Tuesday, August 27, 2013

25 Steps, Part DEUX

If you need more info, have questions, or just want to hang out with me in a Macon, GA bar, come to the Crossroads Writers Conference this October 4 - 6. I will hopefully be teaching two panels based on my most popular blog posts of the year:

(Which will also include tips on writing strong female characters)

Use code EARLYBIRD before August 31 to knock off some of the registration price at Crossroads.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Writer: Part 1, Fridge Version

For my full, detailed, 7000-word paean to getting published, visit Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds blog.

But if you want a condensed, visually pleasing version, check out what the awesome Sean Preston of Reality Blurs created today...

Huge thanks to Sean for turning my scribbles into A REAL THING! <3 p="">

Saturday, August 17, 2013

wanna see something creepy?

So that's the cover for my YA hardcover debut in summer 2014.

Here's the blurb:

A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey's best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her. 
But recently she's started to believe she's seeing things that can't be real ... including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined. 
As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.
Dovey's running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can't see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly ... and everything to do with Dovey herself.

It's so funky fresh it's not even up for pre-order yet, but you can add it to your Goodreads queue here. Don't worry: as soon as there's a link, I'll broadcast it. Because I really want you to read this book.

What do we think? Sound like fun?


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Items of Interest: August

0. If you're dropping by for the first time thanks to my squatting on Terrible Minds, WELCOME! You're always welcome to contact me via any of the avenues listed on the CONTACT tab up top or in the comments over here.

1. If you're a writer and haven't read it yet, you might enjoy my blog post over at Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds today: 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Writer, Lazy Bastard Edition, which gives you all the secrets I used to get published in 3 years with no prior publishing experience. Remember to use your nicest handwriting when signing that contract in blood, kids.

2. If you like hot dudes who look like Jesse Williams and talk like a sexy French version of Hannibal King, you might like the cover for Blud book 3, WICKED AFTER MIDNIGHT. You can also add the book to your Goodreads queue if that pre-order link doesn't rev your engines. It's out January 28.

3. If you like e-novellas about feisty ginger journalists who go after sexy knife throwers in a steampunk caravan, you might dig the cover for my third Blud e-novella, THE DAMSEL AND THE DAGGERMAN. Which is also up on Goodreads and will be out January 6.

4. If TWO COVER REVEALS IN ONE DAY isn't enough for you, be sure to watch the RT Book Reviews site on Wednesday for the cover reveal of my first YA, a creepy paranormal called SERVANTS OF THE STORM that will be out in hard cover with Simon Pulse in summer 2014. This cover simply blows me away; it's creepy as hell and pretty as a picture. Of a dead person.

5. Still not enough? GOOD LORD, Y'ALL. Fine. I have a short story called LOVE SONG OF THE LIZARD BOY out with Fireside Magazine on Wednesday. Finally, you can learn about the secret life of Eblick, the lizard boy in Criminy's Clockwork Caravan. Even if you didn't help fund the original Kickstarter, there will be a buy link for the first volume tomorrow. And the art by Galen Dara is gorgeous.

6. Also upcoming: my short story OUR LADY OF MONSTERS will be in the next Tales from the Archives anthology of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Link to come!

7. And if you need a quick fix and like a story that packs a lot of punch into 70 pages, my Kindle Worlds e-novella SHADOWMAN: FOLLOW ME BOY is getting amazeballs reviews and is only $1.99. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app and read it on any phone, tablet, laptop, or PC. The reviews are stellar, and you don't have to be a fan of the Shadowman comics from Valiant Entertainment to dig it. There's even a new cover:

8. Lastly, I'll be heading out to the AUTHORS AFTER DARK con in Savannah this Wednesday through Saturday and then DRAGON CON for Labor Day Weekend. I'll have book available and signable at both outings. Check the EVENTS tab at the top of the blog for a complete schedule. 

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Wanna see the grand unveiling of the cover for 

book 3 in the Blud series? 

Click over to Bitten By Books and check out the hotness, 
courtesy of artist Tony Mauro. 
There's a contest, too!

