Monday, July 30, 2007

Voice of Crow available for pre-order

This isn't news to a lot of you, but I think the last time I mentioned it, the notice was buried in the middle of a post about something entirely different.


Voice of Crow is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Mysterious Galaxy (my favorite independent sf/f bookstore).

And if you really feel like planning ahead, you can pre-order Wicked Game from Amazon. I yelped when I saw it up there this morning. I have four books now. I'm like a real author or somethin'.

Here's the purty, purty cover again, in case you need inspiration:


Saturday, July 28, 2007

It's over

Just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Spoiler-filled discussion in the comments.

Four Harry Potter books in two weeks. That's roughly 3,000 pages and a lot of dead bodies. Emotionally draining, to say the least. Now applying The Garden State soundtrack and a bowl of ice cream to reattain sense of well-being.


Friday, July 27, 2007

A different kind of star

It's never too late for a new (or old) career.

Brian May, the guitarist for the rock group Queen, completed his doctoral work in astrophysics on Wednesday. He abandoned his coursework at Imperial College of London back in 1970 when Queen made it big, but always wanted to finish the degree.

May, 60, plans to turn in his dissertation, "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud," within the next two weeks.

What unfinished business do you plan to take care of when you retire from your current line of work? Write a novel? Finish a degree? Learn to play the banjo?

I don't plan to ever retire from writing (they'll have to pry the keyboard from my cold, stiff fingers), but I wouldn't mind getting back to the piano one day.

A-Z Update: "Rollin' Stone" by Muddy Waters

HP Update: page 111 of Deathly Hallows

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fetch...The Comfy Chair!

Or not, if the Baltimore Sun is to be believed.

According to yesterday's story, "Hard facts oust soft chairs," Borders bookstores have cut their comfortable seating by 30%. The Barnes & Noble at the Power Plant at Baltimore's Inner Harbor is phasing out its cozy chairs because homeless people and amorous couples were taking advantage of the free horizontal surfaces.

There seems to be no agreement at the top levels of book chains as to whether providing a homey atmosphere encourages or discourages buying.

I tend to make book-buying decisions on the spot--I read the back cover copy, maybe glance at a page or two of prose inside to see if I like the author's style, then head for the cash register or coffee shop (usually in that order, because I'm a spiller).

What about you? Are you more or less likely to buy books if you have fifteen (or fifty) minutes to browse through them in the gentle arms of a Barcalounger? And what would Cardinal Ximinez think?

A-Z Update: "Riverdance - Remix" by Bill Whelan


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Better late than never

Just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I seem to have a case of the sniffles for some reason. Probably hay fever starting early this year, what with the drought and all.

So I finally opened my box:

Will wait until tomorrow to read it. Will finish by Saturday. Will return then.

A-Z Update: "Rhyme and Reason" by The Dave Matthews Band


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eyes of Crow finals again!

Got word last night that Eyes of Crow is a finalist in the Paranormal category in the Aspen Gold contest, sponsored by the Heart of Denver chapter of the RWA. Yay!

Hmm, Rhia's still not smiling.

What's that, Rhia? You'll smile when your book goes back for a second printing?

Sheesh, these characters are so demanding. Me, I'm happy with a pizza.

A-Z Update: "Rattlesnake" by Live

Harry Potter update: page 117 of Half-Blood Prince

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Animal husbandry question

Anyone know how to get peanut butter out of a cat's fur? Without getting the dog involved, I mean.

It's, uh, research for a book. Yeah, that's it.

A-Z Update: "Privilege" by Incubus

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thus descendeth the cone of silence

It's here! It's here!

And me still on page 401 of Order of the Phoenix (which I'm loving).

By this time next week I should have read Deathly Hallows, which would make 4 Harry Potter books in two weeks. Overdose? We'll see.

Until then, I'll try to ignore the internet and its many spoilers. Not allowing comments on this in case someone slips and gives me their impressions of the book. Promise next Saturday it'll be time to discuss.

