Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I'm thankful for each and everyone one of you. Have a happy and safe holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010


My updates are probably going to be rather sporadic for the next few weeks. If you have any questions or subjects you would like me to blog on, feel free to post them in the comments.

Okay, that's all.

Happy Monday everyone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dahlonega Literary Festival wrap up and a video chat

I recently returned from the Dahlonega Literary Festival, a great book festival in an artsy little town in the Georgia blueridge area. I had an absolutely wonderful time and met many amazing people during the weekend event. I also stayed at the cutest little bed and breakfast called the Lily Creek Lodge, and if anyone ever wants to escape for a weekend, I highly recommend it.

Finding your Topic panel
Over the last year I've had the opportunity to speak at a lot of fantasy and fan conventions, but this weekend was my very first literary festival. I've attended a couple literary festivals in the past, and at every single one I've found that genre fiction has been rather under represented and the fantasy genre conspicuously absent. There is often contention and rather nasty biases between literary fiction and genre fiction, so I admit I was a little concerned what reception I, as a rather young, newly published urban fantasy writer, would receive both from the audience who would attend the event and the other writers, but everyone was absolutely wonderful. The discussions on the panels were diverse and fun, my fellow writers were amazingly friendly and a pleasure to converse with both on and off panels, and everyone I spoke to was absolutely wonderful. And, for the first time at any literary festival I've attended, fantasy had a strong showing! There were three fantasists on the guest list: Seressia Glass, Susan Hubbard,  and myself. (Special shout out to Carol and Sharon for inviting us.)

I chatted with Susan and Seressia a good deal over the weekend, and near the end of the event, I asked if I could record a quick video chat. I apparently make faces when I talk and gesticulate horribly (I imagine I do this on panels as well) but it was a ton of fun to record the chat, so if you guys like this kind of thing, I'll try to take a video camera to all my events in the future. Check it out here:

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wanna grab some Grub?

I have to seriously wonder where the saying "grab some grub" to mean get some food came from. Why am I wondering about this? Mostly because I just spent the last two hours in my garden fighting a grub infestation.

I mean really, do these guys look yummy to you?

Yeah, me neither. And I must tell you, I'm rather distressed by their presence. When I first moved to my new place, I put three 4X4 garden plots down, but I only used two of them because it was so late in the season. The third I decided I would be enterprising, and as this development was built on nutrient deficient sand, do a little open air composting. I have a compost bin, but as a whole I have more grass clippings and weeds than I need in a single bin, so I dumped the extra in the empty garden bed hoping it would improve the soil by the time I'm ready to plant next spring. At first I turned and watered it regularly, but then I probably got a little slack.

Recently I noticed the grubs. Major ick.

I'm not real sure what to do about these guys. I don't want to hard core poison the box because I would like to grow stuff in it eventually. I considered burning it, but 1- I'm pretty sure my homeowners association would have something to say about my starting a bonfire in my garden and 2-it actually composted pretty well, so I'm not sure it would burn. As you can see from the photo, I sifted and plucked a good pound of those suckers from the soil, but I'm sure I missed some.

Anyone have any suggestions?

(Yes, this post is completely unrelated to any aspect of writing. I know, I know, the blog is supposed to be about writing. Let me think . . . How about this parallel: When revising, you have to roll up your sleeves and dig the ugly/bad/gross stuff out of your story to end up with a healthy book?)

Happy Thursday everyone. And seriously, anyone have any tips on how to clear out this grub infestation?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dahlonega's 7th annual Literary Festival

I know I posted a while back that my conference and convention season for 2010 was over, but a couple weeks ago I was invited to be a guest at Dahlonega's 7th annual Literary Festival and I was delighted to accept. The festival is this weekend (November 12-14th) in Dahlonega, GA and based on the schedule I just received, it will be a wonderful event.

I'm not sure if a full event schedule is available on the website yet, but I'll be sitting on the following panels:

Saturday 10:45 - 11:30 -  Fantasy vs. the Great American Novel.
(Panelists: Seressia Glass, Kalayna Price, Jeffrey Stepakoff, River Jordan, William Rawlings, Vicki Alvear Shecter, Susan Hubbard)

Sunday 11:10 - 11:55 - Finding Topics That Sell, Practical Options for Finding the “Right” Plot for Your Fiction
(Panelists: William Rawlings, River Jordan, Susan Hubbard, Jon Turk, Patrick Michael Finn, Jeffry Stepakoff, Seressia Glass, and Kalayna Price)

Sunday 3:30 – 4:15 - A Woman’s Voice in the Creation and Business of Writing 
(Panelists: Laura Knorr, River Jordan, Vickie Alvear Shecter, Seressia Glass, and Kalayna Price)

I will also be at the Welcome Reception on Friday night, the dinner event on Saturday, and Sunday's Brunch. And they've scheduled me for three signings during the event:
Saturday 11:30-12:00pm,  Sunday 12:00-12:30pm, and Sunday 4:15-5:00pm.

