Friday, September 30, 2005

Get Thee Behind Me

Rejection letters getting you down? offers a unique and hygenic way for writers to cope with the bouncing blues by printing your no-thanks on their Rejection Letter Toilet Paper.*

For ninety bucks, you get four rolls printed with an image 3.5" x 16" at 300 dpi, which is repeated throughout the roll -- so I'm interpreting that to mean as many rejection letters as you can fit in the specified space.

Not a bad deal, especially as it helps you put that sort of thing in its proper perspective. There are some additional cool possibilities -- like using things other than rejection letters. You could print up a couple of rolls of hatchet job reviews, flamers, trash bait, or anything else you most associate with that region of the human anatomy. I wonder if they print photos....

*Disclaimer from on product usage: "The facility for printing letters onto toilet paper is offered in good faith for your private use only and not for use in any way designed to cause offense or harm to any third party."

Save on PBW

The nice sales folks at Waldenbooks helped to sell a lot of books for me by getting behind If Angels Burn back in April, and to my delight they're doing it again for the new Darkyn novel, Private Demon.

I've also been told that I have co-op space for this book at the major chains. Oh, the irony.

Anyway, if you're interested in Private Demon, you can save $1 off the cover price at Waldenbooks with this online coupon. It's also good for the same savings on a bunch of other new romance releases and any Harlequin Blaze novel through 11/04/05, so do check it out.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

BS bloggers

For bestselling author, silly, not the other kind of BS. In publishing, of course, they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. And if you believe that, I have this bridge . . .

The latest heavy-hitter to join the blogosphere is Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle. She has comments enabled, too, the brave lady.

Go ahead, thank me for screwing up your blogroll.

Not much at Casa Krentz yet, and the best so far is her post explaining where all the alpha males have gone. Having read too many paranormals with sensitive, kind, apologetic vampire heroes, I can't agree. Then again, we probably have very different ideas of what alpha males are.

Recs II

Once upon a time I was a dedicated historical romance reader. Remember back when heroes were big, aggressive, noble, dagger-wielding, larger-than-life alphas? The sort of hero only an actor like Russell Crowe could play in a movie. I loved those guys.

I stopped reading historical romance when authors started turning heroes into sheroes. Now almost every hero from the past is sweet, gentle, considerate, and apologetic, even when he shows up in full armor at his enemy's castle, an invading army of ex-mercs at his back. Today's historical romance hero doesn't charge the drawbridge. Oh, no (hand pressed to throat) he would never charge the drawbridge. He knocks now. Then he gets down on his knees to beg the enemy's daughter (the other heroine) to please give him her hand in marriage to avoid a lengthy and unpleasant siege in which someone might actually, you know, die. P.S., the marriage is always in name only -- absolutely no sex until undying love has been declared, usually on page 568.

Babe, if I want something that beta, I'll go to the pet shop and watch the fish spawn.

I didn't smell any flounder when I read Vanessa Jaye's wicked post about a controversial historical romance. First sign of a good book: it offended a bunch of the hen parties. The more they squawk, the more I know I'm going to like it. Vanessa's personal rec interested me, too. She sounded like she had a great time reading it.

That's why I picked up Lisa Valdez's Passion, my third terrific read. Ms. Jaye, you were right. This novel is wild, reckless, and shamelessly outrageous, exactly the way a great historical romance should be. Ms. Valdez does precisely what she wants with this story, and the result is gorgeous. It is not politically correct, as the hero is not a knee-bending apologetic fishstick, and the heroine doesn't spend 9/10's of the book shrieking at him for some imagined wrongdoing while guarding her virtue. Thank God.

The erotic content of Passion is high, constant, and quite graphic, but nothing I found at all offensive. There is a definite dom/sub aspect to the relationship, but I didn't have a problem with that, either. As for those cackling about How No Decent Person Did Those Things back then, you should read real erotica written from the time period, like My Secret Life, if you want to know how frisky people actually were. If you're not uptight, and you'd enjoy a story that tangles two strangers-as-lovers in a white-hot physical and deeply emotional relationship, get Passion. I read it in one sitting because I could not put it down until I found out what happened to Passion and Mark. The excerpt of the next book is also in the back, and promises to be just as much fun.

After finishing Passion, I figured I'd been blessed with far too many terrific books in a row, and now I was going to pay for it. I went back to the TBR pile anyway, hoping my luck would hold. The fourth book was a paranormal romance, a sub-genre I only read for quotes and market analysis now. I did put the fourth book back for a couple of days, promising myself I'd get back to it, but then a blog post by the author made me grab it and jump in.

If reading great books were wishes, I'd just had three very nice ones granted -- but I wanted more, as in more novels just like them. Monica Jackson must be a precog, or a genie, because it's as if she gave me the fun and warmth of Key of Sea, the tense thrills of Gettings Hers, and the constant heat of Passion, all blended beautifully together in her novel Love's Potion.

My mother loved the old TV show I Dream of Jeannie, and from the cover art I assumed Love's Potion would be an updated version of that. Why do we do that, judge a book by its cover art? I know better, but I formed an impression off the cute cover. I immediately liked the idea of the guy being stuck in the bottle (I suppose him wearing a skimpy harem costume was too much to hope for.) The book got off to a fast, rollicking start, and I settled in, pretty confident of how the story would go. Paranormal fluff.

Well, Love's Potion didn't fluff out the way I thought it would. Don't get me wrong, it's fun, and often laugh-out-loud funny (classic moments: Raziq's opinion of flying in airplanes, the scents of protective charms, and when Jasmine catfights Susie) but it goes nowhere near fluff. Forget the cover art; the story delivers all kinds of serious tension from the beginning -- plot tension, sexual tension, character tension -- and Monica layers and builds this in fine, very deceptive increments. That's also the way she does her worldbuilding, magic system and crafting the djinni, demons and humans caught up in a not-so-classic struggle of good against evil.

Love's Potion also turns up the heat, in degrees from low simmer to steamy boil, and I entertained much lust in my heart for Raziq. The man is just too much. Yet again, that didn't go as I'd expected. Raziq and Jasmine didn't follow the standard linear progression of a romance; they were too much like real people. When we fall in love, we don't know it's forever by chapter nine. We live with doubts, reservations, distractions coming at us from all directions, and no matter how strong your love is, you always have to deal with some form of that (or you do for at least twenty-two years, to use my most successful relationship as a yardstick.) Raziq and Jasmine convinced me they were in love because they had to keep dealing with that love, and its consequences, and not knowing how it would work out. As we all do. [End of anti-HEA mini-lecture.]

There is fast-moving adventure and meaningful romance and a skillfully spun web of plotlines in Love's Potion, and I am very grateful for the short epilogue, because if Monica had ended it at Chapter 23 I would have called her many bad names. But after going through everything with Raziq and Jasmine, I really needed those last two pages -- so much for my disdain for HEA. I know, I can be such a girl sometimes.

I think what impressed me the most about my fourth terrific read was again how much Monica was able to put into this story. It was everything that I wanted but didn't expect. The book is not that long, only 218 pages, and it moves like France's TGV trains: you fly through the chapters. You shouldn't be able to do that with a book that has all that Monica Jackson offers in Love's Potion, but you will. And that, my friends, is very real magic.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Recs I

I've read four terrific novels in a row. That never happens to me. Never.

