30 May 2012

Balticon Post-con Wrap Up

Last weekend was Balticon. It was my first time being a guest at this particular con, but not my first con in general. I had a great time! Well... once I got past the horrible traffic and the borderline rude hotel personnel (who I understand were overwhelmed, but really need some lessons in customer service. I mean, I have worked in hotels. In FIVE STAR hotels. If I had given any customer the attitude I got from these people I would have been fired on the spot. A single shining star of a bellman saved the day.HE deserves a raise.) things were great. Of course the hotel jumped up to help me after I threatened to take my money and go home. Marriott is getting a strongly worded email from me.

The con people were fabulous!

Originally I had only a few events on my schedule, and one of those was an autograph session with Jean Marie (SO great to see you again, dahling!) and my friend-whom-I had-never-met-before Jackie Dolamore. I had no problem with a light schedule, but being a first time guest I wanted to pull my weight. I want to be invited back again. So I volunteered for several more, sending a list of things I was interested in to the con programming guru. She put me on most of them, which rounded out the weekend nicely. Sometimes all you need to do is ask.

I will NEVER do a Monday panel again, though. At least not one that starts at noon. Hubby wanted to be on the road, and by the time the panel rolled around, so was I. Anyway...

Hubby, who is not into SF/F, had to amuse himself. I dragged the fam with me mostly because I didn't want to abandon them on a holiday weekend while I went to play near a major city. So Hubby scored some Orioles tix for himself and the Boy for Saturday afternoon. They had a great time too, so it all worked out. I spent Saturday reading Tarot cards, signing books, and generally having a con-tastic time.

I also did very well at this con, sales-wise, which was a bonus! My new book, The Sword of Danu (buy it on Amazon or B&N or from the publisher today!), launched on Sunday night as part of an 8-book blowout of a party. I have pictures, but they're all on my phone. The Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading was also awesome (even though I had to leave early...)

Overall, I give Balticon two BIG thumbs-up. I hope to be invited again next year!

28 May 2012

A Military Fan

I am a total fangirl.

While I am gaa-gaa over my favorite authors and movie stars, I am more awestruck and in heartfelt love with our men and women in the military.

I don't have any family members in the active service at this moment but my dad was in the U.S. Marine Corps. and several of the men in my family have been in the military. This completely and totally amazes me.

I have two young sons and can't imagine I'd be a strong enough to watch them join up. Of course I would stand by their decision, if it came to that. Of course I would be proud. But it would be hard and I don't even want to think about it.

But others have. They've thought about it, realized the importance of protecting our wonderful nation and fought for our freedoms. Many have not come home.

"Thank you" is not big enough for anyone who has given the ultimate sacrifice for me and my family. It never will be. Bless the wives and mothers, fathers and sons who have made the sacrifice as well. Bless the ones who loved you and had to let you go.

I wish I could hug every person in active duty. I'd also hug each and every parent, child and loved one who might not be in the field, but who is also in the military today. You are loved.

A grateful fangirl,
Kimberley Troutte


27 May 2012

Of Covers and Other Love Affairs

I remember when I was a kid and would browse the shelves at the bookstore. The first things to catch my eye were the covers of the books I wanted to read. Some were amazing works of art (Michael Whalen, Jody A. Lee, and Alan Lee to name a few); while others were clearly done by more novice artists but still depicting worlds into which I wanted to wander.

And wander I did. I read widely, not just in science fiction and fantasy, but mystery and “regular fiction.” I loved cover art because I did not express myself visually, but with words, and the cover artists got to do what I did but with images. I experimented with painting, but not until adulthood did I learn that artists use photographs, models, and all sorts of props to design their images. I had believed that they simply saw something in their heads and put that on the canvas; and that, when I tried it, my results were less than desirable.

