31 December 2010

Are we there yet?


An age-old question, usually heard during long road trips. No, thank heavens, I'm not on such a trip today. But I am on another journey... we all are... from one measured span of time into another. One realm of existence into the next.

Sounds very sci-fi, doesn't it? ;)

We take this journey every December 31st. Most of us gather our friends and loved ones together, as we are so blessed, and party in our own way until the clock strikes midnight. The witching hour. The breath of time that lasts twelve short beats between one year and the next.

But what is a year, really? It's merely one revolution around a star. A measure of time with which we mark our lives. A year here, on planet Earth, is something quite different anywhere else. All in all, there's really nothing magical about it, is there?

Depends.

I remember, as a very young child, that there seemed to be something magical about the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. It seemed that time stood still -- every so slightly -- as the ball dropped over Time's Square and the world stood by to count down the seconds in unison. Yes, it was already the New Year somewhere else, but my young mind didn't grasp that fact or simply didn't care. In a small, sixty-second moment of time, the world shifted; time altered; and before me opened a whole new realm of possibilities.

Like a cosmic 're-set' button. ;)

So, tonight we'll sing the Scot's traditional goodbye to "Auld Lang Syne"... lift a cup to toast the old year and welcome the next... kiss whoever stands closest... and make lots of noise... just so we can hang up a new calendar.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll plan to make some positive changes: to live more fully; to love more deeply; to help those in need more often; and to never forget to give thanks for our blessings.

It's a whole new realm of time, after all. A new section in the future history books. Surely there must be some magic in it?

And for any of you who beat me to it ... How does 2011 look so far? :)

Happy New Year, everyone!

~~Meg Allison
Indulge your senses...
www.megallisonauthor.com

30 December 2010

13 Things about Fey Cats

Yeah, yeah, this post is totally promotional. I have this new book coming out from Samhain on 2/8/11, see? It's the sequel to my older book, Survival of the Fairest, and it's called One Thousand Kisses. The cover is A-mazing! See?

Anyway, Survival of the Fairest mentioned Fey cats -- cats in the Fey Realm who are "more" than the standard cats in humanspace. It mentioned them but it didn't feature any cats as main characters. Meankitty, my boss, was not pleased by this, so believe me, I was very careful to make sure cats were featured more prominently in One Thousand Kisses. So here are thirteen things about fey cats from my upcoming novel.

1. Cats do not like gnomes. One could argue cats and gnomes are the fairy version of yin and yang. And besides, gnomes eat cats, while gnomes, cats have discovered, don't taste good at all. Not even roasted.

2. Cats in the Fey Realm come and go as they please, despite magical shielding, stone walls and the like.

3. Some Fey cats communicate with fairies. Some don't.

4. Cats can appear all over the Realm without warning, from cities to deserts.

5. They also travel to humanspace, possibly through things Princess Talista from SOTF calls gnome holes and possibly by means of their own devising.

6. When Master Fey--the primary cat in One Thousand Kisses--first appears in the book, it's not when he actually appears in the book. Tricky, huh?


7. Master Fey is, to quote Anisette, "glossy black with tuxedo markings—white chin, chest, belly and paws. He was neither small nor large, longhaired nor short, striking nor drab."

8. Whenever cats appears in a dwelling in the Fey Realm, the inhabitants are considered lucky, blessed by the spirits.

9. As such it is tradition to pamper cats if ever given the opportunity.

10. Cats rarely come to Court, except sometimes to Court sessions, to the dismay of the Elders, who resent the fact they cannot bar the cats from entrance.

11. In conversation, cats are perfectly capable of being concrete. So when they are not, they are choosing not to be.

12. For all their twistiness, cats are not liars.

13. Even Fey cats like to watch birds.


Sincerely,

Jody Wallace & Meankitty
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

25 December 2010

Nollaig chridhiel!

Best wishes from us to you this holiday season!

BEANNACHT
by John O'Donohue

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

20 December 2010

Ghost of Christmas Past



After months of waiting, my new release Ghost of Christmas Past goes live today at 7pm EST at Liquid Silver Books. I’m excited to bring you the first PsiCorps novella and my first M/M/M/F ménage-a-more as a special treat this Christmas. Let’s look at the blurb, shall we?

Blurb:

Four years after being gunned down by the city's most infamous crime boss, Empath and PsiCorps agent, Torrin St. James wakes from a coma to find that he's seemingly lost everything. Entered into the WitSecPsi program, as part of his cover Torrin is believed dead by the members of his psychic triad, Resonance Partner Riley Valin and Psi Anchor Sky Roarke-his fiancé. Faced with nothing but the cold comfort of justice in testifying against the crime boss, Torrin convinces his handler Quintus to help him barter his cooperation for a chance to break protocol and see Sky and Riley before the trial.

Two days before Christmas in a secure safehouse hours outside the city, PsiCorps makes arrangements for Torrin to see the two people he loves the most. It's everything Torrin's wanted from the moment he opened his eyes but when time finally comes he's left to face a multitude of truths and a symphony of sorrows. After four years the loves of his life have moved on, his handler Quintus has been keeping secrets, and there's a high level leak in the agency he's given his life to. The entire world has turned upside down and Torrin doesn't know if he has the right to fix it, but he's about to find out. Isolated in a safehouse under the worst storm of the season and no way to turn back, he'll learn if their feelings for each other are still passion incarnate or if he's just a ghost from Christmas past.

I hope the blurb has intrigued you and there’s also an excerpt available at Xakara.com. But now that all of my responsible author promotion is done, let’s get to the real focus of my post, gifts! Taking inspiration from the title of my novella and the Christmas Carol story it originates from, I want to talk about the spirit of the season and those that need us.

No matter which holidays you celebrate this winter season, it’s a time for giving of ourselves to others with less. Operation Santa opens all those dedicated letters to the North Pole each year and allows volunteers to help make Christmas wishes come true for children. This year, children and parents alike, have asked for a few things above all others, basic clothing and food. Children have pulled out there pencils and crayons and carefully formed their letters so that Santa Claus will know that they need socks, shoes, coats, hats, jeans and shirts. They ask not for Christmas dinner, but dinner at all. They want their parents to smile and be like they used to be before every day was a fearful phone call from bill collectors or worse. They ask and Santa would answer if he could, but he’s a little overwhelmed and needs you.

You can call your local post office and see if they are part of Operation Santa or a more local organization that will allow you to pick up a letter and fulfill a Christmas Wish. If you’re in a tight situation yourself this year, you don’t have to do it all your own. You can get your family and friends together to help one household this year for less than $5 each. But what if even $5 is too much or your town doesn’t have any letters?

ABC News has become part of Be the Change: Save a Life. Over the next year they will bring attention to global health initiatives to save lives around the world. You can do your part now. For $50, that’s $5 from you and nine of your friends, you can provide a week of in-patient care for a malnourished infant through Casa Jackon. You can also work with Save the Children Clean Water Fund to build wells, latrines and water pumps to provide sanitation and drinking water for school children around the world. That amount also provides medicine to prevent a mother from passing the HIV virus to her baby through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Perhaps you only have seven friends to pitch in with your own $5. Save the Children will turn that $40 into a goat for a family in Guatemala, providing protein rich dairy, fertilizer for produce and a valuable source of income. If that’s too much, for just $25, or $2.50 from ten of you, you can provide antibiotics to five children suffering from malaria, TB, or upper respiratory infections through Community Health Africa Trust. Or you can provide a full month-long nutritional treatment for a child through Edesia’s PlumpyNut, a peanut paste packed with calories and nutrients that have brought malnourished children from the brink of death.