I'll admit it: this is my favorite Blud cover yet, and it's exactly what I pictured!

Here's a description:

An electrifying paranormal romance . . . with a twist!
Only rebellious Demi Ward could be bored with her life as a contortionist in Criminy Stain’s magical traveling circus. But being a cabaret star in the City of Lights is dangerous . . . especially for an audacious Bludman.
After Demi’s best friend Cherie is brutally kidnapped en route to Paris by a roving band of masked slavers, passionate highwayman Vale Hildebrand shows up to save the day. With his help, Demi rises to the top of the cabaret scene as part of her plot to find Cherie—but what she really discovers is a taste for Vale’s kisses. Meanwhile, wealthy suitors vie for a night of her charms, crowding the glittering club where Demi commands the stage with a host of colorful daimons. She is soon seduced by a smoldering portrait artist whose ties to a secret society could be the break she and Vale need on their hunt. But—unlike the Paris Demi read about in college on Earth—the Paris of Sang is full of depraved pleasures and deadly surprises. 

Big thanks to Rachel and Bitten by Books for hosting this exclusive cover reveal.
And super extra big thanks to Tony Mauro for an ultra-delicious cover!
WICKED AFTER MIDNIGHT is available for pre-order now and will be out January 28, 2014.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Writer's Toolbox

Want to be a real, honest-to-gosh writer?

Here's what you need:

1. A really rad computer loaded with software.
Preferably an up-to-date MacBook Pro with Word and Scrivener. Also, Moleskine notebooks, antique typewriters, and a fancy fountain pen that uses real ink.

2. A dedicated writing space. 
Your office/studio will need an ergonomic chair, high-speed internet, and noise-blocking headphones.

3. Time set aside only for your writing.
In fact, all serious writers quit their day job immediately to focus on their art.

4. A full schedule of writing-related outings, conferences, book launch parties, and lectures.
Be sure to build in down time consisting of absolute media and social silence.


That's a bunch of crap.

First of all, you don't need anyone's permission to be a writer.

If you write, you're a writer. 
If you get paid to write, you're a professional writer. 
And wherever you are, you should act like a professional. 



Now, let's get down to what you ACTUALLY need to be a writer by amending that list.

1. You need whatever tools will let you do what you need to do. 
Start with what you have, use it until it doesn't work anymore, and then reevaluate. I know people who write in longhand, who write on iPads on the subway, who stick Post-It notes all over their refrigerators. I take lots of notes on index cards that pepper all the pertinent areas of my house, and I use free word processing software from Open Office. You don't need anything special. The expensiveness of your toys does not legitimize your craft.

But you'll probably need coffee, at some point. Trust me on this.

2. You need to learn to write anywhere, or at least wherever is available.
If your writing can only happen in a holy space of absolute silence, you need to loosen up, buttercup. Find hacks to make your writing something that can happen anywhere. Some people do need a close approximation of silence, thanks to headphones, while others like a TV on in the background or a playlist singing softly through earbuds. Although I have trouble writing around my children, I can now write in a coffee shop, on an airplane, in the passenger seat of a car. Writing is not some fickle muse that can be scared away by an imperfect setting; you are the person in charge.

3. Do not quit your day job. Squeeze your writing into the spaces in between. Make time for it.
I hear people who want to write bemoan how little time they have, but then they tell me how they did on Words with Friends this morning or how great last night's Duck Dynasty was. If you want to do something, you'll find time for it. You'll set the alarm an hour early or stay up a little late or eat lunch at your desk while tapping away on your tablet. Writing is work, yes. But if it's something you think of as a treat, what you look forward to, you can always find some time to do it. It's not frivolous or silly; it's a passion, an art, a skill that requires butt-in-chair-time to develop. Take it seriously. Make your friends and family take it seriously, or at least respect that you do. Put in the time.

4. Live your life. Talk to people. Go places. See movies. Read. Then write.
Writers can't just write about writing and talk about writing and mill among writers like a herd of inky wildebeest. Stories are not born in bubbles. You have to live a life worth writing about, or at least listen to other people talk about lives worth writing about. Have adventures. Learn something new. Take a new road. Try a new hobby. The harder you work your brain, the better it will be at plotting and character and dialog. And you know what? Maybe you're an introvert, or maybe you live in a new place and are shy. So what? Find your people online, or read articles that interest you. Just scroll through tumblr or Pinterest. Your brain can't tell the difference between information gleaned from a chalkboard, a book, the internet, or a person's mouth. It's all about building connections and feeding your noodle so that you can milk it later. If you floop your pig into a cave of solitude, you're not going to grow as a person or a writer.

That being said, the occasional writing-centered outing or con can help replenish your mojo and encourage you to take the next step in your writing. Personally, I highly recommend the Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, GA October 4-6-- not only because I'm a speaker there, but because I had a seriously amazing time last year and would consider it the top writing-related activity I've ever attended. On the drive home, I came up with my Next Big Idea, which I'm currently 60k into writing. Instead of focusing on how to get an agent or why you need to self-publish, Crossroads smacks you in the feel bone with inspiration for fleshing out ideas, pursuing new genres, finishing your first book, dealing with revisions and rejections, and generally floundering through a career that has no real road map.

Wanting to be a writer is easy. Actually being a writer can be hard.

The main point is this: THERE IS NO ONE WAY TO WRITE.

And anyone who tries to sell you a line of "You're not a writer unless you..." is:


p.s. That's Lying Cat, an amazing character from the SAGA comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Guess what he says every time someone lies?

Brilliant writing, that.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I have failed!

At being a professional writer-- at least according to this article on the Horror Writers of America site.

1. Is your home/work place messy because that time you’d put into cleaning it is better spent writing?
Yes, and I'm ashamed of it, so thanks for connecting it to my career success. Having two children under seven would be challenging enough without a poorly drawn line between work and home. But you know what? I don't see what my hatred of cleaning has to do with being a writer. 
Would this question hold as much value if I were a man?
Probably not. 
2. Do you routinely turn down evenings out with friends because you need to be home writing instead?
Nope. If I spend too much time alone, my writing suffers because I become a crazy person and forget how to talk with my mouth.
3. Do you turn off the television in order to write?
I don't turn *on* the television in the first place, unless you count falling asleep to Adventure Time, Community, or Archer.
4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise?
Only from a very select group of people whose opinions I value.
5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunites (either research or networking potential)?
Yes. Some of my best trips have involved research for things I wanted to write, and I return filled with energy, joy, and passion for my work. But I'm mainly using my writing as an excuse to have adventures, not the other way around.
6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than exchanging small talk with a good friend?
Trick question. I would rather talk writing/business with another writer than make small talk with a stranger or acquaintance with whom I have little in common. And I would consider any talk with "a good friend" to be a conversation, since "small talk" implies that an exchange remains on surface-level, meaningless topics.
7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid less money because it would give you more time/energy/material to write?
I haven't had a day job since I started writing. Being a stay-at-home mom doesn't pay well.
8. Are you willing to give up the nice home you know you could have if you devoted that time you spend writing to a more lucrative career?
Wasn't this question #1? What on earth does my home have to do with my writing? Being messy I can understand. But it's not like I'm at the furniture store wishing I could have a nicer sofa but walk away in tears because I had to buy printer ink. Again, this question seems very sexist. How many men would answer, "YES, I HAVE STOPPED READING REAL SIMPLE AND SACRIFICED BUYING THAT NEW PADDED BENCH FOR THE MUD ROOM SO THAT I COULD WRITE."
9. Have you done all these things for at least five years?
Nope. I started writing in 2009 and "went pro" in 2011. I FAIL.
10. Are you willing to live knowing that you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold to those ambitions nonetheless?
I've met my ambitions, you ass. I just keep getting bigger ones. It's not like I'm dying of consumption over here. 
I agree with the main criticism I've read of this article; mainly, If you are paid to write, you are a professional writer. Period. Being a professional and *acting* like a professional may be very different things, but if you put up a self-pub story and someone paid $0.99, CONGRATULATIONS. WELCOME TO BEING A PROFESSIONAL WRITER.