If you'll be at the festival, I hope you'll introduce yourself and say hi. I look forward to meeting you. 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NaNo Day 9: Helpful Links

So much has been going on recently that I haven't had a dedicated NaNo post since the begining of the challenge (and I'm actually putting off releasing news today--it will wait a day). Today let's talk words.

Week two of the challenge has now started. Everyone still pushing along? How is the wordcount coming? According to my chart, today's word goal is 15k words. (Okay, technically 15,003. Let's be exact.) Have your characters surprised you with what they've said or done? Any unexpected plot developments?

At this point your beginning has well and truly begun, and you are probably hurtling toward the first turning point in your story (or perhaps you've already hit it.) You've made a good start, so keep powering on with the momentum you've created. Here are a couple links to resources you might find useful as you write through the second week:

  • Write or Die--This is a great motivation tool. The product page used to say "Putting the 'Prod' back in 'Productivity'" (it might still say that somewhere, I only glanced at it) and it does just that. You enter how many words you want to write and the amount of time you wish to write them in and then hit start. A window will pop up for you to write in, and if you stop or you fall behind, it will begin to penalize/agitate you. The aggressiveness of this 'agitation' ranges from annoying sounds and blinking lights to it actually erasing words (*Note erasing words only occurs if you set it to Kamikaze mode. I personally suggest using that mode sparingly.)  You can use the program for free on the web, or buy a downloadable desktop version that includes the abilites to have timed wordwars with friends online. If your word count could use some prodding, make sure to check out this program. 
  • NaNoWriMo Report Cards--There are several of these out there, but they all work about the same. They are a spread sheet were you enter your current word count and the number of hours you wrote that day. The spreadsheet then calculates how many words you still need, how many you need to write per day to finish by the 30th, and it estimates the date you'll finish by your current pace. Whether you are ahead, behind, or right on target, it's always fun to watch these number change. Here is link to such a report card. 
  • Dropbox--with as much time and effort as you are putting into writing, don't forget to backup your work. 15k words would be a lot to lose, and your count will only continue growing from this point out. We all hope file corruption, viruses, stolen laptops, lightening strikes, or dead hard drives don't happen, but it's best to be prepared for the worst. Remember to back up your work onto an external device such as a USB stick or to an external server like Dropbox. Or both. (I use both time machine and dropbox) If you've never heard of dropbox, it is a wonderful tool both to back up your files on an off site server and to share your files between multiple computers/devices. The best part? They give you several gigs of server space for free, so check it out.
  • Scrivener--Now, it is a little late in the writing process for me to mention scrivener to you, but I'd be remiss to create a list of helpful writing links and not include scrivener. This is THE writing software for me. I've written my last three books on Scrivener and I love it. Many of the the things I used to do in several programs or mediums--like plotting with post-it notes--are all incorporated in Scrivener in a way that fits seamlessly with my process. Also, I love the organization capabilities. The creator seriously could have written this program specifically for me. One day I'll do a full post on Scrivener, but not today. Today I'll just say that at some point you should check it out and see if it is a program that would help you manage the daunting task of writing a book. And good news for windows users--they just released a Windows beta, so you're not left out anymore. 
Okay, so those are my helpful links for you today. Now, maybe what you really need right now isn't a helpful link, but a moment of distraction? I have those for you too. Check out these NaNoWriMo themed youtube videos:
And that's enough distraction. Back to writing everyone!
Happy Tuesday. Many words to you!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Grave Witch in the wild Winner(s)

The polls have closed and the Grave Witch in the Wild contest is now officially complete. The votes have been tallied and with 27 votes in the sidebar and 17 votes in the comments the winner is: Kitty with the Kindle!

Congratulations Dawn! Please email me at Contests(AT)kalayna(dot)com with the shipping address of where you'd like the bookmark to go and let me know if you want the ghost or tombstone. (click here for pictures).

