Friday, December 28, 2012

Delilah's Yearly Book Round-up



A year's worth of reading:

For Nook:
Believe It or Not - Tawna Fenske
The Gift - Tiffany Reisz
Tarnished - Karina Cooper
Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake
The Siren - Tiffany Reisz
Bewere the Night - Anthology
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar - Kate Cross
Riveted - Meljean Brook
Grave Dance - Kalayna Price
Dance with the Devil - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Fantasy Lover - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Timeless - Gail Carriger
Savage Shores - Ema Wildes
Incomparable - Emma Wildes
Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin
City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare
Fifty Shades Darker - EL James
The Goblin King - Shona Husk
Fire Lord's Lover - Kathryne Kennedy
Dark Lover - J.R. Ward

Hard Copy:
Blood and Bullets - James R. Tuck
Blood and Silver - James R. Tuck
Grave Witch - Kalayna Price
Grave Memory - Kalayna Price
Clean - Alex Hughes
The Prince - Tiffany Reisz
Redshirts - John Scalzi
Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris
Sweetly - Jackson Pearce
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
Shine - Lauren Myracle
The Taker - Alma Katsu
Blackbirds - Chuck Wendig
The Replacement - Brenna Yavonoff
A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
Incarnate - Jodi Meadows
So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson
Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater
Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater
The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
Under the Never Sky - Victoria Rossi
Clockwork Prince - Cassanda Clare
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Paper Towns - John Green
Looking for Alaska - John Green
Gone Gone Gone - Hannah Moskowitz
One Whisper Away - Emma Wildes
Fifty Shades of Grey - EL James
Enclave - Ann Aguirre
The Immortals - JT Ellison
Virtuosity - Jessica Martinez
Posession - Elana Johnson
Her and Me and You - Lauren Strasnick
Saga - Brian K. Vaughan

Conclusions: 
1. Last year, my Nook books far outweighed hard copy (list can be found here). This year, hard copy is up. Why? Because I've had the chance to collect signed books by friends and authors I admire and meet at cons.
2. Concentration is on YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. Why? Because that's what I write. I need to stay abreast of what's hot in my genres.
3. Twitter is still my #1 way of finding new books and authors. For example, I won ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre in a Twitter contest and really enjoyed it.
4. I'm not including non-fiction, but the focus was on psychology, influence, and the singularity.
5. Why so few books? Because this year, I wrote Wicked as She Wants (110k), The Mysterious Madam Morpho (31k), The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance (38k), The Damsel and the Daggerman (32k), The Three Lives of Lydia (10k), the first 40k of Wicked After Midnight, plus 2 more secret books and a big revision on Servants of the Storm.

FAVORITE BOOKS THIS YEAR:
The Scorpio Races - Really struck me. So lyrical and mythical and unique for a standalone YA. I loved her book trailer, but for some reason, it didn't entice me to buy. So glad I did!
Masque of the Red Death - Read in one sitting while at the beach. Truly arresting.
The Prince - Actually, the entire Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz. It's BDSM erotica, but the characters and writing are what really draw you in. So well done.
The Fault in Our Stars - I don't like drama and sadness, but it was so beautiful that I couldn't resist. This one should be required reading in high school. I cried like a baby.
Saga - I haven't been into comics in years, but this one is fantastic. Great concept, great drawings. So refreshing to see fierce motherhood in print.

And a shout-out to author Brady Allen, whom I met at FandomFest in Louisville. He read a story aloud-- I believe it was called Slow Mary, and it really stuck with me, which is rare. I don't normally like hearing stories read aloud. I hear it's part of his Back Roads and Frontal Lobes collection.


* * *

So what was your favorite book this year?






Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Have a evil Christmas!

Christmas is...


St. Germain by the fire with friends under the watchful eye of Jupiter and billions of stars.


Finding the perfect shirt... and giving it away.



Trying new things, even if they're made of lichen and might kill you.



A big-ass tree, tons of presents, and huge smiles.



Being so happy that you don't care if your hair is as wild as a mongoose on speed and you're not wearing make-up and you're sporting a Jedi sweater, because your daughter is really, really excited about her new earmuffs.


Hanging with family, even when it gets a little surreal, because you're Southern, and that's part of the deal, and it's wonderful, and the food is delicious. Having a beautiful day, laughing, with four generations.


And then coming back home to read a good book, curled up in a sunbeam with a cat on your legs and a child at your feet, reading her own book. See?


Magic.



Not minding that your stocking is empty because...



...your son gave you his Boba Fett.

"Betause he's your favorite guy, mama," he said.

