Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adieu 2008

While it seems everyone in the blogosphere is posting best of, worst of, and the ever-popular New Year's resolution lists, I find I'm ambling around the internet, looking for something else to help me say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new.

I'm not sorry to see 2008 go. From the starting gate, it was the year of fear. Too much hatred, too much ugliness. Far too much heartbreak. In the midst of it, a few masks were ripped off and showed us what was really underneath, which no one wants to see even when they suspect it's there. Sometimes I thought "At least it can't get any worse" and then, of course, it did.

But I saw a lot of love and hope in 2008, too; far more than I expected. Tough times are hard, but they also bring out the best in people. Whenever we most had to pull together, someone held out their hands to help. Whenever we needed courage, someone inspired us with their own. It didn't make the bad stuff go away, but it made it easier to bear whenever it hung around and tried to get at us.

I guess for me it was the year of not hiding under the bed. I wanted to -- nothing much bothers the dustbunnies -- but some excellent things kept dragging me back out: the online writing community, my friends and readers, and the work. You all encouraged me to catch all the lemons instead of dodging them, and make them into lemonade. That I was a smartass and then sold the lemonade back to the people who threw them, well, that's what Zen revenge is all about, right?

I'd like 2009 to be better for my family, friends and colleagues, but it's going to be a year of change and challenges for all of us. Not a time I think we can make like the dustbunnies. May we all find reasons to come out, work together, and help each other get through whatever else the next twelve months will bring.

Related links:

PublishingTrends.com has some very good news for e-book authors: 2008 Year in Review

For everything else that happened while we were writing, check out Newsday.com's backlook linkfest: Year in Review 2008

If you must resolve, check out the best ways to make it stick: How to keep up with those New Year's resolutions, researchers find commitment is the secret of success

Added: one last limited-time freebie of the year (reported as being advertised on the sidebar of my Scribd page for Incarnatio, oddly enough) is The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. The Adobe .pdf version being offered doesn't download for me, so you might have to read it online, but hey, free book. *Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fun with Setting

Because I do so much planning and prep work before I write a single word of a novel, I write up hundreds of pages of notes, outlines, character profiles, thread diagrams, setting specifics and plot schematics. I used to keep these in binders and file them away once I finished production on the corresponding novel, but then I started returning to worlds I'd already created in previous books and needed to pull them out and refresh my memory.

I don't like writing the same setting over and over, so when I needed to revisit a world I'd pull out my notebooks, read what I'd already done and build with that in mind as a foundation. When it became obvious that I'd be writing multiple stories set on K-2 and a couple of worlds in its surrounding solar system, I decided to split out all my setting notes in one separate notebook to keep straight what I'd done and what I planned to do.

I wasn't happy with just a big collection of notes, so when I decided to do another setting notebook for another multiple-story world (Joren) I wrote a little travelogue-type book for myself about the planet and made up a nice cover for it:



(You can tell this is one I wrote for myself because I misspelled planetary on the cover and never bothered to correct it.)

That was nice, and very organized, but it lacked something. To me a world isn't just about the physical characteristics, it's also about the people who have lived there. So when it became obvious I needed a setting notebook for my dome colony world Trellus, I decided to have a bit more fun with it. Along with my notes, maps and sketches I wrote a brief history of the colony, from the day the first settlers touched down to seizure and shutdown of the colony's infamous mining operations.



While the process evolved mostly from my need to be hyperorganized, by having some fun with the settings and treating them like subjects all on their own, I found the worlds became more real to me. I don't use everything I write in my setting notebooks in my stories, but I think making them has allowed me to write about the settings with a bit more enthusiasm than my usual attitude of "Why can't everything happen in a featureless void?"

I don't recommend every writer write a separate book on their settings for themselves, as that would likely take up too much time you can use for writing the actual novel. But it doesn't hurt to experiment with the ways you put together and maintain your settings. They're a bit like gardens -- the more you plant and tend to them, the more wonderful stuff will grow.

What are some of the things you do to flesh out your settings and keep track of what you've built for worlds you revisit? Let us know in comments.

Monday, December 29, 2008

From the Archives

Before we start celebrating the new year, here's a link-look back at the best of 2008 here at PBW:

Spring
What not to say to your crit partner: Critique No-Nos
Tell me why I can't claim TUMs again?: Writer Fantasy Tax Deductions
Coming soon to BookTV: Make Me a SuperNovelist

Summer
Another backyard drama: Way of the Fledgling
Then Leto turns into a giant penis in book four: Ten Knockoffs I Will Never Write (and Neither Should You)
Retrospect Minus Sominex: Ten Things I Hate About Your Backstory

Fall
Because there is always some reason to stop: 25 Reasons to Keep Writing
The pasta sauce of writing: Past Perfection
Terribly wonderful temptations: Unemployment Fantasies

Winter
Lecturing this year's NaNoWriMo'ers: Pro-to-NaNo
La-la-la-la, I'm not listening: Ten Things Authors Don't Want to Hear (But Frequently Do)
Dolls for the rest of us: Alternative Barbie

Over at Sean Lindsay's 101 Reasons to Stop Writing is without a doubt my favorite interview I gave in 2008 (I'd say my favorite of all time, but Sean's head is big enough already.)

One of the most complicated and time-consuming projects Tom and I worked on during 2008 was the Friday 20 Index. We spent about three hundred hours altogether, half on the phone, while we were sorting through, indexing and coding all the links.

John and Marcia had some fun this year, too. They played hide-the-stupid-euphemism (My Sweet Savage Salami), talked quite a bit (Taggedy) and even got revised (Reviserable).

During the Left Behind & Loving Virtual Conference 2008, I broke all the workshop rules by having my character Akela from Red Branch and Black Queen teach World Building I. Now all of my other characters are jealous and want to do one next summer.

Best Generator of 2008 is no contest -- the ultra-cool Wordle, created by Jonathan Feinberg, which allows you to create and customize your own wordclouds (link originally found over at Elizabeth Bear's LJ.)

My favorite giveaway of 2008 was this one (winner and answer to the mystery here.) It must be all those Nancy Drew novels I read when I was a kid. The most popular giveaway of 2008 was this one, which I really didn't expect that many people would like, which just goes to show you how clueless I am when it comes to my own giveaways.

I transferred my library of free e-books over to Scribd* back in January and have since published twelve more new e-anthos, e-novellas, e-nonfic as well as lots of small how-to documents. I'll have more to report on how well this has worked for me and the readers next month when I hit the one-year mark on Scribd. *Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

I wrote my dangerous book, and I sold it, and I published it, all in the same year. I don't think one NY-published e-book entitles me to call myself e-Paperback Writer, but it was a good learning experience and the completion of a big personal goal.

It helped to laugh with you guys at surely what was the worst professional disaster of the year, and then laugh about it again with you and my characters.

You guys also made this a great year by stopping in, joining the discussions and offering your views. You are as much a part of PBW as I am, and I thank you all for taking the time to visit, talk shop and share your love of books.

And that wraps up another year here at the blog. So, what were some of your defining moments in 2008? Let us know in comments.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2009 PBW No-Nos

Ten Things I Will Happily Not Do in 2009

Accept the things I am told I cannot change.

Laughing at the people who tell me this should also probably be avoided.

Allow Publishing into my writing space.

Like everyone else, Publishing will have to wait out in the livingroom until I'm done, and not put its feet on the coffee table or forget to use the coasters, please.

Believe people in NY when they say "This is your cover art."

(cough) Hey, have you heard that pink is the new black? Yep.

Even consider replying to an e-mail that starts off with "I read your blog every day, and I know you hate me."

The "who the heck are you?" response never goes over well.

Make fun of the buzzkillers.

Hold the wagon, I think I just fell off.

Quit hoping for the great big brass ring and keep collecting the little golden ones.

There's nothing wrong with being the only top 20 NYT bestselling author in existence who has yet to crack 50K on a first print run.

Release three e-books during a major holiday two weeks before a print release.

This is the new definition of stupidity, btw.

Take anything on faith.

