Monday, December 25, 2006


A "Jane Doe" found murdered. Police officers who refuse to stop their efforts until they find her family and, hopefully, her killer. Sounds like a TV movie instead of reality.

To the cops, the forensics folks and the community who found time to mourn this lost girl, you are amazing. You refused to quit. I hope the murderer is starting to feel the heat...

For the complete story:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best Wishes for the Season

Count your blessings, hug your friends and family, remember those who are far away.

May 2007 bring us peace, love and prosperity.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Oh, Say Can You See....

For a chilling read, check out this article in the New York Times -- Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment

It was fine and dandy when we played fast and loose with the Rule of Law when it came to the bad guys. Hey, they were the enemy, right? History shows that once rights are eroded, even law abiding citizens are at risk for arbitary confinement and denial of due process. Just in case you missed it -- these guys are American citizens. One of them was a whistleblower. Gee, I bet he's thrilled he did the honorable thing.

They're even so bold as to document that they will be denying detainees the right to representation.

"Nathan Ertel, the American held with Mr. Vance, brought away military records that shed further light on the detention camp and its secretive tribunals. Those records include a legal memorandum explicitly denying detainees the right to a lawyer at detention hearings to determine whether they should be released or held indefinitely, perhaps for prosecution."

No phone calls, no contact with the outside world. You may get to see the evidence against you. Or not. This is egregious, a direct violation of our Constitutional rights (Amendments V & VI.)

Welcome to the new America where the Executive Branch has rendered the checks and balances of our brilliant founding fathers irrelevant. If you're not worried, you're not paying attention. And you could be next.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Show Me the Money

Here's a experiment for you to try the next time you're at a grocery store. Put on a pair of glasses that totally fog your vision or close your eyes altogether and try to pay your bill with good old US Currency. Is that a 5, a 10 or a 20 you're got in your hand? No clue? Thank the US Treasury for their outdated currency. Unlike other countries who have brightly colored or different-sized bills, ours is available in green. And if you don't like green, there's always... green.

A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge recently ruled against the government, stating that they did not do enough to aid the blind and the visually impaired when it came to equal access to US Currency. The judge ordered the goverment to come up with new means to help those who are visually impaired conduct the monetary affairs of everyday life.

The Bush administration is challenging the ruling. Their excuse is that it will too costly to redesign the money (though they just went through redesign and ignored the American Council for the Blind's repeated pleas to make the money more user friendly. They also said such changes would make it easier to counterfeit (huh?)

When I lived in Hong Kong, the $100 note was red (worth about $13 U.S.) It was easy to spot, along with the other colored currency. No brain power required, even if you've had a few too many Fosters before closing time. I can easily tell a 10 from a 20, but then I have good eyesight. My mom-in-law does not. She's very nearly blind, but quite independent. She has to paperclip her money to separate her bills one domination from the other.

The government says she should just use a debit or credit card. These idiots should be blindfolded and turned loose at a grocery store checkout. I can barely read the displays. My mom-in-law can't see the keys. Handing the card to the checker means she'll have to sign a slip, which is equally hard to read.

Change the currency, guys. We waste a ton of money on other less worthy projects (that bridge to nowhere in Alaska, for instance). All of us are getting older. You can damned well bet the currency will become senior friendly the moment the folks in the Treasury Department develop cataracts.

Friday, December 08, 2006

New to the Craft? Take Heart....

An excellent question was posed by K.H. during an ongoing 'virtual' conversation.

"What kind of advice would you give to a first time writer that has no clue about writing a book, the book industry, and what not?"

Oh, boy. Now this is a tough one. If one has a no clue about how to write a book, that's a blessing in disguise though you might think that lack of experience is a detriment. Your brain won't be in hyperdrive bitching at you that you haven't got a hook at the end of the scene/chapter, that the dialog is stilted, etc. You write because you love to. The story captures your heart and sweeps you along, like a scorching love affair. That's the way writing is supposed to be.

It's when you get further down the road that you realize all the stuff that has to happen in each scene to make it flow, compel the reader to continue reading. At the beginning of your career that's too much to worry about, especially during a first draft. I don't worry about that kind of stuff during my first drafts. I let the story carry me away.

Once you get a decent first draft, let it 'age' for a couple of weeks and then go back and edit it. That's where most first time writers go wrong. They figure the first draft is it. Not even close. I revise at least three times. Used to be five or six times but I write tighter now. I have a buddy of mine who does one draft and one revision. She's a very tight writer (she's a creative writing teacher -- she'd better be!) Since I'm a "Fog Walker" there will always be more editing.

Once you finish that first manuscript, set it aside and start another. Each book teaches you new skills. When you're sure that the first mss. is the best it can be you have two choices: stuff it under your mattress to enjoy it every now and then or send it out into the cold world. Either choice is honorable. Just know that the moment you send your fair-haired child off to 'camp', someone will tell you they don't like it, that they think it's ugly, etc. This is nature of the business. If you can't handle rejection, don't go there. Save yourself the emotional pain. Enjoy the novel on cold nights curled up by the fire with a hot toddy. If you feel you can handle "no" then send that mss. out for consideration.

If you find someone who finds the spark in your book that you felt, then you have the start of a career. If not, write another book --- lather, rinse, repeat. Just know that overnight successes in this business usually involve about a decade. For every J.K. Rowling there are thousands of folks trying to get their first manuscript read by some editor in NY.

I'll answer the second part of the question about the publishing industry in the next post. My printer has just spit out the 300+ pages of Book #3's first draft. Time to get to work...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To All Things There is a NaNoWriMo

For those who have been tracking my progress during National Novel Writing Month, I hit the required 50K last week. My rough draft of Book #3 of the Time Rovers Series is at an end. It's so rough that glass shards can't compete.

My spouse, wise to how I fret over these things, asked, "Does it have a beginning, middle and end?" I admitted it did. He beamed and said, "Congratulations. You have a new novel."

And he's right, of course. It needs a lot of work, but Book #3 has come to pass because of NaNoWriMo. My hearty thanks to Chris Baty and the folks who put this exercise together.

You're a shining beacon of service in the midst of a very murky publishing industry.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Oy, the Questions! (Part V)

And the final few questions from the students at KSU.

From A.G. -- Would you like to expand to another line of books, such as romance or horror in the future?

I'm not a full-blown romance writer. I like a bit of romance in my stories, but to use fully half of the story to set up and deliver a romance doesn't work for me. That's a lot of real estate I could be using to deepen the mystery or complicate the heck out of the characters. I have a number of friends who write romance, a few who make good $$. I wish them well. It's just not in my DNA right now.

As to horror -- well, it depends on how you define the word. Trust me, there's lots of discussion about that. Some folks see horror strictly as slasher sorts of tales. To me horror can be a lot more subtle, that glide of icy cold across your skin on a dark night. That sense that you really are pretty clueless as to the bad things waiting to pounce on you. If you use that definition, I already write horror. I like to take my characters to the edge and see what they find when they peer into the abyss.

From K.F. -- Where do you come up with the lingo (terms) used in your books? Are these common science fiction terms or things you have to come up with?

To build a believable world, you have to set up the entire environment, including the nomenclature. For the Time Rovers Series I created new terms to fit 2057's technology. For the most part, they're reconstructions of words we currently use. Holo-screen and holo-keyboard, for instance. Nano-drive. Bots for robots. Words that denote a futuristic setting but are readly understandable by readers in 2006. Time Lag is a term that's been used before (Connie Willis' books). [Disclaimer: I didn't read Connie's time travel novels until after I finished the first draft of Sojourn. I was stunned to find we both have time travelers coming from 2057. So you heard it here first, time travel by '057.]

One side note on creating new words -- often fantasy authors go to great lengths to create incredibly detailed lineages for their knights/elves/trolls, whatever. And then give them names you cannot possibly pronounce, even if you go to the back of the book and hack through the pronunciation guide. Terry Pratchett knows how to work around this problem by giving his characters unique names, but ones that are easy to remember. Detritius (a troll), Knobby Knobs (a cop), Gaspode (a dog), Carrott Ironfounderson (another cop). Unique, but memorable. That's the way names should be.

From M.J. -- Why wouldn't you want to have 'Dame Rowling fame'?

This question comes from a comment I made during my presentation. I routinely have people who say, "Hey, someday you might be as famous as J.K. Rowling." I usually shudder when they say that. Do I wish Dame Rowling ill? Certainly not. She hit the market with precisely what readers wanted at the time. She's done well and she appears to have a very decent heart. That counts a lot in my book.

I am not seeking Rowling-level fame because of what that entails. Suddenly the world knows you. Even people in the farthest reaches of China know you (from the Chinese knock-offs of the Potter series). I'm not sure how it works in Scotland, but in the U.S. someone would be following me around when I went to the grocery store and squeezed the melons. Someone would be there when I bought my weekly order of sushi. Photos of important people are ready currency. So for J.K., privacy is the first casualty.

Then there's the pressure. How soon will the next book be out, Ms. Oliver? I get that now and it's a bit uncomfortable. You're thrilled your readers are keen for the next adventure, but in the back of your mind you're fretting over how good that next adventure will be. Multiply that pressure by gazillion and you have Dame Rowling's life. She seems to manage it well and that is to her credit. Still, that's a lot of pressure.

And lastly, the other problem with J.K.'s career is that she hit the top first crack out of the box. Now where does she go? She's 36 years old, worth over a billion U.S. dollars. Her biggest challenge is topping herself. Sure, she could retire and never pen another word. She won't, or more precisely... can't. The writing virus is hard to shake (ask Stephen King).