"NO YOU ARE!!!" I screeched and tried not to flail too much.

And also because...



...you already got what you wanted most, and it doesn't fit in a stocking.

And Christmas is looking forward to the new year, and hoping you'll find as much happiness as you did this year. And pledging to kick as much ass as possible.


There's no Christmas in Sang, but who cares? IT'S CASPER.


And so, along with my daughter, I hope you:



* * *


Friday, December 21, 2012

Anthropologie and Hautelook: No shoes for you!

What do we want?

THE STUFF WE ORDERED.

When do we want it?

PRETTY MUCH ANYTIME WOULD BE BETTER THAN NEVER, YOU JERKS.

Here's why I'm angry:

1. Just yesterday, I received an email from Anthropologie regarding a pair of shoes I ordered on 12/13. It was a cancelation report with no further info. My follow-up WTH, GUYS? email revealed the following:

"Unfortunately, the Furina Mary-Janes were not available at the time your order was being processed and has been canceled from your order. Please note that no charges were processed to your card for this item."

So, basically, I ordered and paid, and they didn't follow up with their half of the transaction. No real apology. No attempt at making it right. Just NO SHOES FOR YOU.

I might be a little more understanding if it hadn't happened with:

2. Hautelook, where I ordered a William Rast leather jacket and had the same thing happen. I order something available, I pay for it, and weeks later, I get a notification that they didn't have enough in stock and I therefore don't get my order. At least Hautelook gave me a lousy $10 credit for my annoyance. 

The only problem with that $10 credit is that I used it toward:

3. A pair of thigh-high, size 8.5, gray leather NYLA button-up boots. And when they arrived, what was in the box? A pair of knee-high, size 8, black fake leather stiletto hooker boots that had obviously been worn several times by a chain-smoking hooker. The smell of perfume, cigarettes, and body odor was so bad that I had to tape the box shut before mailing them back. 

And then they gave me more store credit, because obviously I trust them with my money.


* * *

The point here is that ONLINE SHOPPING HULK SMASH. It's pretty simple: you make the number of objects you have available online and sell that many. It's infuriating, the way that I spend days carefully selecting an item, make the heartfelt commitment to buying it, wait excitedly, and then get these utterly blasé, unapologetic notices that fetch is not going to happen. I mean, there used to be some level of empathy, some indication that they cared that they had damaged their own reputation and left you disappointed. Now, it's just a slap in the face.

I'm not a shopping girl. I don't go to stores and try on things and walk around the mall, swinging fancy bags. I freaking AGONIZE over these purchases, and I keep my special, fancy shoes on display and only wear them when the weather is ideal. I loved that leather jacket, and I loved those shoes, and now both of these online retailers have lost my trust. 

Hautelook, I expect this from you now. But Anthropologie, I thought you were one of the good guys. I thought you would take care of me. Looks like I was wrong.

We went to online retailers because we couldn't get what we needed from actual stores. If we can't trust online retailers, where will we go next?


* * *

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

hello, Polly.



Consider me... distracted.

There's dirt under my fingernails for the first time in years,
and my boots are at the bottom of the stairs, dusted with mud.
I had to roll up my favorite jeans to keep the hems from dragging in the field.
And I smell, faintly, of horse and saddle oil.
Also, I found a carrot in my pocket earlier. 
It was happy to see me.

One of my defining characteristics is adaptability. 
Looks like I'm a cowgirl again, at least when 
I put on the right costume and take out my dangly earrings.

It feels good, getting a little dirty.

* * *

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Next Big Thing

The ever-marvelous Cherie Priest tagged me for The Next Big Thing. 

So here's my big thing.



The Next Big Thing: WICKED AS THEY COME

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and listening to the album Like Vines by the Hush Sound, and then one night I had a very vivid dream about waking up naked on a rock in the woods with this fellow in a top hat staring at me. Turns out that's the scene where Tish meets Criminy. The book is heavily influenced by that album, including several key plot points. And Criminy sounds like Spike, if you listen just right.

What genre does your book fall under?
It's billed as Paranormal Romance, but it was originally written as a straight paranormal with the sex scenes added later. That means it's readable for dudes and girls who aren't into bodice rippers, too-- and if I'm signing it, I'm always happy to draw a waistcoat, shirt, and cravat to cover up those pesky nipples.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Criminy would be Johnny Depp as directed by Tim Burton, or maybe Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Tish is harder to pin down, though. Maybe Ashley Green? Tabitha would be Christina Ricci.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An Atlanta nurse wakes up in an alternate world where most of the animals and half of the humans are blood drinkers; steampunk adventures and sexytimes ensue.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Blud series includes three books and three e-novellas, published by Pocket/Simon & Schuster.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took about a month and a half, but the revisions took FOREVER.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Iron Seas by Meljean Brook; The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger; The Cherry St. Croix series by Karina Cooper.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
It all came from that one dream. I was obsessed with the guy, who was a circus ringmaster and magician and thief, not your usual alpha male but still dashing, dark, and dangerous.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The rabbits and horses eat people. The reviews are very generous about the world-building, and the ladies love the Criminy Stain.

