Monday, April 30, 2012

Criminy's coat: it's real!

Dig Criminy's coat? You can actually buy it.

Well, most of it. Some of it, Tony Mauro created with his magical fingers.

I thought you should know.

Now, if anyone should find a link to Criminy himself, PLEASE TO SHARE.


50 shades of somethin'

So I'm reading the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, and I have many thoughts on it.

Many. Thoughts.

First of all, I have many criticisms. For one thing, "I don't understand you and I'm afraid you're going to leave me" is not a plot; it's your early twenties. Something needs to happen in the story besides inner turmoil and occasional dramatic dead-ends in the real world. For another thing, without the holy triumvirate of "he's young, he's handsome, he's rich," this book goes nowhere. Take away one corner of that triangle, and there's suddenly no attraction to Mr. Grey that can balance out his ferocious need for domineering kink. And lastly, for now, let's just consider that gettin' jiggy with it 7 times a day for three weeks is more than a little physically unrealistic, even considering that the protagonists are nearly perfect people, outside of their self-abhorrence.

Despite all that, and despite the fact that it's so clearly still Twilight fanfic for the further-along, I can't stop reading it.

And that's why I like it.

Say what you will about Fifty Shades. Say it's poorly written-- it is. Say it has no plot-- it doesn't. Say the characters are just as lame as they were in Twilight, but even more self-obsessed-- it's true. But it's still nearly impossible to put down.

And I think that's fantastic.

Any book that raises this many questions and debates is a good thing, to me. If it gets people reading and, better yet, talking, then it's doing what books were meant to do. Books are meant to elevate us from the dreary circuit of everyday life, to provide an escape and make us question the status quo. And this series does both, if a little inelegantly for my taste.

And also, if Goodreads and mainstream media contain any truth, it's giving staid married people some delightfully dangerous ideas. And we all need delightfully dangerous ideas, from time to time.

So I'm in favor of Fifty Shades of Grey. It ain't perfect, but it serves a purpose, and I appreciate that.

It also makes my book look rather tame, so I blush slightly less, which I also dig.


Anyone have any thoughts on 50 Shades? 


Friday, April 27, 2012

dress the hell up

Forgive me for this self-indulgent post. It's kind of a reminder to myself.

This morning, I wanted to dress up. I had nowhere to go. No one to see. Nothing particular to do. But I had purple hair and a new skirt and a spring day, so I dressed the hell up.

And I'm so glad I did.

I ended up at my favorite coffee shop, outside at my favorite table. Something smelled of dead opossum, but I didn't let that stop me. I wrote a few pages that have been bugging me, enjoyed my tea, and generally had a lovely time alone. Everything felt more special. My posture was better. And the words just flew out of my fingertips.

So here's my advice:

Dress the hell up, just because.

The end.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

by the power of greyskull

When I looked in the mirror this morning, something was off.

I checked up and down, but nothing jumped out. I tipped my head forward and saw it.


The patch of gray had broadened.

I have dark hair, and I found my first white hair when I was 15 at the local Turtles while buying Metallica's Kill Em All for my boyfriend, with whom I watched a disastrous amount of Ren & Stimpy. White hair is no stranger to me. And yet, all of a sudden, it's bothering me. As if before, it was this funny little quirk of mine, having a patch of white hair in the middle of my head. But now that I'm 34, it suddenly makes me feel strange, off, like something's wrong.

And I kind of hate that.

I've had my hair professionally colored a few times, but I don't really like the experience. It takes hours, it's expensive, and it's never exactly what I asked for. So I do a demi-permanent dye from Sally's at home. I use the same color ever time, have a bowl and brush, everything.

And I kind of hate that.

That's the thing about the Great Hair Color Debate, to me.

I'm not happy with either solution.

Half of society tells me to color it and look more youthful.
The other half of society tells me to be proud of who I am and let it grow.
But, honestly? I feel more like myself when all my hair is the same color.

When I was younger, dyeing my hair felt like a treat. I would go deep red, purple, auburn, or inky black. It was something fun to do, something safely rebellious-- which, as we know, is my specialty.

