Interview And Linkspam

There’s a new interview with me over at Reading Awesome Books, where I talk tangentially about Christophe’s plans and why Anna’s a tragic character to me. Later this week Captain Jack Sparrow will be interviewing me over at CJ Redwine’s place. (THAT should be fun. I am told cupcakes are involved. Though the rum is gone.)

Other cool stuff this morning: how words get their meaning, sleeping protects memories, and Taco Bell “beef” is really only 35% beef. I don’t know why that last one surprises anyone, really.

My two thoughtful, lovely spawn brought home a nasty cold from school that is currently trying to colonize my corpse and I’ve got two short stories to dress up and get out the door today, so I bid you a civil adieu, dear Readers. Hope your Tuesday is magnifique.

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Taken, Perry, and Reader Questions

Good morning! It’s still crazy crazy release week for Taken, the Harlequin Nocturne I had so much fun writing. (The link to Barnes & Noble seems to be working now, thank heavens. For a while yesterday it was buggy.) If you want a signed copy, Cover to Cover Books is more than willing to oblige, and their shipping rates are quite reasonable. Just drop them an email through their website.

There’s a Q & A with me up over at the Barnes & Noble Spotlight, where I talk about Perry and which of my characters I’d most like to have a drink with.

I have a couple more general announcements/answers, then it’s time for me to get cracking on another short story.

To the people who sent money through PayPal after last week’s post about stolen ebooks: thank you. I appreciate the people who apologized for pirating my work and tried to make things right. It takes cojones to admit you were wrong, to step up and try to make reparations.

Unfortunately, my conscience isn’t easy with taking the money in this manner, for a variety of reasons. So…I’ve accepted the donations, and turned them straight over to my favorite nonprofit, Kiva.org. I believe in microfinance helping women out of poverty, and Kiva is a grand, grand organization. So, to those who sent me money: Thank you very much, both on my behalf and on behalf of those who are benefiting from your stepping up and acting responsibly.

To the fan who wrote asking “where is the library for ebooks?”: look, several libraries have ebook-loaning capability. If yours does not, this is not an excuse for pirating them. Talk to your librarian and see what’s available. Thank you for your letter.

To SM: Finish writing your book first. Then, after you’ve polished it and started another one, start looking around the Internet for advice on how to write a query letter, what to look for in an agent, etc. (Shameless plug: The Deadline Dames have a lot of good advice about this.) But finish, first.

Last but not least, to S: authors have little to no control over their covers. Sometimes I think it’s a bane, other times, a blessing. I appreciate your input, but there’s nothing I can do about covers at all. If a cover doesn’t work, the best person to tell is the publisher, because they can actually do something about it. They also love to get that kind of feedback because it helps them make better covers in the future.

There, I think that’s it. Tomorrow we have another post about combat scenes. But for now, that short story calls me.

Over and out.

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Five Things Make a Post

Because today is the sort of day that has me running around and screaming with my hair on fire. Well, maybe not that bad. It’s just a day of changes, and human beings are tend not to be big fans of change.

* Chuck Wendig, on ending myths that poison the writer’s life. My favorite part:

Whatever asshole said that thing about work (or genius) being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration should probably be punched in the face for giving advice that rhymes because, pshhh, c’mon. Rhyming? Really? Still, he’s right. You want to write a book, then learn that the prevailing feeling is one of frustration. In writing a novel you will feel wayward and weird just as often as you feel energized and excited. Your book does not thrive on inspiration. Your book is born only of work.

Your book thrives on your ass finishing the job.

Stop chasing that dragon.

You do not work for the Muse. She works for you. Chain her to the pole and make her dance. (Chuck Wendig)

* Cooks Source gave a sort of halfass apology. John Scalzi gave the apology a D+, and I agree.

* I’m going to get gross for a second. I’m having nosebleeds at the ends of my six-mile runs. WTF? It’s not dry air–this is the Pacific Northwest. You can grow mushrooms between your toes. It also isn’t low iron–at least, it shouldn’t be, what with the supplements I’m taking. Anyone out there ever had anything like this?

* I need to stop burning vanilla-caramel candles, even though I love them. They make me very hungry for cake or cookies. Hopefully the mint chocolate candle will be better. (I am not thinking it will be, though.) On the good side, taking a deep breath and thinking about cake is a nice thing. And while I’m putting together a short story structure inside my head, cake is far from the worst random thought to have.

* An unknown missile launch off the coast of California. As in, seriously, we don’t know what the hell is going on, or we’re saying we don’t. This distresses me a little, for obvious reasons. (ETA: Might just be a contrail. Thanks, Pyris!)

Anyway, that’s five for today. Now I’m going to pull up my comfy socks, grab another coffee-and-caramel-Baileys, and get serious.