A-Z Update: "Police and Thieves" by Junior Murvin


Friday, July 20, 2007

Potterthon runner passes out before finish line

Back in January, I decided I would read all the Harry Potter books before tomorrow (I'd only read 1 and 2 up to that point). I wanted to be able to read Deathly Hallows or whatever it's called with the rest of the world and not have the ending spoiled.

But having read Books 1 and 2, I wasn't very excited about this project. I rarely reread books, or for that matter, read more than one book by any given author EVER. No matter how much I enjoy the first book in a series, I rarely feel compelled for more than a few moments to read the rest.

Here's a list of authors I've read >1 novel by (forgive the preposition ending on):

Catherine Asaro
PC Cast
Neil Gaiman
John Irving
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Thomas Hardy
Robin D. Owens
Laura Anne Gilman (L)
Madeline L'Engle*
Christie Golden (L)
Anne Kelleher (L)
C.E. Murphy (L)
C.S. Lewis*
Jeff Mariotte*
Barbara Kingsolver
Stephen King
Tom Robbins
Carl Hiaasen
Tony Hillerman
Scott Westerfeld*
M.T. Anderson
Jostein Gaarder

The L's denote books in a Luna series (when I haven't read the author's non-Luna books), which probably shouldn't even count, since that's like rooting for the home team. The asterisks denote young adult/children's series, which probably also shouldn't count.

That's all I can think of. I'm not a glommer. I'm an anti-addict. There are too many wonderful authors out there to be discovered for me to spend all my time diving back into the same worlds again and again.

End digression. Back to Potter. I procrastinated until June before rereading Books 1 & 2, thinking I could read one a week for six weeks. Got through Book 3 on my Dallas trip and started 4 on my way home, thinking I could read one every two days for six days. Didn't finish it until Wednesday night. Went right downstairs and picked up Order of the Phoenix.

870 Pages! Holy Crap!!

So it just ain't happening. I'll be lucky to get to Book 7 by next weekend. I'll be lucky to read Book 5 without my hands cramping up into talons.

I could give up, but I like the darker direction the series seemed to be taking with Book 4. And I don't want to find out what happens through a spoiler in the newspaper or overheard in the checkout line (I don't work in an office, so the water cooler isn't an issue). I nearly throttled the person who told me what happened at the end of Stephen King's Dark Tower series before I'd had a chance to read it.

Plus, sometimes I'm a bit stubborn/obsessional about tasks I set out to do. Or so I'm told.

However, I don't feel like the Harry Potter series is one of the best I've ever read. Not even close. It's not nearly as engrossing or thought-provoking as Westerfeld's Uglies-Pretties-Specials trilogy, which I loved so much I bought the third installment in hardcover and will be there on the release date for Extras, the fourth in the trilogy (ha!).

How about you? How many of you will be spending your weekends with your noses in HP&tDH? How many could care less?

UPDATE: OK, I opened Order of the Phoenix while printing out a manuscript (if my printer doesn't have a babysitter it gets cranky) and was sucked in by page 8. The other four I thought opened too whimsically and cutesy. But dementors on Privet Drive? Now that's what I'm talkin' about! (Also, it's nice to see Harry be kind of a dick to Dudley.)

After I hand in the synopsis for The Reawakened today: Me. Couch. Potter. Lather, rinse, repeat.

A-Z Update: "Pigeon Farm" by Marcy Playground


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Literacy signing update

In typical narcissistic fashion, I neglected to mention the other day that the RWA literacy signing raked in over $56,000, every penny of which goes to literacy-related charities. The publishers and authors donate the books, people buy them at full retail, and somewhere out there a new reader is born. Woo-hoo!

And yes, the rumor is true: Sherrilyn Kenyon wore a giant swan hat.