That same $25 can treat tuberculosis in India through Operation ASHA. It can send out ten birthing kits with six basic items through Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia, or provide a birthing kit and the training to use it through IMA World Health. Let’s drop down to $20 and you can work with Embrace to bring a low cost infant warmer to a vulnerable newborn in a country where incubators don’t exist because there’s no electricity to run the $20,000 machine if they could afford it.

Still too much?

For $15 you can provide a month of life-saving food supplements to a family in Paquip, Guatemala through Wuqu’ Kawaq. $14 can provide 2,000 chlorine tablets to treat dirty water in the developing world through UNICEF. $11 buys three birthing kits through the United Nations Population Fund. Even one dollar from everyone you know would put the Charity: Water fund closer to its goal of $40,400 to provide a community of 250 with clean drinking water. Those same dollars to CARE given before December 31st will be matched, up to a million dollars, to help the world’s poorest women and their families.

Look at what you were going to spend this season and see whether or not you can spend just a little less and make a world of difference to someone around the globe. If you find yourself like me, living through a double-layoff and breathing a sigh of relief now that the Unemployment Benefits have been extended, perhaps you can pull out those coupons and switch to that store brand and eek out that extra dollar or five for clean drinking water elsewhere around the globe. And if, by all misfortune, you find yourself needing that extra help this season, may you bask in the charity and goodwill of others that you may be able to pay it forward when you can down the line.

A Spirited Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Blessed Kwaanza to All.

~X

18 December 2010

Yes, Virginia, There Is Another Holiday Post--With Pictures

'Tis the season to be stressing, fa la la la la la la la,
Baking with my head is messing, fa la la la la la la la...



That's what I brought home from Costco in anticipation of my annual baking marathon. It's 1:30 a.m., and I have miles of brownies to bake before I sleep. (Yes, I use a mix. Don't judge me.) That doesn't count the cleaning and the decorating (done, at last) or the cards (don't remind me) or the book signing (more later) or the out-of-town guests (whee!)
Which brings me to the point of today's blog. Holidays are hard. They come with a load of emotional freight and outsized expectations that can all too easily overwhelm you. That's why, in the middle of giving to others, you need to give a little to yourself, too.




With everything else on the agenda, I'd be the last person to tell anyone to decorate anything. But if you're like me and have this overwhelming urge to turn the house, apartment, barn or loft upside down once a year, pull out the stuff that gives you joy. For me, it's a mass of wax angels, reindeer and a Bavarian music box bought in Germany when I was very small. When I was eleven, I thought the richly gowned figures were the most beautiful things in the whole world. I still do.




Get together with the people you love. As the season's short days remind us, we're no more than candles in the greater dark--quick burning and all too easily extinguished.
If the stars line up for a splurge, take advantage of it. An unexpected chance to take high tea at the Willard Hotel sent Ellen Byerrum, the ever stylish author of the Crimes of Fashion mysteries (shown here lifting a glass to the holidays), and I scurrying into Washington, D.C. on the coldest day of the year. It was well worth the chill, taking the edge off deadlines and pre-release jitters (Shot Through Velvet, her latest Crime of Fashion novel, debuts in February 2011) and jumpstarting our holiday spirit. (With tea! With tea! That glass was just for show. Honest!)
But the occasion doesn't have to be extravagant. I've already made a date with the spouse for our annual in-home viewing of the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol (sometimes called Scrooge), simply the best version of the story--possibly the best version of any Dickens story--ever. And we can watch it wearing fuzzy slippers. (Or we could if we owned any--there are some crimes of fashion I just won't commit.)




It wouldn't hurt to take a page from our pets either. Indulge your inner feline with a nap in a favorite spot, sleep late or spend a few minutes hidden away with a book. Put on the dog with a big goofy smile, lolling tongue optional.
In short, be kind to yourself and follow your bliss whenever and wherever you're able.




And if your bliss happens to be books and you're in the neighborhood of the Borders in Bowie, MD, from 7-9 p.m. tonight, I'll be signing with five wonderful authors:

- Rising romantic suspense star Jeanne Adams,

- Bestselling science fiction and fantasy writer Catherine Asaro,

- Break-out historical romance author Grace Burrowes,

- Award-winning children's author Deborah Da Costa, and

- Three time Nebula Award nominee and veteran SF short story writer Bud Sparhawk.


If that weren't enough to make your Saturday, Catherine will be singing, as well as signing, with keyboardist Don Wolcott providing back up. Hope to see you there. After all, 'tis the season for commerce, too.

Wherever you are and whatever you do between now and January 1, I hope the days find you happy in the company of those you love. May 2011 be healthy, joyful and prosperous, and bless us, everyone.

17 December 2010

Sweet News and Treats!

It's been a crazy holiday season here in Florida. The weather is jumping from 30 degrees to 70 degrees on any given day and it really did not feel a lot like Christmas. Then the presents began to appear under the tree, exciting the kids and making it a little easier to feel the cheer. And I received my own little bit of news - LOVE AT FIRST SHOT, my spicy paranormal comedy novella, has an audiobook release date! January 11th, 2011, it will be available through AudioLark Audio Books and your favorite audiobook retailer. Talk about doing a little dance around the tree!

If you're not familiar with the story, here's a quick blurb: What do a dead werewolf, a kidnapped coroner, and an inept witch have in common? LOVE AT FIRST SHOT. Emma Feltman is a master mage in training with one minor problem: sexual frustration has twisted her ordinarily powerful magic into an unpredictable force of chaos. Her current job assignment is the Supernatural Clean-up Crew. When a werewolf is unlucky enough to get hit by a car, Emma's crew is sent in to retrieve the body. Dr. "T.J." Jackson happens to be the coroner on duty. When it's discovered his mind is immune to magic so they can't erase the incident from his memory, they do the next best thing. They take him with them. Stashed in a cabin miles from anywhere, Emma and T.J. start things off with a bang. But can a relationship built under extreme conditions really work?

To read an excerpt, click HERE.

And to celebrate all the Christmas cheer, I have a free read scheduled to go live (for a limited time) on Monday, December 20th, available exclusively from my website! CHRISTMAS GRACE is a St. George story introducing a new heroine, Grace St. George.

What's a thief to do when there's no paying jobs at Christmas? Stay home and sulk? Not Grace St. George. She decides to take a holiday to London and crash a party. Not just any party, but modern-day Viking and security expert Jacob Forsyth's exclusive gala. Can she get in, find the secret that makes his vaults impervious to her attempts to burgle, and get out again without mishap?

Find out Monday by downloading your own free copy of CHRISTMAS GRACE.

A special thank-you goes out to the lovely and talented Natalie Winters for this gorgeous cover.


I hope everyone has a delightful holiday season with lots of joy, love, and laughter. Merry Christmas.

15 December 2010

Book Birthday!

Well, actually, the book 'officially' came out on Monday, I think. There were things that happened beyond the control of either the publisher or myself that held up the original release date, but yanno, stuff happens, so it's all good.

THE MIRROR OF YU-HUANG, (Library of Athena, Book 3) is AVAILABLE!!! I think that, last time I posted, I had seen the artwork, but it wasn't ready yet. I GUESS I can show you now...wait, have you all been good this year? Not TOO good, I hope ;). Okay, then.


It really looks better in person; and I know since I just got a box of books delivered by UPS yesterday! Squee!!! 