Now I am in a different position relative to covers. With two books out, I have gotten to see the cover art process from the inside. Before that, I developed my personal blog (my first one) and got to experiment with cover art of my own. While I’ve learned a lot since then, it’s more a matter of learning all the stuff I still want to learn – from Photoshop to manipulating stock photo images, color theory to typography, and whether to use hand-drawn images translated to a computer or native images conceived and drawn within the digital world.

The process of getting our covers has varied depending which house and, from the other authors I talk to, is similar to their experiences. Each house has its own approach to art just like it has its own approach to story. The common elements are some kind of “cover art form” wherein the author explains what they would like on the cover and the “image” they are going for in the book; a synopsis of the book so the artist can get an idea of what the story includes – and doesn’t include; and selections of example images. In my experience, those example images aren’t always included in the final product, but it did give Rachel and I some measure of “control” in the process and was, frankly, a lot of fun to do.

Our new cover is for our latest novel, Emerald Fire, coming from Torquere Press next week. We got the cover and are very excited. We were asked to go out to specific stock photo sites (sites that have photos and artwork available for purchase) and select ones that appealed to us. Since Emerald Fire is set on a desert world, we knew we wanted that to feature on the cover; they went with the image we found. The cover artists then created the cover from our suggestions, including two figures walking through the sand dunes and selecting fonts that reflected visually the elements of the title.

We are excited that Emerald Fire is coming out and are very grateful to the team at Torquere Press, not only the cover artists and art department but the editorial staff and our fantastic editor, Liz Brooks. We hope you enjoy the book as much as we did writing it and seeing it through the production process! Available May 30th from Torquere Books.

23 May 2012

My Biggest Fan

I missed my regular blog post on the 12th, not because I forgot about it. I was still muddling around with how I wanted to approach this month’s theme, “Flights of Fancy – Celebrating the Fans.”

I can’t tell you how many times, when I was on the brink of giving up, I’d get that one email, that one review, or that one sale that would remind me that somehow, somewhere, my story had touched someone.

I will never forget the time my Mom told me she had just finished reading “Beaudry’s Ghost” to my father, who at that time had been nearly homebound with various illnesses for several years. If not for Mom’s care, he would never have gotten out. If that’s not a love story, I don’t know what is. But I digress. :)

At first I was horrified that my parents had read the infamous “Chapter Ten.” Out loud. Gack! I shouldn’t have worried. Throughout my life they’ve been scrupulous about attending every concert, recital, play, musical or whatever event my sister and I performed in. Of course they were thrilled to see their daughter’s…er…pen name on a real published book!

I went on to write three more published titles, each one spicier than the one before. One time I confided in Dad that I had stories to tell that would be shocking for most of my family to read, and I was afraid to write them. He laughed and said “I was in the Navy. I’m pretty sure nothing you could write would shock me.” He went on to tell me how proud he was of my accomplishments, and he never failed to repeat those words during every phone call or visit. Up until the day he died, when he told me again – and told me not to cry.

Not long after his death, three years ago today, I was looking through his office shelves and found a CD labeled in his shaky handwriting: “My Song Birds.” It was a CD my sister and I had recorded for my parents’ 50th anniversary. It struck me then, hard, that once you’ve lost your parents, you’ve lost a unique kind of love you’ll never have again in this lifetime.

That same summer, my husband bought his brother’s old Harley Davidson, and we had begun riding frequently. Before I was born, my Dad sold his Harley for money to support his growing family. He never regretted it, or never said he did. I’d always thought Mom nudged him into selling it but recently she disabused me of that notion. She told me he took her for a ride before he gave it to the new owner, and she said she had loved it.

It was then I made a decision I’d been on the fence about – to learn to ride on my own. I got a little bit of static from family. After all, with two hip replacements, did I have any business riding, even as a passenger?


Tomorrow at 5 p.m., I will be on two wheels. The wind will dry my tears. And my Dad will be my wings.



22 May 2012

This year’s Balticon will nothing if not exciting. I’m scheduled for fifteen (fifteen!) panels. Gulp.

