Showing posts from January, 2010

Preditors & Editors Readers Poll Results Are In!

I'm really proud and humbled to share this year's 2009 P&E Readers Poll results with you.

My short story collection, Metamorphorsis, finished in the top twenty five in the Best Anthology category and 17th in Best Cover Art.  Congratulations to my fabulous cover artist Renee George for that cover, which is one of my all time favorites.

Lovely, isn't it?
The last book in The Asphodel Cycle--Apostle of Asphodel finished fourteenth in Best Sci Fi/Fantasy Novel.  The Asphodel Cycle as a whole, then, has finished high in the polls for three years, garnering two top ten finishes in Best Sci Fi/Fantasy and a top five finish in Best Novel.  The absolute loyalty Asphodel fans have shown over the past three years is a humbling thing to witness.

And, finally, the first book of the Covenants trilogy, Breaking the Covenants,co-written with Rob Graham finished in fifth place in the Best Erotica category.  I now have a new banner to add to my collection:

So over the course of the past …


Contentment is...

...writing for most of the day with a cat on my lap asleep and the rest of the house quiet.  The kind of day where I can take a long bubble bath, while reading a new book, and then get all my laundry done in between writing sessions.  The sort of afternoon where I exceed my word count for the day and just keep going because the story is flowing so well. The phone isn't ringing like mad with perceived crises in five states. My email is oddly empty, considering I've been averaging thirty real emails a day for the past few weeks.

What a fantastic day.  The new 76" cat tree I ordered even came in today.  Unfortunately, the box weighs a ton and I can't get it into the house.  Oh well. That means the cat on the lap contentment for another afternoon until the husband gets home, carts it in and puts it together. 


It's bitterly cold outside--like maybe 10 degrees--but the big snow and ice storm is tracking south and we'll only get sideswiped …

Clearing Out My Vision

Yeah, I know.  The post title sounds like I need to get new contacts.  That's not what I'm talking about though. First off, I don't wear contacts. Twenty twenty vision, thank you very much.

Second, I'm talking about writing.

Sometimes, you get so caught up in the story that you're writing that you almost become willfully blind about it.  Yeah, the words may have rolled easily from your brain onto the page, but you can't really see the whole picture when you're writing that first draft.  I know I can't. Building a good story is like baking a great loaf of homemade bread--you have to let the dough rest for a while so that it can rise to its fullest potential.  Something I'm noticing a lot in manuscripts from new writers (and even some not so new writers like myself) is that overwhelming urge to rush that story into the oven, to serve--continuing my culinary metaphor--a half-baked loaf of bread.

Let me explain.

Once you've written that first draft…

Picking Yourself Back Up After That Rejection Email

Every writer has at least one of these days--you know, the horrible days where you check your inbox, see that agent or publisher's name on an email and excitedly open up a message that begins with some version of "Although your writing shows great promise..." or "While I enjoyed your writing immensely..." or "Unfortunately, I just didn't connect with your protagonist/hero/heroine/conflict/plotline/narrative style/sneakers/chia pet/favorite television show..."

You get the picture.

Rejection is something writers have to deal with every single day.  This isn't a business for the thin-skinned. Sure, those rejections hurt--especially the one that starts off with "Dear Author" or has your name misspelled on the form. Believe me, I've seen every variation of the name "Celina" that's possible: Celena, Selina, Selena, Saliva, Sleestack--you name it, I have a rejection with that name set on the wrong line, in a different fon…

Recharging My Creative Batteries

Yep. I really need to.

That could have been the entire post, honestly.  I'm producing words--quite a few of them in fact.  I'm kind of stuck on determining what my next big project is going to be.  I want to focus on fantasy, maybe, or perhaps another paranormal.  Whatever it is, it's not the things I'm working on at the moment.  I want the project that's going to get me excited, the one that's going to crank into high gear and drives me to produce.  I want the idea that takes over my life and forces me to write about it.

Yeah, I know--I want, I want, I want.  It's all about what I want.  That's not what it should be about. It should be about what wants me to write it.

I think I need a vacation.

Sometimes, even seeing something new can get the creative juices going.  That's what I need. Something to stimulate that one great idea.

