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frost_light July 11 2014, 16:57

New excerpt from The Beautiful Ashes and contest head's up

Hi all! Somehow, it's been ten days since I posted a new blog. Times flies when working on a new book! Because I don't have anything interesting to talk about (I already mentioned work; that's pretty much all I've been doing) how about a new excerpt? This is from The Beautiful Ashes, my upcoming New Adult paranormal romance, which releases August 26th. Haven't heard about this book yet? Description and details are here. If you want the shortest summary possible, The Beautiful Ashes features star-crossed lovers with opposing supernatural destinies who get caught in a war between angels and demons. This series will be a trilogy.

In the scene below, my heroine Ivy has been dealing with several awful things. Her sister is missing, her parents just died in a car crash, and Ivy has been kidnapped by a mysterious stranger named Adrian after a cop tried to kill her.  If all of that wasn't enough, Ivy is also starting to realize the hallucinations she's had her whole life might actually be real. If you didn't read the previous excerpt I posted from Chapter Two, go here and you can have the entire context for the scene below. Of course I think that everything is better in context, but that's just my opinion :).

Oh, and as a head's up, I'll be holding a blog contest sometime next week giving away Arcs of The Beautiful Ashes, so if you're interested, be sure to check back for your chance to win. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the teaser!

Even on a good day, I hated when guys were cryptic. Those of the Testosterone Persuasion already came with a mountain of senseless tendencies—did they really think they needed to add purposefully vague statements on top of that?

The fact that Adrian refused to elaborate on his enigmatic warning while I was tied up in his backseat made it unbearable. As the time ticked on, I consoled myself by imagining hitting him in the head with something heavy. Or leaning over the seat and choking him with the band of duct tape around my wrists. If the back of this vehicle had had a cigarette lighter, I might’ve gotten creative with fantasies about that, too.

Guess being kidnapped turned me into a violent person.

“Are you a sex slaver?” I asked abruptly.

“Someone’s watched Taken too many times,” Adrian said, and the amusement in his tone grated on my last nerve.

“Why wouldn’t I think that?” I shot back. “You saved my life, but you’re taking me somewhere against my will, and you refuse to untie me.”

“You picked truth, remember?” was his infuriating response.

I swear, the first heavy object I got a hold of…! “You didn’t give me that, either.”

“Yes, I did.” He said it with a heavy-lidded, backward glance that would’ve made me straighten up and smile if he’d done it while we were sitting at a bar. “Just not all of it, but don’t worry. We’re here.”

With that statement, Adrian turned down a long road that led to a set of soaring, elaborately carved gates.

“Wait a sec while I open the gates,” he said, turning the car off and taking the keys with him.

I waited…until he was far enough away for me to make my move. Then I leaped over the seats. When I yanked on the driver’s side door, however, a large hand on the window prevented it from opening.

“Why am I not surprised?” Adrian said with irony dripping from his tone

I stared at his hand, as if that could explain how the rest of him was attached to it. A second ago, he’d been in front of those barbarically ornate gates, doing something that caused them to swing open with a mechanical moan.

No one could move that fast. Or, more accurately, no one should be able to move that fast.

“What are you?” I breathed.

His teeth flashed in a smile that was predatory and sexy at the same time.

“A couple hours ago, I wondered the same thing about you.”

Me? Before I could ask what he meant, he opened the door and let me out. Ice raced through my veins when I saw the knife in his other hand. That was also the moment when I noticed the sign on the gates: Green-Wood Cemetery.

“Don’t,” I gasped.

He raised a brow, cutting through the duct tape around my wrists. “You’re the one who wanted to be untied.”

My arms fell to my sides while relief roared over me, replacing the surge of fear-fueled adrenaline. Just as quickly, something snapped inside me. All the grief, anger, fear and frustration of the past ten days hurtled through my defenses, turning me into someone I didn’t recognize.

A rage monster.

My hand cracked across Adrian’s face with enough force to make it tingle and burn, and still, it wasn’t enough. I began beating on his chest, part of me horrified by my actions, but the rest urging me to hit him harder.

“What is the matter with you?” I yelled. “You pull out a knife with no explanation? I thought you were going to kill me!”

Adrian grabbed my hands. Any sane person would have recognized how overmatched I was and calmed the hell down, but I was way past sanity. With my hands out of commission, I kicked his shin hard enough to send pain shooting up my leg. He grunted, backing me up until I was pressed against the car hood. Now I had a wall of steel behind me and a wall of muscled flesh on top of me.

“Stop it,” Adrian ordered, his strange accent thicker with his vehemence. “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you!”

My breath came in pants. Adrian countered my attempt to drop down and wiggle free by pressing his thigh between my legs. I stopped that course of action at once, which was the same as admitting defeat. I couldn’t use my arms to push him away. He felt more solid and heavy than a stone gargoyle.

“Get off me,” I said between ragged breaths.

“Not until you calm down,” he replied sternly. Then the barest grin tugged at his mouth. “Feel free to take your time.”

