Friday, October 29, 2010


Hey guys, I'm so sorry to cancel the signing scheduled for tomorrow (10/30/10) so close to the date. (Heck, I'm sorry I have to cancel it AT ALL.)

Due to circumstances completely out of my control, tomorrow's signing at the BAM in Sandhills has been canceled. I've been in contact with the manager this afternoon, and the books he ordered for the signing did not arrive, so they have only what was on the shelf--2 copies, apparently. The manager wants to reschedule for an as of yet undetermined date (we'll see) but the pertinent fact is that tomorrow's signing is canceled.

I'm so sorry about this guys. If I had any control of the situation, I'd still hold it.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A couple quick announcements

Hey, I have just a couple quick announcements to make today:

First up, tonight (Thursday, October, 28th) I will be in the Knight Agency Chatroom starting at 9pm EST chatting live with readers. I have no idea what I'll talk about for an hour if you guys don't show up and ask questions, so please log in and join in the discussion. I would love to chat with you guys. Also, I'll be giving away 3 signed copies of GRAVE WITCH and there will be several other paranormal books by other writers represented by my agency up for grabs, so please drop by. You can find out how to log in and all the other important details HERE.

Second item on the agenda is that my Halloween book signing is this Saturday, October 30th from 1-3pm at the Books-A-Million in Sandhills. (164 Forum Dr. Columbia, SC 29229) I'll have candy and swag, so if you are in or around the Columbia area and couldn't make it to the release party at the beginning of the month, I hope you'll try to make the signing on Saturday. I'd love to see you.

And last on the list, I wanted to talk a bit about NaNoWriMo. If you're not familiar with that weird little word, it's short for National Novel Writing Month, which is a challenge held every November to encourage people to write 50k words in 30 days. I'd planned on doing a complete post on NaNo, but this week hasn't gone as planned, so I'll condense here and expand tomorrow or over the weekend.
Last year I sponsored a mini writing community here on the blog with a chance to win prizes for those who participated and acknowledgment in TWICE DEAD of those who met the 50k word goal. For those of you who are writers or who are aspiring writers, I'd love to host the community once again. Participating is easy: I'll post daily blogs throughout November (or as near daily as I can manage)  and participants leave comments with their daily and total wordcount in the comments (no need to check in every day, but try to update everyone on your wordcount a couple  times a week.) Also feel free talk about any struggles, snags, or triumphs in the comments and to offer other participants suggestions, encouragements, and congratulations. If the timing works out (and I think it will) everyone who crosses the 50k word finish line will be in the acknowledgments of THIRD BLOOD. I will also put together a prize packet to give away to at least one random participant. (I'll let you know what it is once I decide. It will probably be one of my favorite craft or editing books.) How does that sound? Do you have a novel in you waiting to get out? Now is as good a time as any!

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you'll drop by the live chat tonight.

P.S. one last thing: I just saw the cover for GRAVE DANCE. You guys are going to love it. More news as soon as I have permission to share.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Loving Memory: Licorice (May 1999 - October, 27 2010)

Pets fill a number of different roles in peoples' lives. For me they are family, so today I lost a family member. Licorice was 11 1/2 years old and the sweetest guy you could meet. He was a lap kitty and purr box who often had the tip of his tongue peeking out. Monday we made an emergency appointment with the vet because one of his toes suddenly doubled in size. They put him on a steroid, an anti inflamatory drug, and an antibiotic as a first step, but there was a good chance it was cancer and that on the recheck next week we might have to consider amputation. Yesterday he was happy enough. This morning he was having trouble breathing. He died in transit to the vet. At least he died in someone's arms, knowing he was loved. And it was fairly fast, so I don't think he suffered much.
I do believe animals have souls and that he is in a better place, but that doesn't dampen the ache of saying goodbye. Here are some pictures of my baby so he is immortalized here on the blog.

I hope you're having a better Wednesday than me. Don't forget to hold your loved ones tight, everyone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Your Questions Answered

Last week I asked for questions. Today I will be answering them. So let's see what you were curios about:

Edna asked:
Q. How many books will there be for the Alex Craft series?
A. Currently there are three books contracted in the series, but I have ideas that go beyond the third book, so I hope Roc buys more of the series. The next book, GRAVE DANCE, will be released late next summer.

