Archive for March, 2008

23
Mar
08

RTB Day

Well, yesterday was RTB day, but there’s nothing new today–there will be tomorrow, I think, and it’ll sadly cost me my place of honor at the top of the page.

Read what I have to say here.

People seem rather defensive about the ebooks in general, and it goes beyond the format’s early life as a second-choice for publication. I do think that at some point, ebooks will become the one and only, but it may not happen even in my lifetime. But right now? In the near future? Not a chance.

They even ignored what I thought was the most interesting point in the post, except that I didn’t have time to do research to expand it into the main point.

*shrug*

09
Mar
08

Extracting Night Life by Caitlin Kittredge

The first book a thrilling, addictive new series by a talented new voice in dark fantasy. Welcome to Nocturne City, where werewolves, black magicians, and witches prowl the streets at night…Among them is Luna Wilder, a tough-as-nails police officer whose job is to keep the peace. As an Insoli werewolf, Luna travels without a pack and must rely on instinct alone. And she’s just been assigned to find the ruthless killer behind a string of ritualistic murders-a killer with ties to an escaped demon found only in legend…until now.

But when she investigates prime suspect Dmitri Sandovsky, she can’t resist his wolfish charms. Pack leader of a dangerous clan of Redbacks, Dimitri sends her animal instincts into overdrive and threatens her fiercely-guarded independence. But Luna and Dimiri will need to rely on each other as they’re plunged into an ancient demon underworld and pitted against an expert black magician with the power to enslave them for eternity…

The first thing I saw when I woke up was the glowing blue display on my alarm clock, placidly telling me it was 3:23 a.m. I registered that the wind had picked up and the trellis roses were lashing back and forth outside my window, casting kinky shadow patterns across the bar of moonlight streaming in.

Over the face of the man standing above my bed. He pressed a hand across my mouth before I could breath, strong as a steel plate.

I kicked up and out, struggling to free my arms, but my heavy quilt effectively had me pinned. I stared up at his face, a plain black stocking mask and two shiny dark eyes. That charred smell rolled out from him and choked my nostrils.

Oh, this is good, Luna. You drug yourself insensible and totally miss the fact some wacko pervert has snuck into your bedroom until he’s right on top of you.

“Don’t make a sound,” he whispered. His voice was high and smooth.

I tried to say “Kind of impossible with your hand across my face, jackass,” but what came out was “Kurmph!”

He reached behind him with his free hand and took out a knife in sheath, a fixed blade with a matte black handle designed not to reflect light. He thumbed the sheath off and touched the point of the blade to my cheek. I was shivering now, hard, my body wracked of its own accord.

“If you have anything more to do with the weres, Stephen Duncan or any other aspect of your current case,” the masked man hissed at me, “I will turn you into a pretty little doll, with no tongue.” The blade skated over my lips. “And no voice.” It caressed down my throat and pricked the hollow. “And no heart.” He drew the blade down with force and cut my t-shirt open, leaving a thin scratch in my chest that stopped just over my left breast.

“Do we understand each other, officer?” he breathed.

Fear is not something that you will ever meet face to face. It will sneak up on you and grab you, wrap arms around your chest, put ice in your blood and freeze you still. I lay there, cold as he ripped my bedding back and sat astride me, keeping the point of that horrible knife twisting in the soft flesh over my heart.

“Just to be sure you won’t do anything foolish, like tell someone we had this interlude,” he said, lifting my left hand to his mouth. My arm was stiff as a corpse in rigor and he jerked at it. “There’s a good girl.” He smeared my own hand in the blood from my cut, and then unzipped the black nylon jacket he wore, revealing a bare chest covered with brandings that showed up as dark veins in the moonlight.

He took my saturated palm and pressed it to his flesh, and I felt a pop like I had connected with static electricity. The charred smell came back tenfold and my stomach bucked. Touching magicks is like touching heat lighting, and his were black as a moonless storm.

A tiny light flamed on in the recesses of my mind, and with remarkable clarity I realized that if he had only intended to scare me, he would be gone already, leaving a job well done. He wasn’t a blood witch—otherwise he’d be using his own blood. Something else was going on here, and it was dark and ancient and filled up with the most primitive kind of fear.