Faith is nice. Four copies of notarized contracts are better.

Write letters of protest to President Bush.

I know I don't put politics on PBW, but I do have one thing I need to say: Bye, George. Don't let the oval office door hit you in the ass on the way out.

and finally:

Give up.

Never.

So what are you happily not going to do in 2009? Let us know in comments.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The (Somewhat Belated) PBW Holiday Giveaway #12

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. As it happens, we did, although my twelfth holiday giveaway kind of fell off Santa's sleigh at the last minute. But he finally sent some magic elves to help me with the uploading problem today, and so as one last gift for everyone, I have Incarnatio, a new novella of the Darkyn:



Click on the cover art to go the Scribd page, where you can read online, download or print the novella, and* Happy Holidays from your friendly neighborhood Paperback Writer.

*Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. Incarnatio and all of my free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wishing You

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winner

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #11 -- Crystal Dreams is:

Marie (whose comment began with I love being in contact with family & friends and catching up.)

Marie, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing what you love to do during the holidays with us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winners

The winners of PBW Holiday Giveaway #10 -- Making Wishes are:

Robin Connelly

Kait Nolan

Jess

Winners, when you have a chance please send your BookWish along with your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll put the Publishing Fairy to work. Thanks to everyone for sharing your holiday wishes with us.

(The final PBW holiday giveaway will be posted as soon as we sort out one final technical blip.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #11 -- Crystal Dreams

The winners of PBW Holiday Giveaway #9 -- For Following are:

Sara

Karen W. (who has been following: ...Dean Koontz, whose books I've loved for about 20 years!)

Skitty

Deidre Durance

Winners, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get you on the mailing list and send your first mailing out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing the authors you follow with us.

The holidays are already here for some (Hanukkah began yesterday at sundown, so let me wish my Jewish visitors a joyous and peaceful festival of lights) and just around the corner for others. For many, the next couple of days will be a blur of baking, gift-wrapping, partying, picking up family at the airport, keeping the kids sneaking peeks in the closets and so forth. I will extend in advance my sincere sympathy to all parents who will spend Christmas Eve trying to figure out how to put together that complicated toy from instructions written in what looks like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics (quick tip: if you see Osiris holding a hex bolt over the Nile, you need to use that squicky little wrench tool for that, not the hammer.)

I accomplished the last of my baking this weekend, and after I send off some packages and take around some goodie baskets to our friends, I have the rest of the week to hang out with the kids, cook, play Christmas music, paint, quilt, and generally make merry. I plan to take some short winter walks, followed by some long winter naps, and drink hot chocolate with little marshmallows in it. I will also wear my favorite red and green garments together because this week no one will think it's weird. And I'll likely spend some time on the porch sunning myself and reading while birds raid our feeders. Because while I'm sure it sounds boring to everyone else, that is what I really love to do during the holidays -- be happy at home with the ones I love.

For the eleventh PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



Two Crystal Dreams

The winner of this giveaway will receive Crystal Dream, a handpainted, hand-beaded art mini-quilt made and signed by me, which if you've followed my photoblog you've probably watched me making; and a signed first draft copy of Crystal Healer, StarDoc book nine, in manuscript or galley format printed by me (I'll leave it up to the winner to choose which format they prefer, and if they want I'll also put it in a three-ring binder.) This novel is currently in production but is not scheduled for release until August 2009, so the winner will literally be the first person besides my editor to read the story.

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name something you love to do during the holidays (or, if you can't pick just one thing, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Tuesday, December 23, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the mini-quilt and the signed manuscript copy of Crystal Healer plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #10 -- Making Wishes

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #7 -- Inspire Me is:

AnneV (whose comment began with: One of my favorite authors, Rosina Lippi/Sara Donati. Her website ... http://rosinalippi.com/weblog.)

Anne, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite writer blogs with us.

The holidays are a time for making wishes, and I'm no different from any kid when it comes to those. I have a very short wishlist this year; mostly my wishes have to do with hope for the future.

Of all the things I'd like for the holidays, Santa, Peace on Earth tops the list. Wherever and whenever you can manage it, please, Big Guy.

On the work front, I really wish I could solve all the problems in Publishing. I wish I could squelch some of the panic and depression over the latest batch of bad industry news. I wish I could buy books for all the readers who can't afford them now. I wish things would get better in a big way in a hurry before more of my friends and colleagues lose their jobs, and readers lose their favorite authors from the shelves. I am seriously buying books for everyone on my shopping list this year, but it never seems like enough. I wish it was.

Because my family is probably reading this and muttering to themselves by now, I will wish for a couple of things that are a bit easier to fit in my stocking -- books or a bookstore gift card, as always. A new rice steamer that doesn't spit all over the counter when I use it would also be nice. But mainly what I wish is for you to know how much I love you and how blessed I am to have you in my life. Every day with you is for me a wish come true.

For the tenth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



Three BookWishes

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments make a wish for something you'd like for the holidays (or, if you already have everything one could wish for, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Monday, December 22, 2008. I'll draw three names at random from everyone who participates and grant the winners a BookWish*, plus send each winner an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed** copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*A BookWish is any book of your choice that is available to order from an online bookseller, up to a maximum cost of $30.00 U.S. (I'll throw in whatever shipping cost is involved.)

**Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #9 -- For Following

The other day I was talking with an editor friend who complained about how hard it is to build a new author. I tried to be sympathetic and give him some ideas, but we've both been around for a while, and we're well-acquainted with the reality. Aside from a few skyrocketeers, for a writer it usually takes years, even decades, to establish a place in the industry -- and even when you do, there are no guarantees you'll keep it. Ever.

The right hype will attract an instant temporary readership; we've all seen it happen to the writers the industry touts as the Next Big Thang. A considerable segment of the book-buying public wants to be told who is the latest Thang writer because, like most consumers, they respond to the illusion of popularity and the promise of success as an indicator of quality. If they didn't, we wouldn't have advertising, bestseller lists or industry awards.

What I think sees a writer through the dark woods at the beginning of their career is the enduring readership. This is made up of readers who really aren't interested in the Last Big Thang, the Next Big Thang, or even That Sweet New Young Thang with the Miss America smile whose face is being splashed everywhere. They follow a particular writer because they connect in some fashion with the work. They bond on a very basic level -- storyteller to reader -- and for as long as the writer produces quality work and the reader reads, that bond will endure.

I was thinking about all this when I was cooking up the prize for this giveaway. I would love to send free books to everyone in my readership, but aside from giving away e-books like Ravelin online that is simply not possible. But I do keep a private mailing list, and there is room for a few more names. So for the ninth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



Four PBW Mailing List Spots

I have for each of the four winners of this giveaway a spot on my private mailing list. This means that if you win this giveaway, I will send you a signed final edition copy of every novel I write from now on (beginning with Stay the Night in January 2009.)

How many books will that be? Well, I don't know, exactly. I have four new books currently under contract, in production or pending release, so I can guarantee you at least four. I am somewhat prolific; I have a pile of novel and series ideas that I'd like to publish and no plans to retire anytime soon. So unless the Publishing industry collapses, you ask to be removed from the list or I get hit by a truck or something, I think I can provide you with plenty of reading material for years to come.

This prize also requires a little commitment from the winners -- you'll need to let me know if you move and your address changes, for example. Also, if you live outside the U.S., you'll have to alert me if there are any changes to customs or other shipping rules that affect mail delivery in your country. But other than that, all you have to do is walk down to the mailbox a couple times a year.

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name a writer who you have been following for longer than a year (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Sunday, December 21, 2008. I'll draw four names at random from everyone who participates and put the winners on my private mailing list, plus send them an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Friday, December 19, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #8 -- Golden Things

We're running behind again time-wise, but at last we've solved the upload/download problem.

First, the winners of PBW Holiday Giveaway #6 -- Cool Characters are:

Maithe (whose comment began with: Oh, there are several characters i just love reading.)

Kayla (whose comment began with: Talyn, from Holly Lisle's TALYN. Her first-person narrative is as much intriguing as it is entertaining.)