Do you all get jerked around by your TBR pile? My fiction stack does it to me all the time. I guess when you read different authors writing in different genres (the joys of having to keep up with five genres) one right after the other, you're bound to ride the quality rollercoaster. Reading four books in a row, I generally expect a range of terrific to okay, although I've been regularly hit with two terrifics, a yawn and a way-stupid, as well as a totally-lame, two okays and a someone-paid-real-money-for-this?

I think my problem is that I haven't been reading fiction for pleasure for the last couple of years. Lately I read only for market analysis, as a critique, for quotes, or as a homework assignment from my editors or agent. Then there's finding the time to read, which regularly gets sacrificed for time to research, write, edit and obsess over my own stuff. The dust bunnies on my TBR piles are quietly growing into dust blue whales.

I started off this run of excellent luck a couple of weeks ago with Key of Sea by Mary Stella. I intended to read the book for a quote, but I actually ended up reading it because I desperately needed something to take my mind off my troubles for a couple of hours. I picked up Mary's book deliberately, because it looked like fun, and it's set in the Florida Keys, a place I vacationed when I was a kid. Also, if you hang out here, you already know how fond I am of Mary. I wasn't expecting much because at the time I was in a pretty bad way -- I wasn't even sure I'd be able to finish it.

Contrary to my expectations, Key of Sea welcomed me in, brought me back to a place of many happy childhood memories, and swept me away.

I could get into all the technical reasons why Key of Sea is so terrific, and why I'm predicting that Mary Stella is going to write many wonderful romances for us, but that wasn't the most important thing about this book. It was terrific for other reasons that aren't so easily explained. You know how it feels to be wrapped in a soft, lovely quilt on a cold night? That's exactly how I felt after reading this one. Safe, warm, cozy and, in a strange way, protected. A great romance is an affirmation of all I believe in -- and Mary delivers that.

Reading Key of Sea also reawakened my much-suppressed desire to read for pleasure again, and sent me back to the TBR stack for more.

Donna Hill's Getting Hers was the next book waiting to be read. I also had a feeling about this one when I read the premise from the book jacket. Not a cozy feeling at all, because this is a tale of revenge.

I was worried about this one, frankly. It was in the literature section, and I was in no state to read something plotless and depressing. Revenge is also a tough theme. Few writers can pull it off, most resort to sugar-coating it with fluff or fantasy. I thought about putting it aside, but I decided to gamble on the fact that I had already read one of Donna Hill's novellas in a romance anthology and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Getting Hers is not plotless or depressing. It's a jewel and a challenge, like opening one of those marvelous Japanese puzzle boxes. You'd probably call it a mainstream novel, but it's not just that. There is a romance, but it's not just that, either. It's also a suspenseful mystery, but it's not just -- well, you get the picture. In addition to a very unusual cast of characters and circumstances, and a fingernails-in-the-palms storyline, it's subtle, intelligent, and inventive. All that, and yet it still kicks you out of your chair.

I'm going to think about this one for a long time, because it's that kind of book --unexpected, interesting, won't leave you alone. Only one complaint: if Donna Hill doesn't write a sequel to Getting Hers, I'm going to become very cranky.

Tomorrow: Why I should listen to Vanessa Jaye more often, and why make three wishes when you can get everything you want with one?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


If you haven't already read it, John Rickards has an excellent post up about conventions, why writers go to them, what's the use, etc. that looks at the sales downside, the social upside, and the fun factor.

I know fear of crowds prevent some writers from attending cons. Anxious folks might try's Overcoming Agoraphobia $9.95 hypnosis download. I don't see any downloads for conquering fear of over-perfumed ill-mannered women and balding married men reviewers on the make, but let me know if you find some. There's one for overcoming fear of unfamiliar surroundings that might also help. Is there anything stranger than a con? I mean, besides two cons?

I've been able to successfully dodge these things for years, but I may go to one in the not-too-distant future to see a dear friend. No, I'm not telling you which friend or what con. I'm actually hoping to make it a drive-by support thing -- get in, grab my friend and run out so fast the lobby revolving door blows off its axis. From there we can go have a nice quiet dinner and catch up. Then I can hit the local CDC, have the friend thoroughly decontaminated, draw bloodwork, etc.

I don't have to return the friend, now that I think about it. It's not kidnapping if you accidentally on purpose get lost driving back, right?

If I have to go in and register and stay as moral support . . . Lord, pal, I must really love you to even type those words. All right, I might still get away with it. No one should recognize me except the friend. I could register under one of my ten thousand pseudonyms; no one can keep track of all of them, not even me. First thing I throw away at a con is that dumbass name tag anyway.

Or I could pose as someone everyone would want to avoid. Like an IRS auditor. No, everyone will want to report whoever beat them out after the awards ceremony. Maybe an unpublished writer wearing her heroine's costumes and carrying around a 6-1/2 lb. copy of The Book of Her Heart printed in italic font on pastel pink paper because you know editors really don't like Courier on White but they never tell you that because it's an inside thing. All I'd have to do is make up a pseudonym that sounds like the brand name of an overnight feminine hygiene product. There's always so many of those gals, I could blend in easily -- but then again, period clothing makes me itch.

Who else do people want to avoid? Hmmmm. Is Margaret Atwood real tall or especially skinny?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Buff Ten

Ten Things for the History Lovers

1. The Ancient Library --'s Tim Spalding is posting both scans and text from important reference works in the public domain. Just getting off the ground but wowing me already.

2. The History Channel Online -- the only TV channel I can stand to watch besides the weather. Discussions, this day in history, timelines, maps, you name it, it's here.

3. The American Social History Project's History Matters site -- designed for teachers and students but terrific for researchers, too.

4. History News Network.

5. One I'm always yelling at people to go check out,

6. The Library of Congress -- offers so much history in so many great ways, like their American Memory site, which provides free, open access to: "...written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience...These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning."

7. Steve Mintz's Digital History -- American history site, with "an up-to-date U.S. history textbook; annotated primary sources on United States, Mexican American, and Native American history, and slavery; and succinct essays on the history of ethnicity and immigration, film, private life, and science and technology."

8. D.W. Mosser's History of the English Language page -- all you ever wanted to know about how English evolved, sorted on a linguistic developmental time line.

9. PBS's internet site always has great history stuff relating to their programming and more.

10. University of Colorado's Top 25 Internet history sites -- Georgetown's excellent Medieval Labyrinth site and 24 more.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


PBW the weblog turned a year old over the weekend. To celebrate, I've switched the content font (selfish, but I like Arial better than Georgia, and it's a little easier for me to read.) I'll also be adding some links on the sidebar for readers who have been coming here since I shut down the old web site.

I do appreciate all the nice people who stop in regularly and make this place so much fun. You all are the reason I didn't hit that Delete Blog icon the three thousand times I've been tempted to do so. Thank you for that.


Sending out many happy birthday wishes today for Douglas Hoffman and Kate Rothwell. They're probably not fraternal twins who were separated at birth, but we could start the rumor anyway.

I've been trying to skip birthdays since the sixth or seventh time I turned 29, but the clan is determined to keep adding up my bark rings. The fact that they haul out the abacus to do so is only to annoy me. On the industry side, it's getting a bit better. Only about half the writers I presently know missed Earth shoes, mood rings, Love's Baby Soft, and the Hollies. Two of my editors are almost finished puberty (another quit publishing to go to college.)