She's brought new readers into the fold. She has penned what one person called a "Gateway Drug." Once you read about Harry the world opens in front of you. You can go anywhere, anytime and live an adventure.

But wanting to live her life complete with all the responsibilities it entails? I think I'll pass.

From M.G. -- How long is the process of publishing a book?

It depends on who publishes it. A small press can put a book out in fairly short order. A big press with a full publishing schedule takes lots longer. Most publishers have their 2007 and early 2008 publishing schedules already set. In the case of Sojourn, Dragon Moon turned that book in four months. That was a special case because of a particular deadline. Usually it's 5-7 months (or longer) depending on editorial staffing commitments, cover designs, layout, etc. The bigger publishers can take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years to get a book on the shelf.

One of the key things that most readers don't know is that publisher issue Advance Reading Copies (ARCs or galleys) to reviewers before the book hits the shelves. Reviewers require at least 3-4 months lead time. If you're hoping for a review in Publisher's Weekly, it's got to be to them at least four months early. That chews up a lot of time before publication.

A question from K.J. -- Would your books be considered mainstream like John Grisham or Janet Evanovitch, or are your readers considered a nitch market? At what volume of sales would a book be considered mainstream? Who would reders compare you with (you are similar to)?

If you use the definition found here then technically I'm mainstream. However, since I am an odd blend of genres it's hard for the bookstores to put me on the shelves. Usually Sojourn is found under FANTASY. But it's also science fiction and historical mystery. So someone looking for a book set in Late Victorian London will most likely not be hunting in the fantasy section. Hence the problem.

I've had folks compare my fantasies to "early Anne McCaffrey". I appreciate that immensely. As to my Victorian book, I've not yet had anyone do a comparison, other than saying I was less dark than Caleb Carr (The Alienist). I'm not sure if it's a good thing that they can't pair my work up with a more famous author. Either it means I'm really doing my own thing or that no one's made the connection.

From a student whose name I could not read (though the signature is quite lovely) -- Because of the high costs that publishing carries, did you have any initial investors, friends or family members that helped fund your projects, or was it all you?

For my self-pubbed works, it was my credit card. Sure made the thing smoke. Now that I'm traditionally published, my publisher has all the expenses related to actual book production. However, I'm now spending more on publicity, etc., so it evens out.

And from T.M. -- You said you love ice cream. What's your favorite flavor?

Chocolate Mint and/or Coffee. Yum!!!!!!!!

And finally from C.H. -- If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be and why?

A Victorian boot. They were sturdy, reliable, able to handle the muck on the streets and still hold up. Something to be said for a decent set of footwear.

Thanks for asking, folks. It's been a blast.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NaNoWriMo 2006 Update

Woot! I made my 50K words last night. Lest you think this is deathless prose, please think again. It's pure crap. First draft POS as Nora Roberts would say. Which is exactly what it's supposed to be.

I am quite pleased with how NaNoWriMo forced me to write and not futz with scenes. I have a LOT of editing to do and 50K is nowhere near the end of a novel. I actually have another 10K on top of the WriMo total that didn't count because it was added before Nov. 1st. If I can add yet another 20K, I'm in good shape.

By the time I edit the book, clean up the missing characters, flesh out the scenes and tie it together with Book #2, I'm in great shape. Maybe next year I can actually turn my fingers to a short story or two. That would be very nice.

Congrats to all who took the NaNoWriMo challenge, whether they hit 50K or not. You're learning your craft and that's what counts.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oy, the Questions! (Part IV)

Continuing on with the questions from the Kennesaw State University Entertainment Marketing studients --

A question from D.T. -- What is the most interesting place you've traveled to?

I lived in Hong Kong for seven months as part of my job back in '94-95. I'd traveled to Britain, but never to Asia. It was a culture shock of major proportions. (My husband remained in the U.S.) I didn't speak Cantonese and though I'd spent a number of months studying customs, etc., nothing prepares you for actually living in a foreign country. We were setting up a new office and photo studio for my employer (an Iowa-based company). Intially there were two of us -- myself and a young fellow with a delightful Irish name. I went over a teetotaler and by the time Sean got through with me, I could pack down two or three pints in no time.

The work involved long hours (75-80 hours per week) and everything was a consummate hassle because I didn't grow up in the culture, couldn't speak the language, etc. By the end of the seven months I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

But the oddest thing happened -- a year later I was sent to Taiwan to live and the moment I stepped off the plane, I went, "Hey, I know this." I put my Western expectations in my back pocket and I was 'home'. The one month stay in Taipei was a breeze compared to the months in Hong Kong. Asia had changed me. I was never the same. There is a clear pre- and post-Hong Kong Jana. Even my friends noticed. If I could survive in an alien city, living on my own, working against impossible odds against ridiculous deadlines, I could do anything.

And I have from that point on. omeday I'll go back to Hong Kong, go to Mad Dog's for a pint (a Brit pub) and take the fennicular railway to the top of Victoria Peak so I can gaze on the harbor once more. It'll be good to be home.

And from C.S. -- Would you like for one of your books to be turned into a movie? Why or Why not?

Every writer dreams of arriving in a limo, stepping onto the red carpet, accepting a kiss on their hand from George Clooney (or Johnny Depp or...) Well, maybe not every writer. I do. It'd be a sincere kick to see your work on the big screen.

But you won't you see it, not the way your wrote it. SOJOURN is 369 pages. A movie is, at best, 120 minutes (unless it's LOTR). That's 120 pages of script. So a lot of stuff has to be trashed. That lovely scene where your hero/heroine discuss their past lovers -- toast. Instead you get a car chase through the back alleys of Late Victorian London -- gotta be there for the movie buffs.

To paraphrase a well-known author -- You drive your manuscript to the California state line, throw it across and take the check home and cash it.

It's never going to be exactly like your baby (even Peter Jackson altered some of the LOTR scenes). Once you accept that and the fact there will be little Hedwigs or magical wands in the Happy Meals, you'll be a whole lot happier.

From T.C. -- Would you consider writing in a different style (say crime/suspense/romance)? Would you use an alter[nate] author name or use your own name?

My latest book has been called suspense so I've already crossed that stream. My first book was a paranormal romance, so that stream's forded as well. I suspect I'll write in most genres (except chick lit though my heroine in SOJOURN does have a thing about comfortable shoes). If I pen something that is ultra sizzling erotica, that will go under another name for sure. My readers come to expect a certain type of book and where I like to surprise them, it's best if I don't give them a stroke.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

NaNoWriMo Update

Keeping up one's word count for NaNoWriMo is not easy.

It becomes doubly difficult when you have a spouse nailing furring strips to the basement ceiling in a room directly below your office in preparation for ceiling tiles. I know he's not doing it on purpose (or at least I'd like to think that) but it still makes it difficult to think.

Which is why Dell makes laptops. They're highly portable. I think a trip to the kitchen is in order. Besides, there's a full bottle of wine in the refrigerator. A big glass of homemade Pinot Noir plus a set of headphones and I'll prevail.

Word On!

Oy, the Questions! (Part III)

And yet a few more of the KSU students' queries --

Question from D.L. -- What do you like least about the current trends in the publishing industry?

I can't say I'm that fond of the trend toward not nuturing new authors. 10+ years ago, an author was given the opportunity to grow their readership over five books or so. Now you're not given that much space. The competition is very fierce. You have to 'make your numbers' or you're out on your thesaurus. Often newer writers don't hit their stride until readers find them and then tell their friends about the wonderful stories they'd just enjoyed. By that time, they're gone. Unfortunately, publishing has changed in response to the Big Box stores. They're looking for the next 'big hit'. That tends to be very hard on new writers coming up through the ranks. The chances of 'making it big' are greatly reduced.

And another from D.L. -- What do you feel about e-publishing?

Considering the waste in print books, I think e-books are a great option.The issue has been how to get the e-books into the readers' hands in a way that they'll find them easy to read. For me, sitting in front of the computer for hours on end holds no fascination. That's my day job. Work continues toward a well designed handheld device that will encourage folks to read e-books. They're making progress. Some niche markets have done really well in e-pub (Ellora's Cave's erotica, for example.)

I prefer a printed book, but if they come up with a decent reader, I'll go with it. I do know that SOJOURN has done very well as an e-book as the price is a lot lower than the print version. That allows readers the option of sampling my work for less than $9. If they like what they read, they can buy the print version or wait for the next book to come out in electronic format.

And this from C.H. -- Who do you think is an overrated writer?

You do want to get me burned at the stake, don't you? Since it is likely that some day this answer might come back to haunt me, I'll generalize. (You never know who you'll be sitting next to at a convention. I can just hear the writer guest of honor mutter, "Jana Oliver? Hey, you're the (expletive deleted) bozo who said my writing was lame."

Yes, C.H., there are overrated authors. Lots of them, just as there are underrated ones. I am not fond of authors who pad their books to make word count and who consider their readers 'stupid' (yes, there are some out there who make less than pleasant comments about the intellience of their readers without realizing that this actually reflects on them as well). I can't stand lame mysteries where I can figure out who the bad guy is on page 2. I get grumpy about authors who waltz a character in for a paragraph or two and then you never see them again. I'm okay if you're laying groundwork for another book in the series, but for heaven's sake be subtle about it!

