use than the television in our house (especially since we put the television out in the garage for long periods of time, and almost forget it’s there). Music on laptops account for even more time. I often leave Pandora.com open in a window while I’m working, and the Selkie and I are always discovering new or new-to-us artists and rifling them for plot bunnies and turns of phrase.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few songs. No, not in a torrent-and-get-sued type of way–I just thought that fans would like to know a couple songs where you can hear my characters clear as day.

For example, at the very end of Tomoyasu Hotei’s Katana Groove you can hear Lucas Villalobos laughing. In the beginning of Rob Zombie’s living dead girl you can hear Eve (What are you thinking?) and Dante (The same thing you are…) before all hell breaks loose and the last fight of To Hell And Back commences. (Warning: Rob Zombie is not for those who are easily offended. You’ve been warned.) Sarah McLachlan’s Fallen is Dante’s song, while Mandalay’s This Life is the song I played over and over while writing Japhrimel’s Fall for Dante.

Sometimes characters will have their own particular themes. Christophe from the upcoming Strange Angels always shows up when I play Herman’s Hermits, especially I’m Into Something Good. (It’s creepy when you consider he’s a 70-year-old on the inside.) And then his love song for the heroine is You’re Sixteen. Creeptastic, no? While Graves gets Guster’s One Man Wrecking Machine. Which says so much about the two characters, doesn’t it?

And then there’s Jill Kismet. The clearing-the-hellbreed-holes scenes in Night Shift were set to the Cure’s Wrong Number, possibly the weirdest song I’ve ever set a fight sequence to. Saul, of course, gets Cusco’s Montezuma, and Jill’s love song for him is the beautiful Black Is The Color, sung by the Corrs. And Perry? He gets the Cure’s Lullaby. (Kismet gets a lot of Cure. Don’t ask me why.)

As for Steelflower, the opening scenes of Kaia coming into Hain on a ship is always set to Delerium’s Terra Firma, the Lara Croft mix. A lot of Delerium goes on my soundtracks. Darik gets various selections from the Bulgarian Women’s Choir. Redfist, of course, gets Two Hornpipes and Celtic Woman’s version of the Ashoken Farewell.

Oddly, a lot of Nikolai’s (from Selene) themes are from the Bulgarian Women’s Choir too. (The two characters are more closely intertwined than I like to admit.) Selene herself gets Mono’s Silicone, and Everything But The Girl’s Before Today.

You get the idea. Music falls in my lap when I’m thinking of characters, and I’ll go on mad jags of finding music on my hard drive (the ITunes store and the local Everyday Music now own my soul, thank you very much) and then the magic happens. Characters start talking, taking on likes and dislikes of their own, and before I know it a book has a playlist and I know what happens. It’s awesome when it works right.

So, how about you? Do you listen to music while you write? Do you use it for characters or just as background noise? I’m also curious to hear from fans–are there certain songs you associate with certain characters or books?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go play some Charlie Feathers. For some reason the half-vampire private eye in the current short story just loves rockabilly…

The Personal Slush File

Dame Lili
Dame Lili
They lurk on my hard drive like zombies, shambling ghosts of truncated stories. Improperly plotted, unevenly characterized, dribs and drabs of little bits that will never see the light of day. For every story I finish, there are probably ten false starts, or things that didn’t keep my interest, or things I had to put down in order to finish something else.

Okay, more like twenty. Or even thirty.

I used to feel embarrassed over the size of my slush pile before the Selkie admitted she had one just as big. And yes, it’s definitely a slush pile. These are stories that, no matter how much I love them, just don’t cut it. They range from wish-fulfillment fics to weird little fever dreams, odd fantasy ficlets and what I call “character studies”, where I follow a character around through an ordinary day and just get to know them.

This week, between everything (the vomiting six-year-old, the brief hospitalization of a family member, and a ton of work leftover from being out of commission during a bad bout of flu), I’ve been looking at my personal slush file. Because every once in a while you do find a nugget of gold in there–something you can dig up and maybe polish. It might turn into a short story, or even a novel. Unfortunately, you have to sift a LOT of it before you get that gold. (Which is why I call it a slush pile or “the graveyard”.)

And sometimes it’s nice to look through things that won’t get published. On the pages in my slush file, the only person I have to please is myself. Shoddy characterization, plot holes you could drive a Buick through, giddy deus ex machina glibly handing over plot advancement by dropping the magic dingus in? Oh, yeah, I’ve done it. I’ve broken the rules with gleeful abandon here on my hard drive. I am guilty of all a writer’s sins there.

Seriously. It’s bad. It’s like Tinto Brass’s Caligula married to overcaffeinated Bulwer-Lytton and seeing both Pamela and the Bad Hemingway Contest on the side in there, with the Jerry Springer show on the sidelines.

You may think I’m kidding. But really, I’m not. It’s bad.

The personal slush file is also a sandbox where I can try new things. The first stabs at paranormal romance or fantasy I ever made were as a result of digging in that sandbox and trying things out. They’re malformed little stories, rarely longer than 20K before they peter out, but they were invaluable. They gave me the confidence to try more, and they showed me where things weren’t working.

The danger in the slush pile is the danger of never quite finishing anything, or of loving stuff so much that you refuse to take edits or get better. The slush pile is your personal playground, true, but it’s like your bedroom. You don’t have to invite anyone in you don’t want; but you also can’t live your whole life there. (You have to come out and deal with the rest of the world sometime, you know.) When all is said and done, it’s your private place to decorate however you want to. It can help inform the rest of your professional life with joy, but it doesn’t belong out there.

And sometimes it’s the place where you crawl back to when you’re exhausted and just need the blankets and the comfort. Sometimes, when you’re tired and the world is just Not Cooperating, the slush pile is a nice warm place to be. You don’t have to please an editor or a reader, other than your own sweet self, and you can do anything you want there. It’s one of the things that makes this job one of the best in the world, in my humble opinion.

So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to dive back in. I’ve got some bad, horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad Twinkie fiction to write for my sole delectation. It involves this super-spy, you see, and a very nice girl next door who just HAPPENS to be a werewolf on the run from the law…

See you around.

We’ll finish up today with news and a contest!

The news: The latest Jill Kismet book, Redemption Alley, is now available for preorder on Amazon.

And a contest to finish off the second launch week of Deadline Dames! Comment on this post, dear Reader (you can tell me about your own slush pile) and if you comment by midnight on Saturday, January 31, you have a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. How cool is that? (Winner will be picked randomly, with the help of Random.org.) So get your comment on!

The Sports Bra of DOOM

isabisa /Free Photos

G’morning, Readers. It’s Wednesday, the world didn’t end (not that I thought it would, for Chrissake) and if you want to know a little bit more about Hunter’s Prayer, you should check out the Orbit “In Their Own Words” feature.

Now let’s talk about brassieres. I promised you all a Sports Bra of Doom post, and I’m going to deliver. Those in the audience who are delicate or easily offended, leave now. (Translation: if talking about tits offends you, this is SO not the blog post for you.)

Read moreThe Sports Bra of DOOM