I like being older. It gives you the nerve to do things, like finally dumping Le Wardrobe. Before we moved the last time, the Salvation Army got everything but my emergency outfit for weddings and funerals. Aside from the double duty suit, my wardrobe is down to maybe two dozen loose-fitting Tshirts, sweaters, leggings and jeans. I have jackets down to three: leather, field, and denim, and shoes down to six: two pair of moccasins and one pair of sneakers (none of which match my purse, aka the next thing that's going to Goodwill. My idea of Nirvana is carrying a wallet, my keys, and a Chapstick.)

I have no idea what is in fashion anymore. I don't watch TV. I'm still recovering from the emotional scars left by reading Christian chick-lit. I avoid the malls, and when I have to go, I stay in the bookstores. The perfumed-flap ads make it impossible for me to read the glossy rag mags without getting a rash or an instant headache. Researching fashion and hanging out with some professional models at a shoot a few years ago cured me of any post-adolescent desire to be fashionable. I'd have to read reviews all day to puke that much.

This is not to knock the fashion slaves out there. I admire well-dressed, well-groomed, made-up folks. You have to, you can't make fun of them. They get mad and use those superglued-on fingernails on you. That unreal perfect prettiness thing they have going does take a lot of work. Plus it helps me. Some of them look so alien I don't have to bother inventing another new species for the SF novels.

I did finally see a pair of those shoes chick-lit authors are always raving about in their novels. We had to go down to one of the big malls to pick up a special-order switch for the oven, and walked past one of these snotty-looking display windows for a store I can't afford to shop in. I glanced in the window, saw a discreet little sign that read Manolo Blahnik, and eyed the shoes displayed next to it.

I admit, I didn't go in to have a closer look. They had a bouncer, and I was laughing too hard. But want to know how retarded these Manolo Blahnik shoes look?

Okay, take a pair of extremely pointy-toed cowboy boots, put them through a wood chipper, then spackle on tacky turquoise and brown suede whirls and nail on a 1/4" wide X 4" tall heel with a skid pad the size of a squashed licorice jelly bean someone took a bite out of. Congratulations, you're Manolo Blahnik. (And women actually wear these things? In public? Assuming they do, how do they get their feet in? By amputating toes? I'd be hard-pressed to cram a lizard's head in there. Is this guy Chinese?)

They don't put price stickers on these shoes -- I think you have to make an appointment to even breathe the air surrounding them -- but I came home and looked up the price on the internet: $725.00 for the ones I saw in the window. Unbelievable. Women actually pay that. For $725.00, I could buy 72 pair of moccasins, or 40 pair of sneakers. I'd be shoed for life.

Oscar Wilde said "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." Now I understand why.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


The other way cool news I was dropping hints about: Dark Lover by J.R. Ward just made #33 on the NY Times bestseller list.

You do realize I'm going to gloat about this forever, right?


I'm trying not to imagine what Hurricane Rita is doing to the folks over in Texas, which includes our pal Alison Kent and her loved ones. I've turned off the Weather Channel after watching it too much for the last couple days -- and you all are probably in the same state.

May our good thoughts be received, and our prayers heard, and the storm pass quickly.

Out and around the blogosphere:

It's Monica Jackson's birthday! (tossing cyber confetti) If you get a sec, do go over and harrass her about it.

Jo Leigh has posted some interesting quotations about writing and would like to hear your favorites.

Natasha Hoar is the designer who created my new sidebar link, Writers Against Racism. I've never borrowed one of these for PBW before, but this one illustrates my feelings perfectly. You can get a copy for your weblog over at Natasha's LJ here.

Stephanie Tyler is blogging and slogging through the Dreaded Middle-of-the-Book doldrums; if you have any strategies that help you get through you might stop in and share them.

I'm experiencing some e-mail problems here (the joys of new security software messing with the ISP, plus sporadic power outtages from the fringe of Rita aren't helping.) At the moment I can receive, but I can't send, so I need to pass along some messages here:

Steph: that package we discussed is en route as of yesterday via UPS, in case someone on the other end needs a heads-up.

Morgan: If something weird shows up on your end, it's probably mine. The Pony Express is starting to look very attractive.

Sasha: yours came through fine tonight -- thank you so much.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Some of you might recall how rocked I was back in June by Dark Lover, the debut dark fantasy novel by J.R. Ward. Okay, I gushed, but I was seriously knocked on my butt by this book, and expected everyone else to be.

So you'll never guess who's been on the USAT BSL for three weeks, and is currently at #48?

Told you so, told you so.

P.S. There's more cool news about Dark Lover too, but I've got to check with the author first and see if I can spill the beans.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Faux Pass

Speaking of reviewers, here's another honest soul. (shamelessly nipped the link from Jon Hansen.)


Tobias Buckell is offering to send ARCs of his debut novel, Crystal Rain, to interested booksellers and reviewers.* I know, he went to Clarion, he writes for Tor, and he's nice to reviewers, but despite that Tobias is an okay guy, so give him a shot.

Along with giving away all this free software, Simon Haynes has Hal Spacejock fridge magnets for the taking and a drawing for the next book. Simon debuted at #7 on the bestseller list at Dymocks, one of the biggest booksellers on that side of the planet. Didn't Dymocks open their first store in like 1879 or something?

Meanwhile, I have a pile of books by me and a bunch of other authors to give away and some of you, my faithful blog readers, are getting them. So do you want to do the contest thing, the random name drawing, or a mix of the two, or something different? Hit me with some ideas if you get a chance.

*Update: I have been advised that Tobias also has Crystal Rain fridge magnets. Is this a marketing trend? Will SF/F writers gradually take over the space on all the world's refrigerators? Let's keep an eye on this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Wrote my last promised quote for another writer over the weekend. I don't know the writer personally at all, and it was not a piece of cake this time. The novel was excellent and extremely well-written, but it was also one of those stories that just doesn't want to be pinned down.

Not to be snotty, but I think I'm pretty much quoted out for this year.

Part of my problem is that I'm wondering if I'm doing this right. Hardly anyone ever talks about writing quotes, and I've never understood the politics involved.

When I write quotes these days, I try to go with something about the author, something about the book, and a short ending tag line (six words or less) that can be used as a standalone quote. Three, four sentences tops. I have no idea if this is a correct or even desirable sort of quoting -- there is no Chicago Manual of Quote Style, I've checked -- but that's how my quotes have evolved over the last year.

I don't mine quotes by others for their buzzy wording; I prefer coming up with my own. No one writes the quotes but me, but I am generally okay with editors snippeting or changing a little of the wording, although that's only happened once or twice. The same editors have asked for quotes from me more than once so I think they're okay with what I write. No one's bitched, anyway.

I am enthusiastic, which is probably all to hell vulgar, but I don't know -- why be lukewarm? Honestly, I don't quote books that leave me lukewarm (and yes, I have sent a few manuscripts back with a polite no-thank-you.) Sometimes I've done multiple versions or different quotes for the same book and told the writer or editor to pick the one he/she liked best. Again, have no idea if this is the accepted practice.