“Now you’re marked,” he told me in that same whistling hiss. “And we see everything you do.”

Copyright 2007 Caitlin Kittredge

Now doesn’t that sound amazing? Want it? Check out Caitlin’s guestblog and answer the question there…or, ask her your own question! 

09
Mar
08

Caitlin Kittredge Talks To Us: 5 Reasons Not to Write a Fantasy Novel (And 2 Reasons Why You Should)

Caitlin Kittredge is a novelist and former game designer. She lives in Seattle, WA with 3,000 comic books and two pushy cats. Her favorite word is ubiquitous.

I’d never try to discourage anyone from writing fiction, but if you want to succeed as an author just starting out, being prepared for the worst goes a long way. With that caveat in mind, here are all the reasons you should go get a real job like your mother wanted:

  1. The market is tough—and tiny.

It’s hard to get a fantasy, particularly urban fantasy, noticed by agents. The market isn’t saturated, but it’s reached a point where agents and editors can be pretty darn picky and still have a list overflowing with urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Yours must be a standout to get noticed. Also, ALL fantasy, from epic sprawling sagas to vampire bounty hunters, has something like an 8% market share. Your chances are slightly better if you’re going to be marketed as paranormal romance, but it’s still a niche, and it’s still full.

  1. Unless your name is Stephen King, your advance isn’t going to pay for that private island.

I know, you say it’s not about the money, but guess what? Most fantasy authors don’t live on their writing, and those that do aren’t usually holed up in Malibu sipping on mimosas. If you want to make a living as a professional writer and only a writer, expect to be dirt-poor for a two to five years, because the pay scale just isn’t there in our genre except for the big guns and the breakouts. And if you keep a day job, you’re going to be working two full time jobs when your novel sells. Stock up on No-Doz, or marry someone who will pay the bills while you’re getting your income up to speed.

  1. Genre writing is not for the faint of heart.

Remember the look your college English professor gave you when you turned in a fantasy short story rather than a piece about your mother’s music box? Yeah, you’re gonna get a lot of that if you do this for a living. People ask me, “What’s you’re book about?”. I say, “Werewolves,” and get an entire range of reactions from “Oh, cool,” to “I thought you said you wrote real books. The good news is, fantasy is becoming a lot more accepted as other media like TV, comics and film mainstream the supernatural. Develop a thick skin—you’re going to need it to deal with snob critics who don’t accept that genre writing is valid expression anyway, and it helps when explaining to your great-aunt Mildred that yes, you write about elves having sex, and yes, you get paid for it.

  1. You won’t get the luxury of writing one novel every ten years.

Fantasy novelists are expected to produce more than literary writers. It’s a fact, and it’s both good and bad: good because our sales numbers tend to be a lot better, hence the demand, and bad, because of the implication that your demon-hunter novel required less effort than their middle-aged road trip novel. Well, get past that second one and get used to writing on deadline—usually every six months to a year. You think you can produce a novel in six months, no problem? What about your job, hobbies, family, pets? What if you only get one hour a day to write? You have to be able to make that hour count every single day whether you feel like it or not. And there will be days when you don’t, trust me.

  1. The work is hard, lonely, and largely without tangible result.

You work alone, probably thousands of miles from your agent or editor in New York City or London. You work when you’re sick, you don’t get government holidays and you work even when you feel wholly uninspired—because of the deadlines, remember? If you don’t produce, you don’t get paid, and if you’re a full-time writer…that’s all you have to live on. You only see the results of your labor about once a year, when the book goes to press, and the rest of the time is a slog of wordcounts, checking your Amazon rating and venturing out to bitch with other authors about the industry. But, I will say this: when you hold your book in your hands, every hour sacrificed to the writing of said book is worth it.

Made it this far? There’s hope for you yet. Here are two reasons why you should write fantasy anyway, even with everything I’ve said above.

1. You’ve got something to say.

Fantasy has traditionally been the genre used for social criticism of the particular writer’s world, and it continues to be one of the most fluid and versatile genres because literally anything goes. Fantasy lets you say what you need to say, artfully and imaginatively, and you can’t ask for more than that.