One final comment on overrated authors. There are those authors who overrate themselves. These are the one that feel that they walk on water. I've seen it in bigger name authors and in those who have just self-pubbed their first book. Expecting to sit as an equal amongst the betters in your industry is not a right, it's a privilege. You have to earn it and it takes a LONG time. Even then, there will be someone infinitely better than you.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Democracy in Action

Well, the election was a breath of fresh air. The citizens of this nation turned out to let the folks in Washington know they're not a happy bunch. In fact, most of Americans are sincerely p.o.'d. No minimum wage hike, tax cuts for the richest of our nation, etc., etc. And of course, Iraq and the continuing carnage.

Now if you expect me to do a rah-rah Democrat thing here, I'm not, though I come from a family of Democrats. No one party owns my soul, which is fortunate as the Dems aren't any less flawed than the GOP. Maybe a bit more idealistic, but just as flawed.

So let's all give ourselves a pat on the back for sending the only message Washington is inclined to hear. And keep our eye on the lot of them. The sting from a wrap across the knuckles doesn't last that long.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaNoWriMo 2006

The title is not in response to my, ahem, heavy indulging of fermented beverages at HallowCon. On the contrary, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The month began Nov. 1 and will continue in a typing frenzy until the 30th. The premise is simple -- write 50K words in a month or approx. 1667 words each day. Most folks always find excuses not to write. Or if they do write, they piddle with each single word until after a couple of years they generated...oh... one page. NaNoWriMo grants you the right to generate pure crap. As Jennifer Crusie would say, the "don't look down" draft. You just keep typing knowing that the scene you're working on is so trite Hollywood would think it's new and original, that it will no doubt end up in the TRASH with extreme prejudice, but still you keep writing.

I usually don't get to do NaNoWriMo as I'm busily engaged in editing my current 'masterpiece'. However, this year is different. I've already written the first draft of Book #2 in the Time Rovers series and I need to ensure that #3 completes the arc in a dramatic way. To reduce my fidgeting (and the tendency to drive my spouse nuts) I decided to NaNoWriMo Book #3. Doesn't matter if it's dumb, as long as it's on the page. I can clean out the dumb bits down the line. I can't do that if it's not written in the first place.

Lest you think there aren't that many of us fretting over the keyboard this year, last numbers indicate about 655 writers in Atlanta alone working on this project. Now take that worldwide and you got a LOT of folks scurrying home from work, ignoring the TV (and their kids) just to get their word count. Last time I checked over 82 million words had already been generated. Wow.

Will NaNoWriMo make the next Stephen King or Dame Rowling? Who knows. But it does force you to get words on the page and that leads to an improved chance you'll finish the novel. Sometimes you just need to be cornered to get something done. At least this time you're sharing the corner with a LOT more folks.

And now, back to my third book. I think this is the part where the aliens land in Trafalgar Square....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oy, the Questions! (Part II)

Continuing on with the questions from the lads & lasses from KSU --

Question from A.M. -- If you hadn't become a writer, what do you think your career would be?

Ah, the old "What If?" question. Since I've had a number of careers before writing, this one isn't so hard to answer. I've always been fascinated with linguistics. I'm the sort of person who wants to read the early Christian gospels and Jewish texts in their original language. The King James version of the Bible is all fine and good, but I want to read the originals. That way I can judge for myself. I'm a bit of a skeptic, you see. Lots of life events have made me that way, so I don't always take someone's word for things like I did when I was younger.

Question from J.K. -- What sparked your fascincation with Jack the Ripper?

He got away. If Inspector Abberline had caught the fellow and he'd been hung, that's all sorted out, isn't it? But old Jack eluded both the Metropolitan and City police, Inspector Abberline at the top of his game, and vanished even though there were hundreds of cops on the streets during the height of the murders. That's nothing short of amazing. Madness or sheer chutzpah? I suspect a mixture of both.

Question from J.S. -- Could you support yourself and have a comfortable living on the money that you bring in from writing, or do you have to depend on a second income?

Unless I'm fine with living in a discarded refrigerator box under a bridge and eating toasted rodents three meals a day, my income is not going to support me in the fashion to which I'm accustomed. (Yet.) At present, I am blessed with a spouse who has a real job and keeps me warm and dry. He's a very sweet guy. Of course, he's hoping someday I make the big time and return the favor. I don't see a problem with that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oy, the Questions! (Part 1)

One of the fun things about my job is that I get to talk to all sorts of folks about writing. A recent trip to Kennesaw State University and their Entertainment Marketing Class is a great example. Their professor (Tyra Mitchell) is a dear friend and so I get the chance to putter over and explain why marketing and "brand" are essential for an author.

This time around I pulled up other authors' websites, blogs and Wikipedia entries as a means to see who has it all together and who could stand some work. The authors ranged from the very highest and mightiest (J.K. Rowling -- check out her website -- it rocks) to those far less well known. The students were vocal about their thoughts on website design, which was great.

Professor Mitchell also assigned her class the task of penning questions for me. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to answer the majority of them so we hatched the idea of using this blog as a Q&A session. I'll post questions and answers over the next couple weeks. Feel free to demand follow-up questions or post comments. Blogs should be dynamic.

Question from S. McC. -- How did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

I had no choice. You can blame it on two things -- I'm an only child and the "voices". Being an only child I quickly learned it was prudent to entertain myself rather than bugging my parents who always seemed to have an endless supply of 'make work' jobs for the child (if she was underfoot). So besides reading voraciously, I started concocting stories in my head to keep myself occupied. I could out into my little world and no one would know what I was up to, unless I starting muttering to myself or forgot to take the garbage out.

As to the "voices", fortunately they aren't telling me to conquer England or anything. They're my characters, who will start chatting at me at the most inopportune times. Pushing the cart down the grocery aisle "Hey, did you know that X in this scene is really the bad guy who...." Sitting in a doctor's office "and that the bad guy is the one who killed the nun". It's at this point I go "What nun?" and get all sorts of looks from those around me. I've often thought I should buy a Bluetooth headset (but not put in the battery) just so folks don't think I'm talking to myself most of the time.

Question from A.S -- Have you always leaned towards this style of writing, even as a child?

I've always written mysteries from the beginning. I was never one of those to wrote happy and light stories. I've always been fascinated with the complexities of human nature. I added the paranormal or supernatural element to my writing in about 1998 when I become more aware of that aspect of life. Up until that point, I'd had little to do with anything mystical. Now I see it as one more layer of complexity.

Question from R.T. -- Do the relationships of your characters in your novels parallel your own relationships in your life?

I'd love to say no, but that's wrong. Authors often work out some of their inner issues (demons) through their writing. By putting your characters through emotional (and physical) hell, you not only take them on a journey, but pull yourself along as well. If the character is being a sincere jerk, that attitude comes from somewhere. We're all a mixture of dark and light and that's what makes writing so much fun. But every now and then I'll wince because something gets a bit too close to home.

I'm off to a convention this weekend but will continue posting the Q&A on Monday!


Monday, October 09, 2006

A Signin' We Go!

Long weekends are always fun, even when they involve driving a goodly distance. Husband and I drove the Gizmo (Honda Hybrid) to Asheville and spent a leisurely day there. Hubby had never been to that fair city so we wandered up and down the streets, ate at the Tupelo Honey Cafe (awesome food) and visited a few bookstores. I usually hand out info about my book, a page of reviews, etc. One store is interested in a booksigning, another's events coordinator wasn't in and the third is, well, a bit more literary and not necessarily a great fit for my genre fiction.

Asheville reminded us a lot of Iowa City (Iowa) during the 70's. Very counter-culture. Lots of eclectic folks and nifty shops. It has great energy (suppsedly situated on a ley line) and the mountains in the distance only make it even more lovely. The trees were just starting to turn. Unfortunately, lots of other people love Asheville and an online search of real estate values tells me that living in/near the town is not going to be in our budget until I make the NY Times list... repeatedly.

Our next stop was Raleigh and a booksigning at the East Six Forks Borders Books. Wow. Talk about being treated like a celebrity. There was even a bouquet of flowers on the signing table and they gave it to me at the end of the signing! That never happens. I was signing with Raleigh resident, J.R. Fisher, the fellow who won a role in SOJOURN during a charity auction last year. (See photo above.) We were all in full Victorian garb and that got some second glances. The local newspaper folks popped in, took pictures and interviewed us. (Read the interview in the News Observer) And lots of J.R.'s friends dropped into buy books. After the signing we adjourned to the Bahama Breeze located next to our hotel for dinner. We really enjoyed ourselves.

I returned to my hotel room and crashed for a LONG nap. Then I was awake until the wee hours (Bah!) Sunday we headed home and took the scenic route southwest of Asheville (which added extra time to the trip) but allowed us to wend our way through some really gorgeous mountain scenery.

Now it's back to the grind until next weekend and another signing (this one here in Atlanta) at the Borders in Kennesaw. Let's hope it goes as well as the one in Asheville for that was one for the record books.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Citizen's Duty

The elections are in a few weeks and the ad blitz is going full tilt. Lots of full scale propoganda is issuing forth from both the Democratics and Republicans. For the most part is it all b.s. Each side is trying to make points with us voters. "So and so voted against this bill and that means he's siding with the terrorists!" [A note - the citizens of this great nation are smarter than that, guys. They know that terrorists are not, on the whole, very polite. They do not come up their intended victims and ask, "Excuse me... Republican or Democrat? Oh, you're a Democrat? Then please go stand over there so you won't get hurt when I explode this bomb."] It's just ignorant to accuse another lawmaker of helping Osama and his crowd.