A-Z Update: "Pieces of the Night" by The Gin Blossoms


Voice of Crow cover

Taking a wee break from the RWA recap, which will return tomorrow when I have more time, to show you the final version of the Voice of Crow cover (click image for larger version).

The dead tree in the background figured prominently in Eyes of Crow and will do so even more in Voice of Crow.

Also, the fact that Rhia is standing in a wheat field is particularly clever on the part of the artist. Though she never literally does that in Voice of Crow, we all know what happens in the wheat field at the end of Eyes (clue for those who haven't read it: bad, bad stuff). The psychological and spiritual ramifications of that event weave throughout Voice, so it has resonance for this book as well.

So a million thanks to the brilliant artist Chad Michael Ward of Digital Apocalypse, and the art team at Harlequin for another great cover.

A-Z Update: "Perfect World" by Liz Phair


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

RWA Part Two

So Thursday was the official start of the conference. I went to a panel composed of buyers from the big chain bookstores. It was really enlightening. The Published Author Network (PAN) panels are for authors only--no editors and agents allowed, which leaves us free to ask frank questions, like "How do I know if my publisher's just not that into me?" (Not an actual question asked out loud.)

Had to miss the luncheon because I was busy moving from the Adam's Mark to the Hyatt (the conference hotel), where my window looked out over Dealey Plaza. Well, if I craned my neck to the right I could see it and the Book Depository (and yes, The Window).

I didn't get a picture (the window wouldn't open), but here's a public domain shot from 2003:

Thursday night Harlequin held a dinner for all the single-title (i.e., non-category romance) authors at the Iron Cactus Grill. The party was hosted by Diane Moggy, VP of Global Single Title Sales, whom I got to meet for the first time. I also got to see CEO/Publisher Donna Hayes, whom I first met at BEA last month, as well as Executive VP Loriana Sacilotto. On the editorial side I met Margo Lipschultz and Tara Parsons, who was my interim editor when Stacy was on maternity leave last year.

And last but not least, my personal heroine, account manager Andi Richman, who is the Barnes & Noble sales rep for all of Harlequin. It's thanks to her that Eyes of Crow had such great placement and support at that chain last year. She told me she read Requiem for the Devil and loved it. Yay, another cult member!

Everyone was incredibly friendly and accessible. Even though Harlequin acts as a large publisher in terms of their market muscle, the people who work there give it a personal touch that makes it feel like a big family, cheesy as that sounds.

Fawning over. Back to the food. Yummy margaritas, but again, no vegetarian appetizers, so I had a crabcake. Which is hilarious, that a Marylander should go to Dallas for a crabcake. Then they set out a fajita bar, and I was oh-so-happy.

Shared a raucous table with fellow LUNA authors PC Cast, Robin D. Owens, and Maria V. Snyder, as well as Rachel Vincent (who writes for the MIRA imprint), Gena Showalter (ditto, HQN), Mindy Klasky (Red Dress Ink), Pamela Britton (NASCAR), and my fabulous editor Stacy Boyd, who, I discovered, shares my birthday.

Which was last Wednesday, by the way. Forgot to mention that in my previous post. Why yes, my Amazon wish list is up-to-date, thanks for asking.

Speaking of Stacy, here's a photo of us before going out to dinner the night of the Rita Awards:

I took my hair down later, which may have been a mistake. I get rather shaggy in humid weather.

Anyway, back to Thursday. Later that night in the bar, Jana and I caught up with Rachel again, as well as her critique partner Rinda Elliot, her agent Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency, and author Jenna Black, also repped by Miriam. Other than Rinda, I'd met all of them at RT in Houston.

Miriam's Minions (as I have dubbed them just two seconds ago) have become one of my favorite little groups of people to see at conferences. I'd take a bullet for any of them. Well, a rubber bullet, tossed by a toddler. But still...

More tomorrow, if you can stand it!

Incredibly appropo A-Z Update: "Open Book" by Cake

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

RWA Part One

Splitting this into two (possibly three) parts, so as not to overwhelm any of us.