Friday 4:00 pm (Salon B)
Symbology of Animals in Folk and Fairy Tales (Readers Track)
Are certain animals used to symbolize certain character types. How? Why? In a modern fairy tale, what animals would you use and in what way? (M): Trisha J. Wooldridge, (S): Jean Marie Ward, Ray Ridenour, D.H. Aire, Phil Giunta

Friday 5:00 pm (Salon D)
Worst. Panel. Ever. (Fan Track)
Panelists trade stories about their worst ever panel experiences. (M): Jean Marie Ward, (S): Wayne Arthur Hall, Perrianne Lurie, Stephanie M. Burke

Friday, 10:00 pm (Parlor 1041) T
he Role of Anthologies, Roundtable Discussion (Readers Track)
As both a source of fiction and a means of promotion, what do anthologies have to offer? Fan and author panelists discuss. (M) Danielle Ackley-McPhail, (S): Michael A. Ventrella, Joshua Bilmes, C.J .Henderson, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Bernie Mojzes, Pete Prellwitz, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, 12:00 noon (Parlor 1041)
Magical Systems in Fantasy Literature (Readers Track)
A Roundtable Discussion. Panelists look at what are some of the things we expect to see in magical systems and give examples of works that are missing those factors, but work just fine for the reader anyway. (M): Gail Z. Martin, (S): Hildy Silverman, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Myke Cole, Jody Lynn Nye (Guest of Honor, David Wood, Barba¬Friend Ish, Elektra Hammond, Bill Fawcett, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, 1:00 pm (Salon B) The Effects of War on SF & F (Readers Track)
How has our war torn era shaped fantasy and SF? (M): Myke Cole, (S): Charles Edward Gannon, Bill Fawcett, Jon Sprunk, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, 2:00 pm, (Maryland Foyer)
Autographing: Jaclyn Dolamore, Christine Norris and Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, 7:00 pm (Parlor 1041) Modern Fae Book Launch (Readers Track)
Come join editor Joshua Palmatier and contributing author Jean Marie Ward as they celebrate the release of the anthology The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity from DAW Books, containing tales of the fae and how they have adapted to fit into modern society. From leprechauns on Wall Street to Selkies at Sea World, see how the fae have learned to live with the infestation that is humanity. Drinks and snacks available, along with books for purchase and Autographing at the event. (M) Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, 12:00 midnight to Sunday 1:00 AM (Pimlico) The Wild Hunt and the Payment To Hell (Readers Track)
Fairies Are NOT Nice! Panelists discuss the ugly side of the beautiful Fae. (M): James Daniel Ross, (S): Elaine Corvidae, Jagi Lamplighter, Stephanie M. Burke, Jean Marie Ward

Sunday, 1:00 pm, (1 hr, 20 mins) (Salon B)
Broad Universe Reading (Readers Track)
Rapid Fire readings from some amazing women/authors. (M): Jean Marie Ward, (S): Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Emilie, P. Bush, Elaine Corvidae, Roxanne Bland, Jody Lynn Nye (Guest of Honor)

Sunday, 7:00 pm (Belmont Room)
History as a Source of Fantasy (Readers Track)
Panelists discuss the use of history to develop fantasy and which sources are good ones. (M): Jagi Lamplighter, (S) Walter H. Hunt, Bill Fawcett, Pete Prellwitz, Jean Marie Ward

Sunday, 8:00 pm (Parlor 3041)
Which Comes First: Main Character or Supporting Cast? (Readers Track) Do you start with a main character and build the rest around them? Or do you start with a cast of characters and wait for the most compelling to ""become" the main character? What do you do when you start with a main character in mind and another character steals the show? (M): David Wood, (S): Jean Marie Ward, Barbara Friend Ish, James Maxey, Elaine Corvidae, David Sherman, Pete Prellwitz

