Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Massa's Tools

It was Audre Lorde who said something like, "We must use massa's tools to dismantle massa's house." Loose translation: We're in a world ruled by the aesthetics, languages, laws, etc of the imperialistic powers and we have to use those laws, aesthetics, languages, etc to show our minority truths. Or "fight fire with fire."

It's a bit like the African Proverb: As long as lions don't speak, only the hunters' stories will be heard.

Well, here I am: sitting at my computer and trying to see what tools I'll be using on my new WIP, Inheritance.

In Wind Follower, I tried my best to use high fantasy language to write about the heroic victims of imperialism. I tried to show those cultures who aren't normally considered worthy of mythic fantastical literature to a world that often only thinks fantasy literature as a European genre. In a world where dark-skinned black women are called "ho's", and looked down upon (I'm talking about you Martin Lawrence with your sheneneh, and you Eddie Murphy of Norbit fame), I wanted to show black women as being virginal, sought after (yeah, by non-black guys) and deeply loved. Of course I had other issues in Wind Follower too. Religion, primarily. I wanted to show how religion interweaves with folklore and popular worship and human interpretations and predilictions of the common man. Well, I think I kinda succeeded. For the nonce anyway. With every new book, an author has to learn how to write all over again.

So, now I'm into Inheritance and again all my minority and ethnic issues have popped up. This time my love for common people is really pushing me. It wants to be in the book. It wants to be raised to the status of high art. Kinda like the Grapes of Wrath of urban fantasy literature. I want to write about normal folks --white country folks, black folks-- in a weird spiritual and supernatural situation. Now, how am I gonna do that?

Which of Massa's tools should I use? I'd like to use urban street language or black folklore speak or white country talk. I'd like to attempt to raise the langauge of the book to a level of loveliness that is as beautiful and geographically/linguistically precise as high fantasy is to Celtic United Kingdom. But dang! Can I do it? And do I have to use folklore-rap-or country talk? How brave can I be? A part of me wants to use high langauge in upstate New York and among the urban streets. But would it work? I'm sure it could work...in the hands of a good writer. But dang, folks, how good a writer am I? And how much risk am I willing to take? And how weird am I willing to let the story be?

I went all out with Wind Follower and that was an exercise in bravery. I wanted to see if I could put all of my soul into a story. Sometimes I flinched when I realized that certain aspects of me may not fit into the story. Sex and religion. Feminism and a patriarchal God. Declaring my love of the imperialist's religion yet my dislike of the imperialists themselves and my dislike of spirits, clerics, shamans, priests and all who intervened between God and humans. Trust me: it was very brave to write about such things and not seem polemical, naive, a traitor-to-the-cause, an angry-black-woman, simple-bible-believing-black-woman-who-don't-know-no-better, or deluded. However, the book cohesed gracefully (if i do say so myself) and my bravery was rewarded with its publication. Can I walk out in faith again and do something utterly totally "me" again?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Juno Books Countdown Widget

Here's something for the Juno Books authors with a future release date--that includes me! I like the idea of a graphical panel with links for pre-ordering, book info, and a countdown timer to the release date. So, I spent a couple hours goofing with javascript, images, styles, etc., and created the Juno Books Countdown Widget.

Here's what it looks like with Dru's book out in April:

I posted the code and directions on my blog. (http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/). Grab it, fill in the values for title, author, image URL, and a few links to Book Sense, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Paste the code in your blog sidebar, any web page, and you're done.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Resolutions for 2008

Well, it's that time of year again. And as they say, we writers have to plan and schedule our time. I don't even want to put all my scattered thoughts into a list. Might just overwhelm me but here goes:

1) The eunuch's wife -- A short story based on Joseph story in Bible. I've been thinking about this and it should be a very bittersweet story. Hey, I can't help it. I like a lot of the Biblical so-called bad guys.

2) The Gleaners -- Caribbean Harry Potter slavery story. Janet Lorimer gave me some ideas on this.

3) Inheritance -- novel May-August multiracial love story suspense psychological thriller. I have scenes for this one. Am about 68 pages into it but I've been doing other shorter pieces and just jumping around from project to project. I think it's cause I don't quite have the "voice" for this story yet. But nevertheless...am gonna finish it in 2008 (deo volente)

4) Daughters of Men -- novel based on Nephilim. Honestly! This story is all there. Already finished. Liked. Paul Witcover liked it. Dorchester almost bought it. It's just a mess and even Miss Paula says it needs a lotta work. Why can't I just finish it?

5) Exotic -- slipstream story for Subtle Edens. Have a great idea for a story about a woman's romantic daydreams. Prose poem pseudo-memoir.

6) Send letter to local community college telling them I'd like to teach creative writing there. Janet's ideas are really working in my brain. Just want to see if I can commit to doing this kinda thing. I so hate administration academic issues. How Sylvia does it I never know!

7) Buy a new house. Intend to do this with some money I intend to get from Wind Follower. Hey, maybe a movie deal. Who knows? With God all things are possible.

8) Sell or repair old house.

9) Lose 100 pounds -- Am presently avoiding wheat and trying to drink a lotta water. Who knows? Been 23 years since I was skinny. Back in the day doors would open by themselves as I approached. I was that cute!

10) learn to ride a bike -- hubby keeps telling me he would teach me. Twenty six years and still hasn't done so.

11) publish my non-fiction Bible study via Lulu. I'll still give the free download on my site but I'd like to see it as a book today.

12) Get and accept a ghostwriting job from my friend's agent. That would mean so much committment. But hey, the right job and the right client would be a trip. And hey, getting anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000 for a six month writing job is pretty swift.

Anyone else?


Monday, December 17, 2007


So much of the writing craft is about balance, how much to tell the reader. There are many aspects of this balance: how many hints, how deep the info--too much and you give away the surprise, or you kill your suspense. I have been struggling with this very issue in the sequel to Seaborn, but I'm thinking of another aspect of balance.

How much do you write for the present, an audience of today but not tomorrow? How much history, cultural depth do you--or should you--fill your pages with? It's a question for genre, historic, contemporary, all kinds of lit--even purely made up worlds. Although there are differences with the last because a reader cannot know your world without you. Unlike our world--this world--21st Century Earth--where I can have two characters talking about a tyrant's downfall and have one say, "He'll most likely end up like Hitler."--and leave it at that. I don't need to explain. There are facts a storyteller can assume a reader will know, but it is that assumption that is the balance we have to deal with: can you assume that all audiences will know? Is the best bet to pick your audience and write to their level of understanding--their current level of understanding at this point in time?

3 o'clock this morning, Antisthenes by way of Aristotle got me thinking about this, because Ari assumed his audience would always know certain facts. In the Politics [around 1284a] there's a great line that goes something like, "...it's like the response from the lions in the parable of Antisthenes when the hares came before the assembly demanding equality." That's it. Aristotle didn't think it necessary to include the lion's response--not when every freakin' kid in the agora knew. But 2400 years later, not every freakin' kid is familiar with Antisthenes' work.

I'm going to spend some thought on this because it's definitely worth keeping in mind when mentioning historic events, cultural references, popular works, Buffy, Harry, Scotty, Freddy, Elmo--will you're readers two millennia away understand you without footnotes? Do they need to? Do all writers write for a certain time, a century, an era, but no more--beyond which they need analysts and historians rooting through the news and Net garbage to find out what the hell you were talking about?

Oh yeah. The lions asked the hares, "Where are your claws and teeth?"


Wednesday, December 12, 2007



You just sold a novel. You may have some short-story sales under your belt, too. Or some articles. You’re about to have a second novel published, and you’re at work on a third. Did you ever think about teaching a “How to….” class?