So, I think I'm going to take a virtual vacation.  I need to look at some new places, maybe read something that jogs…

Heroism in Silence

I saw something very unusual today and I thought I'd share it with you.

My mother in law and I were on our way to lunch when we saw a whole mess of flashing lights on Memorial Drive, which is the main thoroughfare through Lancaster, Ohio which is were I live.  My mother in law, noticing that the police had blocked off the entire road, turned onto a side street, went a couple of blocks up and started on a path parallel to the one we were originally taking. We hadn't gone two blocks when a patrol car pulled into the intersection one car ahead of us, lights flashing, and stopped. 

My first thought was that there was some kind of dangerous situation. And then, I saw the first fire truck, draped with black gauze buntings and with a firefighter's protective jacket on the front grill and I knew what was happening.

On January 2, firefighters in Lancaster responded to an apartment fire. While supervising the crews battling the flames, Lt. Joseph McCafferty collapsed.  He was take…

Driving In The Fog

A few nights ago, I was driving from Ohio down to Louisville, Kentucky.  It was one of those dark, misty kinds of nights--not raining, so windshield wipers were of no use and yet still wet enough to pixellate the windshield with water.  It's been a long time since I've driven that far by myself at night.  On top of that, I was in my new car (did I mention my new PT Cruiser yet? No? Well, some other time) and wasn't that familiar with it yet. So, I was driving tentatively--both hands on the wheel, moderating my speed so I did just the speed limit and not an MPH more (something that would never have happened ten years ago) and being very careful around other cars. 

One of the bad things about that particular stretch of road (71 to Cincinnati, 75 to Louisville, 65 to the exit closest to my daughter's house) is how difficult it is to find a good radio station. And, being too stupid to live, I neglected to take any CDs with me.  So, I had two choices: I could either liste…

News! News!

Well, I told you this was going to be a busy year for me so let me clue you in on something.

I have a new series coming from Aspen Mountain Press.  No, it's not another Asphodel series.  The series is entitled Mythos and it's a collection of reimagined Greco-Roman mythology.  You all know how I love my Homer and my Ovid. Well, now that love is bearing fruit.

Allow me to explain.

When I was in high school, I learned Latin and the classics from probably the best teacher I've ever encountered in my life--Grady Warren.  Because of Mr. Warren, I went to four state championships and three national championships and placed (or won) in the category of mythology.  I loved mythology. I adored it.  I was the mythology specialist on our certamen (quiz bowl) team and my nickname was Fauces, which is Latin for Jaws.

Yeah, I was a meek, shrinking flower even back in the day.

At any rate, that love of classics has stayed with me to this day.  Asphodel was a reimagining of the Trojan War.…

Organizing Like Mad

Just when I thought my life couldn't get any crazier, it has.  Naturally, my body's response to this was to shut me down for about forty eight hours, huddled under every comforter in the house shivering with fever.  I feel better now--weak, but better.  So now, I have to get myself ultra-organized if I'm going to survive the next few weeks.

My writing schedule is heavy already.  It's been suddenly made heavier, however.  I have no more time to play.  My five hour writing blocks are not only sancrosanct, but scheduled almost to the number of how many words I need to crank out during those times.  My editing schedule is, fortunately, well under control.  I've got my writers' books spaced out well at the moment and I'm ahead of schedule.  The ultimate fly in the ointment, however, is going to be the books of mine that will be going into edits soon.  I can't permit myself to get so caught up in those that my schedule suffers.

And all of this is because of …

An Open Letter To Lane Kiffin With a PS to The University of Tennessee

Dear Coach To Whom It May Concern:

Most of my friends and one of my daughters expected me to be absolutely livid today when the news came down the pike that Lane Kiffin, erstwhile football placeholder for my beloved Tennessee Vols, had proved the depths of his insane belief that everyone accepts the crap he does and done a shameful, Cleveland Brownsesque bolt in the middle of the night for the warmth of a NCAA-probation ready USC Trojans.

I wasn't.