Sometimes -- most times -- I feel pretty ridiculous writing quotes, as if part of me knows I'm winging something serious and important. Kind of like deciphering those weird symbols they put on a copy-edit; after fifteen novels I finally broke down and begged an editor to tell me if I was screwing them up. She reassured me (and sent me a comprehensive symbol-definition list which I consult every copy-edit now.) Those feelings don't help.

Anyone got a how-to-quote list?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


from the Acme Widget Co. 2005 Fall Catalog

--Promotional Bookmarks section--

Classic Bestsellers


Somewhat laminated lightweight paper bookmarks featuring a fuzzy cover thumbnail and nebulous, artfully emphasized quote of your choice in hard-to-read but so pretty italic script:

A. The brilliant debut novel -- ten years in the making.

B. Groundbreaking and breathtaking...the best book of the year!

C. The latest bestseller by the author of [title of last book that tanked]

D. The book of 1) your heart; 2) my heart or 3) everyone's heart

E. In the tradition of [insert name of better-selling author]

F. So much better than [The DaVinci Code, or insert name of other mega-bestselling novel]

G. "I totally loved this book!" quote by Norah Roberts (for an additional small fee, we will provide a signed certificate of authenticity from our in-house endorser, Norah.)

H. Starred review by PW [small print of reviewer's name placed on back of bookmark; reviewer should have the initials P. and W.]

I. (Small Press option) Don't miss out -- only limited quantities available!

Item #9910: ISN'T THIS CUTE

Cleverly-shaped bookmarks made of highest grade cheap colored plastic embossed with book title, author name, and website URL (surface flecks are natural embossment flakage.) Please specify shape desired:

A. Heart (Romance author) -- available colors: pale pink (sweet/no-sex romance); dusky pink (naughty but no actual sex romance); hot pink (chick-lit); hot pink with gold embossed cross (inspirational chick-lit); hot pink with embossed shoe (shoe-focused chick-lit); lace-embossed mauve (historical romance); pink with white polka-dots (unprotected sex romance); powder pink/blue (bun-in-the-oven romance); pink with embossed spurs (cowboy romance); pink with embossed spurs and fluttering veil (cowboy/runaway bride romance); pink/blue with embossed spurs, fluttering veil and barf bag (cowboy/runaway bride/secret baby romance); tartan-embossed red (Scottish historical); deep green (Irish historical romance or RITA loser); pale green with embossed tear drops (Irish historical romance or Golden Heart loser); white with embossed skull and crossbones (pirate romance) white with embossed sheep (PAN member); white with embossed hopeful-looking sheep (PRO member)....
[three pages later]
...purple with embossed handcuffs (romantica, some bondage); dusky purple with embossed whip (romantica, a lot of bondage); dusky purple three-hearts-in-one (romantica, menage); yellow-streaked dusky purple (erotica, watersports); yellow-and-red-streaked dusky purple (erotica, water and bloodsports); yellow-and-red-streaked dusky purple with embossed Great Dane (we don't want to know what you're writing, really, we don't); brown (Hispanic); brown with embossed hair (werewolves); black with red edge (vampire); black with black edge (African-American); black with embossed sheep (African-American PAN member)....[ See next page for 500 more color options]

B. Magnifying Glass (mystery author)

C. .44 Magnum Gun (crime fiction author) -- small (female author); large (male author); extra-large ( author)

D. Starship (science fiction author)

E. Laboratory Beaker (serious science fiction author)

F. Aberrant DNA strand (ultra serious academic spec-fic author [no charge for imprint on reverse side: don't call it science fiction, I don't write science fiction, you cretin])

G. Mirror (Slipstream author, really reflects!)

H. Cross (inspirational author)

I. Dove (non-denominational inspirational author)

J. Colliding Doves (confused non-denominational inspirational author)

K. Pentagram (Wicca, New Age, ex-Catholic author)

L. Pentagram with embossed Pope hanging from a rope (pissed-off ex-Catholic author)

M. Happy Face (humor author) [supplies limited due to standing order for Suzanne Brockmann]

N. Tombstone (horror author)

O. Stephen King's tombstone (midlist horror author)

P. Standard Buttocks (reviewer)

P. Large Buttocks with self-embossing kit (reviewer with website)

Q. Extra-Large Buttocks with embossed lip prints (professional reviewer)

R. Clenched Fist with Middle Finger Extended (any author; inquire about availability of special S.L. Viehl reserve stock embossed with NASA logo)

Item #9911: AREN'T I CRAFTY?

Do-it-Yourself Bookmark kits (finished item not intended for actual use as a bookmark)

A. Eastern European Lamp glass bead kit -- assorted shapes/colors/sizes beads imported from third world European country, complete with flimsy, thin beading cord and instructions in Hungarian (no extra charge for sharp and broken edges on beads, powdered glass residue, small shards, or desperate notes from sweat shop workers)

B. Clunky Pot Metal Object kit -- will vaguely resemble cat, dog, flower, fairy or other appealing symbol, flimsy jump ring for ribbon attachment (ribbon not included; antique rust patina free of charge)

C. Resinous Oozing Plastic kit -- low-grade suppurating plastic, easy to cut, leaves indelible stain on pages (note: will glue pages together if left in book for more than 24 hours, good for insuring return buyers.)

D. Mystery kit -- surprise assortment of craft items to inspire your creative side (let us pick; we've got plenty of crap around here you can tie a ribbon to.)


Any of the catalog items ordered in bulk lots of 15,000. UPS delivered to RWA National Conference or RT Annual Conference Goodie Room in bargain basket (some imperfections, broken canes, loose handles, etc.) tied with lopsided wrinkled bow and padded with junk mail shred. Available for order by first-time published authors only.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blog Ten

Ten Things for Your Weblog

1.'s Three Types of Blogging Platforms.

2. Also from, Free Blog Hosting Guide.

3. BlogDigger and BlogDigger Local.

4. Dave Briggs' post My 10 Thoughts on Successful Blogging -- let's not mention to Dave that even though I have it, I still don't know what the hell RSS feed is, okay?

5.'s Free CGI Scripts, Webmaster Resources, and Open Source Software page (found via The Way There.)

6. Flickr offers free accounts for photo uploads.

7. Journalist-minded bloggers can join MediaBloggers, a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting MBA members and their blogs.

8. Dave Pollard's article How to Increase Your Readership -- many excellent ideas in this one.

9.'s Free Blog Software page.

10. Blogging about the day job? Read's article Blogs May Be a Wealth Hazard.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


The latest advisory on Tropical Storm Rita. There are no strike probability charts up at the NHC site yet, but news reports say that tourists are being asked to leave the Florida Keys. Gulf and Florida residents should keep an eye on this one; it's got definite potential.

I don't know about you guys, but I am storm-worn-out. Nature's way of reminding us that hurricane season doesn't end until November 1st, I suppose.


What happens when you get into anime a bit too much.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Booking III

The last two booking posts have been a casual experiment in word-of-mouth book promotion. Today we'll look at the results. I'll play chief lab rat.

People's book recommendations generally have three effects:

1. We read the book.
2. We don't read the book.
3. We can't decide to read or not to read.

In comments on the first booking post, F. O'Brien Andrew got my attention with this statement about This Perfect Day by Ira Levine: "I used to buy all the used copies in every book store I could find then give them away to friends and family."

I do the exact same thing with books I love, so this instantly registered as a true statement to me. F. and I are in tune; we share a common if at times somewhat annoying habit of being book tyrants, and I liked the rest of what he said. Result: I'm reading the book.

