Friday, May 29, 2009

Everybody's doing it I won't.

Yes, this is inspired in part by my pal (and fellow League member) Nicole Peeler's vlog post over at the League. And of course Mark posted a couple of vlogs at Bitten by Books on Tuesday, the first of which featured about ten seconds' worth of footage of me. (And, btw, just so everyone knows, I adore both Nicole and Mark and think their vlogs are great.)

And that's pretty much all you're going to get. I do not wish to vlog. I do not like the way I look on-camera. I do not like my voice. And really, what in the world am I going to say? Shall I take you on a tour of my bedroom? Drive around town with you? Bake a cake and show it to you? What?

Here's the thing. Perhaps, once again, I am simply bizarre. Because I hate watching videos online. I want to read stuff. I especially hate those video instruction manuals some downloadable or whatever computer programs come with. I don't want to watch a demo, dude. Just write out the fricking instructions so I can read them. That way I can skip the stuff I don't need and get to the stuff I do; I can reread that stuff over and over again if I like. I don't want to wait while the viedo loads. I don't want to listen to somebody drone on and on.

So really, what could I possibly say in a vlog that wouldn't be better if I just wrote it? Aside from me flashing the camera--which will never, ever happen--what possible benefit could there be to me sitting in front of the camera and talking? (My new Mac does have a camera embedded, btw, which is nifty but I can't see using it.)

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Not to mention, as soon as something becomes popular and hip, I confess I lose interest in it. This is a small part of the reason why I never saw Titanic: if everybody else is doing it, it must suck. (This is subjective, of course, as witnessed by the fact that the hubs and I have seen Star Trek twice already.) This is why I don't watch reality TV, really. I used to watch ANTM but stopped in England; is that show even still on?

I freely admit I miss out on some good stuff this way. I also freely admit that I really, really hope this is just another example of my oddness, as I am of course hoping that thousands upon thousands of eager readers, who do not have my weirdo hang-ups, flock en masse to the bookstores to buy my books during their first weeks of release. Please? Seriously. Please.

On a different note, here are three things I'm excited about:

1. News I can't share yet. Hopefully next week.

2. My new website. No, it isn't up and ready yet, but again, hopefully soon. It's going to have some really cool stuff on it, I think, including one thing I'm *very* excited about.

I am also putting together an FAQ for it, so once again, if you have any questions, any at all, please ask them in comments. About me, about the books, about writing...anything!! I just might pick one random questioner to send an Amazon or B&N gift card to, so...seriously, ask me something.

3. The Faerie is one of the world's pickiest eaters (no, I'm not excited about that, keep reading.) We recently decided this business of eating nothing but plain pasta with a little butter, chicken nuggets, fries, yogurt, cookies, and potato chips needed to end. So we've started bribing her, basically; when she uncomplainingly tries a new food, she gets a sticker. Five stickers gets her a small toy. It has worked delightfully. She is now a fan of macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, fruit cups, and Chef Boyardee. No, we can't keep doing it forever, and we won't, but at least it has opened her picky little mind and she isnow more willing to give things a go.

With that in mind we bought a chart today at the teacher's supply store and had it laminated. We're putting both girls on a sticker system for various behavior-related things (Princess will get cash bonuses for certain above-and-beyond chores, and we will use the stickers to keep track). So, it should be interesting, and hopefully fun, and will make life easier.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First, yes, I didn't post yesterday because of the holiday. It still feels weird to celebrate US holidays (I got so used to sitting around half the day wondering where everyone was, then remembering it was Memorial Day/Labor Day/MLK Day), but we did; we grilled burgers and hot dogs with my mom and her husband, and a good time was had by all.

Afterwards we sat around on the screened porch discussing all sorts of things. I specifically recall a long period of discussion about Wallis Simpson and Nazis, in which the hubs and I talked about our honeymoon visit to the Imperial War Museum in London. (If you ever have a chance, you really should go; it's a very cool museum.) Our general agreement, unsurprisingly, was that both Wallis and the Nazis were Very Bad.