* * *

Saturday, December 15, 2012

dreams come true (again)


If you search this blog for the word "horse", you'll see a lifelong love deferred.

And tomorrow, hopefully, you'll see me very, very happy.

I think I'm gonna buy this horse...



* * *

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

a day well spent with #ThorontheFloor

Today, some people did great things. 
They rescued babies from burning buildings, 
saved lives on the operating table, 
or brought us one step closer to curing cancer.

Here's what I did.

It started here:


And then, like the world snake, it just kept going. And getting slimier.







I think I finally know how Jim felt on The Office when he took all those nickels out of Dwight's phone.

And you know what tomorrow is, right?

THORSDAY.

* * *

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stupid Human Tricks #1


I also perform live.

Back to writing.

And wine.

* * *

a little memory for a white day



A very long time ago, a boy took me to a park by a river.

It was a day much like today, with an opaque white sky and trees like black bone fingers and a cold that's insidious-- very still, very creeping. We walked down a long hill diagonally, slipping on wet, brown leaves that crumpled over to show fire-bright bellies. When we reached the river, he turned left, and I followed, because I'd never been there before and I didn't entirely trust him. The path along the water's edge was worn, the current's flow beside us thick and sluggish like honey on a winter morning. There were things I wanted to do-- trees to climb; branches to walk along, arms extended; promising holes to poke, hunting for sleeping snakes. But he had long legs, and I was curious, so I hurried along behind him.

He had promised to show me something special.

We came to a cavern scattered with ashes, and I balked two steps beyond the overhang. He wasn't the sort of boy I would follow into a cave. Instead, he showed me the path to the side, as the secret wasn't inward, but skyward You had to claw your way up that rock, scrabbling at roots and seedlings and crags in the stone, digging in your toes and never minding your ragged nails. I was breathless when I dragged myself up onto the ledge, and I remember still the deathly cold of the stone against my belly, leaving a wet spot on my shirt.

I was young, then, and it felt like I stood on top of the forest, looking down on everyone and everything. It was dizzying, knowing there was nothing there to hold onto, nothing to catch my fall if I followed that silly siren whisper that always urges leaping. I eventually tired of daring myself and sunk to the ground beside him, letting the cold soak through my jeans and into the raw meat of me, into my bones. We sat close enough to share the barest brush of warmth and yet so very far away. If we spoke, I don't remember it. The boy was less important than the place, than the moment. I dumped him shortly after that.

But I think that was the day I learned the value of letting go, of welcoming the cold. Being warm is fine and good, but there's something to be said for nerves entirely awake, for gooseflesh and blood hungry for heat. For being open to whatever wildness wants in.

If life is a process of waking up, slowly... then that day I suppose I opened one eye.

The last time I went back to that park, the day was sunny and warm. The cavern was smaller and dirtier, the climb easier, the ledge lower than I remembered. I knew my way, could see the trail so easily. The boy died last year, I heard, and I haven't been back since.

And that's why I didn't wear a coat today.

I wanted to feel the cold.

It keeps me awake.

* * *


Monday, December 10, 2012

presenting... The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance!


The second e-novella in the Blud series is out April 2013, 
just before book 2, WICKED AS SHE WANTS.

I'll wait to see the official synopsis, but let's just say that this one includes Casper, a London shopkeep with a soft heart for broken things, and a hero who can basically be summed up as Thor in a kilt.

If you like the bludbunnies, you're going to love the murderous critters in this one. Promise.

* * *



cover reveal!

Not here, silly.

At least, not until Wednesday.

You have to skip over to All Things Urban Fantasy to see what the ever-marvelous Tony Mauro has concocted for the CARNIEPUNK anthology due out from Pocket next July.

My story is a Sangish turn on Lydia the Tattooed Lady.

If you dig, you can add it on Goodreads here or preorder it on Amazon here.

Because we all want to run away with the circus, right?

* * *


Saturday, December 8, 2012

the beauty of alone


So all of my pics from the last three days look about like this one: part of my face, badly focused. It's hard to take pics of yourself with a phone, even with the camera turned around.