I'm so glad you're gone from Knoxville.  It means I can now go back to a city I love without running the risk of hurling all over my orange and white patent leather sneakers.  It means I can take a drive by the Rock, where I can read various forms of graffiti that basically boil down to F*CK YOU KIFFIN, take a deep breath of that mountain-scented air and know that my University is back.  It means I can walk down Phillip Fulmer way with the absolute conviction that a loud-mouthed punk isn't sitting behind his desk.  As a matt…

Throws Down The Gauntlet

Okay, you pigs. You spam-saturated slugs who keep leaving ridiculous comments about weight loss programs or Malaysian funds frozen in US banks or questions about what size of male anatomy I prefer. Because of you, I now have to moderate the comments left on my blog.  Why is that? Because you are all pigs.  Satan-spawned pigs, I might add, grubbing through the trash for some other poor blogger to run into.  Yeah, I know--you left me alone for the most part over the last few years but now that you've found me, that's it.

This calls for a declaration of war.

WAR I tell you! Seriously!  No more advertisements.  No, I don't care how white your teeth are, that there are hot girls in my town or that you have Super Bowl tickets you're giving away.  *Yes, that's right. You just heard me turn down Super Bowl tickets. That should tell you how pissed off I am.*

And I am ESPECIALLY not interested in hearing from any of your fly by night vanity presses masquerading as legitimat…

Two Thousand Words A Day...or Lowering my Expectations

I have a huge contractual commitment this year.  I have to crank out all sorts of manuscripts in order to keep up, while still editing for my authors, editing previously submitted materials, continuing to submit outside of the contracted work and maybe even eke out a few minutes of my day for my family and home.  For the past few weeks, I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to meet--or exceed--my obligations. And, for the most part, I'm doing well.

But I think I want to follow my own advice.  I think I want to step back for a little while. It's like this:  the Mythos series I'm working on is comprised of novellas.  Those need to hit anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 words when complete.  Now then--when I do writing challenges, I average about 2,000 words per hour. So, thinking logically, I can complete the first draft of one novella every seven to ten days simply by sitting down for an hour and writing straight through.

So now, I need to figure out how to acc…

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

Every once in a while, I find myself getting annoyed at the rank idiocy of complete strangers.  Today was one of those days. That'll teach me to go to Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon again.

When we got there, a straggle of young women and small babies were exiting the building.  In front was a girl--probably no older than sixteen--smoking an almost-gone cigarette that was dangling out of her mouth a scant inch away from her infant's face.  The baby couldn't have been more than two or three months old.  What killed me was that she walked out of the store doing that and apparently no one stopped her and said anything to her.

Now, I'm a smoker. I trust that I'm a courteous one. I obey regulations about smoking when I'm out in public. But even when I was young and dumb, I never NEVER smoked a cigarette while holding one of my children! Christ on a stick--I didn't even smoke in the same room with them. And even then, I never walked around a store with a cigarett…

Taking A Step Back

You know, I think writers need to take a step back every once in a while.

Hold on--before you get all riled up and think this is a pronouncement from the muses or whatever, let me explain myself a bit.  This has been coming up a lot lately, both in my editing work and my writing so I think it's worthy of exploration.

One of my writers (yep--I have the editor hat on at the moment) and I were talking about her latest WIP.  She was ready to bang her head against the wall (figuratively) because she felt the manuscript needed some major revisions but couldn't figure out exactly where.  Now, I've been there.  I've been there a lot.  Hell, I bought property there, so I could makes those moments more comfortable with some plush furniture and a few well-chosen but soothing pieces of art.  Oh, and a margarita machine. Margarita machines make everything better.  At any rate, I told her to send the manuscript to me and forget about it for a few days. I would look at it as a read…

Frustration and the Snow

For some reason, my biggest frustration days in writing coincide with nasty weather.  For example, here I am--stuck in Ohio while another half a foot of snow piles up outside, my husband stranded and snowbound in a hotel two counties away because it's illegal to drive and I find I'm at a staggering impasse with my daily writing/editing schedule.  I just can't write.

Why is that?

It may be because the last few days I'm been struggling with my writing, trying to figure out what's 'wrong' with it. It's not technical.  My first drafts are MUCH cleaner than a lot of things I've read from the slush pile.  That much, at least, I can be self-congratulatory about.  Could it be my premises? Are they just...eek!...not that good?