Phoenix, I'm going to pick on you for a minute, but only to illustrate result #2. In comments, Phoenix wrote of On the Beach: "Why? Because it's utterly depressing and makes you realize that life isn't that bad."

Two words hit me right away: utterly depressing. Phoenix does add a good save right after with a reason to read it anyway, as it: "...makes you realize that life isn't that bad." Other people enjoy this kind of fiction, but it's hard for me to get through seriously depressing books without becoming depressed myself. Result: I don't want to read this book.

Finally, one of you anonymous posters wrote of Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire: "...a book that makes you question why we did nothing and still do nothing."

To be picky again, I don't know this book or this author, or the subject matter, so this cryptic description doesn't help me get a handle on what it's about. What did we do, or not do? It could be a book about religion, war, civil rights, abortion, slavery, etc. I don't know and I need more information. Result: I'm waffling.

Does a personal opinion = truth? What is true for one person may not be for another; we all experience things individually. F.'s recommended book could be a bomb, Phoenix's recommended book could be a gem, and Anonymous's recommended book could be one I'd put immediately on my keeper shelf. One or more of them could also be exaggerating, downplaying or lying about the book.

The problem is (linguistically speaking) that we unconsciously invest opinions with truth as part of the natural process of comprehension:

"In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of." -- cognitive scientist George Miller

In the end, how much trust and validity we invest in word-of-mouth promotion like this depends on what resonates with us, and how much we're willing to allow that other person's opinions to guide our choices.

Thoughts, comments, wedges of cheese, anyone?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Early Bird

According to several readers, B& is now shipping Private Demon two weeks ahead of the laydown date. That's the earliest I've ever had a book jump the official release, but I won't complain.

I am curious if this is just an online blip or the full first print run actually shipped. If anyone sees PD in the brick-and-mortar stores out there, would you drop me a note in comments?

Booking II

Hi everyone, Happy Friday! :) :) :) TGIF!!!!! You know what that means--

Kidding. It's me.

Day before yesterday, I gave you all a pop essay and asked you to name a book that you want everyone to read, and why. Now, from the list of responses (posted here if you need another look), which one book are you most tempted* to read, and why? Tell us in comments.

*If you're not tempted by anything, or you've already read them all, name a book recently recommended elsewhere that tempts you, and why.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


[Intro music: Twilight Zone theme song]

Narrator's menacing, spooky voice: "There are countless parallel universes out there. In one of them exists a safe, sanitized, wholly acceptable version of PBW: Politically Correct Writer, or PCW for short. Let's drop in on PCW's weblog and see how she's doing today. . ." ]

Hi everyone, Happy Thursday! Gee, one more day and it's TGIF, and you know what that means? Of course you do -- the weekend is here!!! Par-TEH!!! :) :) :)

A fan sent me the most INTERESTING e-mail about my latest new release, DIARY OF A RUNAWAY COWBOY'S BRIDE ( link, B& link) Let me share a couple of snippets:

You write such incredibly . . . books, and this one is the . . . best you can do? I can't believe . . . you're driving me crazy . . .Sincerely, D. Pinhead

I sure do love to drive my readers CRAZY!!! I'm sure you'll like the next one just as much, too!!! Look for DIARY OF A RUNAWAY PREGNANT COWBOY'S EX at your local bookstore in October ( link, B& link). Thanks OODLES for sharing your personal views with me!!!

Oh, before I forget, here are some photos of me with NORA ROBERTS at the last conference!!! [fuzzy pic][headless people pic][fuzzy headless people pic] You can tell it's Nora by the hair in the first one, right? Well let me assure you that IT WAS INDEED LA NORA, standing right there next to me in the line for STARBUCKS. We drink our coffee the exact same way, is that not like the COOLEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD??? Now ALL I need is a photo of me with FIRST LADY MRS. BUSH and I will just DIE HAPPY!!!!!!

I do have to get sad for a moment: my dear friend and colleague DEEDEE DIMWIT wasn't able to find one of those el cheapo doctors in Mexico to perform the life-saving CHIN TUCK operation she so badly needs. Well, we've found an LA doctor willing to do it, but American doctors cost so much $$$$!!!! To help out, my other dear friends and I have started a DIMWIT'S CHIN fund (Paypal link.) If you have a few hundred dollars to spare, please donate RIGHT AWAY -- RT is just around the corner, and DeeDee will need time to heal from this super expensive but utterly necessary surgery!!!!

One final note for my writer friends out there before I go back to work on my next book, DIARY OF A RUNAWAY COWBOY'S BABY'S MOMMY (Website link, weblog link, cover art link). I know some of you have links to A CERTAIN WRITER'S weblog, and I wanted to pass along some advice my WONDERFUL AGENT gave me: Never link to anyone who you would not sit next to at the RWA National Conference RITA awards. Is that not the SMARTEST advice you've ever heard????


(Note from our universe: this post is all Selah's fault.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Pop Essay Time: In comments, name one book that you want other people to read, and why.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PBW for Rent

Among the many fine auction items to benefit Larissa Ione, there's now a manuscript critique by me available for bid.

Why should you spend your hard-earned dollars to rent me? Well, Larissa genuinely needs the assistance, and helping out another writer is kind of our motto around here. As for my qualifications, I've published a few things here and there, and not to be conceited or anything, but I believe I can offer you a pretty decent crit.

Plus if your critted work is published, I get to lord it over all the other authors. They really hate that, too.

To sweeten the deal, I will send the winning bidder a Windows or Mac-compatible copy of my favorite writing software, Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus.

So, what are you waiting for? Go, bid.


1. Julian Beever's Virtual Street Reality is the most interesting street art I've ever seen (link filched from Human Under Construction.)

2. Cybercasso: Chris O'Shea's projects include Cybrid Landscape, and a weblog, Pixelsumo.

3. Three for three: checking out Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli's Igloo site led me to Greg Daville's Site to be Destroyed, which led me to his Gifage collection.

Monday, September 12, 2005


A number of you nice people have e-mailed about a hatchet job someone just wrote about one of my books. I have not read that review, and to repeat for the ten thousandth time, I don't read reviews. The laundry, you know, it's just overwhelming. Gain and Oxy-Clean are my life these days.

Seriously, I'm flattered that you all would get so indignant on my behalf. Please don't think I'm so fragile that I'm going to boo-hoo the minute someone says something unpleasant. If that were the case, the death threats alone would have polished me off weeks ago.

I don't know the reviewer in question, and I rather doubt it was anything personal, but even if it was, it's only an opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion -- and that's all they're entitled to. When you're published, make this your mantra.

If it makes you feel better, according to my editor that particular book has been on the BookScan bestseller list for seven straight weeks. This at probably the most competitive time of year for new releases, too. That's what really counts with the publishers: the numbers, not the hatchet jobs.

Aspirin, Stat*

Breaking up is never fun, unless you're manufactured by Mattel: Barbie and Ken have called it quits.

Potential Fallout: The value of Bridal Barbies in unopened boxes being sold at doll collector conventions plummets.

Wal-Mart refuses to stock Barbie next to Blaine dolls for fear of offending customers.

Ken is interviewed on The O'Reilly Factor. Barbie is interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher. Blaine is interviewed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Fundamentalist religious group makes bonfires out of Barbies as a symbolic protest against feminism and the destruction of the family unit.