Laughing Gecko

Carissa

Holly M (whose comment was: Richard..nuff said :-))

JK (whose comment began with: Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my all time favorites, but it's very hard to pick just one.)

Michelle W. (whose comment began with: Faythe Sanders from Rachel Vincent's Werecat series and Luna Wilder from Caitlin Kittredge's Nocturne City Series are among my favorite characters right now.)

Winners, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your copy of Master of Shadows out to you now (just a reminder, your copy of Stay the Night will be mailed out to you as soon as my author copies arrive here, which will be sometime between now and January 6th, 2009.) Thanks to everyone for letting us know who some of your favorite characters are.

About five years ago I wrote a short story about the most unlikely and unlikeable character to ever hit my pages. She was based on a myth I didn't care for, involving a critter that usually scares the wits out of me in real life. She was dark, mouthy, lethal, obnoxious and pretty much everything you else don't want in a protagonist.

I fell instantly in love with her, of course, and wrote in a couple of days what is arguably the best short story I've ever written: Red Branch. Some of you may remember her from one of my LB&LI workshops that she taught over the summer (she'll never admit it but she wanted to, and like I was going to argue with her.)

Since 2003 I've written other tales set in Akela's world of Ravelin, always for my own enjoyment. Writing for yourself is a golden thing because you can ignore all the rules and really play. When you have a place like Ravelin that seems to keep building itself in the back of your head, I think that's important to do. As much as I respect making the Almighty Buck, sometimes this gig just needs to be fun.

Stories are also meant to be shared, so for the eighth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have for everyone:



Click on the cover art to go to the Scribd document page, where you can read online, download or print Ravelin, my free e-book collection of five short stories set in the Red Branch universe, including Black Queen, the follow-up to the first tale of Akela and Jalon. And happy reading. *Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.


Cover art credit: © Bertrandb | Dreamstime.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #7 -- Inspire Me

We've managed to partially fix the upload problem, but my prize images may be a little fuzzy until we finish the fine tuning. I know we were pretty late posting this, so I'll extend the deadline for giveaway #7 an extra day to allow everyone have a chance to enter.

Blogging has brought a lot of new authors onto my radar, and for that I'm very grateful. Since I gave up traveling and public appearances I don't get out at all anymore to meet my colleagues. So I have no idea if Shiloh Walker is as hot as every says she is (but I'm guessing, yeah, she is.)

Fortunately weblogs have turned the online community into one huge perpetual writer's conference, where I can drop in and talk to virtually any of my writer friends whenever I like. And I don't have to wear makeup and panty hose and eat mystery chicken while I'm hanging with them, always a much-appreciated side benefit.

I was tempted to do a giveaway of books by all the writers I've met since I opened PBW's virtual doors, but UPS told me they didn't have a box the size of a house and the shipping charges would balance the national deficit. So I chose books by six blogging writers who have one thing in common aside from being very talented, skillful storytellers -- at some point during the last four years they all wrote something on their weblogs that kept me from quitting.

For the seventh PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



Six Books by Blogpals Who Inspire

unsigned paperback copies of: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione, The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu, Red by Jordan Summers, and Beyond His Control by Stephanie Tyler.

unsigned trade paperback copies of: The Missing by Shiloh Walker and Tied to the Tracks by Rosina Lippi

And as a little Christmas bonus, unsigned hardcover copies of: The Treasure by Iris Johansen and Just After Sunset by Stephen King (two authors I wish would blog)

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name or put up a link to a writer blog you like to visit (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Saturday, December 20, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the box of six books by my blogpals + the bonus books, plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Winner

We're experiencing some minor technical difficulties here at Casa PBW, so Holiday Giveaway #7 will be posted later on today.

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #5 -- Surprise Me is:

Bethany K. Warner

Bethany, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for letting us in on so many surprising books.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #6 -- Cool Characters

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #4 -- Playing Favorites is:

Amethyst Willow

Amethyst, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for recommending so many wonderful books for us to discover.

I put a lot of things in my novels that are personal metaphors, inside jokes or other private amusements -- and I don't explain them. A couple of years ago some readers started referring to these hidden and enigmatic elements as Easter Eggs (ala LOST) and a few of you Nosy Parkers began hunting for them and finding them.

Here are a half-dozen you don't have to figure out:

Six Darkyn Easter Eggs

Each of the Kyn have a psychic or physical talent that is unique to them. I use or coin verbs as mental shorthand for their talents, such as Memerase (Michael) Dreamwalk (Thierry) Shatter (Lucan) and Painsay (Richard). I rarely use my shorthand terms in the novels but I sometimes illustrate them with a visual metaphor when the romantic protagonists meet for the first time. All of the talents have two qualities: they are basically predatory in nature, and they all have something to do with what the Kyn's last thoughts were while they were still human.

With the exception of Jema, all of the female protagonists have female names but male nicknames, and yes, that was a deliberate choice. I have issues with how women are usually portrayed in dark fantasy and paranormal romance novels. I left out Jema because in the series, she is always the exception to the rule.

Alex's story about being inspired to go into reconstructive surgery by the family gardener was based on the real story of my own uncle, who was disfigured for most of his life after losing his nose to skin cancer. He was a wonderful man and I absolutely adored him. However, his disfigurement frightened and disgusted people so he had few friends and rarely went out in public.

Michael's physical appearance was inspired by two sources: a photo of the back of a rather famous celebrity who at the time was barefoot, wearing an old pair of jeans and painting, and an ordinary man I saw at an art festival with the most astonishing white streaks in his long, coal-black hair. I found a reason to give Michael that hair and described the photo in a scene in the first book.

In Private Demon I mentioned Rev. Rick Warren's very famous book, The Purpose-Driven Life, as a personal joke after three different people all gave it to me as a birthday gift. Fellow faithful friends love to give me this book for some reason; at one point I had ten gift copies of it. P.S., I still have not read it.

Jayr and I share the same birthmark, although mine is in a different location. My sixteen-year-old also has the same birthmark in a mirror position to my own, which gave me the idea to use them as I did in the series.

For the sixth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



Seven Copies of Stay the Night and Master of Shadows

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name one of your favorite characters from a story or novel (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Wednesday, December 17, 2008. I'll draw seven names at random from everyone who participates and send the winners each a signed final edition copy of my January '09 release, Stay the Night (this will be as soon as my author copies arrive, which should be some time between now and January 6, 2009.) I will also immediately send each winner an extra stocking stuffer to keep them busy while they wait for STN -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Regarding the Bootlegger

For all my friends and colleagues in RWA: many of you have written and I do know about the bootlegged copies of my novels that were posted on MediaFire.com. I notified my publisher this morning and asked the folks at MediaFire.com to take down the illegal copies. Evidently they have complied, because the files are no longer accessible.

For the bootlegger, who I'm told also links to PBW and hangs out here: I would have contacted you directly and asked you to take down the files, but there was no e-mail address listed for you. I'm not going to enable comments on this post because I don't want to turn this into an attack on you or a flame war or anything like that. I just want to talk to you, because if you do come here, then maybe I'm someone you will listen to.

I give away a lot of my work for free. That doesn't mean you get to do the same thing without my permission. I know you aren't profiting from the bootleg copies you're posting on the internet, but giving someone a stolen book rather than selling it to them does not make it any better. It's still a stolen book.

Obviously you know what you're doing is illegal, or you wouldn't be using an anonymous handle, hiding the download links and protecting your blog the way you have. But the fact remains that you are using and distributing my work without* the right to do so or my permission. That's why I had the files deleted. You gave me no choice when you posted them.

The people who may really come after you are the publishers. They have a lot of time, money and great attorneys. The publishing industry loses billions every year to bootleggers, and if you keep doing this you might just be the one they decide to take to court. So please, stop. Delete the illegal files you've posted for all the books you've bootlegged before you get into more trouble.

*Corrected, and thanks to lxz for catching my typo. That was not meant to be with.

PBW Holiday Giveaway #5 -- Surprise Me

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #3 -- Writer Secrets is:

Diane

Diane, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing their secrets with us.

