Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Change of Address

To streamline my life, which has gotten complicated for some reason, I'm blogging on only one site from this point on - my Jana Oliver blog on the main website. I will continue to check here on LJ to see what you folks are up to, however, and post as needed. Can't miss your exploits.

If you want to follow my doings there are many ways to achieve that:
Twitter (crazyauthorgirl)

Now you know why life has gotten complicated!

Happy Holidays to One and All! Here's hoping 2011 is a WAY better year for all of us.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Busy, Busy

Busy, busy. But getting better. That's the weather forecast in Jana's world. The first weekend of the month began in North Carolina. When we were driving out of Atlanta it began to sleet. Yuck. Then we get twenty minutes from home and I realize I didn't pack the camera or (more important) the video projector for my talk in Charlotte. Dumb. So we drive home, get said items, and head back north again and by this time the sucky weather had passed.
The projector and portable screen are merely contingency plans (I've learned the hard way on that score) and definitely not needed at the Hickory Tavern in NW Charlotte. The room was huge, with massive open windows, and there was big projector screen. Unfortunately it was way sunny so some of the images got a bit bleached out, but overall it went really well. The Charlotte folks were so gracious and so many of them were at the beginning of their writer journey. After the event the Spouse and I adjourned to a Panera, commandeered a table and eat bread bowl soup while I edited a non-fiction article. Yum. I love soup this time of year.

Thanksgiving Day went very well. We had a wonderful turkey dinner, just the two of us. The kitchen cabinet painting was in full swing so things were a mess, but I didn't care. It was great to break out the good china, sit in the dining room (the kitchen table was full of stuff from the cabinets) and have a really fine meal.

Many things are In The Works. On the US side, DEMON TRAPPER'S DAUGHTER is garnering reviews. My marketing lady tells me that there will be the first two chapters of the book posted on closer to publication. And there will be special short story about Riley's first solo trapping adventure entitled RETRO DEMONOLOGY.

On the UK side we've created a Google map that shows some of the places used in the series and we're developing a Picasa photo site so folks can check out pictures of those sites. Reviews are rolling in over there as well and the first few on Amazon have been amazing. Another trip to Oakland Cemetery is in the works, but this time it won't be purely for reference. I wanted to give my new camera road test before we go on the road, but the Kitchen Cabinet Painting Project chewed up all of last weekend. And where are you off to now, Ms. Oliver? South Georgia. But I'll tell you more about that later this week.

Wishing all my US friends and readers a belated Happy Thanksgiving. Despite all the gloomy news we are forced to endure 24/7, we have much to be thankful for. And I'm very thankful for all of you.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Temptation on the Doorstep

A new post on Temptation at my website blog!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Goodreads Contest

Hey folks! My US publisher (St. Martin's Press) is running a contest on Goodreads through Dec 1st and the prizes are copies* of  THE DEMON TRAPPER'S DAUGHTER. They're giving away 48 copies, so be sure to pop out and register. You do have to be a member of Goodreads, so if you're not be sure to join. It's a great place to connect with other readers.

*Initially I thought these were advanced reader copies, but it appears they're the real deal. That's even better.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Paperback Dolls Interview

Just a quick post to invite you to Paperback Dolls today. My interview is up and later today they'll be posting my article about Oakland Cemetery. There is a gift basket in the offing! Drop by. Leave a comment. You know you want to!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Zombies, Beaches and Vodka

Zombies, beaches and vodka. Just what do they have in common? My life (and thanks for asking). The zombies were everywhere in Atlanta over Dragon*Con. They even had a Zombie Ball. No, I have NO pictures of zombies. My husband did take a few (see left for a fine young specimen rifling through the newspaper machines.) So what is it with me and zombies? Why did I hot foot it out of Oakland Cemetery one day when a Zombie Walk invaded the place?