I have only a Bachelor’s Degree, but because I’ve had a lot of things published, I was able to teach non-credit courses at Leeward Community College in Hawaii. I’m about to do the same in Arizona where I live now.

Most community colleges offer non-credit courses for interested adults. Pick up a catalog from your local college to find out what kinds of non-credit classes they offer. Pay special attention to any section on writing. Memoir writing is fairly popular in my community, but it’s not anything I’m particularly interested in doing or teaching. However, I can teach a class on how to write for children and teens, or how to write a novel, or how to write a short story. I can also teach a class on how to market what you write, although I never guarantee that my students will be published. Heck, I can’t even guarantee that I will get published.

The first thing I do is put together a portfolio with samples of my work. I have photocopied pages from some of my children’s stories and books, articles I’ve sold, and so on. I put each sample in a plastic sleeve and into a binder. I think a professional-looking presentation makes a difference.

I print out a list of my publishing credits to give to the college, but I also have a resume that gives other information, such as where I went to college, what degree I earned, and so on. I already know that the college will probably ask these questions.

Before I call the college to set up an interview appointment, I write up a course outline for each class I want to teach. For example, I plan to teach a class on how to market what you write. So I’m going to include everything from manuscript preparation to query and cover letters to submission packets to how one finds publishers to what records need to be kept, and so on.

As I prepare the outline, I try to come up with exercises, too. For instance, for the class on marketing, I’ll have my students write a story synopsis, a query letter, and probably a cover letter, among other things.

Writing the outline helps me figure out what handouts I may need. Handouts might include sample query letters, or a manuscript that shows and tells the students how to correctly format a manuscript! The college where I’ll be teaching this summer has a policy regarding handouts. They don’t want to photocopy too many, so I need to be judicious.

As for textbooks, the non-credit program may frown on that extra expense. They may feel the students have to pay enough in tuition. That’s something you’ll need to find out at your initial interview.

Writing the outline also helps me figure out how long the course needs to be. I try to give myself enough time to teach each part of the course thoroughly, and time to answer all the questions that arise.

So that’s it. Once I have the course outlined, have my portfolio up to date, know what handouts I’ll need, and can at least make an educated guess about how long it’s going to take to teach the class, I’m ready to approach the college.

One nice thing about non-credit classes – the students are motivated adults. You won’t have to grade them or put anyone into time-out. You will get to share your experience and expertise and help others down the road to – hopefully – publication! And that’s a very satisfying feeling.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The visual side of writing

Gail's post a few days back got me thinking about motivation and writing...and drawing.

I'm a visual sort of person--maybe we all are. In writing, I always "see" what's happening to my characters, I picture scenes, see the tension in the room through the posture, the space between two characters, the expressions on their faces. I see characters in action and I write what I see. Pretty much the way it works for me.

I have sketched scenes and characters for years, and it helps me in several ways:

Drawing scenes helps anchor the future plot, keeps the plot from straying. Drawing also helps keep the characters fresh. Characters grow during the story. They're rarely--or perhaps shouldn't be--unchanged when you reach the final chapter. An early character sketch can show characters smiling, untroubled by all the bad stuff your plot's going to hand them a moment later. It's good--it works for me anyway--to have character studies at key points in the story.

I also use character studies to keep them fresh in my mind. There's the old writing rule: don't go back and read or edit everything you write. Move forward or you may stall and never complete the book. For the most part I do write forward, but I do look back--mainly for motivation. I go back and re-read my work. A lot. I may read the first 3, 5, 10 chapters a hundred times before I've completed the book's first pass. When those chapters become unbearably dull through over-reading, I usually move on to the middle of the book. And this is where those early character studies help me. They're the inspiration to keep going without having to re-read anything. I don't have to read anything to get a fresh picture of the characters and how far they've come. I just browse the sketches.

I've been drawing and painting for years. I have no formal training. It's mainly just me goofing with a pencil or pen or brush. For a novel, I'll typically draw or paint fifty or sixty pieces, some not much more than quick character outlines in pen or pencil. Others just seem to require more effort, and need to be completed. Here's an example. Click the pic to see the detail view.

Posedonis_by_the0phrastusAt last year's Boskone (Great F&SF convention in Boston every year), Wen Spencer led a room full of us through her sketches--which weren't much more than stick figures--but she didn't need more to show us swords swinging, blood flowing, characters falling, parrying desperately, biting, going in for the kill. With a few pages, she choreographed an entire fight scene. I thought this was brilliant, and reinforced my own views about all the good things a writer can get out of drawing.

It really works for me. What about you? Do you have good (or bad) experiences drawing your characters or scenes? Do you find them helpful?

Here's a quick sketch from a chapter at the end of my current work. It's sloppy, but that doesn't matter. I treat sketches like this as visual counterparts to the stuff in my writing journal. I write notes on them, names, what's going on, where the scene's taking place. It helps keep the scene in mind--even seven chapters away, because it's that scene--that sketch--that's leading me. In this form, the sketch is like a map. It shows me where I need to go.

Click the pic to see the detail view.



Friday, December 7, 2007

Waiting to hear

Well, I've been working on short stories. Very hard to work on short stories when one is in novel mode but hey, I've got to get my 2 stories into an antho --any antho-- and the year's end is fast approaching. So am waiting to hear from some anthologies. So, please to enjoy...(at least the first couple of chapters) of my latest stories. The first is about a sistah fending off a demon:

HOUSEWARMING (with apologies to Dorothy Parker)
Of all the annoyances! And I’d have to notice him now, with a house full of guests. But of course, that’s the way they are! Hiding themselves away then bingo! This one must’ve hidden out in the attic as the real estate agent showed us around. Figured I wouldn’t go up there, and he was right. But if he thinks I’m a sucker or one who’s going to pity his plight or be afraid of him, he’s got another thing coming. Darn it! If it’s impromptu exorcism he wants, it’s impromptu exorcism he’ll get.
I can not believe it: this fool’s actually hanging around my dinner table like he was invited. This kinda thing just pisses a sistah off. Shouldn’t he have moved on to his eternal home, the invisible realm, the choir celestial? No! He’s got to hang here for.... how long has this dude been dead? Him and his see-through ectoplasmic self!

The second is called, SO FAR, and is about a parchment which tells the reader about his life and challenges him to repair an evil he's done.

In the mind of the universe, the events in this story occurred thousands of years ago. Even so, all the events have yet to happen because you are the chief player, and although you are free to do what you will, your actions are already foretold. Yes, I am speaking to you.
One day, as you – Destiny knows your name, therefore I will not speak it– walk through a marketplace (I will not tell you which), you will begin singing The Song of the Yellow River. You will sing this because you will have just completed a cruel deed and your mind and your body will need rest and the Song of The Yellow River has always soothed your mind ever since childhood.
The song will not be powerful enough to soothe your mind, however, because the crime you will have committed will be so great that your conscience will not be able to endure the memory of it. To further hide your mind from yourself, you will search among the vendors of the market place, looking for sweet, fermented, and spicy dainties, anything to excite your flesh and numb your soul.

I tend to write in different narrative styles, POV's, etc. Simply because whenever I write in third person past tense the story feels too distant to me. Anyways, hope you enjoy. And have a great weekend

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Finding One's Way

I'm not the sort of writer who sits down at the desk/table with the germ of an idea and just wings her way through to the end. Not a "flier into the mist." I have to have a roadmap, I do.