Now, the second prize is supposed to randomly selected, but I have to say, I love all the entries so much that I decided that all four entries deserve to win. I just ordered more charms from etsy, so as soon as they arrive, I'll design two additional bookmarks. That means four prizes in total and everyone wins!  ASchilling,  KT, and NL Berger, please email me at the above address with where you'd like me to ship your bookmark. (Since the charms have not arrived yet, be prepared that it might be a week or two before I can ship the bookmarks.)

Thank you everyone who voted in the polls and congrats to our winners!
Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, November 05, 2010

On Cooks Source, Copyright Infringement, Pirating, and the power of the internet

November 4th 2010 might forever be known as the day the internet fought copyright infringement. Most of you are likely already familiar with the events surrounding Monica Gaudio and Cooks Source Magazine, but for those new to the story (were you away from your computer yesterday?) I'll recap very quickly.

On Wednesday night Monica blogged about discovering that a post she'd written several years ago on apple pie had been reprinted in a magazine she'd never heard of let alone granted permission to print her piece or received compensation from. After emailing and calling the contact information (which used to be provided on both Cooks Source's home page and facebook profile), Monica was eventually asked what it was she wanted. She asked for an apology and a $130 charitable donation to the Columbia School of Journalism (which considering she'd been plagiarized by a for profit 'professional' magazine, her request was both kind and rather selfless.)

The managing editor, Judith Griggs, sent this sarcastic and inflammatory response (as reported by Monica on her blog)
But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!

There are a lot issues in what Judith said, from the ignorant claim that anything released online is "public domain" (it isn't--if you publish something online you might forfeited being able to sell first publication rights, but the moment you create creative property it is considered to be under copyright) to her ridiculous claim that Monica should be grateful for the effort put into editing the piece and perhaps Monica should pay for the improvement to her writing portfolio! Well, it's no surprise Monica was mad--I'd be incensed--but like many victims of theft, I think she felt rather powerless and unsure what she should do next. So she blogged, vented a little (though very calmly and articulately) and asked her blog readers for advice.

I don't think anyone could have predicted what came next.

Monica's blog post went live around 11pm (according to the tag) on Wednesday the 3rd. By the middle of the day Thursday, other bloggers had picked up the story and authors like John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman tweeted links to Monica's post. That was how I first discovered the story. My first thoughts were along the lines of  "Oh, that Griggs is in trouble now, this thing is going viral and she's going to find herself in a nice little tempest in a teapot." Little did I know that tempest would turn into a shit storm of massive proportions.

I'm not sure I've ever seen any story go quite so viral so fast. As the day unfolded, it was everywhere. Not just blogs (big or small) but Publisher's Weekly, the Washington Post, and other major players began reporting on the situation before the end of the day. The internet descended in mass on the Cooks Source Facebook page. (Even now, updates are seconds apart) At some point, it became a mob and more violent and hateful than Griggs's actions (however deplorable) warranted (such as her home address and phone number appearing at one point).  But the internet (and yes, I am using the term to describe the hundreds of thousands of individuals involved and not cyberspace content) also organized to do some rather productive things as well. The sources of other articles featured in Cooks Source (which, according to their facebook page, has been around since 1997) were sought out to see if Monica's case was an isolated incident or if Griggs's standard policy was theft and plagiarize.

The early findings indicate Monica was not alone. Some of the people Griggs (allegedly) stole content from aren't small players either. An incomplete list of possible copyright holders include Paula Dean, Martha Stewart, Disney, and NPR. People also started tracking down the images in the magazine, and traced the advertisers to inform them they were involved with crooks. Most of those advertisers pulled their support from the magazine by the end of the day.

This was all by the time I turned off the computer last night. That happened in one day. ONE DAY. Guys, the internet has power.

This was organized (well, that's really not the right word--let's say accomplished) by people all over the country (and possibly the world) who don't know each other but who saw an injustice and fought against it. And all in the single day the story broke (and scarily enough, before the story could be confirmed, so I hope this story is true and has the happy ending of Griggs's career justifiably ending and other snippy, ignorant plagiarists learning from her example.)

Yes, some of the mob went too far, but I have to say I'm thrilled to see people crying out at the injustice of copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property. Granted, what differentiated this case from so many (so very many) cases was Griggs's belligerent attitude. I imagine a number of the links in this post will break in the next few days because Cooks Source is, well, cooked.

In the wake of this amazing rally of support (and internet justice!) I'd just like to cheer and count this as a score for all creative types everywhere. But I'd also like to point out that Copyright Infringement comes in another form. One which negatively affects every writer I know--Pirating.