See, I grew up an only child, but I never really liked being alone. Didn't like staying home alone, didn't like eating meals alone, definitely hated sleeping alone. But now, as an adult, I cherish my alone time, especially when traveling.

Maybe it has something to do with not having siblings, but I like not having to ask someone else's opinion. Say, for example, I found myself at Walt Disney World with a Park Hopper pass and a magic Fast Pass and an open schedule. I might have an omelet in the restaurant at 8:30, be at Animal Kingdom when it opens at 9am, ride four rides, skip over to a press event at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, get dropped off at Magic Kingdom, ride all the roller coasters, then zip over to Epcot to hang with a friend and attend a giant party. You can't do that with a caucus. And you can't do it with your kids in tow, either.

I have these little moments, when I'm alone. Because I'm alone. Like the other night, when I was engulfed by a crowd in the Epcot exit area and ended up in the middle of a high school chorus singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo as they walked to the parking lot under the stars. It was magical and beautiful, and I was totally lost and nearly ended up on a bus back to Indiana with the cast of Glee 2. But it wouldn't have happened if I'd been in a group.

Sometimes, I feel like I don't create as many memories as I used to, like time is moving too fast. Then I get away, alone, and realize that it's easier to make memories when you're focused on yourself and the moment. Taking care of children, especially, seems to break up my consciousness such that I barely remember anything. Having some mental space is so refreshing. I need to feel things.

I'm sick and on Nyquil and rambling, but I guess what I'm saying is this: if you have small children, please consider it a mental health imperative to get away from them and have adventures of your own. Move bravely through the world, considering no one's interests but yours. Follow your mind, your heart, your nose, your curiosity. As important as family and parenthood are, there's still a value to personhood and experiencing new things.

So... go have an adventure or something.

* * *

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

housekeeping and the giant mouse


1. I'm currently at Disneyworld on behalf of Cool Mom Tech and Chevy, enjoying the new Test Track at Epcot and the new Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. They gave me mouse ears. Did you know mouse ears go with everything? I am the happiest girl on earth, especially since today I got to ride all sorts of roller coasters, flying pachyderms, and towers of terror. To see more pics including one of me in an angry wompa hat, check my Twitter feed.

2. Sorry I haven't posted much. I've been busy with deadlines. That's probably not going to slow down for a while, if ever. Which is awesome. But kind of crazy. More and more, it seems like Twitter is performing the function of my blog, and I'm not sure yet how I feel about that.

3. We should have a cover for THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE soon. That's the 3nd Blud e-novella, due March 2013 from Pocket Star. The dude is kinda like Thor as a firefighter in a kilt.

4. Just a big ol' thank you to everyone who liked my books on Amazon, reviewed them anywhere, added them on Goodreads, or mentioned them to a friend. It means so much!

5. If you'd like a signed book for the holidays, please contact FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA, my hometown indie. I'm happy to personalize, including drawing pretty much any blud animal you want inside or giving Criminy a dapper shirt and waistcoat in case you'd like to give it to a friend without a glistening chest and glaring nipples.

Anything else? I don't know. I ate a lot of macarons. Ask, and I'll answer.

love, d.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2nd books are like 2nd children... incorrigible.



Why is this taking so long?
Why does this draft feel so unpolished?
What is another synonym for "darkly"?
How many times can you idiots smile, smirk, and nod?
What if my readers hate it and come after me with pitchforks?
WHEN WILL THE LINE EDITS EVER END?

I've asked myself these questions every day this week. I carry the red binder under my arm, a purple pen holding my place and a mini comic of Axe Cop marking my husband's place. He's not done yet. And neither am I.

Your first book is like your first child: it's your world, the sun around which you orbit. You pamper it, watch it sleep, joyfully clean up after it again and again, pass it around proudly to everyone you know. If you're lucky enough to get an agent, it goes back and forth for cuts, revisions, more cuts, further polishing. In short, until your first book sells, it's the only thing that matters.

But once you're under contract, the process changes.

Your second book? It's like your second child.

The deadline sneaks up faster than anticipated. You go into labor early, wishing for one more week as you expel it forcefully. And then you stare at it. Was the first one prettier? Mine was.

The second book is important, but it's not the sun. It's just another moon you tug around with you. You still have to take care of the first book, plus all those other responsibilities that have developed. Marketing, social media, blog posts, interviews, spreadsheets, conferences, possibly some e-novellas, which are basically the new puppies of your family. Not as important as the children, of course, but if you neglect them, they'll destroy everything you love.