But then, neither can I plot out exactly what scene goes into what chapter, or work out the back story of everyone in the town where my story takes place. I tend to figure out only as much as I have to know to get the job done--and much of the time I don't figure it out until I reach the point where I need it.

In other words, I have to work out the Big Picture before I can really get started with writing, but the Details come later. For instance, when I started writing The Eternal Rose, I knew that the Daryathi were taking Adarans (My heroine is Adaran) as slaves. But I didn't have a clue as to why. Not until the family paid a visit to Obed's cousin. Then it all came clear.

The story I'm currently working on--a romantic science fiction--or maybe a science-fiction romance--is going really slow because I keep having to stop and figure out all the details.
I did work on my world-building before I got started, but even if you know a lot of the whys and wherefores and most of the whats, the little things can still stump you. And sometimes, once you know all that stuff, you still have to figure out the HOW. My hero, a court-savvy, cynical, empire's-capital tough-guy, has to go to the frontier, where he's never been, to investigate troubles in the family business. And I keep thinking of ways he could do it better, and going back to fix it.

Lots of writers say that one should just keep driving for the finish, forget about editing and going back to fix--and for the most part, I do that. I certainly don't go back to polish. And I stick--mostly--to my outline. And I rarely go back more than a few paragraphs. A page at most. But if I decide my hero ought to go to the outer sectors disguised as a dandified bureaucrat with dyed-pink hair instead of wearing a scruffy spaceport tough, that's something I need to fix right away, or it will throw me off my stride. I'd rather fix it as I go than write multiple drafts. I hate multiple drafts. (I say that now, anyway. Watch. I'll probably have to write six drafts of this one poor story...I think I've written as many as two for one story, ever. I frequently have to go back and strip out a subplot, or explain things in my main plot, which means I go over the story a number of times, but they're not really new drafts...)

Anyway, I keep thinking this story is really giving me trouble--except I'm a page over my usual goals two days this week. Not bad...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Committing to the story and not to the words

I'm currently trying to repair a story, The Gleaners, that's been in my computer for the past four years. I've asked my fellow Juno author, Janet Lorimer, the author of Master of Shadows, to help me whip this thing into shape. Cause the woman's an absolute expert on children's books.

Well, she told me a lot: basics I already knew, the basics I had forgotten, and a whole ton of stuff I hadn't known or imagined. So equipped with all this new knowledge, hopefully, I'll buckle down and get this thing done.

We writers, especially those of us who love poetry, or who came to literature by way of oral storytelling, often have a battle with the words in our stories. Words are a tool. They are meant to serve us and not to lead us around by the nose, and yet sometimes they take total control. I've found that Inspiration is often more about information than about the way the story is told. The muse often spills out story information in whatever voice it feels best. Then it's up to moi to consciously arrange the information. In addition, if my Voice has been affected by certain kinds of storytelling, then in the editing, I have to be very aware of the bad habits I've picked up.

The STORY needs to be told. The thing is to separate the story from its styling. The story can NOT be changed but the words can always be changed to suit the purposes of the story: theme, clarity, chronological order.

I battled that problem with Wind Follower. The King James Version of the Bible was always in my ear. Whether I wanted it to be or not, it kept leading my words around. What resulted was stilted writing. I had to wrestle those lovely poetic words to the ground and tell them that the story was the main thing, the story was the king, and they themselves were nothing but servants to the king. In addition, to knock the KJV stylings out of my mind, I read Native American rhetoric, slave narratives, and Chinese classical poetry (not in the original Chinese) and that helped a lot.

So how do I fix this problem with The Gleaners? I guess I have to put myself in a cold editorial mode. I've got to ask myself: "Woman, you want this story published or not? Do you want this thing hanging around your computer for another four years?"

Then, career questions aside, I've got to ask the story: "If I was telling this story in another style how would I write it? Could I describe this exact scene using different words?" That'll be tough, because already I hear myself saying: "But there is no other way to describe this. I feel the power of the words, I feel the joy of my story when I read this section." Note to self: Puhleze!!!!

So, Gleaners, prepare yourself: I'm about to whip you into shape.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sell out? Ambassadorial? My People? The Other?

Please excuse me for the post of this title. I just couldn't come up with an appropriate subject line.

By some weird confluence of cosmic racial thought floating through the ether, I found myself looking at three different takes on the same subject:

First Nnedi, author of Zahrah the Windseeker, asks if she is a sell-out.

Then Alan Schrager writes a post on AllAboutrace.com on his surprise that a black musician didn't know who Miles Davis is.

And I had posted a comment on aaopinion.blogspot.com in which I listed some multicultural writers. I wrote the list because when I went to the book-signing I was asked about other black writers -- as if I was a font of knowledge. So I decided to make a list to carry with me at different readings. I figure I'll also make a list of Christian writers also. One never knows.

Now, this leads to my point. The typical American writer is usually white and if religious, his/her religion doesn't show up blatantly in his/her book. Not to say the typical American writer isn't religious, just that they don't put a LOVE of GOD into all of their books.

So then, what are we atypicals to do? The typical writer doesn't really have to wonder what the OTHER thinks because he/she is not writing to the other. Oh sure, they will try not to create stereotypical characters but as Cindy Ward and Nisi Shawl, authors of Writing the Other have shown, even then the typicals blunder.

But to the main point: These three posts are asking the same questions: Where does my art belong? Where should it belong? How do I approach my art? Do I owe my readers or myself or the Other anything?

Let's face it, Nnedi's post does cut to the chase: Do people want to read a story about people from another culture? And should we write about folks from another culture?

An aside here: In a nation where supposedly "few" people read, reading can be quite a production. It's not like a rap song which even a country singer might hear and indulge in for 5 minutes. And it's not like a movie --only 2 hours, so we can once in a while peer into the lives of cultures unlike our own. (Okay, okay, most Americans don't really go to foreign movies. Except for maybe a Chinese martial arts film. Some folks even balk at English and Australian movies.)

Now, getting down to the immediate -- me-- I have been thinking about what kind of novel I want to write in the future. Notwithstanding the horrible scary fact that three stories are pushing at my brain, I still have some control about what I put in my novel and about A) how much I want to stand apart from the typical B) how much power I actually have to stand apart. After all, even if I choose to write a book that has no religion in it and that has no black folks in it, will someone actually buy a black book. I won't tell you how many times this kind of conversation goes on in black spec-fic circles and in Christian spec-fic circles.

Lately something happened that made me think. (Never a good thing, trust me.) First I've got to say that I'm a Christian and I like anthropology. To me the search for the true God can be seen in the folklore of all peoples. In Wind Follower, I set up a culture around a Bible verse: "The one wounded in the house of his friends." That created a culture in which hospitality was the highest moral value and betrayal of a friend the lowest.

Lately a story came to me which was trying to be a prequel for Wind Follower. I set out to world-build other culture around another Bible verse and around anthropology. But then, a couple of Christians had a problem with my book. Mostly because of the sex scenes and the violence. In short, I wasn't behaving like ONE OF US, but like ONE OF THEM.

There were other problems too. Stories with how the story was written. Stories about the "culture" in the book. It occurred to me that perhaps there were other issues at play. Christian and specfic and Black! Oh my! That was a stretch of the borderlands that many did not cross. So far, I've met Christians who loved the book and were willing to enter that borderland. I've met non-religious or anti-religious people who also loved the book and didn't mind the religious region they found themselves in. What can I say? I'm pretty ambassadorial? When I write, people from other cultures can identify with the folks they find in my narrative region. Of course, they can only identify if they actually bring themselves to read the thing.