Tuesday night my magnificent roommate Jana G. Oliver (left):

and I went to the Kiss of Death Annual General Meeting, where I saw my old buds Lisa Tapp (left) and Karen Ender:

These pictures were actually taken Thursday night after the Daphne DuMaurier Awards. Lisa won third place in the unpublished Short Contemporary category, and--drum roll, please--Jana won FIRST in the published Paranormal category. This was one of several awards her wonderful book Sojourn has won. Here are the others:

Golden Quill Award, First Place, Paranormal
PRISM Award, First Place, Time Travel
Booksellers Best, First Place, Paranormal
Independent Book Publishers Award, Gold Medal, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Forward Award, Best Overall
Compton Crook Award, Finalist (scorchingly close second place)
National Readers Choice Award, Finalist

It's just a freaking amazing book, and everyone should buy it.

Wednesday after lunch Lisa and I saw Marjorie M. Liu, Cathy Clamp, and Publishers Weekly blogger Barbara Vey in the bar briefly before heading off to the Booksellers Tea, where I met several booksellers, one of whom had actually heard of me!

David Reamer from Hastings Bookstore in Round Rock, TX, said his girlfriend was a big Eyes of Crow fan, and that all the LUNA books were selling really well in his store. He gave me some great insights on the vendor's side of the business, and soon an ARC of Voice of Crow will land in his mailbox.

At the Tea I also met authors Liz Maverick and Rosemary Clement Moore, who are ridiculously cute, and saw Cathy Clamp again. (For the record, Cathy is everywhere. I'm pretty sure she can bend space and time to manage this. Yet she always looks fresh and well-rested!).

Also met romantic comedy author Kristan Higgins, who has dogs and feet on all her book covers. We bonded over the lamentation of the lack of rom coms in the market these days. The next day she gave me a copy of her first book, Fools Rush In.

I actually spoke with several authors who were writing more humorous material (and selling it!) I'm extremely psyched about this, because there are not enough romantic comedies in the world. What's wrong with the book-buying public? Love is funny!

Wednesday evening was the mass signing to benefit literacy efforts. I sold about 30 out of 50 books, which was pretty good. Everyone who bought a copy of Eyes of Crow or who told me they already owned it received a sneak preview of Voice of Crow. I had a Rita finalist flag next to me on the table, and I was fortunate enough to sit next to the renowned Maria V. Snyder, fellow LUNA author (of the Rita-nommed Magic Study) and dear friend. So we pimped each other's books along with our own. Synergy!

I didn't get a picture of myself at the signing, but I did get to keep my flag:

So imagine me sitting next to it and a pile of books (ones without the upper right corner chewed by cats) in a roomful of amazing authors. To my left is an enormous line for Nora Roberts.

Afterwards I bought my leftover books at 75% off and put them in the Goody Room for giveaway. They were snatched up, possibly by aliens, in about ten minutes.

It was great to meet fans new and old at the signing. I found out from a nice lady from the Colorado Romance Writers that Eyes of Crow tied for First Place in their Award of Excellence contest, then lost in a tiebreaker to Shana Abe's The Dream Thief. Boo. Still, it's nice to know it almost won. Better a close second than a distant fifth.

Wednesday night was the Gathering for the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal chapter of RWA. By the time I got there after the signing, all the food was gone, and I ate three rolls (with butter!) for dinner. I sat with Jana, Gail Dayton and PC Cast, as well as some sweet ladies from Gail's chapter in Texas--Sherry and her mom Delores, and Katey Coffing, who was a Golden Heart finalist (the biggest award for unpubbed writers) for Best Paranormal.

PC, Gail, and I were the three finalists for the PRISM Award for Best Fantasy. As they read off our names, we all clutched hands, and when Gail's name was announced as the winner, the whole table went nuts. Her LUNA novel, The Barbed Rose, won first place and totally deserved it. PC's Divine by Choice (another awesome one) won second, and little Eyes of Crow brought up the rear at third.