This little book has had quite a journey. I was thinking about it yesterday, and I think I started researching for this book in 2006. I remember sitting in one of the beach houses my aunt had rented for a brief vacation, poring over books of Chinese fairy tales and mythology, wondering HOW in the world I was going to make this work based on the rules I had set up in the two previous books. Much of Chinese mythology is made up of morality stories, whereas I had used 'hero' myths before. It took some digging, but I found a few suitable stories and after a few re-writes, magic happened.

This story is unlike the first two LoA books in other ways than just the mythology. This one has a different publisher, for starters. Zumaya has done a fabulous job, and I can't be more pleased with the results. And the story is set up a little differently (but it's JUST as exciting) But it's LIKE the first two in many ways also - there is mystery, and intrigue, and monsters (not just the mythological kind), and friendship. 

Here is the blurb from the cover (which is different than the blurb on the publisher's website and Amazon listing):

Confucius never said anything about this.

Megan Montgomery, spending her second Christmas in England, was expecting peace and quiet over the holidays. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. 


First, the headmistress of St. Agatha's College for Girls, Megan's school, has strong-armed her father into hosting a huge New Year's ball at their home. Next, she winds up playing hostess to a Chinese ambassador, his family, and his staff. While the guests seem very pleasant, Megan is still uncomfortable. She's been unlucky with houseguests in the past - like the one who died.


Of course, he had also tried to steal one of the precious magical artifacts hidden in the Library of Athena, a cavernous room hidden beneath her home, so it wasn't totally her fault. Now hundreds of people will be crawling all over the manor. 


Megan tries to relax and enjoy the holidays despite her home being turned into Grand Central, but her worst fears are realized when she receives a mysterious Christmas gift, one that links her to the Library of Athena. Now she's on her guard, hoping to identify the culprit and learn just how much he or she knows about the Library, before someone gets hurt, or worse, she winds up inside another enchanted book. 


The book is available at the Zumaya Thresholds site,  Amazon (though for some reason it says ships in 1-4 weeks; I hope that changes soon) in both print and for Kindle, B&N in the NookStore, and of course can be ordered at any brick and mortar store. It will be on Fictionwise in a couple of weeks too!

Have a great holiday and happy reading!!!

13 December 2010

2nd Annual One Loving Thing Day

(Photo by Diego Hernandez)

December 21st is just around the corner.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet Earth (like I do), December 21st is Winter Solstice--our shortest, darkest, day of the year. On top of that, we will be treated with a total lunar eclipse.

I can't think of a better day to celebrate One Loving Thing Day. Can you?

We've all had tough times this year. But on this dark, cold, short day I have hope. Every moment after December 21st (the occasional storm excluded) will be brighter and warmer. From here on out the darkness will be behind us and up ahead are sunnier days.

I challenge you to bring sunshine to others by going out and doing one loving thing on December 21st. Just one. It doesn't need to be world-changing, or earth’s-axial tilting. Give a gift from your heart, do a good deed, help a stranger. Make a conscious effort to be kind. That's all.

I’ll post about my good deed after I do it. It would be really great if you could post about yours. Or maybe someone will do a loving thing for you that you can share. Your comments might inspire others and who knows? This might snowball into a giant lovingthingerama.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the best darkest day ever.

Oh, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere please participate on your Summer Solstice too. There's plenty of love to make this world go around.

Thank you!


Kimberley Troutte
Author Page at Samhain Publishing
www.kimberleytroutte.com

11 December 2010

Where the heck is my stuff?

Experts say that moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Anybody who’s ever moved will probably agree with them. My husband and I moved just at a week ago, and I’m certainly stressed out. For one thing, I had no idea we had so much…um…stuff. We only moved about three miles, which you’d think wouldn’t be that bad, but moving is moving, and it was pretty dang stressful.

For some reason, which I’m still not clear about, I was “volunteered” to drive the U-Haul. I think I did pretty well, except for the whole backing over the mailbox thing. But I did manage to get the thing close enough to the porch that it could be unloaded. So there we were, surrounded by boxes, our carefully thought out, organized moving plan gone to hell in a U-Haul.

The next day, I went to a writers group meeting—actually a party for our one year anniversary. Ten minutes before I left, I found my hairbrush—for which my fellow writers are quite grateful. We had a great time, and I went back to my new storage space, I mean home.

At one week, we’re slowly digging out of our box maze. And it does feel like home already. So now my muse—she’s a dragon, by the way—has decided I need to get back to my writing. Now. I tried to argue, saying that I still have a lot of unpacking to do, plus being extremely busy with that whole life thing. She doesn’t care. She started by giving me dreams that were obviously plot or character intensive. A sure sign she means business. I ignored her, and last night I actually dreamed a character, plot, research I should do (and who I should ask for help), and even the opening words of the story. Peachy. Like I don’t have three manuscripts in the works (at different stages) and need to get them done. Why can’t I dream about one of them!

Okay, back to the boxes. Later maybe I can work on one of the manuscripts. Not the new one. Nope. Even if it is haunting me. The heroine is a fascinating person. And the beginning seems quite interesting. I have other things I need to work on. Really. Plus all those boxes.

Excuse me, my muse is calling—and there seems to be smoke coming out of her mouth. Oh boy.

Have a great weekend!

Cheryel
www.cheryelhutton.com

08 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Or happy whatever-you-celebrate. I happen to be Catholic so I celebrate Christmas. I loved this video and thought it so appropriate for this time of year. No matter what you celebrate, remember to spread joy and cheer.




07 December 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion: New Interview Posted

Not an interview with me (hey, I heard that sigh of relief!) but the latest in my six-part series of interviews with vampire authors at Buzzy Multimedia. Today's victim--er, subject is Jeri Smith-Ready, author of the WVMP series about vampire DJs and lots more. You'll like it. Jeri's as much fun as her books.
Cheers!

02 December 2010

Twitter Vs Blogging: 13 Comparisons

Since I started Tweeting over 2 years ago, I have found that I'm less and less inclined to blog. I don't know if this represents and essential laziness on my part or an adjustment to the wiles of the Internet or some combination of both. Certainly Twitter isn't really designed to allow deeper thoughts or leisurely discussions or anything beyond the edges of my ideas. While this might be good for worldbuilding (See the Turkey City Lexicon for the reference), is it equally good for critical thinking, career building, networking, promotion, joke telling (of jokes that are longer than knock knock jokes), essay sharing and so on and so forth?

So I thought I might do a quick comparison between Twitting and Blogging for the Writer, and I invite you all to add your thoughts in the comments, since this is a blog and not Twitter and you can do that instead of having to hang around Twitter all the time checking your @ replies to see if anybody said anything.

1) Both of them have dumb names. Twitter. Blogs. They're just dorky words. They can't help themselves, I guess.
2) Blogging takes more thought but not necessarily more time, because some people (not naming names!) are on Twitter constantly.
3) I have a lot more Twitter followers than Blog readers, but does anyone really pay attention? I'd say the Blog readers are more likely to, but Twitter...not so much.
4) Blogs create a repository of your cleverness with fewer injokes, retweets, comments about your dinner (ie painful mundanity that is reviled by some), and half-viewed discussions that people who check out your archives aren't going to "get".
5) Twitter is easier to do from mobile devices or when you're in a hurry. Multitaskiness!
6) You can illustrate blogs without requiring your audience to link over to another website, because we've all heard things about how you shouldn't follow links in Twitter (if you haven't heard things, now you have!).
7) Blogs are all about YEW, while Twitter is all about who just said the funniest thing and got it retweeted. And that is rarely YEW.
8) Both blogging and Twitter can be frustrating if you're yakking away and nobody's listening. BUT you're more likely to get the thrill of "being noticed" on Twitter or get the chance to chat with people you admire than the chances of them dropping by your blog about, I dunno, Twitter vs Blogging.
9) Twitter helps you exercise your brevity muscles. What are brevity muscles? Well, when your evil editor tells you to cut 20K from your novel, you will use these muscles a lot.
10) Blogging exercises your writing muscles in a way that ensures your brevity muscle doesn't become the only working muscle in your arsenal. But then again, so does WRITING :).
11) Your mom probably likes your blog more than Twitter, unless she's on Facebook, but we're not here to talk about Facebook.
12) When you happen to be in need of a wee bit of social interaction, which those of us who spend most of our time alone with our computers can be, Twitter provides it much better than blogging.
13) The problem is, if you do both wholeheartedly, that's half again as much time away from your writing. This isn't really a comparison so much as a complaint. BOO. Why isn't there more time in the world?