Of course, the day did set me seriously behind on my wordcount. But sometimes it's important to sit around with family. Especially when part of that sitting around is remembering the people who fought and died for us, and why.

But cooking in someone else's kitchen is weird, isn't it? You don't know where anything is, and you keep reaching for things--your trusty wooden spoon, your favorite pan, a specific seasoning or spice--that aren't there. It can put one a bit out of sorts. I always feel like everyone is watching me when I try to cook in someone else's kitchen. It's generally fun to do, but still. I miss my own kitchen. I really miss all my cooking tools and things, which are not expected to arrive for another few weeks; not to mention we have no home to put them in. They'll all go into storage, but at least at that point we'll be able to go there, open a box at random, and actually touch them. Ahh.

It's especially hard because the house has satellite TV. Which means there's like a million channels, large numbers of which are either sports or infomercials. Point being, the only channel I know by number so far is The Food Network. And so that is what I have been watching, pretty much nonstop. The Food Network. Which I do love; I mean, there's always something on the Food Network, right? It may not be the greatest show, but it's something. So it's on almost all the time, and it's making me want to cook. Which you all know I like doing, at least most of the time.

But in the main it's nice background noise. Something I can tune out while I type, but when I glance up there's invariably something interesting happening.

Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It works especially well when I'm stuck, but not as well when the words are flowing. I either don't hear the music at all, which is more likely, or I stop to listen to a particular song and lose the flow.

Okay. One other thing:

Mark Henry is over at Bitten by Books today, doing some video-blogging and hanging out with readers. Pop on over there for some fun.

But before you do, tell me. What do you have on in the background? Does it change according to what you're doing?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Agents = People. Not fish.

Okay, okay. I know it's a figure of speech. I know people use it all the time. And I know they use it for different reasons, and that I could very well be the only weirdo who sees it this way (hey, wouldn't be the first time).

But it drives me nuts when I see people posting or blogging or whatevering about "landing an agent."

I'm not sure why the phrase gets under my skin so much. It just feels...braggardly (a word I coined on Twitter last night. Feel free to use it. Someone else probably invented it first but I'm taking credit, at least until they step forward).

Seriously? I picture a writer posing for one of those Prize-Marlin pictures, with the hapless agent suspended by a large hook, a dribble of blood down his or her chin and wide, staring, frightened eyes. It's just not a good image, guys. It kind of creeps me out.

And here's the thing. Landing a fish implies a sort of physical battle; a test of wills between the fish and the fisherman. It implies mastery over a wild thing; that a contest of strength and endurance was entered into and victory was achieved. Getting an agent, or interesting an agent, or signing with an agent? Not remotely like that.

Now, I do see the analogy. I do. Querying agents can feel like a test of endurance, certainly. And it does require some strength. It's tough to send out those letters and not know what will come back. It's tough to get rejections from people you really thought you'd like to work with, people who you really thought would "get" you and your work. It can be exhausting. It can be soul-crushing. And while I am, as you know, a member of the "suck it up" school, I do understand and remember how hard it is, and how it feels when you think this book you love so much, this book you really think is special, isn't going to go anywhere or do anything. Yes. It hurts. (I just don't think we need to talk about it.)

But querying agents isn't You Vs. Agent. It isn't, any more than finding a mate is You Vs. Them. (Which is another phrase I hate, for basically the same reasons: "catching" a husband. Hardly anybody says it anymore, because it sounds so silly and antiquated. Something to think about, huh? Anyway. "Catching" a husband makes it sound as though I set up a snare in the woods and waited in the bushes with a club and a wedding ring for some hapless guy to wander along and step into my trap. It just sounds...ech.) When you date, you're looking for the Right Fit.

And so are the other people.

You don't hear agents talking about "landing" a new client, do you? (I certainly never have.) No. They sign new clients. There's no implication that they have somehow Mastered The Wild in finding a new writer to represent.

It just presents an image I dislike. I didn't "land" my agent. I didn't haul him onto the deck of my pontoon boat and gut him while he gasped and writhed. I don't look at what happened that way. I don't see the getting of agents as me setting some kind of pheromonal Venus Flytrap and hoping an agent would blunder into it. I don't see myself as being some kind of victor, the Teddy Roosevelt of Big-Agent Hunting, with heads mounted on my wall.