And of course, they can only identify if I don't sell out.
Now I find myself asking, "What do I do? Do I write for the black women I know who only like mainstream stories?" "Do I write for non-Christians and leave the religious stuff aside?" Do I write for those who will read a book populated by no more than two black people? Who are my people? Will they claim me? And what if I sell-out? Who will claim me then?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Juno Authors across the web

Here is a really great spotlight on Sylvia Kelso over at :
Moondancer Drake's Live Journal page

Sylvia's fantasy, THE MOVING WATER (BOOK 2 OF THE RIHANNAR CHRONICLES) - has been shortlisted in the fantasy novel division of the
Aurealis Awards recognising the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers!

The full list is here.

And there's an interview with Carole McDonnell (moi) over at
Fantasy Magazine

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Coming up short

Back in the day -- about two years ago-- I made a vow which I'll call the 2-2-2-2 vow. The upshot of this vow is that EACH year I would always try to end up in 2 fiction anthologies, hook up with 2 printed journal/ezine magazine editors, publish 2 poems in a poetry anthology, and write 2 essays for non-fiction anthologies. Hey, I was a lit major. We valued anthologized stuff. Anyways, here it is... almost 2008 and I haven't finished any short fiction let alone gotten accepted in any anthology. I've come up short.

In my own defense -- I always have something to say in my own defense-- unlike Hemingway who said he wrote his best short stories when he was avoiding his longer novels, I simply cannot truly focus on perfecting a short story when I'm in novel-mode. Either the short story starts becoming a novel, or I just flitter back and forth through all my Works-in-progress or play a computer solitaire game.

So now I'm trying to catch up. And strangely, three Asian-themed stories have popped into my mind. And, yay, one of them is almost finished. It's called So Far and it's written in future tense, second person. It's lovely and I just have to fight my novelistic soul which wants to turn it into a prequel for Wind Follower. ::shaking head here::

Anyway, there I was...all psyched to begin the second short story which wanted to be a monologue and which I decided to name Villager Uncle Li. Yep, my Asian obsession again. (Lord knows when this obsession began. Maybe after I saw the Jet Li movie, Hero.
But I go to my friend's house and her son says to me, "Ever heard of
Herman Li? He's great! As good as Buckethead." So of course, being a gal who listens to music in order to write, I end up spending my thanksgiving listening to Herman Li who, amazingly looks like how I pictured my main character Loic in Wind Follower. I also loved the coincidence and synchronity. The upshot of all this is that I actually felt as if God was urging me to finish my stories. The short ones about gorgeous Asian guys anyway.

Which gets me thinking. How am I gonna pay back all those artists -- visual or musical-- who have inspired me?
Folks like Dwight Yoakam, Jackson Browne,and
Axl Rose.

Yes, yes...although so much of my writing comes from some erotic part in my mind, there are some women aritst out there I actually listen to when I write. I just can't think of them right now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sylvia and her other great hobby

Over the past few months, I've gotten to know Sylvia Kelso, a fellow Juno Author and the author of Amberlight. At first glance, it would seem as if we have very little in common. The main commonality seems to be that both our books are so odd and hard-to-describe. Wind Follower is folkloric fantasy with a Christian multicultural twist and Amberlight is operatic literary feminist fantasy about a matriarchal society. She's in the Australia outback and I'm in an upstate New York suburban hood. I'm black and she's white. (Not that that should matter.) Anyways, we've been emailing back and forth.

We've discovered that we have a whole lotta stuff in common. For instance, we both are avid music lovers and we both play the violin. Okay, I USED to play the violin. That's Sylvia in the middle.

My computer is becoming filled up with photos of Ms Sylvia busking and arvoing and doing all kinds of folkie stuff in cafes, street festivals etc. The woman also fiddles around (::smile::) with moviemaker software. So, for your viewing pleasure.

And, by the way, please check out Amberlight! It's a great book. Poetic, powerful, literary, grand and operatic.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Born to be adored: my first wind follower booksigning

Well, I just returned from my first book signing for Wind Follower. It was a "Calling all authors" thingey to celebrate the anniversary of the local Barnes and Noble.

Anyways, I learned a lot from this experience so here goes.

First thing I learned: Do NOT eat mackerel and coconut before a book signing. I don’t know what possessed me but I just had to make the stuff. (It’s called run-down, by the way and it’s a Jamaican delicacy.) One spends the entire time asking one’s sitting mate: Do I smell fishy? (And of course the honest ones alsways say, “yes, you do.” So I was constantly going to the bathroom to wash my hands.)

Second thing I learned: Do NOT trust your older son to bring the car up in time. Just don’t. All night partying etc just doesn’t give way to mom-trying-to-be famous. I had to take a cab to the signing. That kid owes me.

I enter and Nick Olivieri, the CRM who is coordinating the event, is busy moving things and arranging things. The guy is good, let me tell you. Props!

Well, I noticed – cause well I noticed– that the writer I was sitting beside had her amazon reviews all printed out in front of her. Immediately, I tapped Nick. (I got really good at tapping and nagging the poor guy but he was a sport.) Could he go online and go to my website for my reviews? Ten minutes later, he returns with printed copies of my online reviews.

Next thing that happens, a big vase of roses arrives for yours truly. My friends, Mike and Lisa had sent it. They are responsible for feeding the folks at a local army base around here. I was so happy and just felt super-loved. Hey, nobody else had a dozen roses in front of them.

These things go on forever and if the CRM is an easygoing guy he’ll give everyone two or three chances at the apple. The first time I went up I was wonderful the second time I was flustered. This leads to two bits of education.

Third thing I learned: Have two or more ways of presenting the book. I ended up going up three times. First time was amazing. A real high. Then a second woman went and she read from her book. I realized I hadn't read. So at the end of the first round I got up and said to the people: "Oops, forgot to read!" So I read one of my favorite chapters (not the prologue, which is mighty powerful.) Then on the second round, I spoke again and got nervous cause I had already said what I had to say the first go round. And, after shouting out to the store: "I hope no one here has any torture issues" I read the prologue.

Fourth thing I learned: When you’re nervous don’t tell everyone. Two of the other writers told me they didn’t know I was nervous until I said.

Fifth: Bring business cards, postcards, bookmarks. Okay, okay, I should’ve known this one.

Sixth thing: Create a mailing list made up of names culled from people you met at your last store visit. This co-writing team had tons of visitors. Maybe it was cause they were writing a childcare book for parents, who knows? But while the other eight writers were sitting around looking forlorn, these guys seemed to sell a lot of books. Strangely, though, this leads to

the seventh thing I learned: bond with the other authors. The two aforementioned writers ticked the rest of us off. Not because they had all those fans but because they kept to themselves before and after the event and basically acted as if they were the hottest thing since slice bread. At the end when all the writers were exchanging business cards (see above) and news of future events no one approached these superior biddies who were obviously so convinced they were big fish among unimportant small fry. One of the writers I met is in charge of a writers group tour and she's signed me up to go to the Newburgh signing in January.

Eight thing: bring out the microphone early. Enough said.

Ninth thing: Bring a digital camera. Now I have to wait for Nick to send me a couple of photos from his digital camera.

Tenth thing: Bring something to eat. Or bring money to buy something. Better yet: Bring a gopher. These things go on forever sometimes. Note to self: Older son owes you.

Eleventh thing: Don't be too humble. There was a very kind man there with us. His name was Ralph something or other. He is a professor emeritus from New York University and he self-published a book. But he never got up to speak. He kept saying he hated marketing. We chatted a lot. But I don't quite remember his last name. Not good. I don't even remember the name of his book. Interesting, uh?