So what are your thoughts? Which one do you like better and why?

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

27 November 2010

Doubly Blessed

I think one of my biggest problems as a writer is that I love to read.

You wouldn’t think that’d be an issue, would you? Well, it is…especially when your thought process goes like mine.

Wow, this book is good.
(reads more)
No, this story is AMAZING.
(reads to the end, looks at her own current WIP)
What am I doing? Nothing I write will ever be as good as [insert title or author here].
(Is sorely tempted to hit the delete button and go back to her day job.)

Then, out of the blue, a bright little ray of validation appears. An email from a fan. A royalty statement that showed an unexpected uptick in sales. This week, a squee from my editor – I’d received my second RT Reviewer’s Choice nomination.

What makes this doubly sweet is that it’s for book 2 of my Legends series, A Ghost of a Chance. Book 1, Beaudry’s Ghost was also an RT nominee. The more I think about it, the more I’m simply…floored.

In this, the second holiday season since my father died, the initial numbness is wearing off. The good: the urge to write is coming back. The bad: missing him seems more acute since last year, which sometimes freezes my fingers over the keyboard with thoughts of "WWDT" - what would Daddy think? Then some of his last words to me come back, especially when I confided to him my hesitancy to write what I really want to write, for fear of the shock it might cause among people who know me: "I will be just as proud of you as I am no, no matter what."

Guess it’s time to dig that WIP out of the recycle bin, eh? :)

Carolan
www.carolanivey.com

26 November 2010

Pearls in Mythology and Carolina Pearl

Happy Black Friday, everyone!! And happy belated Thanksgiving. In our usual fashion, we're a day late here at the Carsen household. Family arrives today, so today is our Day of Gluttony and Tryptophan.

However, still being in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to send out a HUGE thank you to all my readers! CAROLINA PEARL released on Tuesday this week, and it's been selling like gangbusters. I owe it all to you and want you to know how very, very grateful I am -- as well as how happy I am that y'all seem to enjoy my books!

Today I get to wallow in serendipity. Not only do I get to blog about mythology today, I also get to tie it into my book.

CAROLINA PEARL features (big surprise) a pearl at the heart of the mystery. I made up the legend and the history behind the gem, but as always, I found precedent in real life for my fiction.

In gemological lore, pearls are often associated with queens and goddesses, so they have a very feminine base. In India, it's said that Vishnu plucked the first pearl from the sea to give to his daughter on her wedding day. Greeks believed that the drops of water that fell from Venus' body when she rose from the sea became pearls. Greek lore also states that a pearl given to a bride will keep her from unhappiness in her marriage.

From these stories, it's no surprise that they're associated with fertility and love. Crushed pearls dissolved in red wine will bewitch the drinker into falling in love with the spell-caster.

Pearls are also often associated with protection, whether from evil spirits, the wrath of the gods, or from everyday bad luck.

One of the largest perfectly shaped teardrop pearls in existence currently belongs to Elizabeth Taylor. La Peregrina is about two inches long and weighs approximately .35 oz (50 carats) -- and has graced the necks of royalty since the 16th century.

The largest pearl in existence weighs about five pounds and is estimated at about $40 million! It's called either Lao Tze or the Pearl of Allah and it looks like a huge brain. It's very unattractive, but it's a real pearl from a giant clam.

Black pearls, however, rarely come in such massive sizes and, in fact, are about 100 times more rare overall than white pearls. The largest black pearl on record is about 23 mm, or less than an inch in diameter. The pearl shown here, known as Black Beauty, is less known for its size (6.5 carats = .046 oz) than for its lustre and perfect shape.

The pearl I imagined for CAROLINA PEARL is a huge black pearl that was, ahem, "liberated" from a Caribbean governor's wife by a pirate in the mid-1700s. In my mind, it's the size of Taylor's La Peregrina and the color of Black Beauty. It provides all the graces of the myths surrounding pearls - lasting love and protection that encompass not only the home featured in the story, but also Conn and Blair and all those who have lived and loved there.


CAROLINA PEARL
By Sela Carsen

A family legend could lead to a treasure more precious than pearls…or get them killed.

Between babysitting her very pregnant sister-in-law and fending off her mother’s nagging about her marital status, Blair Moreau is going insane. Her only hold on sanity is her daily walk for a guilty peek at her crush, the sexy neighbor who’s fixing up the old Cotesworth place.

Conn Lucas, the bastard son of Culford’s leading family, got way out of town a long time ago. When the only relative who didn’t despise him leaves him her 250-year-old house, Conn plans to refurbish it, flip it, and get back to Connecticut as soon as possible. Until a local beauty with a rare talent for DIY gives him a hand with some stubborn siding.

When he makes her mad enough to swing a two-by-four at his head, he realizes Blair is better than perfect. Especially when his efforts to keep her from killing him explode into an erotic rush of adrenaline that unleashes desires they’ve both kept hidden.

Breaking through Conn’s tough shell isn’t as difficult Blair’s next hurdle—telling him she’s a werewolf. First, though, they’ve got to deal with meddling ghosts and a bad ol’ boy cousin who isn’t above taking what he wants at nail-gun point…

Product Warnings: This book contains a smokin’ hot werewolf chick with serious DIY know-how and a man who thinks that’s sexy; illegal use of nail guns; things to do in a claw-foot tub; pirate references; piddling Dobermans and meddling ghosts. Which is better than meddling Dobermans and piddling ghosts.

Read an excerpt
Buy now

22 November 2010

Happy (New) Holiday Seaon!


Greetings All,


I'm sorry for the lateness of this entry but I intentionally wanted to go out and fulfill my day of errands before posting, to get some perspective on my thoughts about this holiday season. All around us people hurried about--some more frantic than others--getting their last minute preparations for Thanksgiving dinner together. Many tried to avert their eyes from the early Christmas displays that used to go up on Black Friday when I was young but have been up since Novemeber 1st the last few years trying to force holiday cheer during a recession. I think it actually worked this time around.


The anxiety I saw last year and the year before has fallen off, but fortunately it hasn't been replaced with the mindless consumption of five years ago. People averted their eyes, buying what they'd budgeted for and placed on their lists. Others slowed down, looked at prices, made notes and walked off with a smile. Everyone had the air about them that Christmas was definitely coming this year, but in a shape and form that fit into their new lives, this new economy and hopefully a new outlook on consumption and living within our means that the country--nay the globe--will not soon forget. It was a great atmosphere to move about in.


I know that the holidays will still be hard on some of us. My own home is still suffering a double lay-off and congress voted against UI extention benefits before the Thanksgiving recess. We're left hanging on knowing what's ahead for us until November 30th and if the new vote goes the same way, ourselves and 20 million other Americans will be affected. Still, we're better off than many and you could see that mentality, that understanding prevelant in the small crowds we faced today.


