Monday, June 29, 2009

A whole bunch of stuff

Yes, sigh, I missed last week. There's been a ton going on here, most of which I'm about to bore you all with, so here we go.

I've been working my butt off on DEMON POSSESSED, and am generally pretty pleased with it. Last week I wrote a bit that genuinely upset me; it's kind of odd to do that, because on the one hand I hope it affects readers the same way, but on the other hand, not so much that they throw the book across the room. I'm really proud of it, though. One of the things I try to do is make sure my characters, in general, behave like adults. I dislike characters who throw whiny little hissy fits over nothing, or fly off the handle over things normal people would just shrug off. So I'm pleased to have (I think, anyway) accomplished that. And of course since I know what happens next I'm more proud than upset, but...yeah, it's weird thinking of what reaction readers might have. It doesn't change how I work--and this particular story arc has been planned since the very beginning--but it is there. (It also feels both cool and odd to be writing scenes I've had in my head since 2006.)

On top of that, we're moving. In a nutshell, the house next door to my mom's was rented. The tenants left. The owner of the house, who is a friend of my mom's, came down to oversee their moving. Hubs and I wandered around the place, loved it, and took it. So we have a new house. At the moment we're renting, as we haven't been back in the country long enough to buy, but early next year we'll be buying it. Which is very odd. So, I have a new house. Our shipment came Wed from England, which was weird--seeing all of our things again was cool, but it was sad too. (Oh, someone asked in response to the UK rights sale post if we would have left England had this happened while we were there. Probably we would have eventually, yes, but not as soon as we did.) Anyway, getting our belongings back was lovely, but of course, there are always problems. A broken candlestick and mixing bowl weren't that big a deal, but the fact that the movers LOST OUR FUCKING TV STAND is. That stand matches our sideboard; they were the first pieces of furniture we bought in England and remain our only truly "good" pieces; solid walnut and wrought-iron. We paid an outrageous (for us) amount for them because we both fell in love with them, and they are of course no longer available. So we're pretty pissed off about that and are waiting to see what the movers can or will do for us.

Aside from that, though, the house is fucking gorgeous and I'm incredibly excited to move in fully, which we will do as soon as we have mattresses.

More things from the last week: You can imagine what I think about the latest stupid RWA scandal. While I appreciate those who want to Change From Within and blah blah blah, I think it's beating the old gray mare. The RWA has become so irrelevant and useless it's a caricature of itself, and I simply cannot fathom why anyone would want to remain a member of a so-called writer's organization that can't be bothered to study the industry even a tiny bit.

And speaking of things which became irrelevant and a caricature of itself...yeah. Michael Jackson died. I don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand, the guy basically went insane in the last twenty years or so. He became someone unrecognizeable. Someone I couldn't feel comfortable liking even if he had been producing music I enjoyed; by the time "Bad" came out, in fact, I'd pretty much moved beyond pop music and stopped paying attention. And, you know how I feel about people who abuse children, and whether or not sexual misconduct took place, it is not appropriate to sleep with little kids who are not your own.

But the other night hubs and I were watching VH1. And they played "Thriller" in its entirety. And I started to cry. Because that was so much a part of my childhood. I remember sitting eagerly in front of MTV, waiting for the World Premier of that video. I remember recording it. I remember loving it. I remember owning the album and trying to figure out how to moonwalk. I'd forgotten how good it was, how good he was, how young and talented.

And I couldn't stop thinking that the time to mourn the loss of that man was twenty years ago, not now, but we never did. We never had the chance.

And it made me wonder why some of us (and I'm not including myself in the "Michael Jackson" stratosphere of talent, but people who work in the arts in one way or another, as a whole, which apparently does include me. My agent says I'm creative so I guess it's true) try so hard to destroy that talent and to destroy ourselves. Why that element of self-loathing never seems to go away, and why we embrace it so hard and refuse to let it go and feel good about how it eats us from within. Does everyone feel that way, or are we just bizarre in general?

I had something else to discuss, as well, but I don't remember now what it was. So maybe that will have to wait until Thursday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So, remember I said I had some news? And I've been hoping to post it for several weeks? Today's the day.