Twelth thing: Tell the store about other books you were involved in. I totally forgot about the anthologies I was in: Fiction anthologies such as So Long Been Dreaming, edited by Nalo Hopkinson or Fantastical Visions III edited by William Horner or Nobody Passes: essays on gender and identity, edited by Matt/Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein. He's got a great blog over at Nobody passes blogspot Very painful blog, though. So don't go there unless you can deal with sexual pain. Anyway, the thing is I totally forgot that I could have mentioned these other books.

Thirteenth thing: Bring a written list of Juno Authors or other friends' books. The only other Juno Books I saw in the bookstore were Gail Dayton’s The Eternal Rose and Matt Cook’s Blood Magic. I looked for Amberlight by Sylvia Kelso and several others but couldn’t find them. But, of course, I had to depend on my memory for several names. But there's something else about a list. Folks kept asking me stuff as if I was a font of knowledge. Who were good Black crime fiction writers? I thought of my good friend, Robert Fleming. A great writer. Mentioned him, of course, because his name was at the top of my brain. Mentioned Brandon Massey. Cause I remembered his name. But I didn't mention Walter Moseley. Simply forgot he existed. Other folks asked who some great black spec fic writers were: I mentioned Nnedi and Zahrah the Windseeker. Got messed up on how to spell Nnedi's last name. Wasn't sure if her last book was The Shadow Speaker or The Shadow Seeker. Remembered Tobias Buckell's Ragamuffin and Crystal Rain when someone asked about Black Science Fiction writers. Mentioned Tananarive Due, Sheree Thomas, Nalo Hopkinson, Steven Barnes. But for the most part, I was a total blank. So next time I'm gonna have a publicity packet which includes names and titles of black spec fic writers, black crime writers, black christian writers, and Christian writers. Yep, I've got a month and a half until the Newburgh B&N reading so I've got a lot to do.

Anyways, at the end of the presentation, Nick decided he would have an autograph table. So those of us who were eligible for the benefit were asked to sign some of our books. I signed ten. He had ordered 30 and I think we sold five while I was there. The others will be divided and placed in the Fantasy, Romance, and African American sections. I suggested (Okay, so I'm pushy. I'll admit it.) that he turn Wind Follower face forward so black folks walking in the Fantasy section would see that there was a black character on the cover.) Anyway, I am now in four different sections of the bookstore. I almost asked him to put Wind Follower on one of the endcaps but that would've meant another author being removed. I'm pushy but I'm not selfish. So I let that one go.

Other writers at the reading were:

Carolyn Doggett Smith who has self-published nonfictions such as The Absentee American and Strangers at Home. About American children raised in other countries. The book she was selling is called The House of the Faun: A novel of Pompei. The book is available on amazon and at The house of the faun

There was also Drs Albert and Alvin Silbert, educators who have written a book called, When Bad Grades happen to good kids. The book is on amazon. Their website is Strong learning

Norma Lehmeier Hartie, who is the Grand Prize Winner of the 15th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. Her book, Harmonious Environment, competed against 2,404 total entries this year in nine different categories. Harmonious Environment was also a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s Home & Garden category and a finalist in the Nautilus book awards. Her blogsite is harmoniousenvironment blogspot

Tony Higgins, A Jamaican Welshman now living in NY whose book True Believer: a violent tale of love, Greed, and betrayal is about a cop who finds himself in a governmental conspiracy.

My friends, Dan (also my webmaster), my friend, Margaret, and Christine (who dressed me and photoed me on the book jacket) and my husband's boss, Craig Yoe .

All in all it was fun. And may I say, I was born to be adored. Yep, I’m a ham who just eats up attention. And honestly, I am so lovable... and I have a weird kind of fun-loving quality that is downright catching. So, yeah, I had to tone down all this wonderful personality to let others shine. This kind of thing can become addictive, though. -C

Friday, November 16, 2007

Intros, Second Printings and Stuff

So, this is my introductory posting to the Juno authors' blog. Hi! (waving madly at everyone) My name is Gail, and I'm a bookaholic.

Oh, wait. This isn't a support group meeting--well, except in a nominal way. And honestly, I don't really want to be cured of my addiction. Even the fella has learned to put up with it, though he does get a bit exasperated when I'm reading while (sorta) watching television and I have to keep asking him what just happened. Or when he's talking to me mid-book, and I miss half (or more) of what he said. I love stories so much, I started making them up at an early age, and eventually got round to writing them down.

Anyway, I've been meaning to stop by here and post something for a while now, just hadn't got round to it, (my picture is also under the definition of 'procrastinate' in the dictionary) until our lovely Juno editor shared a bit of news with me this week that I really wanted to share with the rest of you. The Eternal Rose, by Gail Dayton, (that's me) has gone back for a second printing.

This means there will be lots and lots of books out there for y'all to pick up and read. Nobody has to go away hungry. :) Yes, Eternal Rose is the final book in a trilogy, but I think you can read it and enjoy it without having read the first two. Of course, if you read the first two books, it will give the third greater depth, but...

The book has magic, and gladiatorial-style trials-by-combat, and sex, and vengeance, and demons, and all kinds of fun stuff.

It's been a long and bumpy road to reach this point, and I am truly happy Juno has given me the chance to publish this book with them.

I'm going to work really hard to get back here and post at least once a month. If y'all want to drop by, I have a personal blog at Dreaming in Daylight where I post at least weekly--sometimes more often, if I'm feeling industrious (and not lost in too many books--the less I read, the more I do stuff like post blogs). I write about my walks on the beach, and the events I get to attend with the fella and sometimes I write about the writing. It's hard for me to write very much about that, because it's almost like--if I talk too much about it, all the fairy dust will get away and it will lose its magic. And that's what storytelling is to me--capturing the magic and getting it down on paper.

Speaking of which, I'd better get busy. I have revisions on my shaman-warrior princess story to put into the computer, and world building notes to type in for an SF story about psychic gene-altered people in space. I have them written out, but I want to put them in the computer so I have a couple of back-ups.

Y'all take care. And if you haven't read The Eternal Rose, why not?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A poem


There've been some delays, but at latest word The Sarsen Witch should be out in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, Carole's two poems have motivated me to post one of my own. "Avebury", written some years ago, was inspired by a visit to the megalithic sites in Wiltshire.

Ravaged giants rooted in primordial chalk
sleep now in this mild September light.
Where sheep crop the long grass among the stones
old gods, unvanquished, linger at the edge of sight.

What grand conceits our mutable histories have built
around these interrupted symmetries:
Druid temples, sepulchres, and altars
to esoteric Roman deities

like Terminus, the motionless god;
celestial observatories,
linchpins in the cosmic axle-tree,
the pivot-stones
around which the moon and stars and planets spin.

But look slantwise, at sundown,
and the stones are inhabited by familiar ghosts:
priestesses, shamans, warriors,
sentries vigilant at their posts

and dancers frozen in the first measures
of some vast pavane,
their obdurate, ungainly shapes
poised in timeless equilibrium.

Gnarled and twisted by eternities
of wind and weather
two stones like gossiping old women
lean their gaunt heads together,
their sly whispered commentaries lost
in the restless murmuring of the long grass.

In Love Again

Well it's happened. I've fallen in love with Danny, my main character of my WIP, Inheritance.

I'm listening to:
Nancy Wilson's How Glad I am,
The Vogues' You're the One,
and Dwight Yoakam's The Heart That You Own
Yep, I've got it bad.