I glanced down, only now registering that my breasts were pressed against his chest just as tightly as his thigh was wedged between my legs. Any movement on my part caused an embarrassingly personal friction, as if inhaling each other’s breaths while we panted wasn’t intimate enough.

I tried to slow my breathing, not to mention my galloping heartbeat. If not for his grin, I wouldn’t have known he thought anything of the compromising position he had me in.

If nothing else, he didn’t seem angry that I’d slapped, kicked and pummeled him. Now that my reckless rage had passed, I realized how stupid I’d been. One punch from his massive fist would’ve meant lights out, but he hadn’t hit back. Instead, he’d promised that he wouldn’t hurt me. Despite his kidnapping me and his refusal to give me answers about what was going on, I decided to believe him.

“Sorry I attacked you,” I said, my voice no longer shrill.

He shrugged like he was used to it. “Don’t worry. You were overdue for a breakdown, anyway.”

Just how many people have you kidnapped? I almost asked. Since I didn’t really want to know, all I said was, “Can you get off me? You’re heavy.”

He slowly uncurled his body from mine, but that silvery blue gaze stayed glued to me. I shivered, suddenly aware of how cold it was, now that I wasn’t covered by over two hundred pounds of warm-blooded male.

Adrian shrugged out of his coat, revealing a crew-neck black shirt that hugged his physique like it was paying homage. Of course he’d noticed the shiver. I wondered if anything escaped those piercing eyes.

I put it on. The hem had been mid-calf on him; it pooled on the ground with me. I’d never felt dainty around a guy before. I was comfortable at a size eight because I didn’t have to starve to maintain it, and my five-six height meant I could usually wear heels without being taller than my dates. Next to Adrian, however, I seemed to drop twenty pounds while also shrinking a few inches. Of course, his bulk was all muscle. Feeling him on top of me had made that clear….

I nixed that line of thought before it led to other, more dangerous musings, and tightened his coat around me.

“If we’re not here so you can kill me and bury my body in an empty plot, what else is there to do at a cemetery?” I asked with admirable calm.

He laughed, the deep, masculine rumble teasing something inside me that was too stupid to realize kidnappers were off-limits. That’s why I refused to notice the chin dimple it revealed, or how his lower lip was fuller than the top one.

“Lots of things, but we’ll get to that later.”

“Sure there’s going to be a later?” I challenged him.

“Of course.” Another tantalizing smile. “Since you and I are from the same line, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me.”

Line? “You think we’re related?”

His gaze brushed me like a physical caress. “Not like that, thankfully. That would make our first date awkward.”

I stared at him in disbelief. “You’re hitting on me?” I finally managed. “Do you have any idea how twisted that is?”

He shrugged. “I don’t do subtle, it wastes time. Besides—” the silvery part of his eyes gleamed like liquid moonlight “—if you say you don’t find me attractive, I’ll know you’re lying.”

Under other circumstances, I might have blushed at being busted ogling someone I’d just met, but my kidnapper was hitting on me! Should that make me more afraid, or less? He’d already saved my life once and had had plenty of chances to harm me since, yet he hadn’t.

Plus, I wouldn’t be much fun as a date if I was dead.

“How about we hold the date talk until you give me the answers you promised?” I said, part of me wondering if tonight could get any stranger. The other part felt happy for the first time in over a week. Stupid ovaries. Down, girls, down!

Adrian’s expression turned serious. “I’m taking you to the person who can give you those answers.”

“Zach?” I asked, remembering Adrian mentioning the name.

“That’s him. This cemetery is almost five hundred acres, so if you don’t want to spend hours walking around in the cold—” he went over to the passenger side of the vintage-looking muscle car and opened the door “—get in.”

He was giving me a choice. Or at least, the illusion of one. If I ran, we both knew he could catch me.

The car’s interior light showed a hint of stubble trying to break through the smooth skin along his jaw, shadowing it in a way that was far too attractive. His exotic accent wasn’t helping, either. If I was ever kidnapped again, it had better be by an old, ugly guy. That would be less confusing to my emotions.

And less embarrassing. What idiot got caught lusting over her kidnapper? No wonder he’d asked me out. He must have thought I gave “easy” a whole new definition.

I walked over, thinking that even if I could run away from him, I wouldn’t. My sister was trapped in a place that shouldn’t be real, yet somehow was, and Adrian was my only ally because he could see the same crazy things that I did. More importantly, Adrian had proven that he was able to kill those things.

If he was able to help me save my sister, I’d not only take him up on his date offer. I’d pay for everything and seriously consider putting out.

I got in the passenger side, hearing the door lock as soon as he shut it. I tried to open it. Nothing. My sense of unease returned. What kind of person saved people just to kidnap them, and had a vehicle you could only exit from the driver’s side?

Then again, as Adrian slid into the seat next to me with an almost spooky fluidity, I realized what kind of person he was might be less important than what he was.

pjthompson July 11 2014, 16:54


Random quote of the day: 

“Even sleeping men are doing the world’s business and helping it along.”