Sunday, 9:00 pm (Parlor 3041)
'Fessing Up to the Adult Themes in YA Literature (Teen Track)
Young adult literature is growing up, tackling such hard issues as good and evil, abuse, abandonment, grief and loss. And then there's sex. Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed or is no subject taboo for today's teens? A roundtable of teens and YA authors discuss these topics and takes questions and comments from the audience. (M): Jean Marie Ward, (S): Sarah Taylor, Janine K. Spendlove, Michael Andrew D'Ambrosio, Daniel Hack, Sarah Sexton, Christine Norris

Sunday, 10:00 pm (Parlor 3041)
Films, Books and TV Shows That Everyone Likes, But I Don't (Film, TV, Film-making Track)
Panelists bash the things we hold dear. (M): Joshua Bilmes, (S) Daniel M. Kimmel, Ian Randal Strock, Trish Wilson (Elizabeth Black), Jean Marie Ward

Monday, 11:00 am, (Salon C)
Old Fandoms and Favorite Cancelled Shows (Fan Track)
Star Trek, Farscape, Lexx, Firefly: What keeps their fans hanging on? What are some other series that still have strong fan follow¬ings? (M): Billy Flynn, (S): Zan Rosin, Yoji Kondo/Eric Kotani, Hildy Silverman, Jean Marie Ward, Lisa Adler-Golden

Monday, 12:00 noon (Salon D)
The Discreet Charm of the Historical Fantasy (Readers Track)
What prompts otherwise sane writers to spend years research¬ing the Imperial Japan, the Silk Road, or the Ripper's London? How do they know when they've gotten it right? (M): Christine Norris, (S): Diane Weinstein, Patrick Scaffido, Bill Fawcett, D.H. Aire, Jean Marie Ward

Looking forward to seeing you there!

18 May 2012


I hate to say it, but I am guilty of having huge 'fan-girl' moments. Those are the times when our excitement/appreciation gets the better of us and we wind up squealing out loud.

Yes, it's not very dignified. But it happens. Not frequently... well, then again, these past couple of weeks have been 'season finale' weeks of some of my favorite television shows. So the 'squee' moments have been a bit more deafening.

Who or what makes me squeal like a little girl? The recent -- and not so recent -- top five, in random order, includes:

1. Mr. Gold and Belle in the season finale of Once Upon a Time. So sweet!

2. Season finale of Castle... smooch attack! ;)

3. Trailer for The Raven: I am a huge Poe fan. Have I seen it yet? No, unfortunately. I'm waiting for the DVD just in case the 'graphic violence' is too graphic. Yes. I can be a wimp. Dark. Spooky. Scare the heck out of me -- YES! Copious amounts of fake blood and gore? Um, not so much.

4. Any good review I've ever received for a book. There is very little that makes me feel more validated than reading how much someone loved my writing. :)

5. Each of the 'acceptance' letters I've received for those books bought by my publisher. :) Those are always a great feeling.

Oh, there are other times I could mention: like when Troy Polamalu intercepts a pass and runs for it; when I get to see Daughtry live in concert; when my family gives me the best present ever; when something good happens for or to someone I care about. ;) But I'm sure you don't want to know them all.

Ahhh... Grimm is ending up later tonight. I'm betting I'll squee a bit then. Or maybe elicit a scream in frustration? Either way, it's all about being a fan-girl. Some squeals are happy, some not-so-much, but at least you know I'm really in the game.

~~Meg Allison Indulge your senses... http://www.megallisonauthor.com

17 May 2012

Why Join a Fan Club?

This month at BTV, we've been discussing fans, fandom and fanning. Well, nobody has talked about fanning, unless you count the fanning one might need to do after seeing the book cover of Bianca D'Arc's new release: http://paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/2012/05/brotherhood-of-blood-wolf-hills.html. Other fanny (heehee!) posts include

http://paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/2012/05/what-im-fan-of.html -- Amy Ruttan, with a list of 10 things she is a fan of.

http://paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/2012/05/im-fan-of-fans.html -- Sela Carsen, writing about what it's like as an author to be fans of other authors.

http://paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/2012/05/celebration-of-fans.html -- A Catherine Noon, writing about all types of fans, from Chicago fans to Star Trek fans.

http://paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/2012/05/celebrating-fan-in-all-of-us.html -- Jean Marie Ward, writing about fanfiction before the days of 50 Shades of Twilight, I mean, Grey.