His name's Danny. He's real cute. Actually, no. He's not as cute as all that. I describe him as having a pleasant-but-non-descript face. I read somewhere that the face of a main character shouldn't be described too much. Something about reader identification and reader wishes and reader libido. Whoever said that -- sorry I forgot-- probably gave far better reasons than I could probably think of, but I think his/her assessment is pretty right on. Beauty and individual tastes vary so much. In my case, although my other WIP contains two absolutely beautiful men, I honestly like guys with pleasant non-descript faces.

Anyways, my past crushes aside, I'm glad this crush is kinda taking me over. I'm more likely to finish the novel that way. Of course hubby will have to live with this crush of mine.

I don't know how it is for other women writers but I become absolutely hard to live with whenever I fall in love with a main character. My hubby, Luke, was safe when I was writing Wind Follower because Loic (WF's main character) was based on my sweet teenage son...a kid I wanted to strangle every minute of the day. But Danny... Ah, Danny! He'll be a problem for the beloved husband.

Unfortunately, in creating a perfect male character for my female character I ALWAYS think about the guy's perfect sense of humor, his perfect body --yeah, Danny has a wonderful body-- his insightful understanding of the heroine. Dangerous thoughts all. Then the next thing I know: I'm falling in love with some guy literally created for a female character. And I begin whining and complaining at hubby and telling him all his flaws.

Mercifully, I am somewhat morbidly introspective. I can never quite delude myself into thinking that my nagging is part of the creative process. I get all guilt-ridden and upset with myself ...and yet, the crush remains. Prayers, emails from writer friends, long weepy phone conversations with friends about "what exactly constitutes a true love" --All of no avail. The crush --masturbatory and insane and narcissistic as it is-- tends to continue until I finish the story. Then miraculously, the love spell breaks.

That's when --I swear! This ALWAYS happens-- I realize the created character actually reminds me of my hubby. I say to him, "Sweetie, you're my true love!"

So, whether I know it or not. After Inheritance is accepted by a publisher and on book shelves, I'm going to realize in a blinding flash of spiritual light, that Danny has been living with me all along, that unreal imagined Danny is really the living-breathing Luke lying at night beside me in bed. And how wonderful that will be!

In the meantime, here are the latest Wind Follower doings:
A review at:

A post on Mirathon's blog

An interview in Fantasy Magazine

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The First Person Point of View

I have a short article titled "The First Person Point of View" in this month's issue of Vision - A Resource for Writers. This is the start of a series of lessons and experiences as I try to teach my kids to write fiction. Check out this one. Stay tuned for more.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Don't Throw Anything Away

“Don’t throw anything away.”

That was the best advice I took away with me from my very first writer’s convention. The speaker was a seasoned writer who shared a bad experience with his audience. Years before he’d written something – an article, a short story, something he hadn’t been able to sell, and he’d thrown it away, only to discover at a later date that he had a market for it. But…too late!

I was a raw beginner without enough written, let alone publishable, to throw away. But I took his words to heart, and I’ve never stopped being grateful for them.

Segue forward a few years. At that point I had sold a few children’s stories. I’d just written another story I thought was a lot of fun. I began my marketing efforts with one of the best paying magazines – Highlights for Children, a market to which I’d sold four children’s stories. (Another good piece of advice I’d picked up at a convention – always start at the top with the best paying markets and work your way down. You can always go down, but you can’t go up!) Highlights rejected my story as did every other children’s magazine I tried. Feeling thoroughly trounced I relegated the story to a drawer in my desk.

Time went by, but I couldn’t forget that little story in the drawer. I pulled it out, reread it, and decided maybe I should try telling the story from another point of view. I rewrote the story, and began my marketing efforts again. Still no luck. After a series of rejection slips, back in the drawer went the story.

More time went by. Now I had sold a couple of children’s books to Scholastic. One day I received a call from my agent at that time. Scholastic was looking for early chapter books. Did I have a manuscript that might work?

As soon as she told me what constituted an early chapter book, I said yes. (Here’s another good piece of advice I picked up from another writer: Say yes and worry about the details later. As in, “Can you write the Great American Novel?” Oh, absolutely, and pardon me while I go off somewhere and have a quiet panic attack.)

To be honest, I was thinking about that little children’s story that was probably less than 1000 words long. Somehow I needed to make it about 12,000 words, but I knew that I had a solid plot. I had a cute twist at the end, too, and with more characters and maybe a secondary plot to thread through the story….

Well, it got written and sent off to Scholastic. They loved it and bought it, and paid me a lot more than a magazine would pay for a short story.

“Don’t throw anything away.”

The first article I ever had published was paid for in copies. It was entitled “How To Make Breakfast Your Favorite Meal.” Years later, I came across a market –
Bestways Magazine – looking for food related articles. I dusted off the breakfast article, tweaked it here and there, and sent it to Bestways. They bought it and published it. A few years later, I rewrote about 25% of the article and sold it again – to a different market.

Don’t throw…. Well, you get my drift. As for Master of Shadows, the novel that Juno Books just published, I wrote it 15 years ago and couldn’t sell it because it wasn’t a standard romance. It went into a drawer, only to be pulled out about three years ago when I thought I had a possible new market. Unfortunately, although the editor loved it, the company went bankrupt before the book was published.

When I read Juno’s guidelines for their paranormal romances, I really had to argue with myself that sending them Master of Shadows would be a good thing. And when Paula e-mailed me to say that she liked what she’d read and wanted to buy the book, I almost fell off my chair. I remember staring at the monitor and pinching myself.

And maybe that’s why I have a big cupboard in my office with a lot of dusty boxes in it. You can guess what’s in those boxes and in the file cabinets. Because you just never know! And so I never throw anything – at least anything in my office – away!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Me and my daughter at World Fantasy 2007

Wfcmeandchloe I'm totally wiped out, coming down with a cold. I slept horribly the whole time we were out there, and dragged through the days like a zombie. I did get some great pics though, which shows that even zombies can handle today's tech with little or no brain activity.

Click the pics to see them larger.

Before I get started: Alice, you made all this happen! We wouldn't have made it to Saratoga Springs without your perseverance, patience, low-sleep driving skills, scrupulous tile-bleaching, and tolerance of my bad behavior. Thank you.

World Fantasy 2007 was simply amazing. I didn't know what to expect. This is a professional and "serious reader" conference with editors and agents and authors running around, lunching, doing business in the halls. I hardly saw Paula Guran, had a five minute chat with her and Matt Cook (Blood Magic), and then she was gone, off presumably doing the things editors do at these kinds of get togethers. When I did see her later, she looked too busy to stop and talk.

I took my daughter Chloe along with me on this one, and we had a good time tracking down her favorite authors, Scott Westerfeld, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Garth Nix, (some of mine, too), and getting them to sign books--which all were happy to do.

We sat in on quite a few panels, but I think these were the best:

  • How a Book Cover is Chosen. Irene Gallo, Jacob Weisman, Tom Kidd, Lou Anders, John Picacio.
  • The Best Fantasy Worlds. Kathleen Woodbury, Delia Sherman, Joel Champetier, Charlaine Harris
  • Ghosts and Revenants Down Under. Garth Nix, Jack Dann, Robert Hood, Kaaron Warren, Deborah Biancotti

  • Reading: Young Adult Writers group reading. Holly Black, Cassie Clare, Sarah Beth Durst, Tiffany Trent.

I'll stop here to point out that Delia Sherman is amazing, and Charlaine Harris is hilarious, but even Charlaine couldn't compete with the Aussies.