My first book was written in three months and polished for a year before selling. It went through two major revisions with my agent-- the kind where you cry, fight it, throw the manuscript, slash things with your red pen, and murder characters you thought were imperative. And then we did two rounds of line edits. And that's before it went out on sub and sold and landed in the editor's capable hands for further fussing.

My second book... did not get to learn baby sign language and go to music classes. It's lucky if I'm carrying it right side up. I wrote it in a month and a half. Didn't have time to send it to betas. The agent gave it a quick read and said, "It'll get fixed in edits." The editor asked for one big revision with no major changes and one secondary revision.

And now I'm carrying it around like a frachetty toddler, trying desperately to dab all the applesauce out of its neck folds before anyone can see it and judge me. The first book made me proud; the second book is still a bit of a hot mess, and it's taking longer to clean it up.

Second Book Slump is a thing. A real thing. A thing authors fear.

If people liked your first book, you want them to like your second book. It needs to have enough in common with the first book to inspire the same love, but is has to be different enough to give them a new experience, one they'll keep coming back to for your third book. So the same, but different, and preferably of a higher caliber, stylistically, because you've grown as a writer since then.

Easy right?

Uh, hopefully. I'll tell you next April.

So my advice to you is this: Enjoy the first book. Give yourself more time than you need on the second book. Start early. Love it, no matter how it looks and acts compared to your first book, because it'll be with you forever. And take a risk, because there's nothing worse than a boring second book that's clearly intimidated by its big sister.

And be kind to yourself. It's easy to forget those tearful moments with your first book, when you cradled it close and thought, "I'm not up to this. Who handed me this gift, and why did they think I was capable of helping it reach its potential? I should probably have gotten a hamster. Or, um, written a haiku."

You did it once. You'll do it again. It's going to take time and hard work, but it's going to be worth it.

Because if you think the second one is tough, just wait for the third. Books, like children, don't get any easier. But we love them, even if they're impossible.

Because they're impossible.

* * *


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

a day in the life of a writer


So, yes, I write.

It's who I am and what I do. But I persist in being fascinated by how other writers work. Do they plot or just hang on for dear life? Do they write in the morning or late at night? Do they lean heavily on stimulants and depressants and chocolates? Are they constantly the deadline's bitch?

In case you're also nosy, here's what I did today:

6:14am - Wake up and realize I forgot to set the alarm for 5:18. Cuss.

6:50am - Arrive to my workout an hour late. Struggle. Sweat. Kick ass.

8:10am - Arrive home. Check email. Shower. Get dressed. Coffee. Skip breakfast. BAD GIRL.

9:30am - Drop youngest child off at preschool; husband got oldest child on bus at 6:45. Do you still call it THE CHEESE? I do.

9:45am - Arrive at fav French cafe. Indulge in a chai latte with almond milk in my favorite travel cup. Stare longingly at cupcakes and pastries but resist their siren call. Promise myself that if I reach my goal of 20 pages in a very intense first pass line edit, I can have the barbecue I'm craving for lunch. Answer emails. Get fun news from editor. Occasionally entertain myself on Twitter so that I don't go mad.

11:35am - Hit page 102 and pack up. Head to fav BBQ place, where I've been eating since I was a little kid and they got shut down for putting squirrel in the Q. Again. Eat 1/2 a sandwich and 2 slices of fried green tomato while reading BLOOD AND SILVER by my friend James R. Tuck.

12:25pm - Pick up youngest child from preschool and kiss my sanity goodbye for a while. Go home, feed the lad. Do dishes and laundry. Take 100 pounds of books off 2 downstairs bookshelves, drag them upstairs (with help), and secure them to the walls of each child's room. Vacuum and clean the empty places. Move couch, chair, and side table. Move coffee table, TV, and various gaming systems. The downstairs is now prepared for the Christmas tree. My back hurts.

2:45pm - Pick oldest child up from the bus stop. Pick up husband's dry cleaning. Go select the perfect Christmas tree. Banter with Home Depot boys as they tie it on top of my Cube. Drive very carefully. Take it inside, set it up, fluff that puppy. Discover that all but one string of lights are dead. Put those on. Add tinsely things, ornaments. Oldest child breaks a glass keepsake, commences crying. I cut myself cleaning it up and bleed all over Christmas. Things are tragical and magical, and we rejoice around the Charlie Brown tree, promising that we'll buy more lights, etc., tomorrow.

6pm - Feed children and clean up the unholy mess. Declare that I am out of blinking red bars, tag out, and close the doors of my art studio/office. Sneak upstairs for goodnight hugs and kisses.

6:30pm - Begin work on The Big Post for Cool Mom Picks. Totally rock that thang.