So here's what we citizens need to do: study the candidates. I know, that cuts into your time watching Lost and other such things, but this is YOUR government after all. Forgot that, did you? (They prefer you do. It makes it so much easier for them.) In all honesty, we're the reason it's in such a mess. We've let the inmates run the asylum. We've not held their toes to the fire. And in the process They (and by They I mean BOTH Democrats and Republicans) are destroying what's really cool about this country.

It's time to do your homework -- read what the candidates say and then drill down through the 'spin'. Send them an e-mail and ask questions. If you get b.s. back (nine times out of ten you will) then go back after them for a straight answer. You wouldn't tolerate this kind of stupidity from an employee and yet you'll let your elected officials get away with just about everything.

Electing a government is a major life decision. Do your civic duty. VOTE. If not, in twenty-five years the Iraqis might have to help us execute a regime change to restore our democracy.

Now that's a sobering thought.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Welcome to the Gulag

One of the cool things about America, as compared to a number of repressive governments, has been our legal system. You get arrested, you get tried within a reasonable period of time. Coerced testimony (torture) is not allowed as evidence and you get to hear all the evidence against you so your lawyer can offer an informed defense. Not so in other countries where you can be incarcerated for decades and never see the inside of a court room. And should you be 'lucky' enough to be tried, the evidence is what they beat out of you over the course of the preceeding years. Verdict: Guilty. No appeal and a bullet in the brain (if you're lucky).

Please note the 'has been' in the first sentence. America is about to jettison one of the strongest beacons of light in this dark world and take a step closer to becoming like our enemies. Our Congress is in the process of passing a bill that will allow the President to declare any American citizen an "illegal enemy combatant". You can be arrested and held WITHOUT A TRIAL for as long as the government wishes.

If that trial does roll around, they can use evidence even if they pulled it from you or others using torture. They have the right to withhold evidence from your lawyer if they deem it top secret. You'll just be guilty.

But surely I'll have the right to challenge these conditions, you think. No. You will lose your fundamental right to habeas corpus if you're imprisoned in a military prison.

Chillingly, the courts will have NO RIGHT to review this new system, except verdicts made by military tribunals.

So, you ask, what does this mean to you?

This means that some day a bunch of government folks can show up on your doorstep and you, your mother, your teenage son, daughter, whomever, can be handcuffed and thrown into prison because someone lied about you or gave false information under torture. The Feds can just get you confused with someone else (it's happened). You or your loved ones may never get a trial. Basic human rights do not apply. They can be 'coerced' into giving testiomony using techniques that Torquemada would envy. They will simply be GONE because the government has deemed them an 'illegal enemy combatant'. And if they ever get free, the law would prohibit them from "suing the US government for torture or mistreatment."

Am I being overly dramatic? No. This power is breathtaking in its scope. It was bad enough we deny the prisoners in Cuba (and elsewhere) their right to a fair trial.

Now they can come for you. And it's all legal.

Welcome to the New America.

For more information on the scope of this bill:
New York Times Editorial 9/28
(for the latest changes to the bill, which only grows worse by the hour)

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Be A Writer

As promised, my take on the writer's conference I recently attended. This event lasted for a week, was located in a very scenic area in North Carolina and was full of writers from all levels. Some had just started their quest for perfect prose and others were multi-published. I was in awe of the newbies. That takes some serious stones to bring your work in front of a group of august editors and a NY agent and say, "Help!" But they did and learned from the experience. My buddy and I had the joy of working with a new writer who, over the course of the week, made monumental leaps in his ability. It was great to watch. He took our comments with good humor and dished critiques back our way. The fellow has a vivid descriptive ability that I sincerely envy. I hope to see his name on the bookshelves in the coming years.

Ah, but what about my experience? It was mixed. Part of that was because I am so caught up in my current manuscript, which is due to my publisher next spring. I'm right in the middle of the manuscript's first draft and have no clear idea of what's supposed to be happening at this point. I know how the book ends, but the middle is a muddle. So a lot of my brain's disk space is being tied up with "What if..." queries. The manuscript I took to the conference was written a couple years ago and wasn't as sharp as my later works. Perfect work to savage, to be honest. Across the board, the editors complimented me on my writing ability. They also saw my lack of heavy-duty world-building and commented on that. I hadn't thought all the elements through and you can see it in the story (or not see, as the case may be.) They were right on. I'm better with dark paranormal mysteries than I am paranormal romance. So we were in agreement that I needed to go back and rework the manuscript from that aspect, deepen the plot, darken the characters and let the story take off.

Unfortunately, my time with the NY agent was also mixed. I was under the impression that he would read the entire 50 pages I'd submitted as the other editors only rec'd 5 to 10 pages for critique. I was wrong. The agent made it to about page 22 and stopped reading. This is where he'd stop if the work was submitted to his office. I understood that, but I paid some serious $$ to attend this workshop so I expected a full read and critique. It appears other attendees were also unamused and there will be changes to that in future. (In the past the agent did read the full submission.) I'm pleased the workshop organizers recognize the need for the change and are serious about making this as best an experience as possible.

What stopped the reading at page 22? "Low Tension". The fact that nothing dramatic occurs on every page. The agent spent an entire evening explaining exactly how to layer in more tension and I will try to do that in certain portions of the book. I disagree that it has to be on every page.

What I did come away with was a comprehensive toolbox of techniques to improve my prose and a solid sense of what I'm good at and what I need to improve. (Not many surprises there, actually, which means I'm pretty much in touch with my writing ability.)

Everyone at the workshop had something that plagued them: opening lines, too much backstory, boring dialog, confusing point-of-view shifts. No one was perfect. And that's the key. None of us are. When you start thinking you've reached that lofty heaven of pure prose, you're on the way out and the new fellow with the dynamite descriptions will be there to take your place.

In retrospect, I should have submitted my current work for critique if it had been further along. The brainstorming sessions would have been more useful. However, I have extensive notes on what changes need to be made to the workshopped manuscript and someday I'll get back to it.

Now I have to put that knowledge to use and figure out what the heck my heroine is doing in the back alleys of Rotherhithe besides stumbling over dead rats.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Working the Craft

Friends often lead you astray in curious ways. So it is with my friend Sharon who, with patient coaching, encouraged me to attend a week-long writer's intensive. This is the total immersion sort where they work your little gray cells (and typing fingers) into a fine powder. She's attended the workshop and loved it. Led by Donald Maas, one of the lead NY agents, and his editorial team, this isn't for the faint of heart.

So next week I'm going to cast my ego aside (or at least stuff it in my luggage for the time being) and learn how to do things even better. I'm workshopping a dark urban fantasy I wrote a couple years back. It's set in L.A., does have a wee bit of romance to it and sets the groundwork for a three-book series. Two years ago I thought it was brilliant. Now I think the prose is pretty decent. The story doesn't have the punch of my latest work. So that's my goal -- learn how to put even more ZING! into my stories so my readers will say, "that rocked!"

I'll give you an update at the end of the week (providing I still have enough brain cells to type a sentence). One thing can be said -- it ain't gonna be dull.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dragon*Con 2006

Whew! (wipes brow) Dragon*Con is over. Talk about a heavy-duty weekend. Now for those of you who've never trekked to Atlanta over Labor Day Weekend and attended the "Mother of All Conventions" -- you're sensible, people. Just kiddin'. I'm sure those who came but didn't pre-reg and stood in the line for 3-1/2 HOURS to buy their bades won't soon forget how big Dragon has become. Or forget to pre-register again.

Dragon*Con's four-day cummulative attendance is usually in the 40K range. That means an average of 10,000 folks per day. Rumors said that it was closer to 20K per day (including guests & vendors) for 2006. Those 20K folks cluster between 3 hotels (Grand Hyatt, Marriott Marquis and Hilton). Usually the Hyatt lobby is a zoo in the evening. Let me give you an analogy -- if you've ever seen photos of the thousands of pilgrims slowing circling the holiest place in Mecca -- that's sorta like Dragon*Con at the Hyatt. Though the reason for the huge population is nowhere as holy, it's the same crush of humans. They swarm up the escalator, around the center tower and then back down another escalator, almost all in some sort of costume. Incredible. That usually happens in the evening. This time it was happening during the day. Which meant getting to one's panels on time involved a bit of creative genius.

Speaking of panels -- did three this year: Two in the SF Literature track and one in the podcasting track. Both of these programming tracks were new this year and they were really good. I got to sit in on a panel with Claire Eddy (Senior Tor editor) and Stephen Eley (editor of Escape Pod) and chat about the Business of Writing. Then I was on a Women in Podcasting panel (hint-- there's a lot of us!) And the final panel was about romance in SF&F and included with such fun folks as MaryJanice Davidson and Rosemary Laurey. We were in a feisty mood by 4 in the afternoon Sunday, so we had the audience howling their heads off.

Reconnecting with friends is always a blast and this year wasn't any different. I did my best to diminish the amount of my spouse's homemade wine selection and my single malt scotch collection. Neither gave me a hangover, but the lack of sleep does add a few years to my face (groan). Mage & I wore our full Victorian outfits Saturday and that was fun. The significant other looks quite tasty in tails, waistcoat and cravat.