But now? It's just an annoyance. And I get to a day like today, where I feel totally awesome. I mean, 34 is good for me. I look so much better than I did when I was enviably young. And I feel so much better about myself than I did then. But I look in the mirror, and that patch of gray mocks me. Whether I color it or not, I'm acquiescing to a convention that I don't like.

The only solution I can see is getting royal blue dye and splashing that all over the gray. Then it's colored, but not conventionally, and I'm telling everybody exactly where they can jam it.

Damn the man; save the Empire! With hair dye! Or not? Argh!


Anybody else having the same problem?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

thrift store fashion show

The first time I went to a thrift store as an adult, it was for costume scrounging. Skirts cost $30 and up online, but I found oodles of skirts for $5 or less. And then blouses. And then I realized that when you live in a super-wealthy suburb, other people are throwing away things much nicer than what you're buying off the 70% off rack at Target.

Plus, today's fashions? So not me. Or my body.

I don't do the 80s thing. Cut-off shirts and shorts, neon colors, baggy stuff? Just-- no.

So for the first time since my last high-school vest run, I went to my favorite thrift store today for non-costume purposes. I've decided to go back to my roots and wear what I like best: vests, jackets, somewhat old-fashioned but figure-skimming things. I spent $18.23, and here's what I got:

Black velvet vest from Eddie Bauer, size 4, with pockets: $4.94.
Perfect condition, feels lovely, fits like a glove. Yay!

Gray linen/cotton vest from H&M, size 10, with pockets and adjustable back: $3.93 at 50% off = $1.96. Lovely cream piping on the interior with extra buttons. Not the best photo-- I just realized I don't own a single white button down or white tee. Must correct that omission post haste.

Teal velvet jacket from Talbots Petites, size 10. $6.96 at 50% off = $3.48.
Amazing color. A little roomy-- could use some darts. Wee bit of crust on back, but that's easily cleaned.

Teal lace tank from Apt. 9, M, Nylon and Spandex. $3.93 at 50% off = $1.96.
The colors and details don't photograph so well, but the texture is lovely and wears comfortably.

Yummy skirt, 100% cotton, DKNY Jeans, size 4. $4.94
Beautiful skirt, flawless. Has glittery gold thread running through it, fully lined, nice ruffle along the bottom, pockets, and back tie. Summer, here I come!


Lessons I learned at my first non-costume thrifting:

1. Shop by color and texture first. And know your best colors! I used to shop for clothes in the colors I personally like, as if they were paint chips, but now I know better. I can only do jewel tones and black. No pastels, no cream, no pumpkin, no brown, no yellow, no that pretty shade of mauvey-purple that makes me look like a corpse. My favorite thrift store does things by color and then pattern, so I go straight to teal, plum, black, magenta, hunter, and royal blue, then skim the patterns.

2. Don't trust sizes-- I ended up with two 4s, two 10s, and a medium. I mean... whuh?

3. If it's not exactly perfect, put it back. I tried on this gorgeous black silk shirt that was utterly yummy, but one of the darts on the left made my chest look lopsided. Stupid darts. And there was this luscious chocolate velvet tank with lace that looked amazing on the hanger and awful on me. If you'll never wear it, it's not worth $1.96, so don't get sucked into the IT'S CHEAP, BUY IT trap.

4. Always check the washing instructions. If the skirt had been dry clean only, I wouldn't have bought it. I'm no good at that sort of thing.


So now I'm hooked on thrifting. Anybody else do their shopping used? =)


Monday, April 23, 2012

the most helpful class I ever took

First, a word of warning: I was a goody-goody.

I took every Honors and AP class I could cram in and studied metaphorical fugues in independent studies in between. I was fluent in French and pretty close in Italian. I went to summer classes in college, just because they sounded fun. And then I came home and read *more* books. So when I think back to helpful classes, I'm considering some pretty dorky stuff.

But can you guess the most helpful class I ever took?


