Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Gasps of Summer

So school starts Tuesday. My children will be in 11th and 8th grades... no school changes, but my son will be king of the roost, in a way... I know even though the 8th graders don't change schools, there is a transition of sorts this year... My daughter worries that Junior year is rumored to be the most intense—it is the last one that plays hugely into college applications... it is a year of tests...



Cedar Point Long View
Well Hells, yeah... So in my full irresponsibility as a parent, I sent my children to ride roller coasters today... They are going to Cedar Point, which is about 2 ½ hours from here... they are going with daughter's boyfriend who is 18 and an experienced driver... I thought about going, too, but between finances, other obligations and back pain, it seemed better to send them off. A little nerve wracking, sure, but they prefer it this way, and it works better for us, other than a bit of worry.

You know, it's a funny thing—when I was 17, I went with a friend from Northern Idaho to Southern California for a week. But times are different... and the population out here is a lot denser... well, not denser than LA... I still can't believe my mom let me go, honestly... the trouble we got into, though, was not of too different a sort than we would have gotten into closer to home...

Cedar Point Juggernaut
Okay, that's a lie... there was Ray... but some characters in life are worth the trouble and he was one of them. What a character. Definitely not the sort of trouble I got into at home... but as we maintained an...erm... whatever it was... for a couple years... it AT LEAST was lasting trouble...

uh... yeah...

And so I guess we reach my belief that growing up is best reached in bits... that liberties and freedoms should be tried while still under guidance. I went to college at the University of Oregon, and while the kids from urban areas were better prepared academically, they were LESS prepared socially... you see... they'd been protected (for good reason, I might add). The rural kids were exactly the opposite. I am trying to balance the two... academic advantages, but some real life decision-making.

But as for the kids going to Ohio for the day... they should have a great time. Ohio is in school already and there are cheap tickets for Michiganders (trying to keep business running high as long as possible) so lines should be short and tickets a little cheap (about $10 off). Daughter's boyfriend isn't as keen on rides, so my daughter and son will do many together, making a threesome a better fit than if all of them liked them all...

Cedar Point's Cyclone
As for my OWN Final Grasps...

I have gotten feedback from the fabulous Jan, expect it soon from Leanne and Tara... and so will spend MY last weekend of summer cleaning up Begonia Bribe to send to my agent (Ellen in this case).

I've BEEN finishing the typing and initial read through of What Ales Me, taking notes on main plot points, so I can write a synopsis and plan the bigger edits, as it MAY be appropriate to pitch to Emily, my Berkley editor—Once I have a synopsis, Ellen will let me know, but I need to fill out the story a little first.

My plan there *BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA* is to send the first 50 pages and synopsis to Ellen as she sends me back Begonia...--a trade... so it is ready to present to Emily this fall...

I also am waiting for feedback from Amy on Kahlotus, but I know her reading plans had a hurricane aimed at them. She's in NYC (or nearly) and so I don't know if she has power—I really hope she didn't have big life interference... most of my NYC friends I've heard from have been by cell phone (I wonder... I guess they are using their cars to charge their phones... either that or they've made deals with some phone god we haven't met yet... none of our phones stay charged for days.)

Is that pathetic that the season doesn't matter much? I don't think so, as if I can:

Turn in Begonia
Get Kahlotus shaped up for fall submission
Get What Ales Me shaped up for a fall discussion

then I've met my summer writing goals and I can get back to WRITING. I will consider it a success.

So do you like roller coasters? What's the best one you've been on? Did you meet your summer writing goals?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stacy Gail and Zero Factor

I feature guests with some regularity and all of them are special... but Stacy is SPECIAL (and I'm not using that as a euphemism, though as a double entendre it might not go amiss). You see... Stacy is one of my early Harry Potter friends. We've been friends since 2005, and from the very start we knew we were kindred spirits... a little too zany for many, certainly more gutter-minded... she says her laugh scares children, but to us grown ups, it is CRAZY infectious, even online. Never a dull moment. In fact I've been known to tell people Stacy is the only person I know more 'out there' than I am...

Ice-skating coach by day, Penguin always
In fall of 2006 I had a conference in Dallas, and I couldn't be so close without going the extra couple hours to meet up with Stacy (she lives in the Austin/San Antonio area). We met for dinner and she told me I HAD to write real books (I'd been writing fan fiction at the time). I confessed to my early couple chapters of my first book (there were more than three and less than ten at that point)... and she confessed to being a romance writer...

That sneaky sneak-o-penguin had not told ANY of us she wrote! She had had a very near miss heart break (book sold, the publisher was acquired, the new publisher didn't print it) and had given up sending them out, but had NOT given up writing...

So in many ways, Stacy and I began on this journey together—my only long time friend to HIT IT at almost the same exact time I did, which, if you have had anyone go through parallel motions and successes with you, you know is pretty cool... she'd been writing longer, but I had the chutzpah of a not-before-disappointed newbie... I wrote... I polished (in my cluenessness about what rewriting really meant) and then I dived into the social networking... and started chipping away at this.... THING... and encouraged HER to dive back in.

Stacy showing off my Austin hotel as birthplace of O Henry
This May I had a conference in Austin and got to meet with her again. MAN, we had fun--spent the whole day together, touring Austin and laughing—I blogged about it, if you don't remember...

Stacy is really a success story in alternative routes... She dived in on tweeting and learned stuff about 'calls for submission'... she has been writing so long that she was all over writing something to fit their parameters rather quickly—a new challenge... and she had success right away. Her editors at Samhain LOVE her—she has two novellas for them this fall and one for Carina, which is an imprint of Harlequin... the FIRST, part of an anthology, is an unusual genre—Cyberpunk Romance... It's called Zero Factor and comes out TODAY!!!!

So without further ado... one of my VERY favorite people on the planet (and that's saying a lot... I like people, for the most part), Wecome Stacy!

My First Book Release EVER! SQUEEE!

Thank you, Hart, for allowing me to be a guest on your blog today. You know, THE day. The ultimate kick-butt day of my entire life, otherwise known as… AUGUST 30th! YAY!

Okay, I can see you’re unimpressed, so I think I’d better ‘splain. For several months now, the mere thought of this fabulous date has landed me smack in the Depends undergarments aisle. Why, you ask? Because August 30th – TODAY – just happens to be my first-ever release day of ZERO FACTOR, a cyberpunk romance published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd!