I myself have experienced fandom from both sides. While I never wrote fanfiction, aside from one Supernatural spoof I wrote for a friend, I read quite a bit of fanfiction of a show I wanted to love but which was failing to live up to its potential. What drove me to read the fanfiction was my disappointment in the show, though, and I gather that what drives a majority of folks to read fanfiction or write it themselves is their love for a show or book series. I did grow out of my disgruntledness (is that even a word??) and even managed to make myself a few great friends to show for my time in the fanfic trenches, which is one of the things Jean Marie discussed in her blog (linked above).

From the other direction, one of my creative endeavors used to have tons of fans worldwide because I shared something with the world of which I am a huge fan. No, not my publishing career -- I only wish I had tons of fans worldwide! -- but my cat's website, www.meankitty.com. Back in the nascent days of the internet, before LOLCats (DAMN THEM!), Meankitty.com got thousands of hits a day. She got lots of fan mail and plenty of submissions of new cats for her gallery. She also got hate mail, but it was more of a hoot than most of the fan mail. The things people feel compelled to yell at you about because you happen to maintain a funny website about cats is pretty incredible. And, as with my fanfic reading, I met several folks through Meankitty with whom I've stayed in touch.

I don't know what fans did in the days before the internet -- write lots of letters to Shawn Cassidy on pink notebook paper, I guess, and Jean Marie also talked about the old-style fanclub newsletters -- but I do think the internet has definitely facilitated fan culture. Folks from all over can meet groups of "their people", no matter where everyone lives. There's something for everyone.

And why join a fan club? Sometimes it's that group, that culture, that lures in and pleases the fans as much as the original show, series or activity (like knitting!). I've heard such amazing things about DragonCon, for example, and other large conventions geared toward fans, and it makes me want to go, just to immerse myself in people who...who love cool stuff! Even though I'm not a particular fan of their obsessions, I think I'd really enjoy it.

Well, except for the fact I don't like large crowds. Or being too hot. Definitely not a fan of large crowds and being too hot.

So what fan clubs are you in? What punches YOUR fandom buttons? Love of a show...or disappointment in it? Love of a fandom...or an actor or actress? Love of yarn? Love of cats who can't spell? Whatever it is that you love, there's probably a fan club and a fandom out there for it. And if you want to join the "Jody Wallace, Author" fanclub, first you'll need to be the president, and then you'll need to find some other members (PS Don't even bother asking my MOM, she hates my books), and then I'll help you guys come up with a secret handshake. Just let me know!

Jody Wallace
When is an alpha not an alph-ass?
Pack and Coven: http://www.jodywallace.com

14 May 2012

Brotherhood of Blood: Wolf Hills

For some odd reason, blogger has been acting weird about certain posts on this blog. One of them happens to be my blog from last month talking about my newest book - Brotherhood of Blood: Wolf Hills. So here's a bit about it, in case you missed it...

RT Book Reviews Magazine gave Wolf Hills a coveted TOP PICK and called it "A truly fantastic read! With a page-turning plot, dynamic characters and plenty of heat, readers will devour every last delicious page."

Sally Decker is a big city police detective vacationing in Wyoming to visit an old friend who is newlywed to a mysterious foreigner. When Sally arrives in Wyoming, she quickly learns that her friend's new husband is the Master Vampire of the region and there's a werewolf Pack living just up the road.

Jason Moore is an Alpha on a mission. When he sees Sally for the first time, he knows there's something special about her. He's drawn to her and makes it his business to be her tour guide. He invites her to take her meals at the Pack house, in his company, not realizing his favoritism is going to wreak havoc among the single females in his Pack. But Sally can handle just about anything, including any werewolf bitch stupid enough to challenge her.