Women's activists urge mothers to boycott Ken dolls as a symbolic protest against chauvinism and misogynist marketing practices.

Mattel puts out an Undercover Angelina doll just in time for Christmas. She comes outfitted in sexy lingerie and has her own cheap hotel room key, and outsells Barbie three to one.

PBW immigrates to Tibet.

(*Update: I'm informed that this is old news, and after checking the date of the article, I see that it is. Oh, well. How quickly one falls out of the Fashion Doll/Action Figure Loop)

Work it Ten

Ten Things for the Free Workshop/Crit Lovers

1. Forward Motion offers workshops, crit groups, discussion boards, challenges, and everything else a writer could want in a writing community, all for free.

2. Bernadette Geyer's article Honing Your Craft, Without Breaking the Bank or Leaving Your Chair -- terrific list of free audio workshop links.

3. To find a workshop or crit group in your area, check out Andrew Burt's CritFinder.

4. Grammer Slammer offers online self-help with topics such as style and usage, capitalizing, abbreviations, punctuation, letter writing and points out common mistakes.

5. SF/F writers can join a workshop via e-mail at

6. For the Platonic discourse junkies, all the Rhetoric and Composition you could ever want.

7. For those of you who have StoryWeaver or Dramatica software,'s free online workshops page looks like it's tied in with those (my REAL player is on strike at the moment.)

8. Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury also has a page offering a SF/F workshop via e-mail here.

9. One site I see popping up as recommended for young writers is Writer's BBS.

10. The Writing Lab at Purdue University got an upgrade, but you can find the old site with the handouts here.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Double Your Donation: Another reason to adore NYT BSL author Nora Roberts; she's pledged to match donations made to Habitat for Humanity through September 20th.

Free Virtual Library:, which provides members with the means to catalog their personal libraries online (200 books for free, as many as you like for a $10 lifetime membership) is offering free paid account upgrades to anyone who donates $50 or more to the Red Cross.

Old-Fashioned Caring: Victorian Trading Company's owners Melissa and Randy Rolston, who regularly donate 10% of their net profits to worthy causes, are at it again with this offer: "We will donate 10% of net profits received from all Internet orders to Hurricane Katrina victims through September."*

If you know of any donation matching or special offers for Katrina relief supporters, please post them in comments.

*VTC sells my all-time favorite journals; they're big, beautifully covered, spiral-bound and have lovely ecru-colored pages that are lined on one side and blank on the other. Just so happens that they're on sale, you can get a pair of them for $6.99

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Tess Gerritsen has an interesting post up about purchased bookspace over at her weblog. Publishers do pay for space on the front tables at most major chain booksellers, and yet often those books never make it to their premium spaces.

Why? Going by my experience as a bookseller, the individual managers and/or floor workers likely:

1) ignored the weekly sales sheet sent down telling them to put TG's book up front and instead stacked what they wanted there.

2) didn't change out the front table because they were too busy (generally, understaffed and chained to the register, which means stocking after store hours.)*

3) had no room for the book because last week's books didn't move and decided to shelve the new arrivals.*

One of my managers completely ignored the weekly sales sheet unless there was a regional scheduled to drop in that week. She knew her customers were mostly romance readers, and devoted half her front space to romance novels instead of the usual bestsellers and major pushes. One time we stayed until 2 am and practically had to tear apart and reshelve half the store to get it according to sales plan because our manager got wind of a surprise visit by upper management the next morning (which is why our manager never got written up for not having the store according to plan. She had excellent spies.)

If a purchased-space book shipment is late? Those books never touch a tabletop. If the book is overshipped, a manager might get creative with stacking, but generally they shove the excess copies back in the store room. Jackie Collins does not want to know how many times a hundred copies of her novel sat showing their pretty leopard-skin patterned book jackets to nothing more than the employee coffee maker and concrete walls.

Also, chain store employees who work the floor and are not into reading view books the same way a grocery store bag boy views sacks of potatoes. One of the youngsters who stocked with me complained about having to unpack, move and stack hardcovers because of their weight. When I switched her to paperbacks, she bitched because there were too many authors' names to put in order. Of course, she found reciting the alphabet properly kind of a challenge, too.

This is not to say all booksellers are ignorant apes who toss our books wherever they like. On the contrary; most book store managers I've met are remarkable readers and genuinely interested in the business of bookselling. Some of their best employees are the same, and can hand sell books at the rate of ten to twenty an hour. I loved working the floor myself; talking with customers and hunting down a good read for them was a lot more fun than stacking the front table.

Yeah, well, maybe make that reason #4....

*Note on #2 and #3: from a bookseller's perspective, shelving is always easier than displaying or tabling. You can shove books on the store shelves aside to make room for new arrivals. This opposed to removing last week's books from the front table, carting them, and reshelving or store-rooming them before you can haul out and table the new books. Purchased-space books are double the work.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Help a Survivor

The first round of auctions to benefit writer & Katrina survivor Larissa Ione can be viewed here. You can also see a full list of what will be put up for bid at the auction central site,

I donated a manuscript critique, which isn't up for bid yet, but I'll post a link when it goes live. I think I might throw in something extra. Any suggestions as to what you all would find tempting? (Keep it clean; my mother is reading this now.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Throw in the Tao

Every time I get pissed off this week, I'm reaching for the Tao. While I make a lousy Taoist, reading it calms me down.

Urusla Le Guin's translation of the Tao (a dear friend gave me the book as a gift last month) is not available online, but it's worth the investment. Also, Design Studio has a beautiful, searchable online version, from the print translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English here.


My 13 year old recently asked me for money for the school book fair, and mentioned something interesting: "I'm going to buy Eragon. All my friends are talking about it."

Now we've been big into J.K. Rowling and more recently Chris D'Lacey, and I am constantly bugging my kids about what they like (Ella Enchanted and Because of Winn Dixie were last year's household hits.) However, this was the first time my kid wanted to buy something that his friends had recommended. I asked him what they said about the book that got his interest.

His exact words: "I know it's about dragons. The guy who wrote it, Christopher Paolini, is a kid like us. They think that's cool. If it's good I want to get Eldest."

He knew the author's name -- another first. I have noticed Eragon being sold in the quarterly school book sale handouts since the book hit the BSL, and that's choice advertising. But I think word of mouth sells more books to kids than anything, and you can't buy that. They decide on their own whether they like you or not.

Now if we could just get adults to do that.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Storm Warnings

I have been reading some blogs that have left me dumbfounded. I didn't think we needed a how-to behave blog guide for times like this, but I was wrong. So:

Ten Things to Guide Bloggers During the Aftermath of a Disaster

1. Making a five-dollar donation to the Red Cross is wonderful, thank you. Every little bit helps. Alas, it does not make you Acting President of the United States.

2. Natural disasters do not take race into consideration when they occur. They kill you no matter what your skin color is.

3. Try to be kind. I know it's hard, we're all angry and outraged, but try.

4. If you've never been through a major hurricane, don't tell people what they should have done during theirs.

5. Might want to avoid gushing about the great time you had at the Maui Writer's Conference. While you were nattering on with that Big Important Author in the Tiki Bar, a whole hell of a lot of people were dying in many horrible ways.

