Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guest Post from Rachel Aaron: The New Gold Age

Today I am being joined by debut author Rachel Aaron. I first met Rachel (and heard about her Eli Monpress series) over at the Magic District blog. More recently, I had the amazing opportunity chat with Rachel in person for a couple hours  at Dragon*con, where as well as having an entertaining conversation, she gave me a 'teaser book' with the first chapter of her debut novel, Spirit Thief.
The novel is a humorous fantasy, and you can find that same first chapter HERE. (Go ahead and go check it out, I'll wait.) I dare you to read it and not want to read the rest of the book. Spirit Thief hit shelves Tuesday, and you can bet I already pick up my copy.

And now, on to Rachel and her post on The New Golden Age:

When I tell people I'm a writer, one of the first things they say (after the obligatory “So, when are you going on Oprah?”)  is generally some variation of “too bad kids/teens/people-in-general don't read anymore” accompanied by either a defeated sigh or a fed up eye roll. Now, I love to counter this by pointing out that people are actually reading more than ever. There's this thing called the internet, maybe you've heard of it? Smart-assing aside, though, I understand what they're saying: people don't buy books, they just watch TV/Movies/cats on YouTube, the age of literacy is ending, etc, etc. It's all part of the never ending cloud of doom and gloom that sits on commercial publishing's shoulder like a vulture, waiting for the bookstores to crumble so it can feast on the rich offal of schadenfreude. A horrifying specter to be sure, and as someone who makes her living selling stories, it would be easy to be afraid. After all, if people don't buy books, my mortgage doesn't get paid. That said, I don't buy into it for a second, and I'm going to tell you why.

When people talk about the public's book buying habits, it's often in comparison to other entertainment options, like movies or television*. And it's true, when you look at book sales numbers next to, say, box office numbers, even the huge bestsellers start to look anemic. So why don't books sell like movies do? It's clearly not a price issue. My book, which released in mass market paperback (the size you can stick in your purse or a really big pocket), retails for $7.99. That's the matinee price at my local theater and a third of the cost of a new DVD. Now, it's true trade paperbacks will run you a bit more, and hardback prices are outrageous, but I think we can safely say that price isn't the driving factor here. So what is it? Why don't people buy more books? Is it because our schools are failing at teaching kids to enjoy reading? Is it because publishers aren't serving the needs of the book buying public? Has America (and rest of the world) simply decided that movies and/or television are superior storytelling mediums?

Well, maybe on some of those, but I would put forward that the real reason book sales are eclipsed by movies and almost every other form of consumed entertainment is because, frankly, books are not for everyone. They are not for the lazy, reading a book requires you to work with the author. Even the simplest, trashiest, escapist books require you to fill in faces, places, voices, everything with your own imagination. Where movies ask only that you watch, meaning keep your eyes open and your brain engaged enough to follow the plot, books are a two way street. You and the author share the storytelling, the author provides plot, character, story, and description, but everything else is up to you. That takes work, though, effort, and if life as an American has taught me anything, it's that we freaking hate doing work, even when the work is enjoyable.

Movies and television are easy. Even in the best of them, your story is fed to you through a straw. All you have to do is take it in. This is not to diss on screen entertainment. I'm an avid reader, but there are plenty of times when all I want to do is turn on the TV and watch. That's fine, that's what television and movies are for: plug-n-play entertainment. But books, books are work. Amazingly fun, rewarding, life altering work, but nothing can change the fact that people are lazy, and work, even awesome work, tends not to get done when there are other options.

This difference (easy story consumption vs. working for you story) might seem like another nail in the coffin for reading. It's not a stretch to say that people don't like effort, just look at how many of us choose the elevator despite the much lauded health benefits of taking the stairs. However, this is also the exact reason I say that, although movies and television and whatever new story technologies are to come will probably always eclipse book sales, books will never, ever go away. See, the work a reader puts into a book is an investment, an investment that often pays out enormously. Reading gives you a stake in the world you are helping to create, something anyone who's ever read a book and finished with that special sort of giddy glee that accompanies a fantastic read can attest to. No one is ever going to give that up.

Still, all that joyful tingling doesn't change the fact that books will never out do movies in sales because books make you do work. Blah. However! This doesn't mean that books are flopping. The vultures are going to have a long wait because books are actually really hot right now, and they're only going to get more popular. That's because the next generation of readers coming up is the Harry Potter generation. Harry Potter and other blockbuster books, Eragon, Lemony Snicket, Twilight, and so on, whatever we may think of them, have done more for reading than any school literacy program could have dreamed. These books made reading cool. They taught an entire generation that books are worth the investment. And for genre writers, it gets even better. I mean, Harry Potter made wizard fantasy, once the realm of the ubernerd, cool. These blockbusters, most of which have been fantasy, have brought floods of money into fantasy/scifi publishing. This money, along with the rise of SciFi culture thanks in large part to videogames and movies, plus the ravenous beast that is Urban Fantasy, has created an explosion of interest, investment, and new offerings in genre fiction. Add to this the excitement of e-readers, which combines reading with America's favorite pastime – gadget buying, and suddenly publishing has a pretty bright future. In fact, I can't think of a better time to be a debut novelist.

The truth is we are living in a golden age of reading. We as a species have never had more or better books so easily and cheaply available. And within this golden age of reading is a platinum age genre fiction, and it's only getting better. So the next time someone says publishing is dying, tell them (politely) that they're full of it. Publishing is changing, and change is never easy or disaster free, but books are thriving. In fact, it's probably never been easier or more rewarding to be an author than it is right now, and there's certainly never been a better time to be a reader. So enjoy this golden age of fiction, read everything that you can, support your writers by spreading the word about their books, and let's see if we can keep this fantastic thing going for years to come.

* (I'm deliberately excluding games here because we're talking about pure storytelling mediums and story is never more than a fraction of any gaming experience. This is as it should be, because a game that is 100% about story is really just a movie where you push buttons.)

Rachel Aaron the author of The Spirit Thief, a funny adventure fantasy about money, magic, and the world's greatest thief, available at bookstores everywhere October 1! You can read sample chapters, reviews, and Rachel's blog at

Thank you so much for joining us today, Rachel!

For those of you following the Grave Witch blog tour, remember you can find all the tour stops on the front page of my website. Today's stop is a post on Magic in Modernity over at Reading with Tequillia. Please go check it out!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More to come

I'm working on the Writers' Police Academy post, so it should be up later today. In the meantime, I have a guest post about the Grave Witch cover up at Literary Escapism. If you've been wondering about how the cover came about (at least the process I was able to observe) then please, go check it out! There is also a contest to win a $10 amazon gift certificate, so check out the post and leave a comment there for a chance to win.

And on the topic places to go and things to win, I'm being interviewed on SciFi Guy and Obfuscation of Reality today.  Check it out to learn more than you likely want to know about me and my story, and, of course, signed books are up for grabs!

One more quick note before I return to writing the blog you are actually looking for.  Grave Witch has been nominated for "Best UF/PNR BOOK Cover For October 2010 Book Release" at Bitten By Books. The book is currently closing in on third place, which is awesome. The books GW is competing with are all gorgeous, so I'm thrilled so many people like the Grave Witch cover. Thank you everyone who has voted! If you haven't had a chance to stop by and voice your opinion, I urge you to take a minute to vote your favorite. (The poll can be found in the sidebar on the right hand side of the page.)

Thanks everyone!
Check back later for a post on the Writers' Police Academy.

UPDATE: Okay guys. I lied. I only wrote a portion of the post, so the Writers' Police Academy post is now postponed until Friday. (Sorry! Things are a little crazy. But Friday--promise) Tomorrow we'll have a guest post from debut author Rachel Aaron, so check back soon! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interview with Rachel Vincent

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Rachel Vincent, the author of the Shifters and Soul Screamers series. I first met (met being virtual) Rachel when I was in the submission process with Once Bitten and she'd just sold Stray but still had a good year or more wait before it was set to hit shelves. She was one of the first authors I worked up the nerve to talk to, and she turned out to be one of the nicest, most helpful people I've ever corresponded with. She also turned out to be an absolutely phenomenal author who quickly rose to the top of my 'must buy' list. 

The final novel in her Shifters series, Alpha, hits shelves today and I'm anxiously awaiting the UPS man to deliver my copy. So it is with a great deal of excitement that I'm interviewing Rachel about her writing, the Shifter series, and Alpha.

Without further ado, the interview:

Kalayna: The Shifters series was your first published series and I know it must be a little scary for it to be coming to an end. In a genre with many apparently never ending series, what made you decide to end yours after book six and a short story instead of starting a new arc of the story and continuing?
Rachel: Good question. Usually people ask me why I’m ending the series, and the answer to that is because Faythe’s story has come to its natural conclusion. So why didn’t I just switch to a new character and start a new arc in the same world? I guess I don’t want to be known as a one-trick pony. I love Faythe and her friends and family, and I will always love them. But Shifters wasn’t the first series I wrote, and it obviously won’t be the last, considering I also write YA now. I don’t want to cling to one world just because it’s proved successful for me. I need to know that Shifters wasn’t a fluke—that I can write something else for adults that people will like.

Kalayna: While each book in the Shifters series stands alone, it has been very clear since early on that the everything has been building toward the climatic confrontation promised in this final installment. When you started the series, how much of the storyline was plotted? Have you known since book one where Faythe's journey would take her? I know you use post-it notes and a whiteboard when you sit down to write individual books, but can you share any quick insight to how you planned the series?
Rachel: I wrote Stray as a standalone, because I hadn’t thought very far beyond simply writing the book. Then I was told that urban fantasy tended to sell in sets of 2 or 3 and that it might be beneficial for me to have a sequel at least started when I was ready to pitch Stray. So I wrote Rogue. During the revisions for Rogue, I started to get an idea of where the story was going. When I realized that there would be very real consequences for the crime Faythe committed (through self-defense) in Rogue, the rest of the world building (Council, Malone, large-scale rebellion) began to fall into place.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure I have any insights to share in how I planned out the series. I just kind of did it. There was a lot of talking things through with my CP, my editor, and #1. A lot of idea bouncing. That kind of thing.

Kalayna: Speaking of what was planned . . . I have to ask about the Jace/Marc storyline. (You knew they would come up eventually.) Now, I must say I've been firmly team Jace since I met him in book one--in fact, I felt terribly bad for him and his super cat hearing when he was in traction down the hall from Faythe's room at the end of book one--but I know you have fans voting (rather vehemently) for opposing sides of that love triangle. Did you know from the beginning of the series that Faythe would get caught in that rather tangled love triangle? Have you always known who she will end up with at the end? Have you ever been tempted to change who that will be?
Rachel: Honestly, I never thought of it as a “love triangle” until other people started calling it that, at the end of Stray. Before I’d given any hint of Jace’s continued pursuit of Faythe after being turned down. I’ve always thought of it simply as Faythe having choices, which can happen to anyone. How many people date only one person before making a permanent choice? I went to high school and college. I know most people have options, and most people explore those options. No one I knew in real life struggled as much with the final choice as Faythe has, but then, no one I know in real life has fought side by side with and put her life in the hands of two people who genuinely love her like Marc and Jace love Faythe, either.
Have I always known who she’d end up with? No. But I always knew that it would be one or the other. Sharing just isn’t an option for anyone in Faythe’s world with Alpha potential. They’re too stubborn and a bit jealous. Maybe even a little possessive.
Have I been tempted to change the final decision? Yes, of course! If it was an easy decision to make, I wouldn’t have written it in the first place. This is a real struggle for Faythe, and it was a real struggle to write, too. ;)

Kalayna: In the world of your shifter novels, the pride cats are the predominant shifter species. We are told early on that werewolves are extinct, but over the course of the series we meet two other shifter species. Will we meet any new species in Alpha?
Rachel: No, but you’ll see just about everyone you’ve met in the series so far.

Kalayna: Alpha is the final full length shifter series you ever plan to release. I can only imagine what you're feeling right now as with this book, you will be simultaneously saying goodbye to these characters and sharing with your readers the final payoff for what everything in the series has been building toward. How do you plan to celebrate the release? Anything special or different from what you've done to celebrate the release of other books?
Rachel: Um… I usually celebrate a release with more work. It seems premature to celebrate a release, because on release day, it’s too early to know how the book is doing, in sales. I wish I could say that sales don’t matter. That I can just sit back and enjoy my accomplishment. But the truth is that if a book doesn’t sell well, the author may never get to write another one. So while #1 and I might go out to dinner or take a night off to watch a movie, my celebration always comes with a note of caution and a reminder to myself to keep working hard. If you climb too high, the only way left to go is down. ;)

Thank you so much for joining me here today, Rachel! Now I have to get through my daily pages so I can devour  read Alpha when it arrives.

By the way, Alpha and Grave Witch have both been nominated for "Best UF/PNR BOOK Cover For October 2010 Book Release" at Bitten By Books. You can vote for your top two favorites (hint hint) so please take a second to VOTE. (The poll can be found in the sidebar on the right hand side of the page.)

Rachel Vincent is the author of the Shifters series, about a werecat named Faythe Sanders, who is learning to define her own role in her family and fighting to claim a place in her Pride.

Rachel’s young adult urban fantasy series, Soul Screamers, is about a teenage bean sidhe (banshee) trying to balance a normal high school experience with the terrifying, hidden world she’s just discovered. My Soul To Take and My Soul To Save are available now. Look for My Soul To Keep on June 1, 2010.

A resident of San Antonio, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her office with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks—seriously—and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

Monday, September 27, 2010

News, interviews, and appearances

Despite signing a waiver which stated that I could die during my firearms training this weekend, I have returned safe and sound from the Writers' Police Academy. I cannot recommend this conference enough. I learned a ton and came home with pages and pages of notes. In fact, so much material was covered, I'm not ready to blog about it yet. I need to go through my notes and pull pictures from my camera, so look for a post on the academy to hit the blog Wednesday.

Why not tomorrow?

Easy. Tomorrow I will be interviewing Rachel Vincent, the amazing author behind the Shifters and Soul Screamers series. You don't want to miss this one, so make sure you stop by the blog tomorrow. 

And speaking of interviews, I'm being interviewed over at All Things Urban Fantasy today. (Yes, today. Go read it!) Leave a comment or question to enter the drawing for a signed copy of Grave Witch.

Also, my interview at  is now live! Find out more about Death, who I'd talk to if I had my heroine's ability, and even my favorite word. It's a very fun interview, so check it out.

These interviews mark the very first stops on my blog tour. I'll be popping up all over the blogsphere over the next couple weeks, so watch for links to guest posts, interviews, and of course, giveaways. I'm adding links to the tour to the front page of my website. I'll also be tweeting (and by proxy updating facebook)  live links as I find them, so if you follow or friend me on either of those social media sites, you'll be the first to know where to find where I'll be on any given day.

And speaking of appearances, I have two local signings I'm please to announce:
  • Friday, October 8th I'll have my release party at the Barnes and Noble on Forest Drive from 7pm until 9pm. (Address: 3400 Forest Drive, Columbia, SC 29204 phone: 803-787-5600)
  • I'll also be having a "Halloween signing" on Saturday, October 30th at the Books-A-Million in  Sandhills from 1pm until 3pm.  (Address: 164 Forum Dr. Columbia, SC 29229 phone: 803-788-4349)
If you are in or around Columbia or the surrounding areas, I hope you'll stop by and pick up a signed book. These are my first ever signings at bookstores, and I'm terrified of being one of those authors sitting behind an untouched mound of her books who everyone is avoiding eye contact with. So, if you could  stop by and say 'hi' that would be awesome. I'll bring candy. (Yes, I'm not above bribing . . . )

Okay, I think I should wrap up there. Don't forget to checkout my interviews at All Things Urban Fantasy today and Also, stop back by here tomorrow to read me play the part as interviewer and ask Rachel several questions about the upcoming final book in her Shifters series.

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, September 24, 2010

From the Archive: U can has Laughs 4 UR Grammar

I'm out of town at the Writers' Police Academy, so today's post is from the blog archive. This post was originally written back in May of 2008--you know, back when the blog had maybe three viewers. So I'm bringing it for your entertainment. The post is updated slightly and now includes even more kittehs!


Admit it. You've been there. or a some other Caterday site. You've looked at the cute little animals with clever little captions because well, they make you laugh. (And if you haven't looked, you should, laughing is good for you.)

The problem becomes apparent when you think about the fact most people understand grammar intrinsically, not factually. Things sound right to the ear. But if enough people use words/phrases incorrectly, they start sounding 'right' and are eventually adopted as slang, and after enough time, slang is adopted as an evolution of the English language. That's what a living language does--it evolves.

Since the advent of instant messenger, English teachers around the states have reported a rapid degradation of proper grammar. I occasionally have to remind myself that smiley faces ^_^ and *emotes* have no place in professional correspondences. That doesn't mean I don't receive them from other 'professionals' at work sometimes.

LoLCats pictures take 'net lingo to a new level. The images are cute and funny, but if you read the forums, they are practically in another language--lolspeak. In large chunks, this stuff is worse than l33t, or at least on par. But hey, for the most part, it's easy to ignore. Until you find yourself repeating it.

It starts out innocent enough. A joke among friends or loved ones. When the DH is teasing me, I often look at him and say "But...I lubs you!" Or to tease him, I'll point to something and say "I can has that?" Amongst most of my closest friends phrases like "Why you wants that?" or "You no can has" are often said to sent via text or gchat.

All good fun. Maybe even cute at times.

Until someone outside 'the know' hears you. Or, possibly even worse, if you find yourself speaking in this terrible version of English in front of strangers.

Last year several of my closest friends and I attended a regional writers conference. When talking to other people, we used something akin to proper grammar. But, when we'd talk amongst ourselves, we'd inevitably slide into LOL, despite the fact we were still in ear shot of agents, editors, and fellow writers--not the right crowd for sure. We had to ban LOL for the weekend and we still slipped up at times. Shock collars might have been helpful.

Not good.

So, tread carefully as you laugh. Grammar no iz good trade 4 lols.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Research

When you tell someone that you write fiction, occasionally (but more often than one might expect) one of two extreme assumptions are voiced:  

1.) The writer sat down at the computer and made up the whole thing without having to deal with any pesky research.
2.) The story is a true one that the writer somehow got someone to tell them and then changed just a few details. (This one tends to be voiced to people writing straight mysteries and such--not so much to fantasy authors.)

Both of these extremes are amusing because while I'm sure there are some writers out there who do no research whatsoever, I've never personally met one. On the other extreme, well, that one is obvious--we'd call it non-fiction if that were true.

Even in fantasy, there is a happy medium between making stuff up and knowing how things work. This covers everything from you have to know how the rules work before you break them, to the fact the reader needs to be grounded in certain realistic facts to accept the more fantastical. Research could be on anything from anatomy and physiology to the development of certain cultures and civilizations to the layout of a city or building.

My personal research is all over the place. I'm sure my library holds and internet searches have me on some sort of government watch list. My family understands at least--after all, how many people can say her grandparents gave her a guide to poisons for Christmas (and no one else in the room think this is the least bit strange)?

Books and the internet are great sources for information, but often you can talk to someone with experience--it is amazing how many doors will open if you mention you are writing a book and of course are friendly and polite. And once in a while, you can get first hand experience (when appropriate).

This weekend I'm going to get the opportunity to both go directly to sources and get some first hand experience so I can collect and catalog my own impressions. Doing what, you may ask? Well, working with the Boys in Blue (you know, that saying doesn't make much sense anymore--most of the cops around here wear black uniforms.) I will be attending the Writers' Police Academy this weekend for a three day, hands-on, interactive experience geared toward helping writers "enhance their understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics." I can't wait!

Today's questions: If you're a writer, what is the most interesting research you've ever undertaken? Readers, what is something you're familiar with that you think is unique or intriguing that you'd like to share? (Some small fact or bit of trivia?)

Have a great day everyone! Tomorrow's blog post will be a special reappearance of a classic post from the archives--one with pictures! Now I have to figure out what to pack for this weekend. . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This is not a post.

This is not the post you are looking for. But, when you click away from the page, you will decide your reader needs from this blog are fulfilled for the day. And hopefully you will return tomorrow when the blog party continues with a new, fascinating, and REAL, blog post. Today I am buried under writing novels.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Post from Lucienne Diver: Top Ten Things to Love about Being Fanged and Fabulous

As many of you probably know, the absolutely fabulous Lucienne Diver is my agent. What you may not know about Lucienne is that on top of being a wonderful agent, she is an amazing author. She writes a fun and sassy YA novel you have to check out. I read the first novel, Vamped, when it first came out last year, and I can't wait to dive into the sequel, Revamped, which just hit shelves. What, on top of adventure, danger, cute boys, deception, vampires, and a character with perfect fashion sense makes this series one that can't be missed?

Voice. And lots of it.

Lucienne's guest post is full of that same great voice, so I hope you enjoy!

More of Gina's Gems (from the notebooks of Gina Covello, fashionista of the damned and star of Vamped and Revamped)

Top Ten Things to Love about Being Fanged and Fabulous

Vampires don't get zits.  Score!

Paparazzi can't catch candid shots of you with stubble, smudgy eyeliner, plumbers' butt or other fashion disasters.

When someone tells you "you suck," they mean it literally.

Eternal youth means never having to say you're saggy.

Moonlight is totally flattering.


The all-liquid diet is very slimming.

If something costs you an arm and a leg, you can always grow it back.

Let's face it, the neck-biting is just sexy.

And the #1 thing to love:

Fangs are always fashion-forward.

Lucienne Diver writes humorous vamps, because it's hard to take life seriously when your puppy sits under your desk licking your toes as you type.  Her heroine, Gina, got her start in Vamped and, as will come as no surprise to those who've read it, subsequently decided she wanted more.  Thus, one book became to and two, two will become four…who knows where it will stop.  Today the bookstore, tomorrow, the mall!  You can learn more about her here:
Author blog: 
Character's blog:

Thank you for joining us here on the blog party, Lucienne!
Happy Tuesday everyone.

Monday, September 20, 2010

On Endings

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

 The king's advice to the white rabbit in the above quote seems too easy, too self-explanatory to be of any use to a writer. And yet, how to begin or end a story is an issue I see discussed and bemoaned on craft loops on a regular basis. More emphasis seems to go into the beginning of a book, as that is what agents and editor, and eventually readers will see, but how you leave a reader is as important as hooking them in the beginning. I've blogged before on beginnings, so I thought I'd take a look a endings today.

"Go on till you come to the end. Then stop." Seems easy enough, right? But I bet we've all read a book that left us more than just unsatisfied; endings that just didn't work. Two examples leap instantly to my mind, and I won't be naming any names here for various reasons--spoilers and that it would be in bad taste not the least of those--but let's just say both of the following books were best selling novels by NYT best selling authors.

In my first example, I'm going to talk about a book that I personally felt the author stopped before the book ended, so that the story just abruptly stopped. This was a mystery, and the main character finds the very last clue and mentally unravels the mystery of how the victim was killed and by who. She calls the police right before the murder walks out and cordially invites the main character into the house.

Then the book ends.

Yes, the mystery is solved--we know who did it and how--but what happens when the main character walks into the house? Does her host realize the police have already been called? What happens when they arrive? As none of this is in the book, the assumption is that everything went as clockwork, but I still felt that these scenes were missing. I checked the spine to see if pages had been torn from my book and then went to the bookstore to see if my copy was defective. For me, the book just didn't end in the right place. It hit the climax and then stopped with no easy down for the reader.

In the reverse, with my second example I feel the author continued to write long after the book had ended. This one was a thriller, and we spent a good three hundred pages invested in watching the main character track and attempt to stop a serial killer. Once he was finally dead, I anticipated a little wrap up and the book to be over.

But no. There were a good fifty pages left.

Every plot thread was fully explored and tied off and a second 'mystery' appeared. It wasn't a bad story--honestly, I enjoyed the book--but I'd had my payoff already in the bad guy getting his; the rest dragged. To me, the book ended in one place and stopped far later.

So then, how do we know where the end of a story is and where to stop? Well, like I said, both of the above examples were bestselling novels, so obviously these endings worked for a lot of people--they just didn't for me. Which is one of the issues with writing: enjoyment is a person to person experience.

Not so helpful, I know. What it means when you are writing is that you write what you would like to read. Where do stories you like to read end? Where do you feel your story ends.

Personally, I like books where the main plot is solved and the highest tension occurs, and then we have one last chapter that wraps things up a bit. If we were looking at a visual graph of the tension, the very highest point would be the climax, but then we would have a little downward sloping tail before the last page. I like the main characters to have a second to breath before they let me go, to maybe get a small peek of how their life goes on after all the changes which occurred in the book.

A good example of this can be found in Stacia Kane's Downside novels. I just read all three in the last month (I know, I know: I'm late to the game and several of you have been recommending them for a while. You were right--I loved them) and each book hits it's highest point and ties up the main plot. Then we have a just a couple pages at most of fallout and seeing Chess after she's gone through what she did in the book. These short ends gave me as a reader a chance to ground myself again before saying goodbye. Also, since this is a series, it brought into focus the plot threads Kane left dangling so I was very hungry to go out and find the next book (especially after Unholy Magic).

Of course, then there is always the option of leaving a heavy hook at the end, like the amazing Rachel Caine is prone to do. (Prone to? Ha, I dub her the evil queen of cliffhangers!) Actually, that isn't a fair title as there is a difference between a cliffhanger and a heavy hook. The cliffhanger doesn't tie up the main plot but  stops the action (and the book) at a high moment of tension. The heavy hook wraps up the main plot but then, at the very end, hints at or adds in something at the very end which makes you want to jump right into the next book. This is another ending which works for me as long as the main plot truly was completed: mystery solved, bad guys caught, crisis diverted, problem solved--at least temporarily. 

So, here are my questions for you today. What are some endings you read recently which worked for you? (no spoilers please!) Why did they work?  Without naming names, what endings didn't work? Why? What are your feelings on cliffhangers and heavy hook endings?

I hope every is having a great Monday. Check back tomorrow when I'll be hosting my amazing agent, Lucienne Diver, to talk about her new release!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Title Trivia

Today, purely for your amusement, I thought I'd share some random trivia about my titles. It's possible I've shared some of this information before, but I'm sure I've never put it all down in one place. I hope you enjoy!

When writing ONCE BITTEN, I initially titled the book Dead Cats Don't Cry, which is a line Bobby says to Kita in the third chapter of the book. At that time, I planned to call the second book in the series Good Cats Stay Dead, which was a line planned for the second book. (When I shuffled the plots of the second and third book, that line was moved and is still said by the intended character, but in book three instead of in book two.) I abandoned these names long before selling the series.

By the time the books sold, the first book was titled Dark Haven. The second and third books were planned as Crimson Death and Moonlight Gate. My working series title was The Kita of Firth Series. My editor tossed the initial title as not sounding urban fantasy enough and several others were thrown around in very quick succession. I actually found out the official title and series title (Once Bitten and the Novels of Haven,  respectively) when I saw the final cover at Dragon*Con 2008.

I followed the title scheme set down by my editor with that first book and the titles TWICE DEAD and THIRD BLOOD were approved for books two and three. I'm not sure what book four will be called yet, but I'm throwing around a couple ideas based on the plot for the book, but nothing has settled yet (and then it still will have to be approved.)

As opposed to the many times named Novels of Haven, the Alex Craft Novels had a very different naming journey.

I dislike having projects called "untitled" on my docket, so when I first created the new document for GRAVE WITCH, I went ahead and titled it as such simply because it was about Alex and she is, well, a grave witch. I assumed another name would hit me while I was writing, but nothing better ever came to mind. If I had gone through a formal querying stage for the book, I might have gotten around to changing the name--maybe--but as the situation worked out, Lucienne is the only agent I ever sent it to, and she decided to represent me and it was back out the door and sold before I could so much as catch my breath let alone change the title. Of course, once it was sold, I just assumed my editor would change the title (I mean, that was how it worked with my first series, right?) But it didn't change. People liked the title. (Heck, I like the title, I just assumed . . . well, you know what they say about assumptions.)

Then it came to naming the second book. While writing the first draft, the file actually said GW2. For the first time in my life, I was working on a completely untitled book--totally unlike me. When I started sending it out for critique, that fact really started bugging me, so I started applying random names to the book. Honestly. One day/week I'd send out chapters under one name and the next it would change. I have notes in the margins from my cp's that say things like "Wasn't this called something else before?" Thankfully, the book does now have a title. My editor finally pressured me for a title because the file I sent her just said "An Alex Craft Novel". I sent her a list of half a dozen or so possible names because I still couldn't decide. Luckily, she could. The winner was (I think I can announce this) GRAVE DANCE, which will be out in 2011.

What will the third Alex Craft Novel be called? Please don't terrify me by asking.

Okay, now you know more than you ever wanted about the titles to my series. I hope you found it amusing! Happy Friday everyone. Have a great weekend and make sure to stop back by on Monday when the Blog Party picks up again!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guest Post from M. K. Hobson: Making things go poof

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to one of the amazing author guests I have the honor of hosting here on the blog party. I know debut novelist M. K. Hobson from The Magic District blog where we both contribute. Even if the blurb of her recently released first novel, The Native Star, hadn't already convinced me to add it to my TBR, this inside look into her magic system would definitely make me stop and take notice. I found her magical worldbuilding absolutely fascinating, and I hope you do as well.

Without further ado, M. K. Hobson:

Making things go poof

While we write in slightly different genres (historical versus kick-ass urban fantasy) there's one thing Kalayna and I obviously agree on: witches are seriously cool. So when she kindly invited me to do a guest post, I thought I'd head straight for our common ground and talk about my magic system and how I created it.

My debut novel THE NATIVE STAR was released from Spectra at the end of August. Set in 1876, it follows the adventures of a timber camp witch from California and a stuck-up warlock from New York City as they race across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine trying to escape the clutches of evildoers.

Because THE NATIVE STAR is a historical fantasy set in a recognizable period in American history, I had to follow a few rules. Whatever magic system I created had to be able to account for the kinds of magical practice that actually existed at the time (e.g., southern hoodoo, Ozark folk magic, Native American magic, etc.) In studying those magical traditions, I decided all magical practice could be broken into three fundamental components: spirit, faith, and blood. In my book, each of those became its own unique strain of magic.

  • Animancy, like its name suggests, is essentially animist. The essences of earthly things, both living and dead, are used to effect works. The least aggressive strain of magic, animancy is fundamentally collaborative, requiring the practitioner to cooperate with—or at the very least have sympathy toward—the essence of the thing that he or she is asking for help.
  •  Credomancy derives power from human faith—the more intense the better. Credomancers are as powerful as people believe them to be, so much of their effort is put into building and maintaining an imposing fa├žade. They are not above using social and mental manipulation to build their power, and they must never allow their power to be questioned or examined for fear of losing it entirely. In our real world, any kind of religion in which a priest (or priestess) acts as a conduit to the divine is an example of credomancy. While less violent than sangrimancy, the practice of credomancy is not without ethical baggage.
  •  Sangrimancy is blood-magic. In my world, power does not come from the blood itself, but from the human emotions stored within it. The emotional state of the victim at the time that the blood is harvested for magical use is of great importance—thus, a sangrimancer must be accomplished at instilling terror, hatred, passion, or other powerful emotions into his or her victim before bleeding them. Without a doubt, sangrimancy is the most brutal of all the magical strains, and practitioners who employ heavy elements of sangrimancy in their practice are generally not very nice people.

Creating a magic system that worked within real-world history was challenging, but it was one of the most enjoyable parts of writing the book. I invite Kalayna's readers will give it a look and let me know how I did!

M.K. Hobson is the author of THE NATIVE STAR, a historical fantasy romance. Set in an 1876 America where magic is a mostly-accepted part of society, it is currently available at fine booksellers nationwide. You can find out more at the website,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So you see, what happened was . . .

While I have a project on the back burner that is completely unrelated to either of the series under contract, nearly all of my attention is currently on the two series I'm writing. Which means everything I'm writing right now is a sequel to the book or books before it.  In a series, each book should stand alone, as in the major issue presented at the beginning of the book should be resolved to some fashion by the end so the story has its own arc. But most series are connected by more than just character and world. While the main plot might be tied up at the end of each book, plot threads are often woven through a series. Also character growth, relationships, ability development, and such are explored over the course of a series. This means that while theoretically you could pick up a series and read it out of order, you'd get a lot more out of it by starting at the beginning.

That doesn't mean everyone starts at the beginning. In fact, I'd gamble from other discussions I've seen that as many as a third of those reading this post don't mind reading a series out of order. Personally, that would drive me nuts--guess I have a little OCD hidden  in me somewhere--but knowing that the books will be read out of order means a writer has to take into account that just because something was explained in a previous book, doesn't mean that all the readers will be familiar with that explanation. (Or even that they will remember with most books coming out nearly a year apart.) So some rehashing of information is necessary, both to inform new readers and to remind everyone else.

The question then, is how much?

I know I've personally read books where I wanted to toss the book across the room as I yelled "I know all that already! Get on with it!" I've also read books where I sat there going "Who is this guy? Did we meet him already?" So there is definitely a happy medium.

When working with back story, the general rule is: No large info dumps. Work the information into the narrative in small slices.  While what happened in a previous book isn't the same kind of back story as what happened to the character at say, age fifteen, it still happened before the opening of the current book. Quick reminder explanations of who someone is or how something works the first time it is encountered typically works well. The biggest issues tend to arise when dealing with something that changed drastically in a previous book (most likely due to the plot of that book) and trying to decide how much about that change (and plot) needs to be laid out for the reader. Again, this is (typically attempted to be) done without interrupting the forward progression of the story.

But recently I've noticed something new occurring in books. I wouldn't say it's a new trend because I haven't seen it enough to call it a trend, but I've run across at least a handful of books over the last few years which have a type of foreword that's not quite a prologue and basically quickly (as in maybe a manuscript page or two) lays out some of the pertinent events which occurred in previous books in the serious. Kind of like on TV shows. You know: "Previously on Vampire Diaries" followed by a series of quick scenes which brings viewers up to date before dropping us into this weeks episodes. (Yes, I admit it, I'm totally addicted to that show--it's deliciously dark and twisty.)

Have you read any books recently which had this "previously in . . ." type of start? Did you read it or skip it? Was it a good refresher, or just a rehash you could have gone without? Also, just because I'm curious: Do you always read series in order, or do you read them in whatever order you happen to stumble upon them?

Happy hump day everyone! Also, remember to check back tomorrow for a fabulous guest post from M. K. Hobson.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What does an author look like?

When you close your eyes and try to picture the quintessential author, what/who do you see?

I mean, when prompted with 'football player' you probably think of a big, muscular guy. 'Basketball player' probably summons images of someone tall. How about librarian? Do you suddenly picture a woman in glasses maybe? Okay, so these are stereotypes, but at the same time they are stereotypes because they are common.

So what is the stereotype of an author? What is the first image that pops in your mind? When you read an author's work and then find them (either in person or online) are you often shocked by their appearance?

I get the feeling I might not be what most people picture as an author. A series of recent responses to my appearance prompts this particular observation. In particular, a recent interaction with a bookstore employee really left me wondering. The encounter went down something like this:

Me (approaching the information counter): Hi, my name is Kalayna Price and I have a book being released by Roc next month. I was hoping you could tell me who I should contact to inquire about setting up a book signing. 
Bookseller: I'm sorry, we don't have signings for self published books.
Me: (blink)
Me: (pause)
Me: Well, it's being released by Roc. That's an imprint of Penguin.
Bookseller (no pause): Having a signing will depend on if the book is returnable or not.
She did eventually give me the email address of the person in the store who handled book signings, but I couldn't help being perplexed (and a little put off) by her immediate assumption that I was self-published. Perhaps she'd had a recent encounter of her own that made her act so prickly, but I have the feeling my appearance had something to do with her reaction. It might have been my age (I'm in my twenties--though many of the writers in my genre are in the late twenty/early thirties range) or perhaps the fact my bangs are blue currently. I clean up fairly well, as in I was wearing conservative makeup and business casual clothing the day I went to the bookstore, but certain things--like the blue hair--are hard to hide. Maybe there is some factor I'm not considering for her reaction, but the fact I didn't fit into some perceived concept of what an author should look like is the first explanation that hit me, which is why I'm curious what you out there think an author looks like. 

For me, what an author looks like is a murky subject. I mean, as I am an author, I'm rather biased. Also, I break down 'what an author looks like' in to two categories: the writing author and the public author.

In my experience, the writing author looks like your average joe on a Saturday (maybe even slumming it a bit) because when writing, with the only people we encounter during the day being those in our heads, things like putting on make-up and dressing sharp are just distractions that take time away from writing the book.

But the public author? The one at conventions or book signings? Well, she or he is a much more complicated and diverse breed.

From what I've seen when meeting other authors, business casual to suits are the norm--though not the rule. I've seen authors show up in everything from jeans and tee-shirts to tuxes/ball gowns to costumes of one of their characters (and everything in between). While my personal tastes gravitate toward big black boots and corsets, I do try to dress approriately for the situation. That means at professional writing conferences I pull out my suits and try to minimize the fact my hair is two or more different colors (at least one of which isn't found in nature) at any given time and I save my fishnet gloves and stripped tights for fan conventions.

Situations where expectations are less defined are a bit more difficult. As Grave Witch is just over 20 days from release, I'm having to consider what I want to wear to signings--which I have started scheduling despite the above bookseller's response, though that response does give me pause.

These are my questions for you: How much does a person's perception of what an author should look like influences their impression of an author's work if they have never read said work? If you were at a bookstore and saw an author standing by a table with his/her books, would their appearance affect whether you stopped to look at the books? Would you be more intimidated by certain looks? More likely to take someone who looked a certain way more seriously? 

I'm extremely curious, so please chime in!
Happy Tuesday everyone!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Want to win a copy of Grave Witch?

Anne Sowards posted a preview of the upcoming releases for the Ace/Roc line on Dear Author a couple days ago, and Grave Witch is up there and in great company. I didn't see the cut off date to enter the drawing, but it looks like Anne has 2 copies of Grave Witch as well as copies of the new Briggs, Andrews, Caine, and several others to give away. If you'd like to enter, go check it out! 

Happy Friday everyone. I hope you have a great weekend.  The blog party will start back up here again on Monday, so I'll see you soon!

Dragon*Con Photo Splash Post

When you go to a convention like Dragon*Con the people watching (and more accurately, the costume ogling) is a big part of the experience. I'll be honest, I'm terrible about taking pictures. I walk around thinking "wow, that's a great costume" and I feel like I'm constantly taking pictures, but at the end of the day, I tend to walk out with only a handful. Thankfully, I have friends who take many, many more pictures than me.

Every year you guaranteed to see dozens if not hundreds of Slave Leias, storm troopers, and other immediately recognizable characters. They are great, but you've probably already seen pictures of them and most start blending together. So, in this photo mash-up, I'll focus on the costumes which either delighted me in originality, were from obscure sectors of geekdom, were absolutely stunning in execution, or made me laugh or say 'aww'.  Ready?

First up is the cutest Captain America I've ever seen. This kid must have been four at the most, though I'm guessing he was closer to three. Still, when I asked him for a picture, he immediately sank into this iconic pose. Too adorable. 

 Keeping with the cute theme, to the right is a group of My Little Ponies*.

 Some costumes are as much about performance as the actual craftsmanship of the costume. To the left is a weeping angel from Dr. Who. I don't know how long this girl stood in this one spot, letting passerbys take her picture, but it must have been quite a while because several of us got her picture. Remember, don't Blink. Don't even blink.

Speaking of costumes as performance. If you go in costume, it's always good to know what pose you plan to take before you get to the con. It's also good if you can hold it a while because once one person stops to ask you for a picture, people in great costumes tend to be stuck for a while.* 

Groups with themed costumes always catch my attention. Though, it's not always important for everyone to fit in. I thought this group of Depp characters and the Red Queen was a lot of fun. I found them at the bar when I went down to meet some friends, and I have no idea if they came together or just happened to be chatting when I hit them up for a picture, but they were a funny group.

I feel like I should know who this group is supposed to be. Steampunk wizard of Oz? Some twist on TinMan maybe? I'm not sure, I just know I loved their costumes.

I have no idea if this girl was supposed to be a specific character or if this costume is one of her own design, but she was rocking it. I especially love the stylized wings.*

 I have a little over a hundred photos on my computer from the con, but there isn't time or space to share them all, so I'll leave you with this last one. I wish I had better picture of this knight and dragon mount. This was a truly spectacular sight as this huge costume was 'steered' by the rider and was fully mobile. It was impressive to say the least.

Okay, well, there is a quick look at some of my favorite costumes from the con. Let me leave you with one quick question: If you decided to go to the con in costume, what would you go as?

(Any photo with commentary followed by an asterisk(*) was taken by Shawn with Necrotechnical Designs and was used with permission)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The people who influence you

As previously mentioned, I just returned from Dragon*Con, the largest Sci-Fi/Fantasy Con in the South East. The guest list for Dragon is always impressive. Big name TV/movie stars, best selling authors, and some of the best underground musicians are pretty much par for the course. Lines for events are sometimes blocks long and many rooms fill to capacity (and beyond, though then the fire marshals tend get rather irate). You'd pretty much have to be living under a rock (or, I guess, just not be a geek) to have never heard of at least a few of the guests. Whatever your particular flavor of geekdom, there is probably someone there that you're dying to hear speak and maybe get a signature and a photo. I'd almost guarantee that there is a guest in attendance whose work you respect greatly, and maybe there is someone whose work has influenced or inspired you.

This Dragon*Con, I had the opportunity to see one of those people who influenced and inspired me. And not only see her, but to talk to briefly and get a picture with said influential person. Who was this person? Well, you might have already recognized her from the photo, but for those of you who didn't, the person I'm referring to is Laurell K Hamilton, the author of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and one of the forerunners of the Urban Fantasy genre as it exists today.  (NOTE: I know there is a lot of fan controversy about this series, but this blog post is not about that, so please keep comments positive and on topic.)

I discovered LKH and the Anita series when I was fourteen (this was in the mid-nineties, so the series wasn't yet highly inappropriate for a fourteen year old to read--well, unless you object to violence and language, I guess) and before discovering LKH, I was strictly a high fantasy girl. Oh, I'd read gothic paranormal novels like Dracula and Frankenstein (which were pretty much UF for their day) and I'd read Ann Rice's Vampire Chronicles, but nothing inspired a hunger for more of the genre in me like LKH's books did.

Of course, there really wasn't much more of the genre out there at the time.

P N Elrod's Vampire Files and Tanya Huff's Blood Books were on shelves, but that was about the extent of the genre that would eventually be called Urban Fantasy (and is even now mutating to a new name). Buffy didn't start airing until a year or two after I started reading LKH (and I actually didn't see any of it until years later when my college roommate decided it was all but blasphemous that I hadn't seen Buffy and arranged several marathon viewings.)  The show Forever Knight (which I was a huge fan of and is probably another influencing force behind me writing UF) had come and gone, but as far as I could find as a fourteen year old, that was the extent of the genre.

I was dabbling in writing by that point, but only high fantasy. In fact, prior to finding the Anita books (and I received the first three by mistake from the Sci-Fi Fantasy Bookclub--I wouldn't have picked them up on my own) I would have told you I wasn't interested in any book set in contemporary times. Give me castles and dragons--technology as advanced as a car or wrist watch was a deal breaker. Then I devoured the first few Anita Blake books and I was hooked. I wanted more, and it wasn't out there.

So I started writing my own.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I didn't stop writing high fantasy at that point. In fact, I still focused primarily on high fantasy until I finished college. (And like those high fantasy novels, I didn't finish any of my early UF stories.) I didn't begin focusing on UF until nearly a decade later when I wrote the novel which eventually became Once Bitten, and by that point, other UF giants such as Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, and Kim Harrison were already established.

But if I had to point to one single influential writer who hooked me on the genre, that writer would be Laurell K Hamilton.

I saw LKH at Dragon two years ago and attended almost every one of her panels (including one memorable panel where I thought she was about to throw down with one of the romance writers), but at that time I couldn't work up the nerve to talk to her. This year I saw her on several panels and even passed her in the halls a couple times, but I was too afraid I'd make a fool of myself to approach her.  Then, on the very last day of Dragon, probably two hours before I left, I saw her in the hall and finally worked up the nerve to talk to her. (Or maybe it wasn't nerve. I'd literally just walked out from giving blood when I spotted her and was a little light headed so 'just go for it' sounded plausible.)

I asked if I could get a picture with her, and told her that her books had inspired me to write and that I have an UF book (Grave Witch) being released from Roc next month. Then I gave her a very nervous hug and ran away, even more light headed--either from blood loss or nerves. I hope I didn't scare her and come off as a crazy fan girl, but how do you act and what do you say to someone whose work influenced you (especially during those formidable teenage years)? 

So, here is my question for you: Who has influenced and inspired you and how? (In any aspect of your life.) What would you say to them if you had a chance to meet them? Or, have you met that person? What did you do/say?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Interview with Kelly Gay

Good Morning everyone. I'm back from Dragon*Con (more on that in a future post) and I see that something went askew with my scheduled posts. I'll have to reschedule them for another day because today I'd like to welcome our very first guest to the Grave Witch release Blog Party, Kelly Gay.

Kelly and I blog together over at the Magic District and on Fangs, Fur, and Fey, but I'd actually picked up her first book, The Better Part of Darkness, before I joined either group. The second book in the series, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, was just released, and as I absolutely adored the first book, I have the feeling the second will be skipping in line on my TBR pile. I was thrilled to have this opportunity to interview Kelly, so without further ado, let's find out what was said.

I started the interview with a couple in depth questions about the Charlie Madigan series/world:

KALAYNA:Charlie Madigan's world is wonderfully complex with many different 'races' of supernaturals inhabiting it plus two different worlds, Charbydon and Elysia, beyond the human world--Can you tell us a little your initial worldbuilding and how you cast your characters?
KELLY: I really wanted to draw from our ideas of heaven and hell. What if these places really exist and have fueled our imagination, mythologies, and religions for thousands of years. What if the beings from these two places (or dimensions) were the basis of our beliefs in demons, angels, gods, monsters, nymphs, sirens, the fae, etc.? With those questions in mind, it was fairly simple to then construct my world and cast my characters. The way it’s set up, I have a wealth of information and beings to draw from.

KALAYNA: Your protagonist, Charlie, is a single mom of a preteen daughter. While characters with children are not uncommon in many other genres (which Urban Fantasy tends to blend traits from) it is extremely rare in Dark/Urban Fantasy. What drew you to casting Charlie as a mom and writing a story which put a lot of focus on that family tie?
KELLY: Several things drew me at once. I knew I wanted to write about a single mom, and to showcase this in urban fantasy. We have all these great female heroines in the genre and it just struck me, why not? It seemed very natural that someone might have a child. Someone strong, dedicated to her job and her family… I wasn't sure readers would respond to it or not, but I knew I had to try. It seemed wonderfully complex and something very real set within an unreal world.

KALAYNA: The Charlie Madigan series is set in a version of modern day Atlanta (with serious augmentation due to your unique cast of supernaturals). What drew you to Atlanta?
KELLY:I needed a large, hot city, one diverse enough to support the influx of the off-worlders, someplace where they could carve out their own neighborhood. Underground (with some fictional alterations) fit the bill perfectly. And since I live in the south, I wanted to use the knowledge I have of southern culture.

KALAYNA:The universe of the series includes several different worlds. Will Charlie's story ever take her to Charbydon or Elysia?
KELLY: Currently, I’ve been toying with a few scenes where Charlie heads into Charbydon. Since I’m in the rough draft stage, I'm not sure these scenes will stay but, wow, what a dark place! So, definitely not out of the realm of possibility.

KALAYNA:I have to say that I have a little crush on Carreg. Will we be seeing more of him in The Darkest Edge of Dawn?
KELLY: Oh, I have a crush on him, too. ☺ Him and Pendaran, the Druid King, from this second book. Sadly, Carreg does not make an appearance in Book 2. However, we will see him again in the 3rd book!

We then moved on to some more general writing questions:

KALAYNA: Are you a plotter or a 'pantzer'?
KELLY:I’m a combination. Some books I plot, some I pants completely, and some I plot a few chapters, then pants a few chapters. I have no process, LOL. Each book seems to come out of me differently.

KALAYNA: Your second book just hit selves, are you more or less nervous about this one than the first book's release?
KELLY: Definitely more nervous about this one. This was a difficult book for me to write. First time I was writing an unfinished book under contract, first time I had a deadline not my own, first time I continued a book with the same main character, first time I was writing a book while getting reviews and reactions on the first book. I got really bogged down and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Thank God I have a great editor! He was just like, “forget all that and write the kind of story that makes you happy.” Or something like that… ☺

KALAYNA: With a world as complex and intricate as the one you've created for the Charlie Madigan series, how do you keep all your supernaturals straight in your head? Do you have a 'series bible' you've created or do you refer back to previous text? Or something else entirely?
KELLY: I made a series bible after the first book sold, and I’ve yet to refer back to it. I think my world is branded into my brain for the most part. If I do have a question about something, like if I capped a certain word or I can’t remember a street name, I’ll just open the first book and do a search… I’m sure I’ll be referring to my bible at some point the farther I progress with the series.

And we wrapped up the interview with a couple fun questions about Kelly:

KALAYNA: What (or who) drew you to writing Urban Fantasy?
KELLY: Fantasy elements paired with strong women who can take care of themselves. It’s an unbeatable combination.

KALAYNA: Was the Better Part of Darkness your first book or do you have earlier books you hope the world never sees hidden away in a drawer?
KELLY: LOL. Yeah, about six of them!

KALAYNA: What was the last fiction book you read?

KALAYNA: Who is your all time favorite character (yours or anyone else's)?
KELLY: This is so hard to answer! I have to break the rules and name a few. ☺ Lestat, Acheron, Jamie Frasier. (I am noticing a trend, a hot guy type of trend…) One of my favorite heroines is Morgaine from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s THE MISTS OF AVALON.

Thank you so much Kelly for joining me today! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Kelly's debut novel, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS, was named a 2009 SIBA Okra Pick, a 2010 SIBA Book Award Long List Finalist, and earned Kelly two 2010 RITA nods for Best First Book and Novel with Romantic Elements. She is also a recipient of North Carolina Arts Council’s fellowship grant in Literature. She lives in NC, where she is currently working on the next Charlie Madigan novel as well as a new Young Adult series debuting in Feb. 2011 from Simon Pulse. Learn more about Kelly at

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Cons--The Big One

Dragon*con is the big con of the year for me. Oh, there are other big cons out there: RT booklovers con, RWA National, and World Fantasy, but even with those, Dragon holds its weight (and besides, I still haven't made it to any of those others). With around 40k people annually and more than two dozen tracks (each filled with panels) Dragon is a con where you never see everything--it's just too big. That said, despite my geeky ways, I can narrow down the tracks I want to see, and typically there are only a few conflicts where there are two (or sometimes more) places I want to be at once.

For me, Dragon is a time interact with other writers, to hear about new books, to pick up some crafting tips, to see cool costumes, to hang out with favorite bands, and to generally immerse myself in geek culture. I always walk away from Dragon with some new idea or interest. I can't even tell you how many bands I was first exposed to at Dragon, and my interest in hooping was initially germinated at Dragon. If you've never attended, I highly encourage you to look into the con. With so much going on, it is almost sure to interest anyone with any geek/alternative/literary/paranormal bend.

I leave today for the con, (I'm actually supposed to be packing at the moment) and my internet connectivity once I reach the con is questionable. I might not respond to many questions until next week, but I do have post scheduled for while I'm gone, so don't forget to check back. I will have twitter access, so you can follow what I'm up to, and if you're looking for me at the con, I'll try to keep twitter up to date with where I'll be.

In the mean time, I'll leave you with this quick video. Aside from writing, writing, and rewriting over the last few weeks, I've also been making buttons like a fiend. Check out this time lapse to see them.

(BTW, if you didn't see it yesterday, be sure to check out the  extended excerpt of Grave Witch!)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Blog Party starts today!

Wow. It's September. That totally caught me off guard.

In that case, someone give me a hand with these balloons, and please, help yourself to some virtual chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne because it's BLOG PARTY TIME! For the next month and a half we are going to keep the blog hopping with special guests, cool contests, and exciting events. To kick things off, I have two announcements:

Firstly, I am very pleased to present an extended excerpt of Grave Witch! I know I've been teasing you with just the first two pages for the last few months, but I've now posted the full first chapter. I hope you enjoy!

Secondly,  I would like to quickly share with you a  list of guests you can look forward to seeing during the Blog Party: (Guest list subject to change. Listed in order of planned appearance)

Kelly Gay, author of the Charlie Madigan series .

Lucienne Diver, author of the Vamped series.

M. K. Hobson, author of Native Star.

Marcia Colette, author of Stripped.

Rachel Vincent, author of the Shifters series.

Rachel Aaron, author of the Eli Monpress series.

Nancy Holzner, author of the Deadtown series.

I'm so excited to be hosting these amazing authors, and with any luck, I'll be adding a few more names to the list soon, so check back often!