2. Fantasy needs new authors with new ideas.

Just because the market is full-ish now doesn’t mean there’s not room for you, if you write with passion, have a fresh take on the genre and police your commas. Chin up. Shoulders back. Type on.

Caitlin Kittredge

Lucky readers, Caitlin’s giving away a signed copy of Night Life! You know you want it, so tell us, are you a night person or a day person, and why should the rest of the world be like you?

05
Mar
08

Linda Wisdom: 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover

Jazz can’t decide whether to scorch him with a fireball or jump into bed with him

Jasmine Tremaine is a witch who can’t stay out of trouble. Nikolai Gregorivich is a vampire cop on the trail of a serial killer. The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been on-again, off-again for about 300 years–mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz’s help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters including Norma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz’s sports car; Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss; and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles)!

First, Fluff and Puff are the coolest bunny slippers ever!

That pretty much sums up how I feel about 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover. It’s got just enough bite to make it good fun, it’s fluffy and it’s still a curl up in my warm bed because it’s freezing outside type of book.

Her bunny slippers say a lot about Jazz. She’s a witch, but she’s still like us and needs her feet to be kept warm.

Irma the ghost is a good foil for Jazz. For one thing, Irma’s the ghost that curse-eliminator Jazz can’t get rid off. IOW, Jazz’s magical powers are not all powerful, which is a nice change. Plus the girl throws fireballs when she’s pissed off, and I wish I could do that!

Nick, on the other hand, doesn’t shine for me as a hero. He’s an old vampire, so what? (And I love my vampires, I truly do.) Maybe it’s not that he doesn’t shine so much as he pales in comparison to Jazz.

But I’m hoping he will improve. 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover is the first book in the series, and I definitely can’t wait to read the next one.

50 Ways To Hex Your Lover rates 4 out of 5.

Full Disclosure: The book was sent to me by the publisher.

05
Mar
08

Linda Wisdom Talks To Us

50waystohex72.jpgIf Linda Wisdom is half as fun as her book is, then her guestblog today is going to be plenty of fun!

How do you brew up a hexy book?

You start with a full measure of sexy witch

Add essence of a sexy vampire

A pinch of a cranky 1950s era ghost

Stir in zest of magickal bunny slippers to add that extra boost along with a hint of elf, ghoul and even a bare bit of were and you have an energetic brew filled with a witch we’d all want to hang out with.

As long as she doesn’t conjure up some witchflame, that is!

That’s exactly what I did including the witchflame.

A snarky witch popped up in my head and introduced herself as Jasmine “Jazz” Tremaine and did she have a story for me, which is appropriately titled 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover. And the meaning of the book title is even explained in the book.

She’s a witch with an addiction to cotton candy and funnel cakes, loves to shop and pays her bills, hey, even witches have Visa and MasterCard, by working as a curse eliminator and a driver for All Creatures Car Service. Life should be good for her, but her ex has shown up. And said ex is one hot guy, been off and on in her life for the past 600 years. Wait a minute did I say 600 years? Yep. Easy to do when you’re a vampire. And Nick’s a vampire to be reckoned with. As a former member of vampire law enforcement, which doesn’t happen to have an appeal process, and now working as a private detective for the supernatural community, Nick’s trying to now bring down a serial killer of vampires. A creature from his and Jazz’s past and someone Jazz doesn’t care to confront again because that would mean confronting a horror she’d kept buried for 70 years.

Writing this book was sheer joy for me. I had characters that are downright fun and so surprising even I wasn’t sure what would happen next. Along with being so believable I check my bunny slippers every so often to make sure they’re not trying to take off with the dog.

I hope those of you who read the book will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope that reading it will have you believing in the unbelievable. Because, for me, that’s the most fun. The idea pretty much anything could be out there.

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover is out in the bookstores now and Hex Appeal, the next book in the series, will be out this fall.

Linda Wisdom

There will be prizes. Who would you have Fluff and Puff, the magickal, be-fanged bunny slippers, bite?

04
Mar
08

Extracting 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover

50waystohex72.jpgPrologue

Alderley Edge, Cheshire, England
The Year 1313

“Someone’s thoughtless use of magick has put our school in great jeopardy.”