Now can I have a yay? ^_^

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of sci-fi and alternate-reality fiction, so when I stumbled upon Samhain’s open-submissions call for a cyberpunk story, I was SO ready. I was going to do some gritty, acid rain-soaked world-building – a place where the sun never shines and your rugged leather combat-gear never gets a chance to dry out.

Yet somehow my story wound up in Vegas, or what’s left of it (I totally wrecked the place, heh). Go figure.

At least my main characters are wearing leather (after all, this IS a romance), but there’s no rain, acid or otherwise, but again that’s okay. A waterless wasteland where a meched-out soldier and genetically-altered woman can still find enough hope to build a future together was a perfect backdrop for the story I wanted to tell. Talk about a love that can endure anything, right? When you come right down to it, that’s what romance is all about.

ZERO FACTOR is one of three cyberpunk novellas released individually as ebooks by Samhain now. These three cyberpunk projects will then be released as part of a print anthology in July, 2012, under the name CYBERSHOCK (hope that makes sense). I’ve just received the cover art for the print release from my editor, but can’t show it off just yet (sorry). For now, I’m happy to share with you the cover art and blurb for ZERO FACTOR. Enjoy!

A Cybershock story.
Born a Psionic—a rare human prized by the government for her gifts—Agridome worker Via Brede lives by two simple rules: slip into stealth mode whenever the cybernetic-enhanced militia is near. And never remove the gloves that block her psychic ability.

During a routine delivery, a tear in her glove connects her with what should be her worst nightmare. A meched-out soldier with bulging muscles and a scarred face that makes her heart pound like a pneumatic drill. She also envisions his death in an attack that happens…now.

Locke’s typically ho-hum mission goes sideways when the stunning, green-eyed bubble farmer plants a sensual kiss that sets fire to every one of his remaining man-nerves. He also sees her vision. His own commander is about to kill him.

He needs Via to find out why. First step is to get her to Old Las Vegas—and do it without succumbing to a raw, sexual need that burns in him like fever. Getting there alive will be a snap. Getting her to trust him—and getting out alive—might be a little tougher.

Warning: This title contains mild violence, blow-your-mind Psionic sex, buns of steel (literally) and the usual hanky-panky at a bordello. Author is not responsible for side effects, including locked-and-loaded hunks taking your dreams by force.

Again, thanks so much to Hart Johnson for allowing me to bounce into her space for a bit any make myself comfy. And, ahem, if anyone is interested in picking up ZERO FACTOR, it’s now available at:

Samhain’s website
Barnes & Noble

Bio: A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true. Ms. Gail is published with Samhain Publishing, Ltd, and Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, Carina Press. She also thinks she’s a penguin.

Tart Note:  She IS a penguin.  LOVE YOU STACY!!!

(Penguin art at top by Marissa Montano)

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Battled Evil Yesterday

I put on my armor and got my weapons, and possibly spiked my Diet Coke with an adult courage supplement...

I regret to inform you evil could NOT be vanquished, but I did reduce its army by two compost bags, plus the available half of our city bin (hubby having edged yesterday)... And I learned some lessons... erm... mostly helpful if you are planning to start an evil coup, but never mind. I thought you'd want to know anyway.

The Little Ones Get Overlooked.

Actually, this could work for good, too—look at Frodo. But if you are in a HUGE battle with the nasties, then the little pricklies are just NOT worth your freaking time... so if you have a really BIG job to do, give it to someone really small... He is the one who will survive this fiasco.

It looks like this, but we didn't plant it...
Being Pretty Matters

Oh, I know. It shouldn't. I hate that it does... but in this war, the only large thing I spared, even though it is SURELY evil... was just too pretty to tear limb from limb. It is a volunteer... I don't know what it actually IS... but it looked something like this...

Battling Thorny doesn't have the Prestige of Battling Horny


The Rest of My Story

So as I battled evil, locusts were sent... or maybe it was a dozen grasshoppers... Spiders lurked... my SKIN was BURNED... I was stabbed (most of it penetrating my armor), bitten—I even feared I'd be stung. I just couldn't persevere... I left the heart of evil unbroken, if badly damaged... I fear a good rain will set him right again and I will be back to ground zero.

What Really Happened... or My Garden of Good and Evil...

Okay... so mostly it's evil. But that's my own fault... and probably my attitude. Have I expressed how I hate gardening? And it isn't the gardening actually, which I can actually really love if I only have to spend about three days a year doing it... it is the WEEDING... those bloody, pernicious... in this case THISTLES... (don't they make wine out of thistle? I think I'd be a lot happier if I learned how to do this... surely fermenting these puppies would be cathartic and drinking said wine would mellow my hatred...)

Two summers ago we had a garden... HWMNBMOTI turned over the soil and we planted stuff... it was a lot of work for not that much, so we didn't do it last year... or this... and so we have that NON grassy space... That has slowly been taken over... HWMNBMOTI would resort to chemical warfare, but I am dead set against it... I actually really LOVE the idea of fresh vegetables, but I just don't have the attention span. I am a tunnel vision, obsessive type, and I think from here on out, writing will be my obsession... at LEAST from here until I can give up my day job... there is only time to do so many things well. And Gardening is apparently too low on my list...

In Other News

I had a GREAT Lunch with Michael Di Gesu Saturday! You know... this online bonding thing is such a solid foundation for friendship. I am normally so bad at small talk and awkward when I meet new people, but it is SO EASY to slip into comfortable conversation with people I know through blogging (or prior to this, my Harry Potter stuff). After lunch I gave a quick tour of Ann Arbor and then Michael had to be on his way, but it was really great to connect.

My goodie bag...

A small sampling...
At my request, he brought me Fizzing Whizbees from Honeydukes (the Florida branch), and they're delicious—son even proved they made him levitate. So, Thank you, Michael!

I hope you all have a great last week of summer!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Penultimate Friday

That is not to say this is the second to last Friday ever, but it IS my second to last Friday of the summer, so that means in two weeks, I am back to five days a week. It is SO not fair. I've advocated for a three day work week for years now, but so far nobody wants to oblige.

Anyway... for this Penultimate Friday, I've got a little project going. I shared a link to one of the blog posts I'd written recently and though... you know... sometimes I say something intelligent... and OFTEN my brilliant friends say really helpful stuff... so I am adding a page of 'helpful links' to my tabs and I thought maybe I should ask all of YOU if there are 'can't miss' topics and websites. Most of the links I've saved are really well done blogs on a topic, but I'd also like to include some of the standard websites for critiquing, fact checking, etc.