—Herakleitos, quoted in 7 Greeks Translated by Guy Davenport


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

mizkit July 11 2014, 16:26

phone, jam, life

I have a new long-term-temporary phone. If you believe I should or did have your number, please text me your name so I can re-add you to my address book. Sank oo.

Last night? Yes, last night. Last night I made some unusually nice applesauce and jarred up several jars of it (and ate the rest). I’m thinking of doing little homemade jars of stuff for Christmas presents and I’m considering strawberry jam, lemon curd, applesauce and (if I can nerve myself up to trying it) marmalade. That would be a pretty little foursome, right?

Hey, I’m posting about writing the Walker Papers over on Magical Words this month. The first week’s post was about themes and this week’s is about Gary.

On the Fantasy Fudge front, I’d posted saying that probably the dairy-free fudge would be chocolate-only. Someone asked if, if they were willing or able to have dairy in small amounts, they could participate in the Mix And Match that’s the next stretch goal (backers get to try up to 3 kinds in their package!). Say I: sure, no problem, just as long as you recognize I’m not the one volunteering to make you sick. :)

Boy, I just need one more thing for Five Things Make A Post. Um. Nope, I got nothin’. Gonna go cook dinner. :)

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

sarahtales July 11 2014, 15:13

Turn of the Story, Part IX

Originally published at Sarah Rees Brennan. You can comment here or there.

This part’s a little different from the others, but I hope you still enjoy it, my petals. You know the drill by now: free book-length story about the crankiest boy in a fantasy land.

This part is also dedicated to Courtney and Jen Lynn, who convinced me to go on.

Part I of Turn of the Story

previous part of Turn of the Story

Turn of the Story, Part 9Collapse )
gailcarriger July 11 2014, 14:46

Mostly Dead in Translation

I had the most fascinating conversation with a translator recently, Gentle Reader. I have blogged a bit before about how much I enjoy chatting with those who translate my words. It forces me to think about language differently, and how I apply it.

Such a discussion started recently with the phrase "mostly dead."

Woman reading a book. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A translator emailed to tell me that she was struggling to properly translate my term “mostly dead.”

I use it at various points in my Parasol Protectorate books:

Changeless p. 205
“Werewolves being supernatural and mostly dead, could have no children.”

Blameless p. 13 p. 17
“Your husband is basically dead, or was basically dead and is mostly dead now.”
“So what if he was mostly dead?”

Blameless p. 179
“Your preternatural touch, it does not cancel out the fact that the supernatural person has, already, mostly died.”

At first, the translator thought it meant “almost” or “practically.” However, the proofreader disagreed. Because “mostly” could mean “most of the time,” they began to think it meant “almost dead,” that is, not completely dead. Or, it could also mean “essentially.” (In which case, a supernatural is dead, and the only time he is not dead is when a preternatural touches him.)

I also use the phrase “basically dead” in the text, but that's Mrs. Loontwill speaking, and we know we cannot trust her...

My Thoughts on Being Mostly Dead

First, of course, I'm using that particular term as an ode to Douglass Adam's description of Earth as mostly harmless.

That said, some philosophy:

I am using the term mostly to imply a level of confusion on the part of the characters and the scientists of the time. Werewolves/vampires are considered undead, that is, they have died but are still walking around. They aren't living because they don't die ~ life being partly defined by mortality (Victorians are morbid) thus these creatures aren't mortal anymore. It's a condition of stasis. They can't procreate, for example. But they are alive in terms of they walk, talk, and interact. Would an android, for example, be considered a living creature?

The physicality:

So far as the in-world scientists are concerned, the best way to think about it is that most of a person's soul has died. Hence "mostly." By using the word "mostly" I am contrasting against the world "all" or "entirely" or "completely."  It is a matter of proportion or percentage. Death in my universe is not an absolute, it is an end point. Glass full, glass mostly full or mostly empty, glass empty. The stage of immortality is that middle stage: mostly dead. Closer towards dead than alive, but still present above ground.

This is not necessarily a measure of time, but of content. Saying "almost dead" implies that one soon will be. Not the case. Saying "practically dead" implies one step removed, so also not right.
 “Almost dead” might work, but again the implication is temporal - that death is immanent. Which it istn't because immortals are in stasis.

“Essentially” might work best as an alternative.

Ah, the precision of English.

I choose "mostly" because it is so often associated with volume or measurement rather than time. Thus the reader is reminded of the remains of soul and the way the transfer of immortality works in my universe ~ that someone can only be immortal with what's left of the soul. Mostly can then be a measurement of what has gone (measurable or immeasurable as the soul may be).

I know, welcome to my brain. Did you know I have a philosophy minor? Epistemology was my focus. So, yeah.

{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .
via Retronaut ‏@theretronaut  c. 1910- Woman with a parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Latest addition to my office

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
French Hair Art & The Industry of Mourning

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
All about author errors that make it into publication, J. Kathleen Cheney on Forgiving Anne McCaffrey

Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Edits handed in. Release date March 17, 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins soon. Release date early November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.

