31 August 2010

Jean Marie's Dragon*Con Schedule of Dooooom

Diana Gabaldon! Peter David! Elizabeth Moon! Jeanne C. Stein! Jody Lynn Nye! Eric Flint! Not only are they all at Dragon*Con, they’re all on panels with moi. Not to mention all the other fabulous people on my twelve panels. Yes, twelve. Now you know where the Dooooom comes from.

FRIDAY 1 p.m.
Collaborations: Are Two Heads Better Than One?
See title. Is a good collaboration as good or better than a solo author's work? Why or why not?
Eric Flint, C. Robin (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Greenbriar (SF/Fantasy Literature Track)

FRIDAY 2:30 p.m.
To Tell the Truth
For the non-fiction writer. Blogs, articles and books about the speculative fiction markets, including books, short stories, movies and television.
Dr. Bob Blackwood, John Flynn, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Anya Martin, Jennifer Ouellette, Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Manila/Singapore/Hong Kong (Writer’s Track)

FRIDAY 4 p.m.
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readings: Time Travel
The women of Broad Universe take you on a time-traveling trip-tic of storytelling featuring visions of the past, present and future.
Kathryn Hinds, Racheline Maltese, Gail Z. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward
Location: Westin – International C - Westin (Alternate History Track)

FRIDAY 7 p.m.
True Blood – From Page to Screen
Like the changes to Sookie's world? Hate them? Come by and share your thoughts!
J.F. Lewis, Carol Malcolm (Moderator), Jeanne C. Stein, Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Montreal/Vancouver (Dark Fantasy Track)

FRIDAY 10 p.m.
Sexy Science Fiction
What makes a book sexy? Naked women and actual sex scenes? Or are there other literary pheromones at work?
Diana Gabaldon, Gail Z. Martin, G. Mitchell (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward, Diane Whiteside
Location: Hyatt – Fairlie (SF/Fantasy Literature Track)

SATURDAY 10 a.m.
Turning Stellar Rejections into Sales
According to the rejection letter, your book just misses being bought. What can you do to turn a rejection into a sale?
Lynn Abbey, Peter David, Christopher Golden, Lee Martindale, Josepha Sherman, Anne Sowards, Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Manila/Singapore/Hong Kong (Writer’s Track)

SATURDAY 11:30 a.m.
Broad Universe Reading
Discover new writers, rediscover ones you know! Up-and-coming women writers read from their own works and others. (2 ½ hours)
Kathryn Hinds, Mary Robinette Kowal, Racheline Maltese, Gail Z. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward, Diane Whiteside, Trisha Wooldridge
Location: Hyatt – Greenbriar (SF/Fantasy Literature Track)

The Worlds of Tim Burton
A fan panel about the works of Tim Burton. What did you think of Alice in Wonderland? Do you ever think he'll ever make that Dark Shadows movie?
Leanna Renee Hieber, DJ Ichabod (Moderator), Mari Mancusi, Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Cairo (Dark Fantasy Track)

SATURDAY 8:30 p.m.
Gray Areas: Polymoral Characters
Sometimes bad people do good things and vice versa. Does this make the bad good or the good bad?
Larry Davis (Moderator), Van Plexico, Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Greenbriar (SF/Fantasy Literature Track)

SATURDAY 10 p.m.
Love Rots
Zombies in erotica and romance.
Elizabeth Donald, John Everson, Stacia Kane, Mari Mancusi, M. Miller (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward
Location: Hyatt – Montreal/Vancouver (Dark Fantasy Track)

MONDAY 11:30 am.
The New Amazons
Women kick bad guy butt in urban fantasy, young adult fiction, television and real life. How are they doing in epic fantasy?
Lynn Abbey, Gail Z. Martin, Elizabeth Moon, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)
Location: Hyatt – Greenbriar (SF/Fantasy Literature Track)

MONDAY 2:30 p.m.
Win, Lose or Draw – SF style
Use your drawing skills to win books and prizes in our version of the old game.
Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)
Location: Hyatt – Greenbriar (SF/Fantasy Literature Track)

Yeah, I’m going to be a gibbering ball of goo by the time it’s all over. But dang, what a way to go!

