Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scenic Birmingham

All right, stalkers of the South. Here's your chance. I'm emerging from my hidey hole and I'll be...

Book Signing
4 - 6 pm
The Little Professor Bookstore
Homewood, AL (That's a Birmingham area.)

If you're in the area, stop by after school or work and chat with me. It's a charming store.

I've been holed up a bit in Chez BFF. Went to see Star Trek again. Watching movies on DVD. Drinking a lot of coffee and tea and chatting.

B'ham BFF and I have known each other a long time. We've always lived too far away, but when we were just out of college, with small incomes but no responsibilities, we used to get together with other BFFs any long weekends we could. We'd drink insane amounts of Diet Coke and play RP Games all weekend. Yes, I'm THAT kind of geek. Only, I would never admit this in my workplace. I had a very normal public persona. This is probably pretty hard for people to believe about me now.

But that's the great part of being (a) at a point in my life where it's okay people know I've always been a gamer, and (b) a writer, which everyone knows is the ultimate roleplaying experience. It's like gaming: the good parts version. You get all the dramatic parts, but get to edit out the wrong turns and the boring parts where your teammates argue for thirty minutes about the best way around a giant scaled and fanged threshold guardian.

ANyway. Adult responsibilities mean we don't get the whole crusading crew together much anymore (though B'hamBFF and I are headed up to TN this weekend to collect TNBFF). I know better than to get started play WoW or it's like, because that would be the END of my productivity. Which is not to say that I've given up the dice entirely. They tend to come out when I can't decide between path A and path B to the next major plot point.

But I do miss the weekends of all night gaming. I suspect a lot of this is nostalgia for that care free time in my life. But some of it is just missing the fun of finding treasure and laughing your (sleep deprived) ass off when the most deserving of your group forgets to check for traps and has to burn one of their lives when they get blown up.

So, question of the day: What beloved hobbies do you think of with nostalgia? Besides my dice throwing days, I also miss playing with Barbies. I love dressing them up, but mostly enacting complicated scenarios and stories with them. (Hm. THere's a trend here. This is doubtless the appeal of reading The Secret Life of Dolls.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Here's another field trip for you guys: www.cakewrecks.com. I just discovered this site, which is apparently pretty popular. Late to the party as usual, I guess. (It was a winner of the 2008 Bloggies.)

Since I love the Cake decorating challenges on the Food Network so much (not to mention Ace of Cakes), finding a whole blog full of wonderful and awful (but mostly awful, which is the fun part) cake decorating disasters was a whole MORNING wasted. Howeve, I did learn there's a name for the kind of cake that I like. A topsy turvy cake.



I've always thought they look like something out of a Dr. Seuss illustration, which makes this one just about perfect.

Dr. Seuss Cake (made by The People's Cake for a contest.

(The caption at cakewrecks says this was made by The People's Cake for a contest. A contest of COOL.

I was getting married again, I would TOTALLY have one, as topsy and turvy as they could make it.



Maybe not this much, though:



But my favorite cake themed discovery on Cake Wrecks has got to be this Lego person re-enactment of Eddie Izzard's "Cake or Death" bit. Funny as heck anyway, but somehow even more so with Lego People.



So here's your questions of the day:

Your perfect Event cake: Traditional or Whimsical?

Chocolate or Vanilla (Or other)?

Cake or Death?


(I've made myself very hungry... for cake.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Awesome Guest Appearance Hotness.

Hey! I keep trying to post this and keep getting pulled away from computer. NOT a productive day so far. Little Willow interviewed me for her blog as part of the Summer Blog Blast Tour. You should go read it, then go read the other authors. (But me first.)

It was a nice chatty interview. :-)

I finally saw Quantum of Solace. Wow, that's got some a-freaking-mazing action sequences. These make it well worth watching. Also, Daniel Craig is teh hawt when he's all glower-y and angst-y. Which is a good thing, since that's how he is for 99.99999% of this movie.