When I was a kid my mom often had to work two jobs to pay the bills, and with four brothers and sisters, a grandmother and an aunt in the house Mom struggled just to put enough food on the table. She coped with the financial demands of the holidays by keeping a Christmas club account at the bank, in which every week she would faithfully deposit a dollar. That gave her the enormous sum of fifty dollars to spend on Christmas gifts.

Even in those Jurassic days of my childhood, fifty bucks didn't go far, but Mom was inventive. She also saved S&H green stamps all year and redeemed them for things she couldn't afford to buy, like a hair dryer for my older sister. She baked cookies for weeks to have tins and plates to hand out to friends and neighbors. She covered old coffee cans with colorful contact paper and filled them with slightly-used crayons that I believe she bought in beat-up boxes from rummage sales and thrift stores. To this day I still associate the smell of coffee with crayons. She cleaned up used dolls, fixed their hair and sewed new outfits for them (I can only think of one or two dolls I ever received in a store-bought package.)

What she did best was surprise us. Even as oblivious as kids are, we knew there were certain gifts that Santa couldn't bring us, like new bikes. I don't know how we knew that -- whether Mom dropped subtle hints or we just accepted that we would never get anything so grand -- but we didn't ask. One year I wanted a bike, though, so bad it was all I thought or talked about to my siblings. I didn't ask for it, though. I think I asked for a kite and some art supplies.

I can still remember how shocked I was that Christmas morning to dash out and see a beautiful blue bike waiting for me beside the tree. Shadow (of course I named her) was not new, but she'd been fixed up and repainted. She had rub marks on the handlebars where some rust spots had been sanded off, but she was two-wheeler, with none of those baby training wheels, and fast -- when I rode her, she flew. I spent years on that bike, riding up and down every street in town, falling off and skinning my knees a thousand times, and loving every second of it.

Some of my favorite books bring back to me the wonder of childhood, the thrill of Christmas morning, and the astonishing feeling of being genuinely surprised. It's a bit harder for a story to do that to a writer -- as Laura Kinsale once said to me, we know where all the buttons are -- but a great storyteller can still swing it.

The walloping ending of City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin? Not once did I even suspect that was on the way. The last part of Hannibal by Thomas Harris? Never, in a million years, would I have guessed that turn of events would happen. It's not always surprise endings, either. In Majorie M. Liu's The Wild Road, I got hit with a surprise in the middle of the book -- one I should have seen coming, because I've read entire Dirk and Steele series at least half a dozen times -- but she got me anyway.

I love to surprise my readers, of course, which is why I spend so much time working on keeping the story lines from becoming too ho-hum. I think I've been most successful in sustaining that in my series work. The Darkyn novels have been called a lot of things, but rarely predictable. When my ninth StarDoc novel, Crystal Healer, comes out next year, I think I can almost guarantee my readers won't expect what happens. My editor certainly didn't.

Whether or not you like surprises (don't feel bad if you don't; not all of them are especially welcome, like the surprise birthday party. I also still haven't forgiven Thomas Harris for Hannibal) the thing to remember is that the surprise itself matters, too. Because generally whoever gave you that unexpected gift was thinking of how thrilled you'd be -- and hoping that whatever you weren't expecting would tell you how special you are to them.

For the fifth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



Eight Surprises

That's right -- I'm not telling you what they are. In the true spirit of Christmas morning, if you win you'll have to wait until the package arrives. Okay, I'll let you shake the box a little: sounds like there are definitely books in there. One sounds like a signed novel of mine. I hear other things, too. Hmmmm...I think that's enough hints, don't you?

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name a story or book that surprised you (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Tuesday, December 16, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner all eight surprises, plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Photo credit: © Yellowj | Dreamstime.com

Sunday, December 14, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #4 -- Playing Favorites

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #2 -- Times Change is:

Crista

Crista, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite SF/F reads with us.

One question I dread during interviews (and probably why I dodge them so often) is "Who is your favorite author?" I always say something like I can't pick one and then name every writer I can think of who has a book on my keeper shelf. I always miss someone, too, and hate myself afterward.

There are a couple of authors whose books I would buy even if they published their grocery lists (what does Linda Howard eat for breakfast, I wonder?) but I have no permanent, exclusively number one favorite. That would be like sending me into a French bakery and telling me I can only buy one specific p√Ętisserie for the rest of my life.

Today my favorite author is a historian I've been reading for the last couple of days. She never fails to immerse me in whatever time and place she chooses. I envy her characters. On the page she's charming, intelligent, beautifully devious, and makes writing look as easy and automatic as breathing. Want to know who she is?

A couple of nights ago my favorite author was someone I discovered by accident back in 2001 (I was sucked in by a great title and killer cover art.) I didn't expect anything more than a decent story, but in this case, I got great story. I found an e-book version of a story of hers that I'd somehow missed -- must have been in an anthology -- and downloaded it to test the whole Adobe thing. I didn't really have time to read the story that night, but of course she owned me after the first page and I was up until 2 am finishing it.

There are so many writers I admire for different reasons. I want to praise them all, and nag my readers to buy their books, and see to it that they're going to keep writing. I give away their books like presents because to me they are gifts. I miss favorite writers who have retired from the game (Sharon and Tom Curtis) or who aren't here anymore (Oscar Wilde.) I do what I can here on PBW to support my favorite authors and the books they write because I see it as in investment in my reading future -- and great books have to be shared with others.

Things you can do for your favorite authors that don't cost anything:

1. Talk about their books to other readers. This is pretty obvious, but I don't think readers know just how powerful they are. As a writer who has not been an overnight success, I can absolutely guarantee you that I wouldn't still be working in the biz if it wasn't for word of mouth. One concrete example: by talking about it, my readers actually brought one of my novel series (StarDoc) back to the market, and gave me the opportunity to write and publish more books (which is the best gift you can ever give a series author like me.)

2. Ask your local library to carry their titles. With the way the economy is going, more and more readers are getting their books from the library, so you'll be doing them a favor by stocking it with great reads. Also, many readers won't first buy books by an author who's new to them; they check them out at the library to give them a test drive. If the book isn't available, no test drive.

3. Pass along a favorite book to a family member, friend or someone you know who enjoys reading. Sharing books also helps during tough financial times; I pass along all of the hardcovers I read now to others whom I know can't afford them. I also find people are more likely to read a book that I personally recommend and give to them. Finally, it's a great way to recycle books and give the author another shot at acquiring a new reader.

4. Write about them online. We're all busy, and the time we're able to spend online is generally pretty limited, especially during the holidays. But when you take a few minutes and tell people online how much a favorite book means to you, whether it's on your blog, a discussion board or elsewhere, you do something that is more real and effective than the even priciest advertising.

5. Write to the author and tell them how you feel about their work. There are mysterious forces at work in the universe, and readers are one of them. I swear, it's the weirdest thing, but you guys have downright spooky timing. Each time I've thought seriously about throwing in the towel -- and there have been more than a few of those -- an e-mail or letter arrived from a reader telling me how much they enjoyed one of my books, or asking me questions, or just saying "Please, write another story about [insert character name.] And that was enough to give me hope, make me feel that I wasn't doing all this for nothing, and keep me going.

As for me, every time I go into a bookstore, I know there are undiscovered favorites in there, just waiting for me to find them. Being a devoted reader means being on an endless treasure hunt. Someday, I know, I will find them -- and when I do, you'll hear all about them.

For the fourth PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



A Gift Bag of 9 PBW New and Old Favorites

-- unsigned hardcover copies of Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle, The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi, and The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid.

-- unsigned trade paperback copy of Maximum Exposure by Alison Kent

-- unsigned paperback copies of Cry Wolf and The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs, Kidnapped! by Jo Leigh, and The Wild Road by Marjorie M. Liu

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name a story or book that you would most like other people to read (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Monday, December 15, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the gift bag with the 9 PBW New and Old Favorites, plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #3 -- Writer Secrets

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #1 -- Gifts of Stories is:

Marnie Colette a.k.a marniebelle

Marnie, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite holiday reads with us.

