Monday, June 30, 2008

Kids and Writing

My son Mason has the week off from Pre-Kindergarten. We enrolled him in a year-round school here in Saint Paul, and the traditional "summer" vacation happens all throughout the year with a week of here and there and months off in the winter, spring, and summer.

I'm lucky in that a well-timed lay off allowed my family to consider the feasibility of me staying home full-time. So I don't have another job other than writing... and Mason. I'd had this great image of being a stay-at-home parent that involved lots of writing time, bon bons, and bubbly baths. The reality is that I feel like I had more time to write when I worked full-time at the Minnesota Historical Society.

When Mason's in half-day, I reserve those precious morning hours for checking e-mail, working out (every other day), and generally scurrying around doing things best done without a squirrely five year-old.

I STILL do most of my writing at night when the household is settled, everyone's been fed (including cats and fish), and he's asleep.

Not that I'm complaining, really, because I love being a home (I sometimes wonder how we managed to keep the house clean *before* and its not terribly clean now,) but it's surprising how little changed in terms of writing time. I keep thinking I'll have MORE, but the other things I need to do seem to find ways to fill the available space.

When people ask me if I'm a full-time writer, I usually say, "No, I'm a full-time parent, part-time writer."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Want A Psychic Power by Cynthia Eden



Today it is my great pleasure to introduce Cynthia Eden. I invited her here after I couldn't put down her new release, Hotter After Midnight. Cynthia writes about a therapist who treats the supernatural - vampires with blood phobias, sex-demons looking for meaningful relationships. Her books are unique, action packed and addicting.


I Want A Psychic Power
By: Cynthia Eden
(Thank you so much to the Wicked Authors-and particularly to the wonderful Angie-for inviting me over today!)

With every paranormal book that I write, I find myself wanting my own psychic powers (or, just "power"-I won't be greedy!). It would be so handy to have a special psychic talent. My life would become so much easier if I had one of these little talents…

Telepathy (My husband would always know exactly what I wanted!)Precognition (I'd pick the best lottery tickets ever!)Or some good old fashioned ESP…

Ah, a girl can dream.

I really became hooked on psychic powers when I was doing the research for my May 08 Kensington release, HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT. In that book, my heroine has empathic powers (and I've always wanted to be able to pick up the real feelings of others, and not just see what's on the surface). The little glitch for Dr. Emily Drake (my heroine) is that her powers only work with the Other. Put her in a room with a vamp, and she'll be able to tell you exactly what the guy is feeling. Since she's a psychologist who only treats paranormal patients, she does have a bit of an edge with the supernaturals.

But surely I'm not the only one who longs for a bit more power. Is there a psychic power you'd like to have? And why do you want it? Leave me a comment about your psychic wish, and I'll pick one commenter to receive an autographed copy of HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The winner and other exciting news

First off, I know y'all want to know who won the Wanderlust arc. So I won't pussyfoot around before naming the lucky soul.

BOXINGKING, come on down! I need your actual name and mailing address in order to get this mailed out. Here are the rules. By accepting this arc, you agree to read and review the book on or before the street date of August 26th. You can post said review on your blog; if you do not have a blog, then an online forum that talks about books or B&N or Amazon will do. If BOXINGKING has not responded within a week, then I will redraw the winner.

This contest was totally fun. I read the story out loud to my husband last night, and we both agree it has a fun, Douglas Addams feel to it. It's going to take me a couple of weeks to edit and finish this, but look for the complete story to be posted on my Free Reads page sometime in July.

For news, I've sure had some excitement this week. I sold some books, which you can read about here. SmartBitch Sarah put me a list of must-read authors, along with such luminaries as Nora Roberts and Kresley Cole; you can read about that here. Finally, Grimspace has been featured on this Publishers Weekly blog. I invite all of you to go on over there and comment.

Thanks for your enthusiastic response to the contest. You really made this fun. What are your favorite kinds of contests anyway? I think I'm pretty creative, but I can always use good suggestions. I love giving away loot, but I like doing it in unusual ways.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Channeling Ferris Bueller

My agent asked a question on her blog yesterday that started me thinking. And it's not even a tough question, or at least it shouldn't be. She asked her readers what they did this past weekend. I have to admit my answer left me with a twinge of guilt: I read. A lot.

