Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who let the cats out?


Um, Mira. That's who. 

So you've all read STRAY, right? Here's the long awaited sequel (long awaited by me, anyway), and I picked it up on release day, yesterday, and sat down in the bookstore to start reading immediately. I missed Faythe! I suppose I have a weakness for young women who know their own minds and sport tongues sharper than my favorite stilettos, but it's great to get back into her world (I understand the Marc love, but OMG, one word for you, kids: JACE.). I love reading about someone who is perfect in their imperfections - a work-in-progress, if you will - which is how I feel pretty much all of time. {wry g} Not to mention I respect and genuinely like Ms. Vincent herself. (Even if she won't tell me her secret to writing faster!) You'll never meet a nicer person, and her regular blog posts show just how much she values her readers and enjoys her job. So if you're in need of an UF fix, Faythe is your girl. I know what I'll be doing tonight. Thanks Rachel!

Just a drive-by...

On my way to the text.

I realize I need to blog more regularly, but my first drafts tend to be least when I'm doing it right. I stopped, dropped and rolled for Easter - it's frightfully similar to Christmas when you have little people in your life, of which I suddenly have more than a few - but after I kicked the bunny in the tail, I crammed all my appointments and errands into one day, freeing up the rest of this week to write.

I'm having a great time with book4, though it still constantly amazes me (but probably shouldn't) how much time is spent sitting and thinking, sitting and staring, sitting and dreaming ... and wondering and discarding and re-evaluating. It sounds reasonable enough to say "I'm going to write 2-3K a day until the book is done!" but it doesn't work that way for me in practice. Because no matter how much I've planned, if I'm doing it right the book veers off track in places both big and small. I also leave plenty of room for development as I go, which helps to keep things fresh. 

For example, in anticipation of a scene I'm writing now, I "outlined" the following: "Jo enters this room to find Diana, who stole her wallet." 

This tells me the who and the why...but it doesn't tell me what sort of room this Diana would inhabit. It doesn't describe the surroundings or tell me who else is there. So as I think and sit, and think and stare, and think and discard, I discover more about the setting and more about the character, finding that each influences the other in small increments until I can see the full picture. I jot these images in the text as they come to me, delete some of them as better ones arrive, and once the place is defined and I can see clearly enough, then I'm ready to write. 

So what was in that room with the wallet thief and Jo? Well, here's what I emailed my writing buddy who was helping me brainstorm a bit: 

BTW, my simple water room has turned into a scene with a dowsing chinaman, and an underground joss temple. WTF?

Remember, I write fantasy. {G} 

So this is one more reason why I have no use for the playful idea of a (non-existent) muse. Inspiration is found by digging deep enough and long enough and hard enough into your own psyche that you finally discover what - of course! - you were looking for in the first place. It feels like it was there all along, that the conclusion was inevitable, the story already written somewhere. That feeling is my dowsing stick, and how I know I'm on the right path and ready to set off around the next  bend.

And now I must go research joss temples and dowsers and let Diana tell Jo - in a way that won't get her her ass handed to her - why she stole Jo's wallet. 

I see more sitting and thinking in my near future. Hopefully there will be a few thousand words by the end of the day as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coming in July...

Oh my, the UK has been kind to me lately. This cover just in from the wonderful editor of VAMPIRE ROMANCE, the installment to come this summer in 'THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF' series. Even though I don't write about vampires in my Zodiac series, I decided to give that mythos a whirl on my mental dance card, and boy am I glad I did. I had a great time writing 'Remember The Blood' and I can't wait to see it this July ... especially now that I've seen the gorgeous packaging!

Friday, March 14, 2008

UK cover!

I'm a little late in posting this, but as THE SCENT OF SHADOWS was just released in Australia and the UK, I thought I'd post the UK cover here. Totally different from the one I'm used to associating with it, and an unexpected present from the Voyager team. Thank you all so much! I love it, and there's a slight manga flair in the treatment of the hair and lashes. Olivia Archer and her best friend, Cher, would approve! {G}

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Boneyard Tour, Part Two

Guess where we're going today, folks? Yippee!

There's our girl...a distance shot because she's so purdy...