Then PC won the PRISM for Best Light Paranormal Novel for Goddess of the Rose (these are all books I've actually read!). Then Jana won for Best Time Travel with Sojourn, then Sherry and her mom won raffle baskets. Katey got a rock.

Afterwards PC, Jana, and their publicists at Two Sisters Promotions, Sherry and Kristen, took a limo (it was the same price as a cab) with neon-lit ceiling to Avanti's, a local Italian restaurant. Dallas being an extremely vegetarian-unfriendly city, I got a loaf of garlic cheese bread. When it arrived, we all thought it was garlic bread for the table, and everyone ate it. Whimper.

I thought I'd have room to talk about Thursday in this entry, but no. More tomorrow.

A-Z Update: "One Love" by Bob Marley and the Wailers

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Dallas Does Jeri


That's the sound of my head hitting the pillow last night, then again at 7 am this morning after the husband and beasts were fed.

Had a magnificent time. Met incredible people. Closed the bar Friday and Saturday night. Didn't win the Rita in either category, but I got a cheer from the audience when my name and cover went up on the screen, and that was worth more than a whole armful of awards.

Being nominated for a Rita was like getting a scratch-off lottery ticket for Christmas. It was totally unexpected, I enjoyed the anticipation, and my reaction to not winning was, "Well, that was fun, anyway!" Plus I got a certificate, which they normally don't give you for buying a lottery ticket. So bonus!

I was happy to lose to my fellow WRW member Tracy Ann Warren's The Husband Trap in the First Book category, partly because she's really sweet, but mostly because I told everyone she would win. Being right is extremely important to me.

Will post more later, I swear, but I think I'm getting a bad cold, which is a perfect excuse to lie on the couch and read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Though seriously, I could go 100 years without reading another description of a Quidditch match, and it would still be too soon.

A-Z Update: "No Turning Back" by Peter Buffett

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Revisions done

Telling you to revise is like telling you to breathe.
--my agent, to me, November 2006

With a full half-hour to spare on the deadline, I just sent in the revisions to Wicked Game. I'm not nearly as sad to leave this book as I was last year, because I know that I not only get to do line edits in a month or so, but in September I get to start Book 2 (still tentatively titled Bad to the Bone, at least in my mind).

Last year when I sent off the manuscript to my agent for submission, I didn't know if I'd ever get to return to this world and these characters. I cried buckets. The fact that I was listening to Disc 2 of The Essential Leonard Cohen really didn't help.

No time for melancholy, anyway, or even a celebratory Scotch. Gotta go feed the beasts, shower (hey, there's a concept!), and pack for Dallas.

I promise I'll blog from the convention at least once or twice. I'll be too tired to do it when I come back. Wish me luck!


And the winner is...


Thanks to everyone who helped with my 90s slang dilemma. Y'all are da bomb.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seventy Days of Sweat

The revisions to Wicked Game are due tomorrow, but I wanted to stop in real quick and say that when I come back from Dallas I'm beginning a writing challenge called Seventy Days of Sweat, centered around the blog of Alison Kent.

If you read my comment on Alison's blog, you'll see what I'm up against for the rest of the year. It's brutal. 200K words--that's TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND words--need to be written by the end of November. And October will be spent revising the first 100K.

But first, I must hand in Wicked Game. I'm down to the very last proofreading pass on all but the last two chapters, which need a little more thorough work. It should take me tonight and all day tomorrow to finish. Then it's pack for Dallas and get up excruciatingly early Tuesday for a morning flight.

As Warren Zevon famously pronounced, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead." And now he is.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Awards update

It just occurred to me that most people who read this blog never venture out to my home page or the news page, because they (quite reasonably) expect me to post news here.

So let the bragging begin!

Eyes of Crow has won a couple of awards and been nominated for several more.

