Thursday, January 29, 2009
And I was planning this big rollout next week, complete with playlists and contest announcements and news about signings.
So anyway, if you want, go look at it. I think it's the only place on all the Internets where it can be seen. But if I were you, I'd stay away and wait for me to unveil it next week. A bunch of hits and new followers will just encourage this sort of behavior from her in the future.
But if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, it would make me feel better. Marginally.
Now playing: Mr. Moustache - Nirvana
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
*shakes fist at economy*
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It was probably my best reading ever--not because of me, but because of the audience. It was a full room, and everyone was really into it, offering supportive smiles and not falling asleep. Anyone who's ever been onstage knows how much the audience energy contributes to a performance.
In this podcast, guest host and radio personality Jon "The Vicar" Stallard (host of Geek Radio Daily) gives what is probably the best summary of the book I've ever heard.
Check it out, and check out their other podcasts, which are some of the most professional productions I've ever heard. And if in you're in the Baltimore/DC area Memorial Day weekend, come to Balticon. You won't regret it!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Back in the real world, we friended each other on LiveJournal, where David provided one of my favorite weekly blog features, the Buffoon of the Week (BOW) Award, which was particularly enjoyable during the election year.
Speaking of which, the results of that election made me totally forget to post this interview on Tuesday, when his new book, The Horseman's Gambit, was actually released.
Sorry David! I hope this is the last time your books are upstaged by ChangeTM.
David B. Coe (www.davidbcoe.com) is the Crawford Award-winning author of ten fantasy novels and several short stories. A refugee from academia, David has a Ph.D. in history and has taught at the university level. In a life prior to that prior life, he was a political consultant. The Horsemen's Gambit is the second book in his Blood of the Southlands trilogy. It is to be published on January 20, 2009, which is good because there's nothing else of importance happening that day to draw attention away from the book's release....
Q) Can you tell us a bit about The Horsemen's Gambit and the Blood of the Southlands series?
DBC) Blood of the Southlands begins with The Sorcerers' Plague as a sort of medieval medical thriller. An old woman named Lici has set out to avenge a injury done her decades before by conjuring a plague. Before long though, the plague spirals far beyond her control, and in The Horsemen's Gambit, the damage done by the plague to the Qirsi, the sorcerers of the Southlands, convinces their enemies, the Eandi, to attack Qirsi lands in the hopes of winning back territory lost during the Blood Wars. Along the way there's political intrigue, some romance, and a web of personal interactions tinged with all this ethnic baggage.
Those are the basic plot points. In a larger sense this series, like my five-book Winds of the Forelands sequence [Rules of Ascension, Seeds of Betrayal, Bonds of Vengeance, Shapers of Darkness, Weavers of War], which is set in the same world, deals with issues of race, ethnic identity, and prejudice. My characters, particularly those who seek to control the chaos unleashed by Lici's curse, are constantly fighting against the destructive power of ancient hatreds. Ultimately this newest book -- like those that came before it and the one that remains -- is about overcoming history and transcending bigotry.
Q) Race, prejudice, ethnic identity -- That all sounds pretty familiar. Is Blood of the Southlands set in a created world or our own?
DBC) It's definitely a created world, but as with all my work, Blood of the Southlands touches on issues of great importance in what we call, for lack of a better term, the "real" world. My LonTobyn series [Children of Amarid, The Outlanders, Eagle-Sage] touched on ecological themes. Winds of the Forelands and Blood of the Southlands deal with race. I have another project that I'm working on that focuses on drug addiction. I write books that I hope will entertain. I strive to make them fun -- as I said, there's lots of action and intrigue, romance and even humor. But they also deal with serious issues that resonate with social concerns in our own lives. I do this because I find it more interesting to write books that grapple with big questions. And if some of my readers come away from the books thinking about race or ecology or substance issues in a new way, all the better.
Q) What is it about fantasy that attracts you?