But I have to say, except for M, who rocks, the Bond reboot really isn't that much different in its depiction of women than the old one. Even the ones we're supposed to believe are tough and/or capable are still led to stupidity by their heart, and primarily use sex to achieve their agenda.

Obviously, I should spend less time analyzing motivations and sociological issues and more time enjoying ridiculous action and hawtness. I mean, it's James Bond. But. You know. I notice these things.

Anyway. Go read my interview. Less hawtness than a Bond babe, but only because you cannot see me in person.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Joys of Sharing a Refrigerator

I used up all my deep, philosophical insight (no really) on my guest blog post over on Lucienne Diver's blog. So you should go read it. Because the only thing I could think of to write for MY blog this this morning was the joys of sharing a refrigerator.

1) Someone is always eating your stuff. I know that when you're married, what's yours is mine, blah blah blah. But seriously. When I take a break from writing at midnite and go to the freezer to reward my work with a spoonful of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, I want to find some Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, and not the crappy fat free stuff that no one likes.

2) People don't put things back in logical order. The refrigerator is designed for certain stuff to go in certain places. It works better that way. When you stick stuff in all havey cavey, one can't find it, or one thinks one is out and buys more (see below), and two, it makes a cluttered, messy fridge and gives me a headache. (And yes I do have a spot on the couch where no one can sit but me. Why do you ask?)

3) People don't use the last of something before opening a new one. I looked in the overcrowded fridge door the other day, and there were THREE open jars of salsa. "What's wrong with this picture?" I said. "Well," says Mr. RCM, "I opened a new jar by accident." Me: "And the third jar?" Him: "I think that's old." Me: "So why not throw it out?" (THe same could be said for the extra open jar of jalapenos, can of adobo, and the jar of salad olives which is mostly just pimento.) Which leads me to...

4) The useless amount of product left in the jar/bottle/carton so that the offender will not have to be the one to rinse out the container for recycling. This also goes for leftovers left WAY too long, because throwing them out would mean washing the container. And people get away with it, because they get pushed into the back of the fridge and hidden (see point #2).

5) No matter how redundant the contents, they are never exactly what you need. This morning I went to make myself some cereal, and we have FOUR cartons of milk and a bottle of some kind of liquid yogurt stuff my mom bought. One is dairy milk, which I can't drink that much of, and of the three kinds of soy milk, none are appropriate for my cereal--they're all flavored. *grumble* So everyone has their own milk but me.

Which is, of course, what spurred this extremely whiny post on the hazards of cohabitation. And of course you know *I* have absolutely no annoying, passive aggressive habits that make me hard to live with.

So, make me feel better. What does your roommate, significant other, parent or sibling do that drives you nuts? Go ahead and dish. I won't tell on you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book givaway, vampires, and highway sightings.

In honor of the release of Lucienne Diver's novel Vamped, the Shooting Stars are giving away a whole prize package. There's a quiz involved, so brush up on your vampire lore, and head over to enter.

The prizes? Signed copies of the aforementioned Vamped, Prom Dates From Hell, by yours truly, and the first book in the Morganville Vampires series, by Rachel Caine. Plus a glow in the dark bumper sticker*, PLUS a Goth trivia board game. I wonder how Lisa would do on that?

I'll be giving away a copy of Lucienne's book next week. I was going to do it this week, but though I thought I ordered two copies of Vamped from Amazon (one to keep, of course), I accidentally ordered two copies of this. So, I guess you know what else I'll be giving away soon.

--
*Probably similar to the one on Rachel's car, which is how I identified her when I blew past her on the highway a few weeks ago. True story. We live in the same major metropolitan area. Her car is distinctive in the first place, but the "Morganville" sticker narrowed it down further. I was driving Mr. RCM's POS Ford, so I was too embarrassed to make a spectacle of myself by honking and waving.

(The Cherokee is pretty distinctive, too, having been through a hard former life as a Ranch Vehicle. There's a story about how I'd had it a week when a cow leaned against it and made a big dent. Then I dropped a stage platform on the bumper. I also loaded it up with the set for a festival play, and drove all the way to College Station with a giant dragon head on the roof rack. That Jeep has seen some action.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Coming Events--Birmingham, AL

Hey guys. I've got a road trip coming up. I'll be speaking and signing in Birmingham, AL in just a few weeks.