I am *incredibly* pleased to announce that we've sold UK publishing rights to the first three Downside books (UNHOLY GHOSTS, UNHOLY MAGIC, and CITY OF GHOSTS) to HarperCollins UK!! I'm thrilled to be working with Harper, and I'm especially thrilled the books will be widely available in UK bookstores. I've been informed that UNHOLY GHOSTS is scheduled to be released in November there, same as here, which would be awesome and I'm really hoping it works out that way. I remember having to wait the extra time for a book's UK release, lol, and I hated it! I will of course keep everyone posted as soon as I get new info.

It seems somehow fitting, in a way, as I was living there when I wrote them. And I think there is a lot from that experience in the books. So I'm really, really pleased, and I'm really, really hoping that when they come out or soon after, I can head back out there for a visit. I'd LOVE to do that.

Of course, the irony does not escape me. My agent called me to tell me about this around the first or second week of May; we'd been back in the US for a month or so. NOW we sell UK rights? Sigh. What Agent Man called "a tidy sum" will do us a hell of a lot of good here, but it would have done us a hell of a lot of good there, too. Anyway. Like I said, I'm hoping to head back out at least for a week or ten days or so, so keep your fingers crossed for me?

That's really it for today, I'm afraid. I did have a couple of other things to talk about but they'll have to wait. I got an email solicitation the other day I'm dying to tell you all about with a big helping of rolleye attached, but I am working like a little bee. Rest assured you will hear all about it. And whatever else may come up. Right now the only thing in my head is Megan, and Greyson, and Malleus, Maleficarum, and Spud, and Tera, and the terrible trouble they're all in at this moment. Sigh, the world's about to crash down around their ears. Think I'll manage to make it all right in the end?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Deadline is eating my brain

My actual life has pretty much ceased to exist at this point, because all I'm really doing is thinking about, worrying about, planning, or writing DEMON POSSESSED. So, in lieu of post, have a list of the five songs that make me sad and emo and all that stuff. (Inspired by Caitlin Kittredge and Cherie Priest, who have both posted their own lists.)

Five Sad Songs (in no particular order):

1. "Cant' Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith. Oh, man. It's like the emo perfect storm; jangly guitars, falsetto singing, humming. That alone would be depressing enough, but add the lyrics about being wasted and unable to find one's way home--which, you see, is a metaphor for LIFE and how we're all just trying to find our way home, man--and you have a song guaranteed to make me feel sad, lonely, and small. Don't get me wrong, I actually like the song. But there's no doubt it's a buzzkill; if I'm not already depressed it will get me there. (And if I am depressed, it's the perfect accompaniment.)

2. "Gloomy Sunday" by Billie Holiday. Seriously? I cannot believe nobody's mentioned this one yet. "Gloomy Sunday" was actually BANNED from the radio in Hungary (it was written there and originally recorded by someone who was not Billie Holiday) because of the suicides it incited; at least eighteen. In the US it was marketed as "the famous Hungarian suicide song" and at least two people were found dead of suicide with the lyrics in their pocket. Which is no surprise, really, if you've ever heard the song. "The shadows I live with are numberless"? "My heart and I have decided to end it all"? Seriously. Did they give away a free razorblade with the record?

The composer of "Gloomy Sunday" killed himself in 1968.

The website where I found the lyrics offers the song as a ringtone. I doubt it will work with my BlackBerry, but I am totally checking iTunes. Is that wrong of me?

3. "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray. Not the hideous cover version that came out a few years ago, that removed all of the raw emotional misery of Gray's version, but this one. The real one. Which is about a man whose life is so awful he's begging someone to play music so he can escape into it and not have to feel anymore. About someone who has nothing to believe in except music, and uses it as a crutch, the way we less emotionally healthy people use alcohol and opiates. I have no idea why Gray wasn't a bigger star; I love his voice, I feel his pain, I think it's a touching song. (What? This is my list, I can say what I want. I know a grown man, who used to deliberately cut himself onstage with his band, who cries when "Just Walk Away Renee" is played. Get your judgy hands off me, man!)

4. "Candle on the Water" by Helen Reddy. Hey, I can't help it; I'm a child of the seventies. This is the incredibly sad love song from Pete's Dragon, for those unfamiliar. We own a Disney CD, for the kiddies; hubs and I practically break each other's fingers in our haste to hit the "skip track" button when this song comes on. It is a lovely song. Reddy has a beautiful voice. But geez...the schmaltz and the Deep Emotion and...oh, I don't even know why. But if I let this one play I'll be sobbing by the end of it. I'm a very sick woman, I think.

