Archive for September, 2006



19
Sep
06

Roxanne St. Claire: Kill Me Twice

You have a twin sister who is perfect. She is never late etc.

One day, she asks you to fly to where she now lives. But when you arrive, she doesn’t pick up the phone. Never mind, you head on over to her apartment.

When you get there, there’s a bodyguard waiting for you, who mistakes you for your twin because he’s not actually met her. This bodyguard was hired for her by her boss, who’s worried about stalkers.

You’re a private investigator. Your sister’s gone. There are stalkers involved. Don’t you think that there’s something wrong with the picture?

If you’re Jasmine Adams, you don’t.

It ruined the whole book for me.

This rates 3 out of 10.

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18
Sep
06

Monday Movie: The Devil Wears Prada

Yes, call the tabloids! I actually went to the movies!

I went to kill some time, and this was the only one I was remotely interested in watching at the time I was there–the other being Little Man, and I absolutely refuse to watch that.

I liked it.

I’m sure I’ve a character somewhere that I can use Miranda Priestly as a model for. Every writer should write a Dragon Lady character like Priestly in her/his lifetime, especially if you’re a she. I honestly rather BE a Dragon Lady, but it requires work and me lazy.

Andrea Sachs…Sigh. Why oh why oh why oh why must she turn out nice? Why couldn’t she have turned her back on Nate and her journalism dream and become another Miranda Priestly? Mind you, I think Anne Hathaway did a good job.

Wait, I think this is a roman a clef, right? I know Lauren Weisberger wrote the novel of the same name which this movie is based on, but is it a roman a clef? I don’t know.

Mary Sue. Mary Sue. Mary Sue.

This rates 8.5 out of 10.

18
Sep
06

Nail Polish and Me

I have a love-hate relationship with nail polish.

I like it.

I enjoy the act of putting it on.

But I always manage to ruin one nail before I’m even done! That nail is the one attached to my right index finger.

Now, in the next hour, I should be able to ruin the rest.

Sigh.

PS If you want to know, I painted them deep purple, overlayered that with a light champagne gold before adding a clear overcoat.

17
Sep
06

Jon Courtenay Grimwood: Felaheen

I figure if I gush enough, somebody will go buy his books.

This is the third and final book of the Arabesk series, and it ties up the plotlines very well.

It’s set in El Iskandryia, which appears to be an amalgam of various Middle East cities.

The star is Ashraf, maybe a Bey, maybe an al-Mansur, maybe an Emir’s son. And maybe none of them.

He’s been the Chief of Detectives in El Isk, the magister, the prosecutor… I can’t remember what else.

Now he lives in the al-Mansur madersa with 2 of the richest women in North Africa…and he’s in debt.

Sigh. It’s the last book. 😦

I haven’t reviewed his work before because his books defy description. Cross-genre doesn’t begin to cover it. It’s a detective novel set in a cyberpunk world with what I think are bits of allegory (but we all know I don’t get allegory).

But I really love his work. A large part of it is that I really like his voice. I’ll read anything he writes. In fact, I’ve been reading his work about a novel a week and I’ve not gotten bored of his voice yet.
This rates 10 out of 10.

16
Sep
06

On Gender and Double Standards

This drives me absolutely nuts.

Gender should not dictate life choices or societal expectations.

Future housefrau Dr. Paul talks about how things haven’t changed. Very true. Househusbands are still very much a rarity.

I do have friends who think that university is just a place to find a husband. Doug‘s met a woman like this before. And, to be fair, I wouldn’t mind, if the guy’s rich. LOL.

The specific point Paul mentioned was that it’s fine, even normal, for a woman to feel that way. But if a man says the same thing…He’s not considered a real man.

A man doesn’t knit or cross-stitch or do any similar crafty stuff. He should be in the garage, tuning his sexy sportscar.

On the other hand, if a woman’s in the garage, tuning her sexy sportscar…People think, “Wow! What an independent woman!” She’s taken a huge step forward for feminism!
Karin brings up a different kind of double standards: Parents treat daughters differently from sons.

They definitely do. It’s the whole “One penis vs a whole world of penises” issue, like Elisabeth said.

What it all boils down to is that I’m an adult with rather less freedom than her younger by three years brother.

Understand, it’s by choice that I don’t date. I’ve 2 brothers and dozens of boy cousins around my age and older. I believe that boys are only good for carrying shopping bags until they reach their early twenties. By nature, I’m not a partier either.

Nor is it that I’m not allowed out the house. I am. My parents just insist on finding out who I’m with, where I’m going and what time I’ll be back before I leave the house. My brother leaves the house, grabs his bike and cycles a couple of kilometers away to his pal’s place and comes home whenever.