Personal confession: I'm not cool with the undead. Vampires/vampyres (no matter how you spell the word) fall into this category. Whenever I see one I think "You're so dead, dude. Here, let me complete the process with this wooden stake." I know that vamps can be charmingly hypnotic, able to leap tall buildings, seduce virgins and can even sparkle, but THEY'RE DEAD, okay. Zombies are just a lower social class of vamps. The ones with no fashion sense and few social skills. They wear ratty, blood-stained clothes, moan a lot and complain about how they never get enough brains to eat. They shamble or shuffle and are truly grotesque. Hence my dislike of all things Zombie. Movies, comics, TV shows, you name it. And especially Zombie Balls. At least a Vamp Ball would have some class and I bet their mixed drinks would be unforgettable.

Fortunately, a friend of mine knows my desire to Avoid All Things Zombie so she steered me away from the Westin hotel right after my Alternate History panel since that's where that aforementioned ball was being held. I briskly hiked outside (you don't dare run or they'll come after you) only to encounter them on the street in their tattered dresses, their gray and bloody faces and with their pathetic moans. Sigh. Maybe by next year the con goers will fall in love with something less nasty--like werewolves or something. How's about a Werewolf/Lycanthrope Ball for a change? Though they might be shaggy and have raging cases of Full Moon Syndrome, werewolves are cool. Even cooler in a tux or a ball gown. I'd so be there. With a flea collar, of course.

Of course, because I have a thing against Zombies I included a version of them in my Demon Trappers Series. My reanimates (Deaders) don’t eat brains and they dress nice for the recently deceased. Shopping when you're a copse is problematic. They don’t shuffle or shamble and they don’t hold social events. Deaders are kinda sad, actually. They’re not supposed to be above ground so their minds don’t function quite right. Often they go “screensaver mode” and just stop moving. Quite sad. No, these guys will not be trotting off to some ball in downtown Atlanta in the near future. Or if they do, I don’t want to know about it, okay?

But what about the beaches and vodka you ask? Those references are to the delightful news that my Demon Trappers Series has sold in Brazil (for Portuguese translation) and into Mother Russia! Beaches and vodka. I have no idea when those editions will see the light of the day, but I'm still jazzed.

I bet the Brazilians and the Russians know how to handle zombies properly. Just sayin'...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Research Happens

No matter what, just like death, taxes and manuscript revisions, research is inevitable. Especially when you're a writer. No matter how well you know a subject it's always best to check your sources. So here's what I'm up to nowadays.

First out of the box -- the research for my panels at Dragon*Con. What, you say? Research for a panel? Don't you wing it?" It really depends on the panel. Some I can, others require my nose in a book or some surfing on the Internet. I research the panel topic because I have no desire to look like a complete idiot in front of a roomful of people. Who will tell their friends. And their pets. And all of Facebook that Jana is *cough* dense. Hence the homework.

Currently, I'm collecting data for my Myth and Reality of Victorian London panel, digging through my extensive collection of Victorian tomes to tease out just the right (and hopefully intriguing) facts. The Face of the Demon panel has me scrabbling for all my demon/Fallen angel reference books, along with some of the fiction that has defined demons over the centuries. The other panels require less research, which is a blessing.

And I'm researching tattoos (the history of) for an essay I'm writing for an upcoming BenBella SmartPop anthology on the House of Night series (by my buds P.C. and Kristin Cast). Fascinating subject, tattooing. Now I just have to boil all the info (and the HoN lore) down to less than 5K words.

Finally, there's the history of Lucifer, from the first appearance of hasatan (The Adversary) in the Hebrew Bible all the way through the New Testament and Lucifer's metamorphosis into Satan. That research has me parsing Jewish, Christian and Muslim resources. Some aren't that easy to understand, but as long as I get the drift of the commentary, I'm good.

All of this research will spill over into my writing, of course. Even the Victorian bits though I'm not writing about that time period. There's an "additive" effect when you conduct research -- it sparks the brain cells, gets you thinking in new directions. And more times than not, that leads to a another story idea.

So what are you researching at present? The history of stamp collecting? How to balance a plate on your head? Come on, don't be shy. We really want to know.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dragon*Con Ahoy!

As always, I'll be at Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend. Here's my schedule lest you'd like to encounter me in person, have me sign a book or just bend my ear. It's less intensive than in previous years and I'm glad of that. I might even pop down to the Decatur Book Festival to have a look around. Never been there so that should be fun as long as it's not raining.

Here's the schedule. Hope to see some of you at Dragon!

Friday, Sept. 3rd

Time: 5:30pm
What: Reading
Where: University - Hyatt Regency
I'll be reading from my Demon Trappers Series and from something new.

Time: 8:30pm
What: The Myth and Reality of Victorian London
 It's been steampunked, rebooted (in the latest Holmes movie) and time-traveled through...but what was it REALLY like?
Where: International C - Westin

Saturday, Sept. 4th

Time: 1:00pm
What: Steam Queen and Clockwork Hookers: Women in Steampunk
Sprouting from pulp sci-fi and boys' adventure tales, is steampunk then a masculine genre? Panelists debate women's roles in literature & film.
Where: International C - Westin

Time: 2:30pm
What: Critique Groups vs. Beta Readers
Critique Groups/Beta Readers- Is there a place for both? Which is the most effective? What do you look for in each?
Where: Manila/Singapore/Hong Kong - Hyatt Regency

Sunday, Sept. 5th

Time: 10:00am
What: Face of the Demon
Depicting demons in literature; what shapes them, what influences their appearances both physical and behavioral?
Where: Fairlie - Hyatt Regency

Time: 10:00pm
What: Marketing Yourself
Finding effective ways of expanding your fanbase.
Where: Manila/Singapore/Hong Kong - Hyatt Regency

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shifting Gears

Demon Trappers Book #2 is now in the hands (or at least on the computer) of my editor. It was a difficult book to write because it was an emotional one. I do emo fairly well, but prefer action and mayhem. Combining the two takes some serious effort, but I think I got the balance just right. I'm hoping the readers like the twists and turns because there are quite a few.

Now that the book is gone (at least until the editor sends me revisions) I can revel in the euphoria of another major project off my list. That "Whee! It's outta here!" sort of buzz. It is always tempered by the "What if it really sucks?" Gollum-type murmurings in the back of my mind. Every writer has them. If you don't, I worry about you.

This is why a supportive spouse is very helpful. The convo went like this:

(In the kitchen during one of my caffeine acquisition treks).
Me: I'm not sure if I did everything I wanted in this book. It's good, but... (mumble, mumble)
Him: Is this version better than the one the betas readers read?
Me: Oh hell, yes.
Him: Then your job is done. Here, have some wine.

He also kept me fed, watered, ice-packed (for my neck, wrist and arm) and did all the errands and bought groceries so I could put in my 12 hour days without worrying about anything but The Book. He gets instant sainthood in my book. I think he'd rather have another banjo book instead.

I'm taking a week off before I start Book the Third (due April Fool's Day -- hold the jokes please). This week is promo and marketing. The good folks in the UK would love a playlist for the first book (titled DEMON TRAPPERS: FORSAKEN over there) and I've got Guild patches and a tee shirt to order and other good stuff to happen. All of this is rolling toward those Jan and Feb launch dates when Book the First toddles out in front of the cameras and takes a bow.

But for now it's back to the coffee then I'll cue up Pandora. Life is good here. But then I wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Time Passes

It is with deep shame that I realize I've not posted since *cough* May. Lots has been happening in my world, all of it grand. My life is now divided between the books debuting in the US and the UK so we'll do a list so you folks don't have to read a lot:

The United Kingdom:
1) UK cover is live. It rocks! I LOVE the demon wing graphic and the word on the Interwebs is that other folks do too.
2) The UK version of the book (entitled DEMON TRAPPERS: FORSAKEN) is available at various locations, including Book Depository which is selling it at a pre-order price of half-off. (Such a deal)
 3) I've completed the copy edit of this book. Next up is the page proofs.

The United States:
1) US cover is still in production, but I've seen an early mock-up and it's way cool. Lots of urban fantasy goodness to it. US title: THE DEMON TRAPPER'S DAUGHTER (no link yet)
3) US copy edit and page proofs have been reviewed and returned. Next stage is Advanced Reading Copies which will be circulated to reviewers, bookstore buyers, etc.

The Work in Progress:
1) Book #2 is due to the US editor mid-August (eep!) After we've completed revisions it will be sent to the UK for their revisions. US version does not have a title yet. UK version: DEMON TRAPPERS: FORBIDDEN

And the now for the really awesome news -- we got publication dates!!!

DEMON TRAPPERS: FORSAKEN (MacMillan's Children's UK) will be published Jan. 7, 2011
THE DEMON TRAPPER'S DAUGHTER (St. Martin's Griffin US) will be published Jan. 13 Feb. 1, 2011

January is gonna be one very busy month, folks.

That's the update. Will try not to be so quiet from this point on. And now that obligatory link to something cool on the Web. Check out the photos. Somedays I feel like the croc with the hippos.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Magic I Love

Being an author has its disadvantages. One of the issues is that I don't look at a book quite the same way the average reader does. Most folks come to a story with the hope that it will let them "fall through the hole in the page" (as per Stephen King). I expect that as well, but I'm also all about craft, like a pro tennis player watching another pro do his/her thing, constantly analyzing each move to see how it works.

So when I find an author that allows me to switch off the writer brain for a time, I'm ecstatic. Such has been the case with the writing team of Ilona and Gordon Andrews (writing as Ilona Andrews). They have two series now, but by far my most favorite is their Kate Daniels series (MAGIC BITES, MAGIC BURNS, MAGIC STRIKES). Their latest endeavor (MAGIC BLEEDS) is debuting on May 25th and I am all over this book. To the point of knowing that I will devote hours I do not have (because of my own looming deadline*) to reading it because their stories are that compelling. They have hooked me so solidly into their world I must know what happens next.

Does that mean I don't try to figure out how they do the magic they do? Hell no. I've studied their prose, their plotting, the whole works. In the process I've grown a healthy case of envy because they seem to make it look so effortless. I know the process is anything but easy, still I admire pros at the peak of their game. So if you enjoy a top quality urban fantasy I highly recommend the Andrews' work. It's my joy to salute them for another story about the amazing Kate Daniels and the bizarre world in which she operates.

Sometime down the line I'll explain how their work inspired my own Demon Trappers Series and why, in their own way, they helped move my career further down the playing field. For this post, it's all about them.

Thanks for all your hard work, folks. It's mucho appreciated.

*Deadlines either lurk or loom. They don't seem to have any other method of operation and the switch between lurking and looming is sudden and often very ugly.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Another Link in the Chain

So on Monday evening a heavy package plunked on my doorstep -- the copy edits from my U.S. publisher (St. Martin's Press). I always cringe when I open packages like this as I expect to find the page solidly red with corrections. I'm pleased to say that's not the case. The CE has caught my inconsistencies, taught me that Duffle is actually spelled Duffel (who knew?) and that clearly I have a nasty addiction to ellipses and em dashes.

I'm not alone in this journey. As noted by the photo, a Lego version of Darth Vader is helping me. Once I'm finished with reviewing the manuscript it goes back for another review and then onto typesetting. Then I'll get to see a galley which will be exactly how the final book will look. Soon a book cover will appear in my IN box. When I'm given the greenlight to share it I shall!

The same process plays out for the U.K. version. Somehow I doubt the Germans will be having me check over their copy edit.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

On the Consumption of Alcohol

Because the next few weeks are going to be quite full of work, I was pleased to take some time off and unwind at AnachroCon. I know a great many of the folks that attend this convention and that means I'm hanging with "family." As usual there were unique costumes, amazingly intelligent presentations and some very good food at Giovanni's (the Italian restaurant right next to the hotel). I even had the pleasure of speaking to Thomas Jefferson who is a most delightful fellow.

The con went fine for me except for an odd occurance related to beer and a hangover. As in I got one, but not in the traditional "how many six packs can I chug?" kind. Friday evening I had a glass of wine with my dinner (yum) and then later I repaired to the pool area to enjoy the scent of pipe smoke from my colleagues and to have a Shiner Bock. I like Shiner Bock beer. It's unpretentious and though I might argue about a lot of stuff that Texas does, this beer is one of my favorites. I turn in at a decent hour because at 10:45 the next morning there is An Hour With Jana Oliver, which means the Jana had better have a working brain.