Ten Things You Probably Don't Know About Writers

1. All writers have at least one secret bad habit that makes them better writers. Mine is discreetly eavesdropping on people talking to each other, usually in restaurants, grocery stores and at the post office.

Best line I ever overheard in a coffee shop, from a woman talking to two men: "I can take both of you, but it's gonna be a tight fit." (She had three kids with her and was talking about giving them a ride in her compact car; get your minds out of the gutter.)

2. One or more characters in our novels has probably had their name changed at least once. The reasons for these name changes are logical only to the writer.

Alexandra Keller from the Darkyn series started out as Vanessa Whitman, and then became Vanessa Killian, and then, finally, Alexandra Keller. I first changed the surname because it reminded me too much of chocolate. I changed her Christian name after meeting our blogpal Vanessa Jaye (who doesn't know about this, btw) because I kept thinking of her or something she had said online every time I sat down to work on the character in the first book. I chose Alexandra specifically because at the time I didn't personally know any Alexandras.

3. Bad reviews never bother us.

I accidentally kicked that hole in the wall because I went a little overboard trying to kill a silverfish. The voodoo doll? That was just a joke gift from a friend, and I've been using it as a pin cushion when I sew. And I don't know how those pictures of those reviewers got pinned to the dart board in the garage, but they're really helping me improve my aim.

4. Books are priceless to writers. Words are like jewels. Unread stories are gifts waiting to be unwrapped. Book stores and libraries are our treasure houses. People we see reading books always look beautiful in our eyes.

Lady who I saw reading a Harlequin romance novel in your car while we were waiting in the school pick-up line? You're gorgeous. I love you.

5. Every writer probably has a private, funny nickname for people in the industry that no one but their closest writer friends will ever hear.

I'll break the silence to reveal a couple of mine: Lady Catherine de Iceberg. Inspector Clueless. Lord of the Wrongs. The Scarlet Pimp. (and no, I'm not going to tell you their real names.)

6. If you ask a writer which is more difficult, writing or performing neurosurgery, they'll probably say writing.

No one sends in eight highly-trained people to help me write my books in a controlled environment with the latest in cutting-edge technology. Yeah, those brain surgeons have it easy.

7. No matter how personally uncool we are, we writers always get to hang out with amazing characters who do incredible things in strange and wonderful places.

Today I did the laundry, put away the dishes, and watched/listened to two immortal Kyn lords having a fist fight in a nightclub while arguing over the possible existence of zombies.

8. The biggest mistake you can make is to tell a writer that they can't write something.

The last time that happened to me, I not only wrote the story, I sold it. For a lovely pile of money. So, come on, tell me what else I can't write.

9. We won't admit it, but most of us do shop for our characters.

Except me. I was only looking at those Armani suits at the mall to see if they had any marked down to 90% off so I could afford to buy one for my guy. Okay, so he's a mechanic and doesn't wear suits, but if by some chance he unexpectedly wins the Nobel for peaceful advances in HVAC or something, I need to be prepared, right?

10. Writers are always writing -- if not on paper or the computer, then in our heads. Even when we sit on our favorite windowsill and seem to be doing nothing more than watching the snow fall, trust me, we're writing.

As it should be.

For the third PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



A Gift Bag of 10 Writer Secret Joys

-- A No Plot? No Problem! novel-writing kit by Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month

-- a hardcover blank book to journal in

-- unsigned hardcover copies of The Writer's Complete Crime Reference Book by Martin Roth, The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse ~ Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood

-- unsigned paperback copies of The Writer's Book of Matches ~ 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction by the staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, A Literary Journal, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent, A Writer's Space by Dr. Eric Maisel, A Writer's Book of Days ~ A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves, and The Daily Writer ~ 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life by Fred White.

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments tell us something we don't know about you (or, if you'd rather keep your secrets, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Sunday, December 14, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the gift bag with the 10 Writer Secret Joys, plus two extra stocking stuffers -- signed, printed* copies of my Lynn Viehl writing how-to, Way of the Cheetah and my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Friday, December 12, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #2 -- Times Change

For the last couple of years I've probably read a hundred blog posts, trade articles and other gems o' wisdom telling me that no one reads anymore. These are always written by the Sit Around, Watch and Complain People. They say that we don't have time to read books. That, for whatever reason being perpetuated by the conspiracy theory of the moment, that we don't care anymore about the written word.

This always makes me laugh for many reasons, one being that they're writing this. If people don't read, isn't writing to bitch about it kind of an exercise in futility?

There are readers out there, my friends. Millions of people around the world use the internet every day. The internet is not all pictures. To use it, you generally have to do some reading. I think there are more people than we can even imagine reading every single minute of the day. And they're writing, too -- show me a kid with a mobile phone, and I bet you they've used it at least once a day not only to call someone, but to "text" them.

I write stories about the future, and never once in any of them have I left out stories. In my StarDoc universe, my space-traveling characters listen to stories or read them on computers. Amazingly enough, they also tell stories to each other. Just as our ancient ancestors told their stories in their ways. They etched them in colored pigments on cave walls. They carved them into clay tablets and baked them in the sun. They painted them on papyrus and animal hides. They tattooed them on their skins. The most frequently-used delivery system for stories is in oral retellings. In every culture, stories have been told around the fire or the hearth or at the bedside, passed along from father to son, mother to daughter.

Now, if you could go back and ask, say, an Egyptian stone cutter what he thought would happen to stories once his people gave up chiseling them into the walls of tombs, he'd have probably said, "Well, that's it, then. We're done for, dude."

There will always be someone to whine about the way it used to be, the way it is now, and how we're all, all doomed. They did it when e-books got started (that was supposed to kill print.) Then again when Y2K was about to arrive (that was supposed to destroy all the world's computers.) Now it seem that it's all about how print is on its way out. Again.

Times change. So do the ways we tell stories. You change with them, or you get left behind. But the pleasure and wonder of storytelling will never die just because times change. The only way stories die is when we stop telling them.

For the second PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



A Gift Bag of 11 Wonder-filled Reads

-- unsigned hardcover copy of Just After Sunset by Stephen King

-- unsigned trade paperback copy of Halo ~ The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell

-- unsigned paperback copies of The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu, Red by Jordan Summers, and Nightlife, Moonshine and Madhouse by Rob Thurman

-- a signed copy of a rare paperback-size hardcover edition of my S.L. Viehl novel Bio Rescue

-- signed paperback copies of my S.L. Viehl novels Afterburn, Blade Dancer and Omega Games

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name your favorite SF or fantasy story or novel (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Saturday, December 13, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the gift bag with the 11 wonder-filled reads, plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adobe eReader Info

It took me most of the day, but I have the info for those of you who would like to download Master of Shadows from the Penguin USA site in Adobe format to be read on your computer.

The Adobe format of my e-book does require a different program than Adobe Reader to be installed on your computer before you try to download the e-book (if you've already tried and it doesn't work, like me, you can also install the program after and do a download again from the links in your Penguin Smart Receipt page.) The name of the program is Adobe Digital Editions, and it can be downloaded for free here.

If you are not already registered with Adobe as a member, you will also need to go here to creat an ID and password. After it has downloaded, Adobe Digital Editions prompts you for an Adobe ID and password, which must be entered for activation of the program.

I have successfully downloaded two Adobe e-books from the Penguin USA site to make sure it works, and both my e-book and another author's came through fine.

(Thanks to Dunabit/Lyn for bringing this to my attention.)

PBW Holiday Giveaway #1 -- Gifts of Stories

This holiday season is all about books for me. I'm asking Santa for a pile of them, I'm nagging all my friends to hit the bookstore at least once before the end of the year, and I'm giving books as gifts to everyone I know. You guys are no exception. For the next twelve days, I'll have my usual daily holidays giveaways of books and other goodies here at PBW, as well as share some thoughts on books and storytelling.