At the time, in high school, I was furious. I even went to the counselors' office and tried to get an exemption. I had to tote my enormous backpack all the way down to the ass-end of G Hall, where the reprobates smoked outside the doors. I was in a class with people I'd never met before, since they spent most of their time in detention or waiting to beat me up outside of the art hall bathroom. And then, instead of studying, I typed.


It was awful, painful, excruciatingly dull. I hurried through my typing exercises so that I could finish my homework for other classes early. I growled at grammar errors in the assigned paragraphs and grimaced whenever the teacher stood over my shoulder, judging me not by my big ol' brain, but by my fingers. It was so unfair.

I got an A, at least. A A A A.

But now, when I think about it, I'm grateful for that class. I can type almost as fast as I can think, and that means that the words just flow out. As fast as the story comes to me, I can record it. When I have to actually write in longhand, I get furious with my sausage-y fingers. My words flow together and flatten out until I can barely read what I've written. My hands cramp up, and I get ink all over myself, and I'm reminded that I would never have made it in Jane Austen's world. 

When I think back to all the worry and time I put into AP Calculus and how very little it effects my current life, I'm kind of bemused. I can't even remember my keyboarding teacher's name to thank her, but I owe her as much as I owe my AP English teacher.

Funny, how the things you resented at the time can one day make all the difference.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

the perfect storm

Remember in Clueless when Cher said Amber was like a Monet painting? It looks fine from a distance, but when you get up close, it's all messed up?

Yeah, that's me right now.

I have a deadline that seems insurmountable. A volunteer task that's as difficult as herding steampunk cats. Twittering and Facebooking and guest posts and interviews. A family to tend to, children to nurture, friends to adore, and a house to keep livable. Bookstores to visit, books to sign, mail to send, cons to email with proposals and hopeful smiles. Not to mention that I'm still in my first month of book sales and struggling to figure out how to keep sales numbers up when there's no clear guideline on how to do so.

In short, I'm a total mess.

I used to think that selling a book and getting published was my ultimate goal. And it's awesome, don't get me wrong. But it's not over when the book is on the shelves. I majorly underestimated the work that goes into being a professional writer. Deadlines mean you can't wait for the muse to come to you, and editors don't really care if you have outside commitments or a need to, you know, sleep. Right now, I want to be curled up in bed, listening to the rain and reading and dreaming of the next story. That's... not what I'm doing, and I won't be able to do it until, oh, June.

So if you talk to me, and I nod and have a crazy look in my eye, now you know. Inside, I'm freaking out pretty much constantly.

No rest for the wicked, huh?


Thursday, April 19, 2012

new corset goofin'

I feel kind of guilty.

That corset was bought at a rock-bottom price from a company that makes them in China. But pinstripes and black leather and buckles? I COULDN'T STOP MYSELF. It's like a Naughty Steampunk Librarian corset. All of my other corsets are handcrafted by hardworking artisans, and I feel more than a little ashamed of myself for going cheap.

My guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that I found that vintage black jacket at a local secondhand store today and paid easily three times what I wanted to spend for it.

That balances out, right?

In any case, consider my stressful day partially soothed by the application of corsetry.

Lunchtime Poll:

Which wardrobe staple makes you feel better on a yucky day?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

wear a book by its cover

See that? Criminy hangin' out with Alexia Tarabotti, Cricket Bell, and Jamie Fraser, characters from three of the books that most influenced my writing career. Thank heavens Pennywise from IT isn't on there, right?

My dear friend Brent sent it to me as a surprise. He said it was cookies.

He lied, but I don't mind.

That's one of my favorite things about the internet. It's possible to find people of like spirit that you would never meet otherwise but whom you are so very glad to have in your life. Brent is going to take over the world one day, I'm sure of it. He's a blogger, a book reviewer, and a publishing intern, all while juggling the perils of high school with admirable poise, grace, and strength.

He's also pretty awesome on Twitter.