Getting a sense of how big she is yet? Or an idea of why she captured my imagination? More importantly, can anyone tell me why the heck I'm talking about her like she's a person? {wry g}

See? One really could slide down this puppy into a supernatural underworld. You just need the timing and know how. Remember what happened to Jo the first time. {shudder}

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Boneyard Tour, Part One

As I mentioned yesterday, I went out to tour the Neon Boneyard last week: the sanctuary and default home-sweet-home to Joanna Archer and the agents of Light from my Signs of the Zodiac series. Here are a few pictures from the daytime, when the portals are closed and the mortal population is out and about. If you look closely, however, you can see the footprints our agents leave behind as they enter and exit via the Slipper, and the smaller ones left by initiates playing beneath a full Vegas moon, and a ward mother's watchful eye...

This is from the Horseshoe. I love the geometry here. Can you imagine this all lit up downtown?

Brand new to the Boneyard from the old Nevada Palace. There’s an entrance into the core of this sign … which marries nicely with my worldbuilding.

Just to give a little sense of scale, I stood in front of the Aladdin’s original lamp, which I just love. They actually have this area set up so they can perform wedding ceremonies in the clearing. I think it would be cool if the signage in this part of the boneyard still actually lit up, then they could have sunset weddings. (So stop stealing the copper wiring folks!)

From the Sweetheart Chapel … minus the chapel, plus one additional sweetheart. (And if you believe that, I have some fantasy books I can sell ya…)

And, wait! What’s that? Is that a Silver Slipper I see in the distance? More with her tomorrow…

For now, I'll leave you with a photo of my girl, the Blue Angel. Anyone remember her from THE TASTE OF NIGHT? She's looking a bit shabby these days, but I know if she ever comes down off that pedestal, the Boneyard would treat her right. I know it's kitschy, but I still love her...

Monday, March 10, 2008

An old friend

I am unfortunately having problems uploading photos to my blog today. I'll try to figure out another way a bit later (when I have time for yet another learning curve, but first a story:

A couple of weeks ago I'm in my study, scribbling furiously to make sure I meet my next deadline (ie., checking for belly lint). I get a phone call from someone who identifies herself as a board member from the Neon Museum/Boneyard. It's been a couple of years since I've last visited, and would I like to come back for a tour.

Would I?

I'd just been thinking of that very think, longing for a visit with my old girl, the Silver Slipper.

So I went out there last week, took lots of photos, and reaquainted myself with the terrain of the entrance to Jo Archer (and co's) sanctuary. I kissed the Slipper, made some new friends (hello Nevada Palace signage) and waxed nostalgic about old Vegas.

The best part? Prior to my visit I asked Melissa (aforementioned board member) what made her think of me. She said she sometimes acts as a ghost on the tours as sometimes people get a little grabby and want to steal lightbulbs and copper wiring from the boneyard, don't ask me why.* But she said she often came away confused because she kept hearing people mention a "portal" in the Boneyard.


Melissa happened to mention this odd phenomena to her sister, who said, "Duh. Haven't you ever heard of Vicki Pettersson?" and shoved my book into her sister's hands.

So, I have to say thank you Melanie and Melissa for a wonderful tour, and to Jennifer for 'duh-ing' her sister, and to all the readers who've visited the Boneyard so far. The cost of the tour helps pay for restoration of the signage, and the agents of Light thank you.

*Yes, you can go on a tour of the Neon Boneyard. Info can be found here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Computer update

Remember how I said I kept losing work on my computer?

Well, say 'ello to my little friend:

Goodbye PC, with all your nasty viruses and familiar annoyances.

I'm off to be annoyed by something new. {wry g}

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More on inspiration

Anyone who knows me also knows how I scoff at the mere mention of a muse. Writing is work, you do it – in my case, everyday – and the fickle-minded muse can kiss my ranting ass if she doesn’t like it.

This is not to say I don’t seek out things that inspire me. But those things are often the mundane, usually personal (ie. Something someone else would look past entirely, like the Boneyard) but highly universal, meaning if I can capture this idea in words, other people will get it.

Okay, so today’s example is an article about a guy named Dallas Robinson, who’s ostensibly too big, too old, and without the resources one needs to train to be an Olympic sprinter. Now, I’ve never wanted to be a sprinter, but the best circumstances in my life, including writing, have come about because of impossible dreams, so his story spoke to me.

The full article is here (you may need to register for free to view it) but much about Dallas’ story reminds me of the writer’s life:

He left behind a comfortable, normal life ... driven only by a nagging sense that this is what he is supposed to do.

“I believe I’m going to end up in the Olympics,” Robinson, 25, said. “I don’t know how I’m going to get there. But I guess if the mountain were smooth, you wouldn’t be able to climb it.”

