Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moving Day

Hey peeps.  Are you looking for the latest posts?  The most exciting news?  Are you beginning to wonder if I'm dead?  

I've moved my blog over here.  I was double posting for awhile, but that takes, you know, remembering to do it. 

So check out the brand new, just announced today news, reset your bookmarks and RSS feeds and come on over.  


Monday, July 16, 2012

Rosemary vs. the Unknown Substance

I am a sensitive delicate flower, as much as I would like to reflect the hearty Dutch stock of my maternal ancestors, or the paint-yourself-with-woad-and-evict-the-Romans-from-your-country ferocity of my paternal lineage. Really, I would. But mostly I just inherited a propensity for sunburn and a love of cheese.

 That said, I’m sensitive to a lot of things: perfume, chemicals, artificial sweetener, the heat, direct sunlight...  But I’m not actually officially allergic to much. THAT I KNOW OF. 

But Thursday I woke up with a swollen spot on the side of my mouth that spread across the rest of my lip until I looked like a refugee from a collagen implant clinic. 

Then Friday morning, I woke up with my tongue swollen. I mean swollen like Harry Potter’s Aunt Marge. (Not all of me. Just my tongue. And just one side.)  So I sit there thinking, “I wonder when my doctor’s office opens. I think I might should go in and see him.”  

No, really. I think this. Because I don’t want to make a big fuss. Also, because I know they’re going to ask me what I got into, and I don’t know, so they’re just going to think I’m crazy. 

Then Mom came into the kitchen and said, “How are your lips, Angelina?” 

And I replied, “Mmmph ughng ishhh shhughn uh.”

And Mom said, “HolycrapgetinthecarERrightnow.”

(Actually, Mom stayed very calm, which is funny because she’s kind of high strung. You know how mothers can lift cars off their children or fight off bears or whatever? My mother’s version of this is to become absolutely calm and rational in any crisis where her children are threatened.)

So, ER. They were very impressed with the size of my tongue, and various shades of amused by my attempts to articulate words like “blood pressure” and “anaphylaxis” and “tracheotomy.”   They were also baffled by what caused it, when I added nothing new--no new foods, drugs, toothpaste, cosmetics... nada. 

Best quote of the day:

Physician’s Asst. (eyeing my lips):  So, these days I have to ask. Is this a normal look for you? 

Me: Argh oo eereeughs? 

PA: Yes. You’d be surprised what people will pay good money to do to themselves.

Anyway.  Twelve hours in the ER and a whole lot of Benedryl and steroids later, they sent me home, content that no one was going to have to perform a kitchen tracheotomy with a steak knife and a drinking straw. 

Of course that meant I slept for, like, two days and I’m crazy behind on EVERYTHING and I’m going to California next week and OMG so much to do. 

But hey.  Like everything else that happens in my life, there’s got to be good material in there somewhere. 

How can work this episode into my next book?  Rowling already had the engorgeo charm. Allergic potion reaction?  Failed Plastic Sorcery attempt? Post your brilliant ideas in the comments. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Upcoming Events

After I posted the Spirit and Dust cover, a bunch of you added it on Goodreads. Thanks so much! I'm excited about it, too. I'm thinking about a contest for an ARC or two when we get closer to the release.

(It seems like forever, but time flies. And Brimstone comes out between now and then, for those of you who haven't read the Maggie Quinn books. Or those of you who are completists and want every edition. I don't judge.)

As for Spirit and Dust, I'll have some more information about what it's all about later this week.

In the meantime, if you want to come see me on an awesome panel, I'll be at the Realm of the Unknown party at Irving Library on July 19th from 2-3pm

Other authors attending are:
Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe and A Million Suns
Jackson Pearce, author of As You Wish, Sisters Red, Sweetly, and Purity
Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose, and The Invisibility Curse
Marie Lu, author of Legend and Prodigy

We'll be talking science fiction, fairytales, paranormal, and dystopians. It's open to teens in grades 6-12.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Project Playlist

I've been talking for weeks about my revisions, and I've got something cool to reveal tomorrow. TOMORROW! To tide you over until then here's the playlist for this book. Yes, this book has a playlist. It's THAT COOL.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ask a Writer Day

I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook for questions--anything you'd like to know about my books, writing or opinions, and I'd answer... or pretend I know the answer.  