DBC) Well, in part I'm drawn to fantasy precisely because I can create worlds that then serve as mirrors for our own world. Admittedly, these are imperfect mirrors, but they're mirrors nevertheless. I can make the Forelands/Southlands universe and create racial tensions that are complex and compelling, and yet different enough from the racial problems in our own world that no one will be offended by the books. Speculative fiction offers us a unique opportunity to look at ourselves through a lens that both distorts and magnifies. The distortions allow us to distance ourselves and perhaps examine an emotionally fraught issue without so much emotional heat. The magnification can make us see things that we might otherwise miss.
I'm also drawn to fantasy, as well as science fiction, and dark fantasy, and horror, and all the other subgenres in our field, for the simple reason that they're so much fun to read. I love magic. As a friend of mine wrote elsewhere just the other day, I believe in magic on some level. And being able to write magic into the lives of my characters, giving them the ability to shape their world in ways that I can only dream of doing myself, is enormously entertaining.
Q) Why did you decide to make Besh, one of the protagonists of Blood of the Southlands, an old man?
DBC) Well, let me start by saying that I'm not certain I "make" any of my characters, any more than I'm certain that I control their actions. My characters present themselves to me. They clamor for my attention, and when I finally turn my mind's eye on any one of them, he or she tells me his or her story. When I first started conceiving of the Blood of the Southlands trilogy, Besh was the first character I met. I didn't know at the time why it was important that he tell so much of the story, but I trusted him and also my instincts as a writer, which told me that he was crucial to the entire series. I think I was drawn to him, at least in part, because he was so different from other protagonists I'd written and other heroes I'd encountered as a reader. Yes, he's old. He's also got that stubborn sense of "I know myself, and I know the world, and by God you're going to listen to me," that we sometimes find in our elderly friends. He's not particularly strong physically, and he wields little influence or political power. But he's clever and wise and uncommonly brave. He has a profound moral sense and is intensely loyal to his people and his family. Over the course of writing the three books of the Southlands series he became just about my favorite of all the characters I've ever written.
Q) You've been a historian, you've worked in politics -- it seems you came to writing relatively late in life. How did it happen?
DBC) I suppose I did come to it a bit late, but the irony is that I've wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I wrote and illustrated my first books in first and second grade -- and given the quality of my illustrations, it's a good thing I can write. I went to college with every intention of majoring in creative writing, but got sidetracked by concerns with practical considerations, like making a living. I tried political consulting, but found it disillusioning. So I went to grad school, got my degree in history, and applied for a bunch of teaching positions. But the summer after I completed my degree I found myself with lots of free time on my hands. My grad work was done, but the academic jobs hadn't been listed yet. And my wife said to me, "You know, since the day we met you've been talking about writing a book. You have some time now. Why don't you spend the summer writing?"
I did, and by the end of the summer I had several short stories written (none of them has ever seen the light of day, and none of them ever will) as well as the first five chapters of what would eventually be Children of Amarid, my first novel. A friend of mine agreed to act as my agent and he shopped the book around while I applied for teaching jobs. I got the perfect academic job offer -- teaching environmental history in Colorado -- and my first nibble from Tor Books within 24 hours of each other. I chose writing and have never looked back.
Q) Aside from writing, what do you do for fun?
DBC) Well, I'm a husband and a dad, which are the two things that mean the most to me. My daughters are 13 and 9, and a lot of my non-work time is taken up with stuff I do for or with them. I've been a Soccer Dad, a Swim Dad, a Dance Dad, a Music Dad, and a Theater Dad. And because my wife is a full-time college professor, I do most of the grocery shopping, a fair amount of laundry and house stuff, etc. In addition, I'm active in my community -- I run a local food cooperative, I'm on the parents' council of my older daughter's school, and I'm on the town council here in our little village. But when I'm not doing any of that I have quite a few outside interests. I like to hike and birdwatch. I'm a dedicated amateur photographer and actually had my first one-man exhibit in 2008. Nature and landscape photography mostly. I play guitar and sing -- folk, rock, a bit of bluegrass. I listen to music all the time. I look at butterflies and run a local butterfly census here in my home town. I'm a bit of a political junkie, and I'm confident that my professional output will be greater in 2009 than it was last year, simply because I won't be checking political web sites every 3 minutes.