8:32pm - Finish Big Post and realize I haven't eaten since lunch and should probably do something about that. Fix up some fancy cheeses, the last Harry & David honeycrisp apple, a square of sea salt dark chocolate, and the next to last bit of my favorite Roussanne. Write this blog post. Put up the grown-up books I found hidden among the children's books this afternoon, including my cephalopod books, some Neil Gaiman, and the fairy tales of Herman Hess.

9:36pm - Concoct great plans about convincing every writer I know to make a post like this so I can go all voyeur on their days. Realize how much work that would be and compare it to the three deadlines currently on my plate. Quietly sigh. Finish this post. Pick up the line edits, promising myself I can sleep after 20 more pages. Do the math and realize that I have 260 more pages to do by next Wednesday, before I head out of town on a work trip. Bid farewell, again, to sanity.

12pm - Probably when I'll head upstairs for nightly ablutions, a quiet episode of Arrested Development, and sleep.

* * *

So, what's your day like?




Monday, November 26, 2012

this is how I study history


That's a pic of me straddling a huge cannon.

It's my gift to you.

Will you use it for good... or evil?

* * *

welcome to the future


So that's a picture of me with my new MacBook Air, taken with my new smartphone.

Someone on Facebook thought it was a weird new pregnancy test, and... yeah, no.

If you're thinking that me + smartphone + Mac is probably a sign of the apocalypse, all I can do is shrug and urge you to start saving canned food.

I've never been a first adopter. Not even a second wave grabbyhands. I've always waited until the last possible moment to let go of my betamax Tarzan vine and grab onto the shiny new vine and swing into the unknown. But there comes a time in a girl's life when she simply has to step into the future, where everyone else is waiting. And pointing and laughing at her flip phone.

Ahem.

And, yes. You guys were right. I adore that stupid, dainty phone that only stays charged for 24 hours. I love taking pictures of seagulls and fried crab claws and my eyes in the hotel mirror and splattering Twitter with them instantaneously. I love knowing when emails arrive. I love the buzz I get when someone says something on Facebook-- especially when the phone is in my pocket. And now, in the past twelve hours, I've already learned to love this stupid laptop.

Going from a supacheap MSI laptop that weighs 7 pounds to a MacBook Air that weighs less than 3 pounds is a lot like the time I drove home from college and fell out of my max 55mph, manual Isuzu Amigo and slid into my mom's shiny red Firebird. Suddenly, I sat up straighter. I leaned forward. I smiled. Everything changed. And soon I was ignoring things like rules and speed limits and just enjoying the black leather gently cupping my butt as the car purred effortlessly around me.

Much like the smooth glide of a slithery touchpad under my fingertips.

I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot to cook dinner. My husband walked in, did a double take, and declared that I looked younger, thinner, and hotter, just because I was using a new laptop. That's a diet I can believe in.

The point is... change is good. I like change. And I really like Lando, my new Mac.

Here's to new adventures. With Lando.



* * *

Thursday, November 22, 2012

a T-day message

From me to y'all.


In other news, I found the Edit/Doodle part of my phone today.

Hope you had a marvelous Thanksgiving!

* * *

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

achtung!


You can now pre-order BLUTLAND in Germany via Amazon.de. Release date is May 17. It's really just WICKED AS THEY COME but, you know. In German.

And here, thanks to Google Translate, is the description:
As Letitia aufwacht in a strange place, the middle of nowhere and completely naked, she is sure to dream about. Even the attractive stranger, whom she met there, she can not convince them otherwise. Finally, he claims to have brought it by magic in his world, a world that is ruled by blood and magic, and in the things themselves, as it may deem harmless, can be fatal. Letitia is caught in a dream or a nightmare? Find them here in love? Or death?

In my dearest, most narcissistic dreams, I get big in Germany and get to go on a book tour, because I really, really dug Germany. The people. The views. The food. THE FOOD.

Ahem.

But I mainly put up the cover because I like it. So there.

* * *


Saturday, November 17, 2012

There Will Be More Blud...

...in April.

Here's proof:


I'm working on line edits for Blud book 2.

I just love seeing the pages lined up with my little cog at every chapter heading.

One day, I'll be signing Wicked as She Wants, drawing the next bludcritter right here, 
next to Gertrude the Pocket kangaroo.

If you thought the bludbunnies were dangerous...

Well, no spoilers.

It's almost April, right?

* * *

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Help name the 3rd Blud e-novella!

Help me, blogosphere. You're my only hope!

Blud novella #3 needs a title.

Photo of The White Stripes by Annie Liebovitz.