6. Might want to avoid bitching about the lousy time you had at the Maui Writer's Conference. While you were being snubbed by that Big Important Author in the Tiki Bar, those same people were still dying horribly.

7. Saying Katrina is none of your affair and then speculating on how hard this disaster is going to affect your personal income makes you sound like Ebeneezer Scrooge. Do yourself a huge favor: Shut up.

8. Don't say there is nothing you can do. You can still pray, or donate blood, or offer sympathy, or post donation links, or write letters to your government representatives. There are a thousand things you can do.

9. Saying anything along the lines of "Those people in New Orleans deserve what happened to them" makes us want to throttle you. Judge not, okay?

10. If you didn't get hit by the hurricane, aren't homeless, aren't financially wiped out, etc., then consider this: maybe for once it's not all about you.


You're in the middle of writing chapter whatever and suddenly you realize that while you've been working out this or that you have also dumbed down your character to the point that a screenwriter could easily retitle your novel Honey I Shrunk The Protagonist's Brain.

Outlining, as Zornhau mentioned yesterday, is an excellent early diagnostic, and can keep you from having to perform an imbecilectomy. But not all writers are comfortable with outlining or planning out a novel, so this won't work for everyone.

By-the-seat-of-the-pants writers have to make it up as they go along, and while I understand the appeal of spontaneous creative freedom, it can contribute heavily to this kind of problem. Not knowing where you're going makes it hard to figure out what the novel road is going to be like. You're more prone to take speedy detours that seem perfectly logical while you're right there, trying to move the story along. Only when you look back do you realize that there might have been a better way to handle that -- and then you rewrite.

Rewriting is going to depend on how extensively you've used the deliberate idiot detour. Sometimes you can go back, edit like a fiend and salvage the novel. Sometimes you have to scrap whole plot threads and/or characters, and weave in replacements. If it's totaled the book, though, all you can really do is scrap it or start over from scratch.

One way I think the spontaneous writers out there might swing imbecilectomies is to avoid quick solutions to a character reacting to a plot point. When you hit that spot, don't make the character do something for the story's convenience. Example:

The power goes out suddenly. Jane, who is alone in the house and has been receiving threatening phone calls for weeks, hears the sound of breaking glass coming from the basement. She grabs a flashlight and heads for the basement stairs. Killer grabs her off the stairs.

Right. Did Jane stop and think here? Did she check the phone? Did she grab her car keys and run to the garage where her car is? Did she arm herself with one of the knives from the kitchen? Nope. Because the author wants to confront the killer in the basement, Jane has gone totally brain-dead.

Now, try this:

The power goes out suddenly. Jane picks up the phone and discovers the line is dead. She hears the sound of breaking glass coming from the basement. She slams the door to the basement stairs shut, locks it, grabs her car keys and runs to the garage. Her car tires have been slashed and her engine sabotaged. The garage door is wedged shut. She hears the locked basement door in the house being kicked open. She arms herself with a pair of hedgetrimmers and screams for help as she tries to break out a window. Killer hauls her back away from the window.

How else can Jane confront the killer without acting like a moron?

Monday, September 05, 2005


I try not to do politics here. My politics are, like my faith, my business, not yours. However, everywhere I go I'm seeing a lot of political frustration building, and I thought I'd post these two sites as a reminder that Americans do have a voice in the government:

Searchable database of all U.S. Senators -- find out who your state senators are and how to contact them.

Searchable database of all representatives to the U.S. Congress -- find out who your state representatives are and how to contact them.

When I was a kid we were taught to write to our Congressman or Senator to protest government decisions. I know this is an old-fashioned, rather patriotic approach, but it works. In case you've forgotten, we've seen how letters and e-mail have actually stopped offensive legislation. So next time you're writing up an outraged political post for your weblog, why not instead send it (or at least cc it) to your state rep or senator?

If you'd rather write directly to President Bush, check out the contact info here. Just remember to watch your language -- threats made against the President are illegal and the Secret Service takes them very seriously.

Donate Ten

Ten Things to Help Katrina Survivors

1. The American Red Cross needs cash donations, and is offering donation banners for web sites here.

2. The Associated Press's Contact Info for Katrina Relief Aid Groups page.

3. BlondeSense's AnntiChrist and friends are collecting donations, buying supplies and taking them directly to a shelter.

4. Books and other reading material can be sent directly to evacuees in Houston; address and details at Tobias Buckell's weblog here.

5. 91% of what you donate to goes to feed children.

6. Habitat for Humanity has long been in the business of building homes for the needy; they need donations and volunteers to help with their part in the relief effort.

7. Liberal Blogs for Hurricane Relief are trying to raise $1 million for the Red Cross. To date, they've collected $152,572.00

8. Tobias Buckell also recommended, an organization that helps families who need emergency funds.

9. Find a relief group near you by doing a state search at

10. Noah's Wish rescues and shelters animals caught in disasters; you can donate to their cause here.

Someone made an excellent suggestion to me the other day I'd like to tack on here and the Do Something thread: most of us have bottles, bowls or other collections of coins somewhere in our homes. Instead of letting those pennies rust, why not donate the money to Katrina Relief? You can find donation boxes and jars at places like grocery stores and churches; often you'll see police and fire fighters collecting at street corners.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Ick Factor

Jennifer Weiner wrestles with one of the more icky aspects of book touring:

"Meanwhile, something I've been grappling with as the tour and media shapes up: if a reporter writes something bitchy about your books, do you get a bye from ever having to talk to them, or do you have to live by the all-publicity-is-good-publicity-as-long-as-they-spell-your-name-right maxim and just suck it up?"

Another good reason for authors never to read reviews: you can be nice to all reviewers.

Publicist Susan Schwartzman talks about negative publicity on her new blog, and how a positive spin can be put on anything, no matter how nasty it is -- at least from the publicist's POV.

I could debate that, too, but I think we're all depressed enough. So back to Jennifer's dilemma: if you were on tour, and scheduled for an interview with a reporter who you know has already trashed you and/or your work, how would you handle it?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Call for Submissions

Amy Brozio-Andrews, Managing Editor over at Absolute Write, sent me the following information on an anthology to benefit the Red Cross:

Call for Submissions: Stories of Strength

Those who've been affected by Hurricane Katrina will need our help for years to come. This is one way writers can help in an ongoing way.

Stories of Strength will be an anthology of essays, poems, and stories produced by the members of, with 100% of the proceeds to be donated to the Red Cross for disaster relief. It will be released in paperback by Lulu, with a possible e-book version as well.

Writers are asked to participate by donating work to this anthology.

Reprints and simultaneous submissions are fine. Please do not submit more than two pieces.

The stories are meant to be uplifting. They may be humorous, dramatic, or inspirational; they may be nonfiction or fiction. Please avoid expletives -- this is a PG-rated book.

Possible sections include:

1. Physical strength: e.g., running a marathon, recovering from a car accident, climbing a mountain.

2. Strength of spirit: Finding faith even when the situation looks grim.

3. Borrowing strength: When a friend helped you through a trying time, when a community came together to help a family, etc.

4. Role models of strength: Stories of people you admire for their resilience.

5. The strength to start over: Stories about building a new life after alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.

We would also appreciate tips sheets related to emergency preparations for natural disasters.

-What to do in case of a fire
-What to do in case of a hurricane
-What belongs in an emergency kit

It's okay if your idea doesn't fit neatly into one of these sections.