When I decided to start writing and get published, I didn't know a single person in the same boat. But the internet is a marvelous place, and I have met so many amazing people, including Brent. Authors, agents, interns, editors, illustrators, bloggers, reviewers, readers. I've found critique partners, allies, shoulders to cry on, people to high five, people to kvetch with, and most importantly, true friends, some of whom I've never met but will one day hugattack and nearly suffocate with my affection.

Thank you so much, Brent. You make me smile all the time.


Monday, April 16, 2012

a steamy weekend

If you ever wondered what I would like like in a hat made out of playing cards and covered with feathers that vexed everyone around me... now you know.

This is also apparently how I would look as a vampire.

Thanks a lot, flash.

Last Saturday, I went to a marvelous steampunk event called S.T.E.A.M.Fest held by The Artifice Club, an Atlanta alternative history society of which I am a proud member. You can even see my little badge, that grayish smear under my neck. They actually let me in a club!

It was my first event as an official, real, "look-I-can-hand-you-a-book" author.

And it was AMAZING.

I met so many wonderful people, saw so many beautiful and mind-blowing costumes, gazed longingly at so many shiny things, and finally let myself buy a handmade leather belt bag from Aegis Steamcraft so I never have to worry about a purse again when con-ing.

Is it called con-ing? Con-going? Fangirling? Corseteering?

Whatever. I need both hands to gesticulate madly and hugattack people.

I attended a steampunk roundtable, a panel on bustling, a high tea, and a preview of the steampunk Tempest being put on by the North Fulton Drama Club. I had my first chocolate sea salt popsicle from the King of Pops. I saw hilarious improv comedy and watched an Englishman perform a German cabaret number that involved humping people's faces and leading us in a round of "It's Raining Men." I sat at a table with thirty other steampunkers and ate delicious pizza while our hats posed on the porch railing in a long line of feathers and velvet and goggles.

And I met a mime... that I didn't want to murder! Because he was cool!

All in all, it was one of the best times ever. And my dear friends looked amazing and drove me there and helped me carry books, because they are THE BEST:

All those corsets are from Damsel in this Dress, of course.

I also did my first panel, titled It Was a Dark and Steamy Night. The plan was to discuss writing a steampunk book, how to publish a steampunk book, and the general climate of steampunk literature, but as almost all the attendees were my friends and none of them really wanted to know those things, I winged it and discussed how writing romance scenes is like writing fight scenes and how mortified my grandmother would be if she'd known I wrote a book called Wicked as They Come.

(Note: I said the book name. It will now pop up on Google Alerts tomorrow, and I'll get all excited, and then realize it's just me. Baw.)

I also got to see The Gin Rebellion, a marvelous group I met in the green room at AnachroCon. They are such delightful creatures, and some of the best dressed people around.

Look at those pants! That waistcoat! The skirt! The gaiters! And there was even an accordion, and you know how I love those. Almost as much as bagpipes.

I simply can't say enough wonderful things about S.T.E.A.M.Fest!

I had never been to a con before this year, and I am quickly learning that con people are awesome people, and steampunk people are awesome people, and having an excuse to wear fun costumes is awesome, and just plain YAY.

If you'd like to experience the steampunk world yourself, we're having a Grand Steampunk Exposition of entertainment, art, vendors, and cupcakes at Barrington Hall in Roswell, GA on Saturday, April 28. Many of the S.T.E.A.M.Fest folks will be having an encore.

I shan't miss it.

But I'm going to need another costume...


Thursday, April 12, 2012

let's bargain, luv.

Look, luv. We've both got needs.

You want more Criminy Stain, and I want more *you*.

So I propose a deal.

You tell *ONE NEW PERSON* about Wicked as They Come, and I'll send you a signed bookplate and a matching "signed by the author" sticker.

That's it.

Just one person. Talk one person into buying a copy.

After all, if we hit some lovely bestseller list, Delilah can probably talk her editors into some racy little e-novellas about me, instead of making you wait months to read about Mr. Murdoch and nearly a year to roll your eyes at that ridiculous harpsichordist, Casper.