When werewolf children are targeted by evil hunters in the area, Sally refuses to sit on the sidelines. She helps the Alpha hunt the perps and free a child they've kidnapped, facing bombs, bullets and a lusty Alpha along the way. Unexpected allies and devastating attraction turn the rescue mission into a mating dance between Jason and Sally, who learns she's not entirely human. His magic sparks against hers, creating something entirely new and totally hot between the two. Will fate help them bridge the chasm between their separate worlds?

Buy now from Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Samhain - and other ebook retailers. Enjoy!

13 May 2012

What I'm a fan of

I thought I'd share TEN things I'm a fan of. I'm having to limit it though to things to with Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal and that ilk, because this would be a CRAZY long post if I didn't.

1.  Dr. Who. I've been a fan for ...as long as I can remember. My Dad watched it when I was kid (In the Tom Baker days) and so I grew up with it. Not that I'm complaining. I loved Christopher Eccelson as the Doctor and I LOVED Rose ...she's my favourite companion and this is one of my favourite pics. This is right before the Doctor turned it into David Tennant's version ...which I also adore.

2. Princess Bride. I swear there isn't a theme of kissing. I just happened to have two in a row. I love this movie. I was about eight or so when it came out and I could recite phrases from it for so long, still can. And seriously who didn't have a crush on Westley?

3. Torchwood. I do actually have a picture of Captain Jack kissing Ianto, but I thought I would mix it up a bit.

4. Star Wars. No, I'm not a romance writer. Not in the least. ;-) I know they're not in their Star Wars costumes, but I love this picture. LOL I loved Star Wars. LOVED IT. Now I'm SO stoked my 6 year old boy is totally into it. He lives and breathes Star Wars and my home is full of Fighter Pods with tiny little Lukes, Darths, Chewies all over the place. Though Yoda is currently MIA.

5. The X-Men. I like the Avengers too, but the X-Men in particular Rogue and Gambit were my favourites. Okay, I seriously have some kind of kissing fetish don't I?

6. Labrynith. Yay for Goblins who like David Bowie in the 80's. WOOT! As a kid I seriously wished Goblins would've stolen my little brother, but it didn't happen.

7. Harry Potter series, in particular Sirius Black. He was one of my favourite characters and the casting of Gary Oldman was right on the button and is who I pictured when I read The Prisoner of Azkaban. I was also spot on with guessing they'd cast Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. Brilliant casting all around actually.

8. Twilight. Yeah, sorry ...uh actually, no I'm not. I love the series and this is about MY fan favourites.

9. Lord of the Rings. Thought I'd show Faramir, more of a hero than Boromir whom their father preferred because he let Frodo go. He's another one of my favourite characters, though I truly do love them all in their own way.

10. Who you gonna call? I remember seeing the first one as a kid at the Drive-In Theatre. Back then we didn't have child safety seats or even really a back seat in the back of my Mom's GMC van. She opened the back doors, hooked the radio on the window and we sat in the back on a mattress with blankets and pillows. She drove us home like that when we fell asleep, only by then she closed the doors. We slept all night in the van in the driveway. It was awesome.

And I'll leave you with a funny! Have a great rest of the weekend and thanks for sharing in some of MY personal faves. :)

11 May 2012

I'm a fan of fans!

In a career like this one, it's almost difficult to admit it but...I'm a terrible fangirl.

As in, I'm bad at it. I remember the only time I actually ever got nervous talking to another author because I was a fan. It was Angela Knight and the reason I'm such a big fan is because she's had the career that I aspire to having. She went from e-published novellas to a single-title NY series and still manages to do it all. I went to a workshop she gave at an RWA conference and afterwards, I went up to talk to her, hands sweaty, heart pounding. I felt like a 10 year old girl backstage at a Hannah Montana concert. I'm pretty sure I managed to have a reasonable conversation with her, but it's kind of a blur now.