We prefer submissions to be a maximum of 1200 words, but this is not a hard cut-off. (We will absolutely not accept anything beyond 2000 words.) Shorter stories and poems are welcomed.

You retain the rights to your work; all we require is one-time anthology rights.

Please send your work in the body of an e-mail to (Ms.) Macallister Stone at macallisterstone @ and be sure to put the word STRENGTH in the subject line.

You may also include a short (35 words or fewer) bio with your submission.

The deadline is not firm and will depend on the volume of submissions, but we'd like to receive submissions by Friday, September 16th.

To follow the progress of this project, please visit .

Thank you,
Jenna Glatzer

6 weeks

I was reading through some of my personal journals from last year and found the one I kept during the 2004 hurricane season. It's filled with newspaper clippings, little pieces of torn screen, photos of the destruction and my thoughts as we endured one storm after another.
August 13th (Hurricane Charley)

You never feel smaller or more insignificant than when you're in the middle of a hurricane. Nothing can prepare you for the force or size of it, not even the last one you went through.

You feel worse only when it's over, and you see what it left behind.

September 6th (Hurricane Frances)

Going on our third day without power, water or comfort. Can't sleep; the house is like an oven. Trying to keep the kids distracted with board games but it's so hot. Roads are still blocked by power lines and trees so we can't get out. Phone lines are down. I still don't know if my parents made it through.

September 14th (Hurricane Ivan)

Last night my heart started hammering so hard I couldn't catch my breath. The stress of this is unbelievable. God, please, give us time to clean up from the last one! I'm ready to collapse. Can't be anything but ready. Have to get ready. Collapse later.

September 27th (Hurricane Jeanne)

More trees and powerlines down, some of the houses down by the lake are buried under huge oaks. We and our neighbors drive under a powerline pole sitting at a 45 degree angle over the only road to town so we can get fresh food. No water, no gasoline, no ice yet. We're letting people take water from our pool in buckets to flush their toilets.

We are experienced hurricane survivors, and for every storm I had stocked enough non-perishable food and water to last us three weeks. We managed one hot meal every day by cooking on our gas grill. We had a small, battery-operated television and radio that allowed us to stay in contact with the rest of the world. We had cell phones. Each day the temperature was 95 degrees or more, so we also used three gallons of water -- first warmed up on the grill -- to bathe.

Despite this, by the time Jeanne hit, we were exhausted, in terrible spirits, and oddly passive. During the middle of Jeanne, I remember sitting on the enclosed porch and watching the roof vibrate in the 80 mph wind gusts. I was alone, it was 3:30 am, and I wasn't even scared by the fact that if the roof went, the porch and me would likely go with it. After so much stress, you can get that numb.

It's been a year now, and there were a few lasting effects. I keep a three-week supply of bottled water and non-perishable food stocked permanently now -- no more waiting for the official hurricane season. I have boxes of batteries, extra cell phones and radios, and checklists of things I have to do before, during and after a storm. I keep a tracking map on the wall of my kitchen, and I use it for every storm that comes off the coast of Africa. I still jump a little when the power flickers, or we have a bad thunderstorm, or the TV reception turns to snow.

What these folks who survived Katrina are enduring is far beyond my personal experience. They did not have the supplies we did, so I can only imagine their suffering. Most will not be able to repair, and rebuilding will take so long that they may decide to go somewhere else and never return home.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Sent to me by a friend who has two sisters and a cousin working as Red Cross Volunteers in coastal Mississippi:

"All you armchair relief coordinators out there: every time you complain about the disaster recovery efforts, you should donate $25 to the Red Cross.

That should make y'all quit criticizing people like my family while they're risking their lives to do what you won't, or pay for all the homes that were destroyed by next week."

Works for me.


Over at Romancing the Blog, a very interesting bit of info popped up while we were discussing Beth Ciotta's latest column, Fad or Future? and I'll quote directly here:

"The term 'Book Trailer' is a US Registered Trademark to COS Productions. The term cannot be used without consent. We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to promote our products. I’ve seen many companies use the term and it’s like stealing or plaigirism. I sold my house to start my company so when I see other companies using the term 'Book Trailer' without my permission I feel it is unfair. We never go after authors, but we do go after companies that tell authors they can use that term. I’m always polite about it and hope that people understand. So, if you’ve got a video please ensure you’re not calling it a Book Trailer unless it is a COS Productions product. Thank you. Sheila Clover"

To avoid the getting-consent issue, what else should we call these things? Any thoughts? (I think vidlits is taken.)


Genre is the theme for the 29th issue of Vision, Lazette Gifford's resource for writers e-zine. Among the usual collection of great articles:

Val Comer takes a look at the inspirational market with The Changing Face of Christian Fiction.

Zette offers the genre-scoping workshop What is Your Market?

Our blogpal Carter Nipper gives the pros and cons of going paperless in Short Story Submission and the Death of Trees.

You can read me babbling on about genre in this issue as well, during an interview I did with Zette recently here.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

PayPal Donations to the Red Cross

For those of you overseas who would like to make donations via PayPal, the Central Mississippi Red Cross has a PayPal account set up for donations here; scroll down and click on the PayPal icon in the second paragraph.

Please remember to note that your contribution is for Hurricane Relief 2005.


I know it's hard for certain folks out there to resist harping at the President, and pointing fingers at the state and local officials for how they're handling things, and picking out every minute issue involved here, but for once I wished they'd put those fine minds to figuring out how to actually do something for the people affected by this disaster.

Like posting some simple, practical ways we can help our neighbors, our states and our country recover: Jon Hansen's put up a list of disaster charity phone numbers, and Alison Kent's got a fund raising drive rolling to help writer Larissa Ione (info also over at Stephanie Tyler's blog.)

I'm contributing to Larissa's drive, and I'm going to get together with my quilt conservators group and see if we can make some signature quilts and auction them off to benefit the Red Cross. Our mothers and grandmothers did the same thing during the wars to raise money for the RC.

Unhappy news: My cousin in the Carolinas reported that she was forced to pay $6.60 per gallon for gas today. We're pretty sure she got gouged, but with the way prices are skyrocketing, we may all be paying that before things level out.

Keeping this in mind, tonight at the dinner table we talked about making some immediate, serious changes in our household fuel consumption. It's not the price we're worried about as much as the supply. Last year during our season in hurricane hell, our gas stations ran dry several times, once for two weeks straight. I think it's also a way to respond to this disaster directly -- if we could all cut back a little, we wouldn't need so much fuel.

Our electric bill averages about $90 a month, and we're going to try to knock it down to $75 or lower by keeping lights off, adjusting our water heater and A/C, and limiting our appliance usage. I'm also checking out sites like Conserving Electricity to see where else we can save energy.

We're very lucky in that my guy's company pays the bill for his work vehicle and the gasoline he uses to travel all over the region, but he's still going to plan out his trips so he takes the most direct route. I'll drive only our compact car, which gets twice the gas mileage of our truck, and see if my neighbors want to carpool on school and grocery store trips. No more leisurely drives down to the lake for me, and if I can't take care of three essential errands in one trip, I'll wait to go until I can. If you're interested in keeping your consumption down, check out these tips on How to Conserve Gas.

Anyone out there have any other positive tips, ideas, or know of any worthy fund raisers?