Of the whole weekend, one moment stands out even more than all the others. I'm sitting at a dealer's room table and this fellow stops, stares at my book, points and says, "That's it!" Apparently, his wife had been hunting for Sojourn since last August. I verified that "my" Sojourn was the one she was looking for (there are others!) and he promptly bought her a copy. Boy, was he going to win lots of brownie points!!!

So Dragon has come and gone. It was my 9th Dragon*Con as an attendee and my 5th as a guest. As always, it was a combination of overwhelming and thrilling. And now the 'con 'lag' will set in.... need more chocolate...

Monday, August 21, 2006

From Amateur to Pro

In my mind, I'm now considered 'pro'. What triggered that change? My first royalty check. It ended up a bit bigger than I expected, even with the distribution hassles. It arrived via PayPal and so though I don't have a genuine check to fondle or photocopy and frame, it's still a FIRST.

Firsts, as I call them, should be savored. For most of you it's that first time with a lover, your first job, child, car, house, etc. Besides those (minus the child) for me it was my first book, my first contract, and now my very first check.

Validation comes in many forms. A stellar review, a reader who says, "I can't wait for the next book!" or a fellow author who remarks, "That book rocks, babe." And, of course, the $$.

I've always treated writing like a career. I love what I do, even though I can bitch like crazy when a story is playing hell with me. But at the bottom of it all, this is what I want to do with my life.

Now I have proof that others agree with that opinon. It's a strangely humbling experience.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

RWA Conference 2006 - A View from the Other Side

I promised to pen my thoughts abut the Romance Writers of American annual conference and so here they are:

RWA presents a dilemma for me. They are a strong and growing organization. They also are very inclusive. They have set certain standards that designate who is and isn't considered a published author. This is not unique. SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and MWA (Mystery Writers of America) do the same. RWA certifies publishers based on a number of criteria, including copies sold, etc. The upshot of this is that even though I have 4 published books to my name, I'm considered unpubbed because self-pub doesn't count and my current publisher isn't an "RWA Approved Publisher." (The time and expense required to achieve this status is not necessarily worth the effot for a small press. Better to be focusing on this year's book launches than doing tons of paperwork.)

Because of this arbitrary line, certain parts of the conference are off limits to me because of my status. I can't attend the meet-and-greet session with the booksellers or the librarians (an ideal way to increase book sales and my chance of moving 'up the ladder'.) I'm not allowed into some of the panels nor can I enter all of the contests. Of course, my dues and conference fees (nearly $400/year) pay for all this.

Which leads to the obvious question -- why am I a member of RWA and why do I attend their conference? The truth is, I'm stubborn. I am the odd duck -- a self-pubbed author who has won awards and now has moved 'up the ladder' to a tradional publisher. I want to be a reminder that not successful authors come from NY. (I've had a role model -- a good friend of mine came up through small press and now she's published by three NY houses.) My publishing path is no less viable than someone who took five years of rejections before they got their first 'call' from NY. Each result in a published book.

There are signs that the wall is cracking. 2 years ago the 'newbies' were told that if you self-pubbed your career was over, that no one would touch you. Fortunately, I wasn't in the same room with the agent who said this or there would been a heated discussion. Now they're saying that NY publishers are cherry-picking authors from small press (and self-pub). All of a sudden it's no longer the death knoll for your career. For those of us who work the SF&F convention circuit, we recognized this trend at least three years ago. RWA is just now catching up.

So the conference was mixed for me. I saw more small press authors win awards and evidence that the growth of the e-book industry continues. I also experienced some of the inclusiveness. Nowadays it doesn't get me as riled as it used to.

When I finally make the NY Times Bestseller list, I'll point to my unique career path and ask, "Hey guys, isn't it time to change the rules?"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Course of True Publishing Never Doth Run Smooth

For those of you in the real world, the inner machinations of publishing are most likely not on your radar. For those who work in the field, the oddities can be extremely annoying and distracting. Such has been the case lately as my publisher (Dragon Moon Press) struggles to get my books to my readers.

Peace of cake, you say? In an ideal world it would be. You roam into your favorite bookstore, order a copy of my book and viola!, in about a week the tome is in your hands. What you don't see is how book orders are fulfilled. Your bookstore (let's call it Al's Books) does not contact my publisher directly. They go through a book wholesaler or distributor (the distinction between the two is minor) who collects all the orders for Sojourn for a week and then forwards them on to Dragon Moon Press. DMP boxes up the order and ships it to one of a number warehouses located around the country. Those warehouses break out the books according to the order and ship them to the appropriate bookstore in bulk lots. So not only would Al's Books receive a copy of my book, he'll also get a DiVinci Code, a How to Train Your Ferret Not to Bite Your Toes and Why Acid Rain is Good For You. The wholesaler/distributor is the ultimate middleman and gets a cut of the $$ for such services. The benefit to Al's Books is that he doesn't have to order directly from a squillion different publishers and all the books are on one bill. So far so good, providing all the above steps are in place.

The whole system comes to a grinding halt if the wholesaler doesn't show the book as in stock at their warehouse. The longer this shows on their database, the bookstores' own databases may flag the book as Not Available or worse yet, Out of Print even though books are piling up at the publisher. Such has been the case with my book. There are copies available. They're selling briskly on Amazon. But our wholesaler has shown the book as not in stock since the moment it was published. Why, you ask? Wouldn't it make sense to show a copy or two lying around their warehouse to stimulate orders? Ah, this is where it gets weird.

The wholesaler will not stock books unless there is demand. That's their bottom line. However, to generate demand it would be ideal that at least ONE copy of the book be shown as "In Stock". No books in stock, less likely it will be in demand. 'round and round we go. No demand. No stock. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Meanwhile, the book is not shown as available on B& (and other online retailers) because--you got it-- it's not in stock at my wholesaler. (Amazon stocks seperately). This not a new problem for me; I fought this mindset when I was self-pubbed. Fortunately, there are only a couple of DMP titles with this stocking issue. Unfortunately, one of them is mine.

So folks have been trudging into their local bookstore to order my book only to be told "Sorry, not available." Despite the awesome reviews, all the work my publicist and my publisher have been putting into make the book a success, it all hinges on the policies of the 'gatekeeper'. Until we crack that open and get 'through put', Sojourn will continue to fight an uphill battle. We continue to offer the book at other venues, but a goodly number of folks want to order at a bookstore. I respect that. I just wish my wholesaler understood that, as well.

I'm eagerly awaiting the day when you can walk into your local bookstore, peruse a sample tome, punch a code into a printing machine and it prints your book while you wait. (Yes, such technology exists. They're working out the bugs.) The upside? No middleman, less environmental damage for returned/pulped books, and no hassles for the reader. You get the book you want when you want it. The downside? I'm still working on that one (other than a lot of wholesalers' employees out of a job).

So we will continue our jousting with the monolith that is our wholesaler. I have faith my publisher will prevail, though I deeply regret the lost time and lost sales. However, once the book is in stock, we'll have to watch the levels very carefully. If it goes out of stock, we may have to start the whole process over again.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Fan Girl Confession

I'm usually pretty cool around the big name authors. I rub elbows with them on a regular basis and for the most part, they're just like the rest of us except their royalty checks have infinitely more zeroes. They're free with good advice and have lots of war stories. I view the majority of them with respect.

Then there are those rare few authors to which I fall into 'fan girl' status. The three are: Terry Pratchett, Ian Rankin and Kim Harrison. Authors come and go off this list, but these three have remained in place for a long time. I'm damned fussy about what I read as I have so little time to spend in that glorious pursuit. So when I pick up a book, it better rock. All three of these authors deliver the goods.

So it was with great joy I got to meet one of the trio at RWA this week -- Ms. Harrison. Her Rachel Morgan series manages to blend witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies and elves in a modern Cincinnati setting and hold my interest from page to page.

We met for a 'Decompression Coffee' (open to those attending the conference) and just b.s.'d for an hour. The group talked about everything, including how Kim creates her books (she's an detailed outline sort) and what's coming up in her next book (For a Few Demons More). It was a very pleasant hour.

Usually I'm fine around other authors, but I was just too much of a fan girl to relax. So instead I tried very hard not to blurt anything stupid. I think I did okay. At least no one tossed me over the railing to the floor below to shut me up (always a clue).

Kim's a classy lady and her "Guy-in-the-Leather-Jacket" is quite a cutie. All in all, it was a great hour and one of the highlights of the conference.

And now the fan girl moves on to World Con in L.A. where Mr. Pratchett is to be found. All I need to do is make a trip to Scotland and see Rankin and I'll have had the summer of a lifetime.

For those who want to sample Kim's works:

Fair warning -- they're highly addictive.

Trinoc*Con 2006

Just back from my ten day 'sojourn' to Raleigh and Atlanta. But before I jump into reporting the RWA Conference, let's do Trinoc*Con justice.

I like going to this con because it's like a family reunion, only better because family isn't involved. I shared table space in the dealer's room with the ever-sauve Tony Ruggerio, magical Laura J. Underwood and that amazing bard, Lee Martindale. As Lee would say, we play nice together. I spent some time b.s.'ing with J.R. Fisher (the fellow who is my Scotland Yard chief inspector in SOJOURN) and had the pleasure of sitting on some amazing panels. One, in particular, was very cool as we discussed (at the early hour of 10 a.m.) the cause and effect of time travel. If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be? What would be the consequences? Or would you care? Lots of deep conversation for such an early hour.