The Australian authors were the funniest group there, ranging all over the fantastic map with Australian themes for stories, poisonous insects and snakes, isolation as a fundamental influencer in Australian lit, and they even broke out in song with Garth Nix leading several lines of Waltzing Mathilda.

We hit the autograph session late Friday and got a few more pics. I met Maria Lima, and Chloe scouted out the authors she wanted sigs from.

Wfcfantasyworldspanel Wfcbookcover

Fantasy Worlds, Book Covers

Wfcaussies Wfcyareadinghollyblack

Australian authors, YA Reading

Wfcmainarea Wfcloismcmasterbujold

The main reception area / me and Lois McMaster Bujold in front of the Prime Books table. (Wow!)

Wfcjimfrenkelcraigsgardner Sarahbethdurst

Jim Frenkel of Tor and Craig Shaw Gardner / Chloe with Sarah Beth Durst

Wfcbrucecoville Wfctamorapierce

Chloe getting (another) autograph from Bruce Coville, and then from Tamora Pierce.

Wfchollyblackchloe Wfccassieclare

Chloe with Holly Black, and a little later getting Cassandra Clare's autograph.

Wfcscottwesterfeld Wfcgarthnix

Chloe and Scott Westerfeld, and Garth Nix signing Sabriel for Chloe.

I am going to do my best to get to World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary. Hope to see you there.

Two Poems

Well, I'm working on my WIP, Inheritance and decided to drop the paranormal (kinda) altogether. ::rolls eyes:: There go some nano-numbers. Anyway, I want a gently magically realistic interracial love story. Yep, am aiming for gentle and sweet. ::smile:: Now, for those of you who didn't know I was a poet, here are two poems:

POEM #1: SNOW WHITE (This is one of a series of poems all based around fairy tale characters)

I do not like the name: Snow White.
No one could be that pure.
But, accepting it, let us move on.
Such purity,
existing in a world as political as a castle,
could be daunting, unnerving.
And for a beautiful queen,
learned in intrigue,
reared in flattery,
such purity would not only be daunting,
but also an affront.

I am thinking of a girl I met in college,
an idealist at twenty,
who wrote untouched,
unbroken songs,
about white unicorns.

This girl was hard to stomach.
And not that I spent hours
in front of mirrors--
but simply looking into the mirror of her songs
showed how diminished,
broken and unwhole
my songs were.

This is not to say
I side with the queen.
Only that I understand.


I fear my mother will,
upon her death, become omnipresent;
all-knowing, all-powerful.
I shall be in my lover's house
safeguarded - I think-
from the eyes of my husband.
I shall be about to come
when just at the wrong time
in that pervasive darkness,
my mother's invisible right hand
will make itself known.
And a voice - hers: I will recognize it-
will demand
that I rise up and go home.
She will pull the blanket protectively,
over my naked breasts
And I,
embarrassed, and mother-beaten,
will retrieve my clothes from the floor
and go home.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A web site for Seaborn

Saltwaterwitchcom I've just started goofing with a web site (a page or two really) for my novel Seaborn. It won't be in stores for months, but I figure I can't be too early for some things. Got to start building a presence and momentum now. As far as domain names, Seaborn.com was taken, but I've picked up SeabornBook.com, SeabornOnline.com, NineCities.com, and SaltwaterWitch.com, and I'll probably alias them all to one.

Anyway, I'd love it if you took a look at my first pass and commented here on what you think. If you click the pic on the left, you'll see a screenshot of the site. Click the link below to see the latest--which may or may not have changed:


One of the things I'm particularly interested in knowing is how it appears in different browsers. I'm checking with IE7 and FF2, but I don't have Safari, Opera or others. Let me know how it looks Safari (and iPhone) users!

Seaborn cover art by Tim Lantz

See more of Tim Lantz's work at the gallery page at Juno Books. I absolutely love it. What do you think? See a little bit larger pic on Tim Lantz's dA page: http://archeon.deviantart.com/art/Seaborn-68259916 (I've already ordered prints) or http://stygiandarkness.com/

Or you can click the pic to see it larger.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Wind Follower December Book Tour

Well, Folks, the Wind Follower tour has begun. I feel so blessed. Most new books aren't helped along like this when they enter the world. But to have a blog tour! It just makes my heart leap with joy. I owe these folks mucho.

So far, it's been great. A few bloggers had problem with the sex in the story, some with instances of violence, some with the writing style. Some don't think my Characters are very "good" or they think the ending is depressing. But hey, if we use that criteria Abraham, David and all those Bible heroes are also evil. And the end of the Bible would have to be depressing cause in that also only a remnant of the people of earth are saved. I can only say that Loic's religion is one based on "a faithful acceptance of God's love for him", not on how "good" or noble or well-behaved he is. As for my character Satha being unladylike, I can only say that when you marry into a culture different than you own, you incorporate the extreme aspects of those cultures. Someone who converts to one religion from another is often more religious than those born into it. As for the sex scenes, honestly, there is nothing even vaguely lustful about the sex scenes in Wind Follower. The various sex scenes show a fearful manipulative teenager trying to get a woman pregnant so she'll stay with him, a rape, sex between two life-wounded people trying to put their shattered lives together, and the Abraham-Hagar sex scene as it probably was.

I celebrate humanity. What can I say?

Anyways, check out the interview at Shades of Romance . There'll be a review sometime during the month on Shades of Romance Blog

The folks involved in the Christian Fiction Review Blog will be posting stuff from Dec 2 - Dec 8. So if something isn't up on their respective sites yet, it will be up later.

Christian Fiction Review Blog
Disturbing The Universe: Reviews And Rants
Queen of Convolution
The Lost Genre Guild
The land of my sojourn

The Writers of Color Blog Tour participants are:
East of Mars
Greg Banks
Rachel Lindley
Moondancer Drake's blog

Other interviews and reviews --from folks not in the tour-- can be found here:

Info on this tour also found at these sites:
Dark parables
Carole Mcdonnell Blog
Fiction beyond the ordinary blog

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I do it in public...

Where do I write? In public.

My local Panera Bread, mainly (that's me: the guy with the 2-day shadow, hunting and pecking on a laptop near the window, drinking a large coffee at 7:30 most mornings - pull up a chair and set a spell). I've also "done time" and cranked out the pages in such notable locales as Caribou Coffee, Tim Horton's (curse you, delicious-yet-sugary Tim Bits!!) and humble ol' McDonalds.

I'm not sure why, but the constant ebb and flow of people, the gentle buzz of conversation and the welcoming smiles of the dimpled, shockingly awake counter girls always gets my sluggish creative juices flowing. The deadline I'm under each and every morning (I have to leave for work at 8:45, whether I've written my required 3-6 pages or not) keeps me focused.

I am, in fact, writing this in that selfsame Panera right this moment, in preparation for my departure for the World Fantasy convention in New York. Hope I don't wreck my car this time.

So, allow me to send out a huge shout-out to my "peeps" in the early morning java and bagel biz - yo, Desiree, Tammy and even that scary guy with the hedgehog hair, lazy-crazy eye and soul patch in Tim Horton's - you'll never know how much of you has made it into my books... somewhere.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I write in the attic

Here's my writing space. (Click the pic to see it larger). The attic's finished, with floor and ceiling and windows, and it's my hideaway where I can sit and think and listen to music and write. I did clean up a bit before shooting the old wooden desk. I'm a slob. I almost always write on the computer, longhand in my journal. I also paint here most of the time (watercolors and digital, see my blog for the portfolio). I cleaned, but left some of the junk, trinkets, the heavy concrete book toting toad who guards my library--four big bookcases off to the left of the shot. He's the greenish guy with a book under one arm in the back left, weighs about 80 pounds. I also threw in the SEABORN street sign I just picked up--that isn't normally on the desk. I just haven't hung it up yet. That's my podcasting stuff on the right, mic and mixer. Maps and other junk on the walls. That's about it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Writing, Rejection, Uncertainty, Time

Here are a few things I know about writing and getting published, but only if you catch me in an optimistic mood. (Otherwise, I'll deny ever writing this). I have never felt more certain about the writing path on which I've found myself--never more certain of the steps I am taking. With some careful contemplation, chin scratching, thoughtful "hmmmm" noises, I have broken it into four main points, Writing, Rejection, Uncertainty, and Time (WRUT?)