Q) What's a typical day like for you?
DBC) A typical day? I'm not sure there's any such thing -- did I mention that I'm the father of a teenager? My routine looks something like this: We're up at 6:30 am. I make lunch for my younger daughter and do what I can to get the girls moving. After my wife and I get the girls to their schools, I go to the gym for an hour or so. Exercise is crucial for me; without my morning workout I'm not sure I could function. I get back, have a light breakfast, check my email, and begin the day's writing. I shoot for 6-8 manuscript pages a day, which translates to about 1500-2000 words. I'm not a particularly fast writer, but if I can write 35 to 40 pages a week, that's a book every 6 months or so, which isn't too bad a pace. I might have to pick up one of the girls from school or take them to dance or sports practice, but I can usually get back to work for a while longer. I knock off around 5:00 or 5:30 and the rest of the evening is family time. I don't work on weekends, and I don't work many nights. I work at home, so it would be very easy to be sucked into working all the time. To prevent this, I set strict boundaries. I have work time and family time. I'd probably get more written if I was less strict about this, but that's a choice I'm comfortable making.
Q) What are you working on now?
DBC) The third and final Blood of the Southlands book is finished and handed in to my editor (it's scheduled for release in January 2010). I'll have revisions to do eventually, but for now I'm working on a new project that is completely separate from anything I've done before. It's alternate world fantasy set in a place that's roughly analogous to early Renaissance Europe. There's a magical element and each book is a stand alone mystery with recurring characters. I don't generally like to talk too much about works in progress until I'm further along than I am with this series. Suffice it to say that I'm very excited about this one. I hope to see the first book in print sometime in 2010.
David B. Coe's personal website can be found at www.davidbcoe.com. He blogs with some regularity on both LiveJournal and WordPress, and he is part of the MagicalWords.Net writing blog with fellow fantasy authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C.E. Murphy. The Horsemen's Gambit, book II of his Blood of the Southlands trilogy, can be purchased through Amazon.com. (Release date: January 20, 2009)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I only get to do this every two years (so far), so I'm taking a moment to savor......
Okay, moment over!
This sales announcement appeared in yesterday's Publisher's Lunch:
WICKED GAME and Aspect of Crow trilogy author Jeri Smith-Ready's first teen fiction GENERATION GHOST, following a 16 year-old girl on a quest to uncover why everyone her age and younger can see ghosts -- and her struggle to cope with her boyfriend's passing when he haunts her regularly, to Annette Pollert at Simon Pulse, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown (World English).
On Monday, December 8 (yes, I've been sitting on this news for five weeks, wondering if it could be real), my proposal for a young adult urban fantasy series went to auction. It was a nerve-wracking, headache-inducing, productivity-destroying day that I would happily relive again and again.
As with every new series, I'm most thrilled at the fact that I get to revisit these characters I've come to love after only three chapters (seriously, they already have their own playlists).
A little more about them:
The Girl: Aura Salvatore's winter solstice birth marked a mysterious event called the Shift. Everyone born after the Shift can see and hear ghosts (who appear in violet, for reasons I can't go into here). She lives in Baltimore with her mom, whose law firm specializes in wrongful death suits. Aura translates for the clients, telling the ghosts' side of the grisly stories—not exactly the world’s funnest after-school activity. She's obsessed with figuring out what caused the Shift (or better yet, how to reverse it), and whether it has anything to do with her missing Mystery Dad.
The Boy: Logan Keeley is/was the lead singer in an Irish-flavored punk band he shares with his older sister and brother (think Flogging Molly, junior edition). He wants to be a rock star, and considers death just a speed bump (or maybe even the fast lane) on the road to fame. Logan might be right about that part, but his relationship with Aura is threatened by his new lack of...well, a body. But hey, no more curfews.
The Other Boy: Zachary Moore is a Scottish exchange student who seems to know more about Aura than she knows about herself. He and Aura work together to solve the puzzle of the Shift, which maybe involved a dark ritual at an ancient burial ground such as Stonehenge. In the battle for Aura's heart, Zach gets major points for being alive and very, very solid (and the accent doesn't hurt).