From @JadeZupancic on Twitter: 

Q: What is the most difficult part of a book to write for you?
A: Chapter 3. 
No, really. There’s something about Chapter 3 that just stops me every time. I rewrite it five ways. I sit and stare at it on the Great Whiteboard of Plotting. I don’t bang my head on the desk too much, because I know I’ve got the rest of the book to worry about. But still. Stupid Chapter 3. 
There are other places I stall out every time, too. Like page 287.  Somewhere around there I’ll start with the rewriting and the staring and the head banging, and then I’ll look at the page count and go, “Oh, well, of course. It’s page 287.” 
It might be because I always know the opening of a book, and I usually know the ending, or at least the who, what and where of the ending. The parts I have the hardest time writing are the transitions. 
Sometimes I just skip ahead to Chapter 4. 
From Brandy Jones on Facebook: 
Q: Are you working on more books of the Maggie Quinn or Texas Gothic type. 
A: Thanks for asking!  Yes.  My next project should make fans of both happy. (And if you don’t know who Maggie Quinn is, you have a chance to catch up with BRIMSTONE, which comes out in September.) 
Watch this space for more info soon. 
From @karinacooper on Twitter:
Q: You’re stranded on a desert island with a romance hero. Who would it be and why? 
A: I can tell you who it would not be. A vampire. 
It’s hard for me to name anyone specific. Fortunately I always go for the strong, capable type. I guess I’d want an adventurer, with good survival in the wild skills. But mostly, I’m too worried about sand, snakes and sunburn to feel very romantic. 
Q: (part B) And when you aren't knocking boots like wild desert island monkeys, what are your "trapped on a desert island" reads?
A: Monkeys are creepy and I mentioned my aversion to sand and heat, right?  
However, I get the gist. Desert Island reads.  Hmmmm... All of Madeline L’Engle’s books. Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series. All of Barbara Michaels books and the complete works of Agatha Christie. Those are things I can read over and over. (That I can think of off hand.) 
From Melissa Meredith on Facebook: 
Q: Why is the second installment in a trilogy always the best?
A: I have no idea. Maybe because you’re done with the set up, everyone knows where they are, so there’s lots of rollicking adventure before the Big Terrible Stuff happens in the last book? 
From Casey Anthony on Facebook: 
Q: Because of the interview you did I am now really really really curious as to what D&D Lisa's last name is! :)
A: (She’s talking about this interview on Wonderland.) 
And yeah, I’m curious, too. ;-)
Got a question? Ask it in the comments! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Writing "Process," The Pictorial Guide

As an individual, I generally have it more or less together. On the whole. Relatively speaking. (I can hear some of you laughing right now.)   But I have a secret. (Another secret, besides not being able to spell, which might not be a secret to anyone who reads this blog.)  Writing makes me a slob.

When I start a project (a new book, or a big revision, whatever) I work steadily. More or less. Sometimes work looks like staring into space or going to the museum or surfing the Internet. But I'm planning it all out, imagining scenes, working on the high and low points of the plot.

I work steadily, but I also second guess myself, write chapters three (and four and five) different ways, spend a day on a page (but a really great page!) and generally over think everything.

Then, at some point, I hit my stride. Sometimes it's because I finally know the characters and plot or I get where I can see the end and how to get there... and sometimes it's because OMG the book has to be done.

So I do nothing but write. I sort of love this part, though my family and friends hate it. I eat, breathe and dream in book world. This is the time when you do NOT want to be on the road with me, because I'm basically thinking about my book all the time.

I'm also actually physically working on my book all the time. I also eat an awful lot of these:

So when I start out I look like this:

And my desk looks like this:

Along the way my desk starts to look like this:

And my dog starts to look like this:

And I start to look like this:

But I'm better now. Expect announcements SOON about the new thing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Secret Writer Shame

Words I cannot spell without the spell checker:

  • Caribbean
  • sergeant 
  • medieval
  • satellite
  • bureau
  • caffeine (ironically)
  • occasion 
  • jeopardy 
  • jealousy 

  • Actually, I can spell them correctly NOW, because the spell checker has trained me. But every time I type them, I have to consciously remind myself: two p’s, s not t, put an i in there somewhere... and so on. 
    Or I just take random stabs at it until the little red line goes away.
    Because some words I don’t even get close enough for the spell checker to take a stab at. Like...

