Friday, November 28, 2008

Temptation of Asphodel Released!

It's official! The countdown clock has hit zero. The Asphodel Cycle 3: Temptation of Asphodel is now available from Aspen Mountain Press.

You'll soon be able to pick it up on Amazon, Fictionwise and numerous other retailers on the web.

Be sure you stop by my launch party on my Facebook page (link in previous post) for your chance to win a copy of any of the Asphodel novels! I did find a pretty awesome blog post this morning from a friend of mine--Jen, over at Scribbling.

If you've never read epic fantasy before, this will spoil you, and I think that's a good thing. So, if you've got a hankering to read something new, or are looking for a gift for the fantasy lover in your life, I'd heartily recommend the series.

That gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. I'll admit it. So did this because it was so unexpected--from Ed over at Upon Reflection:

And buy her book. Heck, buy all three in the series. She's an excellent writer
(and I don't give out that kind of praise lightly). When I grow up I want to be
just like her.

Thanks to all of you great fans of Asphodel! I really hope you enjoy this offering as much as you did the first two books.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another Book Release Friday

I've never had a book release on a holiday weekend before. I find it kind of interesting that the darkest book I've written to date is being released on Black Friday. All kinds of implications there...

So, tomorrow I'm hanging out on my Facebook page all day for my book release, as well as a few of the readers' loops I frequent on Yahoo and, of course, Absolute Write which is the best writing forum on the web. If you're trying to track me down, Facebook is the best place--especially as I'll be giving away copies of my books all day long.

For those of you who are AWers, I'm doing my darnedest to declare tomorrow a moratorium for myself in the politics forum.

You're welcome.

You know, the first time I had a novel published, I wondered if it would become blase' by the time I hit this point in my career. I finally have the answer: no. No, it doesn't feel normal, it doesn't become familiar, and it doesn't get old. Every new release comes with a new set of questions.

Will they notice what changed?

Do they see where I'm taking them?

Is the story getting more involved, more interesting or just bad?

Yeah, those fears never quite go away. Every time I having a book coming out, I break off half my nails making sure they are edited correctly and then chew off the others in the first week after it's released. So, once again, I find myself on the night before a little nervous, more than a little apprehensive and very, very excited.

But sleepy. Yeah, I'm sleepy this time. Darn turkey.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things That Make Me Laugh

It doesn't take a lot to make me laugh. I flatter myself that I have a good sense of humor, although it sometimes borders on the bizarre. I find that when one of my cats misjudges the distance from the dresser to the bed and flies through the air with paws flailing that I really can laugh until I cry.

But lately, there's not been a lot to laugh about. I've almost had to actively go out and find things to give me a chuckle. Here's just a few things that have worked over recent weeks.

The Ohio State-Michigan game. *snicker* Sorry, Steve.

A show on the Cartoon Network called Metalocalypse. Not too long ago, they had an episode where the band members were chiding the character Murderface because he wasn't writing any songs. Just to prove he could, he ad libbed some song lyrics that went as follows:

Mmmm tits.
A fish.
A fish with tits.


I don't know why I thought that was so funny. I TIVOed it so I could watch it over and over again and laugh. Now all my husband and I have to do is say 'tittyfish' at each other and we crack up.

I can't help it that I have a warped sense of humor. At least I have one.

I'm waiting for the first substantial snowfall of the year so that I can build anatomically correct snowmen in the front yard. This never fails to piss off the religious right who live next door. I may invest in some squeeze bottles so I can fill them with food coloring and tint my creations so that they show up better too.

Something else that cracks me up? Holiday music that would never be played in a mall or a church: South Park Christmas music, like "The Most Offensive Christmas Song Ever" or "Swiss Colony Beef Log;" Adam Sandler's Hanukah Songs 1,2 & 3 and--oh yes--"Police Stop My Car" which is the only version of "Feliz Navidad" I can tolerate. (For those of you who haven't heard my annual rant, I'm of the opinion that "Feliz Navidad" is Satan's answer to Christmas carols.)

You know, we need more things to laugh at--even if they're kind of stupid like my reaction to Brian the dog doing 'Peanut Butter Jelly Time' on Family Guy. Things are pretty grim right now and a good sense of humor is the best free entertainment to be had out there. So take some time out from your day today and see if you can make another person laugh.

They'll thank you for it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Using Basic Tools Well

I've been involved in an interesting conversation over the past few days about--of all things--the state of education in the United States specifically as it deals with the use of the English language. I've been both horrified and encouraged by it.

For example, there was an admittedly very young writer who felt the need to criticize the 'Brits' for being 'wrong' in the way they speak/spell the English language. This same young writer is a senior in high school and, according to him, only just now learning syntax. The posts in which he broadcast his opinion were full of spelling, grammatical, punctuation and syntax errors--which obviously were not conducive to his post being taken seriously.

This bothers me on several levels. First, I find the concept that someone could actually think that UK English is wrong. Are you kidding me? Seriously?