It's set in Criminy's Clockwork Caravan.

He's a bad boy knife thrower with a dark secret. 

She's a hard-nosed lady journalist in a leather pith helmet who'll stop at nothing for her story.


The first two e-novellas are 
THE MYSTERIOUS MADAM MORPHO 
and THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE.

So we're looking for alliteration. We're partial to the letter D.

I'm digging on THE DANGEROUS DAGGERS OF DESIRE.

Do you like that, or is it too obviously euphemistic?

Because, you know, WICKED AS THEY COME isn't coy at all. :)

Heh.

If anyone can come up with something better, you'll make the Acknowledgments of WICKED AFTER MIDNIGHT, also known as Blud book 3.

Please weigh in in the comments! 

* * *


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

on the topic of virgins

Currently on the table: the third e-novella in the Blud series.

Dreaming up a new story is one of my very favorite things to do. For a novella, I get to cram all the swoon, spark, smut, adventure, and excitement into 30,000+ words as possible. It's a challenge-- and a joy.

The first task is to settle on a heroine and hero who are uniquely suited for each other. I've known the hero in this one for a while, and I'm excited to bring Marco Tarasque to the page. But the heroine is just beginning to solidify. When I'm cogitating, I consider a wide range of characters, switching them out of that empty spot like paper dolls, seeing who fits best with the character that first leaped into my mind. And while considering likely partners for Marco and considering the world of Sang, I noticed something interesting about my Blud heroines: out of all 6 stories, only one lead character is a virgin-- and that one is far from a swooning flower.

In the romance biz, virgins are common currency. There's a certain delicious push and pull to a powerful, older alpha male and a wide-eyed girl waiting to be awakened to her power, beautiful and ripe for the picking. And of course there's a precedent for the lure of purity in nature and in history, where males instinctually know that a virgin will bear their young exclusively. Even if a virgin is plucky or rebellious when clothed, she's still going to be pliable and innocent in the bedroom, which is considered desirable. As the stand-in for the romance reader, a virgin provides an opportunity to hearken back to that first thrill of sexual knowledge, but always after submitting completely to a hero who has complete mastery of her pleasure.

But you know what?

I think virgins in romance books are overrated.

While there's something to be said for purity, for waiting, for making sure that it's the right time and the right guy and the right circumstances, I'll tell you a secret: I lost my virginity early, and I'm damn glad I did. My first was a thoughtful, gentle boy who cared deeply for my feelings and comfort, and even if I knew at the time that he wasn't "the one", I knew that it was a safe place, a safe time for me to give up that vulnerability and gain the confidence and knowledge of a woman. I wasn't waiting for perfection, and I wasn't expecting halos of light and angels singing and little birds with flowery garlands. I didn't expect to feel different afterwards, to be fundamentally changed. But I was, and I learned it the next year when I was stalked, cornered, and raped.

If I had waited longer, as society tells me to, then my first experience would have been one of pain, fear, and cruelty. I might have been damaged beyond repair. As it was, I survived, and I healed, and I was grateful that my first time was gentle and slow and well within my power, my choosing, that there was a precedent for love and tenderness.

And while romances featuring virgins almost always have a hero who is gentle and kind with his lady love, I like to write a female lead with a little life under her belt. I find women with power, with a past, far more interesting. And the kind of heroes I write would rather tempt and woo an experienced woman into opening up than court and overpower a sweet young thing who is easily controlled or characterized by her naivete. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with virgins, because obviously we've all been there. And I'm not saying that virgins can't be fierce, powerful, and passionate. And I'm not saying I'll never write a virgin heroine, because I have and surely will again.

I've simply realized that I would rather focus on passion and mutual joy than awkwardness and pain when writing that first, thrilling meeting of bodies. My heroines don't need a dominating father figure to open their eyes to sexuality; they need an equal partner who gives them a reason to let someone in.

And so, as I prepare to write about Marco and Ginger in the caravan, I look forward to crafting a heroine with a past, with a spine of steel, with a sense of adventure and a control of her own sexuality. She won't choose to fall in love because he's an ideal man, a rich vampire, an earl, or some other unattainably perfect deflowering machine that she's unable, in her naivete, to resist. She's going to fall because something in him speaks to something in her, creature to creature. She's going to fall because she wants an adventure. In short, she's going to fall because she damn well wants to.

Some women don't need to be awakened; they need an equal to dream alongside them.

***

NOTE!
If you disagree or would like to contest a point, PLEASE DO. Just because I admitted vulnerability doesn't mean you have to say something nice or hold your tongue. This is my opinion only, and I understand that much of it comes from my experience. Polite, thoughtful dialog is *always* welcome.