30 August 2010

Christmas in July

This particular experience also covers the end of June and the beginning of August but the title covers the month that made it all possible. You see, I spent the first week in July completely immersed in a holiday story titled Ghost of Christmas Past. It was longer than I anticipated, wrote quicker than I could have imagined, decidedly veered away from the original premise and was happily contracted the first week of August for publication this winter! I’m incredibly happy about that but this blog entry isn’t a promo, it’s about something more, confidence.

I stepped away from writing for a while after two projects that didn’t quite hit the mark and a cross-country move that threw the world sideways. Once I got settled I edited the two projects and added a third, but something was missing. My heart wasn’t in it because I couldn’t pin down what hadn’t worked the first time and I’d lost confidence in the process. Everything I did seemed to labor under a filter of shaken confidence and misconception over what I should do versus what I tried to do.

Instead of solving that problem I forged ahead, working on several different things but always distracted back to the mss waiting to be improved. February 2010 saw an editing spree that helped me fall in love with my world again and I went on to submit work I felt strongly about, but there was still a hesitation—one that reflected in the feedback.

A layoff and two health issues later and it’s late June. I’m worn thin and trying to catch up from illness to reach a deadline I have no hope of making when I’m given the first of three gifts. June’s gift is a revise and resubmit request that is so detailed it’s liken to mana from heaven. Finally I have a concrete grasp of where I need to go to make the story work and I’m eager to get to it.

The second gift comes July 5th in the form of an extension on the deadline for Ghost of Christmas Past the very day I’d given up on making it. Scraping all but the first 6K, I spend the next five days putting down 27K in a round the clock writing marathon that can only be described as “being in the zone”.

It was a completely insane week but one I wouldn’t trade for all the well planned leisurely writing in the world. With only one week to make up for two weeks of illness, there was no room for hesitation and very little sleep. The focus and the fatigue removed the filters I’d been writing under for too long. I got it done, I did it well and it got contracted, accomplishing in less than 30 days what I hadn’t been able to do in two years. Interestingly enough it was the exact same thing with the first novella published, I got it done, I did my best and it got contracted. So where’s the third gift in this?

When it came time to do the revision I was fresh from Ghost of Christmas Past and still in the zone. Then life did what life does and I had to wait to pick it back up the last week of July, a far cry from said zone yet the filters hadn’t fallen back in place. It was such a different experience that I turned to the wise minds at the Romance Divas forum more than once to see if I was off the mark with the revision. I let it unfold as it chose and when I was done I’d nearly doubled the length and taken the story someplace I’d originally dreamed of but couldn’t make fit the original wordcount I had in mind. A wordcount I’d unconsciously married the story too even after the anthology I’d conceived it for had come and gone.

The revision of one project and the validated insanity of the other combined to make a third gift, a reboot of sorts on my perspective. Every project I had sitting there along with the ones in queue to be finished or taken from first draft to submission level, all looked different. The filter of hesitation and reservation and the preconception of story length and structure had broken open and everything shone clear again. The excitement and curiosity and all the things that make writing not only fun but essential to who I am have returned—or maybe I’m the one that went away and has finally come back. Either way it’s good to be here and no matter what else I might get in December, thanks to my CP’s timely suggestion, an editor’s gracious input and my own unbalanced determination, I definitely had my Christmas in July.

Gifts of Writing Ramble ~ Done


25 August 2010

Character Building

Another re-run post, copied from my YA group blog. But this came out so nice, I thought it could stand repeating. Besides, none of you read both blogs - do you?

Years and years ago (no, don't ask), I spent two weeks each summer at a camp quite literally on the Mason Dixon line - it ran through a cornfield at the back of the camp; you could run from Pennsylvania to Maryland in about ten seconds. Like all camps, it had rules. Breaking the rules got you time "Character Building". Which usually meant scrubbing out pots in the kitchen or hauling big stones around in wheelbarrows. It was, in short, punishment meant to make you think about what it was you had done and how not to get caught the next time why you shouldn't do it again.

For the record, I never spent any time Character Building.