Alan Wold introduced me to the wonders of Laphroaig (singularly awesome single malt scotch) and dinner at the Bahama Breeze was really good. I'm still astounded we got a table within 5 minutes.

I was particularly pleased to see the fine folks at Edge Books at the convention. Zane & Jo live in Louisiana and last year was a outright b*tch in their neck of the woods. They're still dealing with the aftermath.

And one last note -- the hotel. It was a Hilton. The rooms were newly remodeled, the coffee was LaVazza (Italian and expensive) and the bed oh-so wonderful. Yeah, I admit it, I'm becoming a hotel snob. I stayed in a Microtel the night before and I like them, as well. Free Wi-Fi, free long distance, continental breakfast. But every now and then you like to live in luxury. Trinoc*Con's hotel was that and more.

Another year under my belt. It's always a pleasure. Looking forward to 2007.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A July Two-Fer

The brief respite off the road is about to end with a two-fer, two conventions in a row. The weekend of July 21-23 will find me in Raleigh, NC at Trinoc*Con (also a Deep South Con this year) followed by the Romance Writers of America annual convention (this year in Atlanta).

This will be my third year at Trinoc*Con and it's always a pleasure to return as a guest to the Raleigh-Durham area. This year won't be an exception. Lee Martindale, Laura Underwood and Tony Ruggerio will be there, so there will be fun to be had on all accounts. Also, I'll be catching up with J.R. Fisher, the fellow who so graciously donated $$ during the literacy fund auction last year to become a character in SOJOURN. And what a character he became. Chief Inspector J.R. Fisher took on a life of his own and is one of my favorite characters. He's in the second book, as well, carving a path through the plot. The real life J.R. Fisher is no less fun, I can tell you.

The Romance Writer's Convention is the opposite of a SF&F con. Think pantyhose, 'adult clothes' and formal gowns. It's the one time a year I brush off the really ritzy gowns (providing I can still get into them) and pack all the fancy jewelry. Since SOJOURN just came out this year, I'm doing more schmoozing than anything. If the fates are with me, the book will be up for a few awards next year, but this year I'm reconnecting with my writer buddies, listening to panels and having a good time.

Once I get home from Trinoc*Con I'll post a report as I have about a day downtime between before RWA conference starts. And I'll be sure to post a blog about the RWA Pre-Conference trip to the shooting range where I'll get the joy of trying out a number of firearms. I know, what we writers do for research....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lady Liberty -- Religion Gone Awry

Of all the silly Constitutional amendment ideas floating around, perhaps we should have one that prevents desecration to The Statue of Liberty.

So what have folks been doing? Perhaps piddling on the base of the statue or dressing Lady Liberty in scandolous clothes? Worse. A church in Memphis, TN remade the statue in their own image. You can see the results at this link:

Yup, Lady Liberty is now holding a cross, the Ten Commandments and has the name Jehovah on her crown. For a moment I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was for real.

This is so wrong on so many levels. Lady Liberty represents all of us, not just those of one particular religious group. Replace the cross with the star and crescent and put a Koran in herleft hand. Now what you do think of it? I can predict the reaction -- there would be hell to pay.

The pastor who commissioned this work stated, "This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis." Jesus may indeed be lord of your heart and I respect that, but when you begin to assert he is my lord, you have gone across the line. Each of us makes this spiritual journey of our own volition. We all make the choices and accept the consequences. Some choose to follow Jesus' path, others follow in Muhammad or Buddha's footsteps. My religious forebears stood at the base of Sinai and received those stone tablets. I have no desire to see them exploited in such a way.

To alter a national symbol to raise your faith above all the others is unfathomable. And yet, here it is. So what do they have in mind for their next stunt?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

To me, the 4th of July is more than just cookouts, fireworks and sunburns. As is my habit, I spent a few moments pondering what led our Founding Fathers to take the risk of doing the 'hemp fandago' (as Terry Pratchett would put it) to secure our liberty. It was a bold and dangerous move, one that had every chance of failure. Yet, they took the rise. In their hearts, our forefathers (and mothers) knew that a democracy is only as vital as its citizens. I fear there aren't many of their kind in 2006.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Sojourn Goes E-Serial

I've been quite amazed at the many ways my current book is reaching my readers. So it is with a great amount of pride that I can announce that my book is now available as an e-series in a new partnership arrangement with Virtual Tales and my publisher, Dragon Moon Press.

Just how does this work? Virtual Tales ( has taken SOJOURN and broken it into 'bite-sized bits' that are sent to your email account twice per week. 5-7 pages at a time, just enough to enjoy on your lunch break or while waiting for a large file to transfer. It's a new concept and I love it. I've been busy penning mini summaries that lead into the next issue (to bring you back into the story). Those have been a bit of a challenge. It's best that they're not "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..."

So if you'd like to try a new way of enjoying a book, visit Virtual Tales and check out SOJOURN (and their other titles). The first four issues are free. And be sure to sign up for the Freedom from Paper Promotion!

That's the latest. Happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Nashville Notes

As promised, my HyperiCon report. But first, there was the drive to Nashville. A confession: I dislike interstates, especially crowded ones. Drivers tend to take their brains somewhere else but on their driving and I'm not fond of being the guy who pays for that inattention... at 75-80 miles per hour. So I tend to take scenic routes if I-75 North out of Atlanta is involved. For some reason that stretch of concrete to Chattanooga never thins out, unlike I-85 to Greenville. Unfortunately, that adds time to the trip. So what would have been about 4 to 4-1/2 hours to Nashville via the slab (3 hours if you're Toni S) became 6 hours. Yuck. That would have been tolerable if it hadn't been for the thunderstorms. High winds, driving rain, hail while driving a perfectly flat stretch of interstate with virtually no overpasses to shelter underneath. Hail means upper level turbulence, the kind you often see right before this dark shape descends to the earth and makes life really dicey. I pressed on through two hideous rainstorms after a brief stop during the first. The hail did it to me. If you get a ton of hail on hot pavement it melts, creating a dense fog (been there, done that). So I kept moving.

The convention itself was fun. The folks running it are great, the programming was well attended and I had a blast. If I had any problem, it was that the hotel did not have a restaurant and the area around the hotel was not conducive to just trudging out and foraging. I'd barely settled into the bar on Friday night to try to get some bar food when they started the Karaoke. If I dislike interstates, I HATE karaoke. It's a learned dislike from Hong Kong. I'll write about that sometime down the line.

So Friday night's dinner was out of the vending machines (the consuite's P&J sandwiches didn't sound that intriguing) but Sat & Sun perked up. The consuite folks shoveled food in my direction and we braved Nashville traffic Sat evening to make a food and booze run. Life got better.

All in all, the con was a great time. I had a few moments to talk to Sherrilyn Kenyon, who is a very nice lady. Met some new folks, connected with friends and sold books. I'm hoping that the convention continues to grow so they can move into a better hotel with a restaurant. Oh, and other bright note to the weekend -- they had an antique car show in the hotel parking lot. There was this 'Vette..... (sigh)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Life of Writer or Writer Reality 101

Writer Reality 101 -- It's not the glamorous job you see in the movies (none of my writer buddies look like Johnny Depp) and 99.9% of us barely make enough to buy the odd ink cartridge and ream of paper. Sounds depressing, doesn't it?

It really isn't. It's an obsession up there with most other life-changing addictions. But there are days when even the rush of ordering nouns and verbs into coherent sentences doesn't sound the least bit fun. The sort of day you hope the aliens will land and declare that writing is forbidden from that moment on, on the pain of death. Such was yesterday. A normal day by all accounts, but only a day or so removed from my last convention. I was tired, dog tired (why don't they ever say 'cat tired'?) and the last damned thing I wanted to do was write.

So I escaped the house and the lure of the Electronic Vampire (the Internet) and took up residence at my local coffee house. (Yes, they have Wi-Fi, but I feel guilty if I surf there when I should be working.) I put butt in chair and typed on the keyboard for 4.5 out of the 5 hours I was there. My butt got sore (despite the chair pads I tote along) and I longed for a nap so I finally decamped and headed home. My word count for the day wasn't stellar, but I fleshed out some scenes and realized that Alastair (the alturistic physician in my series) just wouldn't go for the orgy scene, no matter how hard I tried.

That's what it's like to be a writer. Yes, there are the really cool moments, but mostly it's work like anything else. Of course, you can pick your venue (like the coffee house) and your hours (unless you have a real job). It doesn't matter if you're Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Ima Newbie Writer, the process is the same. Well, actually it would be different for the first two; they'd never get any work done in a public venue as folks would constantly ask for their autograph. Luckily, I do not have that affliction.

In the end, the love of the story becomes manifest and you hit that sweet spot. The book outgrows and transcends you, winging its way out of the nest. Left behind is another tiny egg that needs nurturing, your next book. It's fragile and needs constant attention to grow to fruition.

Time to park your butt, warm up those digits and get to hatching...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sci-Fi Summer Con

As noted in my previous blog, SFSC is a much smaller, more intimate con. And it was. The hotel was so-so (but to be fair, after the Adam's Mark in Dallas, almost every hotel will be so-so) but it was still a good time. The panels were a bit eclectic, but it was a nice change from the rigid structure at most conventions. I got to meet new people (Chesya Burke, Christina Barber, D. Lee Hatchett) and b.s. with friends of which there were a fair number. I sold a few books, tried both 12 and 15 yr. Glenfiddich (still taste-testing my merry way through single malt scotch whiskeys) and had a good time. There is something rather cool about wandering down a hallway and finding someone nose deep into your book, oblivious to the world. A very pleasant writer moment.