So there's music, mystery, mythology, and of course a megadose of angst, because I wouldn't have it any other way.
Oh! Pertinent facts might help: The first book, Untouchable, will be released in hardcover in Summer 2010, and its sequel, Never Ever, will come out a year later. Both book titles are tentative, so pretend I didn't tell you, because one or both will probably change. But I think we're sticking with the series name Generation Ghost.
I'm very excited to be a part of Simon Pulse, as I've loved this line for years, ever since I started reading teen fiction in a serious way. Best of all, both of my series are now under Simon & Schuster (different imprints and different editors), so we can coordinate things like deadlines and release dates to keep everyone sane and happy.
Anyway, I hope you all give it a try. It'll be geared toward young adult readers, but my writing style really won't change (other than to be true to the character's voice), so my current readers of all ages should enjoy the books. After all, I was never much of an adult to begin with, in real life or on the page. So yay.
I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch of things, and this post is getting long and self-indulgent, anyway, so if you have any questions, let 'em fly!
Now playing: The Treehouse Song - Ane Brun
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Enough of my yakkin'. Here's Jim to tell you more:
Last year, Jim C. Hines finished his humorous goblin trilogy with GOBLIN WAR, which made the Locus Bestseller list the month it came out. January 6 marked the release of THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, the first in a new series of butt-kicking princess tales. This one has earned advance praise from the likes of Esther Friesner and Jane Yolen, and was a January Top Pick from Romantic Times. Jim is currently in full book-release freakout mode, but took some time to answer a few questions about the new series.
A) I think just about every author does a fairy tale retelling at some point. It's a membership requirement or something. But the thing about fairy tales and so many of the retellings is that our heroines often end up being symbols rather than fully developed characters. I wanted to make my three princesses real people, with strengths and flaws and depth and personality. I've described the book as Charlie's Angels crossed with fairy tale princesses, but more than that; it's a story of three women learning to work as a team to save a prince, fight evil, and generally kick ass. Also, it's got the best use of silverware in hand-to-hand combat of any book I've ever seen.
Q) Can you introduce us to these characters?
A) Danielle Whiteshore (Cinderella) is our viewpoint character. She's a little overwhelmed by all the changes in her life since she married Prince Armand. She's in heaven with a loving husband and a family who doesn't treat her like a slave ... even if the palace staff look at her a little funny for chatting with the doves and the rats. Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (White) both came to serve Queen Beatrice after fleeing their respective homelands. Snow is a bit of a flirt as well as a bookworm. She inherited her mother's gift for magic, as well as the magic mirror, making her quite the powerful magician. Talia is the fighter of the group, both physically and emotionally. She's learned to use her fairy gifts of grace and dancing to become one of the deadliest warriors in the kingdom.
Q) What sort of research did you do to write this book?
A) Mostly I read a lot of fairy tales. There are so many versions of the different stories, which allowed me to pick and choose elements from each when building my characters and their backstories. Then there were all the details: castle blueprints, wardrobes, medieval glassmaking, how far a horse can travel in a day, fairy myths, weapons, 16th century houses, hazel trees, and everything else you don't think of until you're midway through a scene and realize you have absolutely no idea how to describe what your characters are seeing.
Q) Are there any interesting scenes or ideas that didn't make it into the final book?
A) Snow White wears a choker of gold wire and small glass mirrors. In her original incarnation, Snow was blind and used those mirrors as her eyes. To be totally honest, I don't remember exactly why I changed that, except that it just didn't feel right for her character. I posted a deleted scene on my web site that shows Snow as she was in that first draft.
Q) What's next for your princesses?
A) I turned in the revisions for book two, THE MERMAID'S MADNESS, a month or so back. If you read the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Little Mermaid," the mermaid's prince chooses another, and she's faced with a choice: either allow the sea witch's spell to kill her, or take her prince's life to save her own. In the Anderson story, the mermaid oh-so-nobly gives up her life for her prince. My mermaid makes a different choice. I'm currently working on the third book in the series, RED HOOD'S REVENGE.