Tell one person. Get them to by the book. Then email me and tell me about it at CriminyStain{at}gmail{dot}com. I'll need your name and address, too. Then I'll send you a signed bookplate, a 'signed by the author' sticker, and a card. I'll even seal it with wax, just for you.


So what do you say, pet? Shall we seal it with a kiss?


Delilah here. Don't look at me. I can't control him.

I've never been able to.

But I will make sure the bookplates go out.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

on prom dresses and cheese-its: two tales of REVENGE

Why am I barely contained by this random prom dress?

It's because of what happened to me yesterday morning while thrifting for Steampunk Queen of Hearts costume pieces. Here's the conversation as I recorded it on Facebook:

cashier at Goodwill: Is this for you? (holds up red prom dress)

me: Yep.

cashier: You... know it's a Juniors 5, right?

me: Yep.

cashier: *stares me up and down*

me: I'm deconstructing it, but thanks for the snark.

cashier: I don't know what that means.

me: *stares*


And people seemed to find that very annoying/hilarious. So I put on the dress for revenge!

Of course, my main revenge was on safety pins, as I busted two and will never actually show up to Goodwill to pull a Pretty Woman on said cashier, as suggested by my friends, because the dress would probably pop off at a very inopportune time, because my ribcage is freaking huge.


In any case, yesterday was a great day for thrifting and conversations.

For example, here's what happened at Barnes & Noble:

me: Can I sign these?

B&N guy: Huh?

me: I'm the author, and your manager said I could stop by anytime to sign stock. But wouldn't it
be hilarious if I was totally making it up?

B&N guy: Wait, what?

me: Too late! You can't erase Sharpie!

B&N guy: You're... joking, right?



And lastly, here's a conversation that happened between t.rex and me:


me: You mean Jesus?


me: Tell me more.


me: That's not actually true. They nailed his hands and feet to it, and he died.


me: That didn't happen.


me: Pretty sure Jesus never killed anyone. He's... kind of into the opposite of that.


me: Are you confusing Jesus with Iron Man?

t.rex: UH. MAYBE.

me: Jesus died on the cross. Iron Man has hand cannons and beats people.


me: That's what they say.


me: I bet that was magical.



Monday, April 9, 2012

help! speech! egad! (and a teensy, weensy giveaway)

(That's what I look like signing things. With a pen!)

So I have my first panel this weekend at S.T.E.A.M.Fest in Atlanta. The title is "It Was a Dark and Steamy Night", and the topic is on writing and publishing a steampunk book. But as it's my first actual panel, I was curious.

What... should I actually talk about?

My instinct is to do a choose-your-own-adventure sort of talk and basically find out what the audience would like to hear about through a show of hands. I could have one loose outline for How to Write a Book Without Going Mad, one for How to Get Published or Die Trying, and one for Tips, Trends, and Silly Stories Regarding Steampunk Books and Also the One I Wrote. With question-and-answer afterward, if anyone is interested. I seriously have no idea what to expect.

So here's the deal:
Tell me in the comments what you would most want to hear about at such a talk, and I'll randomly choose one commenter to win a signed bookplate.

Or, if you know me in real life, a four-leaf clover, or a cup of tea, or WHATEVER, because I've probably already written something thoroughly embarrassing in your book.

Thanks in advance for helping me to not appear a complete fool!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

the imaginary rabbit and the phantom tollbooth

The first thing I remember this morning is ripping an animatronic duckling from a box. Then came coffee and that lovely, carefree holiday feeling, when you feel like the answer to every question is yes.

Then came brunch, with raspberry mimosas, strawberry and Nutella sandwiches, cupcakes, and taco dip. I snarfed so many cupcakes that I will sneeze sprinkles for a week. And then we went to the next party, with birthday cake and ice cream and frozen Twix. There was egg hunting and grandparent hugging and cactus-sitting-on, which was not my favorite part of the day. And then we watched Total Recall with my dad and I trimmed the chihuahua's toenails and flopped on the sofa in my conspicuously impractical shoes, wishing I could take a nap.

This is our Easter. It's a comfortable ritual with friends and family that I look forward to and love. But something odd happens every year.