I wake at eight. My stomach rolls over seconds later. As in the "OMG how much did I drink last night?" kind of lurch. But I had been sensible, which my body did not seem to notice. It was acting like I'd consumed my body weight in beer (which is a lot, folks). Food was out of the question so I starting sucking down water as fast as possible. I managed to get a bit of string cheese in place. The nausea persists, along with that spinning head thing. Not good, I think, but at least it's not food poisoning. I do make it to my presentation and did fairly well except for the need to sit down in the middle of it because I was dizzy. Then I went back to my room, took a long nap and starting reintroducing food to the system (along with tons of water).

Not food poisoning. Not alcohol poisoning. All I can think is that I was overly dehydrated on Friday what with rushing around to get to the con and with the obsessively healthy diet I've been eating, the introduction of heavy carb-laden beer was a bad idea. Very bad. Since it's the first I've had in over a month, that might be the case.

I was circumspect and nary a drop of beer passed my lips Saturday night (nor any other alcohol I might add).  I am ashamed to admit that I am becoming a Light Weight. Sigh. In future I'll stick to wine and single malt scotch in temperate quantities. But I will remember my former adventures with beer with some fondness.

Next year AnachroCon will be held in late February. Do attend. It's well worth the price of admission.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

AnachroCon Approacheth

It is time for another appearance amongst humanity (writers can be an antisocial lot on occasion). Tomorrow I shall don the ancient garb (in this case Victorian) and send my person toward AnachroCon, our local alternate history/steampunk convention. I have been given a lovely list of tasks to accomplish, will meet up with friends both old and new, and generally have a grand time.

The timing is good. My copy edits shall arrive tomorrow via the Brown Truck and after the con I shall cease to exist on most folks' radar until that task is done. I'll post more on that subject down the line. 

My schedule at AnachroCon is thus:
1:00 p.m. -- Opening Ceremonies
1:15 p.m. -- Somewhere in Time: Time Travel Romances
2:30 p.m. -- Victorian Sci-Fi Lit

10:45 a.m. -- An Hour with Jana Oliver
(I won't just be talking about moi. I'm suspecting some Jack the Ripper might intrude)

So if you're keen for some fun this weekend, drop by and introduce yourself!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Reads I Recommend

What with lots of good stuff going on in my world, I thought it only right to share news of others. In particular, friends o'mine. So here's some of the new books just waiting for you to give them a whirl --

Aching to draw cool fantasy pictures but don't know how? Then check out
FANTASY ART TEMPLATES by my friend Jean Marie Ward and illustrator Rafi Adrian Zulkarnain. "The author-illustrator team provides templates for more than 50 fantasy types, including wizards, male and female warriors, elves and fairies, giants, pirates, mythical gods, angels and devils, dragons, griffins, ogres, ghouls, goblins, sirens, and many others. Generic templates capture each prototype fantasy figure in a series of action poses that designers can adapt to portray famous characters or invent new ones."

Today sees the launch of BURNED, the eighth book in the wildly popular HOUSE OF NIGHT Series by P.C. Cast and her daughter, Kristin Cast. This series is hitting the top of the New York Times and USA Today lists and has the most dedicated group of fen (plural of fan) imaginable. They so love their HoN!

 And on May 4th author Jeri Smith-Ready's debut Young Adult novel (SHADE) will hit the bookstores! I had the joy of reading the first draft of this novel and it's great. A strong heroine paired with a unique story premise and you've got good reading. Jeri's already known for her fantasy novels and her WVMP vampire series. SHADE will introduce her talents to a whole new group of readers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of Coming Events

Breaking my radio silence to announce that the next couple of weeks are packed with event. Actually that should be events. Though my chat with a class at North Springs H.S. has to be rescheduled (they're having a pep rally) I'm on for two conventions back to back. And somewhere in the middle of all that my copy edits will be landing in my IN box. Luckily they're not due back until mid-May. (wipes brow in relief)

Both cons are in Atlanta because this year I'm staying pretty close to home. 2011? Let's not think about that for the moment. With the new series out there I'm going to be all over creation and most of it will involve flying. Ack.