They pick me up from school, whereas my brothers, including the youngest who’s 6 years younger than me, return home on their own.

I can live with that, because I know I’m leaving. That is my endgame, and that’s what I’m playing for.

That said, I’m relatively lucky.

I’ve girlfriends whose parents spend tens of thousands of dollars to send them overseas to study.

This girl, we’ll call her R, is super-smart. She regularly tops the maths and physics classes. She wants to become an engineer.

What’s wrong with that? I say nothing. You’d probably say the same thing. In fact, if you don’t, this probably isn’t a blog you want to read.

Her parents say that it’s not a career that suitable for a girl. They want her to become a teacher because it’s ‘suitable for a girl.’

WTF? You are paying soooo much for her study in a good school, and when she wants to become an engineer, you decide that she should be a teacher instead?

This are Asian parents you’re talking about. Money Money Money. Engineers earn more than teachers! And it’s not like she wants to become an artist.

Sometimes people really fuck with my head.

15
Sep
06

7 Questions with Lilith Saintcrow

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

About a seven. I can function in the real world (mostly) as long as people don’t expect too much of me. As I often tell my friends, “you can have me organized, or you can have me writing. Pick one.” I’m terminally messy and have learned to try to leave the house an hour before I need to go anywhere, so I will eventually end up leaving on time. My friend Mel says that for someone who can’t wear a watch I’m amazingly prompt–but I have to schedule in time for me to wander around the house looking for things that are already in my purse to be so.

I do wander around muttering to my characters sometimes, and I have been known to black out fight scenes in my back yard or at random while speaking to people. One part of me is there and paying attention, but about sixty percent of me is always working on the book, turning over plot lines, blocking out scenes. I do get some strange looks. Some part opf me is always working on the current book. I suppose that qualifies as compulsive.

2. Working For The Devil is the first book in the Danny Valentine series. It’s unique in that you’ve planned for five books. That’s unusual given that such series tend to be open-ended. Is there a reason for it?

It’s just the way the story went. I realized very early (while I was writing Book 2, Dead Man Rising) that there was an arc and a natural place for the story to end, and that five books was going to be it, world without end, amen. There is another series planned for that world, having to do with the daughter of two of Danny’s friends and the Hell Wars, but that’s not for a couple years (once I finish this current slew of projects.)

I can’t see dragging out a series just-because. I’ve got to have the ending in sight. I function best when I can see the whole arc of the story stretching out under me.

3. I read on your blog that you are already part way through the last Danny Valentine novel. Are you just a very very fast writer, or had you already begun writing the next titles in the Danny Valentine series when you sold the first one?

I was pretty much done with book 2 by the time I signed the contract for books one and two. My editor knew that books 3-5 were planned, and we did have a conversation about them as soon as we got on the phone the first time. So I went into a creative frenzy, doing revisions on books 1 and 2, then going full-bore and writing 3 and 4. It was a case of Dante wanting her story told yesterday. She’s a very demanding character to have inside one’s head.

I am naturally a fast writer. I tend to have two or three books I’m working on, and when a project heats up I’m capable of knocking out six to seven thousand words a day. On a good day most of them are even usable, *grin*. I write fast and get the whole skeleton of a book out, then it goes to beta readers, who tell me where it needs more muscles and nerves.

I tend to see so clearly what’s happening in a certain scene that there are things I take for granted; luckily, I have wonderful beta readers who tell me, “You’ve got to put more here, and tell us what’s going on here.” I’ve gotten better at knowing how to give more than just the bare bones as a result.

4. Are you contracted through to the last Danny Valentine book? *fingers and everything else crossed*

I’m contracted through book 4, and my editor knows about book 5. Chances are very very good that book 5 will be spoken for sometime next year. I’m taking my time with it, partly because it is the last book and it needs time to flower and be what it should be. I also have revisions on books 3 and 4 that will materially affect book 5, so I’ve decided to just take it very easy and wait until revisions are done before I devote myself fully to the last book. It’s in my head, but I want to get it right on the page.

5. As an indie bookseller, is there any advice, as a bookseller, you have for authors? Especially with regards to author promotion?

Etiquette. Etiquette, etiquette, etiquette. Call the bookseller in advance to keep in contact and to make sure there are no last-minute snags. Arrange getting your books to the store if necessary, and always keep a case of your books in your trunk. Be polite to the bookstore people organizing this event. Chances are a: they love your work and b: are not doing their job for money. Be kind to them. If nobody shows up at an event, content yourself with the thought that the employees will hand-sell your book if they like it and like you. Also, don’t get drunk at readings, and use some common sense.