Q. Falin and Death both seem like fantastic love interests for Alex. I was wondering if you already have it set in mind who she will end up with, if anyone at all?
A. I have a definite direction for Alex's love life, but as I'm writing surprises often occur, so nothing is set in stone. 

Q. And this is a general sort of comment but I'm incredibly fascinated by Death. In a future book I hope Alex can learn more about him and maybe get a glimpse into his world. How about "A Day in the Life of a Soul Collector"? ;) Falin is quite interesting himself. I'm eagerly awaiting to read more of his history.
A. Those aren't really questions, but I thought I'd just comment that you will definitely be seeing more of both and learning quite a bit more in the next two books. I'm glad you're enjoying the characters and the world! Thanks so much, and thanks for the questions!

The next set of questions are from Natalie via Facebook:
Q.How do you pronounce Falin? I have an acquaintance named Fallon (rhymes with Allen), and I've been pronouncing it the same way, but I've seen it spelled your way.
A. Technically, the 'i' would make the 'a' long, so I pronounce it FA lin. That said, FAH lin isn't that far off so is probably an acceptable pronunciation.

Q.Why a Chinese Crested? I mean, I love cresties, but it seems like an odd match for Alex.

A. This is actually a question I answered in a recent interview over at Smexy Books. Instead of thinking up a different way to say the same thing, I'm just going to steal that answer. I hope you don't mind.
A Chinese Crested of the truly hairless variety is a small dog with patches of hair only on the head (the crest), feet, and tail. This hair is typically white or black, and their skin is usually pigmented any number of combinations of pink and grey. The first time I saw one, I couldn't decide if it was adorable or had some terrible disease. In my experience, most people either think they look like ugly hairless rats or are cute in a pathetic way. When I was creating Alex's character, I liked the idea that she'd be drawn to a dog who just didn't fit in. He's not a stray of unknown origin—let's face it, sadly, those are a dime a dozen. He's a pure breed that many people would be vaguely repulsed by. It worked for her.
Thanks for the questions, Natalie!

Christina asked:
Q. I've read your Haven books and love them. I was wondering if we were going to see more of Tatius in the next book. I really like him, he is such a fascinating character.(and I may have a teeny tiny crush on him) I was intrigued by his behavior towards Kita in the second book. What is he about?
A. This question makes me smile. I'm so glad you like Tatius. He was one of those characters who was just a name and a small note in the outline of the first book. I mean, I knew his history and his agenda before I started writing, but he was just supposed to be a minor antagonist. Then I wrote his first scene in Once Bitten and he jumped right off the page. Sometimes characters surprise the writer. After the events in Twice Dead, Tatius wasn't supposed to reappear in the series until book four because Third Blood is very shifter and Firth centered, but that punk haired master vamp doesn't tend to care what my outline says. ^_^
Thanks for the question!

Happy Monday everyone. And don't forget, this is the last week for the Grave Witch in the Wild contest. So far I have only a couple entries, so odds of winning are really good. Please check it out!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do you have questions?

After the blog party and my month of blogging near daily, I'm a little unsure of what to talk about on the blog. Soon I'll start blogging on NaNoWriMo--very soon, I guess, as November isn't far off and I plan to invite others to take the challenge with me once again this year. November will likely be mostly craft and encouragement posts, but for the rest of October? I'm not sure (hence the silence the last couple days).

So, I thought I'd open the blog to questions.

Do you have something you'd love to ask me? It can be about either series I write, about writing in general, about hooping, heck, you can even ask me your homework questions, but I don't promise to know the answers.  If you leave questions in the comments of this post, I'll answer them in tomorrow's post. Sound good?

Happy Vampire Diaries day Thursday! (And don't forget, the Grave Witch in the Wild contest is currently open for submissions. Check it out!)

ETA: Oh, Please try to avoid spoilers about the books in your questions, or please clearly mark them with **SPOILERS** and space down a bit to give others who might not have read  the book fair warning. Thanks!

Monday, October 18, 2010

CONTEST: Grave Witch in the wild!

A week or so ago I inquired whether you guys would be interested in a photo contest with the prize being a custom made Grave Witch bookmark. The response was enthusiastic, so I went in search of the perfect charms. Considering it is nearly Halloween, I thought now would be the ideal time of year to find charms that would tie-in with Grave Witch. Apparently I was wrong. I scoured every craft store and Halloween shop I could find with absolutely no luck. I nearly gave up the search and considered making the charms myself (because I need yet another hobby and everyone wants me learning to carve soapstone instead of writing, right? yeah, no.) Luckily, in a shop I never would have guessed would carry charms, I found the cute little tombstone and ghost that are now on the bookmarks.

These were designed and hand beaded by me. I chose the black and silver with just a splash of red color scheme to mimic the cover of the book. Both bookmarks feature gauzy black ribbon, a silver toned charm, and Swarovski crystals. I'm currently working on the possibility of embroidering the book title on the ribbon, but I have to touch base with a friend to see if her machine could do it, so the final product may or may not feature that (but I really hope it will!) The ghost bookmark has a total of nine Swarovski crystals including a 10mm Siam heart. The tombstone bookmark includes magnetic hematite and a brilliant glass bead as well as a gunsmoke-colored chain and hand-shaped wire.

So, what do you think? Do you want to win one of these limited edition Grave Witch bookmarks?

Here are the contest details:
Contest name: Grave Witch in the wild!
How to enter: Take a picture of yourself, your friends, your children, your pets, your plants--whoever--reading GRAVE WITCH. (If you have an electric copy, just take a picture with your ereader displaying the cover or title page.) Upload the picture somewhere like facebook, twit pic, yfrog, flicker, photobucket, your blog, or anywhere else you can post a picture on the web, and then add a link to the comments of this thread. (Limit one entry per copy of the book, please)
How winners will be chosen: There will be two (2) winners. A panel of judges (aka friends and family I can rope into the job) will choose finalists out of the submitted photos. Those finalists will then be posted on the blog and a poll will be opened for the public to vote on their favorite picture. (Funny, cute, and/or clever pictures probably stand the highest chance in a public forum.) A second winner will be chosen at random from amongst all entries (not just finalists) by a random number generator.
Who can enter: Anyone who is willing to take a picture with the book. I'll ship anywhere that customs won't stop the bookmark from entering the country.
Entry Deadline: Monday, November, 1st at 11:59 pm. I'll announce finalist's later that week, and will announce both winners once voting has finished.

Sound easy? Sound fun? I hope so.

I can't wait to see the pictures!

(**by entering the contest you grant me the right to repost your submitted photo on the website and blog. The winner chosen on the public forum will have first choice between the two bookmarks.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hello mister tall, dark, and terrifying

(Blog X-posted)
October is moving right along which means creepy costumes and sugar highs are just around the corner. Or is that just my plan? Surely not.

Halloween is nearly here, and it's a good time for the things that go bump in the night. Many creatures which once would have been relegated to horror stories and movies are now featured as heroes and romantic leads, but let's forget them for a moment and talk of the terrifying.

What flavor do you prefer your horror stories/movies? Do you like an oppressive atmosphere that keeps your shoulders hitched as you wait for the worst? Do you like the monster you never quite see so he's worsened by your imagination? Perhaps your horror preference is the gore and the gritty details. Or maybe the psychological horror tale that worms itself into the back your mind and then begins to twist. Or perhaps your horror tastes lean toward the destruction of all hope in the face of insurmountable and unstoppable odds? (Zombie Apocalypse anyone?)

From the ghost story to the slasher film, horror is a genre with many faces and many elements. Which work for you? Do you laugh off a scary tale, or do you sleep with the lights on after a good horror flick?  It's the month for spooky stories and frightening monsters, so please share your favorite horror movies and books! (We could all use a good scare, right?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A little ironic

When I started thinking about writing this post, my initial title idea was "I think my kitten is a vampire." If you are a fan of my novels of Haven, you probably understand why that would have been rather ironic. That said, I'm still inclined to believe my kitten (okay, she's close to three now, but she's the youngest cat) might be a member of the undead.

What makes me think so? Well, I've been having trouble keeping the puppy (who, again, isn't actually a puppy, just the youngest) off the bed when I'm not in the room. She knows she's not allowed on the bed when I'm not in there, and knowing that, she jumps off the bed as soon as she hears me leave my office so that I never catch her on the bed, just hurtling herself over the edge. Oh yeah, and the wet spots where she's been chewing on her feet are a pretty big give away to what she's been doing. In an attempt to keep the puppy off the bed, I've started closing the bedroom door. Easy solution, right?

Not quite.

The kitten sleeps under the bed during day. As her water and litter box are not in the bedroom, locking the puppy out also meant she needed to be locked out. Now you can probably imagine the commotion Monday morning when I first shut the door. I wasn't positive I'd make it through the day. But after thirty minutes or so, the kitten stopped complaining (the puppy continued to complain most of the day). I eventually emerged from my office and looked around to figure out where she'd decided to spend the day. I assumed she would be basking in a window with the other cat, or maybe sprawled in a chair or in one of the pet beds scattered around the house, but she wasn't anywhere to be found. After some more intense searching, I discovered her sound asleep in the bathroom cabinets. The nice, dark cabinets much like the nice dark area under the bed where she usually spends her days, not emerging until night. This is now her morning routine. When I shut the bedroom door, she locks herself in the cabinets.

I think she's hiding from the sunlight. Vampire kitten?

What do you think?

Happy Thursday everyone!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Events and happenings wrap up and THANK YOU!

The last week has been busy but extremely exciting, and I owe most of that to you guys, so I just want to say Thank You to all of you.

The release of Grave Witch seems to be going well from my outside view (Of course, I won't  know anything definite until I hear from my publisher in several months.) The blog tour stops have seen good traffic, the online chatter has been really positive, and reviews are cropping up! Thank you everyone who has picked up a copy already, and double thank you to everyone who has blogged/tweeted/recommend it to others. You guys are AWESOME!

Now, I promised you a wrap up of my first ever book signing. The event on Friday went extremely well (or at least I though it did). I was crazy nervous, which didn't help my already chicken-scratch hand writing or the fact that on good days letters get jumbled in my head and when I'm nervous? Yeah . . .
But everyone who came out was absolutely amazing. I must have talked to fifty or sixty people over the course of the two hour signing. Many of the readers who came to the event were familiar with my Haven series, and it was great to talk about Kita and her world with real live people (who aren't my CPs and a captive audience). I was terrified that I'd sit there all alone for most of the night, but people came and went in such a staggered pattern that I almost wonder if you guys didn't gather and plan entrances before hand. I don't think I went more than a couple minutes without someone there at the table. It was great. I can't decide now if the success of the first signing makes me more or less terrified of the Halloween signing planned for the end of the month. LOL

(WHD pictures by Scott Johnson)
The other big event of the weekend was World Hoop Day. I meant to blog about this before the fact, but I got wrapped up in everything else going on. If you're a facebook friend you probably saw my post about it, but I never actually got around to a proper blog.

I'm not going to say too much here, but if you remember my post on World Hoop Day last year, you know that the event is not only to celebrate the joys and benefits of hooping, but to raise awareness and spread the fun. All around the world on 10-10-10 at 10:10 am, people were hooping in their communities. In my home city, we gathered at the State House and jammed for a full hour.

We had a great turn out for the event, and we got decent exposure from walk by traffic--we even managed to talk several people into joining us! Very fun!

Hope everyone's weekend went well. Happy Monday!

Friday, October 08, 2010

GRAVE WITCH Release Party Tonight!

This is just a quick post to remind everyone that the Grave Witch Release Party/Signing is tonight from 7-9 pm at the Barnes and Noble on Forest Drive in Columbia, SC. If you are in the area, I would love to meet you!

I just packed my bag of swag and candy, and I'm excited. And a little nervous.

I was excited on release day, but you know, I didn't actually have to do anything on release day--the work on the book was already done, it was just a matter of logistics with the physical copies. (And of course the excitement of knowing people could actually read it!) Today I'm full of nervous energy because I get to talk to people and meet readers. I can't wait! (Now just to figure out what to inscribe when I'm signing books . . .)

I hope to see many of you tonight! And for those of you who can't make it, I'll make sure someone has a camera so I can share all the interesting details.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

An afternoon post on contests and pictures--Your opinion needed!

Irmo, SC by Michelle
Several people have sent me pictures of Grave Witch on shelves or even a few of people with a copy, and am absolutely loving seeing the pictures. In fact, I think they are so awesome that I'm considering holding a contest so more people send me such pictures.

The question with such a contest is what to give away.

A signed book really wouldn't work as most people entering will have already bought a copy. I was thinking something special. Something unique.

Charlotte, NC by Sabrina Luna
If you've noticed my etsy link in the sidebar, you know that I make hand beaded bookmarks and jewelry, so I was thinking about creating an original, Grave Witch themed bookmark. Would that be something you as readers would be interested in? Would it be worth taking a picture of you (or your cat, or your plant, or get creative[but stay "G" rated]) with a copy of Grave Witch to enter a contest to win such a limited edition bookmark?
BAM, Columbia, SC

I'm still looking for the perfect charms to make such a bookmark--it's nearly Halloween, you'd think I'd be able to find more charms that would tie in with the book--but let me know if you think you'd be interested. I'll redouble my efforts in the search and make a couple prizes if that the contest is one you'd like!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Guest Post from Nancy Holzner: The Telling Detail

Today I'm joined by very special guest, Nancy Holzner, author of the Deadtown novels. If you've been following this blog for a while, you probably recognize Nancy's name and series from a post I wrote several months ago on hooking the reader with the first line.  Nancy's first book, DEADTOWN, is a personal favorite of mine, and I'm anxiously awaiting the release of her second novel, HELLFORGED. (It will be out December 28th!)

So, it is with great pleasure that I share this amazing guest post with you. Take it away, Nancy!

The Telling Detail

When I talk to readers about urban fantasy, one thing I hear a lot is that people enjoy this genre because it feels like the story could really happen. The settings are recognizable—you can walk the streets and see the landmarks of magical Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, or San Francisco, and even fictional cities have a real, gritty feel to them. The characters interact with people who could be our coworkers or our neighbors. In addition to their otherworldly battles, characters have problems we can relate to, like how to pay the rent or get over a fight with a boyfriend or deal with an annoying boss. The urban-fantastical world of magic, ghosts, demons, and monsters feels adjacent to ours, like you could turn the wrong corner some dark night and suddenly be there.

I don’t think I’m giving away any trade secrets when I say that authors accomplish this sense of realism-in-fantasy by sprinkling telling details through their stories. A telling detail is an image that packs an emotional wallop and makes the scene feel “true.” It brings the scene to life. The telling detail gives readers a tug on the heartstrings, a shiver along the spine, or a kick in the gut. It’s something we understand and relate to, even when what’s happening is far outside our everyday experience.

Here’s an example from Magic Bites, the first book in Ilona Andrews’s terrific (and phenomenally popular) Kate Daniels series. Kate is about to meet Atlanta’s Beast Lord, a werelion, for the first time; she’s alone in a dangerous part of town and expecting violence. And what does she do in this situation? She calls out, “Here, kitty, kitty.” For many readers, this telling detail is a favorite moment in the book. It cracks the scene wide open and gives us insight into Kate’s character. This detail, along with Curran’s reaction, shows us a hint of what their relationship will be like. And it’s something we can relate to. Maybe you’ve never clutched a sword on your way to meet a werelion, but I bet you’ve blurted out something even when you knew it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to say. The telling detail is a point of connection between reader and story.

Kalayna’s novel Grave Witch has a great telling detail in its opening sentences:

The first time I encountered Death, I hurled my mother's medical chart at him. As far as impressions went, I blew it, but I was five at the time, so he eventually forgave me.

Those two sentences pull us into Alex’s world very quickly, and the image of five-year-old Alex throwing her mother’s medical chart at Death shows us a lot about her temperament. Even before I know a thing about her, I admire Alex for her bravery in the face (literally) of death.

My Deadtown series is set in Boston, where a zombie plague has revealed the existence of paranormals (who were immune to the virus) and forced the norms and the monsters to live uneasily side-by-side. Deadtown’s protagonist, Victory Vaughn, is a shapeshifter who kills other people’s personal demons for a living. Those things are pretty far removed from most people’s experience, so I try to bring Vicky and her world to life through recognizable, relatable, telling details, such as the checkpoints residents must pass through to get into or out of Deadtown; the no-man’s-land between Deadtown and human-controlled Boston (called the New Combat Zone in honor of Boston’s former red-light district); and the kinds of personal demons Vicky exterminates: Drudes (dream-demons that feed on fear), Eidolons (guilt demons), and Harpies (revenge demons).

I also use telling details to give insight into Vicky’s character and emotional landscape. In one scene, Vicky recalls the night her father died, ten years earlier:

I sat on the bed, numb. The world was divided into Before and After, as completely as if someone had split it with a butcher’s cleaver. Before, I’d woken up in this bed, and Dad had been alive. Before, I’d gone down to breakfast, and Dad had been alive. Before, I’d run up here to change out of the sweats I wore for sword practice, and Dad had been alive. The clothes still draped the chair where I’d tossed them.

I told myself I should put them away, but I couldn’t bear to touch them, as if moving them would make it real.

A glass of water sat on my nightstand. Thirsty, I reached for it. Before, I thought, when I’d filled up that glass . . . My hand dropped to my lap.

The clothes on the chair, the untouched glass of water are telling details. As Vicky reaches for that glass, the enormity of what’s happened—the permanence of her loss—sinks in.

Sometimes, a telling detail can show a writer something about the characters as she creates them. In my forthcoming novel Hellforged, Vicky’s protégé Tina, a good-natured teenage zombie who manages to across as obnoxious and self-centered at times, gets a gig as a backup singer for a zombie rock star. Vicky, believing that Tina is in danger, looks for her in her dressing room before a big concert:

I went up the stairs. Tacked to the door was a piece of paper with Tina Terror printed in bold black letters. Tina’s last name was Zawadzki, so I could see why she’d want a stage name. But “Tina Terror”? That was as bad as Monster Paul. Below the name was a lopsided star, hand-drawn in yellow highlighter. It looked like something a preschooler’s mom would hang on the fridge.

In Deadtown, zombies don’t have dreams. They stay in their restricted area and do manual labor. When I “saw” Tina’s hand-drawn star in that scene, I understood it as her declaration that she’s not settling for less. It symbolizes her hopes, but also her fears. Zombies don’t get stars; Tina knows that. So she’s going to make her own. Even if it looks kind of lame, it’s hers.

Telling details can be large or small. They stay with us because they’re vivid and they give us insight. When you think back to your favorite scenes—those that made you laugh or cry or moved you in some way—what you probably remember are the telling details. What are some of your favorites?

Nancy Holzner is the author of the Deadtown urban fantasy series, featuring shapeshifting demon slayer Vicky Vaughn. Deadtown is out now; its sequel, Hellforged, hit bookstore shelves on 12/28/10. You can read Deadtown’s first chapter here. 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Nancy! Great post.
I hope everyone is having a good Wednesday, and don't forget to check out today's stop on the blog tour over at The Qwillery.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


It's finally here: RELEASE DAY!

GRAVE WITCH should now be available at all major bookstores and about anywhere books are sold online. Here are some convenient links to online sellers, or check your local brick and mortar store.
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
The Book Depository

Also, don't forget that I have a Virtual Release Party starting at noon today over at Bitten By Books. I'll be chatting with party goers and even giving out a $50 amazon gift certificate, so don't forget to stop by!

On the blog tour front, today's stop is at the blog of my fabulous agent Lucienne Diver. Don't forget to check it out.

Okay. That's it for me. I'm going to go over there and continue squeeing and doing my happy dance. ^_^

Happy release day everyone!

Monday, October 04, 2010

One More Day . . .

We are one day from the official release of Grave Witch, and I can hardly believe it. (Actually, according to the countdown widget we are at just under 10hrs because the book is technically released at midnight--but bookstores won't be open so lets say a day.) Reports of sightings are pouring in, and I'm already finding myself checking the amazon and B&N stats (even though those don't really tell me how well the book is doing). Reviews are also really cropping up now, and I'll link to some of those in a minute. In the meantime, I want to point out the two big events happening this week:
The Virtual Release Party at Bitten by Books, and the Release Party/Signing in Columbia.

The Virtual Release Party will be tomorrow, October 5th (release day!) starting at noon over at Bitten by Books.  I'll be talking about closed vs open worlds in urban fantasy, about Grave Witch (of course), and basically anything else book/world building/etc people would like chat about. Also, I'll be giving away a $50 amazon giftcard to one lucky party goer. You can RSVP now for extra entries into contest, so go check it out early and make sure to stop by and join the party tomorrow. I look forward to seeing you there!

 And if you are in the Columbia area and want to see me in person (and pick up a signed book and some swag) don't forget about the Release Party/Signing at Barnes and Noble on Forest Dr this Friday the 8th from 7-9 pm. The B&N site even has an official listing for the event. I'm bringing candy!

Speaking of B&N, one of my facebook friends just let me know that GRAVE WITCH is a featured recommend read on the B&N Community board. Thanks so much Sue Toro Staltare for the heads up! 

Okay, on to more links and such. How about some more things to win? Have you been checking out the Blog tour? Some stops include gift cards, signed books, and/or swag packs so make sure you check it out. Today's stop is a guest post on Folklore in Fiction over at Dark Faerie Tales blog. I'm giving away a $10 gift certificate (you can buy Grave Witch and still have money left over!) so go check it out!

To wrap up this crazy post on what is happening everywhere else but here, let me link you to some of the awesome reviews GRAVE WITCH has received over the last few days:

A rating of "A" over at That's Queen Bitch to You
5 tombstones over at Bitten by Books (Beware: this might be a little spoilerish but an excellent review)
4 Bats and "Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now & pre-order the sequel"  at All things Urban Fantasy
4 skulls at Dark Faerie Tales

If you write a review or run across one online, feel free to forward it on to me. I probably shouldn't, but I read reviews (I know, dangerous past time)

Until tomorrow everyone!

(side note: anyone else start humming Les Mis after reading post title "one more day . . . "?)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Blog Tour

In case you missed the blog tour links on the front page of my website, I thought I'd link them again. I'll update this list as posts go live, so check back!


    10/16: Fresh Fiction
    10/26: Fang-tastic Fiction

Friday, October 01, 2010

Writers' Police Academy

If you were following my twitter feed last weekend, you probably received a deluge of tweets with the hashtag #writerspoliceacademy about subjects ranging from signing a waiver which stated I could die to a conversation with the Hazardous Device team that started "So if I wanted to blow up a building . . . ?" As the hashtag implies, I was at the Writers' Police Academy, a conference with the motto "Sweat now so your manuscript doesn't bleed red ink later." They promised a "hands-on, interactive and educational experience to enhance understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics." And I have to say, they delivered! I only wish the Academy had lasted longer because there was just so much to do, to see, and to learn--I couldn't get to all of it. Regardless, I still came home with pages of notes (how many pages? I'm not sure. I've been so busy with the blog tour I've barely had time to look at them!)

Hazardous Device Team's Armor
Obviously I will barely be able to scratch the surface in this blog post, but I'd like to highlight some of the things I did and learned while at the Academy. As always, while I had a camera and even carried it with me at all times, when I arrived home, I discovered I'd taken almost no pictures. Bear with me. (Funny aside, I wrote "Bare with me" at first, then I heard Cera's [one of the Tri Mu] voice in my head going "seriously, you want all your blog readers to get naked with you?" My CP has invaded my inner thoughts, what does that mean? lol.) Okay, on to information from the Writers' Police Academy:

The Academy started by releasing the writers onto a group of law enforcement professionals--some clearly less prepared for a writer's overly inquisitive nature than others. We had a couple hours to move between the set up stations and talk to these professionals. Several questions led to widened eyes, but most were met with amusement, and everyone was wonderful both about explaining what they did, showing us their toys, and answering our often rather alarming questions.

Some random facts gathered: (*Note: any inaccurate information is probably my note taking skills and not misdirection for the officers/agents.)

Remington 870
  • What we usually refer to as the "Bomb Squad' is officially called (at least in Gilford County, NC) the Hazardous Device Unit. Members of the team are not only certified bomb technicians but are also certified as hazardous material technicians. Their suits (featured in the picture to the left) weigh approximately eighty pounds and are made from Cavlar and Ceramic. In the event they are caught in a blast, the ceramic will shatter and absorb some of the blasts impact.
  • Fire fighter's tanks are filled with compressed air. Not oxygen.
  • Police cars in Gilford County are equipped with a Remington 870 in the ceiling of the vehicle. (picture to the right)
  • Finger print dust is used to lift prints on smooth, non-porous surfaces. For porous surfaces  like cardboard or styrofoam magnetic silver black powder will be used. 
Okay, those are a few quick facts from about three pages of notes--and the day was  only just getting started. That afternoon included tours of the firehouse, a two hour session with Jonathan Hayes who is an internationally best selling author and the Senior Medical Examiner in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan, and then the night rounded off with Lee Lofland (the organizer of the event, author of the amazing resource book Howdunit Book of Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers, and the man behind the The Graveyard Shift) detailing the true story of the grisly murder of Tina Mott.

Lee Lofland, Kalayna, and Jonathan Hayes after the Banquet
I have pages of notes from those events, particularly from Jonathan's lecture on decaying bodies, but as I wouldn't want this blog to end up with an "R" rating due to violence and gore, I think I'll keep those off this space. Moving on.

Day two started with a demonstration/dramatization of an active shooter in a school with law enforcement and EMS workers responding to the scene. This was followed by a full day of workshops and classes on several topics. I really needed to clone myself so I could attend multiple panels at once (but of course, I couldn't do that). These classes included topics such as Gun 101, Crash investigation, Handcuffing techniques, Firearms identification and ballistics, and undercover investigation.  The day was rounded off with the Banquet (where keynote speaker Jeffrey Deaver spoke) and a late night signing. But I've skipped the best part . . .

Tom Sweeney and Kalayna. FATS
Remember when I said I had to sign a waiver? That was for my FATS session. That's Firearms Training Simulation. Basically, it was the coolest video game I've ever played. I've always been more of the RPG gamer than first person shooter gamer, but yeah, I would own this system. The guns were real, but outfitted for the program and the scenarios were multiple variable life or death situations a law enforcement officer might come in contact with. In fact, officers are trained with this system (which means I probably shouldn't call it the coolest video game ever, but what can I say? I'm a product of my generation.) There were two parts to the training, the first I was with a partner, and after a rocky first scenario where I completely and totally missed the bad guy and shot up an innocent tree, I became a better shot and the two of us worked well together. We didn't kill any civilians, only got killed a few times, and didn't have any bad shoots that would have lost us our badges (you know, if we had one.)

The second room used a slightly different system, and this one was my favorite because the Glock I was using had a realistic amount of kick to it. Apparently had it been firing live rounds the riffling would have caused the gun to pull right more, but otherwise, it was just like firing a real weapon--which was extremely useful to me as I'd never so much as held a gun before but I write about them. I could go on and on about FATS (in fact, I did when I first got home. Poor DH. He got the story with pantomimes and play-by-plays of the scenarios I faced.) but I'll spare you and move on.

The last day was the "debriefing", which was really a very large question and answer session. If you've ever been around a large group of writers given free rein to ask questions, you can probably guess that this led to points where I was frantically taking notes because it was a great question with an informative answer, and other times I was shaking my head because they weren't asking a question and they didn't care to listen to the professional's answer. As a whole, the debriefing would have benefited from a moderator, but it was an amazing opportunity to get clarification on many things we learned and covered over the previous two days.

This post is becoming obnoxiously long. Kudos to those of you still reading. I think I'm going to end this by saying this post couldn't possibly do justice to how amazing and informative the academy was. I have every intention of returning next year, and if you are a writer who wants to learn more about law enforcement/ ems/ fire fighting/ and other similar topics, I would encourage you to check it out.

Happy Friday everyone. Have a great weekend!