Q) What do you really think about "happily ever after"?
A) In real life, your story doesn't end until you're dead. Even then, your actions and your life continue to influence other people's stories. The idea that these three women could go through what they did, with murderous mothers (and why is it always the mothers?) and curses and poisons and betrayals, but then they have a good night at the ball and suddenly everything is happy from then on? That's the real fairy tale.
Q) Who is your favorite author?
A) The answer changes from day to day, depending on my mood and what I've been reading. Today, I think I'm going to say ... Snoopy. His prose isn't always the greatest, but he's quite the inspirational little beagle. He never lets rejection slow him down, and he knows the most important thing is to drag that typewriter back onto the doghouse and just keep writing.
Q) Any closing thoughts?
A) Thanks to everyone who read this far! I hope folks will take a look at the preview, or at the very least, check out the cover art Scott Fischer did for the book. I absolutely love the image he came up with. I have a larger copy here. Scott actually used my daughter as a model for Talia, the princess on the right. Best. Cover. Ever!
Read the first chapter of THE STEPSISTER SCHEME.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Justin Gustainis will be sending a signed copy of his latest release, Evil Ways, to...(I don't know why I bother with ellipses, it's not like it really adds tension. I mean how long does it take for your eyes to skim those three little dots. Now this, this is adding tension. I could do this forever, really, just blab on and on and on until eventually you have to scroll to find out who won. But I won't. I will, however, add another ellipsis)...Yolanda! Yolanda, do the thing I asked macbeaner to do in the previous paragraph so you can get your copy of this awesome book.
There's a sweet 'n' sexy excerpt of Wicked Game over at the Single Titles blog. This PG-13 snippet has been nominated for Smooch of the Year! You can vote at this post through January 15. But of course, only vote for WG's if you think it's the best.
Wicked Game has been nominated by Love Romances and More for Best Urban Fantasy of 2008. Members of the LR Cafe will be voting on the final winner, so if you want to have your say, join the Yahoo! group here. Note: this is a very busy list, so you definitely want to set your prefs to "Digest".
Now, back to the Steelers' game. If Shane were a real person, he'd be really nervous with the current score.
Now playing: Mr. Mastodon Farm - Cake
Monday, January 05, 2009
My latest Aspect of Crow tie-in short story is now live in its entirety! All eight weekly chapters are posted on my publisher's site, so grab a cup of cocoa and read all of "Storm Reaper" at once.
- The first in a series of booze-soaked mutual interviews between Dante Baptiste and Ciara Griffin, along with a chance to win a signed copy of Adrian Phoenix's fabulous new release, In the Blood (and possibly an Amazon gift certificate, too!) You can read my review and find out more about the subsequent giveaways in the previous post.
- On Friday, Justin Gustainis gave us an entertaining look at The Future of Urban Fantasy. Comment on his post and enter to win his newest Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations release, Evil Ways.
Now, for my 2009 goals. They're pretty much a knockoff of my 2008 goals, which I reviewed last week. The only difference is they're a little bit more attainable.
1. Write and rewrite Book One in YA series.
1a. If YA Book One sells, write first draft of Book Two (maybe as NaNoWriMo project)
2. If publisher buys more vampire books, write and rewrite Book Three.
3. Write at least 10K words of vampire Book Four (contingent on #2).
3a. If publisher doesn't buy more vampire books, write proposal for new series.
4. Write three more tie-in stories for Wicked Game (Noah, Regina, Shane)
5. Write 1000 words/week on new adult urban fantasy novel/series (unless #3a comes to pass, in which case, faster!)
6. Brainstorm with potential collaborator (you know who you are) about that paranormal romantic comedy
7. Blog at least once every other week on WVMPradio.com (or replace the blog with something better, like...I don't know. Suggestions, anyone?)