No, there's no snarky, self-righteous evil editor to flame or bombard--mostly because pirating is so devastatingly widespread. I get nearly daily alerts of my books showing up on sharing sites, and I'm not alone. Just this morning a friend of mine whose very first book hit shelves last month was devastated to discover an explosion of torrents for her book--a book that she's been watching the sales rank of because in publishing, sales matter. Writers write, but we like to be able to afford to eat as well.

So, as we are all now hyped up and super aware of the evils of copyright infringement from our encounter with Cooks Source Magazine, can the internet please go attack pirating next. Please?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

GRAVE DANCE cover revealed

Today is the day, and I am very pleased to reveal the cover for the second Alex Craft novel, GRAVE DANCE. I could build this up a bit, but I think I'll just splash the cover and not keep you waiting in further suspense.

So, what do you think?

Personally, I think it's absolutely striking. It retains the ethereal and contemplative aspect of the Grave Witch cover while the closer crop and forward angle of Alex's body adds an edge of power and assertiveness. The cityscape visible behind the cemetery is a gorgeous touch, and I love that they kept the subdued blue greys overall  with just a single splash of brilliant of color with Alex's shirt (green this time). In short, I love it and I absolutely cannot wait to see it on the shelf beside the first book!

Happy hump day everyone! 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Nano Day 2 and Grave Witch in the Wild finalists

It's day two of NaNo. How are things going? I saw several of you knocked a nice chuck of your word count out last night. Congrats! If you find you're falling a little behind, no worries--you have plenty of time to catch up. If you find you're spending a lot of time staring at your screen and not writing, try setting a timer for short bursts of writing--try 10 to 15 minutes at a time and you might be surprised what you can accomplish when a timer is counting down. If you're having trouble carving time to write out of your busy day, remember that you don't need long periods of time. If you can jot down a sentence or two at a time while cooking dinner or waiting on the kids to get out of after school activities you'll find yourself a lot closer to your goal when you finally do reach your computer. (Also, thinking about your story throughout the day will keep it percolating in the back of your head.)  So, how are those word counts looking?

Switching gears, I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in the Grave Witch in the Wild contest! I received some great entries (as you'll soon see) and I have to say, I'm glad I don't have to pick the winner because it would be tough! It's up to you guys to vote on the winner (yes, I'm leaving the tough choices up to you. Also, remember that a second winner will be randomly selected using a random number generator.) Voting will be open until 11:59 pm EST Sunday, November 7th. You may cast your vote here in the comments (and if you do, please mention why you picked the entry you chose) or you may vote anonymously in the "Poll" box in the left hand column of the blog.

Okay, let's see the options, shall we? (Numbers are above the entry)

Option #1

Option #2

Option #3

Option #4

It's going to be tough, isn't it? I told you. ^_^ You may vote based on any criteria like, and feel free to try to rally support for your favorite here in the comments or elsewhere using this link ( ) back to the post. So, which has your vote?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Nano Day 1: What the heck is NaNoWriMo anyway?

Before I start talking about NaNo, let me first remind everyone that today is the very last day to enter the Grave Witch in the Wild contest. I'll be posting the finalists tomorrow, so make sure you get your entries in by midnight tonight!

Also, if you're a newsletter subscriber, I have a very special sneak peek of the GRAVE DANCE cover going out exclusively to subscribers tonight. Everyone else will have to wait until Wednesday for the big reveal. If you're not a subscriber but you would like to be, subscribe here:

Okay, now on to today's blog post.

It's November first, which means it is the first day of NaNoWriMo. All over the world thousands of people will be putting words to the page and starting novels today. Are you one of them?

As I mentioned briefly in an earlier post, I would like to once again run a mini community here on the blog. Participating is easy, if you are taking the challenge, simply stop by the blog a couple times a week and share your current word count. Also feel free to discuss any challenges or triumphs you encounter as you write. Fraternization with other commentors is highly encouraged--please cheer each other on!

Everyone who crosses the 50k word deadline by the end of the month (You'll need to send me a link to your NaNoWriMo profile with winner bar) will be mentioned in the acknowledgments of the upcoming Haven Novel, THIRD BLOOD. Also, out of all of those who finish, I will choose one grand prize winner who will receive his or her choice of one of the following craft books:
These some of my favorite writing craft books and books I think every writer should read at least once. The grand price winner will be chosen at random, but each comment will give you another entry in the drawing (max three entries per day).

Sound easy enough? Well then, let those fingers fly! Today's word goal is 1,667 words (50k divided by 30 days = 1,667 words per day). How has the first day treated you?