But honestly, that's the only time I've ever been stricken by a case of fandom. The rest of the time it's been a realization that no matter how many books or bestsellers a person has behind them, they have to sit down every day and crank out the words, just like every other writer. Just like me.

It's an experience that's both humbling and leveling. If I ever had the notion to outgrow my ego's britches, it only takes looking around at other aspiring writers and realizing that I have been there and done that - and they can do it, too.

I'm preparing to go to a reader/writer get together at the end of the month and I don't know what I'll encounter. My name is quite small compared to many of the other attendees and I'm certain that I won't be on anyone's Top 10 List, but in the event that I ever meet anyone who's read my books and enjoyed them, I'll probably be as nervous as I was meeting my own writing heroine. Gosh, I hope my hands aren't sweaty!

10 May 2012

A Celebration of Fans

Here in Chicago, we know fans. We are fans. We are one of the few, the proud, the metropoles (trust me, I looked it up and that’s the plural of metropolis) that still have an intracity baseball rivalry. And, speaking as a Cubs fan, we all know which team is the best one to root for. And we are nothing if not stubborn, we Chicagoans.

But I digress. Many folks, when they hear the word “fan” in relation to books or media, think of the ubiquitous Trekkie. Whether or not you agree with their obsession, let’s pause for a moment and simply admire their steadfastness. I found a picture of the cover of a fanzine from October, 1977! For those of you paying attention, that’s eight and a half YEARS after it went off the air! (Star Trek aired on NBC September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969.)

I, for one, would love to have that kind of traction for the creative material I create. If it weren’t for the fans, we wouldn’t have such shows because no one would watch them. I’ve been a fan of many things over the years and know the lengths to which I would go to follow my passion, and I’m not nearly as passionate as some fans I know. I recall reading an article in a writing magazine about a knitting designer who wrote a book. Over 300 fans showed up at her book signing because they’re bonzo for knitting! The publisher was ecstatic, the bookstore was ecstatic, and everyone was confused – who knew knitting was such a hot topic? Knitters. Fans. Duh.

Some fans, of course, go a little too far.

Or what about this poor pup?

On the other hand, if it’s consensual, is it really “bad”? This is a long and contentious debate, but I will say that if the dog doesn’t bite you, then you’re probably okay.

So if you’re a fan, be proud. You have a long lineage to be proud of. From sports to politics to entertainers and more, there have always been folks gaga over their passions. Let’s hope there’s always fans, because without them, we wouldn’t be able to tell all the cool stories we want to.



The Internet Movie Database, “Star Trek,” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060028/

05 May 2012

Celebrating the Fan in All of Us

This month Beyond the Veil celebrates fans--in other words, all of us.

Readers are fans, especially when they wait for an author's new release with the kind of anticipation usually ascribed to a seven-year-old in the days before Christmas.  They write passionate letters to their idols, which can be both positive and negative, as when a devoted fan of the In Death futuristic mysteries Nora Roberts writes as J.D. Robb advised La Nora that she'd given a recurring character two different back stories.  Oops!

But the fan was right, and Nora inserted a scene in her next In Death book to resolve the conflict.  I suspect Nora responded so well, because she, too, is a fan.  After all, her "origin myth" has her starting to write in a snow storm, largely because she'd run out of romances to read.  And though she usually--usually--denies the resemblance, anyone who can't see the similarities between In Death's hero, Roarke, and the young Pierce Brosnan isn't paying attention.  Ditto the "coincidence" of series heroine Eve Dallas's love of long leather coats and diamonds, and the sartorial preferences of a certain brown-haired Maryland writer.

I've been hanging with and interviewing writers for years, and without exception, every single one I've interviewed can point to the single work that made them want to be a writer.  Notice, I said "work".  It isn't always a novel or short story.  The list of writers who wrote their first stories in an effort to continue Star Trek, the Original Series, or The Man From Uncle is too long and (sometimes) too embarrassed to mention. 