The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
Spy Museum in Washington, D.C via Terrence

Quote of the Day:
“The size and power of an internal security service is generally in direct ratio to the extent of the suspicion and fear of the ruling clique.”
~ The Craft of Intelligence: America's Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World by Allen W. Dulles

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.
mizkit July 10 2014, 21:08

stolen phone

My phone was just stolen. And it turns out that although I had it insured, I did not, apparently, have it insured against theft or loss. I could have sworn I did, but it’s not in the policy I’ve got, so…fuck.

So, guys! Support my crowdfund! You get fudge and I get a new phone… :}

It had been such a nice day up until then, too. The worst part is I don’t have the photos on the phone set to automatically upload to the cloud and I’d been thinking literally yesterday that I needed to upload them and now, well. Fuck.

(eta: I called my local garda, who suggested I hie myself over to the station in the area it was stolen and report it, because they only keep CCTV for 48-72 hours. I had not thought of CCTV at all. Guess I know where I’m going tonight.

eta2: went to the garda, did everything we could, odds are poor that i’ll get the phone back, but we’ve tried.)

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

pjthompson July 10 2014, 16:40

Running with the pack

Random quote of the day:

“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.’”

—Sir Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

seanan_mcguire July 10 2014, 16:35

Lafferty Air, now boarding.

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of two signed books by the awesome MUR LAFFERTY is...

apocalypticbob !

Please send me an email via my website contact form, so that I can pass it off to Mur and get this party started.

Thanks to everyone who entered. If you've been looking for some summer reading, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Shambling Guide to New York City. It's a heck of a lot of fun, and it's always nice to discover a new author with an awesome body of work.

Go forth, and read!
nihilistic_kid July 10 2014, 15:59

Kit Reed: A Writer for Life

Today begins the 25th Readercon, an always very interesting and occasionally horrifyingly doctrinaire science fiction convention. For those who don't know, science fiction conventions have guests of honor and program books, and generally there are a few appreciations of the guests of honor, written by friends, acquaintances, or fans.

Here is my piece, for guest of honor Kit Reed.

There are few writers one can fruitfully read throughout one’s entire life. I don't mean that one can return to an author’s book and continue to enjoy it, the way an older person might do with The Lord of the Rings. Kit Reed isn’t about middle-aged nostalgia for a sticky day of summer reading between grades three and four, she is a writer who simply writes and publishes very widely. As a child, as a teen, as an adult, when climbing the hill of middle age, you’ll find her.

I knew her books, but paid no attention to the byline, as a child. As a kid I loved The Ballad of T.Rantula, though I was tricked into having my mother buy it for me. It wasn’t about kids teaming up with a superhero-wrestler after all, despite the cover. The whole thing wasn’t even science fiction; it was just about a boy whose folks were divorcing. It was perhaps the first “real book”—as I called non-speculative material back then—that I ever voluntarily read.

The first book I ever bought with my own money—a few bucks made helping out in my uncle’s lunch counter when I was nine years old—was Other Stories and ...The Attack of the Giant Baby. The cover looked funny, and the title story was funny. But Reed’s collection also contained stories that were simply over my head, this despite having somehow gotten Naked Lunch out of the library the year prior. What was I supposed to make of “Winter”, the book’s first story? I skipped ahead to “Attack of the Giant Baby” and literally years later thumbed back to “Winter” when I was ready for it.

As a young man I wandered away from the greasy kid stuff that is the mainstream of science fiction and fantasy, and immersed myself in what was called “downtown” writing, at least in downtown Manhattan, where I was living. Dennis Cooper, Eileen Myles, that sort of thing. And that led me to contemporary innovative/avant-garde/transgressive American fiction generally, and who was there waiting for me? Kit Reed, with her slim novel from Black Ice Books—a defunct and missed, by me anyway, imprint of Fiction Collective 2—Little Sisters of the Apocalypse. The innovative tradition in the US is not known for sentiment, but Reed managed to create something that was both gonzo and emotionally mature, with a gag title.

I still had no idea that Kit Reed was the same author of the half-forgotten books I’d read as a child.

I first got what we used to call net.access in 1989, when I managed to find my way to a TinyMUD via a raw telnet connection. There I was told that I needed an email address, because there were “dozens of machines out there” and I couldn’t just have messages sent to me without knowing that I belonged to sunysb.edu. And Kit Reed was exploring similar worlds at around the same time. When the Web finally got up and running and became useful enough to search phrases like “book about giant baby” or “tarantula ballad divorce”, I finally realized that I was a Kit Reed fan. And Kit Reed had anticipated me with her novel @Expectations. Again, this was not science fiction so much as it was basically a novel about my own 20s, which had been spent almost entirely online.