    • silhouette
    • camouflage 
    • guarantee 
    I am not lying--one day I had to type “shadow” then pull up the thesaurus (ha! Got that one on the first try!) and look for ‘silhouette’ among the synonyms. 
    Do you even have to take spelling tests in school any more? (You wouldn’t know it from some of the posts on the Internet... Including mine sometimes.)  Well, spelling tests were the bane of my existence. So when I told my guidance counsellor (there’s another word) that I wanted to write books, she said, quote, “Oh, your spelling is much too bad to be a writer. And your grades in English aren’t that great, either. You need to stick with the sciences.” 
    (Just as an aside--when I had English teachers I loved, I had fantastic grades. It’s always easier to read books you don’t want to read if you get to discuss them with a teacher who’s opinion you value.) 
    Anyway. She was the grown up, and I figured I could write books no matter what I had a degree in. College is really about learning to learn, getting a firm foundation for the knowledge your going to spend the rest of your life stacking on top of it. My advice to young want-to-be-writers is get a degree in something you will like doing, because it’s can be a long road to selling a book.
    So THAT part wasn’t bad guidance. The REAL whammy was someone telling me I was unqualified for what I loved to do. Even though I had one of those new-fangled computer things (which my counsellor had apparently never heard of, because they didn’t have spell-check on stone tablets), the lesson--”You are only good enough to do this as a hobby.”--stuck. 
    Fast forward ten years, when I’d been writing as a “hobby” and talking about writing a book but not following through. And I looked at my writing, and I looked at the books that were on the shelves, and I said, “You idiot. The only difference between them and you is THEY have managed to finish a book. You’ll never know if you suck at this until you DO it.” 
    So I did it. And it worked out pretty well.  I guess I don’t suck at it. 
    Of course, spell check and a good proofreader help. 
    Now, it could just as easily have turned out that I wasn’t a great writer, and that no one but my mother would see my genius. There are people who love to sing but sound like a dying cat when they do. 
    My point is not “Ignore everyone who tells you not to follow your dream.”  It’s: "Don’t let anything stop you from trying."
    Fact: I’m a bad speller. So I learned to use spell check.
    Fact: I needed to support myself while I learned to write more better. So I got a degree in something I was good at. 
    Fact: People asked me, “When are you going to get a real job?”  So I stopped talking about writing and submitting a book and actually, you know, wrote and submitted one. I made it my real job by working at it, not necessarily by succeeding at it. (Though that helps shut people up.) 
    Then there’s this: If you sing like a dying cat, you may never be on American Idol (except maybe the audition show).  But don’t let anything ever stop you from singing in the shower. 
    Question: What are YOU bad at?  Do you love to do it anyway? Have you gotten better, or do you just do it for the love of doing it?

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Define "Interesting"

    I’m really thrilled to get to present an award at the RWA’s Award Ceremony at the National Conference in July.  It's kind of a big deal. Everyone wears fancy dress, there are multi-media presentations and jumbo screens and teleprompters. (Then there’s the RITA award itself, which is quite beautiful. Mine lives on my desk next to my action figures.)

    Me and RITA in 2009
    In a way, being a presenter is even better than being an award finalist, because you get to have all the fun of dressing up without the stress. But there's this voice over that happens while you’re walking to the podium, and it says things like “New York Times bestselling author of 150 books” or whatever.

    My intro doesn’t say that. It says some cool things about awards and how much librarians like me and stuff.  But not that.

    When I was filling out the form about it WOULD say, the last question is “Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that we might put in your introduction?”

    Which is a conundrum.

    What, exactly, would other people consider interesting?  I can quote 90% of the libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and sing at least five of them. Is this what they mean?

    Pink, purple and green are my favorite colors. I love dogs and also otters and foxes. I’m sort of obsessed with Russell Crowe when he’s in fighting trim and kinda even when he isn’t. I won’t sit in a seat that’s warm from someone else’s body heat and I hate my food to touch.

    Which doesn’t even factor in this: What is interesting about me... that I would want people to know.

    So I asked my assistant what was interesting about me. There followed a text exchange of escalating ridiculousness.

    Here’s what we came up with. Some of these may even be true.

    Rosemary Clement-Moore is...

    • An acclaimed beekeeper and, on a related note, bear wrestler.
    • Guilty of stealing JK Rowling’s seat on an airplane.
    • Living in a half completed Skull Mountain Fortress.
    • Currently building a replica of Easter Island in her backyard.
    • The bass guitarist in world renowned garage band Chain Mail Bikini, formerly known as Teenage Mutant Musketeer.
    • Understudy to a Tina Fey impersonator.
    • Perfecting her archer skills to prepare for the the Dystopian future.

    Add your own ideas in the comments. Points for creativity and absurdity. If you make me snort coffee through my nose, you win a prize.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Girl vs. Lawn

    Recently, I have become responsible for mowing my own lawn.

    This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to a lot of you. Or maybe it sounds lazy or sexist (after all, I can clean house like nobody’s business). But it is what it is... Or was. I have never had to mow the lawn before.*

    It didn’t start well. It didn’t start at all, because the first thing I discovered was that the lawnmower was kaput and would take an Actual Lawnmower Repairman to fix.

    Since the Home Owners Association won’t let me get a herd of goats (even a small one), I had to get my hands on a functioning lawn mower. And since an Actual Lawnmower Repairman costs money, and I am going to be the New Mower of the Lawn, I decided to get a rechargeable electric mower because it’s:

    • Better for the environment
    • Not dependent on my filling it with gasoline, which is icky and smelly.**

    But the situation is getting dire, because the grass is now two weeks long. And I have small dogs. I’m worried I’m going to lose one of them.

    Worse, I’m worried what might be taking up residence in my lawn. My suburban back yard could turn into a scene from Death in the Long Grass.

    Or there could be gnomes. Or velociraptors.  This could happen:

    So I look up what I want online and go to Home Depot. They have rows and rows of mowers: riding mowers with cup holders, push mowers with air conditioning... It’s a car lot of lawn mowers, but there is only ONE electric mower model in house. And it’s out of stock.

    So the Home Depot Associate says: Well, I do have one in the back. It’s a return but it works perfectly well.

    Me: Sold.

    We get the thing in the Jeep and get it home and I call @peterthefencer to come over and help me get it back OUT of the Jeep, and then I charge it up and I read the instruction manual and I look up online How to Mow a Lawn.

    Apparently there is a Great Debate over side to side mowing versus a spiral patterns. I mean a Great Debate. It’s like the Big-Endians and Little-Endians. I went with: However the heck I can manage to push it.

    Because my bargain basement returned-but-working-perfectly electric rechargeable lawnmower is not self-propelled (none of them are). It’s RCM propelled.

    And here’s what else I found out. My yard only LOOKS flat. That five degree slope is like freaking Everest when you’re trying to turn a lawnmower on it. Especially when one’s small stature puts one at a severe leverage disadvantage.****

    The first time took me an hour and a half and a couple of breaks. There may have been pointing and laughing from the pothead teens across the street. There may have been some swearing. There may have been gnomes.
    Not My Lawn

    But at last it was done! It looked (mostly) great. I felt such a great sense of accomplishment!  I was high-fiving the dogs and doing a victory lap around the yard (a slow, tired victory lap).

    And then I realized I was going to have to do it again the next week.

    And the week after.

    And twice a week in full summer. You can’t give those gnomes an inch, or they’ll encroach right back in.

    I think I hear them singing their Elton John war chant right now.

    Maybe I’ll clone some velociraptors to keep them out. That would take care of my home security as well. Though I suspect if the HOA objects to goats, they won’t go for genetically engineered dinosaurs, either.

    But if I had velociraptors, I wouldn’t have to worry about the HOA, either.

    Jurassic Security System

    *Ironically, I have mown a pasture before, but that was on a tractor. Not the same thing as wielding a Toro in the suburbs.
    **Mostly this last one.
    ****This is why I’m in equal danger from gnomes as I am velociraptors. Also, gnomes are creepy.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Awesome Things

    There has been no new blog post for a week because...

    1. I'm eyebrow deep in rewrites.

    2. I taught/led/participated in six workshops/panels at DFW Writers Conference, which was awesome and cool and gave me the boost I need to dive back in to reason number one.  (See P.S. below.)

    3. My Friend Kate linked to this on her Tumblr and I've watched it five times:
     Happy Reading / Writing / Final Exam Taking / Whatever is keeping YOU busy this May! TTYL!

    PS  Are you a writer? Want to experience the awesomeness of an RCM class from the comfort of your own couch? I'm teaching Loglines, Queries and Pitches through the Young Adult chapter of RWA ONLINE the last week of June. Here is a link to register. It's $20 for non YARWA members, but even if you're not ready to pitch your book, it's valuable information on things to make sure you put IN your book to make it irresistible when you do get ready to submit.

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Brimstone cover reveal and a little something extra

    I've mentioned before that the first two books of the Girl vs. Evil series are being released in a new edition in September.

    Without further ado, I present the cover of BRIMSTONE.

    Here's the cover copy:
    Slinking down the streets, hiding in the shadows, always lurking just out of sight, evil follows Maggie Quinn. It's no ordinary, everyday evil, either—it's Evil with a capital E, and whatever's behind it, it clearly wants Maggie.

    But Maggie isn't the type of girl to go down without a fight. She has a few powerful tricks up her sleeve, not to mention a best friend who's a witch, and she's declaring open season on demons.
    BRIMSTONE is available on September 11, 2012.

    In honor of Maggie's new digs, I'm giving away something.

    Answer these three questions in the comments section correctly to enter to win a signed copy of your choice of any of my books (including BRIMSTONE, you just have to wait a little longer).

    1. What is one thing Maggie is afraid of?
    2. What's Maggie's preferred way of dispatching demons?
    3. What is the name of Maggie's best friend?

    Bonus (for tie-breaking):

    4. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Good luck!

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Earth's Mightiest Heroes

    Here's what is obvious about The Avengers:  It is an awesome thrill ride, absolutely jam packed with action, badassery, wit, and heart. It's that truly rare thing: a movie that is both fun to watch and really, really well-crafted.

    Here's what is less obvious:  It's a story about superheroes that is really about humanity. 

    So. Much. Awesome.

    Wait. Maybe that's obvious, too. Some part of superhero stories reflects our human condition. But a lot of times, the superhero is a larger than life Greek Tragedy figure who serves to Teach Us A Lesson. With great power comes great responsibility. The mutants in X-men represent the scary Other that must be controlled or killed. The X-men fight to save a society that hates them. Batman is… Well, Batman is just wackadoo. 

    (Which sort of brings me to the trend of "dark" in superheroes. There's a certain breed of "super" that is watchable/readable because it IS so removed from what we are. Deadpool, Spawn, anything by Frank Miller. I feel like Nolan's Batman, for all that I love the mind-twists that Nolan does with that, gets further away from his humanity, even as he makes sacrifices (or "sacrifices") for the good of Gotham or whatever. )

    But okay, back to the Avengers. With the notable exception of Thor, everyone on the Avengers team started off as an actual human. They were transformed by science or technology.  The team was assembled by a human. Contrast that with the X-men [geek warning], who exist in the same comic book universe. They are mutants, different at their genetic core. Magneto calls them homo-superior, the next wave in evolution. Whenever the Avengers and the X-men show up at the same comic book party, there's a distinct difference: The Avengers are Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The X-men are Earth's outcasts, who fight for a world that hates and fears them. 

    Both of those are cool stories worth exploring, but they're different. The X-men are mutants in search of humanity.  The Avengers, in all of their origin movies and to some extent here, are humans who need to find their inner superhero. 

    And what's really cool about that is that the director (Joss Whedon, for those of you living under a rock) allows for  moments when the most non-superpowered people in the film find their inner hero.  Men and women on the street. People with no powers at all but the fact that they volunteered for a tough job. Dweebish SHIELD agents. 

    Those are just moments, light touches that flavor the movie but don't detract from the central story. This band of humans (or Asgardians) has to find their inner superhero, and then they have to find (stumble and fight, really) their way to being a super-team. 

    The thing that really blows my mind in this movie is how Whedon gives every single member of the team a character arc that seamlessly fits into the whole picture. Managing to give every character their moment without dragging down the story or the pace (except one or two scenes, maybe) is pretty amazing feat. 

    Equally amazing is that you don't notice the craftsmanship and the intricate framework of character story and overreaching theme while you're watching. You're just being blown away by the logarithmic awesome that's on the screen. 

    Here's something else I loved about it. Whedon holds nothing back for the sequel. He goes full out, how-could-you-ever-top-this spectacle. He shoots down EVERYTHING. 

    There were so many hero shots, so much something something ominous badass, so much heart-twisting sniffle, cheer out loud, laugh, snort, gasp and squee in this movie I cannot wait to go see it again for stuff I missed. 

    So… highly, highly recommend this movie, both for the craft, the intelligent script, and most of all for the not-holds-barred spectacle of awesome. 

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    For DFW Writer's Workshop members. (You know who you are.)  Wednesday, May 9th I'm leading a mini-workshop on pitching your book to an agent or editor, in preparation for the DFW Writers' Conference.

    If you did not get the handout in an email from DFWWW, you can view it online here or download it here (download starts automatically).

    I will not have paper copies at the workshop, so print it out or bring it on your phone/tablet/parchment scroll, whatever.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    My Day at Ye Olde Faire

    So, don't tell anyone, Internet, but on Sunday I played hooky from book revisions to go with my girlfriends to the nearby renaissance festival, Scarborough Faire. No, my friends are not named Parsley, Sage and Thyme. That would be weird (but awesome). Though possibly not as weird (but awesome) as some of the things we saw at the ren faire.

    One of us had never been to such a thing before, and marveled at the amount of work people put into their costumes and crafts.

    Only one of us dressed in costume. (Though more of us could have, if we'd been so inclined. As someone once said, "Fandom means never having to ask yourself 'But where will I wear that?'")
    One of us measured distance by pub lengths. We'll call her "Sage" because it starts with the same letter as "Sarcastic." Sarcastic people are even funnier when they're slightly drunk.

    One of us asked a whole lot of weaponry questions and made many friends with reenactors that way. (Seriously, if you want to get on a nerd's good side, just ask him about his hobby.)

    All of us had a great time, which I will recap for you in a feature I like to call…

    10 Things We Said at the Ren Faire

    1) *Cannon shot goes off* "Another tribute has fallen." *beat* "Hungerrrrr Gaaaames!"

    2) "We should start a band called 'Chain Mail Bikini.'"

    3) "There were no health codes in the renaissance." Me: "I am SO not eating here."

    4) "Where do you suppose I could get a headman's axe like that?"

    5) "Do you think they have the chupacabra in the Museum of Monsters?"

    6) *Handsome knights ride bay on horseback.* "Dibs on the paladin."

    7) Thyme: "Do you think that lady would mind if I take a picture of her dress?" Sage: "Yes. I'm sure she put all that work into her costume so people would NOT be impressed by it."

    8) *Guy with wheelbarrow goes by.* Parsley, "Bring out your dead!"

    9) Me: "Who's your new friend." Parsley, dressed as a witch with a cat-type thing on her shoulder, "I don't know, but he totally made out with my familiar."

    10) "Want to make something art in the renaissance? Put an 'e' on it."

    And finally, pictures:




    I am, by the way, a natural with the bow. HUNGGGGER GAAAAAMES!!!!

    Okay readers. Poll time!  If you could time travel to any point in history (AND have running water and sanitary food preparation conditions) when would it be?

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Anthropological Me

    Spring makes me crazy. 

    I want to do crazy things like buy a bicycle and bike to the grocery and the coffee shop like I lived in some quaint English village on BBC, ignoring the fact that in a few weeks it will be 90 degrees by 8:30 in the morning and the closest coffee shop is the Starbucks on the Interstate. 
    Not me.

    I would fill the basket (because of course the bicycle would have a basket on the handlebars) with delicious fresh produce that I will bring home and actually eat. And maybe a baguette. Spring makes me want to be the girl from the Anthropologie catalogue. 

    Hey, maybe I’ll go to the farmer’s market instead! 

    Or maybe I’ll plant a vegetable garden, in addition to the flower beds I want to put in and lovingly tend, even though the summer heat and drought watering restrictions will doom them to a short, but beautiful, existence. 

    Not my house.
    Spring makes me break out my rose scented dusting powder so I smell as old fashioned as my name.

    Apparently spring turns me into Miss Marple. All I need to do is solve crime. 

    I have coffee on the porch. I clean my office and find utility bills from 2008 behind my desk. I make huge stacks of books to give to the library. I actually dust my ceiling fan. 

    None of this will last, of course. By the end of May I’ll be hibernating during the daylight hours, away from the heat and car exhaust. I’ll contribute to it by driving to the grocery store for Tostitos and Reeses peanut butter cups. 

    But at least the weather will no longer be such a temptation pulling me away from work. 

    Do you get spring fever? What do you long to do when the weather gets nice, even if it’s totally impractical. 
    (P.S. In looking for pictures, I discovered that not only does Anthropology carry bicycles like the one above, but cruiser bikes have become quite the thing. If I point out that I had one of those in college and was mocked for it, does that make me a hipster?)

    I cannot lie...

    ... this fox amuses me. And it looks eerily like my dog Penny on a bad day.  

    Funny Animal Gifs - Animal Gifs: This Is How I Feel About the Subject
    see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Teaser Tag

    Today's post is one of those memes where you tag people, which I haven't seen since I moved over from Livejournal. Awesome. So someone tagged me, and here you go. If you're a writer, feel free to play along in the comments. 
    • Go to page 77 of your current manuscript.
    • Go to line 7.
    • Copy the next 7 lines/sentences and post them as they're written. No cheating.
    • Tag 7 other victims... er, authors.

    Thanks to Candace Havens for giving me something to post about today.

    Just how much magic were we talking about here? Maybe I should work up to that, in case it was a terrifying answer.
    “Let’s start with the basics,” I said. “Who had means, motive and opportunity to kidnap Alexis Maguire.”
    Carson folded his arms and leaned against the bookcase. “It would take a phone book to list all the people who would have reason to want to stick it to Devlin Maguire. Money, power, revenge…”

    So there's that. Now, I'm off to work on it so you can read it soon!

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    In which my subconscious takes me to school...

    A Freudian psychiatrist would have a field day with the dream I had last night. (Okay, this morning, after I went back to bed after feeding the dog. It's Spring Break, y'all.)

    I dreamed I was living in the apartment that I lived in while looking for this house. And it was full of trash and broken old stuff and simply useless things. (Anyone who's ever taught kids knows what I mean. I LOVED that little Suzy gave me a Hannah Montana Christmas ornament made out of macaroni, but I did not mourn its demise by squirrels in the attic. Hypothetically.)

    So, anyway. It's not Hoarders: Buried Alive bad, but this apartment in my dream looks like my kitchen junk drawer, only all over. So dream me decides to start throwing out the actual trash. And then throwing out the broken stuff. And then throwing out the stuff that is meaningless bricabrac. Then all the clothes that are too big, too small, too gifted-by-my-great-aunt-Ida.

    And in the process, I discovered an entire room in this apartment that I'd forgotten it had. A room with a closet big enough to be an extra room for either a study or a sewing room, with a closet of it's own. (I"m sort of obsessed with closets, which is kind of Freudian in itself.)

    The psychology behind this is so clear, I'm not even going to point it out. Except I am.  Once we get rid of the useless and broken things we're holding onto, we find time/space/energy/emotion for things that are important.

    THEN--here's the kicker. When I finally did get my butt out of bed, I'm eating my cereal and Mom comes out of her "suite" and she's looking sort of shell-shocked, so I ask her what's up. She's doing this Lenten "cyber retreat" of reading and stuff, and today's reading was about how we should never be so attached to material things that we wouldn't be willing to give them up. So she said, clearly shaken, "What if I had to give up my sewing machine?"