8. Have Ciara and Shane blog at least once every other week on their MySpaces
9. Start Twitter account for Ciara
10. Start Facebook fan page and Ning social networking site (only if I can get someone else--maybe a couple of Street Team members?--to maintain them)
11. Attend 5 conferences/conventions/book festivals and 5 non-conference appearances (signings, talks)
12. Sign stock at 25 bookstores
13. Do 20 online interviews/guest blogs
14. Read 50 books
15. Watch 50 movies
16. Foster 2 cats (not at the same time)
Overall, more writing and less not-writing, which makes everyone happier. And of course, much of 7-10 depends on #2 coming to pass. Hopefully I'll know about that in the next couple of months, and I'll shout it from the virtual rooftops if it happens.
What are your goals for this year? Are they like mine, simply tweaks and updates from last year, or are you doing a major overhaul of priorities? How do you measure your progress? Do you see goals as a chance to stretch yourself, or as a way to set yourself up for failure? Or both?
Have a great 2009! I'll see you back here next year! (Just kidding. I think I'll be back tomorrow with another guest, but I have to check with them.)
Now playing: The Newlydeads - Cities In Dust
Friday, January 02, 2009
The Future of Urban Fantasy
by Justin Gustainis
The start of a new year is often the time for prognostications, and I have decided to join the parade, get on the bandwagon, go with the flow, and generally embrace every cliché I can think of. Since urban fantasy is something I know a little about (I read it voraciously, and even write it occasionally), and because I have a number of important contacts in the publishing industry (several of who make more than minimum wage), I offer here my predictions of what we can expect to see in the urban fantasy field, in 2009 and beyond.
1. New occupations. Let’s face it, if you’re an urban fantasy protagonist, (hereafter UFP) you’ve gotta do something for a living. Not only does it give you a pretext for messing around in the weird shit, it also helps pay the expenses that inevitably come with the territory (the rising price of precious metals, for instance, means that silver bullets are increasingly becoming a luxury item). We’ve already got UFPs who are wizards, witches, disc jockeys, bounty hunters, waitresses, private detectives, exorcists, cops, secret agents, and mechanics. The writer’s ongoing struggle to find a new hook, a fresh face, and a nice three-book deal, means that we can soon expect to find at our local Barnes & Noble such characters as: Biff Buttcrack, Supernatural Plumber (“No clog too small, no monster too large”), Suzanne Menskowitz, Publicist of the Preternatural (her PR releases have meant the end to more than one evil being’s career), Murray Michaels, Occult Accountant (Just one spreadsheet error, Creatures of the Night, and he’s got you!) and Krystal von Hellsting, Paranormal Porn Star (who can instantly drain any vamp or werewolf of his, er, bloodlust).
2. New lifestyles. Many UFPs are more than human. Some are witches or wizards, with the ability to work magic; others are dhampires, powerful as vampires but resistant to sunlight; still others are werewolves, who can shapeshift with the best of them. In order to build a fan base, new writers are going to have to avoid these well-trod literary paths and come up with their own dual-nature UFPs. In 2009 we can expect to see books featuring werehamsters (those cheek pouches can hold a lot of wolfsbane), occult comedians (while you’re laughing at “Stake my wife – please!” they’ll drench you with holy water) and ghoulgles (half human-half ghoul creatures whose breath can repel a whole horde of enraged elves).
3. New weapons. Fresh supernatural challenges demand advances in occult weapons technology. In the future, UFPs will have access to “smart” invisibility cloaks, which will automatically make them disappear in the presence of demons, goblins, and Mary Kay sales reps; magically unflattering pants, which will guarantee that they will never appear on a book cover with their rears facing the reader, and supernatural staffs which, when the proper spell is cast, turn into solid dark chocolate – because, sometimes, you’ve just gotta have chocolate.
Will these predictions come true in the New Year? Only time, the desperation of publishers, and the tolerance of the reading public, will tell.
Happy New Year, everybody!
Leave a comment or a question for Justin, or tell us your predictions for the future of urban fantasy (or books in general) between now and 11:59pm EST next Friday (January 9) to be automatically entered to win an autographed copy of his new release, Evil Ways.
If you don't have a Blogger account, just sign your name and be sure to either check back next week to see if you won, or leave a way to get in touch with you (signing your e-mail address not recommended, due to spam issues).