Over and out.

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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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An Excellent Vacation, and More

Great news! Death’s Excellent Vacation has just released!

With an all-new Sookie Stackhouse story and twelve other original tales, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner bring together a stellar collection of tour guides who offer vacations that are frightening, funny, and touching for the fanged, the furry, the demonic, and the grotesque. Learn why it really can be an endless summer-for immortals.

My story, The Heart Is Always Right, focuses on an EvilMart checker…and a gargoyle who wants to go to Bermuda. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I’m thrilled to be in such a great anthology. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indiebound, Powell’s, Book Depository, and Amazon.

That’s the big news for today–and, of course, Jealousy is still out. I’m just now getting a swell of emails about it. The next book, Defiance, is tentatively scheduled for next spring. So it’s not that long of a wait, I promise.

A couple crunchy links today: the Bookshop Blog on why the book hasn’t had its demise just yet. And Michael Bhaskar on the real cost of digital publishing:

The main argument for why royalties should be higher in digital seems to be that, given we don’t have a physical book, the costs to the publisher must be so much lower. This is very easy to answer. The per unit cost of printing a book is, in most cases, not where the majority of a publishers’ costs are directed. They are directed at overheads, at editorial and editorial management, at sales, marketing and publicity. Regardless of whether you have a print book or not, these costs are absolutely consistent. So really the only difference we can talk about is the marginal print cost difference, only a fraction of a book’s total cost.

Moreover there is then a whole new set of costs associated with digital. First, you need people, such as myself, to manage, develop and grow this new area and put in place the foundations for strong publishing companies that will last the next 50 years. Second, there is the cost of conversion of an ebook, which although small still has an impact if sales volumes are low, as they are for many ebooks. Third, there is then a host of distribution systems, business system upgrades and additions and new digital production software requiring investment. People might argue that this is a one-off cost, and once amortised should then be factored out. Yet this fails to understand the nature of most software agreements, which work as SaaS (software as a service) arrangements, whereby the software is leased on a usage fee basis. So in fact as time goes by and we use these new systems more, we will have to pay more, in absolute terms. Even basic technology can subsume surprisingly large chunks of income – DRM (Digital Rights Management) for example can eat as much as 7-9% of a book’s RRP, although this would usually not be felt by the publisher. (Bookbrunch)

I wish I could pound this into the head of everyone who says “But authors are greeeeeeedy because ebooks are cheeeeeap!” A quality ebook is not cheap to produce, kids.

Following up on yesterday’s “when students plagiarize”, today we have an article on when teachers cheat.

This morning was full of unpleasant business, but the sun has come out and all is well now. There are nice things about my life now, and the unpleasantnesses are getting further and further apart. It’s a good thing.

i hope your day is similarly perking up, dear Reader. Now it’s time for me to take a bunch of werwulfen through Central Park on a dare…

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What I’m Reading

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. The Dame Smackdown continues apace, I am told we are neck and neck. So exciting!

I was asked earlier today what I’m reading. I do think that in order to write, one must read. You learn so much from seeing how other people choose to string words together. Reading gives you an idea of tone and pacing; it helps you distinguish underlying structure, and every once in a while it gives you some pretty good thrills.

I tend not to read in the genre I’m currently writing in–for example, if I’m writing YA, I can’t read other YAs; if I’m working on an urban fantasy book I can’t read another one. Something about reading in the genre I’m writing in at the moment induces burnout in a big way. I am told this is not so for other writers, but it’s that way for me. So while I’m writing fiction I tend to read a lot of nonfiction or fiction in other genres; I have to wait until I’m working on trunk novels or in revision before I can read in the genres I work in.

So, here are the books I’m working on now:

* Unlawful Contact, Pamela Clare My writing partner tells me Clare’s heroes are almost as effed-up as Anne Stuart’s. I love me a good self-loathing hero, and it’s refreshing to read a romance with no paranormal overtones. While I can almost never write a romance without a paranormal element, I do love to read them. I’m only about thirty pages in, but the prognosis is good. Clare’s craft is solid; I am almost never jolted out of the story by the need to reach for my red pen.

* Before Stalingrad, David Glantz The battle of Stalingrad is one of my particular interests; it’s an intensification of my interest in the Eastern Front in both world wars. Not too long ago my writing partner called me and said, “I know you don’t watch TV…but there’s something on Stalingrad on PBS.” I was incredibly excited until I realized I hadn’t watched the telly in so long our set wouldn’t even pick up OPB. *sadface* But then I found the show she was talking about on the Intertubes, and harmony was restored. And what do you know–the show introduced me to David Glantz, who I hadn’t heard of before. (How is that possible? I’m wondering now. But better late than never.) So I’m indulging in a few of his books, and so far have not been disappointed one bit.