***

Friday, November 9, 2012

a study in opposites

This week I:


Did Archer Rows at the gym and was asked to show off my bow.

&

Am now at a literary festival, swooning over swoopy couches.


And tomorrow, I get to be on panels with really cool people!

And eat Mexican food!

And look at beautiful purple mountains!

The world is my oyster, and I shall be the irritating bit of gravel that forms a pearl.

* * *

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ave, storyteller

Back in 1998, I was mostly an idiot.

I had just finished my freshman year of college and decided to stay for summer school, because I was just that kind of overachiever. I secured a haunted dorm room, made plans with my boyfriend, and registered. Pickings were slim, and the only classes I remember were Cryptography and Classics.

My relationship with studying history has always been conflicted. If the teacher is a good storyteller, I really enjoy it. If the teacher just woodenly outlines the book, I stop caring. Therefore, when I arrived for my first day of Classics, I had my reservations. With two 5s in AP History, I didn't need to take a single History class in college. So when Professor Best, a gentleman with an old-fashioned, patrician Southern accent, explained that only one person in the class would get an A, three people would get Bs, and the rest would fail, I had to stop and think.

Risk my perfect GPA for a class I didn't even need?

I looked around at my fellow classmates. They looked terrified.

"You get one class," I said to myself, eyes narrowed as I watched Professor Best get comfortable. "If this lecture isn't amazing, I'm dropping."

As soon as he started speaking, I was spellbound. It ended up being one of my favorite classes in college. I can still remember sitting, rapt and barefoot, as he described the battle at Thermopylae. I can hear his voice as he raged, "You come back with your shield, or YOU COME BACK ON IT." I can still remember the way every test felt like a personal dare. And I recall the genuine pride I felt when I received high marks. For once, I was actually working my ass off for my As. Not that you knew it, when speaking to Professor Best. He was stern, strict, and proud, and he never, ever had a kind word for anyone. He was downright verbally abusive to the kids who deserved it. But his lectures were so thrilling that I didn't mind.

The final for that class was an unholy beast, and I destroyed it. In order to find out our grades, we had to come by his office to check a list, and it so happens that when I came by, he was in. He stood, chin high, hands clasped.

"Miz Southard," he said, and he pronounced it Suhhh-thuuuud. "Is your mother living?"
"Yes, sir."
"You tell her..."
He leaned back even further, pinned me with his sharp glare.
"You tell her I said she raised you right."
It came out raaaaaat.

Honestly, that's one of my favorite moments from college. I graduated a year early with honors, but that was the first time I accepted a challenge, took a risk, rose to the occasion, and really glowed with accomplishment. Professor Best's good esteem meant the world to me and still does.

But that was supposed to be the last class he taught at UGA. I tried looking him up to see if he is still living, but have you ever tried Googling "Professor Best"? It doesn't work at all. And I don't remember his first name, although I think it might have been Carl. (Note: we found him! His name is Edward!)

I try not to be a person who carries regrets. But when I think back to that class, to that summer, I wish I had spent more time at college doing the unsafe thing. Instead of getting an art degree as fast as possible with a minimum of trouble, I wish I had studied something new, taken more risks, learned more things outside of my comfort zone. I wish I hadn't given up on Italian as soon as my degree requirements were met. I wish I had studied something that wasn't art, because I was already an artist. I could have been something else, too.

I was the only person in that class who earned an A, and of all the As I've ever earned, that one meant the most. But in the end, the grade wasn't what mattered--it was the storytelling that brought history to life and stayed with me. When I stood on the plain of Thermopylae the next summer, I had tears coursing down my cheeks as I heard Professor Best's voice in my head, recounting the battle. And when I saw 300, I hoped that he lived to see it, even if it just made him angry.

Wherever you are, Professor Best, thank you.

* * *

Sunday, November 4, 2012

field trip to the blud farm!


Today, we went to the Yellow River Game Ranch, home of Georgia's official prognosticating groundhog, General Beauregard Lee.

Yes, Beau and I are old friends.

But he was asleep in his plantation house today. What do you expect when he only works one day a year?

But we did see lots of other fun animals.


Like this alpaca.


And this bludbunny. Lots of bludbunnies, actually.

My son saw them and screamed, OH NO DOSE BLUDBUNNIES WILL EAT MY TOES!

And then he warmed up and fed them crackers, after seeing me mobbed by floppy-eared savages who didn't eat a single one of my toes.


Also, I kissed a little ass.

Fine holiday fun was had by all.

* * *