5. "Bad Day" by Samiam. Okay, I know. It's kind of unfair including a song by an emo band. But I've always liked Samiam (I saw them in, oh gosh, 1992?). And a lot of their songs are in fact quite cheerful. This one isn't. It starts out with seeing a dog hit by a car and runs into a litany of Bad Things and emotional isolation and how a Smile Would Look Wrong On My Face. If you can't get in touch with your inner self-hating miseryguts while listening to this one...well, you're probably entirely too cheery a person to hang out with me.

So there you go. I do have a much longer list, which includes almost the entire Bob Dylan and later Johnny Cash catalogs, along with some Hank Williams and, of course, Patsy Cline (I dare you to listen to Sweet Dreams and not cry; even if the lyrics don't do it, that voice should, because I honestly believe Patsy was one of the greatest female vocalists--if not the greatest--who ever lived). But it felt a little like cheating to start throwing country music in there. I also didn't put in songs which have been known to make me sad but don't always, like "Angie" by the Rolling Stones or "Long as I Can See the Light" by CCR (which is based on a book, did you know that? A really good book; Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner.) Or any number of blues songs, or "Danny's Song" by Ann Murray (is it supposed to be depressing? Who can tell with Ann Murray? She's a slippery little sucker) or of course the entire long, boring, story-song Dan Fogelberg ouvre, which my parents used to make me listen to, and which makes me cry out of sheer appalled misery that such works were actually recorded and produced. Dan Fogelberg: oh, the humanity.

So. Go forth and produce your own lists now, and I will have news to post on Thursday.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A quick contemplation

So I am actually, honestly, in the process of getting a new website up. I spent a chunk of my day yesterday answering all those great questions everyone asked, which was fun.

But several of them made me stop and think, as did a question asked by the web designer herself: What about December Quinn? Where are those books? Are there any new December books coming out?

No. There aren't. At least not now, and not in the near future.

The December website itself is down. Gone. I let the hosting expire (though I still own the domain name and will keep it; I'll point it at the new Stacia site). The Stacia site will have a link to the December page on the Jasmine-Jaid site.

But I don't have any plans to write any more. I haven't written as December in about two years now, actually; although I've had releases in that time, they were books I'd written before. I'm not writing erotic romance, or romance in general, anymore.

That shouldn't be taken as any sort of criticism of romance or erotic romance as a genre, because it isn't at all. I love romance and I loved writing it. And never say never; it's entirely possible I could get an idea for a great romance that I'm desperate to write next week, and get moving on it. But right now, and for the last year or so? No, I just really haven't felt the urge; I haven't been thinking in that direction.

I didn't get bored with writing romance. I didn't make a conscious decision to stop writing romance. I just...stopped. My ideas started going in different directions. My work took a different turn. I started writing something else and found it suited me. I don't know why. Why do we write anything we write, you know? Where do ideas come from? Why does one idea fill us with excitement and another just doesn't?

I have no idea. But I do know that December is pretty much retired. I'm still proud of her and her books, but they're not where I am anymore. One day I may be again, who knows.

It's a little sad for me, but that's life.

Later today or tomorrow I'll be posting another excerpt from DEMON INSIDE.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Things to share with you

I think I'm a sharing person. I'm a sharer. It's in my nature.

(Okay, that's total bullshit. I'm like Alex P. Keaton making a sticker for Andy that says "I KNOW WHAT'S MINE." Seriously. I'm just drunk, because we went to dinner at this Greek restarurant that has $5 martinis, and I had the Dulche de Leche martini--OMGfantastic--and the Mai Tai martini, which was also delicious. On an empty stomach. So I am drunk, a bit, and in a loving and giving mood.)

Anyway. There is one thing I am always willing to share, even though I hoard french fries like the Nazis hoarded gold.


And when I read a book that totally and completely sucks me in, that makes me wish desperately I was part of that world and knew those people, or that stays with me long after I finish it, I share it.

Like Caitlin Kittredge's STREET MAGIC.

I think I've talked about this book before (have I talked about this book before? Because I think I have.)

Here's the thing. STREET MAGIC? SO awesome. Seriously. So awesome. You must read it.