And now it's time to pack and gas up the Gizmo (the Honda Hybrid) for the road trip to Nashville and HyperiCon. Sherrilyn Kenyon will be there and I'm in awe of her marketing. It'll be a kick to watch her interact with her numerous (okay, squillons) of readers.

Later folks...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


There are times in a writer's life that everything goes just perfectly. This last weekend was one of them. I spent four days in Dallas, doing my writer thing at A-Kon ( This is a very large Anime convention with 12K+ attendees. The last time I was at an A-Kon it was held at the Hyatt at DFW Airport and had about 6.5K attendees. The con's nearly doubled in three years.

Most conventions are polite to their guests. A-Kon treats me like I just landed a $4 million book contract, appeared on Oprah, won a Hugo and a Nebula and just spent the night with George Clooney. Of course, I have a better chance at all of those but the last (sigh). Now I always try to do my best for a con, even if they're not really busting their cookies for me. I go over the top for A-Kon because I know if they're treating me that well, they're doing the same to the fen. And the fen are what makes a convention (and my books) successful.

I met up with some writer buddies (Melanie "Hoosier Red" Fletcher, Thomas Knowles (and son), Helen McCarthy, P.N. Elrod and Gloria Oliver (no relation). We b.s.'s about life and times, sold some books and put on some good panels.

Melanie, Thomas and I also had the opportunity to work over some new writers during our workshop. The two gentlemen who girded their loins and faced our criticism earn my utmost respect. They had no idea if we were going to be pricks or not. We weren't. We've been there and know that nasty comments do not a writer make. We got good input while we were learning the trade (and still are learning, by the way) and it's only fair we do the same to the newer ones in our midst. Both gentlemen have talent and their ability to take our remarks without losing their cool shows they've got what it takes to make it in this business. I wish them all the best and hope someday to hear they've received their first book contract.

Now that I've overcome my 'con lag' (amazingly short recovery time, by the way) I'm gearing up for Sci-Fi SummerCon here in Atlanta. Much smaller convention, more intimate. And no hassles with security at the airport. Always a plus. I'll post a report next week.

Overhead at A-Kon: "Don't leave! I'll make pudding!"

Friday, June 02, 2006

Gearing Up for 3 in a Row

I'm the bozo who sets my schedule (at least at present) so I'm the one who blithely set up three conventions in a row. I should know better, but there's part of me that loves conventions. I get to meet new people, catch up with friends and yes, sell a few books. Hopefully, a lot of the latter now that I no longer work for myself. Need to make my publisher proud.

The buzz on the new book has been unreal. This one's a winner. I hope to introduce more folks to Jacynda, Alastair & Keats. They're a great crew to write about. And I'd love them even more if they'd make up their minds what they'd like to happen in the second book. "Hey, what if aliens landed on top of Buckingham Palace and..." Not happening, guys. Get with program.

I'll post reports after each con (A-Kon, Sci Fi SummerCon & HyperiCon). Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville. I sound like an announcer in a Greyhound Bus Station...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Many Miles Shall Ye Travel

And so we did. It was a movin' sort of weekend from Thurs at 4:30 a.m. until last night at 9:00 p.m. We started our tour in the fair city of Richmond at Creatures n Crooks for a book signing Thurs night. It'd been a long drive (over 8 hrs.) but we caught some food, a nap and had a brain by the time we reached the book store. Got to meet Leila and Hamilton, the store cat. Hamilton wasn't too interested in us, he was waiting for Tony Ruggerio. Tony is his favorite even though Tony isn't that fond of cats. Once a cat knows that, you're doomed.

Tony was dressed in a sharp-looking tux, Tee in his pirate garb. Hubby and I were in full Victorian (hot). (Mental note -- write characters who wear less clothes). I finally got to meet Tony's daugher, Alex. She has a dry sense of humor I can appreciate (like her dad). Tee (Morris) was in his usual fine form and taped a podcast during the signing. We had about 10 folks present, did an impromptu 'panel' and then signed books. Lots of fun!

Tony's newest book (Alien Deception) debuted at the signing and it's a beaut. Aliens in the White House... hummm... After the signing the gents (and Alex) were off to Balticon. Hubby and I headed south so that we could be in Columbia, SC by Saturday afternoon.

Aliens & Alibis have two stores cats -- Serena and Bertie. Welcomed by Deb and Gary (the owners) we opted not to put on full Victorian garb as the day had turned downright blistering. Again we had about ten folks in, chit-chatted about books, life and the universe and had a good time. Aliens & Alibis was about to pack their books into boxes and move into a new space, so I was the last signing at their old location.

All in all, a grand weekend. Since we got home on Sat evening, we plan on spending the rest of the holiday weekend doing little odd jobs around the house, grilling a few pieces of dead bovine and kicking back. I'm hoping I get to return to both cities sometime down the line and visit Leila, Deb & Gary again. They treated this author very well.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Fiddling While Rome Burns

You gotta love your elected officials. It's either that or you'll be reduced to tears.

Two burning issues were addressed this week in Washington --

A Senate vote to ensure that English is the official language of the USA

Taking the first steps to amend the Constitution to ensure that marriage is a union between a man and a woman

Riveting stuff, that. I was really worried that foreign gay folks were going to run out and get hitched in their native language. Definitely a threat to our democracy and the 'sanctity of marriage.'

You folks are pandering again. The only danger to the sanctity of marriage is divorce. But since some of you are really troubled by a same sex couples marrying, give those folks the right to a civil union. If it's a sin, it'll get sorted out by the Head Office. If not, it's none of your business.

English the official language of the country? That's a no-brainer. It is. Yes, there are pockets of this country that speak another language. But the language of commerce is English. I expect those who come here from somewhere else to learn the language. That doesn't mean I expect you to be fluent or forget yours. Being bilingual is a leg-up in the world. I've never achieved that what with my smattering of French and Russian. If I had intended to stay longer in Hong Kong, I would have fried my brain trying to learn Cantonese.

If I ever settle in a foreign country, I will learn the language. That's the way it should be. However, that country does not need to waste time and money passing a law that tells me that Outer Googlesnap's Official Language is Marzipan. Unlike our elected officials, I suspect the Gogglesnappians will have more sense.

Friday, May 12, 2006

We, the People...

The average American is not a happy camper. I won't relate the litany of reasons why, but deep in their hearts they know things need to change. No, this isn't a diatribe against Washington.

This is one citizen's list of suggestions to make America a strong and decent country.

1) No one should be able to skirt our laws and not be in jail. Doesn't matter if you live in the White House or a third-floor walkup in Manhattan. The laws are there for a purpose. Use them.

2) Stop wrapping yourself in your religion. The more you tout your piety, the more you prove yourself a hypocrite. If you want to be a moral and decent person, walk the walk. Everything else is just sound bites and photo ops.

2) To the Democrats -- grow some balls, people. Ditto for some of you Republicans. I hold all of you as responsible as the people at the top. You let them have their merry way because you were too afraid you'd not get re-elected next time. Well, that's likely to happen anyway. So get with the program...

And the program is?

WE, the people, are you employers. WE pay your salaries and WE expect competent, caring leadership. If you accept bribes, you're gone. If you pay fast and loose with our nation's laws, you're gone. If we wanted leaders like you, we'd move to Iraq. We have a Constitution for a reason. Let's use it. It worked great for the first 200+ years. Nothing in the world is different (yes, there were terrorists even then) so there is no reason to tinker with the system.

And now to my neighbors -- get involved, people. Pay attention to who is running for office. Ask questions and demand answers. These officials will be holding your life and that of your children in their hands for years to come. Think that's a bit dramatic? Just remember the folks in New Orleans or the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two final steps -- vote and then keep an eye on these turkeys. American can't handle any more governments like the one we've had over the past 6 years. We need to get back on track and that's not going to happen if WE, the people, don't kick some ass.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Once More Dear Friends...

into the breach. Yes, it's that time again... time to start another book. So begins the round of lip gnawing, butt aching, hair pulling and ego bashing work that is creating a novel. There are moments of triumph and moments of depression. It's what I do. A part of me loves that brief interval between novels as there are no characters tugging on my pants legs, nattering in my ear or waking me up in the middle of the night. But that bliss doesn't last. The voices in my head are a bit too strong for that.

Next book is due Feb 1. That sounds like a very long time away. It isn't. If I get it done before that, I'll rejoice. That's very unlikely with the Con(vention) Schedule from Hell I have this year. The cons aren't hell, just the schedule. 11 total and that's not counting the booksignings. I did it to myself. In fact, just to add to the horror, I booked a convention in Seattle (Left Coast Crime ( for Feb. 1, the day the book's due. Nothing like pushing the envelope.

So for those of you currently reading Sojourn ( take heart. The adventures of Jacynda, Alastair and Jonathon will continue. After all, by my count, I left some five or six things unresolved at the end of the last book.

Bad, bad author :)


Monday, April 24, 2006

Sojourn Comes to Fruition

A year-long effort paid off this last weekend --

It was with great fanfare (and a bustle) that I launched SOJOURN at the Ripper Convention in Baltimore. The books arrived on my doorstep (courtesy of the efforts of my publisher Gwen Gades) on Tuesday. We left for the convention on Wednesday. I grew a few more gray hairs over this one.