Then, finally I was hooked. Kit Reed. Don’t just look for books with wacky titles, look for Kit Reed. Was I living with a woman with an eating disorder? Yes, and Kit Reed wrote Thinner Than Thou. In my thirties, did I start getting very anxious about starting a family? Of course, and Kit Reed wrote The Baby Merchant. When I had young cousins to buy presents for, Kit Reed was there again, The Night Children, a novel about that pretty common daydream kids have about spending all night in a shopping mall—it was a daydream I always had. (Naturally, I read the book before making a gift of it.) And only after reading The Night Children did I find her broadly similar 1980 title Magic Time, on a blanket set up on the sidewalk by a street peddler, and inhaled it. Kit knew I’d be an adult looking for an adult version of her twenty-first century YA novel back when I’d picked up my first of her titles as a child.

Now I’m middle-aged, with a baby and a day job. I’m as surprised as you are. I work in a slum zone that is rapidly being gentrified thanks to the fascist handclasp of transnational venture capital and supposedly “progressive” local government. The homeless outside my office don’t even have it sufficiently together to sell old Kit Reed paperbacks on blankets; it’s all bloody meth scabs and ranting into traffic. They live under the shadows of high-rise apartment buildings being put up on either side of my workplace—an old concrete slab where fancy social media companies relocate to get tax breaks. Those apartments are renting for $3500 a month for a studio. One-bedrooms are $4500 a month. Having a family? Living more than two minutes away from the cubicle where you already put in a twelve-hour workday? That's so random—let’s disrupt life-as-we-know it!

And just now, as I type these words, a new-to-me Kit Reed novel has arrived in the mail. Fort Privilege, about the wealthy ascending skyscrapers to avoid the rampaging poor, from back in 1986. She saw all of this, every major episode of my life, coming decades before I did.

I’ll be reading Kit Reed till I die. I have to find out what happens next.
shinga July 10 2014, 15:49

No subject

[I haven't talked much about it due to the massive amounts of shame and self-loathing that's come with it... but several months ago life went to shit and I wasn't able to maintain good self-care and my hair became traumatically tangled and matted, from the bottom to root... considering my hair was down to my thighs this was a HUGE problem. I wasn't able to fix it, I was terrified and ashamed and I felt awful. I didn't know if there was any hope or if I'd just have to shave it all off and start over... it broke my heart. I needed something about me to be fixable, SOMETHING, especially my hair... the one thing about myself physically that I prided in, the one thing I had so much control over. Luckily one of my best friends has a puzzle-solving mindset, massive patience and availability, and was willing to work on it every week for months... without her I would have lost my hair. I'm still filled with shame over the whole ordeal but I've learned a lot of patience from it, and it brought me closer to my friend... give me a while away from this mentally and I'll be able to comfortably say I don't regret that it happened because the good outweighed the bad]

Okay with the backstory covered...

My hair is, for all intents and purposes, done.

It's weird, it's... it's amazing right now. It's brushed out, soft, looks like it was never even tangled much less matted beyond recognition. Yet I'm still anxious and expecting to wake up with it all matted up again... I'm brushing it obsessively and I braid it before bed to ensure this doesn't happen, but I'm still worried.

I haven't posted any pictures. I still need to dye it... I'm afraid to ask for help with that for some reason... the shame is still there, maybe that's it? Like anyone who is going to dye my hair is going to be able to tell how bad it got and I'll cry and it'll be this whole huge emotional vulnerability thing. I don't know. I might just do it myself.

Maybe it just hasn't completely sunk in yet that it's fixed. It's done. Sparrow's amazing patience and diligence paid off, it's incredible. I have no idea how I'll ever repay her. God knows I wouldn't have been able to do this on my own... maybe that's part of the current anxiety, I don't know. Now that it's done and I'm back to regular maintenance by myself I'm worried about a "relapse"... that because I got myself into this mess I'm clearly not able to be trusted.

Logically this is ridiculous. It was a perfect storm of circumstances out of my control that led to this happening in the first place, circumstances I REALLY don't see ever happening again (and if everything DOES go as tits up as it did then, I'll be far more careful)... I'm in a good place now, taking care of my hair will be easy. I'm not as sick as I was, I'm in a stable home environment, etc.


I need to relax and let myself just kind of get used to it all over again. It's been finished for a grand total of two days, it's okay that I haven't really fully accepted it yet.

I have my hair back. I have it. It's mine. I feel like a timid Sampson, granted power back but not trusting that I won't lose it again the second I take it for granted. Is that what's bothering me? I think I'll not appreciate what I have so I'll lose it again? Because that's 1000% not how that works, if I'm seeing this from some sort of fucked up universal karmic justice sort of viewpoint. Even if the universe had some sort of say in this, I doubt it gives any shits whatsoever about how much I appreciate my fucking hair. The universe would have far better things to concern itself with.

I think I'll feel a bit more... "right" as soon as the roots are dyed. I'll feel a bit more right when a lover's fingers run through my hair and touch my scalp. I'll feel a bit more right the more and more I brush it and it doesn't hurt. I'll feel a bit more right the more I have it down and feel it touching my skin. All those little things will add up and soon all the dread and shame will be gone, left as nothing but an echo of something I used to be.