Speaking on
Saturday, May 23
"Method Writing: using the actor's toolbox to enliven your prose"
Southern Magic RWA
Homewood Public Library
Meeting at 1 PM, Program to follow.

Signing!
Wednesday, May 27
4 - 6 PM
The Little Professor Bookstore
2717 S. 18th Street
Homewood, AL

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Rose by any other name...

Character names.

So, I totally stole this topic from Tina Ferraro over on Boys, Books, Buzz Blog. I think this is the second time I've done that. But I started to answer this in the comments, and it sort of got out of control, so I thought, hell, I'll just make my own blog entry. So go click over there and give her some love, so she doesn't hate me.

Anyway. How we name characters is a question we authors get alot (I know I do, and from Tina's post, I guess she does, too.) They have to fit the character, and a lot of times they convey deeper meaning as well. Plus, you're going to have to type them a lot, so it's better to give it thought and not pick something you hate.

Maggie Quinn, the protagonist of the Girl vs. Evil series, was a character in search of a story, when I got the germ of the idea for Prom Dates From Hell. She as also named last name first. Her original concept was as a kind of female Kolchak (from the 70's TV show, the Nightstalker, which was the inspiration behind X-Files), so oddly enough, she's named after another 70's rerun staple--Quincy (Quincy, M.E. was about a medical examiner who solved mysteries. This was before C.S.I., Kathy Reichs and Bones, etc., and so even cheesy 70's reruns were addictive because there was nothing else like it. I also loved Columbo. These were all shown in rerun every afternoon, back when cable tv was only 20 channels or something.)

ANYway. Her first name "Maggie" just popped into my head from there. It went with the Irish/Gaelic flavor of the last name, it was both girlish but also rather down to earth. You'd expect it to belong to some hard working Irish washerwoman.

What's really funny is that her full name, Magdalena, emerged as a complete surprise to me. Proof that my subconscious is often smarter than I am. By then I knew that Maggie wasn't just going to be investigating your average zombies or vampires. She was going up against the forces of darkness, and she needed a name with some weight to it.

Oh, and further proof that our subconscious is weird? I was three books in when someone pointed out to me that Maggie and Lisa are Bart Simpson's sisters. That is completely unintentional. Oops.

Justin is named after a rat in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I loved that book (and that movie, even though they were substantially different.) But Justin was a young, handsome and noble sort of rat in both, so it works.

Lisa, by the way, has no deeper significance. Except that, like Maggie, she doesn't go by her birth name. And I'll just leave you with that big ol' teaser. :-D

Here's my question: Do you think your name fits you, as a character in your own story? Personally, I'm on the fence on this question. Rosemarys are kind of all over the place as far as image. We have not fared well in American movies, though books have been kinder to us. (And video games, oddly enough. Though still the brainy girl, I notice.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

5 Non-Spoilery Things about Star Trek

If you've ever seen ONE episode of ST:TOS, you will not be at all surprised or spoiled to know that in the new Star Trek movie:

1) Chekov and Scotty have wonderfully horrible accents. :-D
2) McCoy is a doctor not a [insert any other profession here].
3) The Enterprise is awesome, but does not have seat belts.
4) Spock struggles to balance his human emotions with his Vulcan logic.
5) Kirk gets the crap beat out of him. A lot. And it is awesome.

What else can I say? Don't come late, because this movie is firing broadsides within the first 30 seconds. It is action action action. Take some Dramamine if you're susceptible, as I am, to motion sickness. Lots of that handheld camera-style. I didn't love that, but it added to the frantic, exciting pace of the movie.

Humor, drama, emotion, action. Faithful in spirit to the original, but not slavishly devoted to it. Many in jokes for the fans, but a story that stands on it's own. McCoy was always my favorite, and he gets some great moments here. Loved New!Kirk and adore New!Spock. Well, *everyone* got a moment to shine--Sulu kicked ass! But the story, as it should, revolved around Kirk and Spock, and the dawning of their relationship. And kicking ass.