This is the blurb:

Her name is Pete Caldecott. She was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete’s eyes—or so she thought. Now a detective[MSOffice2] , Pete is investigating the case of a young girl kidnapped from the streets of London. A tipster’s chilling prediction has led police directly to the child…but when Pete meets the informant, she’s shocked to learn he is none other than Jack. Strung out on heroin, Jack a shadow of his former self. But he’s able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget’s kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fey. Even though she’s spent years disavowing the supernatural, Pete follows Jack into the invisible fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget—and what happened to Jack on that dark day so long ago…

Sounds good, huh?

But STREET MAGIC is so much more than that, and it's about so much more than that. It's about redemption and darkness. It's about the sexiest mage ever put on paper. It's about secrets and what hides behind people's eyes and about how hard t is to connect with others no matter how hard you try. It's about loneliness and perfection and how we all keep trying to find it but fail. It's about how what appears to be true really isn't, but you know the truth in your heart.

All wrapped up in TOTALLY AWESOME. I got to read this book in ms form some time ago and was totally blown away.
Seriously. THIS is the UF we've been waiting for. This rivals de Lint and Gaiman for sheer kickcassness. No, I'm not joking.

Okay. We all know Caitlin and I are friends. I'm not going to pretend we're not or that I don't have some sort of personal bias here. I love Caitlin, and I think she's a fantastic writer on a technical level, just not a great storyteller.

But guys, you know me. I don't recommend stuff unless I really, honestly and truly think you'll enjoy it, do I?

I have *never* felt so much like recommending a book as I do STREET MAGIC. Go buy it. You won't be sorry.

Um. I also highly recommend Richelle Mead's latest Succubus book, SUCCUBUS HEAT, which I just finished last night. It's excellent. The best Georgina book so far.

Also. Several years ago--I guess about seven now--the hubs and I went to a small local Star Trek con being run by a friend of ours. As we wandered around we saw a man sitting by himself at the end of the signing aisle. We wanted to go talk to him, the hubs especially, as he was a big fan. But the man looked so grumpy, so out of sorts, that we were afraid to. We didn't want to intrude on what was either private unhappiness or just general pissed-offedness. And frankly, the man was charging for autographs and we didn't have any extra cash.

The man was David Carradine, and he died last night in an apparent suicide.

I can't speak to what anyone might be feeling when they take their own life. I won't lie and say I know how it feels, although I won't lie and say I've never been close to that, either, or that I don't know what it is to think about it, to want to do it (you can tell I'm drunk, can't you? I'm Opening Up). But this is horrible. It's a terrible thing. And I don't really have anything else to say about that.

But I do have one other book to recommend, on a similar note. John Green's LOOKING FOR ALASKA. It's a YA; it's about love and loss and the future, and three days after reading it I'm still half-caught in its world. Grab it. You can buy it at the same time as STREET MAGIC.

You won't regret either purchase, I promise.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Edits and stuff

Ooooh...and this new coffee I just bought is delicious; Ghirardelli organic Cinnamon Chocolate Almond, especially when I add some French Vanilla creamer to it. Now, I take my coffee black a large percentage of the time--when I drink it, which isn't a lot--so don't jump all over me about my hideous oversweetened tastes. Sometimes I like to try something different, is all. And this stuff is seriously yum. I can happily drink this all day, oh yes.

And why am I drinking so much coffee?

Because work time is upon me.

Today is June 1st. I have thirty days to finish DEMON POSSESSED. So if I am rather scarce for the next month, you know why. I shall try not to be scarce, as I've been so scarce the last few months, but I can't guarantee my presence. Deadlines are deadlines, and I have me one of them.

I'm having fun with it, though. Which is nice. Getting back into the Demons world after so long--it's been almost two years since I've written these characters--was a bit of a challenge at first but once it clicked again, it clicked again, and I'm really enjoying myself. We've had some sweet moments and some funny moments and some sexy moments, and I'm about to start the lead-in into the Moments Which Might Make You Want To Kill Me. Um. Yes, some Bad Things happen in this one. But you must trust me.

Anyway. In the midst of plotting and giggling and worrying, copyedits for the second Downside book arrived; the one which used to be DOWNSIDE GHOSTS and is now UNHOLY MAGIC. Which, btw, is up on Amazon!!

No cover yet--you know I'll share that with you guys as soon as I get it, and I'll post the blurb then as well--but the listing is there, and I'm excited about it.