Of course I did a few other things. The kids are alive and well. My husband had his share of attention. But other than that, I sat back and enjoyed not one, but two great books: a cozy mystery and a lighthearted paranormal.

As I went to answer Jessica's question about my weekend, I racked my brain to think of something, anything I did work-wise. Did I do any brainstorming? Come up with a new character? Work out a plot problem. Nope, nope and…erm…nope.

It took me a morning of feeling guilty to realize that, you know what? It's okay! In today's rushed, overworked society, I think we feel sometimes that we have to be going constantly in order to have a morning, a day, a weekend be worthwhile. And the initial question that started it all wasn't aimed at any certain person or activity. Jessica posed what she probably thought was a fun topic and I made it about work.

Of course I had to get a few things done yesterday. And today - today is busy. But I have learned a lesson in all of this. Tomorrow, I'm taking the day off. Guilt free. I'm going to head to Rose's Bookhouse, grab something fun and relax (again) with a good book. Because you know what? Life's too short. And as Ferris Bueller once said: if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you may miss it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Addicted to Internet Research (and Feeling Old)

Ocassionally people will ask me: How much research do you do for a novel?

When I wrote science fiction, I used to do a lot more -- partly because I tended to write about things I wanted to know more about. Interestingly, I didn't research a lot of new scientific trends, rather two-thousand year old (and older) religions. (In case you're scratching your head right now, I used to write about angels in the future, not rocket ships.) But I did skim magazines like Popular Science just so I could add fancy doo-dads that made my future seem possible.

Because what I write now is contemporary, I don't have to make up something new to replace, say, a telephone or a car, but what I find I do now is what I like to call "impluse research." I'll be going along writing about a town I don't live in, and suddenly I wonder, "Does Madison have an industrial court?" and so I hit the Internet Explorer button on the laptop and go and find out.

Like any research, this can be dangerous, because the answer is rarely on the first page you go to. Pretty soon, an hour has passed and I realized I've done zero writing, but I now know a whole lot more than I ever wanted about commerical real estate in Madison, Wisconsin.

But lately, my internet connection has been wonky, and I realized just how much I depend on quick and easy "snatch and grab" research. I find I'm completely stymied if I can't just click away for a moment and come back to writing. I've gotten so used to having information at my fingertips that when I can't get to it, I've forgotten how to just make something up and go on. What's funny is that I'm old enough that I used to write without access to wikipedia all the time. Now the thought of not having it there is enough to completely halt my production.

Do you remember life before the Internet? How did we get anything done?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things My Mother Taught Me...Part Two

Last week I mentioned my mother-she was quite a woman. Next to the youngest of six kids, her mother had died when she was just a little girl, and she'd had a hard scrabble life growing up. Living on a farm, without much money in the days leading up to the Depression, she'd learned how to work at an early age. As a result there weren't many things my mother couldn't do. She told stories of plowing a field with a team of horses, loading feed into the back of a wagon, and riding a horse through huge drifts of snow to get to school. She could drive anything with wheels be it the big ole Mercury we had when I was a child or a Massey Ferguson tractor. She wore pants when other women wore dresses, but always looked immaculate whenever we went to town. AND she made the best scalloped potatoes and pan fried gravy in the world!



My mom taught me a lot of things. She always knew someone who knew someone who'd lost appendages in rather gruesome ways-hands, left hanging out the window of a speeding car, only to be ripped off by a passing semi ("Get your arm back in that window right now! A truck could come along and tear it off!"); feet mangled because they failed to exit the escalator at just the right moment (to this day, I still take a giant step when getting off each and every one!); fingers lost due to sticking them in the wrong places ("Do you want to be missing a finger!"). Another thing high on her list was wearing clean underwear every time we left the house. (What if you're in an accident, right? Personally, I've always thought that if you were in an accident, the underwear thing would be the least of your worries. But, of course, I never expressed that opinion to her!)


She taught me the meaning of boundaries. Her purse was sacrosanct. As a teenager, if I needed money, I fetched the bag to her, and she retrieved her billfold from its inky depths-depths that always smelled slightly of Juicy Fruit gum-and then she doled out the required funds. I would have no more thought about rummaging through her purse than I would've thought about snooping through her dresser drawers. (And to be honest-I was a snoopy child-but I knew that unless I wanted to be in trouble with a capitol "T", I'd best respect her rules!)