(Someone on Twitter last night mentioned this in relation to record contracts, like how bands are said to "land" a record deal. But it doesn't bother me so much in that instance. Why? Because record contracts, being printed paper agreements and service deals, are not human either.)

I adore euphemism. I love the images words can create. It's fun, and exciting. And yes, "landed an agent" can be a very vivid one. But it's also one that implies some sort of trickery, a painful struggle in which an unwilling victim is finally brought down through force of will and heavy fishing line. And it just grates on me when I hear it used in reference to agents or other human beings. It sounds a little pretentious, a little braggy (or braggardly, if you like).

It's just a pet peeve. Take it as you will.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Several thoughts on several things

So here we are, trying to get back in the groove. The third Demons book is due July 1st, which means Some Serious Work Ahead for me.

But, it also occurred to me yesterday that it's May. Which means it's almost June, which means it's almost summer, which means it's almost time for another Summer Series. (My typo almost led me to write "It's almost sumer," which would imply a superagricultural Mesopotamian event about to occur, but no.)

Which means I have to decide to what subject to dedicate at least part of my summer blogging. Any suggestions? What would y'all like to hear me blather about? I doubt it will be quite as involved and lengthy as the Strumpet series--remember, July 1st deadline--but if the topic is meaty enough I'll simply delay it until after said deadline has passed, when I have a bit more time.

(I haven't forgotten my plans to expand last summer's Strumpet series and turn it into a PDF, by the way. Look for that by the end of the summer, too, as part of my new website.)

I feel all disoriented still. It's weird but great to be back, but it's also hard to settle back into a routine. At least, a routine other than the "Watch 'Good Eats' in bed every night on DVD" one we've got going here. I do love Good Eats, though. We also have several seasons of The Office (US) to catch up on, as only the first two have been shown in the UK (I think--that's all we've seen, anyway).

What else? I had several topics to discuss when I started this post (hence the title) but it all seems to have disappeared into the ether. Sigh. Perhaps part of my problem is that, while I'm digging the Mac, I'm finding web-surfing more difficult than it was. Not because there's a problem--sort of--well, okay. Here's the thing. When I type a web address in the address bar, it isn't saved there in Safari like it was in IE. This is how I used to flit around the net; I had several addys up there and the rest in my Bookmarks. Now I don't have my Bookmarks and I don't have a drop-down address list thingie, so I have to manually type the addresses in, which sucks. Any advice?

Oh, and here's something interesting. has done a list of the 100 Sexiest Movie Posters--at least, according to them. The hubs and I strongly disagree with some of their choices; it appears in at least a few cases they're looking at it in a "Half-naked woman automatically=Sexy" way, or going for one with a famously sexy actress on it rather than an actual sexy poster. (We also feel it's a bit of a cheat to include Bond movie posters, because, duh.) What do you think, if you feel like following the link and taking a look?

Goodness this is a dull post. I apologize, everyone. I will be back up to snuff soon. My mind is otherwise engaged at the moment; I'm still not sure how happy I am with my revised version of CITY OF GHOSTS, and what to do about that. Everyone else (that is, my editor, Caitlin, and Psynde) likes the book and says it's great; they liked it even before the revisions that I think made it better. But I can't help but think of what it *could* have been.

Yes, I know this is in large part simply how I work. And how a lot of others work. I love my books for the first 30k words or so. After that I generally think they're garbage. Rereading them usually assuages that,'s not really happening for me anymore. The last three of my books that I've read I have not particularly liked, or rather, I haven't felt they were anywhere near good enough. Perhaps this is because I know they're going out into the world, into (hopefully!) the hands of people who actually paid money for them? People who will be justifiably angry if they buy the books and find they're a jumble of incomprehensible mess? (Intellectually I know the books are not a jumble of incomprehensible mess. But still.)

I suppose it's better to think of lots of people buying and hating them, than of nobody buying them at all. Neither brings me much joy, though.