Especially since...well. I've had a bit of a change of heart about that book. It was my Problem Child before, for several reasons, which I will outline for you now:

* It followed UNHOLY GHOSTS, about which I was more excited than I've ever been about any book I've written

* It followed UNHOLY GHOSTS, which I considered, and still kind of do, to be the best book I've ever written

* It was written while UNHOLY GHOSTS was on submission, and I was terrified it wouldn't sell, which made it hard to write the sequel

* It was the first book I've ever written that required extensive edits (more on that in a minute)

Second books are hard. When you write the first, you have the thrill of discovery; you're creating a whole new world, and whole new people. It's exciting as hell, seriously.

The second? Well. It's still exciting, but that little extra oomph that comes from building a world from the ground up is gone. You're playing in an already-created pond. You're revisiting familiar characters. While that has its own rewards and thrills, they're different. It's awesome to expand the characters and take their stories further. It's awesome to write "what comes next." But it's not as easy as writing the first, at least not for me.

UNHOLY MAGIC was hard to write. It was a second book. It was a second book in a series I wasn't sure was going to sell--I believe I was around 2/3 done with it when we got the first offer--which made me wonder, as I wrote, if there was even a fricking point. And it was heartbreaking, because I was (and still am) so violently, deeply in love with the characters and the world that I couldn't bear to think I might not get to introduce other people to them. I had an agent, and that was extra pressure; what would happen if the book didn't sell? Could I produce something else he'd like as much? Nobody ever talks about how scary it can be to sign with an agent, in that suddenly someone else expects things of you, but it can be a little nerve-wracking.

You all know I'm a pantser, not a plotter. Well. All this stress and worry made UNHOLY MAGIC veer off into odd tangents. It took me something like 13 weeks to write, which is longer than any book has ever taken me. Eeep! It didn't just flow! UNHOLY GHOSTS flowed; I wrote the first draft in seven weeks (well, eight weeks, but for a week of that time we were out of town or I was sick, so techinically it was seven weeks). So if UNHOLY GHOSTS flowed, and I love it so and think it's great, then maybe the non-flowy book, not great?

Things got worse when I got into edits. I ended up cutting over 30k words from that book; a gargantuan amount for someone who rarely cuts more than a few thousand here and there. Whole sections of the book were ripped out, rewritten, and restitched; it was kind of terrifying. I didn't know what I'd written, I was too close to it. Trapped in it. All I could think of was that UNHOLY GHOSTS was good and easy to write, or rather, it came easily and was a deeply exciting challenge, whereas UNHOLY MAGIC was blood, sweat, and tears every step of the way, and not what I'd hoped it would be.

And that is the way I've felt all along. At least until I finished CITY OF GHOSTS, the third book, which true to form I now think is probably just not very good. But UNHOLY MAGIC was the real sticky one, the one I just could not warm up to.

Well. I finished the copyedits last night. It was the first time I've read the book all the way through since...geez, since line edits, seven months or so ago.

And you know what?

I liked it.

I did. The book doesn't suck. It really doesn't! It's pretty good, I think. It held my interest. I didn't want to stop reading it. I found some good lines in it, some writing I was really proud of. Some nice character moments. Some scary bits and sexy bits; I was surprised, actually, by how sexy the sexy bits were.

My point isn't to brag about The Wonders Of Me or to convince you to preorder UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC right now (although, of course, you could. Y'know, if you wanted to). It's not to pat myself on the back. Really.

It's to share a little bit about my editing process and thoughts. And to say that even though I generally hate my work, I do eventually find a place where...I don't. So those of you who also hate your work? You too will probably eventually find a place where you don't.

You are really not necessarily the best judge of your work. I'm not the best judge of mine. My agent, my editors, my cp pals, have been telling me UNHOLY MAGIC is a good book for months, while I frown and bitch and whine and envision readers coming after me with torches and sticks because they hate it so much and I've let them down so horribly.

I feel better about the book now. I think readers will like UNHOLY MAGIC. I think it's a good sequel, it's a good expansion of the story and world; similar enough to work, but different enough that it doesn't feel like a carbon copy or like I'm working from a formula (I'm not, of course.)

So there you go. A full year after writing it, I finally like UNHOLY MAGIC.

CITY OF GHOSTS, on the other hand... Sigh.