It was a process to fix it, it's going to be a process to accept that it's fixed. It felt weird to tell my therapist yesterday that I felt... so far... weird. Just "weird" was all I could say. She asked if I was excited, if it had boosted my self esteem. And the answer was no... I mean, not yet. Yes there's SOME excitement, there's SOME regained confidence but it's not all there yet. I'm holding back a lot of it. Like I'll get excited or confident and immediately shove it down with "not yet, we're not there yet, listen to your fear instead".

The mind is a frustrating thing. Self-awareness of this only gets you so far. But the more I'm open about it... willing to talk about it... the more I'll be able to crawl my way back to what I used to be before this all happened. Wait, actually... fuck that. I'll not crawl my way back to shit. I'll march my way to something better, stronger, wiser, and more powerful than I could ever have hoped to be before. This situation, the last few months, sucked... but goddammit I'll take it into me and use it to be stronger and better. I've done it for far worse things... just because this wound is still pretty fresh and aching does not mean it won't become a pretty kickin' badass part of me. Soon.
jpsorrow July 10 2014, 14:56

Signal Boost: "Plunder of Souls" by D.B. Jackson

This book came out this week and I highly recommend it and the series. Here's the cover and cover copy to pique your interest. You should go order it, along with Shattering the Ley, of course.

Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villains and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.

A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille’s minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related . . . but how?

When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster’s terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave. Let the battle for souls begin in Plunder of Souls, the third, stand-alone novel in Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.
mizkit July 10 2014, 09:13

DB Jackson returns! Again!

I’m delighted to once more have my friend and fellow writer DB Jackson on the blog for a series of not-terribly-serious interview questions!

1. Let’s start with the obvious. Give me the ten-cent shake-down on A PLUNDER OF SOULS.

PlunderofSouls_hi_comp150 The Thieftaker Chronicles are historical urban fantasy, and the books tell the story of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker (the eighteenth century equivalent of a private detective) living in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Each book is a stand-alone mystery set against the backdrop of a particular historical event leading to the American Revolution. The historical events are real, as are many of the characters; I’ve inserted fictional murders into the historical narrative, along with a cast of characters who comprise Ethan’s social circle and clientele.

In A PLUNDER OF SOULS, the third book in the series, I bring back a character who is to Ethan something like what Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes. Nate Ramsey, first appeared in “A Spell of Vengeance,” a short story I published at Tor.Com in June 2012. Ramsey is a fun character, in kind of the way that Hannibal Lecter is a fun character. Like Ethan, he’s a powerful conjurer. He’s also brilliant, cruel, vengeful, and a bit mad. In the original short story, Ethan is hired to protect two merchants who have been threatened by Ramsey. Ethan does his best, but Ramsey gets the better of him, with tragic results, and then escapes Boston.

Now Ramsey is back. It’s the summer of 1769, and Boston is in the midst of an outbreak of smallpox (as it really was that summer). Ethan is hired to investigate a series of grave robberies, and soon discovers that corpses have been mutilated in grotesque ways, and that at least some of what has been done to them seems to be meant as a personal warning to him. What results is a little bit mystery, a little bit ghost story, and a whole lot of epic magical warfare. I won’t reveal more, except to say that Ramsey is an even more formidable foe for Ethan now than he was in 1763, when the short story took place.

2. I personally claim to never ‘cast’ my novels with actors, although there are instances where that is untrue. Do you ‘cast’ people for your characters? Anybody you want to confess to?

I’ll admit that there are times when I do this. I don’t like to because, as you have said to me in the past, it’s sometimes counterproductive to put such a specific image in the minds of our readers. But there have been characters who just lend themselves to this sort of thing. And the truth is, it can also be fun to imagine the movie versions of our books. So, that said, I can definitely see Sephira Pryce, Ethan’s beautiful and deadly rival in thieftaking, being played by Olivia Wilde. Wilde is gorgeous and alluring, but there is also something a bit edgy about her beauty. Hers is not a soft look, and with the right costuming and makeup she could totally make the role of Sephira come to life as I’ve written it.

For Nate Ramsey, I think that Michael Pitt would be a really good choice. He totally looks the part as I envision it, and the kid’s got chops.

Ethan is a much harder call. I would want a slightly older actor — Ethan is supposed to be in his early forties by this point in the series, and he has lived a hard life. Maybe Ewan McGregor or Clive Owen. Or Mark Wahlberg. I need to think about this one a bit more.

3. If you had one shot with a time machine, what one historical event, place, or person would you want to visit?

Wow. I’m not just saying this because of the Thieftaker books. Really. But I would have to choose the period right around the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. I have a Ph.D. in U.S. History, and while my doctoral dissertation dealt with twentieth century issues, I found the Revolutionary period fascinating. I guess that’s why, when I finally got around to blending my love of fantasy with my passion for history, this was the period in which I set my books.