But I's what's cooking at Convention The First -- JordonCon (Apr 23-25), the annual fan convention honoring the late Robert Jordon, author of the Wheel of Time Series. Why am I there you ask? JordonCon has a new writers track this year and I'm thrilled to be part of it. And as you will see, I have my work cut out for me.

My schedule is thus:

Friday, Apr. 23 (2:30 p.m.)
Ins and Outs of Getting Published
So you've written a book, now what? Jana Oliver explains the ins and outs of taking a finished manuscript and getting it published and into your readers' hands.

Friday, (5:30 p.m.)
Alternative Publishing by Jana Oliver and David Wong
Is your work too weird and wonderful for mainstream? Or do you just like to have control of your stuff? David Wong and Jana Oliver reveal the pros and cons of going it alone.

Saturday, April 24. (10 a.m.)
The Future of Publishing by Brandon Sanderson, Jana Oliver and David Wong
E-publishing, Amazon vs. Macmillan. Blogs and viral marketing. What does this all mean for writers and readers? What can we expect as technology develops and readers desire to interact more with writers?

Sunday, Apr. 25 (10 a.m.)
Book Building by Jana Oliver
Jana Oliver takes you through the process of creating a book from first concept to final edit.

Hope to see some of you this coming weekend. Local cons are more laid back for me (Dragon*Con being the exception) so I'll have time to prop up my feet and chat. For more information on the guests, the schedule and where the con is located please see JordonCon's

The weekend after that is AnachroCon, but I'll post more later on.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

An Author's Take on Electronic Piracy

Just read this article by author Jeaniene Frost on e-piracy. It's a good summation of the impact of pirated books, not only on the publisher but what stolen works mean to the author and the reading public.

*Thanks to Ilona Andrews for linking to this article.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trapping Demons

I went to see AVATAR yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed watching someone else's world in action. Loved the detail. I was reminded that dreaming up new worlds and new creatures is an awesome job, but it requires a lot of paperwork.

Paperwork like the Demon Trappers Manual which will eventually be on the website. Trappers are ranked according to their status in the Guild - apprentice, journeyman and master - much like other trades. When an apprentice begins learning how to trap demons they are given a small portion of the manual to keep them from trapping above their abilities. Less dead apprentices that way. When they reach journeyman they get more of the manual and so on.

I included the first couple of pages of the manual (in particular the Demon Identification Guide) with my proposal and my editor loved it. So now I'm fleshing out the whole thing, not only as something my readers might like but also to keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to Hellspawn. In my world demons are classified by cunning and lethality ranging from Grade Ones to Grade Fives and then on to the Archfiends. (The Fallen Angels are another thing altogether). There are specific ways to trap these fiends, including the use of magical spheres which means the author needs to remember all that. Hence the need for the manual.

An excerpt:

Definition: A demon is any entity who serves Lucifer, the Prince of Hell. (See Section 5:45-52 for a detailed history of Lucifer’s Fall from Heaven. See Section 5:52-53 for Hell’s Organizational Chart.)

Grade One Fiends
Name: Biblio-Fiend
Nickname(s): PITA (pain-in-the-ass) or Little Pisser
Description: Three inches tall with chocolate brown skin and pointed ears.
Demonic Activity: Destroys books, urinates indiscriminately, prone to expletives.

These fiends are commonly found in libraries, bookstores or in book warehouses. They have an affinity for books, but their primary desire is to destroy them. Trapping them takes advantage of their love-hate relation with the written word. Reading from a book, particularly a classic work with dense prose, will cause a temporary paralysis. Once disabled, they can be secured in a closed container for transport.

And so it goes on from there. I have to admit this is pretty much a blast to write. Now if I could only figure out Hell's Organizational Chart. I got the head guy, I just need to figure out the rest.