Oh, and by the way, the second Downside book is now called UNHOLY MAGIC. That is the permanent title. CITY OF GHOSTS, which has been through quite a few title changes, is officially CITY OF GHOSTS again. So, the first three books in the series are officially:


And I will have back cover copy for UNHOLY MAGIC pretty soon.

Now I've whined long enough.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trying to get back to normal

Or at least, normal for me.

I intend to get back to my regular Mon/Thurs blogging schedule starting today. Of course, I am also on serious deadline for the third Demons book, but I do intend to try. (I did tell y'all we had a deal for the third Demons book, didn't I? Because, um, we do. But I'm pretty sure I mentioned it already.)

We've had a pretty eventful few weeks, we have. Being in Miami again was...interesting. Good, but strange. It felt weird to be Just Visiting in a place where we'd lived for so long. At the same time it was awesome to drive around and know exactly where we were at all times, and to go to all our old haunts--or most of them, anyway, as to our horror we found a restaurant we used to visit weekly had closed. We made up for it with countless Target visits. :-)

We were offered the opportunity to stay in Miami, in fact. And oh, how we considered it. Time softened the edges of our old hatred for South Florida; that happened before we returned to the US. A while ago we watched "Stephen Fry's America," which was a really good BBC special in which Stephen Fry drove around the US in a converted old-style English taxi. Good show. He drove down to Miami, and it was hysterical, actually; a minute-long shot of him behind the wheel with his lip curled, saying "Well, this is just...horrible. It's all gray and awful, the people are terrible, this is a hellhole." Hubs and I laughed, but...yeah, maybe Miami is a hellhole, but it was OUR hellhole, and being away from it for so long made us realize that deep down we love the place. Really, truly love it, hurricanes, flying hand-sized roaches, and all.

But sadly, that doesn't mean it's the best place for us to live at the moment. Rents and the cost of living in general are very high, so high it would have made life difficult. The schools aren't the greatest--or rather, they aren't in the areas we could afford to live in--and that is obviously a big concern when e have two little ones. The friends and family we have down there are all planning on getting out, and in one case did while we were down there; a great pal of ours had a fantastic opportunity in another place, and took it, and the timing just happened to be such that we only got to see him twice before he left.

We also got to go to the Mai Kai, which is this huge awesome Polynesian restaurant with killer cocktails. They do a live show, too, but we'd seen it already so didn't watch. We just ate and drank and had a great time.

But the point is, much as we've realized we love South Florida, it just doesn't feel like the right place for us now. We said we'd give Atlanta a try and we decided we need to stick to that. So here we are. With our fingers crossed that we didn't just shoot ourselves in the foot.

I am also now using a Mac. Interesting. I like it so far. :-)

Also, we saw STAR TREK. OMG fucking awesome. Seriously. If you haven't seen it you need to go. NOW. In fact, I'll go with you, as we're already scheming when we get to see it again. I honestly can't remember the last time I had that much fun at a movie. And I've seen enough TREK that I caught all the inside jokes, I believe, but even if I hadn't or didn't I would still have had a blast. The funny thing is, the movie had what I always thought was missing from the original series and most of the later ones (with the exception of DS9, which is my favorite of the series): sex and humor. They were both in the film. Yay! (Yes, I know all the series had their sex/humor moments. But not enough for me.)

Also at the theater, in addition to my large popcorn (OMGpopcornhowImissedyourdeliciousness) we tried those new mini Hershey's Kisses, the candy-coated ones? Delicious!

I realize this post doesn't really offer a lot of value, and I apologize. But hopefully we'll be back on track soon.

Oh, and just to give some kind of writing-related info, I have also done the following in the last couple of weeks:

1. Reviewed galleys for DEMON INSIDE (second Demons book)

2. Reviewed galleys for UNHOLY GHOSTS (first Downside book)

3. Completed first editor-led revision on CITY OF GHOSTS (Third Downside book). Still needs some fine-tuning before I hand it back in but in general I'm happy with it. Word count at the moment is around 109k; I anticipate it will stay around there.

4. Started DEMON POSSESSED (Third Demons book).