So PLEASE, share the places YOU find most helpful (and why).

It's clear to me the Art Fairies are most popular.
And in more FUN News...

I get to meet with the fabulous Micheal Di Gesu tomorrow! He is driving from Chicago to Niagara Falls if I have my facts straight, which I usually don't... but he is passing RIGHT BY ME, so he is coming to Ann Arbor to have lunch and get the tour! You know... HWMNBMOTI and I were told when we moved here that if anyone came to visit, they must really love us, as this is NOT a destination destination... It's not like if we lived in... say San Francisco or Boston where people go because they WANT to, and you might just be a side bonus... So I am pleased that Michael loves me. teehee. (though I am taking him on the Fairy Door Tour)

That's all I got today... I have a house to clean and a lot of editing to work on... And that getting around to blogs thing I totally failed on yesterday...

Though I DO wish safety to all my east coast friends. I got nothing against a big blow, but mass destruction isn't cool, so here is hoping you all get about a level 3 storm... some excitement, to me sure, but nothing to ruin anything or put anyone in danger.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feeling Angsty? Anxious? Inadequate?

Well do WE (and by we, I mean Alex Cavanaugh's friends and fans) have a PLAN *buwahahahahahahahahaha* for you!

Because the thing IS, all writers feel insecure now and again. It is just part of the process. A writer that stays confident never learns to evaluate their work in a way that keeps improving it... but we ALSO, in getting insecure and critical GO OVERBOARD... We end up, in balancing our rushes where we feel the muse of power, diving into the depths of doubt.

And so Alex had this great idea that maybe we could all use a little bolstering... and who better to bolster us than each other? We all have stories of doubt... triumphs overcoming our doubts... we can teach each other—encourage each other...

So if yibus want to get in on this mutual encouragement for writerly insecurity thing, you really should go check out what Alex has to say on the matter. Then join us the first Wednesday of every month for some Insecurity Fighting Mojo!

So no need to hide! Unless we find a really big hiding spot and all hide together!!!

Okay, so maybe not like this exactly...
Insecure Mama Earth

It seems to me that writers aren't the only thing getting shaky these days... Earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia, WHAT? But we are not helpless here, either. There is a dance to calm everything. What you do is collect a group of your favorite people, everybody gets naked and you DANCE in the moonlight.

(seriously... what did you THINK I was going to recommend?)

I hope you all have a very Happy Naked Thursday!

[on a sidenote: work is swamped again for a little while. This cuts into my blog cruising. I will try to make up for it some with my Fridays off, but I apologize if I do less cruising.]

Eric Wolfram dancing naked

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Customer Primer

Rule Number ONE: Don't be an ass!!!

Now if you are like most people, you might have thought I meant customer service primer, but I don't. My darling daughter started her first job this week—standard service counter job—providing customers with what they ask for, taking their money for it. Her second shift was on Monday. A lady came in, made her order, paid, daughter rang it up and then started making change... THEN the lady said “Oh wait. I have change.” This flustered daughter who was a bit nervous, not very confident about her math skills, and who then needed to calculate change in her head...

This moron proceeded to reprimant MY DAUGHTER about needing math skills for this job WHEN HER BADGE SAID TRAINEE. It wasn't a friendly jibe. It was rude. Mean, even.

Now the mama bear in me would like to track this woman down and thunk her in the head good. But instead, as supreme world leader in my Naked World Domination Plan, I am submitting to you:


To achieve PERSONHOOD, ALL people must work three years in the lowly, minimum-wage service industry. This includes but is not limited to: fast food, coffee counter, waiting tables, convenience store. It does NOT include high-end retail or sales. This is service to hundreds of people a shift payment, not six figure commission work.

Until such a time as a person has put in their three years in the service industry, they must have a chaperone to shop who is to thunk them in the head every time they are rude to service people. They will pay this chaperone well, thereby stimulating the economy, and they will pay double price, difference to be kept by mistreated people. If a person cannot afford to pay the chaperone, then the person must wear a badge reading:

“I am a pampered princess who's never had to work. Please correct me when I make an ass of myself as a customer.” and when they DO make an ass of themselves as a customer, they are to pay DOUBLE for their good or service, money to be claimed by the mistreated person. And they must then perform the grimiest task in the establishment.


I just can't believe somebody would be such a miserable lowlife as to give a hard time to a TRAINEE. For Pete's sake, encourage the bloody work ethic.

On the plus side, it was only one bad egg. Everyone else was nice. She likes the job. She is excited about earning money and being very responsible about it. I think it will be a good experience for her.

But in absence of supreme power, I am calling on all of YOU... if you see a pampered biotch or jerk giving a bad time to a young person who is working hard, PLEASE, tell them to cut them a break (in fact if you can do it without a fistfight, tell them they're an ass). Those of us who work for a living are the ones who hold this world up. Those who are just handed everything TAKE TAKE TAKE. They are a pox on us all.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For Richer For Poorer

So on Sunday I was doing my computer thing... a little blogging, a little reading, a little typing... and on the side I decided to run a movie. I opened Netflix, looked at recommendations, and under Indie movies found one called Winter's Bone.

It was about a teenage girl, dirt poor. Her father had left them to cook meth. Her mom went fairly nuts.. not wild insane nuts, but crawl inside and get unresponsive nuts... she has a younger brother and a younger sister who desperately need caring for. Right at the beginning she takes her horse to the neighbors' to ask if they can keep it—they don't have money for hay.

She's teaching her siblings to hunt so they can survive
And then the police show up. Her dad has jumped bail. He signed over the house she and her family live in to get out (even though the worthless lout left it years earlier), and if he doesn't show up in court the next week, they lose it. She decides she will find him.  And it is quite a morass of secretive (mostly related, mostly also meth connected) lowlifes...

Now this movie sometimes moved a little slow—it was subtle. Not high action for the most part. But MAN, it tugged at me. The situation was so dire. What this poor girl had to take on was so heavy It was just a really great story of the power of will and the determination to take care of those who depended on her.

And it got me thinking...

See, last week, I got into a conversation about classics we didn't like... and of course there Falkner is my biggie, but that's beside the point... what it reminded me of was not liking The Great Gatsby. It isn't the same 'oh Digression, I can't read this crap' that I feel for Falkner. It was more an 'oh my Digression, how can I give a crap about these spoiled pampered people?'

I think you see where I'm going here.

Now there are exceptions... I have rich people stories I can get along with... say... Bonfire of the Vanities... *cough*

Actually, my favorite book has nobility—War and Peace is royalty... But think about the heart strings pulled in Les Miserables... How a stolen loaf of bread FOR NEED, leads to all that...

As for me, this is more compelling...
Now I know some people read to escape and pretend they ARE the characters... they like stories about beautiful people with lots of money. But I just CAN'T CARE for the most part. I think I need sympathy and I don't have a lot for people who get most of their life handed to them. I also can't get behind stories of rags to riches, really, as I don't see riches ALONE as a worthy goal, though I DO see causing justice and ending up with riches as often enjoyable. Mostly though, I can't value stories that value money, unless it is from the perspective of having none (because that's realistic—you need a certain amount to survive)

(and I definitely recommend the movie, by the way)

So what about you? Do you have a strong preference for one kind of story or another?

Monday, August 22, 2011

What the *!@% Was THAT?

So FIRST, two announcements...

I am ALSO at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash today talking about the endless peaks and tiny ebbs that we need to navigate to make it in this publishing business.

Second, We have a WINNER of the “I am an Adept of the Magic Arts' t-shirt!!! From the names of people who entered, I put them in order then used a random number generator to pick ONE... Congratulations, Jan! Jan Morrison was the lucky person in that just right spot!  Jan, I will email you with Denise's contact info.

Okay, now onto the BLOG for today...

So on Saturday my daughter called me. She and her boyfriend had taken my son to the mall, as their fabulous nana had sent them a little money and so they had a couple school clothes things to look for. I had no money to contribute and an abiding loathing of the mall, so off they went... She CALLED when they ran out of gas. Oops.

I promised to come with gas, ran to the garage and stared for a good three minutes at our electric lawn mower plugged right where it always is. How had I forgotten we don't NEED gas? Not to fear though. We haven't reached the scary part of this story yet. I went next door and asked my FABULOUS neighbor if SHE had a gas can. She did and gave it to me... I got a little gas and rescued the childings, and then returned the gas can.

When I let her know I'd put the can back, I then went in for a cocktail. I might tell you we don't have cocktails often, but that would make me a big far liar... I really enjoy having a cocktail with my neighbor—she's good company.

Ours wasn't this big, but same colors: Transformer explosion
When I arrived it had been raining just a little, but mid-cocktail it began to pour... there was some thunder.. some wind... and then there was a HUGE CRACK (and we aren't talking plumber's butt)... it was really loud and followed almost immediately by a huge flash of light—bright orange neon... maybe a little pink and a little white to it. It was spooky. We ran to the window to see what it was, but there was no sign. Thankfully the house across the street looked fine. Whatever it was looked too low to have been the treetops and nothing was on fire or smoking. But it was also darkish (stormy skies doing what they do). I had to wait out the storm, so Fabulous Neighbor and I theorized for another twenty minutes what that might have been.

My theories most often had aliens or supernatural phenomena in them, of course... that making for the most interesting story. But we just couldn't come up with anything that made realistic sense.

I really like how a mystery hangs a little... it is fun to have so much possibility.

When HWMNBMOTI got home from work it was still fairly light (he worked an 8-8) so we wandered that way. He pointed out a dead tree, but it wasn't blackened and I thought it had been there before. No answers...

Ours was an oak, and long dead, but this much branch
The houses across the street though, were without power—we confirmed it as dark arrived. No streetlights on that side. No houselights. Our side of the street was fine. That's been the case before—we've known we were on a different part of the grid. Sometimes we're the ones with no power.

The confirmation I wasn't crazy about having seen something was nice. Not that fabulous neighbor and I very often have joint hallucinations, but I suppose it was possible.

Then, when I was in my tub, HWMNBMOTI came in and reported... we have an older neighbor across the street who got home when he was outside. He went and helped her get in—check on things, find flashlight and all that that can be hard in the dark.. and we got our answer... across her back yard was a very large branch—a third of the tree, really... the dead one... It had fallen, probably in the wind, and hit a power line on the way down.

It was more fun when I didn't know.

So are there writing lessons here? I think so... the best is that moment of unknowing is the most engaging... when several things are possible. Just watching it, if I'd known everything, would have been a WHOA moment, but that would have been that. We need to remember to keep a little mystery and engage our readers' imaginations.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Review and some Stuff

FIRST: I KNEW Elizabeth Spann Craig was re-releasing her first Myrtle Clover mystery which had gone out of print AND her third one in the series which hadn't been released first round because of a change in direction by Midnight Ink. But that sneaky sneakster snuck right past me on WHEN!!!

So... Available on Amazon!

So what are you waiting for!? Go buy them!!!

SECOND: I am ALSO at Authors Promoting Authors today talking about the several options BETWEEN Traditional big house publishing and Self-publishing.

And THIRDLY... on Tuesday I promised you a book review of My Fearful Symmetry...

This isn't my normal genre, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I think this is everything the extremes of the Vampire genre of late lack. It isn't cold like the horror end, and it isn't romanticized out of realistic. Instead we get a beautifully written, sympathetic main character, brought into the immortal world to 'save his life'... or so he believes... and when I say beautifully written, I MEAN beautifully written.

But Cedric's maker has an agenda, and it isn't Cedric's glorification... but Raj's. I felt the details were beautifully done, as was the world drawn of a very old ritual--a culture where 'Adepts' are held in servitude much as I imagine the Geisha--revered in many ways, but whores, nonetheless (and I do know this description demeans Geisha—I don't mean to say a Geisha is a common prostitute... but rather I am trying to elevate the Adept... skilled pleasure bringers... in this case to bring the parties in contact with the goddess). I think the characters, language, and detail of this book are perfect.

It isn't for everybody--the slash romance angle isn't graphic, but is ever-present. It is not 'parts detail' but it is very erotic. But keep in mind neither of those are things I normally go for and I loved this anyway--the underlying story is well developed, very human, and beautifully told.

Note:  LAST CHANCE!!!  Denise offered to give away a t-shirt that says 'I am an adept of the ancient arts' which if you read her book you will know is QUITE the bragging rights! Very likely to get you all SORTS of propositions, offers of cash and possibly cookies... So... if you WANT to win, just comment, all week long with the phrase 'Kinky Vampire sex' (or if you are a prude you can just say 'I want to win!'). To double your chances, tweet or facebook share Tuesday's or Today's posts that feature Denise and her book! (and let me know... mind reading is not among my skills)  [Sadly, she can only ship US and Canada]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Bipolar Lion

I don't know why this is the case, but it seems to always be... the BEST things happen to me under Leo... And the worst... and once again, here I am, being pulled in the most disparate directions possible... lemme e'splain...

And so here I will impose my own personal bias on you... you know the 'do you want the good news, or the bad news?' question? Well I always want the bad news first because I like to end on a good note...

Sad Lion Credit
The Bad

Finances... things haven't eased up, in spite of the extra worker... partly because crap just keeps falling apart... the latest? The freaking DOOR on our dumb car. We have a mini-van... a Sienna that mostly we've loved, but it is a 1998... and this is the 4th freaking door we will have to repair (no, that's not true... we just left one broken, as it was just the outer handle breaking). Does that seem right? I think the lock mechanism fell this time, but whatever the case, the latch now sits too low to catch... it just bangs the loop... and as much as I love a good bang, this is not working. If the door won't close, then we have lights on all night, which means in reality, we have to disconnect the freaking BATTERY each time the car is going to sit, or it will drain of it's juice. We ALSO have had to tie the dumb door shut... not helpful...

So I reiterate... If you are a Sugar Daddy who desires to be the benefactor for a writer... I NEED YOU... small timers need not apply, as I have a family to support. I would like $10,000 a month... sexual favors negotiable, but I really need a one year contract. I will promise you AT LEAST one book dedication and possibly my eternal devotion. Just throwing it out there...

Happy Lion Credit
Now for the good news...

You KNOW I sent Kahlotus back to Amy Tipton yesterday, yes? And I explained to her... because that is sort of how I roll—TMI and all... how my contract at the mo with Ellen (her partner) was just for the Cozies... so if she decided I 'got her' with the suggestions and wanted to rep the book, did she want a project contract, or what?... Okay, I used a lot more words and I tried to be coherent and professional... but that was the gist...

But her response was a resounding, “Yes, I want to represent you, and I would represent ALL of your YA!”

The mystery stuff with Ellen is up to Ellen, and I will leave that open until 'What Ales Me' is cleaned a little so she can see what else I have to offer on that front... And there are adult suspense ideas floating... some of them feasibly large, but I think getting my mystery and YA careers well established first is probably wise.

My PLAN *Buwahahahahahahaha* (you remember it is required to cackle when we say the word PLAN, *Buwahahahahahahaha* yes?) is to write two mysteries and one YA a year... the reason? The YAs are each stand alone-single book things at the moment, which require a little more stewing than the mystery, which will run as series. Mystery also has a little more formula to it... I ALSO am going to try to POLISH an already written book each year (I will do short descriptions of each and ask Amy which she'd like, as several of those are YA, or can be rewritten as YA) One is a YA mystery... hmmm... that complicates things... though it was a NaNo, and though there is a murder precipitating, it may actually play out best as YA suspense (this is Player Down)

I'm so thrilled to have someone willing to look at my career plans (or at least that strand of it) and provide advice. Amy said she really loved my idea for my next one (Medium Wrong) which I will do as first draft for NaNoWriMo this year, though I have fairly detailed planning I want to do first on this. The PLOT isn't so complicated, but the details of it are... detailed... there needs to be a MAP, and then the steady stream of side characters...

Have I ever told you how much I dig maps? Real maps. Fictional maps. Building designs... doesn't matter. I ADORE THEM ALL.

Any of you have news? Any of you dig maps? Any of you have news about maps... because if you do, I may just have to Squee a bit...

Note:  Denise offered to give away a t-shirt that says 'I am an adept of the ancient arts' which if you read her book you will know is QUITE the bragging rights! Very likely to get you all SORTS of propositions, offers of cash and possibly cookies... So... if you WANT to win, just comment, all week long with the phrase 'Kinky Vampire sex' (or if you are a prude you can just say 'I want to win!'). To double your chances, tweet or facebook share Tuesday's or Friday's posts that feature Denise and her book! (and let me know... mind reading is not among my skills)  [Sadly, she can only ship US and Canada]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Invisible Blog

Yes... totally being a smarta$$.  Finished Kahlotus last night to send to agent today, but had no time to actually BLOG... So there you have it... Cleverness instead of content... or maybe I have just reached maximum punchy status... whatever the case... I love you, my bloggie friends...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Denise Verrico Interview

Halo, friends! You know I have guests now and then, but I don't very often have the luxury of interviewing them. Most of that is time constraint... you see, I like to read the book if I'm to interview, and don't always have time. Denise though, has been here a few times and I thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit, and she was willing to send me a copy of My Fearful Symmetry, the third in her Immortal Revolution series. I plan a full review on Friday, but you will definitely get a feel for the book from my questions.. I am in purple and Denise is in blue..

So without further ado, Welcome, Denise!

I think the thing that struck me so strongly reading your book was how rich the language was. I came into it with 'Vampire' and 'erotic' and a set of assumptions that were more 'Hershey bar' but the experience was a Dove dark chocolate—I could savor and enjoy it and feel like it wasn't just empty calories, if you will. Is that just your writing style, or did you make a conscious decision to make this as beautiful as possible to read?

Hart, I love your metaphor. It makes me want to indulge in some really decadent sweets. Hmm, isn’t chocolate also a euphemism for kinky sex?

Yes, I did set out to write something a bit different with this book. My goal was to create a sumptuous backdrop for Cedric’s story, something a bit more exotic than in the first two books. My writing is very dialogue driven. I was a playwright first, and I don’t use a lot of narrative. What descriptive language I use has to pack a lot of punch to deliver the mood I’m looking for. I’m very big on the connotative meaning of verbs. You can say someone ran, but it’s more interesting to say sprinted, ambled, jogged, took flight etc. In this way, the writer can lose a lot of adjectives and adverbs yet still convey a strong image. This goes back to my theatre training. An actor is always looking for the playable action that makes the story interesting.

I like my characters to have depth and reality even though they are vampires. When creating characters, I ask myself this question: How would a person react to being plunged into this very strange world? Cedric is very real to me. I think of him as a person who happens to be a vampire. This condition gives him an extra set of obstacles to overcome. In writing any kind of speculative fiction, the writer must approach a fantastical creature as a human being with an inner conflict.
I’m a big fan of Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey. You can see this in Cedric’s story. He grows a lot as a person throughout the book. One of my colleagues tells me I write “grown-up” vampire stories that deal with serious themes. I confess to being a bit of a philosopher. Vampires are the ultimate metaphor for the human condition. We’re carnivores with a soul. No other predatory animal worries that killing is wrong. We see the implications of our actions. The vampire is the monster that looks just like us.

So this brings us to the question of sex. The word erotic can mean different things to different people. I wasn’t aiming to write a story that the sole purpose is titillation, but that aspect is there. It’s been said that I write about vampire sexual politics. There are no graphic descriptions of sex in my books, yet there is this constant sexual atmosphere. The only things that throb in this book are drumbeats. I tried to present a sensual world as perceived by a creature with enhanced senses. The dream-like quality of Anne Rice’s vampire novels always appealed to me. Although our styles are very different, I have to say she is an influence.

Part of this richness is the detail of the places, London, India, Hong Kong—have you had a chance to visit these places with writing about them in mind? What is your favorite place you've written about, and why?

Well, I must confess to never having been to any of those places, although I have wanted to go. If I were writing a novel about contemporary life in those places, I would certainly have to visit them. The world I’ve created in my novels is off the grid. The chief elder’s compound in the Hill Country of India and Lord Liu’s house in Hong Kong are pockets of Immortyl culture hidden from the real world, not in a supernatural sense like Hogwarts in Harry Potter, but in that Immortyls are intensely private people. I often think of polygamists and the S&M community, who carry on their lives in the “real world”, but have a subculture largely unknown to people around them. I do a lot of research on locations through books, documentary films and the Internet. It’s amazing what you can find on the internet, everything from statistics regarding London rent boys to how long it takes to travel from Kolkata to the Hill Country. My favorite place to write about is New York City. I was born eight miles outside of the city and lived in and around it for several years as an adult. It’s my favorite place I’ve been so far. In book four, Ratopia, I’m striving to make the city a character in itself.

How much research went into making India, the spiritual stuff in particular (that if I'm guessing has Hindu overlap), and the lifestyle of... what feels a lot like a cult—I mean I get that Vampires are different in their lack of control over membership and selection, but it felt much more real and richly detailed than a lot of these I read, and like you may indeed have done some cult research into its hierarchy and structure.

I did a lot of research on Indian erotic literature, arts and culture and history for this book. My intention wasn’t to recreate historical India, but to imagine a vampire subculture within the country. The religious aspect of the Immortyl culture is actually drawn from Tantrism, not Hinduism. Tantrism is an older form of worship from pre-Aryan times. It focuses on Goddess worship and sex is part of some rituals. A lot of what I read on Tantra was very academic and didn’t focus on the sex techniques. 
Luckily, I have a colleague who experimented with the Sex Majick stuff in the sixties. He found me some great sources of material.

The Immortyls focus on Kali worship. Kali is often misunderstood in the West. She isn’t the goddess of death, but the goddess of time. She does have a reputation for drinking blood, but only that of evil demons. Historically, only one group associated with her was violent. This group was called the Thugees. They were the basis for the Kali cult in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There is an element of the Thugees in Kalidasa the chief elder’s view on Kali.

In this book, you see a different side of Immortyl culture than in my first two books that focus on characters living in the West. You hit the nail on the head, Hart. In the chief elder’s compound, things are run like a cult. The chief uses religion to control his subjects. He’s made himself supreme pontiff and uses threats of divine retribution in order to rule by fear. His subjects are beguiled into the cult with drugs and sexual pleasure. As long as the faithful fear the leader, he can maintain control. For a savvy outsider like Cedric, the whole thing is immediately transparent, but because of his teacher, Sandhya, he begins to respect Kali and the foundation of the Tantric beliefs that have been perverted by the chief elder. Cedric has become an adept at the very moment that all that the chief elder represents is under the threat of revolution. Those who believe that Immortyls are biologically mutated in some way question the idea that vampires aren’t semi-divine children of the goddess.

The selection process of Immortyls depends on the place they occupy in their culture. The ruling classes are chosen for leadership ability and wealth, soldiers for strength and fighting skill. Household slaves like Cedric are chosen for their youth and beauty, but if one is being considered for adept training, musical talent and brains are also mandatory. Adepts are employed as courtesans and they must be well versed in many subjects and multi-talented performers.

So in my understanding, an adept is actually a magical or spiritual conduit, yes? In your story, though, the adept 'magic' is of s sexual nature. Is this based on any actual cultural use, or did you come up with this? (it's brilliant, by the way)

Well, it’s open for interpretation whether there is actual magic or not. Cedric is certainly a skeptic at first. There is some precedent for the Immortyl rituals in Tantric practice, but I created my own rites for the book. In Tantra, the idea of sex rituals is to gain control over one’s sexual energy to obtain blessings. Sexual desire is a positive force, but it shouldn’t control a person. If channeled properly it is very powerful. When one approaches sex in the “proper” manner, the experience is described as having heightened awareness. One can actually see colors pulsating and hear music when approaching orgasm. The goal of Tantra is to achieve Ananda, a state of heightened spirituality.

The creative power of the universe is referred to as Shakti. This is also the feminine principle. The Goddess is also called Shakti, and she takes on many forms, some benevolent and some fearsome, like Kali and Durga. Kali is often depicted standing on the body of her husband, Shiva. This signifies that the male principle is subordinate to the female in the scheme of the cosmos.

The role I’ve imagined for the adept is that of a facilitator in the sex ritual. They reenact the Goddess Kali conferring the gift of immortality upon the Immortyls. The adept becomes the conduit of this power. There is an exchange of blood in the Immortyl ritual as well as sexual intercourse. Blood can be an element of tantra as well, but the Immortyl ritual is drawn mostly from my imagination.

And I’m sure someone out there is asking if the writer experienced all this. I suppose I should leave a little something to the imagination.

And what drew you into this highly sexualized take on the Vampire world? Have you had other influences that led you this direction?

Vampires are highly sexual creatures in a lot of mythology. I like to think of them this way. You could say my vamps are actually sci fi, because they aren’t dead, but mutated by a symbiotic organism. (This doesn’t really come into play much in book three). If they have heightened senses, it stands to reason they’d have heightened sex drives.

I’m attracted to the Asian view of vampires. The European and Slavic legends portray vampires as bloated zombie-like creatures, but those in Eastern lore are often incubi and succubi that feed on sexual energy and may or may not feed on blood. They aren’t usually reanimated corpses, but sometimes spirits or deities. Many of these are female. Kali, and her attendants the dakini, haunt graveyards and battlefields. The goddess drinks the blood of the demons she slays. Hebrew tradition gives us the story of Lillith and the Greeks have the Lamiae, which may well have their roots in India and Kali.

In the Western literary tradition, vampires are a lot about sexual taboos. Most of this came out of the nineteenth century. The model for the “gentleman vampire” was the poet Lord Byron, who was quite the sexual adventurer. His personal physician, John Polidori wrote a book called The Vampyre. This novel might have been actually started by Byron and completed by Polidori. Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu deals with a lesbian relationship. Count Dracula lives in a polygamous union with three female vampires and is looking to add a fourth.

All of these traditions in legend and literature have contributed to my imagining of the vampire.

I love how you've arranged Cedric's entry into being a Vampire—a male prostitute who spends some time busking, so he had skill in both sexual pleasure and music. It set him up as believable for what comes later. I wonder though, how important to you the 'dying anyway' piece was. Do you think Cedric's attitude might have been different? Reader reaction to him? I'm just wondering how central that piece was to the arc you had in mind for him.

Well, it wasn’t so much that Cedric chose to be an Immortyl because he was dying, but that he desperately wanted to live and live well at any cost. It’s a Faustian bargain, if you will. Cedric is smart, but at first he’s very selfish. From what I’ve read about people in desperate circumstances, it’s a good quality to have if one wants to survive. I think Cedric would have been lured by Raj even if he weren’t infected with AIDS. Raj is handsome, erudite and wealthy. All of these things are part of a world in which Cedric wants to live. One thing to keep in mind, Cedric isn’t always truthful in his narrative. He claims to prefer girls, but he’s bisexual, smack dab in the middle of the Kinsey scale, a solid three. Raj is the first person with which he falls madly in love.

On a more serious note, an estimated 33% of rent boys (most under age eighteen) who work the streets in London are infected with HIV.  If a kid is hungry and sex without a condom means a little more money, he takes that chance, or like in Cedric’s case, a customer may have raped him.  The heart of my series is the sewer rats, feral child and teen vampires who’ve been trafficked and victimized.  Sexual slavery is the reality for many women and children in the present day.  Real-life “vampires” make money off the bodies of these victims.  If I have a soapbox in these books, this is it. 

And confess... was there any tongue in cheek in mind by naming him Cedric when the current pop sweetheart of Vampires is played by Robbie Pattinson who also plays a character named Cedric? (or is that my Harry Potter obsession showing)?

Good try, Hart, but no. Cedric’s name comes from a character in the novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Scott is a big literary hero in Scotland, and I imagined my Cedric’s mother as being a bit of a romantic. She named her son after a Saxon warrior chieftain, who seeks to overthrow the Norman conquerors. This name underscores the warrior spirit of my hero. Cedric is flamboyant and sometimes he shimmers, but never under any circumstances does he sparkle. You say Pattison plays a vampire? Hmm…that’s news to me. I sometimes wear a “Buffy Staked Edward” shirt. It’s amazing how many high fives I get. I like to kid Twilight fans, but I’m not a rabid hater. Gosh, I wish I thought of the idea first and made bazillion dollars. No, I had to write this operatic-scale saga about the race to capture the secrets of immortality when the world wanted a story about a teenaged girl falling in love with a vampire.

This is your third book in the series, yes? For readers—it is the first I read, I felt it was very easy to engage in—but how many books do you have planned in the series? And has your conception of the overall story changes as you've made your way forward?

This is book three, and it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. I’d love to write nine books, but a lot of that has to do with sales etc. When I started the first book, I had no idea of this becoming a series, but when I finished a 700 page first draft, my husband suggested that I had a series. I cut the first book to 300 or so pages and put some of the material into the second book. Having the first two books written, I marketed them as a series.

Cedric was the biggest change in the series arc. He was one of those characters who insisted on telling his story and hijacked the series plot somewhat. This character will evolve a lot throughout the books and remain a major player. His story will intertwine with Mia and Kurt’s until the very end. The boy has a lot of surprises in him.

Hart, thanks so much for having me here today. You asked such interesting questions, and I always enjoy chatting with your followers. I’m happy to answer here any questions your readers might have, and they are welcome to contact me through my website or blog is they wish.

Thank YOU, Denise! This was great! And for those of you who missed the announcement yesterday:

Denise offered to give away a t-shirt that says 'I am an adept of the ancient arts' which if you read her book you will know is QUITE the bragging rights! Very likely to get you all SORTS of propositions, offers of cash and possibly cookies... So... if you WANT to win, just comment, all week long with the phrase 'Kinky Vampire sex' (or if you are a prude you can just say 'I want to win!'). To double your chances, tweet or facebook share Today's or Friday's posts that feature Denise and her book! (and let me know... mind reading is not among my skills)  [Sadly, she can only ship US and Canada]

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mish Mash

SAY... this is my 700th post... That's sorta cool, though what's most striking is probably that I noticed...

Okay, fine friends... I have been the recipient of a wonderful blog award and meme, so that is the main blog today, but FIRST, a couple announcements.

Hey!!! Raquel Byrnes is giving away a copy of her romantic suspense book, Purple Knot, on Goodreads. Go here if you want to win!(and friend me: Hart Johnson, if you haven't already)

And Second, I am hosting Denise Verrico tomorrow for an interview and doing a book review of her fabulous MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY on Friday (that was a spoiler, wasn't it? That I liked the book... but you'll have to come see WHY), so Denise offered to give away a t-shirt that says 'I am an adept of the ancient arts' which if you read her book you will know is QUITE the bragging rights! Very likely to get you all SORTS of propositions, offers of cash and possibly cookies... So... if you WANT to win, just comment, all week long with the phrase 'Kinky Vampire sex' (or if you are a prude you can just say 'I want to win!'). To double your chances, tweet or facebook share Tuesday's or Friday's posts that feature Denise and her book! (and let me know... mind reading is not among my skills)  [Sadly, she can only ship US and Canada]

Now... Onto the meme... Michael Offutt at SLC Kismet awarded me the Blog on Fire award! (so careful not to burn yourself, eh?)... and included with the award the following meme... So THANK YOU, Michael!

1)  Are you a rutabaga? Well… if we are what we eat… then… erm. No. I mean I think I've tried one, but that's about it...

2) Who is your current crush? Crush? Not CRUSHES? Johnny Depp, Viggo Mortenson, Jason Isaacs, Bill Weasley, Chad Kroeger, Steven Tyler... erm... there are more, but I'm not so observant on names...

3)  Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile. (you may notice a pattern here... or two... first... my animal baby love, second, my inability to follow directions... can't do just one...)

This is my work wallpaper

4) When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?  It’s been a while. They cost more…

5) Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise?  Probably when I let my TMI policy bleed into other people’s personal business. I TRY not to, but it happens... most often when my business and their business overlaps...

6) What is the weirdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do?

Weirdest? Maybe pea roguing. You heard me. At 14 my mom found me a job wandering pea fields and picking the rogues (the ones with the wrong color flower, wrong size, non-peas… it was for a split pea company and about 10 of us walked in a line. It was about crop purity or something… and I was paid $2.10 an hour for my misery because I wasn't technically old enough to have a job. I made friends with Mike Bull that week, though, who was one of the cool boys (and very nice) two years older, so that made up for it. And it was twice as much as I made babysitting, so at 14, it wasn't bad money... though it was hot and my feet hurt...

Most disgusting? Grease trap. ICK. For starters, dead meat refuse is STINKY. And it’s GREASY. And it’s ICKY. Definitely the worst job in a restaurant and there are several that aren’t particularly savory.

7) Where da muffin top at?  On the muffin bottom? Is this innuendo that I somehow don’t understand? I'm not sure how I could fail to understand innuendo, but this totally sounds dirty, yet, I don't get it...

8) What author introduced you to your genre? I am going with Cozy Mystery because I actually have an answer. I don’t remember the first Cozy Mystery I READ, but I know I didn’t know it was a separate genre until I met Elizabeth Spann Craig who introduced me formally, rather than just the informal fondling phase I’d been in prior to that… (you know... feel it up without ever learning it's name)

9) Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.  Aqua Crustulum (that's a watery cookie... apparently they didn't have tarts...) Did you know I can't find a translation for naked? Nude, either... or undressed, or disrobed... You don't suppose naked was just the natural state of things so no word was needed, do you?

The following people are being tagged for the above award and subsequent internet meme:

Christine Murry
Johanna Garth at Losing Sanity
Siv Maria at Been There, Done That
Trisha at WORD + STUFF
Jenny at Ten Lives and Second Chances
VB Tremper at All the World's in Words
Sue at Jumping Around

All of you are superstar commenters! There are others who are, but these folks are over and above and I just wanted a shout out that I notice! So you've been tagged!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hard Spell Recipe

So yesterday I reviewed Hard Spell, and when Justin and I talked about a guest post, I asked him, if he didn't have another idea, if he might share his inspiration sources with us.  He has put together a recipe...

Recipe for a “Hard Spell”
Justin Gustainis

Start with 1 ½ to 2 lbs of “Dragnet” (the original, not the Tom Hanks/Dan Ackroyd satire)

Mix in ½ lb. of “X-Files,” but separate out the skeptical Scully. This recipe does not call for skeptics.

Melt and add a half-stick of Raymond Chandler (especially his essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” which contains the oft-quoted description, “Down these mean streets a man must go, a man who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”)

Add five finely-chopped pages from “The Dresden Files”

Sauté together 1 oz. each of “Hellboy,” “Hellblazer,” and “Cal McDonald” and add to the mixture.

Add a pinch of “30 Days of Night.” Okay, 2 pinches.

In a bowl combine 1 oz each of “Millennium,” “Brimstone,” and “The Night Stalker” (the original TV-movie only, not the series, which even Darren McGavin hated) and gently fold into the mixture

Marinate ¾ lb of kielbasa in 6 oz. of bourbon. Set aside to serve as a side dish.

Strain the mixture through a word processor, then serve to an adoring (if you’re lucky) public. ;)

teehee--I love that mix--includes a lot of my favorites.  And it was a very fun read.  And Justin has a book trailer for anyone who's had their curiosity tweaked, so if you want further temptations... (I'd upload it if I had better skill, but here is the link).

I really hope all of you have a great weekend. I am going under for a really serious crunch on my last round of editing before I sent Kahlotus back to Amy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hard Spell: A Review

So a couple months back Justin Gustainis emailed me and asked if I'd be willing to do a review... I gotta be honest; I'm a bit hesitant on reading books by people I don't know on request—the blogosphere is another matter (I love you guys, so it is a straight time equation), but I didn't know Justin... When I read his pitch, though... I just couldn't resist.

Now this isn't a genre I'd ever read, but it reminded me A LOT of some of the television I watch... It is hard boiled detective meets paranormal camp... it is Men in Black only Vampires, Werewolves and Wizards instead of aliens.


Stan Markowski works for Scranton Pennsylvania's Occult Crime Unit... the department includes a witch, a priest, a rabbi, a handler for a hellhound...

Early in the book there is a gruesome crime scene... a long torture of a wizard... something stolen... and then the Vampire murders start...

Now Vampires in this world aren't ALL horrible...okay, there is remaining bias, but... it isn't illegal to be a Vampire... it is only illegal to kill people, so among consenting adults... and there ARE some...

It turns out the stolen item and the Vampire murders are related... and heading for something TERRIBLE... and our detective is in charge of solving it before that happens...


This was a fabulous combination. I normally get a little annoyed with say... a Raymond Chandler hard boiled... partially because the man is misogynistic, but it is just... too dry... This book maintained the MYSTERY side, but added humor, surprise... and besides that, Markowski has a higher view of women. I mean it's not that he doesn't NOTICE certain... erm... attributes... but he thinks a lot of their intelligence and abilities and he values them (as does Justin, based on how he writes his female characters).

One of the sublime clevernesses was the magic—the book had clever twists on what you think of as traditional spells or protections, but with a twist that makes them seem realistic and modern.

I think if you like detective novels you'll like it. If you like paranormal you'll like it. If you like campy speculative fiction you'll like it... and if there is one of those you normally DON'T like, there is enough of the other that it cancels that. It really is a great mix.