If you've never been to a Ripper gathering, they're great fun, always packed with intelligent folks, good booze and some interesting discussions. Speaking of greats, two premiere Ripperologists (as they're called) were there -- Robin Odell and Don Rumbelow. Others included Alan Sharp (who did wonders for a kilt,) Andy & Claudia Aliffe, Judy & Leroy Stock, Christopher-Michael DiGrazia (who did wonders for a white tux and lilac vest,) Stephen Ryder (founder of Casebook: Jack the Ripper)and the so-called Queen of Mean herself, Ally R.

The husband and I donned our Victorian garb for Saturday evening's banquet and blended right in. I bought bunches of books and stayed up way later than was prudent. But hey, it only happens every two years in the US. In 2007, it's the Brits' turn and I can't wait to make that one.

Who knows, maybe I'll have another book done by then.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Please, Not Again

Despite claims from our government, there is a slow and frightening move toward a confrontation (war) with Iran. We're treading the exact same ground, using the same rhetoric, playing all the games we did right before we entered Iraq.

Yes, Iran has their hands in various unsavory pies and will, most likely, have nuclear weapon capability in the next two years or so. Korea is a bigger threat, but no one in Washington seems too worried about them. The cynic in me is sure this has something to do with oil.

Invading (yes, folks, that's what we did) Iraq was the equivalent of kicking over a 4-story beehive. Lots of very angry bees. Iran will be nothing like Iraq. For the most part, they are a unified country, a DEMOCRACY, and if we attack, all hell will break loose. Do you expect that other Arab countries are going to stand by while we invade another of their neighbors? Won't they be wondering, "When's our turn?" We are already seen as the aggressors -- we'll become a rogue state.

Perhaps the Christians are right and Armageddon is just around the door, courtesy of Geo. Bush and his buddies. If we go into Iran, we'll have the opportunity to see just how bad things can get.

Now's the time to stop this nonsense. Contact your elected officials and demand we use diplomacy, not bunker busters. We don't have the money, the soldiers or the moral high ground to bomb or otherwise harass Iran. If we think we can win this one, we are beyond delusional.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Slippery Road

This from today's NY Times:

"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggested on Thursday for the first time that the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occur exclusively within the United States."

During the meeting, Rep. Adam Schiff stated that Mr. Gonzales' refusal to rule out domestic interceptions with a warrant, "represents a wholly unprecedented assertion of executive power. No one in Congress would deny the need to tap certain calls under court order, but if the administration believes it can tap purely domestic phone calls between Americans without court approval, there is no limit to executive power. This is contrary to settled law and the most basic constitutional principles of the separation of powers."

No matter the intentions of our president and his people, whether they honestly believe they are trying to keep us safe or they have a maniacal bent, the slow erosion of personal liberties scares the hell out of me. We are attempting to build a democracy in Iraq while we are dismanteling our own.

Our safety can be assured by using the framework of the Constitution. Our just laws are our beacon of light into an otherwise murky world. That light is being dimmed.

"Hey, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's goin' down."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Can It Get Any Sillier?

Couldn't resist making a few comments about two subjects that rubbed me the wrong way --

First up -- Cynthia McKinney's run-in with a Capitol cop. If you didn't hear about this, members of Congress are allowed to go around the security check point and metal detector at the Capitol. They're supposed to be wearing a little pin that identifies them as PTB (Powers That Be). Cynthia doesn't wear hers and when a cop asked her stop (three times) she just kept on moving. He grabbed onto her and she hit him. End of story.

Here's a hint, hun. Wear your damned button. Striking a cop just isn't cool. He was doing his job. Do yours and help the poor schmuck. It's not his responsibility to recognize you out of the 500+ other members of Congress. His job is security. Your job is not to act like a spoiled brat. And please, drop the race card thing, will you? Yes, there is serious descrimination out there. But everytime you whine about something like this, it takes away from the real work that needs to be done.

Rant #2: Paris Hilton. Will this woman never go away? Why does her 15 minutes of fame feel like 10 centuries? So what's the latest, you ask? Some person wants to have Paris star in a movie. As you can see, we already have a problem here. But worse yet, he wants her to have the role of (are you ready for this?) Mother Theresa. Yup, the nun who spent her life working in the slums of Calcutta. The nun who owned two saris and damned little else.

You see why I'm annoyed. This is so asinine as to be offensive and I'm not even Catholic. Give me a break, will you? Paris Hilton should be embarrassed enough to say, "Uh, no thanks. That's not right."

Don't hold your breath waiting for that line. I'm still trying to figure out how they're going to work the teacup chihuahua into this one.

And now back to your regularly scheduled life. Thanks for allowing me to vent. It's cheaper than medication.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Chillin' in Chattanooga

This was FantaSciCon's first year, but you'd never know it. That's because the folks behind it (Dutch & Mikey, etal) have done a few conventions before. Having had such a blast at HallowCon last October, I tooled up to Chattanooga last weekend all set for a good time.

And a good time was had. The food, the conversation and alcohol were a nice way for this writer to relax. Met all sorts of new and intriguing folks: Ernie Saylor (editor of Aberrant Dreams Magazine), Rob Shelsky (writer of SF and time travel romances), his friend George, Pauline Griffin (Literary Special Guest) and R.D. Hammond, who goes by many names. I also reconnected with Walter Rice (he of the paranormal bent). I also got to meet Chris & Melissa Jones (SciFiSummerCon) and break bread with them. Since I'll be at their convention in June, it worked out great to do some strategic planning.

Now I'm home, unwinding and try to muck out the house before a friend arrives on my doorstep Wed. Since the house is a bit of a pit, that might take some doing. But still... maybe I can afford a quick nap to overcome the 'con lag'. Besides, I have to unearth my sweeper.

Later folks....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Gearing Up

Sojourn's manuscript has made it through the typesetter's capable fingers, proofed by both myself and a sharp-eyed proofreader (my buddy Nanette) and now it's back for revisions and then off to the printer. It's weird to see what you wrote all nicely set out on a page. It seems more 'official' or worthy of consideration than when it was a 'mere' MS Word file.

There is, also, the realization that once it's in print, I have to live with it. As it was, I made a number of tweaks to the galley (bad, bad author). Very soon the 'baby' will arrive, warts and all.

Not that this one has warts, of course. :) It's a cool story, one I'm VERY proud of. But just to keep me grounded, friend Nanette invited me over to her place to sample various teas to go with her marvelous gourmet brownies. ( Chocolate and fine tea. A needed respite from the labor pains of a book.

Off to Fantasicon this weekend in scenic Chattanooga. Always a good time. A report will be in the offing...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Con Central

I managed to survive two conventions, back to back, on top of finishing the edits to my manuscript. And I didn't kill anyone, myself included. StellarCon was the first convention of what promises to be a busy year. Held in High Point, it pulled together a number of intriguing writer guests (ghosts as I call them) including the inevitable Tee Morris, Tony Ruggerio and a new acquaintance, Anthony Karnowski. I chatted with Anthony and his brother-in-law until the week hours of the morning on Saturday about a variety of topics. Very pleasant fellows. I finally got to meet the amazing Mur Lafferty and actually did a few panels.

Weekend #2 was in Roanoke (about a 7 and some hour drive from Atlanta) and SheVaCon. A bit quieter gig than StellarCon, it underwent some reorganization programming-wise in the last year. Some of panels didn't quite fit my capabilities, but I'm always willing to give stuff a try. Got to catch up with Laura Underwood & Stephe Pagel (Meisha Merlin Publishing) and hear what's new in their lives. Tony Ruggerio was kind enough to allow me to share his table in the dealer's room, so I hung there, with our mutual buddy Patrick, for much of the con. The trip home was LONG as I really don't like to drive more than about 5 hours at a stretch.

The convention isn't for a couple of weeks (Fantasicon in Chattanooga) so I get to muck out the house, plan the advertising campaign for the new book and generally try to find my brains. I have 12 cons on the books this year--I have to be a lunatic. The trick is finding the time to write the new book...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

And We're in the Home Stretch

Yes, I'm writing about "The Book" again. Actually "the manuscript" at this point. Working with the editor was absolutely painless. I can hear some of my fellow writers muttering "And what drugs are you taking, babe?" Nope, the process was fabulous. Adrienne, She of the Red Pencil (more like red typeface since we do this electronically) was awesome. She got right into the story, understood my characters and asked the tough questions. All her ideas led to scene changes/dialog that enhanced the final product. That's what an editor does. Besides, she had a great sense of humor, which is cool, especially we were doing this edit at an accelerated pace.

Next stop? Typesetter. Then I look at the 'galley' as it's called, pencil in corrections and then off to the printer. If you want to see the cover design, go here:

There'll be another blog about how such designs come to fruition.

Gee, you know, this feels good. Now I have to pack for SheVaCon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Late Term Pregnancy -- Bookwise

Nope, never was brave enough to have a baby. But I've given birth to three books (skip the visual, please) and currently working on the fourth. This one is an assisted labor as the folks doing the heavy pushing are my publishers, Dragon Moon Press. It's such a new concept for me since all my other work was self-pubbed. Somewhere an editor is beetling away on my manuscript, the publisher is hiring a typesetter and the cover is being created by a very talent artist. Wow. Of course, I'll be involved in the editing process when 'she of the red pencil' comes back and asks, "So why did you decide to have the heroine change sexes on page 323?" and such like that.

Still, it's a unique experience so I'm savoring it. First times and all that. There are only a few times you get to be a virgin in the publishing industry...