It’s not just the events themselves that are so fraught with drama and intrigue. It’s also the personalities: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. Brilliant minds; engaging speakers; willful, ego-driven politicians. And they were bandying about ideas from so many sources — Cato, Locke, Hobbes, Pitt, Hume, and others. It was a heady time intellectually as well as politically and militarily. That’s where I’d want to go.

4. I know you like jazz. Who’s one of your favourite artists, or what is a favourite album?

Yeah, I’m a huge jazz fan, and I listen to a lot of instrumental jazz when I work. I know that some authors can’t have any music at all going when they write, but I find that the improvisational quality of the music actually fuels my creativity. In particular, I’m a fan of “cool” jazz from the late 1950s. My favorite artist from this time — no surprise here — is Miles Davis, and my favorite albums of his are KIND OF BLUE, ‘ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT, and MILESTONES.

Among more recent jazz artists, I love the work of Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, and a relatively obscure, but truly excellent group called Sphere. All of them remain true to the spirit of that older jazz sound, placing a premium on melody, virtuosity, and improv. It’s great stuff, and as I say, listening to it actually helps me write.

5. When are you going to finish reading The Walker Papers so we can get started on that collaboration? (WHAT?! Nobody said my questions couldn’t be self-serving!)

[Laughing] Well, if you’d slow down with the writing a bit I could at least catch up with the series!! I’ve read the first two books in the series and am now reading COYOTE DREAMS, and loving it so far. My reading time these days is eaten up by books that I read as a beta reader for friends, or so that I might give a cover blurb. Time for pleasure reading is not always so easy to come by. It also didn’t help that I got totally sucked in to your Negotiator trilogy, which also took up some time. (I know that there are more Negotiator books now, but I have my fingers in my ears and I’m saying “la, la, la, la . . .” really loudly so that they don’t distract me.) In all seriousness, I am totally psyched to read the rest of The Walker Papers and get working on our story. It’s going to be a blast.

And by the way, HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson (forthcoming from Baen Books — book I, SPELL BLIND, comes out in January) is finished and turned in. So I’ll be sending a copy of the manuscript your way so that you can read it!

Ed: 1. Olivia Wilde & Clive Owen totally work for me for those characters. Or Sean Bean 10 years ago, for that matter.
2. I don’t know much jazz–far less than I should, because I love it–but my god, KIND OF BLUE. What an album.
What an album!
3. Technically there are only Old Races short story collections out now, not Negotiator books, but that’s being fussy. :)
4. For the readers: David’s got a new urban fantasy series coming out, I’ve already read book 1, we’re gonna be doing a Walker Papers/Fearsson Files crossover story, it’s gonna ROCK!

DBJacksonPubPhoto800 D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award­winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Find DB at:
his website
his blog

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

aprilhenry July 10 2014, 02:59

Pow! Right in the kisser! How martial arts have helped me be a better writer

I have been doing martial arts for close to five years now.  First it was kajukenbo and then for the last two and a half years, kung fu.

I love martial arts, an idea that would probably really surprise anyone I went to high school with, where PE was the only class where I ever got a C. (In my nightmares, I am still being taught a dance to Winchester Cathedral by Miss Fronk, who only shaved her lower legs.)

My gateway drug was a kickboxing class, where I found out I love hitting things as hard as I can. The teacher was also a kajukenbo instructor, and I ended up taking kajukenbo for about 18 months. I had an orange belt and was training for purple. My sifu even helped me figure out what moves my character could do in various situations in The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

When he stopped teaching, I started taking kung fu at the Westside Academy of Martial Arts (which also offers cross training, so our sifu often throws some in at the end of a session). I love sparring, learning techniques like the spinning back fist, and going up against guys who are a half-foot taller than me. I'm even getting better at grappling. I hold an orange belt and hope to test for purple soon.

What I've learned

Martial arts have helped me be a better writer (after all, mysteries and thrillers often contain an element of violence), as well as a stronger and more prepared person.

Women often deal with threats, even physical ones, with social behaviors. We ignore the people who threaten us or try to appease them. We try to ally ourselves with the person who made the threat by acting like we are really on their side.

But you know what? These skills won’t work on most predators. They won’t work on the person who sees your purse or phone as something they must have – and sees you as about as valuable as the packaging they originally came in. They especially won’t work on a predator who only wants to take you to someplace private so they can hurt, rape or kill you.

Sparring and grappling have taught me what it feels like to get hurt or simply experience the surprise of having someone attack you. Getting hit in the face or even having your hair pulled is shocking. In our culture, even close friends don’t touch our faces. Once you’re no longer a little child, no one even pats you on the head. Knowing a little something about surprise, pain and fighting back helps me write about them.

I can write authoritatively about fear, about how things blur, about the way people move and hold their bodies and eyes and mouths. I can tell when someone is about to hit me and where. The eyes focus, the breath catches and the shoulder drops or the hand goes back.