  • Winner, Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, Best Fantasy
  • Winner, Write Touch Readers' Choice Award, Best Paranormal
  • Finalist, Rita Award, Best First Book and Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
  • Finalist, Award of Excellence, Best Paranormal
  • Finalist, PRISM Award, Best Fantasy
  • Finalist, Golden Quill Award, Best Paranormal

  • I accepted the Reviewers' Choice Award at the Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention in Houston in April. I managed to give an acceptance speech without passing out.

    Speaking of the RT Convention (yes, I'm terrible at giving convention reports--there's a reason for that, which I'll explain one day), here's a shot of me on the Urban Fantasy panel with people vastly more famous than I am. (Scroll down to the bottom photo on this page.)

    Left to right are authors Rachel Caine, Jennifer Armintrout, Jim Butcher, Miriam Kress (a superb agent). Flanking me are gorgeous gals Vicki Pettersson (with the red hair) and Marjorie M. Liu. Luckily, sitting down you can't tell how much shorter than Vicki and Marjorie I am. If they were sequoias, I'd be a dwarf pine.

    Not pictured are Charlaine Harris and Keri Arthur. Yep, I was the "WTF?" entry on the panel. (Or for you Arrested Development fans, the "Her?" entry) Still marveling at that one. At next year's RT I'll be on an urban fantasy panel with (catching breath) Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong.

    Here's a shot of the two awards I've won so far. They like each other.

    I used this picture because as proud as I am of having won awards, I'm equally as proud that I haven't killed these pansies that my mom planted for me on March 31.

    I should mention two things about the Write Touch Readers Choice award. 1) I shared first place with the wonderful Patti O'Shea's Eternal Nights. Yay, Patti! 2) It was judged by regular readers, not writers or reviewers, which makes it particularly sweet.

    If I can snag either the PRISM or the Rita next week, I'll feel like Eyes of Crow hit the trifecta--awards judged by readers, reviewers, and fellow authors.

    Of the remaining two contests, the Award of Excellence has already been decided (won by Shana Abe's The Dream Thief), and the Golden Quill was won by Jana Oliver's Sojourn (yaaay!)

    Also, my publisher nominated Eyes of Crow for NBC's Quill Award for Best Debut Novel. It didn't make the final ballot, but it was still an honor to be singled out by the Powers That Be.


    A-Z Update: "My Home is in the Delta" by Muddy Waters

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    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    A Man Named Munch

    Actor/comedian Richard Belzer, who played Detective John Munch on Homicide: Life on the Streets and now plays a pale reflection of him on the vastly less brilliant Law & Order: SVU, has signed a deal to write two mystery novels inspired by his experiences on these shows.

    The first novel, I Am Not a Cop, will be published in Fall 2008 by Simon & Schuster (yay--stable mate!). So I'm saving my pennies for BookExpo America next year in LA, because they'll undoubtedly have him there to promote his book. Maybe I'll even get an S&S badge. Maybe he'll nod at me.

    A-Z Update: "Minas Morgul" by Howard Shore (LOTR soundtrack)

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    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Help needed - 90s slang

    What word meaning 'cool' would most make you think of the 1990s?

    a) boss
    b) bangin'
    c) hype
    d) Insert write-in vote here

    Here's the context: "Your [CD] collection's pretty _______."

    It has to be distinctively 90s. Even though we used 'awesome' back then, we also used it in the 80s and now, more than ever.

    In other words, it has to be slang that would make you wince if you heard it today.

    Oh, and no hip-hop terms. 'Phat' is out of the question.


    A-Z Update: "Maps and Legends" by R.E.M.

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    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Bon Juillet!

    One of my French fans (ooh, I like the sound of that) reminded me that Eyes of Crow is being released in France today. She sent me an image of the cover:

    The title translated means, "Messenger from Two Worlds" or "Messenger of Two Worlds," which fits really well.

    And it's great to see the other side of Rhia's face!



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