Second, what kind of incredible complacency would lead someone to overlook their own inadequacies to dismiss an entire culture's unique and individual use of the language we share?

And third, and the most important, whatever happened to the concept of educating yourself? Hear me out before you get jumpy. I was blessed with some fantastic teachers throughout my life, who taught me the rudiments and sometimes more than I wanted to know about English grammar. Throughout the entire process, however, I was educating myself.

I read every book I could get my hands on. I learned the majority of my grammar and knowledge of the English language from the masters themselves. My greatest teachers were Austen, Alcott, Twain, Faulkner and Hemingway. Every book I read, even if it was something as simple as C.S. Lewis' Narnia novels, taught me something more about the ways to use language to create an imaginary world. It occurs to me that while people are heaping all of the blame for the sad state of American students on our educational system, they are forgetting that education is what you make of it.

You have to educate yourself in cooperation with the education you receive. In the end, every good writer must absorb what they read. Pick up your favorite book and take a look at it. How does the author manipulate language to create a scene? What do they show you? Are they using split infinitives or dangling participles in their prose? No? Why is that, do you think?

*pssssssst--the answer is because there are simpler and correct ways to get the same point across*

Just like an artist selects a medium and learns to use it to create art, so does a writer use language. You have to be familiar with the medium before you become proficient at it. Educate yourself in your chosen craft.

Stop playing the victim and blaming your education for the gaps in your knowledge. Everyone has the ability to learn things on their own. You don't have to be spoonfed by a teacher. Get off your duffs and start learning for yourself.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eight More Days and a Temptation Teaser

The countdown clock, it is a runnin'. We're getting close to the release of Temptation of Asphodel. So, since we're getting close to Christmas and I haven't gotten you guys anything yet, have a looksee at the prologue and tell me what you think!

Temptation of Asphodel
Death has been my constant companion.

My parents died when I was twelve; when I was eighteen I saw thousands die upon the blood-churned fields of my home. Two of my beloved Ka’antira uncles burned upon the great funeral pyres lit under the stars at Asphodel. The child that I should have borne in joy never came to life and I still grieve for this first, lost gift from my marriage. I watched as the traitor Jeshan de Callat vomited away his life to Dis while his blood dripped from my sword.

Yes, death has followed upon my heels. I recognize its finality even as I defy its proximity.

But nothing could prepare me for the sight of Brial, broken and bleeding, on the sands of Ectatte. His death was the one that broke my will and destroyed my defiance. His life was the price required to redeem the race of Elves; how bitter it was to know I had no choice.

I discovered something about death in the moment that changed my determination to succeed at my task. In order to gain victory, you must be prepared to give up the things most important to you. My willingness to accept Brial’s death in the end gave him life. The Huntress returned my beloved to me.

“I do not require everything,” she had said, “only that you are willing to give it.”

Brial lived; as a result so did I.

My other losses fell into perspective and I no longer dwelled on the horrors of death. This was my first triumph over my enemies, the first milestone I passed on the long, bitter road of divine machination.

I had learned acceptance of the inevitable.

I do not like to remember that night in the labyrinth of the gods. Brial has spoken of it only once. We put it from our minds and continued to act on behalf of the goddess in her contest with the Lord of Death.

I cannot help but wonder: if you lose your fear of death, what is left to fear? Is there something worse lurking in the shadows of life than the pain of separation and grief? I dread this knowledge and yet I crave the answer. While we moved through the mountains, following obscure hints laid down within the perimeters of the gods’ game, my mind lingered on this question.

And when I slept, a single image returned to haunt my dreams: a single golden apple, resting on a rough, mildewed table in a dark room, and behind me in the inky shadows a long, echoing, hissing laugh.

It is but a dream, but one of evil portents.

I fear this image more than any other. For some reason, I sense a darker doom creeping up behind me. I don’t dare share this dread. In anticipation, as well as in the reality, I am alone.

Perhaps that isolation is the very fate I fear.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Learning to Differentiate

Sometimes I am amazed at the manipulative abilities of people.

You find a lot of this online. People who in real life would be laughed out of the room for expressing their opinions somehow gain a strange credibility in the cyber world. It's hard for me to take someone seriously who pontificates hatred, whether in the real world or online. But, what truly amazes me, is how some of these people can manipulate public opinion with their ability to write.

For example: there's really not any way to justify racist behavior in the real world. In the real world, if you expound upon you racist points of view you usually either get your ass kicked or you're dismissed by the people who hear you as stupid and beyond redemption. But, you take that same person and slap them online and suddenly all sorts of whacked-out critters crawl from the woodwork and support them publicly. Why is that?

Is it because of the alleged anonymity online? That doesn't really work any more--I can find out a heck of a lot about a person from their IP address...and their blog...and their website.

What makes people comfortable enough online to try and manipulate other people?

Look at the recent election. Because of online bullshit, there are a whole lot of people who believe the new President is a Muslim and that the Governor of Alaska doesn't comprehend basic geography. Are you serious? What kills me is that there are people who call one of those rumors a lie but still beleive the other one. It makes no sense to me.