In our house we haven't exchanged gifts for years. We each buy one thing we want, one thing the household needs and then donate to a charity to help those completely without. It lacks the shiny, brightly wrapped anticipation of mystery packages under the tree, but it also ensures that every dime spent is on something needed and wanted without waste of time exchanging things or waste of money putting something in the closet never to be seen again. We help each other whittle down the list of things made over the year to the one we really want and the one we both really need and then put them under the tree along with the reciept for the charity donation to wait until Yule or Christmas Day, depending on the gift. Being under the tree is nostalgic because for us as adults it's not about the mystery but the feeling of the holidays. The reciept is a reminder to keep others in our thoughts and to hope that everyone has done a little something for another over the holiday season to make things that much better.


Two years ago things went as planned. Last year we did it all plus extra suprise gifts off either the individual list or household list. This year...well this year we're doing the donation first just in case with our own gifts to come later on. The financial situation has changed but the season hasn't. It's still about givng of self before the giving of things. I wish the global economy hadn't needed to collapse to remind us all of that, but since it did let's run with it as a nation.


This holiday season stay within your budget not only with what you spend but with what you don't. Go through your closets and exchange those things never worn or never used with others who really need them right now. Maybe a friend really needs that coat you never liked and still have hanging with the tag on it while you could do with some good boots this season that were a half size off for her. Buy your kids the new gadgets in your price range but take the old gadgets they never use to GoodWill or whatever organizations line up with your personal stance and make sure there's a Christmas memory for someone with less this year. For those of you in good financial balance, look around and talk with your family about whether or not you really NEED something new this year, or how much that needs to cost. Just five dollars from each family member could change the life of someone for years to come given to the right charity.


And for those of you in our situation, wondering what you're going to do, just barely getting Thankgiving together and worried about Christmas because unlike me you have children--stop worrying. I remember tough times as a child and trust me, it's never going to be about the gift when they're older but about the time spent with them while home from school during winter break. They may be young enough that they're still asking for things or old enough that they're hormonal about things, but if you raised them right they're bright enough to understand if you just tell them the situation and give them other things instead. How about a full day of your attention doing whatever they like to do that's low or no cost? Make it a holiday tradition and they'll remember it for the rest of their lives. With older children, make the tough decision of getting something small and in thanks for having a roof over your head and food on your table, you'll spend time or what other little money you've set aside doing for those who don't have those simple luxuries. Again, where not traditional, it'll be an impact that makes them the adults you want them to be.


Whether you're having a full traditional or vegetarian/vegan feast, a scaled down version or a frozen Swanson turkey dinner, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday Season! Hold to the sanity I've been seeing and pass whatever extra you have down to those a rung or more beneath you on the recovery ladder to make sure we all keep climbing upward.


Happy Holidays Ramble ~ Done!


~X

20 November 2010

Saturday Six: Snapshots of CapClave 2010

CapClave, the Washington DC SF/fantasy convention focusing on short fiction, is my hometown con and the culmination of most years' con calendar.
This year, however, I didn't get to enjoy it as much as usual. The con was splendid. The problem was all mine. Unfortunately, the dates (October 22-24) fell smack in the middle of the house's last round of Snowpocalypse repairs, and I couldn't leave it for long. Equally unfortunate, I missed a group shot of the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readers. But I did take home almost twenty memory-perfect photos, and you get to sample six.


Two of my favorite writers, Jeri Smith-Ready (left) and Mindy Klasky sign autographs October 23. Jeri had the big wow moment in Saturday's "Music in Books" panel when she mentioned (casually, no less--she's smoooooth) she once played Crow in a production of Sam Sheppard's Tooth of the Crime. Mindy is gearing up to write several contracted romances for Harlequin's Silhouette line. So many books; I gotta find time!


Laura Anne Gilman models the leather dress I lusted after at this year's Dragon*Con. Much as it pains me, it looks better on her than it would've on me. Among the new experiences at this year's Capclave were costume sightings. Laura Anne wore hers because folks nagged. But several attendees apparently just decided it would be a good idea. I hope that proves to be a trend.


Editors, editors everywhere! Guests of Honor Jeff and Anne Vandermeer (left and right, respectively) and Clarkesworld editor Neil Clarke introduce the 2010 Last Drink Bird Head Awards. The awards were created by the Vandermeers to recognize the often unheralded activities which keep science fiction, fantasy and horror community vibrant, relevant and a good place to be. Now part of the process, Neil was one of the first winners.


Michael Swanwick accepts the Last Drink Bird Head Award for Tireless Energy on behalf of Leslie Howle. Leslie was recognized for his work on behalf of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and Hugo House.


Capclave's own Colleen Cahill (left) just before the Vandermeers announced the winner of the Last Drink Bird Head Award for Promotion of Reading. Colleen received the 2010 award for her work as the Library of Congress's advocate for genre fiction and representative to the American Library Association.


To Say Nothing of the Dog: Capclave 2010 Writing Guest of Honor Connie Willis displays a picture of Montmorency, a key player in her time travel sagas, created for her by Capclave artist Lynn Perkins.

Want more? The rest can be found at my Flickr page. Enjoy!

Jean Marie

19 November 2010

Music and Muses



I have friends who swear that they can't write a specific character without music and playlists. I've never been one of those kind of writers...until now. I've been in a slump, but not from writer's block. Nope, no big wall staring me down. I've been writing, but the characters seem flat and lifeless to me. Definitely not what I'm going for as a first-person oriented author!

So I did something I rarely do. I borrowed a page from someone else's playbook. My friend, Colleen, is a wonderful inspiration to me. She uses music for every muse and swears it gives life to her characters. So, I dug in and started looking for a musical style that would help me bring my vampire heroine to life. Just when frustration was about to convince me to toss the piece into the trash and decide NaNoWriMo wasn't for me, CW came to my rescue. I know, television and music? I promise I wasn't drinking. *wink* I was streaming Life Unexpected in the background while I sorted through some Christmas projects and Kate Voegele came on to sing. BOOM! My muse started making comments.

I was FREE!! Literally. I loaded up my WIP, and went to town. Reading back through it, I edited, toned, and reworked it. Suddenly, it wasn't so flat and lifeless...and my heroine began to look a frightening bit like Kate Voegele. *grins* Hey, life is life and I can live with that. Physical appearance is a minor thing to trade off to have the personality spring to the forefront of the manuscript.

So now, I'm pounding away at the next St. George book and thrilled to know that music really does work when the chips are down.

What about you? Have you ever read a character that made you think of a particular musical style, or artist specifically?

15 November 2010

Editing, Shmediting

Okay, that title stinks. Can someone edit it? Seriously.

I'm here to discuss the wild and whacky writing process that I go through each and every time I write a book. Is this a How-To Write a Novel blog? Heck no. It's more of a don't do as I do sort of thing.

Maybe we should entitle it "Kimberley Troutte Reveals Her Writing Secrets: Run Now, Run Fast".

First, I come up with a kickin' idea for a premise. I'm blessed with these, most likely because I'm a little crazy. So a premise might be:

Death falls in love with a woman he has to kill. (Soul Stealer)
A ghost from 15th Century Castile with memory disorder has to solve her murder. (Catch Me in Castile)

The next step in the mad process is to build the characters. It's important to know who they are, what they desperately need, what scares them, who they love, who hurt them...To create flesh and blood people who my readers want to route for, I need to know what makes them tick.

Plotting is the third step. I jot down the scenes that I know I will have to have and leave big holes such as, (this is where a lovey-dovey scene goes) or (big surprise here). In one of my books, a family is on a boat and just about to be boarded by really bad guys with guns. The main character, Dave, knows what he has to do to protect his family.