I grew up determined to become a reporter because my childhood heroes were Lois Lane and Brenda Starr.  The first short story I completed after high school was a fan fiction to obtain entry into the Highlander, the Series, fan group known as the Methos Harem.  Believe it or not, bestselling fantasy writer Rachel Caine was a member, too, under her fan girl pseudonym Julie Fortune. 

This was years before the Twilight fan fiction 50 Shades of Gray got a zillion-dollar advance from a Big Six New York publisher and a legal opinion that it was separate work from Stephanie Meyers' Twilight, despite the similarities of plot and expression.  (I still want to meet the lawyer who pulled that off.)  Fan fiction writers were told what we did was derivative and a danger to the originators' copyright.  We flew under the radar, handing off photocopied compilations of our stories at franchise conventions.  And never, ever, did we dare accept money for what we were doing.

Which isn't to say we didn't benefit.  Just being inspired enough to write and finish a story was a big deal to me back then.  The Methos Harem gave me my first taste of fan praise and criticism, both key to the growth of any writer.  In addition to many dear friends, I met my late writing partner Teri Smith in the group, and we embarked on what would become our first novel.  I also learned how volatile on-line groups can be, a key step in learning how to use the Internet.

The novel Teri and I wrote started life as a fan fiction.  When we split from the Harem, we decided to rewrite it into something totally original.  But the core themes remained: how fans can become friends, how fannish interests can lead to deeper connections, and how the connections forged in fandom can become life lines in the real world.

They did for me.  The novel/love letter to fandom Teri and I wrote together was With Nine You Get Vanyr.  She died suddenly two weeks before its initial release.  It was like losing a sister, and it took the sisterhood of fellow fans to get me through.

I'm a fan and proud of it.  What about you?

~Jean Marie Ward


02 May 2012

New book! The Sword of Danu

I am the worst blogger, I know.  I think I've missed my day for the last two months. Honestly, I was living in Research Project Proposal Hell, and my brain was just bogged down with APA format and hunting down every. last. editing. mistake. My professor is worse than any copyeditor I've ever worked with, lemme tell ya.

But, now that's over. And I have a new book coming out! I am pretty excited about this book for several reasons. First, it's really fun, and some of my best work, I think. Second, it's Celtic mythology. No, actual Celtic mythology, not made-up fantasy elves and fairies. There's magic and artifacts, Tuath de Danaan, a dragon, and a smith god who looks a lot like John Barrowman.

Third, I am launching (if all goes to plan) the book at Balticon. My friend Danielle and I are doing a co-launch party, since her book is also Celtic mythology based. If you are coming to the con, please find me. I will also be reading from the book at the Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading. Where I will also get to hang out with BTV girl Jean Marie Ward and all kinds of other people I haven't seen in far too long.

I will be posting teasers and stuff on my own blog the closer we get to launch, but today you get the cover!

It is probably my favorite cover of mine so far. I mean, I love the Crown of Zeus cover and all the others, but this one is, as a friend said, kick-ass. And it reflects the book. The graphic artist does tattoos by day, and I think those people are so very talented. Oh, okay, I'll give you the cover copy too:

Megan has embraced her role as the Librarian, protector of the Library of Athena. She’s spent her entire summer teaching herself magic (although it doesn’t always work out the way she wants) and studying the Library’s secrets. The Order of Ares, an organization bent on stealing all of the Library’s artifacts, are always at the back of her mind, though they’ve been quiet for awhile.
Then she is forced into yet another enchanted story. Or rather, the story comes to her, somehow ripped from the pages of the book and brought to life. She and her friends must fight their way through an imaginary Ireland, where danger lies around every turn, and find the mythical Sword of Danu.

It’s a race against time—because the magic is spreading. The manor is being overrun, and Megan, Rachel, Claire and Harriet must fight through what was supposed to be an imaginary world to find the sword and return things to normal.

Have a great week!