But I do now, when I come up with characters I write about. Some writers say that their characters just appear, fully formed, into their heads, like some weird cabbage-patch mythical offspring. Physically I guess that's true for me, that I can see what a character looks like sometimes right away. Otherwise I need to build my characters, put them together like Frankenstein in his lab (insert mad scientist laughter here). Okay, maybe not.

What does that mean? Well, when I do school visits, I explain it this way: If you were going to write a story about your best friend, you'd already know everything about them - what their parents are like, if they have any brothers and sisters (and how they get along), their favorite color, their favorite ice cream flavor, the fact that they are allergic to peanut butter, that their greatest ambition is to farm alpacas when they grow up. You'd remember that the scar on their chin is from when they fell out of your tree fort in second grade. You would know it all without having to work at it, and writing a story about your best friend would be easy.

I do the same thing. I get to know a character, make up all that stuff from nothing. I have a handy character worksheet that I use, that I got from another writer somewhere along the way, a fill-in-the blanks kind. It's dead useful. Some of the items I might never ever use in the story, but knowing them makes it easier to write the character in whatever situation I put them in, because I understand them, I've spent time with them, as it were, and learned all about them. If we went out to lunch, I know what we'd talk about.

Take for example, a character's bedroom. The story I write might never show the character's bedroom, but knowing what their bedroom looks like can be very useful, because a person's most personal space says something about them - whether they are messy or neat, for example. What color are the walls and why? Is the bed made or not? I might know what kinds of music they like (from the posters on the walls), do they have a desk and what is on it? What kinds of books are on their shelves- romances or horror novels (or reference books)?

This does NOT mean, however, that there are no surprises. Like best friends, characters (and everyone) have secrets, and you might discover something new about a character that you just hadn't considered. This recently happened to me- I was just sitting there, thinking about the book I'm working on, and something popped into my head about a secondary character, something important. I knew at once it was right and perfect, wondered why I hadn't realized it before. But I don't know if it will ever make it into the book. Or the next one. But I know, and that's enough.

I never used to do the character worksheets, used to learn about my characters as we went along. But for my last WIP (out on submission to agents and editors) I did write them, at least for the two main characters, and I found that I loved it. It made certain aspects of story writing so much easier, the story so much richer and deeper. I wondered why I'd never done it before. It's like cool, secret dossier like they have in spy stories, and you feel like some super secret spy, knowing everything about people you made up in your head! (okay, that sounds weird...)

Worksheets are much easier than hauling stones in a wheelbarrow or scrubbing pots. Given the choice, I'll take my version of character building over the summer camp version any day. Happy Writing!

24 August 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion: New Short Story Sale

"Personal Demons", a tale about demonic possession and tantric sorcery in Alexandria, Virginia, has been accepted and contracted for Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff. (Insert demented happy dances here. :D) I've loved this story for ages, but people told me it would never sell because my protagonist happened to be a lesbian. Just goes to show the story (and its magically gifted heroine) knew better than anybody. They were waiting for the right home, and what a lovely home it will be. Like Samhain, Drollerie Press has a rep for fantastic covers and amazing content. I can't wait to read the other stories in the anthology. Fortunately, the wait won't be too long. The editors and Drollerie Press hope to issue the ebook in time for Halloween. This year! Color me thrilled.

23 August 2010

Celebrate With Me. It's My Birthday!

I brought cake.

No, I will not reveal my age, but let's just say that I am far, far, far away from middle-aged. Of course, that midpoint moves further out every year, but we don't need to talk about that. (Hey, Cheryel, we're almost twins!)

When I was a kid, I didn't want to be a novelist.

No, I wanted to be the Bionic Woman. Or a Charlie's Angel. Or an angel with bionic powers.

As I got older, I wanted to be a singer like Olivia Newton John. Or maybe Anne Murray. Or my own twist of Olivia Newton Murray.

Around this time, I was looking to the movies. Wouldn't it be cool to be Princess Leia saving the universe with her choice of hunks--Luke or Hans? Oooh, or maybe a combo-dude like a Hans Skywalker.

A little while later, I enjoyed the stage--from drama to political office. Maybe I'd be a Diva President. Or the President of the Divas.

And now, let's call it a few years later, I am a novelist. I make up my own stories. I can be whomever I want to be, which, thinking on it, was what I was doing all along.