* The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon I keep hearing a lot about this book, so I’m giving it a whirl. I’m only three pages in, so it’s too soon to tell.

* Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860, Jane Tompkins I loved Tompkins’s book about the Western, and I occasionally read lit crit just for the fun of it. (The Selkie tells me I’m mad, but what does she know? She’s just my writing partner.) Anyway, this is my second time through this particular book, I’m slowing down and really picking apart sentences the way I didn’t do the first time. Tompkins’s contention that you can’t divorce a novel and the experience of reading it from cultural and social expectations and assumptions is pretty thought-provoking.

* A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924, Orlando Figes Well, after reading Robert Service’s biographies of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin one after another, I really figured there was nothing for it but to read about the wider context of the world they operated in. Whenever I tell people that I’m interested in the Russian Revolution I get the same response: “I try reading Russian history, but then I stop. It’s so…depressing.” Well, yeah. Not for the faint of heart, I assure you. Figes has nice clear prose and a way of untangling events that doesn’t make me feel stupid; plus he sticks with one name for one person instead of doing a fricking Tolstoy and giving you first name, patronymic, last name, and nicknames all at different times so you think one character is four effing people. It really is sometimes the little things that make the difference.

So that’s what I’m reading now. Very little of it informs the book in progress, which is a YA. I tried picking up a YA the other day, but I could only get a couple sentences in before my eyes glazed over and my head started to hurt. I don’t know why I can’t read in whatever genre I’m writing in at the moment; I think my Muse needs a varied diet and likes to separate work and play. Who knows?

Anyway, dear Reader, that’s the answer to that question. You can check out my Goodreads page for more updates; and I’ll leave you with a question of my own: what are you reading right now, and why? What do you like (or not like) about it?

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Publishing And Misplaced Punishment

Why was I up at 6am this morning? Oh, yeah. Getting the morning run out of the way so I can hit an early open climb at the rock wall. Yes, I am going to be attempting my first open climb. I hope nobody laughs at me and I hope I don’t embarrass myself. It’s bad enough that I’m going to be wearing capris. LOOK, I HAVE TO, ALL RIGHT? They allow freedom of movement and don’t interfere with my foot and toeholds the way jeans or my yoga pants do.

Anyway.

John Scalzi, as usual, hits it out of the park with Why “Punishing The Publisher” Usually Doesn’t:

So, on one hand, the attempt on the part of the potential reader to send a message to the publisher via the refusal to buy a particular work has succeeded. On the other hand, the message the publisher has received is “this author can’t sell.” To be fair, this has more to do with the publisher than with the reader. But that doesn’t change the result for the author. (John Scalzi)

YES. *points at Scalzi* What he said.

I wish I could make some people–including some people who have recently tried to take me to task and explain to me “how publishing REALLY works”–read this. Of course, it probably wouldn’t do a lot of good, for the simple reason that a lot of people who try to tell me “how publishing REALLY works” have no fricking idea; they have an emotional hobbyhorse to ride and it involves blaming Big Bad Publishing (which, like most straw men, doesn’t really exist) for their various ills in one way or another. I’d be a lot more likely to believe them and listen if they had, oh let’s say, any real publishing experience. And no, vanity press or one self-published missive full of typos does not count as experience that qualifies someone to be nasty or condescending to me about publishing.

But I digress. Moving on.

Scalzi highlights something I wish more people understood, and I know plenty of authors try to educate their readers about: that the publisher is generally consistently trying the best they can, but they are also hedging their bets. When bets are hedged and a reader decides to “punish” a publisher by not buying a certain author (especially when this “punishment” is aimed at something like a distribution problem that is not the publisher’s fault), what happens is that the author gets screwed. Which means that the reader has shot him/herself in the foot, because it’s now harder for the author to bring you those stories you love.

I’m not saying that readers shouldn’t be angry. What I’m saying is that readers need to direct that anger at the companies that are actually to blame–companies like Amazon, or distributors of ebooks who don’t like the agency model. Those are the institutions that deserve a reader’s ire in the current brouhaha over ebook pricing. Not the author, who ends up getting the full force of the misplaced “punishment”.

If you will, allow me to suggest to you another course of action in situations like these: Rather than “punishing the publisher” by not buying a particular book you would otherwise buy, support the author by purchasing the book. Why? Because the support you give an author allows that author to have a better bargaining position with the publisher the next time the two of them negotiate a contract, and you know what? Generally speaking, authors like being able to make potential readers happy, and thanks to that there thing called “the Internets,” authors are often aware of the wishes and desires of their readers and will try to make them happy whenever possible. (John Scalzi)

I know I do, dear Readers. Every other writer I know does, too. We want to make you happy. We like you.

Over and out.

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