Each year during Christmas I always re-read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The way the Ingalls family celebrated Christmas despite their hardships renews my spirits every time. I think this is an excellent book to give to your favorite kid or adult.

My other faithful holiday read is The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I never get tired of this story, and the first three lines are simply genius: "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies." O. Henry's beautiful story reminds us that the greatest gift of all is love, which is all we really need to give to each other during the holidays (okay, but some books would be nice, too.)

Sharing a holiday story with another person in your life is a gift in itself, whether you read The Night Before Christmas to your kids on Christmas Eve or you push a holiday romance into your best friend's hands after you two survive your annual Shop Until We Drop spree. Holidays are all about sharing stories and making memories, and holiday books do both.

For the first PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:



A Gift Bag of 12 Christmas Reads

-- unsigned hardcover copies of Dashing Through the Snow by Mary & Carol Higgins Clark and The Purpose of Christmas by Reverend Rick Warren

-- unsigned paperback copies of This Year's Christmas Present by Nina Bangs, Sandra Hill and Dara Joy, A Virgin River Christmas by Robin Carr, Wanted: Christmas Morning by Judy Christenberry, Snowy Night with a Stranger by Jane Feather, Sabrina Jeffries and Julia London, Small Town Christmas by Debbie Macomber, Silver Bells by Fern Michaels, JoAnn Ross, Mary Burton and Judy Duarte, Heating Up the Holidays by Jill Shalvis, Jacquie D'Alessandro, and Jamie Sobrato, All I Want for Christmas by Gina Wilkins, Welcome to Serenity by Sherryl Woods

-- a signed hardcover copy of my Rebecca Kelly GCI novel, Home for the Holidays

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name your favorite Christmas or other holiday story, book or novel (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, December 12, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the gift bag with the 12 Christmas reads, plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Master of Shadows Release

A year ago I talked about writing a dangerous book. For a long time I'd thought about trying something really different -- writing a story that paralleled another story. I'd done something like that when I wrote Illumination, which is basically most of the story from StarDoc book one, told from Reever's point of view instead of Cherijo's.

Retelling a story from another POV is one thing, but I wondered if I could tell an entirely new story while paralleling another. I thought it would work if the two stories shared certain elements, like characters and plot threads, without either one spoiling the other. Definitely experimental, but the kind of writing challenge I enjoy. Inspiration for the story soon followed, and then I knew exactly what I wanted to write.

I wrote my dangerous book, which technically came out a bit longer than a traditional novella, took it to some folks at Penguin Putnam involved in the eSpecial program, and pitched it. I wasn't really expecting anything to happen, but I wanted to talk about e-books, what I'd been doing with them, what I'd learned over the last seven years, and what I hoped to do with this one. They liked my ideas and offered to work with me on this project as a joint venture.

Today we're releasing the results: Master of Shadows, a novella of the Darkyn and a full-length, original story that parallels the story of my January '09 print release, Stay the Night.



Will Scarlet, right-hand man to Darkyn leader Robin of Locksley, has been charged with an impossible task: He must regain control of his lord’s stronghold, which has been invaded by vicious Darkyn renegades, without harming any captives or attracting the attention of the Brethren, the Kyn’s mortal enemies. Things only get worse when Will learns that Reese Carmichael, the mortal woman he loves, is one of the hostages.

Reese was sent by her father, a former Brethren inquisitor, to infiltrate Rosethorn, retrieve an ancient vial containing the cause of a medieval plague, and prevent Armageddon from being accidentally unleashed upon the mortal world. Seducing and falling in love with Will Scarlet was never part of the plan, but Reese has no choice other than to use him and the siege of Rosethorn to complete her mission. If she does, she knows he will never forgive her — but if she doesn’t, millions of innocent lives will be lost.

As Kyn allies Jayr, Byrne, and Lucan arrive to provide Will with reinforcements, Reese’s true identity and motives are revealed. Torn between love and loyalty, Will and Reese uncover one last secret from the past that may help them win the final battle — if it doesn’t destroy them first.


I know the economy has been very tough on everyone, and one of my priorities was to make this e-book affordable for as many readers as possible. Publishers, on the other hand, have to make money. In the end I had to compromise on price, but I did persuade them to extend a period of reduced pricing for my readers. So until January 6, 2009, Master of Shadows will be available for the special retail price of $2.99 (after that date, the price for the e-book will increase to $4.99.)

I'll have links to a big press release they're sending out later today. So far, these are the links to the places where you can buy it that I've found (to be updated/corrected as the e-book goes live and the blips are worked out):

In Kindle format, priced at $2.39, on Amazon.com

In Secure eReader/Microsoft Reader format, priced as low as $2.69/$2.29 at Fictionwise

Added new links:

In MS Reader format, priced at $2.99 at Penguin.com USA.

In eReader format, priced at $2.99 at Penguin.com USA.

In Adobe Reader format, priced at $2.99 at Penguin.com USA.

In Sony reader format, priced at $2.84 at The eBook store from Sony.

My thanks to Rick, Jodi and all the folks at Penguin for giving me this opportunity to publish an eSpecial, and to my guy for being my reason and my rock these last couple of weeks. I couldn't have done it without any of you.
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Added: My publisher has asked me to post some excerpts from Master of Shadows and Stay the Night on the blog, so with your indulgence, here goes:

An Excerpt from Master of Shadows by Lynn Viehl
First electronic release December 10, 2008

Reese woke to the sound of a mobile phone ringing, and reached blindly until she found it and brought it in front of her burning eyes. The display showed the time—why had Father allowed her to sleep for so long?—and a pet name: Loverboy.

She switched it on and held it to her ear. “Hello.”

“Did I wake you?” Loverboy had Will Scarlet’s voice.

He is Will, you idiot. “No.” She sat up, dragging the sheet to her chin. He couldn’t see her, but she slept naked, and talking to him while she was bare-skinned made her feel exposed. She had to say something, greet him as if nothing had happened. Nothing had happened. Yet. “How are you?”

“Tired. Somewhat annoyed. Very sorry for behaving like such a jackass last night.” Will sounded tentative, as if he were afraid to say more, and then went on. “Reese, I want you to know that I never meant—”

“It’s okay. You can make it up to me when I get to Rosethorn.” She glanced at her watch; she still had enough time to prepare. “I’ll be there in a couple of hours.”

“That is the other reason I called. I can’t meet you there tonight. Rob is attending a gallery show in town, and I must go with him. We will not be returning to the estate until later, likely after midnight.”

He was telling her everything she needed to know, as if he knew what she intended to do. Did he know? “It sounds like a great show.”

“You could meet us there,” Will suggested. “Rob is escorting an old friend, but I will be on my own. We could talk about what happened last night.” When she didn’t reply, he added, “Or perhaps not.”

“I’d love to be there,” she lied. “But it’s the catalog. I have so much work to do on it.”

He muttered something, and then said, “So the fact that I forced myself on you has nothing to do with the manner in which you’re now avoiding me.”

“Yes. No. It wasn’t—” She stopped and rubbed her hand over her face. “It wasn’t like that. I’m not avoiding you.”

“Prove it to me, sweetheart.” The rough tone became soft and persuasive. “Come to the show.”

Trying to think of another excuse that would not further offend him, give away her true intentions, or jeopardize the mission made her head whirl. “You’ll be working, and I doubt Lord Locksley wants me distracting you from your duties.”

“Hang Rob,” he said flatly. “Come anyway.”

“Be patient, Will. We can get together later, when we can have more time for ourselves.” She would never see him again. Last night was all that they would ever have, and she’d run from him. It made this farce she was playing out into a cruel form of self-torture. “Wouldn’t you rather be alone with me?”

“I’ve done nothing but think about that, and you,” he admitted. “All day, I’ve had no peace. I barely slept. Reese, I know we agreed in the beginning to be friends only, and that neither of us wanted a serious affair. Somehow last night we strayed beyond that, I think.”

She didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. She had to know more, though. She couldn’t go through with her mission if she didn’t. “How do you feel about that?”

“How do I feel?” He laughed. “I want more.”

“More of the same?”

“More of you.”