So here's to bionic angels with glorious voices, kick-butt attitudes, and hunky-hunks. I salute you with my icing-covered fork. Mmmm.

How about you? How do your childhood dreams compare with real life?

Kimberley Troutte

21 August 2010

The Book Electric

Dorchester, Medallion, Harlequin, everybody’s going ebook crazy. But there seems to be some real confusion about ebooks. I’m not an expert by any means, but I

do have a bit of experience in the realm of electronic publishing (short stories, novella, and novel).

I think the thing that bothers me the most is the equating of ebook to self-publishing, also known as “vanity publishing.” Every day there seems to be another place for

anybody to put his or her books up for sale. But just because anybody CAN publish a book SHOULD they?

Yes, I know rejection, tears at your very soul. I also know that everybody who has completed a book-length manuscript has beaten the odds. Each and every person

who has completed a fledgling book deserves high praise. But do they deserve to be published? Probably not. I know I thought my first book-length manuscript was

the most wonderful thing ever written, when in reality it was pretty horrible. It was five or six manuscripts later before I finally began to get the hang of this book-writing

gig, and I still have a lot to learn.

Let me take you through the usual process of getting yourself published. First, you work for years on a manuscript, working and reworking the thing until you’re sure it’s

the best thing in the world. You sent it out numerous times, only to have it bounce right back to you with little or no indication of why the editor doesn’t want your

masterpiece. Rinse and repeat. If you hang in there for as long as it takes, if you’re willing to read ad study and write until your fingers are blistered and you collapse

exhausted against your computer, you might just be lucky and manage to start getting letters from editors saying nice things about your work. Your aren’t quite good

enough for them to publish, of course, but you write well. Writers know this as “almost-there hell” and it can last for years.

It’s easy to see how a person could get discouraged, and in an attempt to stave off lunacy, the person turns to one of the soooo good sounding sites that promise

publication and huge percentage of the profits.

There are several problems with this solution to their little problem. First, a book needs a good editor. A really good one who knows more than just perfect grammar.

An editor’s job may not look that hard from the outside, but I have deep respect for these hard-working creatures who somehow manage to turn a decent manuscript

into a publishable work. The writer works hard on these revisions too, by the way, and has to be able to listen to criticism and advice.

If the potential author can managed to write a not-too-horrible book and even manages to get it edited so it isn’t too bad. Then what? How’s a person to sell these self-

published books? What kind of publicity is one person going to have? Maybe his or her family and friends will buy a few. And the author will get a big hunk of the

money for these five or ten or maybe thirty books. Then what? Just because a book is published doesn’t mean people are going to rush to choose it over the

thousands of other choices. Yeah, if it’s Steven King, sure. But Sally Kling? Not so much.

And then there’s the little problem of getting reviews and the list goes on and on.

As I said, there are three choices when it comes to getting published in electronic form. You can try the big, New York publishers, work through the rejections, and

hope you make a lot of money on the paperbacks, cause your electronic percentage won’t be great.

Or, you can try the smaller publishers, the ones who specialize in electronic books (like, say, Samhain). If you’re good enough, and it is getting more difficult to get

into this market every day, you’ll get an editor, the publicity a company that wants you to sell can give. And you’ll get a nice percentage of sales. As a bonus, most

also do print books.

Or you can self-publish, take your chances and hope for the best. Yeah, some self-published books do make it big, but those are lightning-striking-100-times-in-the-

same-place events. You’re better off buying a lottery ticket.

I hope this clarifies the issue a bit. I’m seriously irked over this self-pubbed equals epubbed toad droppings thing. Don't you believe it.

By the way, today’s my birthday. Any bad signing would be appreciated. What? Oh. I’m turning 29. Again. Hehe.

Have a great weekend!


18 August 2010

20 Years

Today I'm celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary. Yes, I was 11 when John and I married. Okay, kidding, but I was young. So young that I look at my 16 year old daughter and think no way am I ready for her to get married in 6 years. And neither is she :-)

I've been thinking a lot about marriages, what makes some work and others not. In fact, I asked my husband last night why he thought we've lasted this long (I have my own ideas, but I wanted his opinion). He said, and I'm quoting directly, "Because we're nice. But I'm nicer than you."