I also know how to hurt people – and that means my characters might be able to do it too.

A future book idea?

In a weird twist, a man who was looking for girls and woman to abduct was killed by police right outside my kung fu school a few months ago (you can even see my car in the top picture). He had already kidnapped a teenager from Paradise Tan.  She was only able to escape by jumping from his moving van while still bound with duct tape.  I am thinking there might be a book in there someplace.  Like what if he had taken a girl from the school?

cmpriest July 9 2014, 23:41

Yea we're the all time winners and here we go again

Here's today's progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 2571
    Present total word count: 94,009

    Things accomplished in fiction: Made a plan; drove out into the boonies; threw a seance by the light of a touring car's headlamps.

    Next up: Probably ought to discontinue this section, right about now.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; Writer Business emails and whatnot, largely related to BuboniCon at the end of this month; did some yard work that's gonna make me hurt tomorrow.

    Other: Tomorrow, Greyson's getting a playdate with wee adorable Fiona - and I'm hanging with my old friend friend Mikhaile. (There will be pictures, no doubt.) That'll go down in the morning, though. I'll still have time for work later in the afternoon.

    Yardwork Other: So....things had gotten pretty out-of-hand at the old herb garden corner. It'd been entirely taken over by crabgrass, even across the pea gravel path. Given another few weeks, it all would've overtaken the roses, too, and eventually our cute little Saint Francis statue. So I grabbed my hoe and yanked all the grass out, mere moments before the bottom dropped out and the whole scene got soaked down good. Before that happened, I also did a bunch of weeding, pruned back the old rose tree (it was reaching toward the power lines again), pruned the beautyberry bush and the quinces, and transplanted some of the coleus to another container (it was getting crowded, and something else died - making room).

    Bonus Other: Had a pretty great 30-minute thunderstorm - and as it petered out, we had sun + rain in the back yard, and dry-but-gray-skies in the front yard. And this.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 127,402
lproven July 9 2014, 21:48

And so to Slovakia. [Blog post, by me] #projectBrno

(Or, the Slovakian for "beer" is "Hodor!")

Letisko M. R. Štefánik -- the airport -- is big, bright and shiny and modern. Rather appealing. Bratislava is only about the same size as Brno -- under half a million inhabitants -- but it's a capital city and the difference shows in the airport. I took some Euros out from a handy ATM, cursing myself for failing to remember to bring my tiny hoard of them with me. A trip that covers three countries and three currencies needs more fiduciary planning than I gave it.

I connected my phone to the free Wifi and asked Google Maps for a route into the main station. Walk, it said unhelpfully. It'll only take an hour.

Little did I know that, as part of its master plan for incrementally crippling its most popular web properties, Google has revamped its Maps service with a new, shiny, simplified but far inferior user interface, just as it has done with Gmail. This includes removing its ability to route-plan via public transport in Brno -- and, I am guessing, Bratislava too. This is intensely aggravating, as that was something I used very heavily to navigate Brno's cheap, fast, frequent but confusingly intricate tram system.
Read more...Collapse )
blue_succubus July 9 2014, 19:26

Silver Shadows Round-up

You guys, it's July! Do you know what that means? It means Silver Shadows is coming out in English-speaking countries THIS MONTH! That's right. The US, Australia, Canada, and the UK will see the fifth installment in the Bloodlines series hitting shelves on July 29. Here's the latest news surrounding its release.


First Three Chapters are Live
Can't handle the suspense? Want a sneak peek of what's going to happen to Sydney and Adrian in Silver Shadows? You're in luck! Chapters 1-3 are now online for your viewing pleasure. Read them here.

I will be signing books and meeting fans in-person in Seattle and Portland to celebrate the book's release! And if you live in Chicago, Miami, or Lansing, PLEASE come out and meet me via Skype for our first-ever set of virtual events! Basically, you come to the bookstore at the designated time, and they'll have me live on a big screen, so that you can ask all your burning questions, and I'll do my best to answer. Those stores will also have autographed copies of Silver Shadows on sale (you can also pre-order from the store to make sure they don't run out) and will be doing all sorts of giveaways for copies of the VA movie DVD. These are going to be awesome events, so seriously...check them out! Dates and more details are here.

Book Trailers
If the first three chapters didn't cause you enough emotional angst, well, good news! Penguin Australia has just started releasing Silver Shadows book trailers, and they're awesome as usual. Go to their YouTube channel to see what's out so far.

Ordering Signed Books
Not going to be in Portland or Seattle for a book signing? Not near a store hosting a virtual event and selling signed copies of Silver Shadows? It's all good because you can still get a copy of SS or any of of my other titles autographed. My local bookstore is taking orders again, and they'll ship out at the end of this month. And yes, they ship internationally! See this page for all the details and deadlines.

More to Come
That's a lot of stuff, but believe it or not, there'll still be more stuff announced this month! More contests, more chances to talk to me, and maybe even more chapters! So stay tuned here, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever way you prefer for updates.

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