He would have her, in a sense, but he would never know—and that was probably the kindest thing she could ever do for him. “You may change your mind before the next time you see me.”

“I think not.”

“Okay.” She got out of bed. “As much as I’d love to chat with you, I have to go and get ready for work now. My boss wants me to stop by the office before I drive out to Rosethorn.” She closed her eyes and added a flirtatious lilt to her voice. “Maybe I’ll see you later.”

“You will wait for me?”

Had she ever done anything else? “Always.”
---------------------------------------------

An Excerpt from Stay the Night by Lynn Viehl
To be released January 9, 2009


Robin found the Mercedes and unlocked the passenger door for her, as naturally as if the car belonged to him. He treated her the same way; as if her coming along with him meant she’d go along with whatever he did.

“Do you want the top down? It’s a lovely night.” When she didn’t get in, he gave her hand a tug. “We only have two days, Christal. Get in.”

“My name isn’t Christal. This car doesn’t belong to you. Neither do I.” Chris twisted her hand, but he kept hold of her. If he didn’t let go of her, right now, she was going to make a fool out of herself. To remind herself of who he was, she reminded him. “You can’t steal or bully out of people whatever you want, Robin. No matter how good you are with your magic whatever it is, eventually, you’re going to get caught.”

His dark brows rose. “I don’t use magic, and what does this have to do with getting into the car?”

He didn’t care. He genuinely didn’t care that they were, in effect, stealing this woman’s car. “How do you sleep at night?” she demanded.

"I sleep during the day.”

“You know exactly what I mean.” She was sick of this vampire fantasy role he insisted on playing, too. “Doesn’t it bother you, knowing everything you have you stole from someone else?”

“I have not stolen everything,” he told her. “When I bought the Armstrong building, for example, I paid cash for it.”

He’d bought a high rise building in downtown Atlanta for cash. Of course he had, he was the son of the Magician. He could probably buy Atlanta.

“Where did you get the money?” Chris asked. “How many priceless paintings did you have to steal to cover the down payment?”

“None. I invest in the stock exchange. Google did very well for me that year.” He watched a security guard stroll past them. “A gentleman does not discuss his financial empire in public. Now we have to go.”

Chris didn’t budge. “What does happen to the art you steal? Are you warehousing it? Do you sell it to private collectors?” Maybe if she could convince him to turn himself in, and work with the Bureau on recovering and returning the artworks he had stolen, it might reduce the time he would have to serve in prison.

Am I trying to work out a plea agreement? For the Magician?

Chris backed up a step. “I can’t do this. I can’t go through with this.”

“Yes, you can.”

She looked at him, suddenly and inexplicably more angry than she ever had been in her life. “I won’t.”

“Get in the car, love,” he said through his teeth, “or I shall pick you up and stow you in the boot.”

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Revelations

As they did each December, the day shift workers at Knight's Realm left work to enjoy a month-long holiday with pay, courtesy of their immortal employers, the Darkyn of the Realm. Those left behind didn't mind the absence of their human servants. They looked forward to four weeks during which they could indulge in real versions of the medieval contests and battles they usually performed to entertain the thousands of tourists that visited the popular Orlando attraction each year.

This night, however, the Kyn lords and lady paramount gathered in the guard's hall had come together for a grim purpose. They had but to wait the arrival of one last suzerain, Robin of Locksley, whose flight out of Atlanta had been delayed, before they carried out the unpleasant task that had befallen them. As they sat around the king's table, they brooded or toyed with their goblets of bloodwine, each avoiding the other's gaze.

Jayr, a slim, dark-haired female who had spent seven centuries serving as seneschal to Aedan mac Byrne, the former suzerain of the Realm, now presided as lady paramount of the territory. She had never used her gender as an excuse to evade any of her duties, but for the first time in her long life she considered doing exactly that.

She glanced across the table at Lucan, suzerain of the southernmost American territory. "You are quite certain of this, Lord Lucan? For if it is some sort of sick jest of yours--"

"Your enormous confidence in me warms my heart, my lady," Lucan drawled. Big, blond and utterly lethal, the former chief assassin of the Kyn had silver eyes that now gleamed with malice. "But it is the truth, and you have seen the evidence with your own eyes." He gestured toward the white plastic FedEx envelope sitting in the center of the table, which no one would look at.

"Aye, but we all know you've an evil wit, assassin," Aedan mac Byrne, Jayr's lord and life companion, said. The enigmatic blue tattoos on his broad face did not hide his disgust. "'Twould be like you to inflict a hoax like this on the lad and the rest of us for your own entertainment."

"Scotsman, even I would not be so cruel. But I do know best how to deal with it." Lucan picked up the envelope, rose, and carried it toward the fire burning in the hearth.

"No. You must not keep the truth from him." Valentin Jaus, the Chicago suzerain who resembled a fairytale prince, said as he stood. Yet even as the words left his lips, Jayr's body became a blur and streaked around the table.

"I thank you, my lord," Jayr said as she appeared between Lucan and the fire, and held out her hand. "But you cannot do more than delay for a few weeks the inevitable humiliation he must suffer."

"Who must suffer?" Robin of Locksley asked as he strode into the room. His beautiful violet eyes shifted as he scanned his friends' unhappy faces. "And why the devil are you all sitting in here in the dark?"

"Mon ami." Thierry Durand, as tall as Aedan but much broader and darker, left his seat and went to clasp hands with Robin. The warrior-priest, who had once been a killing machine whom all men feared, spoke in a soft, kindly tone. "Come and sit down with us. We must . . . talk."

"All right." Robin's frown eased as he saw a familiar green eyes in the shadows. "Gabriel, good Christ, what are you doing here? I thought you were in Europe, rescuing our brothers and sisters from the Brethren."

"I had to come when I heard . . . that you would be here," Gabriel said, his long fair hair gleaming as he turned his fallen angel's face away and stared into the fire.

Robin turned around slowly. "Jayr, why is everyone not looking at me?"

"We have some news, my lord." Jayr took his arm and led him over to the table. "'Tis not all bad, although . . . " she glanced down at the envelope in her hands. "It could have been much worse. That is how you must think of it."

"Think of what?" He saw the address on the envelope and grinned. "Is that my book?"

"Yes, my lord, but--"

"Well, give it here." He seized the envelope, and tugged on it when Jayr wouldn't let go. "'Tis my book. I'll not wait until January like the rest of humanity to lay eyes on it. Give it to me." He wrestled it out of her grip.

"We had no warning about this, Locksley," Lucan said, his voice gruff.

"Of course you didn't," Robin agreed as he tore open the envelope. "They never send her author copies on time. I thought I'd have to steal a shipment off a truck to have one to give to my lady for Christmas." He took out the book inside the envelope. "So how did you manage to get . . .this . . ." he stopped speaking as the firelight illuminated the cover, causing it to glow brightly.

Aedan mac Byrne came to stand beside him, and rested a big hand on his friend's shoulder. "'Tis not as bad as you think, lad."

"It's pink," Robin said, his voice flat and distant.

"More rose than pink, I would say, my lord," Jayr put in quickly. "'Tis not a color one sees every day on books about our kind."

"Or even every century," Lucan muttered under his breath.

"Mine was but a cold silver and blue," Thierry said. "Yours is so much warmer. Like . . . the promise of spring."

"It's pink," Robin said again. "My face is pink."

"When the Brethren were torturing me for two years in their dungeons," Gabriel said, "I would have thanked God to have seen such a book. Or a face. Or anything at all, in the end."

Jayr touched Robin's arm, the muscles of which felt like inflexible iron. "Women do like pink, my lord. Humans dress their little girl children in it all the time." She grimaced. "Not that I am saying you look like-- that is--"

"They made me pink. Like a rat's tail. And my eye -- my bloody eyes are not blue." Robin met her gaze. "I am Robin of the Hood. I am the greatest thief of all time. I have been many things, but I am not, nor have I ever been, pink-faced or blue-eyed."

"That settles it." Lucan pulled on his long, black cloak. "I will go to New York and deal with this."