But this is the part I loved:

“Is this stupid? Probably. But I know I am created with a limited amount of gifts. I don’t have the straightest smile, the straightest nose. I’m not the smartest guy in the world. But my legs move fast. That’s one of my gifts that I feel I can share ... It’s the only thing I have to give back right now.”

So often you hear about people focusing on what they’re not. Or what they’re currently not. (I really love that last line: ‘…the only thing I have to give back right now.’ Like he knows he’s going to have more gifts and talents to amaze people with in the future.) This guy is able to dream big – and get others to dream with him – by focusing on what he is. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s pretty smart.

And I also know it was when I turned my eyes away from my writing heroes and said, “Yes, but who am I?” that I was able to bring my voice and strengths to the forefront. That was the project I completed. That was the book I saw published.

Of course, it takes more than dreams and hard work. This guy is going to need a sponsor soon. In writing, I think of sponsors as the people surrounding us, who enable and encourage us to get to the page everyday. One of a writer’s greatest assets is a spouse (or friends) who may not understand your dream, but supports it anyway. Anyway, Dallas’ coach sums it up the best:

“How come when we’re kids we want to be astronauts and firefighters and Indian chiefs, and then when we turn 20 years old we give up on our dreams?” Young said. “Dallas is a good example of a guy who’s still trying to be an astronaut.”

And so are pre-published authors.

See? Inspiration is everywhere.

Good luck, Dallas.

Monday, March 3, 2008


I've just received permission to post the first scene from THE TOUCH OF TWILIGHT from the Powers-That-Be. All I had to do was perform a small blood ritual and give up my second-born. Easy-peasy.

What won't I do for you guys? {g}

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Say hello to my new baby here on Amazon.

And thanks, J, for letting me know!

One year later...again. {G}

Thank you to Chandra for reminding me on the 27th that I'd been pubbed for a year. I was busy scribbling, so I guess the answer to "What's changed between then and now?" is ... not a lot! (All in all, a good thing!)

Thanks, too, to Lindsay for hosting this contest for THE SCENT OF SHADOWS, in celebration of the same, over on her blog. If you haven't read SCENT yet, here's a chance to do so for free. The contest ends at midnight tonight, however, so hurry on over.

Other than that, the best thing about this past year has been meeting amazing readers and other authors. A whole new world has been opened up to me, and I love the interesting, generous, and smart folks people-ing it. I'm going to go on at length about one of them later, but two posts are quite enough for one day, and I have to get to work.

Have a great weekend, all!


Ah, technology.

First, thank you to everyone who offered their condolences on my lost words. Now that I'm a bit calmer about the whole thing (read here: have rewritten those words and moved forward in the WiP), I can happily report that this was not operator error (for the third time). Unhappily, then, the common denominator is a crappy PC, and one with a monitor that's been on the fritz for awhile now.

Me to HP support guy: My screen flickers and goes entirely black while I'm working.
HP support guy: That's a serious problem.
Me: Ya think?

Yeah, he thinks. He also thinks it'll cost about the same to fix it as it will to buy an entire new PC.
My response to all this?

Hello, Mac.

Actually, I was extremely proud of myself for not immediately throwing my PC through the window and dumping an iBook on my iCard to be paid at some future date from via an iCheck from my iPublisher. (See, Mom! Impulse control!)

Mind, I'm a bit wary about switching operating systems in the midst of scrambling to meet two deadlines in four months, but I'm more wary about losing time and work on lemon computers. But all the Mac users I know say it's a fairly intuitive switch, though they are, admitedly, serious iCult members. (But smart cult members. Cult members I respect. I might make a good cult member, too. {shrug})

And, not incidentally, there is this. Oh, Teh Shiny!

Rachel Vincent is married to her Word comments feature, but as I had to be dragged to Word kicking and screaming (from WordPerfect, which I remember with the fondness reserved for my first crush) I've always dumped my notes into a working journal. (Which is something I really need to talk a bit about in another post entirely as it's one of my most effective working tools - so don't let me forget!) But it looks like Scrivener will allow me to comment and journal, among other things, and do it all without the annoying clutter of the Word OS. Again, there's a bit of a learning curve up front, but I figure I can mess with it after I've made my word count and answered my reader mail for the day.

Anyway, those are my behind-the-scene issues for now, none too interesting, but honestly? When meeting a deadline, Not Interesting is highly underrated. I like to save the chaos for the page.