Every Easter afternoon, I get this horrible feeling.

I start out lazy, sleepy, tired. My eyes feel heavy. The couch looks so inviting. But a nap is somehow always impossible, and I start thinking of all the things I have to do. A book to finish. Emails to write. Deadlines. Reviews. So very much mail to send. A huge stack of books that I would be reading if I wasn't so anxious over nothing. And housecleaning. Don't even get me started on that.

I get frachetty. Annoyed. Resentful. Grouchy. I pace a bit like a cat in a cage. Things feel like they're falling apart, like I'm trying to keep too many plates spinning. And yet I'm powerless to do anything, and any attempt at work is met with stubborn malaise.

I start to think about Douglas Adams' The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

It makes me want to throw tea in someone's face.

I start to think about the Easter afternoon when I was seven and I first discovered The Phantom Tollbooth. I was in a very Milo mood, and it started on TV, and I watched it, thinking, THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME WHO RECEIVED THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, FOR EVERYTHING IS A WASTE OF TIME, AND EASTER IS STUPID, AND MEH.

Every year it happens, and despite how awesome the morning is, by afternoon, I've decided that Easter is indeed the stupidest holiday ever and is somehow broken.

And then today, I finally recognized the problem.

It's not an existential crisis. It's just a massive sugar crash.

And next year?

I'm totally doing it again.

Happy Easter!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

10 steps to bliss

1. Put on a sundress and biker boots, just because you can.

2. Leave an hour early for your meeting because you have an unholy yen for sushi.

3. Discover that the cute little sushi place downtown is packed and there's no parking.

4. Discover that the hibachi place is closed on Saturday afternoons.

5. Discover that Circle Sushi is too dark and cold for a pretty day and get your sushi to go.

6. Discover that you don't have a drink and realize that you can't go to a meeting with roe in your teeth.

7. Stop at the gluten-free cupcake place for a water. And a mint chocolate chip cupcake with a bunny toothpick.

8. Realize you have 15 minutes until your meeting and an awful lot of yummy things to enjoy.

9. Get to the historic home where your meeting is being held. Grab the picnic blanket you've kept in your trunk since 1994 and toss it in the grass. Sit down in your sundress and biker boots and pull out your chopsticks and chow the hell down while reading a John Green book.

10. Realize that you kind of look like an idiot in a lot of ways, but that you accepted your own ridiculousness a long time ago, and it doesn't matter, because MY MERCIFUL HEAVENS YOU'RE HAVING A PICNIC IN FRONT OF A PLANTATION HOUSE ON A BEAUTIFUL SPRING DAY WITH SUSHI AND A CUPCAKE AND GOOD GRAVY, BUT LIFE IS WONDERFUL.

Simple as that.


Friday, April 6, 2012

under the covers

Music covers, that is. In the immortal words of Dark Helmet, FOOLED YOU.

I've been wrapped up in a few playlists as I finish one deadline and dig my teeth into the next one, and I've gotten obsessed with a cover of one of my all-time favorite songs, which is #1 on the list below. When I was younger, I would have screeched about blasphemy and the artist's original message and purity. But right now, I just dig what I dig and can't help admiring how a musician can take something I love and make it both different and awesome.

Some of my top covers, which you can find here on Spotify:

1. The Lovecats by OK Go, originally by The Cure.

2. Goodbye Horses by The Airborne Toxic Event, originally by Q Lazzarus

3. Bizarre Love Triangle by Stabbing Westward, originally by New Order

4. Take On Me by Reel Big Fish, originally by A-ha

5. I've Just Seen a Face by Jim Sturgess, originally by the Beatles

6. I Want It All + We Will Rock You on the Sucker Punch soundtrack

7. I Want You Back by The Civil Wars, originally by Michael Jackson

8. The Book of Love by Airborne Toxic Event, originally by The Magnetic Fields (painful but good)

9. Such Great Heights by The Postal Service, originally by Iron and Wine

10. Hurt by Johnny Cash, originally by Nine Inch Nails (painful but good)

11. Romeo and Juliet by The Indigo Girls, originally by Dire Straits (painful but good, because I only cried to that, like, a million times in high school)

12. G33k and Gamer Girlz by Team Unicorn, originally something much less entertaining by Katy Perry

13. Where Is My Mind? by Placebo, originally by The Pixies

I'm sure I'm forgetting loads of them, but those are the ones that spring to mind... or are nudged into memory by crowdsourcing.