There’s a story I tell about a particular author who sent out a mass-mailing of postcards for her book. The postcards were ill-designed, making it look like our store had sent them, which was problem #1, since we feel very strongly about customer privacy and will never do direct mailings. (We do have an email list, though.) Then, to add insult to injury, the author put the wrong address for the store on the postcards. This was a perfect storm of things you should not do.

Someone else ended up handling this author’s event, because I was off at a convention that weekend. Left to my own devices, we would never have had the author in the store, and I was quite vocal about it among the employees, who agreed with me. That’s the sort of thing that will get you, quite frankly, not invited back. And it all could have been avoided with a little common sense–for example, if the author had asked us before doing the mailing, or even vetted the design with us.

6. The Watcher books you published with ImaJinn are romances, in the sense that there is a happy ever after for the couple in each one. Will you be writing more books like those any time soon?

There are two more Watcher books already finished and waiting to come out (Cloud Watcher and Mindhealer.) The Society series has another book or two in it that I haven’t gotten around to writing yet. Most of my books do have what I consider the right endings; I don’t try to shoehorn a “happy” ending onto them if it won’t fit. I’ve written two Watcher books that end “badly,” and for various reasons the publisher can’t use them.

Interestingly enough, even my “happy” endings come at a terrible price for the people involved. Go figure.

But yes. I plan at least two more Watcher books after Mindhealer, to finish out the second trilogy. I plan the other two Society books, once my schedule loosens a little. Last but not least, there are other paranormal romances I want to write. So there’s definitely more in that pipeline.

7. I’ve not read everything you’ve published, but it seems to me that all of them are dark. Do you think you could find it in you to write something lighter?

I don’t seem to have much control over it. Stephen King likens writing to getting stuff stuck in your mental filter–what sticks in my filter may pass right through someone else’s, and what sticks in someone else’s might pass right through mine. I suppose the darker types of fiction just stick in my mental filter, though it’s not at all the only thing I read or watch. I’m pretty wide in my tastes when it comes to books and films, but I seem to be stuck being a dark urban-fantasy pulp hack. 🙂

Most of my stuff is very dark, yes. But the flip side of that is, I am obsessed with the theme of redemption. Is redemption possible for someone whose job is dirty and awful? Is redemption possible for someone who has committed great crimes? Are there any situations in which violence is an appropriate response? What kind of person do you have to be, what crisis do you have to pass through, before you can be redeemed? What type of person can do terrible things and long for redemption? I strongly believe that the violence and darkness in my books has a purpose and a point. I don’t write gore just for the sake of gore.

I spent a lot of time when I was younger hanging out with what my friend Monk calls “petty thugs.” I also spent a lot of time hanging out on city streets at night, watching street kids and gangs and petty and major violence as well as drug use and prostitution and all sorts of other stuff. I saw tremendous self-sacrifice and families made on the strength of friendship ties. I also saw damaged people striking out and damaging other people. I saw horrific things and beautiful things. I suppose those experiences have never left me. I’m fascinated with marginal people, people on the outskirts, people who are different or who can’t submerge into the mainstream. (Plus I worked retail for years, which was an education in wierdness in and of itself.)

Even my light stuff has very dark subtexts. I’ve written stuff I think is very light and frothy, and a beta reader will point out very dark undercurrents. I just can’t seem to get away from staring into the abyss.

Lili’s site is here, and this is her blog. Dead Man Rising is the second title in the Danny Valentine series, and should be in a bookstore near you.

Her new forum, The Saint City Street Fair, is now open. Register, comment in the contest thread stickied in the Welcome forum, and you could win a signed copy of Working For The Devil.

15
Sep
06

Lilith Saintcrow: Dead Man Rising

I did worry that Dead Man Rising wouldn’t be as good as the first Dante Valentine book, Working For The Devil, but I shouldn’t have. Angie’s right.

It’s a more stately book than WFTD. Not that it’s not a page-turner, but that…I don’t know, I think it’s Danny’s sadness over You-Know-Who (it’s a spoiler if you’ve not read WFTD and why haven’t you?).

DMR is the book in which Danny faces her childhood. And it does have a happy ending. Sort of–this is Lili we are talking about, so happy endings cost the characters something.

I enjoyed meeting Polyamour the sexwitch and Nikolai the Nichtvren. I think I’m in love with Nicolai and he was only in the book for a few pages!

Go buy this book. Or WFTD if you haven’t read it yet.

This rates 9.5 out of 10.