"You cannot slaughter the staff of an entire publishing house, my lord." Jayr saw his expression. "Very well, you can, but you must not. They are mortals. We have sworn to live among them in peace."

"And you have sworn to stop killing," Jaus reminded him.

Lucan shrugged. "So I forget my vow for a day or two."

"Has it shipped?" Robin asked. When no one answered, he shouted, "Tell me now."

"Yes, my lord, it has," Jayr said. "In three weeks the distributors will begin delivery to the book merchants."

"We could siege the warehouses," Aedan said thoughtfully. "Aye, and burn them to the ground. The mortals have insurance."

"They will only print more," Thierry advised him. He tried to take the book from Robin's white-knuckled grasp. "Do not allow this to toy with your sanity, Locksley. 'Tis not worth it."

For a long time Robin said nothing, and Jayr began to fear that this indignity had destroyed his mind. Then, at length, he spoke.

"She wore a pink scarf, the first time we danced together." Robin traced his long, scarred fingers over the ridiculous colors on the novel's cover. "I used it to blindfold her, later, in my penthouse."

"Indeed." Lucan perked up. "What happened then?"

Robin seemed to come out of his trance. "None of your damned business." Straight black hair fell over his eyes as he bowed his head. "It is done, then? I cannot stop it from being released?"

"No, my lord," Jayr said gently.

"Very well." He tossed the book onto the table. "I have business to attend to. My lords. My lady." He bowed and strode out of the hall.

"I knew this would be bad," Jayr said.

Valentin Jaus rubbed his eyes. "I will go after him. Of all of us, I understand his pain only too well." But before Jaus could follow, Robin reappeared with a mobile phone and a bottle of blood wine.

"Yes, that's right, love. I want to buy all fifty thousand copies. And put in a back order for another fifty. No, of course I'm not the author. I'm simply a very good, extremely wealthy friend of hers." Robin took a drink from the bottle, looked at the other Kyn and grinned. "Now, how quickly can you deliver them to Atlanta?"

(This post is dedicated to author Charlene Teglia, who kindly gave me the idea, and all my visitors, whom are now and forever Robin of Locksley's personal heroes.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Le Tote

I'm still working on my pink issues, but I promised to post a pic of the book tote I've made for the Darkyn novels auction. I just finished it this morning:

The Fabric of Inspiration book tote for the winner of the Darkyn novels auction, hand-quilted, reversible, with a paperback-size pocket on the outside -- click on image to see larger version

I seamed the bag so that it's fully reversible, and added a paperback-size outer pocket where the owner can hide the dreaded pink edition of Stay the Night keep their current read handy.

Added:

I was asked in comments if I'm going to do anything special for the winners of my other two auctions. I'm afraid I don't have time to make two more bags, so for the winner of my StarDoc auction I'll send the books in a tote with Van Gogh's Starry Night painting on the outside, and for the winner of the quilt auction I'll send it in a Celtic cloth tote I picked up at a RenFaire last year. Here is a pic of both (the Van Gogh tote on the left, the Celtic tote on the right):

In the Pink



Create a sticky note online for your blog at Wigflip.com's sticky note generator, Superstickies (link swiped from Gerard over at The Generator Blog.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dilemma

Having a tasteful, cohesive look for your novel series is really an important aspect of marketing your books. I've been very fortunate with the Darkyn series cover art, and I've been able to contribute to the process by making suggestions, such as the deep violet color theme for Evermore's cover art and selecting and submitting the image used for the e-book cover art for Master of Shadows.

When I was sent the art for the seventh and final novel, Stay the Night, I considered it my favorite cover of the series. It was a little different than the other books, but the depiction of Robin of Locksley was just about perfect and the warm browns, ambers and violet color scheme fit in with the rest of the books. It was gorgeous, and no one could possibly screw it up.

Evidently that faint sobbing sound I heard while I was congratulating myself was actually Jesus, weeping.

The last digital version of the cover art I was sent about a month ago remained in the original colors. I didn't see the final edition cover art for Stay the Night until the day before yesterday, when a copy arrived for the holiday auction. I was expecting what I had been shown, but at some point during the production, someone in NY decided Robin of Locksley would look better depicted in pink.



Yes. You heard me. Pink. It's not just pink, either. It's bright, florescent, metallic pink, with no trace of any of the original colors.

I won't waste your time by describing my reaction (just imagine the biggest explosion you've ever heard, triple it, and you'll have the general idea.) Now I have to decide what to do about it.

Maybe you guys can help me. If this debacle was your headache, would you:

1) Spread a rumor that pink is the new black.

2) See if Mattel wants to consider the series as a possible Barbie franchise.

3) Weep until you rupture your tear ducts, go blind and don't have to look at the damn thing anymore.

4) Lie to all your readers and say that Robin is actually gay but you forgot to mention it in the novel.

5) Run around the U.S., buy all 50,000 copies, and burn them on the sidewalk in front of your publisher's headquarters.

5a) Run around the U.S., buy all 50,000 copies, and make the book #1 on the Times mass market bestseller list.

5b) Run around the U.S. with 50,000 paperback-size copies of the original cover art and a really big bottle of glue.

6) Send all of your readers a Pepto Bismol promo widget (tablet with instructions to chew it before they look at the cover.)

7) Apologize to the author of whatever book you considered to have the most inappropriate cover art you've ever seen.

8) See if any of the chicklit writers will help you promote the book.

9) Call the new color theme "rose" instead of "pink" and say Robin is depicted as "melanin-challenged" instead of "an albino."

10) Be thankful that whatever idiot did this to your book decided to use pink instead of jaundice yellow, which surely would have done you in once and for all.

11) See if Suzanne Brockmann can spare some of those happy face stickers she handed out to her readers when they screwed up one of her covers (also see if she has them in jumbo size.)

12) Deny you wrote the book at all. Blame it on Alison Kent and let her answer the angry hate-mail.

12a) I think Alison would do that for you.

12b) If she doesn't see the cover art first.

13) Hire Pink to write and perform a promotional theme song for the book.

14) Send all of your readers free sunglasses as holiday gifts, as they will definitely need them on January 6th.

15) Start wearing a pink T-Shirt that reads, "Six out of Seven Ain't Bad."

16) Hand out free copies of the book with a stick of bubble gum tucked inside.

17) Accept it, as the book is already shipping as you write this.

17a) Accept it means you can't go all anti-pink now just because some moron ruined your cover art.

17b) Publishing is publishing, and with the frequency with which they screw up eventually you'll have to live with only black and white.

17c) And stop thinking even that would be better than this cover, you ninny.

18) Tell the readers before the book hits the shelves because they should hear it from you instead of reading about it as the January feature story on CoverArtHatchetJobs.com.

19) Request the publisher use the original cover art for any future print runs without calling them all the names you're thinking in your head.

20) Burn a copy if it makes you feel better, take a deep breath, and move on.

What do you guys think?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Holiday Auction Update

I'd like to pass along how grateful I am for the very generous bidding going on for my Darkyn novels auction, which is being offered as part of the huge holiday auction to benefit our blogpal, author Jo Leigh. The StarDoc books and Corn & Beans quilt auctions have also brought in a very healthy number of bids. I suspect some of you out there are responsible, and I really appreciate your support -- this is a very worthy cause.

I'm about finished with the fabric of inspiration quilted book tote I'm making for the winner of the Darkyn novels auction. Will post a pic of the tote tomorrow once all the finishing work is done. The seven books are also assembled and ready to be signed and shipped:

Click on image to see larger version

(About the caption -- I sent this photo as proof to a friend who also writes series novels. We both started writing our series at the same time, and had a small charity bet on who would finish theirs first. I won, thus the crowing.)

With the books and the tote I will also include for the winner of the Darkyn novels auction a printed copy of my rapidly upcoming e-book release, Master of Shadows (printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.)

If you haven't had a chance to check out the current auction list, do take a minute to click over and have a look -- there are a bunch of new items that have been listed that would make terrific holiday gifts for yourself or the readers or writers in your life.