Somehow, I don't think so.  My submissions garner enough positive feedback (ie--requests for manuscripts) that I think the premises must be fairly sound and interesting.  So, weeding out the two big factors there, what am I left w…


Okay, so I'm currently trying to compile a list of review site options for Aspen Mountain Press.  Compiling the romance/erotica list was easy.  What's NOT so easy is finding genre fiction review sites.  Oh sure--there are the big, sparkly fantasy reviewers with all the bells and whistles on their sites--like fantasy name generators...are you serious?--but many of them have some variation of the following line:

We only accept commerically published authors.

Okay, let's stop and analyze that statement.  Many of these review sites mean "We only want to review books that are published by the big fantasy houses like Dell or Tor." I'm sure their purpose is to keep self-published authors and those with vanity presses (like the one who shall not be named who is scamming my mother-in-law despite my repeated pleas for her to run as fast as she can) from swamping their inboxes with low-quality stories and badly refurbished fan fic.  Yeah. I get it. I'm down with th…

Blast From The Past Blasts Into The Present

So every once in a while, I get sideswiped. Not often--it takes a lot to confuse me. But when something happens that shocks me, I get really shocked.

For example:

I got an email this weekend from an old friend I haven't heard from in years.  Turns out she'd gotten a hold of my first book (The Reckoning of Asphodel) and really liked it. So she bought the rest of them. Granted, that's enough to make me excited.  After all, we've all had dreams of going back to high school and having someone completely random tell you, "Yeah, I've read your book/seen your movie/danced to your album/been to one of your games." Right?

Well, she took it a bit further.  She had emailed me to inform me that having read my blog and my website and noting all the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll nominations I've gotten in the past, she thought she'd go vote for me this year.  And, when she didn't find my stuff on the Readers Poll yet, she nominated me.

So, allow me to…

Not Sure What This Post Is About Yet... I'll just wing it.

I've been working a lot today--not on anything new (as I should be) but on the print galleys for The Reckoning of Asphodel. My very first book in the Asphodel Cycle will be available soon in trade paperback.  As soon as I have more particulars (release date, et cetera) I'll let you know.

But right now, I find myself in a peculiar position.  I haven't really sat down and read the first book since right after it was released (August 10, 2007--here's the link). So today, as I'm going through the print galleys, my editorial ren pencil finger is itching like there's been poison ivy on my keyboard. You know what I really want?

I want to revise the whole darn thing.

Now I realize I can't do that.  Doesn't make me want to do it any less. I actually spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to hack into the adobe program and fix things myself. (Didn't take long to dissuade me; I can turn on my computer and that's about it.) It…

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

You know, I am a child of the South.  I am used to having two or three snows each year and the coldest day getting all the way down to freezing, maybe. But, I have always hated three things about the South: June, July and August.  100 degree days?  Not my style. I hate sweating.  So in an effort to avoid perspiration, mosquitoes as big as my arm and always-frizzed out hair from the humidity, I moved to Ohio.

And was promptly greeted by winter.

You'd think after fifteen years in Ohio, I'd be used to winter by now.  I'm not.  I don't mind snow; having had relatively few snow days when I was a kid (except for the winter of 77-78 when we were out of school from before Thanksgiving until after Valentine's Day AND were still in school on the Fourth of July) I kind of like snow.

I do NOT like single digit temperatures.  Not at all.

We had a little bit of snow last night--just enough to blanket the yards and cover the roads. It's so cold outside that salt doesn't …

My Mantra for 2010

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist." -- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

I very rarely bother to follow the advice of other writers.  Usually, it just annoys me; every writer's journey is different, after all.  Some got their lucky break because their wife pulled a manuscript out of a trash can; others got their break because of their family's connections; still others sent out manuscript after manuscript for decades until they finally hit upon the right combination of story-agent-editor-publisher and found themselves inexplicably at the top of the field.  But Asimov's advice is one that really resonates with me.

In a nutshell, he claims that persistence is the secret of success.  If there's one thing I've got, it's per…