As a writer, I'm very sensitive to the power of words. It occurs to me that since the advent and explosion of the internet, that sensitivity has spread into sectors unseen before this time. It was easy to dismiss the KKK newspapers I found on the front lawn twenty years ago.

It's not as easy to dismiss some of the racial prejudice spread over the internet, especially when it's clothed beneath some other sort of rhetoric. It's imperative now that we, as internet users, learn to differentiate between thinly veiled agendas and the outer shell of acceptability that some people are using. We need a new subset of skills if we are to comprehend the ugliness that lies just beneath the surface of much that we find online these days.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Temptation of Asphodel Cover Art

Okay--I love cover art as a rule. It always makes the book seem more tangible to me when I finally get the cover art. I'm always excited to see it.

But this cover art is super-scrumptious fantabulously amazing cover art and I am in LOVE with it. Check it out:

Isn't that the BOMB? HUGE thanks to Renee' George, who did a bang up job with the artwork and to Celia Kyle, the art director at Aspen Mountain Press. Oh, and just in case you missed this at some point, here's the blurb:

Tamsen has learned to sacrifice everything as she plays the game of the gods, but as she nears the end of her quest everything changes again. The hunter becomes the hunted, the ally becomes the foe and behind it all lies the hand of a third, unknown god who tries to lure her from her destiny. Can she hold firm against the temptations that are thrown in her path, or will she fall into failure as generations of Elves have done before her? As the rumbling memory of an ancient war settles over the realm of Ansienne, Tamsen’s faith falters. When she is drawn into conflict with immortal enemies, she discovers that the line between obedience and temptation is much narrower than she thought. Tempation is dangerous; obedience can kill.

Yep, I'm just a little excited. Stay tuned for more details here and on my website Shoot The Muse!

I'm getting ready to post the prologue for Temptation of Asphodel on my website.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Travesty Time in Tennessee!

For as long as I can remember, Phil Fulmer has been at the University of Tennessee.

He was an offensive lineman when I went to my first football game at Neyland stadium at the age of five.

He was a graduate assistant when I went to a competition at UT when I was in elementary school.

When I was in high school, he was an assistant coach for the Vols.

When I was in college, he was the offensive coordinator.

The first time I used my alumni tickets, he was the newly crowned head coach of the mighty Volunteers and we loved him for it.

College football has been one of my greatest loves since I was a child. Nothing was a bigger treat than driving to Neyland Stadium on Saturday morning, one of thousands of orange-painted cars on their way to eat, drink and be merry before the game. Nothing was more fun than sitting on the deck of one of the boats in the Volunteer Navy as you rounded the bend and saw Neyland sitting like a jewel against the backdrop of Knoxville and the Smoky mountains. Nothing was more exciting than sitting in that stadium while 110,000 people screamed out Rocky Top at the top of their lungs in support of their team.

And for every game I've ever attended at the University of Tennessee, Phil Fulmer has been on the sidelines. He was there for four hundred plus games--can you imagine that? He's been involved with the university for FORTY years--the Joe Pa of the Southeastern Conference with a .752 all time winning percentage, five SEC title game appearances, two SEC titles and one BCS national title in a year that the Vols were supposed to be rebuilding in. It was just thirteen months ago that he led his team into the SEC title game, losing to eventual national champion LSU.

But now, the greed of the UT athletic department, its AD and the President of the university has driven out the icon that gave his life to the Tennessee Volunteers. After forty years, he's been run out of town on a rail.

How sad.

I watched his press conference yesterday and wept for the pain of a good man, a man who lives and breathes and sleeps for the young men he guides. I felt a moment of fierce joy because of the team's support of their coach, and I cheered when, as one, they rose to their feet, turned their back on the AD and marched out of the room. One young man shouted, "He ain't got nothing to say to us!" as they left.

And you know what? He doesn't. How do you explain to an athlete that you got rid of an iconic coach because greed is more important than integrity, that victory will sacrifice loyalty and titles are more important than philosophy. Athletic director Mike Hamilton has sorely miscalculated during this fiasco, sacrificing the pride of one of the winningest coaches in college football history on the altar of competition. There is nothing he can say to those young men, for whom loyalty is a virtue preached every day at practice.

For that matter, there is very little he can say to me.

Coach Fulmer, you were kind to me when I was young. You remembered my face and name when you saw me by the side of the road for the Vols Walk three years ago. You've given me the greatest football memories in my life.

Godspeed to you, Coach. I just wanted you to know that at least in this subsection of the Volunteer Nation, there's a bright spot of Tennessee Orange in Ohio that will never forgive the university for what they've done to you.

And as for you, Tennessee football players, it's time for you to suck it up and win out for the Coach. Here's your chance to say something to Mike Hamilton about what loyalty can bring to the University of Tennessee.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Temptation of Asphodel Book Trailer

Twenty eight days and counting. I guess it's time for you guys to get a load of this: