Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Men Talking Smack

JLA's 16-year-old son stays with us every other week. As I'm working at my computer, I can often hear their conversations in the living room. They give TSTL a whole new dimension of meaning.

Here's what I picked up on yesterday. (This is nearly verbatim, because I started typing it soon after I started chuckling at it.)

Dad: Did you do some ass-whuppin' today? You said you were gonna whup someone's ass at school.

Sonny: No. Next year.

Dad: What?

Sonny: Not until next year.

Dad: Why're you waiting until next year? What if the guy looks like Charles Atlas by then? He could pop your head like a zit.

Sonny: Nah, he's twink.

Dad: You're a twink yourself. Besides, if you get into some shit in school, I'm gonna whup your ass.

Sonny: Yeah, sure.

[By then, my curiosity was getting the better of me. So of course I had to amble into the living room and butt in.]

Me to Sonny: Why are you waiting so long to kick somebody's ass?

Sonny: Cuz he's going to Nekoosa this year but he should be back next year.

Dad, referring to Sonny and grinning: That way he can let his can of whup-ass sit on the shelf and ferment. It'll be even stronger when he opens it.

Oy vey.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You knew THIS was coming!

Writers are such review whores, aren't they . . . uh, we? Seriously, though, I'm profoundly grateful The Prayer Waltz has met with such a favorable reception. In addition to Tam's reactions and the Recommended Read from Dark Diva Reviews, Jenre at Well Read gave the novella an "excellent" rating and Aunt Lynn at Reviews by Jessewave gave it five stars. What makes the reviews all the more gratifying is the thought and sincerity behind them. They weren't just fly-bys.

I'm glad there's a place in nonliterary fiction for stories that don't center on action!adventure!intrigue!bdsmsex! Shortly after I got into m/m romance -- which I did without much forethought when I wrote Obsessed, because I was thinking only about Jackson Spey and Adin Swift -- I wasn't sure what readers of the genre expected. I had a sense they liked alpha heroes and whodunits. But since I'd never much liked alpha heroes and didn't have a clue how to write about law enforcement-type stuff, I thought, Ah, screw it; I'll just go where my imagination takes me. I didn't want to try absorbing someone else's voice or riffing off someone else's themes just to be popular.

The approach led to a fairly placid ride: no super highs, no super lows. Unfortunately, that meant my work wasn't making much of an impression (with a few notable exceptions *smooch*). I guess that's why I'm so head-over-heels about people liking The Prayer Waltz.

Besides, I've got two more books coming up, so I doubt my high will last much longer. Just put up with it. :-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

TMI from CF

In my books, as opposed to Snowflake's books, the lucky, lickalicious heroine, Cassie, usually wakes up beside several naked Olympic athletes whose overall good looks, hungedness, and stamina make them more deserving of gold medals than any performance in any stupid so-called sport. (And I mean medals so dazzling, they'll crisp your damned eyeballs.) All Cassie has to do is move one toe, and they're on her like a ring of fire-eyed convicts. I mean, this is some seriously hot shit.

The sex is so good it's crippling. Literally. When the boys and Cassie have finally had their fill, she thumps to the floor, sort of slithers into her kimono (with swooshes), and prepares the day's torments for her nemesis, the Flake.

Funny, but my mornings get off to the same start. So how do ya like me now?

(You'll have to click on the post title to figure out what Castanet is nattering about. I'm too busy to monitor her. Sorry. ~KZ)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thanks to Dark Diva Reviews

For this. From Helen of Sydney (yes, the one way down there).
For The Prayer Waltz.

I wouldn't have known this existed if it weren't for the Dreamspinner authors' group, so I thank them as well. (Google hasn't been too alert.)

There was one thing in particular Helen said that really touched me, because it was exactly the kind of reaction I was hoping for: "I felt a kind of peace settle around me as I finished the book." Reader reactions don't get much better than that for a story with a quiet voice. (Well, Tam's was pretty danged cool too! )

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mad City Coup

The Chazen Art Center in Wisconsin's capital city (oh, and what a seething cesspool of progressivism it is -- heh!) recently purchased this sculpture. I'm afraid I couldn't copy the pic. You'll have to look at the fourth image in the slideshow to get the full hurray-for-tolerance impact of the work:

Not bad for a city of approximately 224,000 people, huh? Madison is so liberal, I'm surprised the Fundies haven't bombed it off the map. (Actually, the Chazen Museum is on the University of Wisconsin campus, which is even more liberal than the city itself.)

Now back to Fugly, which I'm trying desperately to finish by the end of the week.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Publication 101

Mobry's Dick has pretty much finished going through its editing and proofreading phases at Loose Id. (Never, anywhere, have I seen such a thorough process. That company does not cut editorial corners.) Release is still scheduled for May 18.

I figure MD will pan out to around 67k words, which will make it my longest book since InDescent. I'm afraid I can't come up with an accurate page count, since that will be determined by final formatting and those various and sundry electronic versions into which it will ultimately be converted.

As I went through the proofread copy, I realized how much I liked the novel and, especially, the main characters. This pleasurable onslaught of the warm fuzzies sometimes happens when a story has been with me for a while. At some point during production, I suddenly realize I'm proud of it. In fact, my reactions to any given project go through distinct phases:

  1. Excitement. Yippee, I'm starting a new book! Where will it take me? Oh, yeah, these chapters are sounding good.
  2. Stall-out. As other authors have mentioned, this often happens after Chapter Three, although it can happen at any time. Things just start grinding to a halt. Now what do I do? Where do I go from here?

  3. Anxiety. Maybe I shouldn't be writing this at all. Maybe my effort is doomed. Should I keep going? But what if it's an irredeemable piece of shit?

  4. Restart. Like a stopped train overcoming inertia, chug by chug, the story gradually picks up momentum again. Huh. Maybe it's not so bad after all.

  5. Race to the Finish. Well, hot damn, I only have two chapters to go!

  6. [I'll skip the whole submission business, because it varies wildly from publisher to publisher.]

  7. Edits. (These have their own subset of phases.) Okay, let's dig in! . . . This is getting a little tedious. . . . I think my eyes are going to fall out of my head. . . . I swear I'm going to kill the next editor I see. . . . Jaysus, I can't read another word of this damned tome! Enough already!

  8. Satisfaction. Well, I did it. Again. I am da bomb! And how I love these characters {{sigh}}.

  9. Cover Approval. Same as the submission-phase comment. Reactions range from ew to what were they thinking? to hmm, this is promising to yeah, okay, I'll settle for it to wow, spot on!

  10. Release. *knock-knock-knock* Hellooo, I have a new book out. Does anybody care? Hey, it really isn't all that bad. Give it a chance! Have all the reviewers died? Did a mysterious illiteracy plague strike overnight? Helloooooooooo . . .


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The most overused cover models . . .

. . . can't beat the appearances of certain words in book titles.

I began noticing this with the word wicked. It seemed to turn up in titles more than Jehovah's Witnesses on doorsteps -- because, I guess, we wimmins are supposed to get all shivery in the chacha at the thought of baaaaad menz. (I'm here to tell you, I was married to an asshole, and he was shiver-worthy only in the most unpleasant ways.) Of course, there are a few notable exceptions to the shivery-chacha rule, like Ginn Hale's and Josh Lanyon's fine books. Oh, and that weird novella by what's-her-name that's part of some futuristic urban fantasy series.

Here's what Googlestoopid and Fictionwise turned up for me:

A Hint of Wicked
Slightly Wicked
A Little Bit Wicked
Just Wicked Enough
Too Wicked to Tame
Wild, Wicked, and Wanton
(I couldn't find Balls-to-the-Wall Wicked, so there's a slot that definitely needs filling . . . Wren. No, wait. I just might use that title.)
Wild and Wicked in Scotland
Bride of a Wicked Scotsman
Wicked Clare's Wicked Dreams of Wicked Scotsmen
(Aren't there any wicked Lithuanians?)
If His Kiss Is Wicked
The Wicked Kiss
Too Wicked to Kiss
(Alas, no Wicked Slobberer or His Wicked Morning Breath or -- because Jen's bound to notice the omission -- His Wicked Morning Fart)
Wicked Enchantment
Wicked Sexy
Wicked Hairy (You don't believe me? Ask Teddypig.)
Wicked City
Wicked All Day
One Wicked Night
Wicked Nights
Hot Boss, Wicked Nights
A Night of Wicked Delight
One Wicked Weekend
A Wicked, Wild Three-Day Affair
(Why no Wicked Bank Holiday?)
Wicked Shift
Wicked Business
Wicked Lovely
Wicked Gentlemen
Wicked Angel
Wicked Prey
Wicked Covers (a double entendre for Wave)
Wicked Destiny
Wicked Burn
Wicked Garden
Wicked Fantasy
Wicked Pleasures
Wicked Game
Wicked Games
Wicked Little Games
Wicked Chutes and Ladders (Those are euphemisms, you know.)
Wicked Ties
Wicked Whispers
Wicked Widow
The Wicked Wife
The Wicked Flame
The Wicked Dance
The Wicked West
The Wicked Upper Midwest (That one's for Chris.)
Call Me Wicked
Call Me Wicked, and I'll Kick You in the Nuts (That one's for me.)
I Spy Something Wicked
No Rest for the Wicked
Some Like It Wicked
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night
The Wicked and the Wondrous
If He's Wicked
His Wicked Promise
Your Wicked Ways
My Wicked Vagina Dentata (I'm outing Kris here.)
Wicked and Willing (ditto)
When He Was Wicked
The Rake's Wicked Proposal
A Wicked Lord at the Wedding
A Knight Most Wicked
The Wicked Civil Servant (You know, the one who inhabits Tam's dreams.)
The Viscount's Wicked Ways
The Wicked Ways of a Duke
The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife
The Wicked Marquess
The Wicked Baron
To Wed a Wicked Earl
My Wicked Earl
Wicked Earl, Wanton Widow
The Duke of Earl Gets His Wicked On (That one's also for me. Yes, I get two.)
To Wed a Wicked Prince
Every Bloody Last Member of the Peerage Is Wicked (an antho featuring members of the Macaronis)

PHREW! I know I've overlooked plenty. Still, nobody, editor or author, has been able to top the famous and utterly creepy-fabulous Bradbury title, Something Wicked This Way Comes. (An interesting sidenote: While book titlers seem to perceive "wicked" as a word with darkly alluring connotations, they seem to perceive "evil" as repellant and therefore suitable only for true-crime stories and horror novels.)

In the past year, I've noticed the same phenomenon with the word bone(s):

An Echo in the Bones
Bone Crossed
Zero at the Bone (Nice to see Emily Dickinson referenced!)
The Bones of Summer
The Lovely Bones
(I'm not making up any titles in this section. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.)

At least, so far, "bone(s)" has fronted some good books. But I bet that will change. ;-)

Has any title word ever jumped out at you again and again and again, until you find yourself wishing it would be struck from the language? I don't mean traditional romance words, like "love" and "passion"; we all know they're overused. I mean some noun or adjective that doesn't have an inherent connection to sex or sentimentality.

I can already see that the word wild has cropped up a lot, and for the same reason wicked has.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Joke from Jerry II

I feel I should be pimping something -- my scintillating self and my highly anticipated releases in particular **cough** -- but we all know how good I am at that. So in lieu of high-powered pimpage, I decided to post another Joke from Jerr, one of my friends in low places.

The Old Man and the Beaver

An 86-year-old man went to his doctor for his quarterly check-up. The doctor asked him how he was feeling, and the old man said,"Things are great! I've never felt better. I now have a twenty-year-old bride who's pregnant with my child." He beamed proudly. "So what do you think of that, Doc?"

The doctor considered his question for a minute and then began telling a story:

"I have an older friend, much like you, who's an avid outdoorsman and never misses an opportunity to go hunting. One day he was preoccupied as he set off for the woods, so he accidentally picked up his walking cane instead of his rifle.

"As he neared a lake, he came across a very large beaver sitting on its dam at the water's edge. Although the beaver had a beautiful, thick, gleaming pelt, my friend realized he couldn't bag the creature because he'd left his gun at home.

"Still, he figured he could enjoy a fantasy. He raised his cane, aimed it at the animal, and thought, bang, bang! Miraculously, two shots rang out at the same time, and the beaver fell over dead."

His story concluded, the doctor then asked his patient, "Now, what do you make of that?

The 86-year-old said, "Well, logic would strongly suggest that somebody else in the vicinity pumped a couple of rounds into that beaver."

The doctor replied, "My point exactly."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You all are going to get SO sick of me.

Well. Color me flabbergasted.

I just heard from my editor at Loose Id that Mobry's Dick will be released May 18 instead of the original June 22. That means three releases in three months, not four, which was amazing enough. These buggers are going to have to grow some legs, though, because after May, I got plenty of nothin' coming up.