This is what happens:

“I cut the raft free. Swim for it,” Dave said.

“Can’t! My ear.” Little Davey's hand covered his new ear. “I’m not supposed to swim yet.”

Dave rubbed his son's back. “Sorry, buddy. You’ve got to. I’ll tell you when.”

“What’re you going to do?” Lonnie’s voice trembled.

“Still winging it, angel. Get ready.” He smiled sadly and kissed her on the forehead. He pried Davey’s arms from around his waist. “Love you, guys. Always will.”

And then Dave made his move.

Okay, when I wrote that last line in the chapter, I said to myself--Cooool. I wonder what his move is going to be? I had no idea. I left it a hole and kept writing.

After I have a sense of where the story is going, I attack the computer. Really, it's a battlefield. I pound the keys, fight my fears, words fill up the page, I might curse a little, laugh a little, and sometimes cry for joy. It's all pretty crazy and fast. When I'm in the flow, I can crank out that first draft in about six months or less even with a non-writing day-job.

Emphasis on first draft.

The editing process is where the book really comes to life. You see, while writing, I put my head down and go for it--fast, hard, furious. It's the only way I know how to write. But this process means that I miss stuff. Important stuff. I'm too close to the story to see the flaws. This is where critique partners come in.

I have an awesome team of critique partners who really know their stuff. Most are published, the others are nearly published. I learn from each one. I love them dearly because they are all wonderful people and because they keep me from submitting stinky stuff to my editor. And there's no way I can write a first draft that doesn't stink.

Based on suggestions of critique partners and editors I have:

Moved middle chapters to the front and front chapters back.
Cut out one third of a book and started over.
Changed the tense from past to present in the whole. Darn. Book.
Shredded backstory
Rewritten dialogue
Changed genres
Changed Point of Views
Changed character names
Changed titles
Changed settings
Dismantled one book to make it two

I keep hoping that one day I will write the perfect first draft, but honestly don't think that is ever going to happen. My process means that I am going to rewrite at least six times, but more likely a dozen times before the book goes to print. That's okay, because I write stories that I love and each editing makes them that much stronger.

That's Kimberley Troutte's process in a nutshell. I told you it was whacky.

I'd love to hear from other writers. What is your process?

www.kimberleytroutte

13 November 2010

Your Reality's Showing

Reality shows are all the rage. High ratings, small production budgets, the public gets to gawk at other people without repercussions. What’s not to love? Actually a lot, but that’s a different blog. What I want to talk about today is a completely different subject. A subject for a reality show. Picture this: a couple packs up their small apartment to move across town. Boring? Not if each of the two have a wide streak of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not the level of that other reality show, but enough to make things interesting. Enter my husband and me. Yep, we’re an interesting couple…but that’s another blog too.

Open with the two of us standing over a stack of empty boxes. Long discussions ensue about where to stack the things until we use them to pack. Then there’s the weeklong discussion about in which room to start packing. Do we work together or separately? Then I stand in the extra bedroom that is my office for two days trying to decide where to start. Then there’s the biggest problem of all. I had this bright idea to put different color stickers on the boxes to designate the rooms the stuff inside came from—and presumably go to in the new place. Over the last few days, we’ve talked about the issue. We’ve both spent time staring at the packages of colorful dots. So far, we’ve decided that my husband thinks yellow says kitchen. I say red. But we could go either way.

I think it has potential. Snappy music and silly commentary that makes serious fun of us. It could be a great show. But then, we’d have to allow strangers into our already cramped home to make fun of an already stressful situation. Hmm.

Sorry Hollywood, you’ll have to find other suckers for your pack and move show.

Now if we could just decide what color screams living room. Sigh.

Have a great weekend!

Cheryel
www.cheryelhutton.com

05 November 2010

The good, bad and the convoluted...

I love movies. I tend to get in certain moods and watch a particular type of movie from time-to-time. Sometimes, I need a romantic comedy fix. Some days it's action; others, such as the Halloween season, it's scary. Once in a while I want a historical period piece -- often with one of the aforementioned elements. I do have two very definite rules, however, as to what I'll watch or not watch.

1. It cannot be rated R or 'higher'.
2. I'd prefer it not be stupid and/or terminally confusing.

Yes, stupid and confusing are very subjective terms. What I might find mind-numbing and/or headache-inducing might be at the top of your fave movie list. To each his or her own. However, just in case you're wondering what movies I might have found bothersome, lately, there are two that immediately come to mind:
Duplicity and The Box ... both of which proved to me that just because a premise sounds good OR I like the actors involved, does NOT mean I'll enjoy the flick.

Duplicity turned out to be more spy movie than rom/com. I'm not a huge spy fan. I also found I didn't like either of the main characters -- despite Clive Owen's naturally gorgeous form, face and sexy voice. (sigh) By the time I sat through this rather convoluted, slightly bizarre tale of love and corporate espionage, I really didn't give a damn what happened to anyone. Not a letter of recommendation for me either movie or book-wise. :\

The Box... hmmmm... what shall I say about this little time-warp gem? It started out well. A somewhat fresh idea, although it was taken from an old Twilight Zone episode. But, unfortunately, it still had the smell of mothball-coated-polyester about it. Meaning, it never really made the whole idea current. It was like watching a 1970's made-for-TV movie, but with better effects and color. Not to mention that it was just too dang confusing to be entertaining.

If you've watched either film, I'd like to hear your take on them. I'm sure there are lots of people who enjoyed one or the other... just not me.

Other movies I've seen lately include: Passengers, confusing but I think I liked it; Robin Hood, with Russell Crowe (loved it!); The Sixth Sense, still a paranormal gem, IMHO; and When in Rome, a very cute, very quirky rom/com that I enjoyed immensely.

Anything you've seen that you'd like to recommend or warn against? Let us know... I need some new ideas and popcorn is popping.

~~Meg Allison

Indulge your senses...
www.megallisonauthor.com

04 November 2010

Copyright Infringement is for Dummies

No, this isn't a spiffy little article to tell you HOW to infringe copyright, it's a publishing world WTF about the business practices of a magazine called Cooks Source Magazine. It seems a blogger realized one of her articles had been reprinted in the magazine without her permission or knowledge and, when she confronted editor Judith Griggs about it, Ms. Griggs told her she should be grateful. Not to mention, Ms. Griggs insisted that anything on the internet is in the public domain and was, therefore, fair game.

So we know know this about Cooks Source Magazine:

1) They're copyright infringers (who steal intellectual property). Several more confirmed instances just this morning (11/4/10).

2) Their employee Jane Griggs can't even edit her own emails.

3) They don't understand the internet.

4) They don't understand public domain and copyright.

5) They thought Monica Gaudio (and probably everyone they stole from) should be thankful they reprinted, and profited from, her article about apple pies without compensating her.

6) They also thought Ms. Gaudio should be thankful they "edited" her article so she can now use it in her portfolio without embarrassment. (I gather that the "editing" consisted of correcting some historically accurate spellings in vintage recipes, but correct me if I'm wrong!)
 