Emerald velvet robes flew around the reed-thin body of the headmistress as if a storm brewed within her. Red and blue flames flashed from the foot of her staff as she tamped it to punctuate her words with the ring of cold stone. Not one of Eurydice’s thirteen students moved a muscle as they stood in line awaiting her judgment.

On their first day at The Academy for Witches the headmistress had laid down the rules and pronounced there would be no exceptions if any of those rules were broken. Yet today, her cardinal law had been broken—one of the students had gone so far as to cast a curse on a mortal. She walked down the line of girls, spearing each of them with her angry gaze.

“We are sor—” one of the girls sputtered.

“Silence!” Eurydice turned on her heel to face down the unlucky witchling. “Whoever cast the spell must step forward and be accountable for her actions.”

Not one of the acolytes spoke up. All thirteen stared at the ancient stone floor.
“Your shared silence to protect the guilty one is laudable.” Eurydice’s dark eyes matched the flames flickering at the end of her staff. Still no one moved. “However this offense was committed against a member of royalty. A man with the power to close this school, do us harm, even destroy us. I am certain some would commend you for not betraying the classmate who cast this spell, but the culprit must step forward and accept her punishment.”

The girls looked at each other, linked their fingers together and then, as one, all thirteen stepped forward.

“Very well. As you will have it,” Eurydice said. The air around her swirled dark and purple as she pronounced judgment. “Henceforth, all of you are banished from this place and are cast out into the world for 100 years with only the powers you presently control. If any of you dares to cast a spell not meant for the greater good, your banishment will be extended. At the end of your banishment you will be brought before the Witches High Council to determine your final fate.
“And I hope—” she made eye contact with each girl who managed to meet her furious gaze “—you will learn just what a merciless mortal world you have been cast into.”

Then she tamped her staff against the cold, unforgiving stone floor and the thirteen acolytes vanished.

The headmistress turned to face the three elder witches standing quietly by the wall.

“Do you think they’ll be all right, Eurydice, all alone in the world?” Allene, the softhearted, asked. “Do you think they’ll be in danger?”

“Hardly, dear sister,” the headmistress chuckled. “I fear more for the world.”

Copyright Linda Wisdom 2008

Indeed, I would fear for the world too, but Jazz and her friends are good witches…right?

01
Mar
08

Mark Henry: Happy Hour of the Damned

Seattle. One minute you’re drinking a vanilla breve, the next, some creepy old dude is breathing on you, turning you into a zombie. And that’s just for starters. Now, the recently deceased Amanda Feral is trying to make her way through Seattle’s undead scene with style (mortuary-grade makeup, six-inch stilettos, Balenciaga handbag on sale) while satisfying her craving for human flesh (Don’t judge. And no, not like chicken.) and decent vodkatinis. Making her way through a dangerous world of cloud-doped bloodsuckers, reapers, horny and horned devils, werewolves, celebrities, and PR-obsessed shapeshifters–not to mention an extremely hot bartender named Ricardo–isn’t easy. And the minute one of Amanda’s undead friends disappears after texting the word, “help” (The undead–so dramatic!) she knows the afterlife is about to get really ugly.Something sinister is at hand. Someone or something is hellbent on turning Seattle’s undead underworld into a place of true terror. And this time, Amanda may meet a fate a lot worse than death…

I like that Amanda is a zombie, rather than your typical vampire. From a girl’s point of view, being a zombie can be rather…icky, despite not sweating and not having a period.

But I think it’s part of what makes Happy Hour of the Damned both fun and real (well, as real as urban fantasy can get anyway), the way the icky bits are handled, like what does Amanda do when her arm is sliced open and zombies can’t heal? ;)

THe book itself starts off very well, then it starts to slide towards the end. The plot was tied up pretty neatly, but at the same time, it barely makes the mark. Not atypical of most fiction debuts.

And the footnotes annoy me. There are way, way, way too many. I think a good half of the pages in the book have them. Too much of a good thing, maybe? They were cute for awhile.

On the other hand, it’s a book that’s hip in a different way from the typical dark and slightly goth and alternative sensibility that most urban fantasy of late has.

Happy Hour of the Damned rates 3.5 out of 5.





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