What a weird business . . .

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coming April 14 from Dreamspinner

Click on post title.
(Well, you don't have to, but if you're interested...)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wren's Consolation

Wouldn't that make a great title for a piece of erotica?

Wren, trust me, you'd rather deal with a small, temporary dermatological drumlin than this:

*sigh* I need to start shopping for longer coats.

But the only other alternative is this:

OMG, Another Wiener!

So I wrote down the names of all my gracious visitors at the DSP blog yesterday (thank you all for stopping by with your well wishes; they meant a lot to me!) One line, one name, no extra listings for Tam and Chris, in spite of their valor in staying the course. (Hugs, though!) Then I put the paper on the living room floor. I couldn't do a chicken drop -- raccoons have dispatched every chicken we've ever kept -- but I could do the dog toenail punch, which is way more amusing than JLA poking a finger at my monitor. Once Cody and Luna got wound up and tromped on the paper, the first toenail to leave a divot landed closest to this name:


So, Val, please let me know if you'd like a download of The Prayer Waltz or would prefer to wait until April for Jude in Chains. And tell me the format you want.

Again, many thanks to all of you for joining me, in spite of the cluster-screw. Here are some cookies. (Oh, don't whine. There's a perfectly good one at the top of the page!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let me count the ways . . .

I hate WordPress.
  1. There's no excuse for a blog to require hours of special configuring to make it easy to use. Not in this day and age.
  2. It seems impossible to rearrange posts once they appear. (Here, for example, I can simply go to "Post Options" and reset dates and/or times. Voila! The post is where I want it.)
  3. It is impossible to reply to individual comments, follow individual threads, and expand/collapse threads.
  4. It is impossible to format comments without resorting to . . . what? I'm not even sure, since I don't know which codes are accepted, if any.
  5. Some comments just don't show up. Or show up late.
  6. There's no way to respond to a post, or see how many comments it has, from the blog's home page--unless, I suppose, some poor soul does all that bullshit configuring I mentioned above.
  7. And what's with the freaking boxes around individual paragraphs? (I'm guessing paragraphs are at the mercy of special configuring too.)
  8. Copying and pasting material from another source results in all kinds of pain-in-the-ass weirdness (like the entire text appearing in italics that can't be removed, or a section from the top appearing at the bottom, or broken sentences after commas).

If I felt like giving this more thought, which I don't, I could come up with a bunch of other gripes. So feel free to add any I've missed.

It astonishes me that today's technobrainiacs haven't been able to make WordPress more user friendly and reliable. Make it simple, Stupid! Not everybody has a degree in computer science or the time to dick around learning the ins and outs of every damned app and program and platform out there.

Yahoo Groups generally suck, Blogger ain't the greatest, but I'll take either of them over WordPress (and Live Journal too, for that matter) any day.

There. I feel a little better now.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

You tell me.

My next post will be on the Wild 'n' Woolly World of Editors. I've had quite a few in my day, quite a few, in addition to having been one myself. Therefore, I have many thoughts on the subject, all born of experience. But I just don't have the energy for pulling that together right now.

I don't know what to post about in the interim. If you have any ideas, lob 'em at me . . . as long as they don't involve werekangaroos. If I can't dream up some crap on my own, I can always consult the Opinionator, aka Ho Lee Zhit. (He doesn't live under my desk, for obvious reasons, or in the closet, because that's where Castanet likes to lurk. He either stays in one of the drawers or hides behind the globe.)

Seriously, if there's anything you feel needs babbling about, let me know. I'll give it my best shot.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Here, pimp-pimp-pimp!

Okay, here's the deal. I've got a book coming out in a week from Dreamspinner -- my first for that press. And I really suck at pimping myself. (Hell, I'm still agonizing over whether or not to give my own books at GoodReads five stars!) I'm not a very popular writer; I don't have friends in high places; I even wonder sometimes -- often, actually -- if I should be doing this gig at all.

So here I am with a new-to-me publisher and a fabulous Anne Cain cover . . . and an ever-growing inferiority complex that makes me unsure what to do about my quiet story that isn't filled with action! adventure! intrigue! (or, for that matter, a tidy resolution). So if any of you have any pimpage ideas, I'd love to hear them . . . as long as they don't involve public nudity or silly costumes or making a fool of myself on YouTube.