Here are some articles about the situation which support the above statements:

http://illadore.livejournal.com/30674.html Monica Gaudio's original post about it

http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1553538.html Nick Mamatas's comments about it

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/11/04/the-stupidest-thing-an-editor-with-three-decades-of-experience-has-said-about-the-web-today/ John Scalzi sounds off

http://www.edrants.com/the-cooks-source-scandal-how-a-magazine-profits-on-theft/ Detailed article from Edrants

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/genreville/?p=851 Publishers Weekly Genreville blog about it

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2010/11/cooks_source_masters_new_recip.html Stinkin' it up on the Washington Post

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/04/todays-web-justice-d.html Bouncing onto Boing Boing

http://gizmodo.com/5681714/attention-the-web-is-not-public-domain Gizmodo weighs in

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooks-Source-Magazine/196994196748 Cooks Source Facebook page where they're being schooled by the Interweb (may be deleted soon, visit while you can!)

http://www.jackiebarbosa.com/2010/11/04/some-people-shouldnt-be-allowed-near-the-internet/ My friend Jackie Barbosa helps with the Google Bomb (see below)

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2010/11/04/thursday-midday-links-be-grateful-you-are-plagiarized/ Dear Author post about it

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/cooks-source-when-the-source-is-plagiarized-the-source-should-feel-grateful/ Smart Bitches' first post about it

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/judith-griggs-the-google-is-our-friend-not-hers/ Smart Bitches' instructions on how to conduct a Judith Griggs Google Bomb

Here's news that shouldn't be news: when you find things on the internet, be they articles, ebooks, MP3s, artwork, or what have you, that doesn't make it automatically free for your use.
It doesn't matter how much you want it.

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

26 October 2010

Dragons & Fairies & Book Signing, Oh My!

Is Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity too crazy for you...or not insane enough?

What you need is a large dose of bacon-loving dragons and bad-assed fairies. To get it, join me for Tea with the Authors at Constellation Books, 303 Main Street, Reisterstown, MD 21136, this Saturday, October 30, from 3-5 p.m.

The event also features my partners-in-crime--er, fantasy--er, fellow writers Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon and Robert E. Waters. The spotlighted books will be Dragon's Lure (which includes my short story "Lord Bai's Discovery") and Bad-Assed Fairies 3: Halfling's Court.

There will be tea, cookies, costumes, readings and lots of fun. Hope to see you there!

25 October 2010

Horror Movie Survival Tips


This past Thursday Thirteen I did a list of 13 Lessons If You Ever Find Yourself In A Horror Movie. It was a fun post with lots of great comments that sparked even more conversations here at home. I try not to get lost in my ever building list of pet peeves, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Now we’ve all seen these movies whether we watched the last one to come out or haven’t seen one in thirty years. There are certain things that happen over and over again and we’re left going really? But in the end it comes down to one main issue, and I’m going to share that with you just in time for your Halloween horror movie marathon!

So what is it? What’s the number one, I-can’t-believe-it-how-is-this-possible problem in every horror movie I’ve ever seen? No one in a horror movie has ever seen a horror movie! The number two problem? The few horror movies where they’ve seen a horror movie, they didn’t pay any attention. In the middle of the night when my husband-like-person and I hear a nose, we both get up and investigate it. Why? Because everyone knows you never split up. They always split up in horror movies—even after someone admits that you should never split up! That’s like hearing that everyone who walks across a particular bridge falls off and then suddenly heading off across the bridge. No one would do that.

Then after they split up, they wander off into dark basements, creepy attics, or dense woods. Let me explain something. I don’t care what you hear in the basement, attic or woods, if people are disappearing or dying in odd ways, you DON’T need to know what made that sound. I can tell you want made that sound. The thing that’s going to kill you made that sound. I know it, you know it, and anyone who’s seen two horror movies knows it. The only people who don’t know it are the people IN the horror movie. How is that possible?

Everyone I know would call a friend in a heartbeat to sleep over if the least freaky thing happened and they lived alone. Not only is freakiness reason for a grown up sleepover but it leads to discussing what happened and looking things up—together. We don’t split up to research things in creepy libraries, during unprecedented storms with rolling blackouts in the area. Why? Because no one does that! The human survival instinct doesn’t allow a rational person to do something like that. It doesn’t matter if you think there’s a preternatural killer on the loose, regular ole’ serial killer fears are more than enough.

But I’m not here simply to complain. I don’t believe in it. I’m here just in case one of those people who sincerely never watched a horror movie and have no idea what’s going on ever finds themselves in one. These are ten tips to get you through just in case.

1. Never split up. You can’t cover more ground if one or all of you die, so just leave it be and don’t split up.


2. Don’t go to dark, isolated places once weirdness has been let loose in your town. If it freaked you out in the daylight when things were normal, avoid it like the plague now that bodies have started dropping.


3. If a child or pet won’t get into a room, walk past a house, or has constantly cried since you drove into down—LEAVE! There’s evil about and you can’t fix it. How do I know? Because you’re reading this list for tips, so get out while the gettin’ is good.


4. If nothing has prompted you to leave and you are instead trying to investigate the history of the quaint but spooking little town you’ve moved to, do it during the day. If you can’t find it in the daytime with a room full of witness, you don’t need to know it.


5. When a house tells you to leave it’s not a suggestion. Just go.


6. They never move the bodies when they relocate a graveyard; that’s why the price is so good on that new housing development. Just pay the extra $300 a month in mortgage elsewhere. You’ll thank me.


7. If you’re running for your life and there’s a child or small-framed woman keening and rocking in a corner with their back to you—it’s a trap. It’s going to eat you. Kill it and run or just run but don’t help. You’re a walking appetizer and should just keep moving with the group.


8. If you’re suddenly pregnant after a mysterious afternoon you don’t quite remember and everyone is stunned. It’s an alien/demon baby. What you do with that is up to you, I’m just saying be preparted.


9. If you’re going anywhere on the anniversary of anything that involved death and you see something, no matter how briefly, go on vacation. Just pick up the family and make that Disney World trip you’ve been promising. Everything will be better for it, trust me.


10. Don’t split up. Yes, this was number one, but you just don’t understand the significance. Staying together means you outnumber the jabberwocky and you always want to default to safety in numbers.

There you are, it’s not everything you need to know but if you keep these 10 in mind and follow the link to the other 13, you’ll make it to act III and likely show up in the sequel. And it’s all about being around for the sequel *smile*. Happy Halloween!


Horror Movie Tips Ramble ~ Done


~Xakara

20 October 2010

Where the work all pays off

Last night my editor sent me a draft of the cover for the next Library of Athena series book, The Mirror of Yu-Huang. Nope, can't show it to you yet, but it made me excited all over again for the release of this book, which for a while I thought never would see the light of day. 

First of all, this was the most challenging book I've written to date. And I've written one and a half books since finishing it, so I can say that with confidence. I started researching it in 2007, when I bought a few Chinese mythology books. It is a complicated culture, mostly because it extends from the beginnings of time up to the present day. There are a bunch of different systems, between Taoism and Confucianism and Buddhism. Their fairy tales and mythologies are short and mostly morality stories, which complicated it even more, since I had been using 'hero' stories in the LoA books up until now. 

Not only that, but up until this point, I had written about mythologies from cultures that have faded from the modern world. But China and its stories still exist today,  and I didn't want to accidentally insult anyone. But I managed to hunt up a few older myths that I could use. Then I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote TOO MUCH. Trying to put in everything I had researched, I got off the story track and ended up with 20,000 words too many. (That's when I started using the nine-block plotting system.)

So finally it was done and polished and sent out. 

And the publisher turned it down. Not for anything really terrible, but because they were moving away from tween books and didn't see it fitting into their new YA imprint (which hasn't gotten off the ground as of yet). Which was okay - it happens.  But here I was with a great book and no publisher. So I went on the hunt and put a distress call out to my peeps at Broad Universe.  The publisher at Zumaya offered to take a look, and the rest is history. 