    Now, Mom owns the BMW of sewing machines. It's got all this embroidery stuff, and a computer, and it does everything but sliced your bread for you. And quilting/embroidering is her THING, if you know what I mean.  She can't get around very easily, but she can make beautiful things with this machine. Unlike little Suzy's macaroni Montana, this gives her great joy.

    So I told Mom, "You'd sew by hand." She thought about it a moment, then her shoulders relaxed, and she said, "Yes, I would. I could still make beautiful things."

    Of course she could. My ninety year old grandmother is partially blind, but she still knits beautiful sweaters.

    I once gave up the Internet for Lent. I allowed myself one e-mail check a day. That's it. No message boards, no IM chat, no surfing.  Now, this was before I was writing for a living, but I would say about 80% of my social activity was online. (Okay, 90%, but I don't want y'all to think I was a freak.) My friends lived in other states, I was participating in a writing message board, and IM chat was a big part of my day. It was REALLY hard. And that was before Twitter and Facebook!

    But I still wrote. I wrote a lot. (It was just a hobby then.) I wrote by hand, to stay away from the computer. And I found time for a lot of other things, too. Of course, they were all indoors, and I didn't do anything so radical as go make face to face friends. But giving up the computer did not make me any less of who I am.

    So, I'm curious. What could you get rid of easily?  And what could you give up that would be painful but possible?  Would it change who you are, or would it give you more space in your life to BE that person?

    p.s. Maybe the theme for today is Thinky Thursday? 

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Teaser Tuesday - Hot Cover

    Here's a taste of the cover of Brimstone, the two-in-one reissue of my first two books. Let's hope the book is as hot as the cover:

    And here's a teaser from a randomly picked page inside:

            You wouldn't think that a day could go downhill after dreaming you were on the roll call for Hell. But it did.
            "Have you voted for the class song yet?" A student council drone shoved a half-sheet of paper in my face. Astrobright Orange is painful at any time of day, but at seven-thirty a.m. it was vomit inducing. Also, the only thing perky I want in front of me at that hour is a coffeemaker. Since the drive-thru line at Take-Your-Bucks had streched to Canada, I was still severely caffeine deprived.  

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Movie Monday - John Carter [of Mars]

    No spoilers, I promise. Not least because I think you should go see this movie. In the RCM rating scale, this rates “Full price ticket, worth the extra for 3D.” 

    Here are the short review, before I wax all thinky about character and genre and stuff: This is a really entertaining movie, visually stunning, and damned fun to watch. 
    1. Exciting stuff happens right away. Airship battle within the first minute. Awesome. 
    2. The (important) characters are really likable. Some of the others aren’t really fleshed out, but who cares. (More on that in a minute.)
    3. The script was nicely written, turning a couple of expectations upside down now and then. For a story that basically set the formula for this sort of movie, that was nice. 
    4. There are beautiful people in this movie. And they’re not wearing much clothes. And weirdly, that wasn’t cheesy or skeevy. It makes perfect sense. 
    5. Beautiful includes the Tharks, the nine-foot tall, green, six-limbed race of desert dwellers. They were so expressive, they could have flown them here from Mars and I wouldn’t have been surprised. 
    6. Dejah Thores. She's the precursor of Princess Leia in the books. In the movie she's just the coolest heroine ever. 
    Could you pick apart this movie? Probably, if you worked at it. But why would you do that? This isn't a Serious Movie of Great Cultural significance. (Except maybe to SciFi nerd culture, of which I am a member.)  Personally, I'm glad it's not. I would LOVE to see more movies of this type and less dark, angsty depressing things. 

    Just go. It's a terrifically fun movie. (More ramblings about character and genre and stuff below this picture of aforementioned beautiful people.)  