However, the most important thing my mom taught me wasn't by what she said so much, but by how she lived her life. I watched her meet life's challenges head on, and I don't think once she ever told me that I was incapable of doing something. She showed me that if you're going to give something a shot-make it a good one! You might fail, but at least you know you tried. And I think it was that lesson that gave me the courage to give writing a go.


No, my mom isn't around now to read Ophelia and Abby, and I really don't know what my down-to-earth, practical mother would have thought about my choice of subject matter. (Though I'm sure she'd let me know if she were here!) But I do hope she'd be pleased that I set a goal and carried it through.


I'd love to hear what you think is the most important lesson you learned from your mom or dad?


Best,

Shirley

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Let's get extemporaneous (a contest)

Want to win an ARC of this, months before you can buy it in stores? You know you do. Well, here's your chance.

From now until midnight on June 24, we're writing a co-op story. I'll provide the premise, along with the first line. The next commenter will add one sentence to what I've written, no more, no less. The length of the sentence is strictly up to the commenter.

Here are the rules:

You cannot invalidate anything that has been written before (or say it was all a dream). Thus, you must read all the comments before adding to the story. Please make sure your line does not contradict anything already written. For example, if someone says that FTL was developed in 2204, you may not write that it was invented in 2499. Make sure your entry makes sense in conjunction with what's already been written. If someone writes that the hero has black hair, you can't make him blond, unless your sentence deals with him bleaching his hair for plot-related reasons. Got it?

If you enjoy this, you can enter as many times as you like, but you may not post two sentences consecutively. In other words, if you want to add to the story again, you need to check back until someone else has written a line. Then you can go again. I'll be adding lines now and then myself. Don't worry about style, voice or quality; the ARC winner will be chosen randomly. This isn't a writing contest -- the point is to have fun, so don't sweat it.

A few how-to points... give any necessary notes about your sentence in parenthesis before you write it. Such as (POV shift, location change, new paragraph). That will help your co-authors a great deal. It'll also help me in formatting the final version of our story.

At midnight on June 24, I'll compile what we have and then pen an ending. On June 25th, I'll post the winner here, and put the final version of the story on my Free Reads page. The chosen one will receive a signed ARC of Wanderlust.

Are you clear on the rules? Okay, here we go.

Title: The Way of the Game

Premise: This is a road trip tale with an undercurrent about how one man can make a difference. The protagonists are a cyborg (Cutter / male) and a romantic performance artist (Pixil / female). Our story begins in a port city (Majona) on a lost planet (Aleo-Tau).

First line: Cutter had seven days before the girl died.

Title provided by this Random Title Generator. All other story elements created using various Seventh Sanctum generators.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The curse of the Fox

This weekend, we went to a wedding on my husband's side of the family, and as we waited for the ceremony to begin, something felt off. I couldn't figure out what it was until the bride's sister lit a series of delicate aisle sconces with a long, gold taper. And then it hit me.

No one in my family would do that - because someone else in my family would have crushed the dainty aisle sconces before the bride's sister could get to them. You see, I come from a family of klutzes. Pick an event, any family event, and somebody will fall, topple the Christmas tree, hit another family member's car (Wrecks have happened on several occasions actually. We should phrase invitations: Come to the Fox Family Reunion. Bring your insurance card).

So weddings are always interesting. My brother was married in a lovely historic church in St. Louis. It had just undergone a restoration and had new everything. The caretakers obviously didn't know my family's history or they never would have let us set foot inside the place.

During rehearsal, they showed us a lovely table - original to the church -where the communion wine would be placed. To complicate matters, they wanted the table in the middle of a long aisle, surrounded by my family members. My soon to be sister-in-law protested. She'd been to enough Fox events to know what she was dealing with. Besides, the table was old, valuable and it had very thin legs. The wedding planner - who we likened to the blonde cheerleader in every horror movie who has to go outside to see what that noise is - disregarded sister-in-law's concerns about her new family.

We took bets on who would accidentally knock over the crystal decanter first. I was especially concerned, given I had to walk past the delicate table, in a powder pink bell-skirted dress. You just don't know what the clearance will be on an outfit like that. Thank goodness my cousin, Matt, got to it first. He was an usher, leading people to their seats. Before the ceremony even began, he backed into the table, breaking the crystal pitcher and soaking the church's new carpeting in wine.

Matt was embarrassed to say the least. I'm ashamed to admit that the rest of us were a bit relieved. We knew someone would "Fox-up" that day, and at least it wasn't one of us. Besides, the table survived. That's success in our book.

So it was relaxing this past weekend to attend a wedding and - once I was safely in my seat - to know I'd avoid the Fox curse … at least for the time being.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Whining and Urban Fantasy Question

It's already been THAT kind of day... I just got back from a very relaxing vacation to all my to-do lists staring me in the face. I willfully ignored those (despite that nagging feeling that I'M FALLING BEHIND WITH EVERY PASSING SECOND) and I started at my usual coffeehouse, checked my email and discovered that I'd neglected a couple of time sensitive things (which I may or may not have fixed), and then just as I was settling in to start this blog, the wifi at the cafe crashed.

So, I had to haul self and computer over to a new spot and am now crossing fingers that this wifi will stay up and active at least long enough for me to write to you.

Sigh.

Anyway, I'd originally not intended to complain. Originally, I thought I'd answer the question that was started earlier on this blog, which is: why urban fantasy?

I think it's an interesting question because there are lots of answers for me. I think that the simplist answer is that I just seem to be "wired" that way. But the simple answer needs some explaination. Sometimes I wonder if readers "imprint" (like baby ducks) on the first thing that read or experience... and one of the first "grown-up" books I read cover to cover was J. R. R. Tolkien's THE HOBBIT. Clearly, that early experience warped me, because it lit up something inside of me that still searchs for elves and dragons, you know?

Ever since that first experience I get much more excited by a book that contains magic (or rocket ships, my second love.) It's like a drug... the synapses in my brain make happy noises whenever a plot turns on the discovery of a hidden occult talent or an adventure that leaves behind the ordinary.

Still, it's kind of a strange thing. Why am I wired like that? Why do I prefer stories that are, in many ways, divorced from "reality"? Why was I always one of those kids who scribbled "Believe!" and "Not all that wander are lost" on every notebook I used from middle grade up?

I know that I actually get a bit of an adrenaline rush when I read a book with the kind of adventure I crave. That's how I can end up staying up until well after midnight caught up in a really great book. But why that stuff? Why not, say, straight up action-adventure, James Bondy stuff?

I'm not sure I have an answer, but I'd love to hear yours. Why were you first attracted to fantasy/urban fantasy/whatever speculative fiction it is that turns you on?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Paranormal ponderings



So I promised last week that I would be back to touch upon this topic. And I've had a bit of time to think about it -- not to mention a few glasses of wine, which may or may not be helpful.

Why paranormal?

Because it's fascinating. Fundamentally interesting. We as a species have believed in magic of one sort or another since the dawn of time. The scientist in me (I was almost an ecologist) pooh-poohs the notion, but another part of me -- the deeper, lizard-brain part of me -- is desperate for magic. Particularly when the candles are flickering as I sit on my front porch Halloween night, black robes clinging to my calves in the breeze.

I want to believe that there's more beyond the surface.

We operate in our rational minds most of the time, but I believe there's a hidden, more primitive side that understands the world in a way our logical brains can't comprehend.

So why paranormal? Because it's endlessly intriguing, and because I've been drawn to it since the day I was born.

Besides, stories are so much more fun to write when the rules are fluid. Don't you think?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things My Mother Taught Me...


I spent a goodly part of my childhood on a farm, in Iowa, and everyone around me seemed old! My mother had been nearing forty when I was born, all my aunts and uncles were in their fifties and sixties, and my grandfather was over eighty. (Of course now that I'm of that "certain age", my views on getting older have changed, but back then, everyone seemed ancient!)

What does one have to do with the other? Well, because my entire family were farmers and had grown up in a different era than all my little friends' relations, people in my family appeared to know "stuff" that my friends' parents didn't. They knew if the underside of the leaves on a tree were showing, rain was on the way. They knew when the cattle and horses grew heavy coats, fall was coming to an end and it would be an early winter. They knew that one hundred days after a fog, you'd have rain. My elders had spent their youth in a world without central heating, telephones, and before the coming of the rural electric cooperatives, electricity. They didn't have the weather man telling them when a storm front was moving in, or if snow was expected. And because their livelihood was tied to the land and to the health of their livestock, they paid attention to signs and The Farmer's Almanac. Yes, folks, I'm talkin' old wives' tales, and my family had hundreds of them!!!

Here are some of my favorites:
Opening an umbrella in the house is bad luck.
If you wean calves in the dark of the moon, they won't bawl for their mamas.
Never put a hat on a bed.
Death comes in three's.
If your ears burn, someone's talking about you…if you nose itches, you'll kiss a fool.
Never light three cigarettes with the same match.
Spilling salt causes bad luck and to change that bad luck, you must toss a pinch of the spilt salt over your left shoulder.
If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain the next seven Sundays in a row.
Carrying a buckeye brings good luck.
Goosebumps mean someone just walked over your grave. (Honestly, as a child-that one never made a lot of sense to me. After all, how could someone step on your grave if you weren't dead yet??)
It's bad luck to walk under a ladder.
Potatoes must be planted on Good Friday.
And last, but not least, my all-time favorite and one I truly believe in:
People act strange around the time of a full moon.

Oh, I forgot to mention one more. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I decided to make sauerkraut. (Looking back now-I don't know why I did it, but it must've seemed like a good idea at the time!) I think I put up about thirty jars of the stuff. The next day, I called my mother and proudly related my accomplishment to her. Unfortunately her response was "You know they won't seal."

"What?" I replied, thinking of all that hard work going to waste. "Why not?"

"You're pregnant," she said, "sauerkraut doesn't seal for pregnant women."

Seeing the connection between the seals on ceramic jar lids and bouncing hormones was beyond me, and I was getting this advice from a woman who thought talking to her houseplants made them grow, but I didn't argue. A few months later, I discovered that, yes indeedy, the seals on at least half the jars had failed! Pregnant or not, I never made sauerkraut again!

So how about you? What are some of your favorite old wives' tales?
Take care and have a good one!
Shirley

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why yes, I -am- crazy, thanks for asking

Crazy about... creams. Lotions. Body butter. Call it what you will, but I'm always looking for that perfect cream.

I looooooooove soft skin in a way that's almost religious in its fervor, but I'm never 100% satisfied. I'm a serial lotionist, I'm afraid. I test one, stay with it a while, but I eventually become convinced there's a better smelling, more effective product out there somewhere until I break faith with my current creamy darling and then I go shopping.

Again.

I have thin, super light lotions. They feel like liquid silk going on. I have soft, fluffy creams. But if I'm in the mood for something more substantial, I turn to Palmer's Cocoa Butter cream. It's heavy, but sooo smooth, and you can feel your skin turning into satin as you smooth it on. The best part about Palmer's? It leaves me smelling like a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.

But wait, there's more. I also have White Chocolate Body Souffle, Smart Peppermint hand cream, Sweet Vanilla Sugar Body Butter, homemade honey lotion, triple-scented Almond oil, all natural coconut oil, and let's not forget the cucumber foot cream. Oh, and I acquired a new scent at RT (courtesy of the ever-awesome Lauren Dane) -- Toffee Almond. That stuff smells soooo delish. I can't thank her enough for that.

In case you're picking up on it, yes, I love my toiletries to smell edible. Don't ask me why. It's just one of those weird things. I'm also a total freak for all-natural soaps. My current favorite is the Almond Milk soap that I buy from Botanicus at La Cuspide. But all this food-flavored skincare leaves me with something of a dilemma.

Have you heard of scent-layering? If you haven't, basically it's matching your perfume to your toiletries. But whoever heard of almond milk perfume? What I can find in department stores smells very chemical or flowery, which irks me. What's the point of using all these fabulous lotions and soaps if I'm going to cover it up with Eau de Lilac? Well, obviously I wouldn't do that. I have a number of perfumes for when I'm layering with a citrus or fruit based soap / lotion combo, for instance. Since it's a light, springtime fragrance, Elizabeth Arden's Mediterranean Breeze goes very well with mandarin soap and Peach Juicie lotion. Pacific Paradise by Escada and CK Escape also do well with a light, fruity base.

But for my favorite Almond soap and the toffee almond lotion? Right now, the only perfumes I have that aren't terrible atop them are Pumpkin Spice and Nina by Nina Ricci. That's not good because I like to build a different scent signature with differing notes and layers as much as I like to put together a hot new outfit out of clothes I've worn a dozen times separately.

Anyhow, all my troubles came to an end when I found a lady who mixes fragrances by hand. I just ordered six very interesting perfumes, and I can't wait to try them out. Many of them will go wonderfully with my different soaps and lotions. Here's what I ordered:

Maple, mint chocolate chip, German chocolate cake, Almond, Candy Apple, Pina Colada.


I'm going to have so much fun mixing and matching. I'm already imagining how fantastic I'm going to smell if I shower with my mint chocolate soap, follow up with my peppermint lotion, and then top with mint chocolate chip perfume. Likewise, I'll use my Almond milk soap, toffee almond lotion, and then top with Almond perfume oil. Or I can use my banana slush body wash, use coconut oil, and then top with pina colada. Or maybe I might go with my apple cinnamon soap, use my honey lotion, and top with Candy Apple. It makes me wiggly with excitement, just thinking about all the different combinations.

And that brings me back to the title of the post. Does it seem weird that I could devote time thinking about how I should smell from day to day? I honestly have no idea. I don't really care about shoes. And what I'm wearing is less important to me than how I smell. I mean, if my hair is clean and shiny, I'm wearing plain jeans and a t-shirt, but I have on my full complement of "wow, you're so soft and holy crap, you smell great" products, I still feel like I'm all dressed up. I also feel like a million bucks if I have on good lipstick.

So tell me... am I crazy? Okay, fine, maybe I am. But what are your little quirks? C'mon, you know you want to share. What makes you feel like a million bucks? What little things can you not resist buying for yourself?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sometimes you gotta kick some butt

My editor sent me this and I couldn't resist posting it here. I have this thing for take-no-bull Harley biker riders. In fact, there's a gang of geriatric biker witches in The Accidental Demon Slayer and I think they'd be high-fiving these real-life Harley riders for what they did at the Southern Cross Cruiser Club in Sydney, Australia. The gist of the story is this:

Two masked, machete wielding would-be bad ass robbers burst into a bar, looking to rob and pillage. Instead, they ran straight into a monthly meeting of about 50 bikers. The angry bikers fought back with tables, chairs, pretty much anything that wasn't bolted down. They subdued one would-be robber in the bar, and chased down the other one outside, crash-tackled him, hog tied him with electrical wire and left him for the police.

Here's the link if you want to read more. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/28/biker.meeting/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

So you see, while there's room for political correctness in this world, room for rules and what we "should" do. Sometimes, you need to paint outside the lines, channel your inner biker and kick some butt.

Monday, June 9, 2008

In-Between

There are two times in my career as a writer that I feel completely at loose ends. One is when I've delivered the last book under contract, and the world becomes this wide open place of job uncertainty. I ask myself questions like: will my editor want another book by me? What if she doesn't? Will I ever write professionally again??? Luckily, there's a solution to this problem and that is to write another proposal or two and send them off to my agent.

The other time that I feel at loose ends in my career is where I am right now. I've turned in DEAD IF I DO and am patiently awaiting the editorial revision letter that my editor sends after she's had a chance to read and think about the book. More often than not, her letter will change the book fairly significantly. In the past, I've re-written huge chunks of the book and even significantly changed endings...

...which is why I find myself at loose ends. I *COULD* start the next book under contract (HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD), but I'm not entirely sure how this last book officially ends, you know? What if the editorial letter completely changes something and I start the next book under a false assumption? That would completely throw me. Plus, I have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind of not being QUITE finished with the last book, so I'm loath to start anything too big.

Normally, I wander around the house talking to myself during this time. Okay, I talk to myself a lot regardless, but I get especially weird during this time. I'm one of those writers who's always having conversations with characters in my head, and, as my friend and fellow author Kelly McCullough says about himself, I tend to "leak weirdness" if I don't get my fingers to keyboard enough.

So during this time, I start short stories I never finish or start reading books that might end up as research for the next novel. But, for the first time, I'm actually starting another big project. My alternate personality is contracted with a small press for a science fiction novel and I've actually started writing that. I'm also doing research -- "her" book set in Cairo, so I've been reading travel books and learning all sorts of cool things I never knew.

I've never tried writing two books at once, so this might be a challenge. Luckily, as I said, I'm in that weird waiting period where I'm usually spinning my wheels so this has been filling the gap nicely. Of course, everything could derail when the editorial letter arrives and I have to leave one universe behind for another....



Wish me luck.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Very briefly...

Four children, two adults, 14 hours at Six Flags over Texas in San Antonio.

Am I a witch? At the moment, I'm close... ;)

(More next week. I promise. Now I'm going to bed before I transform into something... well, unpleasant.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Which Witch is Which, or Why the Paranormal?




A question that frequently comes up during my conversations with readers is-"Am I a witch?" And regardless of what my ten year old granddaughter might tell the playground bullies (you know, "better watch it, or my granny will hex you!), I'm not. So how did a small town Midwesterner ever get started writing about things that go bump in the night??


Easy, I've always been curious about other-worldly phenomena. I think the first book I ever read on the subject was by Ruth Montgomery, to be followed by a biography of Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet. In fact, I was so enthralled by the paranormal in high school that one of my girlfriends had this brilliant idea to conduct a séance at an abandoned farmhouse with me starring as the medium. It's hard to say what kind of energy we would've tapped into at that spooky, ramshackle house, and thankfully I backed out before we tried it. (Oh, by the way--did I mention that I'm a chicken? No? Well, yes, folks, I am! I can scare myself silly without any help from outside forces. I just like writing and reading about ghosts, beasties, and goblins and really don't feel the need to experience it first hand! The last place you'll ever find me is alone…in the dark…in a cemetery…doing a little ghost hunting on my own!)


So what accounts for this curiosity? One reason could be that I've always been drawn to the quote from Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Or another reason could be that I heard too many fairytales as a child! Or maybe at times the line between fact and fiction might get a little blurry for me. I don't know, but whatever the reason-I like the idea that everything can't be measured and wrapped up in a nice, neat little box, that there's still mystery in the world, that there's magick! When I come across something that defies explanation, (as long as it isn't scary), I feel a wide-eyed wonder and find myself thinking, "Could it be true?" It's amazing, and just like a kid-I want to be amazed!!! To me, the world would be a colder place without that feeling.


Writing about the paranormal allows me to explore that sense of wonderment whenever I sit at the keyboard. By doing research, I have the opportunity to read about and to meet people who've had all kinds of astounding experiences. It reaffirms my belief, blurry or not, that there's more to life than just what we can touch. I enjoy that! And I want to share! I hope everyone who reads one of our books walks away with that same sense of amazement…with that same question "Could it be…?"

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is this thing on?

Hi. *taps the mic*

This is my first post on Something Wicked. If you don't know me, my name is Ann Aguirre, and I have genre ADD.

Yes, you read that right. I am congenitally unable to stick to one genre. That used to be a bad thing. You can't write this or that if you're going to write this other thing. Readers apparently will become confused if they find your books in different sections of the store. You need a hundred different pen names to keep them from being shocked to see that you've deviated. Deviation! Everyone run in circles and scream for a moment.

Done now? 'kay, moving on.

I don't personally think readers are so easily overset as all that, which is good because I love writing romance... and urban fantasy... and science fiction (with sexxoring). That seems to be a common element in my work, mind you. I never write novels without a romantic subplot. For me, the beauty of a book is in the relationships, how and why people come together.

For instance, in the Jax books, I explore the idea of whether second love can be as powerful as the first...when the first was happy and fulfilling. Have you ever noticed the way a heroine's prior love interests are typically demonized in romance novels? Once she meets the hero, she's supposed to forget she ever loved anyone else. She's supposed to realize that the sex with the new man is better than anything she's ever known before. The new man must be, in all ways, superior to the old.

But what if he's not? Is the heroine allowed to miss the love she lost? Can that occur without destroying her current relationship? That's the sort of thing I explore in the Jax series. It's intense and heartbreaking sometimes, but nothing worth having ever comes easy, I think.

In the Corine Solomon books, I explore the idea of two people loving each other desperately, but apart from their shared history, they probably don't belong together. What happens when you want something that's not good for you? What happens when two people aren't soul-mates, destined to be together? What happens when a relationship between them is difficult and raw and every inch gained is a struggle? Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth battling to make the pieces fit? Well, you'll have to read the series to get my take.

At this point, I'm opening the floor to your thoughts on non-traditional romance subplots. Mind you, both these relationships I've mentioned take place outside the romance genre. The Jax series is SF and the Corine series is urban fantasy, so I can get away with more. What are some of your favorite books that push the boundaries? I'm interested in your favorite unique heroes and heroines. Maybe I'll get some new reading material out of this!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Barbells, biker witches and day-to-day life

I get a lot of thinking done at the gym. Sometimes it's almost a Pavlovian thing: I see free weights and my brain starts spitting story ideas, or advertising headlines (my other job). Entire Halloween costumes, birthday cake ideas and hot appetizer buffets have come to me on the treadmill.

So when my programmer friend was after me yesterday to get him the rest of the What's Your Biker Witch Name? quiz (coming soon to www.angiefox.com) I grabbed my notepad on the way to workout.

A half hour later, things were humming along:
Wino Wally No Brakes
Possum Fingered Paulie (actually, he sounds Italian instead of biker)
Buck Toothed Betty

Until a big muscled guy dumped his weight lifting notes next to mine. You see where this is going, right? He took my notebook. It had two pages of ideas - some great, some not so good. But they were my ideas, my scrawls. I was paying so little attention to him that I wasn't even sure what he looked like, only that he was large and sweaty. Yeah, that narrows it down.

So I took a peek into the machisimo area next to the free weights. Lots of men go back and forth, the kind of guys that say "e-yah!" after sets and ooze testosterone. I didn't even pretend to belong, not in my hot pink "Trix is for kids!" t-shirt. But I needed my biker witch notes. So I went from man to sweaty, grunting man asking if any of them had a list of names (blank look) okay, biker witch names (confused blank look), well for this book I'm writing with geriatric biker witches (concerned blank look). Got it on the fifth try.

The muscle guys were actually quite nice. They might have thought I was ill. But still, just because a bunch of Arnold Schwarzenegger wanna-be's don't quite get what I'm doing is no reason to lose faith. Yes, I write a series about a preschool teacher who is forced to take off with a gang of geriatric biker witches. Yes, I lift girly weights while dreaming up people like Slick Eared Earnest. And you know what? I'm having a ton of fun doing it.

The notes are going to my programmer friend tomorrow and the book that started it all, The Accidental Demon Slayer, is coming from Dorchester next month. You can read more about it at www.angiefox.com.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Introduction and Genre Question


Hi, I’m Tate Hallaway (Hi, Tate!) and I’m going to be doing the Monday article on this new blog “Something Wicked…” of paranormal romance/urban fantasy writers.

I thought I’d ease into this with a little introduction. I have a brand-new book out as of last month in the Garnet Lacey series. It’s called Romancing the Dead (Berkley, May 2008).

There are two previous books, though all of them are meant to stand more-or-less on their own: Tall, Dark & Dead and Dead Sexy. Both follow the exploits of Garnet Lacey, a Witch who accidentally drew into her body the dark and murderous Goddess Lilith to protect her coven from attack by Vatican witch hunters. When the stories start, Garnet is on the run and trying desperately to give up witchcraft, which Lilith (and, consequentially, she) crave like a drug. Tall, dark and dead Sebastian Von Traum comes into the occult bookstore the Garnet manages and, as they say, hilarity ensues.

…And zombies, but that’s another story.

Enough about my books, now about me: I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which as I have explained to many New Yorkers is not actually all that close to Canada, although we do get a lot of snow… and lately hail (and tornados). I have a house with a garden, some cats and several fish, and a small boy, all of which keep me busy and “off the streets,” as my mother would say. I also practice Wicca, just like my heroine Garnet, and that makes me a Witch--with a “w,” people, a “w!” I’m also an amateur astrologer, though I haven’t had a lot of time to cast any charts lately, and I collect weird, antique and/or esoteric astrology books. My favorites include a couple printed before the discovery of Pluto.

I was recently asked in an interview why I write what I write. I thought I’d share that answer with you: I write paranormal romance/urban fantasy for the explosions.

Seriously, I was talking to a friend about this at a bar the other night, and I confessed that one of my favorite things about writing paranormal romances/urban fantasy is that you get to have all the relationship/girly stuff married to the high-octane adventure/boy stuff. That’s pretty near perfect for me.


What is it that attracts you to the genre?