And now, almost four years after I started thinking about this book, it has a cover. Which you will just have to wait to see.  :P

19 October 2010

Jean Marie's 2010 Capclave Schedule

Halloween is my favorite time of year, not only do I get to celebrate my favorite holiday, I get to play at Capclave, the Washington DC area’s literary science fiction, fantasy and horror convention focusing on the short fiction form, held at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville MD Executive Meeting Center, October 22-24. This year’s guests of honor are Connie Willis (writing), and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (editing).

My schedule comprises two panels, a workshop and the ever popular Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading, where I just might read from “Siren Bridge”. It’s strudel weather, after all.

Friday, 7 p.m.
Mutants: Gift or Curse? (Ends at: 8:00 pm)
Location: Plaza II M
Panelists: C.J. Henderson, Robert Scott, Jean Marie Ward
What are the joys and pains of being a zombie, vampire, werewolf? Discussion of trends in depictions of mutants in books, films, comics, and popular culture.

Friday, 8 p.m.
Writers and the Internet: When is Enough Enough? (Ends at: 9:00 pm)
Location: Plaza II
Panelists: Oz Drummond, Walter H. Hunt, Tee Morris, Karen Wester Newton, Jeff VanderMeer, Jean Marie Ward
How much of the Internet is needed for an author to successfully promote themselves and their works? And how much is too much?

Saturday, 2 p.m.
Reviewer's Workshop (Ends at: 4:00 pm)
Location: Randolph
Panelists: Doug Fratz, Peter Heck (M), Jean Marie Ward
A good reviewer does more then read free books and say "I like that". The panelists will demonstrate the hallmarks of a good review and how to create one. Did we mention Peter Heck is a regular reviewer for Asimov's Science Fiction?

Saturday, 7 p.m.
Broad Universe RapidFire Reading (Ends at: 8:00 pm)
Location: Montrose
Panelists: Roxanne Bland, Oz Drummond, Kelly A. Harmon, Dina Leacock, Jean Marie Ward
The women authors of Broad Universe serve up tasty bites of fiction...and free chocolate!

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Note: The Fannish Dodo illustrating this post is the Capclave mascot, created by Lynn Perkins in 2005.


Jean Marie Ward
JeanMarieWard.com

18 October 2010

Friends: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly

This month a friend of mine, Kelly Valen, will enjoy the debut of her book, The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships (Random House). This nonfiction is about relationships women have with one another. Her research was based on a survey of more than 3,000 women and comes complete with some interesting surprises. The Twisted Sisterhood is receiving lots of acclaim already and I wish Kelly the best.

Kelly’s book got me thinking about the girlfriends I’ve had over the years. Mostly good, others kind of bad, and some were, let’s just say ugly.

At age ten, my “best friend” convinced the fifth-grade class to ostracize me. I was teased for being a goody-two-shoes and teacher’s pet. I will never forget the day I walked into the classroom, sat down, and all the kids picked up their desks and moved away from me. I was left sitting at the lone desk in the middle of the room.

At the age of twelve, my two best-friends decided not to be friends with me anymore. Their reasoning? I was “too nice”.

Three different girls tried to snag my boyfriend from my arms. Although, to be fair, only one of them was my friend at the time.

In high school two “friends” ditched me when we were supposed to walk to lunch together. Once again I was left alone. No idea why. But it did force me to make a conscious decision--

I wasn't going to put up with mean girls anymore.

I searched out the nicest girl I could find, introduced myself and asked if I could eat lunch with her. When she said, “Sure.” Lisa became a dear friend that I have cherished for the past thirty years.

My point to this walk down memory lane? I can still remember the mean girls and what they did to me. They taught me important lessons about not hurting people’s feelings, standing up to harassment, and hanging on to true friendship. But honestly? They were not THAT important in the whole scheme of things. Barely a blip on the screen of all the friends I have had in my life.

Seriously, it would take weeks to even begin to discuss all the beautiful sisters, mothers, and readers who love me. And even then I'd only be scratching the surface. My life has been full of women who have brought me joy, companionship, hugs, shared tears, great food, shelter, smiles and laughter.

The mean girls are a few drops in a bucket. My true friends fill it up.

How about you?

Kimberley Troutte
www.kimberleytroutte.com

16 October 2010

Smoking...or not

James Dean encouraged a generation of wannabe rebels to light up. In fact, most of the old, classic movies from the 1930’s to the 1960’s cigarette smoking was as common as eating. Maybe more. And then something happened. We, as a culture, realized smoking was really bad for people. Cigarette ads became illegal in the US in 1971. Slowly, cigarettes became less common in society and in movies and TV shows. It became rare to see smoking characters on TV. Smoking in movies was more common, but not like in the decades past. By the turn of the last century, cigarette smoking was being banned in more and more places every day. As someone with asthma and a major allergy to cigarette smoke, I was thrilled. I could finally go to a pharmacy or supermarket and still breathe. It was wonderful. I was hoping the downswing would continue. But it was not to be.

The last two episodes of House included a character who smoked (a woman in both cases, with is interesting in a whole other way). Then Caprica also had a smoker, male, one of the major characters. That got me thinking. I’ve seen more smoking in movies and TV in the last few months than in years. What’s happening, folks? Are we moving back to the acceptability of smoking? I hope not. I like this breathing thing.

And please, don’t tell me you have a right to smoke. Sure you do, in your own space. Away from mine. Like I said, I like breathing.

As a bonus, if you smoke less, you might live longer. Just saying.

Have a great weekend.

Cheryel
www.Cheryelhutton.com

13 October 2010

Good News!


I just signed a contract for my time travel paranormal. This will be my 5th book with Samhain Publishing and my 10th book total.

All of my books are near and dear to my heart, but this one is probably the nearest and dearest. Its been a long road for these characters and their story. Wherever You Are was the third book I've ever written and its a huge understatement to say its been through quite a lot of revisions to become the book it is today.

Keeping fingers crossed that this will be the first in a trilogy.

I haven't received a release date yet, but when I do, you'll be the first to know. In the meantime, here's an unedited blurb:

Morgan's life takes an unexpected turn when the stowaway aboard his burning ship isn't an enemy spy but Juliana, the woman he left behind in the twenty-first century. Unwittingly thrust into Morgan’s dangerous world, Juliana gains the attention of Morgan’s enemy--the man who once enslaved Morgan and who will now settle for nothing less than Morgan’s return to slavery and possession of Juliana.

For the one woman he’s never forgotten and a love that defies the centuries, Morgan must conquer his fears and battle his deadly enemy to keep Juliana at his side.

11 October 2010

Vermillion by MK Mancos releases 10/11 @ 11pm Liquid Silver Books




Kristabelle St. Lucus is an etheralmancer, one who can take the soul of a person and lock them away in the lovely stained glass she designs for the Portamere Cathedral. This is her punishment for daring to be born with what the clerics call ‘the witching talent.’ The Cathedral has become a prison for those who have defied the power-hungry clerics. It is not something she wants to do, but something she must do save her family from destruction. It is either that, or watch them burn for passing an unholy legacy on to their offspring.

Darius Castillo is a magi- a member of the sacred order who work directly for the Magus, the rightful head of the church. Darius has watched in wonder as Kristabelle works her magic. Only he knows of her torture and pain at having to perform this horrific duty for the sake of her family. Only Darius sees the tears she shows no one. Under the guise of an acolyte, he is on a mission to discover the extent of the clerics’ treachery. Nothing the clerics do can stop the burning passion he feels for the artist or the need to save her and the souls she’s been forced to entrap.

Enjoy!!!

MK Mancos