Here's what I think I know:


That age-old pro writer advice to "keep writing" turns out to be absolutely true. I have been writing fiction since high school in the late '70s. It took me--off and on--thirty-five years to get my first story published. (Yeah, I'm a slow learner). Here's what I think: I stepped over some word or story threshold a while back, around 2003, and I said to myself, "ἐξαίφνης"--exaiphnês--"Suddenly!"--you know, like Platonists seeing the Forms after their intense fifty-year graduate studies. Okay, never mind. Let's keep moving. Somehow I just knew that I had finally written enough to feel right with what I was writing, all that writing over the years paid off, writing isn't the word-brawl it used to be, words flow more freely from my fingertips to the keyboard. Writing isn't easy--and probably won't ever be, but I don’t struggle as much with plotting, sentence structure, dialogue, words. What I write is never right the first time; it just feels closer to right than ever, and I'm a better self-editor than I've ever been. Because I write--write all the time. I completed SEABORN in January and since then, I have written three short stories, completed an 85k word YA fantasy SALTWATER WITCH (going to my agent next week). And I'm over 60k words into THE NEW SIRENS, sequel to SEABORN. NaNoWriMo, it's not just for November anymore.


Get rejected early, get rejected often. Get used to it. It sucks but it's going to happen a lot. I used to keep a folder with all my rejection letters, but gave up after I broke the 100-reject mark. It's nothing personal, and I even think it has more to do with mood and what music the editor's/agent's assistant is listening to at that moment, how high in the stack your manuscript is, how high the stack is, than anything else--especially if you feel that you're over the above writing threshold. That a writer "ought to be" published makes no difference. We all ought to be published. It just doesn't work that way.

I can't remember my first rejection letter, but I know it was a form reject, and it was in 1980. I do remember a rejection a year later from Andrew Offutt, then editing a fantasy anthology called Swords Against Darkness (Charles de Lint's first professional sale was in this anthology). Here's a scan of the letter Mr. Offutt sent me, rejecting my story (I can't remember the title), and here's one of the first posts I made on http://theophrast.us about that early rejection experience. I have great rejection letters from Jennifer Jackson, Rachel Vater, and others, real letters that gave me real hope. Rejection can be good.


Good writing is rejected every day, some small fraction of everything going through the post never makes it to its destination, butterflies are flapping their wings somewhere, causing all kinds of bad shit to happen to your manuscript, your query letter, your chapters--and agents and editors are the busiest people on the planet, and they have moods and attention spans like everyone else. They also have incredible talent for finding talent. We know this because there are successful writers out there--obviously--and some agent found them, some editor took a chance, some publishing house--big NYC firms and small presses--invested in them, wrote up contracts for those authors to sign, cut checks, spent marketing dollars on them, paid artists for cover art, paid type designers and cover designers and copy editors, blogged about the whole thing, went to cons and introduced their authors to other authors and industry insiders. We know this stuff happens. It's just difficult to know how or when it will happen. Uncertainty.
Writing, rejection and uncertainty can all be tied together and developed, handled, manipulated by you the writer to some extent. On the other hand, you can't do anything about time. Don't even attempt it. Time always has the upper hand because it's never ours, but someone else's.


I think it's the only thing you can't do anything about. Everything takes time, and in publishing, double everything. Learn patience--that's from me, the slow learner. I can't tell you how many times I've been writing a letter or about to write a letter--nice ones, mind you, fingers are on the keyboard, passion in my soul...and that's when I get something in the mail or email from the editor or agent, and in every case I've thought "whew!" I'm glad I didn't finish that email. Be lazy when it comes to following up on anything you send to an agent or editor. Wait it out and you will be rewarded.

There's my take on it. There's always another book to write. WRUT. Write on.

The bronze age revisited

While I was writing my fantasy novel The Sarsen Witch, I didn’t think of it as a romance, so much as a prehistoric adventure about the intersection of the Neolithic and Bronze Age worlds, and the building of Stonehenge. In re-reading, though, I realized that the template I’d borrowed, in a setting millennia earlier than the Arthurian legends or the story of Tristan and Iseult, was the archetypal romantic triangle of king, king’s wife, and king’s friend. Ricca, the Wessex warrior chieftain, is a flawed and barbaric Arthur; Gwi, the bronze-smith, his trusted friend; Naeri, the woman they both love; and Daui, the vengeful kinsman who would destroy them all.

Now, after many years, The Sarsen Witch is coming back into print. In the dramatic cover by Tim Lantz, Naeri appears as she does in the first pages of the book – “chapped lips, windburned face, lean hard-muscled body … a creature spare and strong and hardy as the gorse”.

On a trip to England in 1990 I traveled through Wiltshire, retracing the path of Naeri’s adventures in the megalithic world of Avebury and Stonehenge. You can find some of my experiences on that trip in the archives at http://eileen-kernaghan.blogspot.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

Ah, lucky Carole, to have her novel out and be working on her next book! I, on the other hand, am still neck-deep in line editing as I fix a few loose gears and weak springs in Clockwork Heart.

I need to move quickly on the edit, though, because I'll be participating in National Novel Writing Month over November, and that takes a lot of time. I've been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2002; in fact, Clockwork Heart was my 2004 NaNoWriMo novel!

You can find me under DrDru at the NaNoWriMo site, and here's my personal update page, which describes previous novels I've written for NaNoWriMo. I haven't entered any information about my 2007 novel, yet. I will, I will! Soon. Tonight. I promise. It's going to be Indian-flavored weird fantasy in honor of the trip I'm taking to India in December....

So if you're a novelist or thinking about becoming a novelist, and you're not already signed up for NaNoWriMo, come join the fun! The goal is to write 50,000 words in one month, but there's no prize if you make it and no penalty if you don't. Why not try?

Hope I'll see you there!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wind Follower book trailer

Okay, don't laugh. I've been working on a book trailer for Wind Follower ever since Sylvia Kelso, one of Juno's authors showed me hers. She did a really wonderful trailer for her book, Amberlight. So I'm still learning how to use Windows Movie Maker. Nevertheless I posted it to youtube.

Anyways, Click here to go to youtube to see the Wind Follower trailer.

click here to go to youtube to see Sylvia's trailer for Amberlight

Juno Books

This blog is a team blog written by the authors whose books are published by Juno Books.

Don't know what Juno Books is?

Then pay the site a visit:


Juno Books is a small traditional press which publishes speculative fiction -- fantasy-- with a focus on the female. Strong kickassitude women. Not sidekicks, not the hero's girlfriend, not a victim. A heroine in her own right?

Read about adventurous quests, dark secrets, light humor, deep desires, high imagination, mystery, metaphysics, magic, myth...swept into the past, taken to a timeless otherworld, set in the future, or happening right now. Juno publishes books that go beyond the ordinary and take the reader with them.

If you want to see a sample of some of our writers, please visit