In any case, I'm digging the covers right now.

Anyone have a favorite cover?


Thursday, April 5, 2012

this sound. what is it?

I had a writing dilemma last night, and so I asked Twitter:

What is this noise?

It's like a rueful, smirky, one-note laugh. Almost a snort.

Some people said it was a chortle, but I'm not so sure.

What do you think?


Even if we have to make up a new word for it.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

the secret forest

I'm a series of little obsessions, and for a while, I was obsessed with this place.

Between City Hall and the City Auditorium in my home town, there's a bridge.

Under that bridge is a secret forest.

The trees start twenty or more feet below the bridge and rise up on either side. A creek trickles underneath. Deer roam there, birds twitch in the leaves. In the winter, you can see a little bit of what happens so far below. But once the leaves start unfurling, you can't be so sure.

Anything could be down there.

Velociraptors. Fairies. Chupacabras.

Wild cats.

In middle school, I was in a play at the Auditorium. While I waited for my mom to come pick me up, I would stare off the bridge and into the secret forest, wishing I could skid down the hill and explore it.

I never got to. And for a long, long time, I forgot about it. And then I drove by, and it caught my eye, and it became one of my little obsessions.

I couldn't help wondering. What if there was a big pipe down there? What if there was a door in the pipe? What if that door led to an abandoned hotel full of doors and a whole new world?

Umbra, I called it. It was a place where everything was in shades of gray, where the ruined air forced everyone into elaborate plague masks and dark cloaks. A place where octopi roamed on land and rats were venomous and anteaters walked on leashes.

The key to that world was a gray tabby cat named Inky, and a boy named Ren had a grand adventure.

That book didn't sell, unfortunately. I don't know why. I didn't ask for notes. And I'm still licking my wounds. On one hand, it's a failure, writing a book and taking it out and knowing it wasn't good enough. On the other hand, I know that one day, I'm going to find a home for it.

The secret forest has a story to be told. I called mine The Psychopomp of Umbra. One day, it'll come into the light.

And one day, I'm skidding down that hill, to see if it's true.


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Virtual Launch Party Giveaway of THINGS

Remember all these goodies?

Most of them were door prizes for the Wicked as They Come book launch party last Friday. But I kept some packets back JUST FOR Y'ALL. Because you're always so sweet and supportive and it's not your fault you don't live just down the street from me and invite me over for margaritas all the time.

So here's your chance to win!

There are several prizes up for grabs, and I'm happy to send a signed and personalized bookplate with each of them-- as soon as the bookplates show up. The grand prize, if you care to call it that, is a copy of Wicked as They Come in which I will take my pen and write secrets. About the inspirations, things that happened while I was writing it, that sort of thing. SECRETS, PEOPLE. So enter that Rafflecopter and win, baby!

always red roses

Whenever I have a big event, it's hard to keep an eye on my parents. They can be shy and slippery, and they usually leave early, but they always bring red roses.

They were there for every play I did in high school, no matter how small the part or how bad my acting. They were there for every solo art exhibit I've done, starting with the one in the basement of the bicycle shop. And they were there Friday night for my book launch. After two months that have surely been hellish thanks to health issues, they still drove out to be there for my big night. They also bought oodles of books, even though I'd already given them one. And my mom is reading it, heaven help me.

The roses just appeared on the table at my elbow. I saw them before I saw my dad. But I knew he was there, lurking somewhere, and I smiled. Even though I was wearing a silly costume and celebrating a vampire book, he was there.

Thanks, Mom and Dad. For being there, and for the roses.

It means the world. It always has.