I think that's a big part of it--being nice to each other. But not all of it. I have witnessed very nice people who have divorced. I have divorced friends who told me they never had one fight with their spouse. Not one. So nice is, well, nice, but its not all that.

John and I laugh. A lot. I think thats very important, the ability to laugh at each other and with each other. A sense of humor diffuses a lot of stupid arguments. But I also think its important to argue. We have some intense arguments. We've had our trouble spots and I've noticed that when the trouble dissipates, our bond is stronger. Like we've been forged in fire. The tougher the times, the stronger our love emerges.

Are we tempered steel then, after 20 years? No. We're like those old swords and daggers you see in museums. Nicked, chipped, with the shine gone. But still strong.

What works for one, doesn't work for another and I think that's why my answer is so elusive.

And I think that's why romances are so popular. Why do these characters connect in such a way? What makes their relationship work? We like to read about others, even if they are fictional (shhh, don't tell those voices in my head they're fictional. They'll get angry).

Werewolf vs vampire, man vs woman, its all the same, it all comes back to the relationship. That special bond that we can see evolve through whatever torture and fire we find necessary to put these poor souls through.

My husband asks me all the time why I read romance when the ending always has to be happy? Because, I tell him, its not about the ending, its about the journey.

So thank you, John, for this wonderful, sometimes terrifying, sometimes hilarious, never perfect, but darn close, journey of 20 years.

Here's to another 20 and another 20 after that.

I love you.


14 August 2010

A Blast from the Past!

I wasn't always the cute funny guy that everyone knows and loves. This dark little piece I wrote when I was around twenty years old. Uhm, that was like three years ago... *Crosses fingers and hides hand behind back).

It was a dark and [Stromey delete] Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night.

Well, it would have been if the Hollywood moguls had pulled their fingers out and splashed out a few thousand on the effects. As it was it was a bright, hot and well worn summer day. The sort of day you find pasted on the front of a cheap romance magazine—along with half-naked men and bosomed heroines.

So what can I say? There I am, sitting at the office desk filling out some paperwork. "Maddison Murducks - Private Investigator" was glistening in freshly painted gold filigree on the door glass. I'd just come through from the little door in the back of the office which housed the john. I’d finally finished my last job for the day. Then this broad walks in.

"I've caught you at last Mr. Murduck."

She speaks in this classy uptown talk and I'm hanging on each word. Spellbound. Hey, you can’t blame me. Normally this kind of chick walks past me like I'm some kinda ghoul from the latest Stephen King novel. And if they did spot me it was normally to touch me with the live end of a 6,000 VOlt stunner, or to set their precious fifi--a five hundred pound Rottweiler--on me. I reckoned this must be one distressed lady if she was willing to stoop so low as to say “Hi”.

"Here's the money we agreed on the phone." She slaps the greens on the table before me. A quick glance revealed it was one thousand smackers. Five times what I’d normally make in a month. She was one hell of a distressed lady. "The other nine I'll give you when you've found my brother and he's back home."

Wow! I mean, there’s distressed and distressed. Now this is distressed.

"Hey maybe..." I start talking, thinking it's time to come clean with her. Tell her I couldn’t do the job she wanted me to do.

Guessing my motives for opening my chow hole she bursts into a real fine blubber of tears.

"You've got to help me, Mr. Murduck." Her sobs are heavy like she’d thrown her whole soul into them. "You're the only hope I've got of getting little Tommy back from Mr. Musher's group."

"Yeah well," I shuffle uncomfortably on the chair. Like ain't nobody who ain't heard of Musher the Crusher and most of them's that did wish they hadn't.

Taking that for a “yes” the broad's tears vanished in an ingratiating smile. And just to seal the pact and stop me speaking again she planted a big Elizabeth Arden sucker on me. Having her pucker up and come down like that effectively stunned me 'til she'd got out of the door.

I picked up the thousand bucks she’d left behind and began mulling over what she'd said.

She was some kinda gal, you gotta admit. I’d only met her for five minutes and already she'd got me making plans on how and where to look for her little Tommy.