When I was a kid, we had Star Trek on every afternoon. My mom was a fan, and I grew up with Kirk, Spock and McCoy as honorary uncles. Their comradeship, that thick and thin friendship, was my take away from that show.

So, here's the question of the day: Did you watch any of the Treks on TV? Did they affect you growing up? What's so attractive about those shows? Is it the exploring unknown territory, like sailors of old. Or the comradeship of the crew? Or those spiff uniforms. (Come on. I know there are some jumpsuit lovers out there.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Love of Writing... and Prizes!

I spent the weekend at the DFW Writer's Conference, and it was a good one. I can say that because, except for teaching classes and lending my shining, celebrity presence, I didn't have anything to do with organizing the thing. The conference committee worked extremely hard to pull off an excellent conference. Multiple tracks of programing from a wide range of authors and other professionals, six agents taking one-on-one pitches, two lunches with entertaining speakers, a wealth of information, smoothly run, despite inevitable hiccups... Kudos to those guys.

The next conference, by the way, is set for April 9-11, 2010. Mark your calendars.

I spoke on Writing for Teens (Even if you Aren't One). I joked on Twitter that this meant I had to pretend I know what I'm doing. As people have asked me to speak on this subject, I've had to retroactively figure out what it is that makes Prom Dates From Hell (et al.) a good *YA* book. Because I just wrote a book *I* wanted to read. So it's only the 'writing for teens' part that I feel like a bit of a fraud. But not really, beause I *have* done a lot of research into it. Just after the fact. I *do* know what I'm doing as far as writing a good book is concerned.

I hope Mom doesn't read that. There's a Dutch word for the curse you give yourself when you say that you're good at something. I really did grow up being told by my mother that I was brilliant and could do anything, but I should never compliment myself, or I would curse myself and lose whatever I'd just been bragging about. No wonder I'm so neurotic. Which is why I joke about these things. Because promotion is all about telling people how great you/your books are, and I guess I'm trying to dodge the curse by equaling things out!

Yes, promotion is hell for me. Though I'm not special. The keynote speaker at the conference was Bob Mayer, who mentioned in his speech that on the Myers-Briggs Personality test the "writer" type is the polar opposite from the "marketer" type. One more reason why writing is something of a masochistic profession.

Seriously. The other irony is that a lot of writers tend to be Type A control freaks. We like to write because on the page we have complete and utter control of the universe. It's like being God and Dungeon Master combined. But if course where the *business* is concerned, once you have turned in the best book possible... you really have zero control. You can do promo, and Twitter, and do blog tours and build buzz--which, don't get me wrong, does help--but ultimately, you have no control over whether Meg Cabot or Stephanie Meyer (or both) are going to release a book with your *same title* the week after your book comes out. :-)

Writers have to LOVE to write. Otherwise, it's not worth it. Very few of us get paid enough to make it worth all the stress, angst and hassle. But most of us would do it for our own pleasure even if we weren't getting paid. (Which is why I respect writers who write only for themselves or their friends.)

But of course, if you do want to be published professionally, there's a whole other level of stuff you've got to do. Join a critique and/or professional education group. Go to workshops and conferences. Read books about writing and selling your book. Pay attention to what's on the market, and how books are selling.

Though ultimately, it comes down to the craft. What you write. DO you write? Or do you just talk about writing and go to workshops and read books about writing.

Writers love to write. I guess that what *I* got out of the conference this weekend, being around such good energy from other writers is just that reminder. It's not just about being hungry to sell. It's about loving what we do.

So answer in the comments: What are YOU good at? It can be some part of the writing craft you do well, or some other hobby or sport. Go on. If someone asks, it's a curse loophole. I checked. Tell me something YOU do well.

I'll draw a name from the comments to win a copy of the latest book I loved: Going Too Far, by Jennifer Echols.