    Now, the longer post that I wrote first, then decided it was a little thinky and long. But hey, maybe you're trying to kill time until your coffee break. 
    Okay, some of you know, I’ve been looking forward to the John Carter [of Mars] movie for a long time. Like, before it was even greenlit. (Greenlighted?) I think I covered some of the reasons in a previous post, but basically the John Carter of Mars books (along with the Danny Dunn Mysteries and A Wrinkle in Time) were my introduction to science fiction. 
    Basically, they were pulp fiction, which meant they were highly creative and entertaining reads that required a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. There’s internal logic and consistency, but you have to go with the flow that this guy is transported to Mars without really understanding why. 
    And that’s exactly how this movie is. Highly entertaining, with interesting people who do interesting stuff.
    The characters are engaging, though some are given more dimension than others.  Likewise, the different cultures of Mars (their politics, sociologies, ideologies) are only touched on, not explored. But you do get a sense that there IS a culture there, except that we’re too busy action/adventuring to delve into it. 
    Which is as it should be. John Carter has a lot to accomplish in this movie. He’s a cool character with a good backstory for his baggage, and his job is to do stuff. Manly stuff, wearing little clothes and wielding big weapons. (I’m not mocking. All the actors fully commit to this basic, intrinsic concept of the genre, which makes it come off as truly badass.) 
    His other job is to be there to interact with the more interesting characters in the movie: the Tharks (a tall, green, six-limbed desert-dwelling race) including Tars Tarkas and Sola, his allies, and Dejah Thores, the most awesome awesome action hero I’ve seen in ages. 
    Dejah Thores, in the books, is the ancestress of Princess Leia. Even though her plot function is to be rescued, she’s also an intelligent and competent woman in her own right.
    In the movie... She’s just flat out awesome. She’s a brilliant scientist, as self-sacrificing princess, a fierce rebel and warrior, and a slyly intelligent operative--not in her own interest, but with the goal of saving her city, and the whole planet. John Carter is really likable with his aw-shucks genteelism and rebel spirit. But honestly... He’s not that complex. I don’t think that’s a flaw of the moviemakers. I think that’s just the character.
    Maybe Im giving too much credit here, but I don’t think so. The screenwriters have an impressive pedigree (including Michael Chabon, Pulitzer prize winning novelist who gets SciFi’s pulp heritage).  I simply love that they inverted the pulp expectation. John Carter is a likable rogue who runs on emotion and muscle, and the “chick” is brilliant and complex. 
    I know Disney dropped the “of Mars” from the title because they didn’t want to alienate (ha ha) people who think SciFi is for nerds. (Even though the same people who think that will go so see The Avengers and The Hunger Games which are both--wait for it--SciFi.)  And I think that it's SciFi pedigree might be why it didn't do so well on opening weekend. That and reviewers who can't just enjoy a movie for what it is without trying to make it what it's not. Not every genre movie has to be The Dark Knight. 
    Anyway. Back to genre books and suspension of disbelief. 
    In genre books (Mystery, Romance, Fantasy/Science Fiction novels... Basically everything segregated from the mainstream “Fiction” shelves in the bookstore) I think there is a contract between the reader and the writer. The writer asks the reader to believe one impossible thing, and in exchanges promises that everything else will make sense if you just go with that. 

    And there’s the writer’s obligation no matter what the genre: Provide internal consistency and interesting people doing interesting things. 
    This movie definitely does that. Go see it and give SciFi nerd history some love. 

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Friday Finds: Endangered Species

    You know how you come across things in that free association way that is my downfall on the Internet? Seriously. It's the reason I can look up bomb-sniffing dog training and somehow end up reading all about the mating habits of the South American Tree Climbing Water Buffalo. 

    Which is my way of saying I can't remember who or what linked to National Geographic photographer Joel Satore's project to record studio photographs of all the endangered species in captivity. 
    One of my favorite animals. (From

    The goal of the project is to show what's at stake. Some of these species only exist in captivity, some of them in such small numbers that they won't exist at all anymore. 

    I had no idea about that last bit, that zoos have to make difficult decisions based on limitations of breeding numbers and plain old finances. Sometimes a species just can't be saved, and sometimes they have to just let it go in order to put resources into saving species that have a better chance. 
    Otters Are Awesome! (See more @ photographer's website.)

    Anyway, the pictures are stunning, and you can see them and read about the behind the scenes action on the National Geographic Field Test Blog. There is also a gallery on Satore's website, where you can purchase signed prints, which support his project. 

    (Photos are @ Joel Satore and you should go to his website to see them in their full glory.)

    Here is my attempt to photograph the only endangered species at my house. (Endangered in that if she eats another one of my shoes, I may kill her. Not really.)

    Penny (aka Princess Fang) snoozes in MY studio.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Book News -- Brimstone

    Cue the trumpet fanfare. I have a new-to-many-of-you book coming out in September. Yes, THIS September. BRIMSTONE is now available for pre-order on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. (It's not listed yet on Books a Million or IndieBound, but it will of course be available wherever awesome books are sold.) 

    BRIMSTONE is the new two-in-one edition of the first two books in the Girl vs. Evil series.* The cover is still under wraps, but here's the description:

    Slinking down the streets, hiding in the shadows, always lurking just out of sight, evil follows Maggie Quinn. It's no ordinary, everyday evil, either—it's Evil with a capital E, and whatever's behind it, it clearly wants Maggie.

    But Maggie isn't the type of girl to go down without a fight. She has a few powerful tricks up her sleeve, not to mention a best friend who's a witch, and she's declaring open season on demons.

    I know some of you are going to be SO excited to see Maggie Quinn's name in the summary, but if you're already a fan, here's the bad news. It's not a new book. (That that you might not want a copy of the cool new edition.) 

    But here's the good news: it's a chance for more people to become fans of MQ and her crew. So I hope that you'll recommend it to all your friends and librarians, and maybe we'll see more of the Girl vs. Evil adventures in the future. 

    BRIMSTONE comes out September 11, 2012.  

    *If you simply can't wait, Prom Dates from Hell and Hell Week are still available separately in paperback and e-book format.