I wonder if I should have told her I was Pepe Wulp, the plumber. And Murduck had called me in a few minutes ago so I could fix the john…

SJ Willing

13 August 2010

Cyberpunk Anthology Submissions

Call for Submissions: Samhain Publishing Cyberpunk romance anthology

Welcome to the future, a cyberpunk future—-post-industrial dystopias where society has broken down; a world of advanced science, cybernetic and tech. The cyberpunk world is a dark and gritty place, blurring the border between actual and virtual reality.

I'm very happy to announce an open call for submissions for a new, yet-to-be-titled summer 2011 cyberpunk romance anthology. Don't know what cyberpunk is? Think The Matrix and Bladerunner, or the popular role-playing/computer game/book series Shadowrun. For more information on cyberpunk, you can check out the entry on wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberpunk .

I'm open to M/F, M/M, F/F, or multiples thereof, any sexual heat level, and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.

The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in August 2011.

Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be considered either. Be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, be sure to use the naming convention Cyberpunk_Title_MS and Cyberpunk_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn't get missed in the many submissions we receive, and makes it easy for me to find in my ebook reader.

Submissions are open until February 1, 2011. No submissions will be accepted after this date—no exceptions. A final decision will be made by February 28, 2011. Send your submission to editor@samhainpublishing.com and include Cyberpunk Anthology in the subject line.

Questions and queries can be addressed to Sasha Knight (sasha@samhainpublishing.com) though do your due diligence and read this anthology call completely and check the Samhain Submission FAQ page before emailing. http://www.samhainpublishing.com/faq

Permission to forward or repost granted


Anybody got any good cyberpunk novella ideas they don't feel like writing??? I also posted 13 things about the cyberpunk subgenre at The Otherworld Diner today because I'm in cyberpunky research mode: http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2010/08/13-things-about-cyberpunk-subgenre.html

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

12 August 2010

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Great Reasons to Go to DragonCon 2010

DragonCon 2010 is three weeks and one day away. There are a thousand reasons to go—including the chance to see yours truly on eleven (count ‘em, eleven!) panels. But since it’s Thursday, I offer you thirteen:

1. The music—Voltaire’s “Zombie Prostitute” is so now.

2. World Records—Last year they went after Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. This year it’s Star Trek, Steampunk and superheroes. (http://worldrecords.dragoncon.org/)

3. Convenient transportation options—The Tardis can take you anywhere you want to go. But why would you want to leave?

4. Crossover Fanfic—Stormtrooper/Conan slash anyone? C’mon, you know you like to live dangerously.

5. Healthy eating choices—Snow White didn’t eat all the Queen’s apples, you know.

6. Celebrity mash-ups—Forget Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Try John Ringo and the Cruxshadows.

7. Futurama’s Bender in pink—My eyes! My eyes!

8. Steampunk fairies—‘Nuff said.

9. Really big guns—Just the thing to get that pesky boss to behave.

10. Parading minions—Monarch always brings a few…dozen in his never-ending quest to destroy Dr. Venture and company.

11. Unsparkly Vampires—Sometimes the old ways really are best.

12. There be pirates—And they know how to party!

13-Arc Attack—Gives a whole new meaning to the term “Electric Slide”.

Not to mention everything else—Wrestling! Ghost hunting! Belly dancing! Burlesque! Writing! Every conceivable form of gaming!—but my blogmates won’t give me a month of Thursdays. Click here for the full scoop. But if you just want to see more pictures, you can do that here.
See you in Atlanta!

02 August 2010

Promo Tuesday Promo: Mini-vamps and ReConStruction Reminder

When I'm not committing fiction, I write nonfiction. Since April, I've been collecting mini-interviews with writers of vampire fiction in support of a larger project. The larger project is still in the "Don't rush me, I'm thinking" phase. (Did I just quote Jack Benny about money. Oh noes! I did.) But the mini-interviews have found a home.

Buzzy Multimedia has bought six brand new interviews with some of your favorite vampire writers--and editors. The first one, starring the ever-delightful Rachel Caine, has already been posted on the site. Future interviews feature Charlaine Harris, Ginjer Buchanan, Gail Z. Martin, Jeri Smith-Ready, Tanya Huff and whoever else I can strong-arm--er, persuade to stand in front of my tape recorder. Click the link and enjoy.

I hoped to be sharing my ReConStruction schedule, but unfortunately, there's still a big disconnect between the program grid and panel list on the site. :-( But I'll be around, as in nine panels around. Yikes! And as you can see from te picture, there will be a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. For the reading, I'll be offering folks a choice: dragon or syren? But don't worry, they're both evil.

And I won't be the only Samhain author there either. Marcia Colette will be sharing the bill, too. Poor woman, she doesn't know what she's in for. Mwahahahaha! Hope you'll join us. There's nothing to be afraid of. Really...

I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own (The BtV Edition)

(Howdy Y'all, X here. I'm still chest deep in revisions and I just took a break to blog at Samhain on a topic I'd love to see discussed here at BtV. I don't have the procrastination break to post a shiny new take on it, so I'm going to repost my gently used yet well-loved original blog and get everyone's feelings on the pen names, nicknames and "real" names we carry through the world. Weigh in and I'll be sure to take a break long enough to reply. For now back to trenches. *grin*)

My online presence as Xakara goes back more than ten years. I have friends who have never called me anything else and likely couldn’t recall how to properly spell the name on my birth certificate if you paid them. In addition every convention I’ve attended since just after I started attending them has had Xakara printed on the badge and thus been the only name I’ve answered to for weekends at a time. So when someone asks me if it’s my real name I say yes. I mean it certainly isn’t fake, but of course that’s not what they mean.

What they’re really asking is whether or not the name Xakara appears on my birth certificate or some other legal document that would make the government happy. The answer is no, it doesn’t. However, even if I really am as special as my mom and grandma seem to think, I’m not convinced my birth certificate is the barometer for what is real in the world. I also posit that some 99.976% of things that are real in the world don’t appear on any of my official government documents either. Therefore I reject the premise that by failing to appear on my birth certificate or W-2s that Xakara is not my real name. It’s just not my given name.

Correction on their terminology often leads people to the question of why I don’t publish under my given name. Well for the same reason I don’t publish under the name of anything else given to me. “Geometric Comforter” although warm and nifty just doesn’t have that Erotic Paranormal Romance Author ring to it. The same is true of “Green Apple 3-D Puzzle” and “65cm Balance Ball”; and where “We-Vibe” is much closer, I just can’t see answering to it at a convention, not to mention I’m pretty sure it’s trademarked.

Now there’s nothing wrong with my given name—aside from sounding like I should be anchoring the evening news. But since I’m convinced a few of my local evening anchorwomen also write erotic romance, that works for me. Also my initials are JDC which looks good scrawled as an autograph and makes a good charm on a necklace. My first name is famous thanks to a very lovely actress currently starring in a nursing drama on TNT, and we spell it the same way so that takes care of both the pronunciation and typo issues I grew up with. No, my given name is a great gift I don’t at all regret or wish to trade in. I just don’t use it.

I always tell people what I write and point them towards my novella, so I’m not embarrassed or otherwise in need of hiding my identity or separating my erotic writing life from my the rest of my life. So then, why a pen name? Convenience. As I’ve shared before, I had an online stalker millennia ago and took my given name off of any and everything I did online. When it came time to publish, an online presence was touted as the end-all be-all for any author serious about their career. I had an online presence, online friends and convention acquaintances I looked forward to seeing yearly who all knew me as Xakara. Using my given name would have meant starting over from scratch, undoing ten years of effort and community attachment. I’m just not that industrious.

My official birth certificate has four names on it. My temporary hospital birth certificate has six names on it, (that pour, tired, confused maternity nurse). One social security card has three names on it while the reissue has only the initial of my other middle name. My school records have two names on them and alas my published works have one name. It’s all real and it’s all mine, it’s just not all the same and that’s okay.

The idea that a name is only real if they stuck you with it in the hospital or you’ve changed it in a court of law is a myth. And like any good mythbuster I reject that reality and substitute my own. My name is real and so is yours. Don’t let anyone tell you different. But if it’s new just remember at the next convention I’m talking to you so turn around.