10.27.2009

How to Throw a Soulless High Tea Part 2: Foodstuffs

Alexia Tea
And the Book Launch was without food and snacky-bits and hunger was upon the Author Beast.

So she spoke from on high (i.e. facebook) and qoth she:
Book Launch do I have, and food have I none, and time have I neither. But low, for am I rich in Foodie Friends, and we, we must strive to prove much to those Denizens of New York who descended upon us. (The authors would be happy with dry crackers so long as there is booze, but the agents and publishers . . .)

And so, in the fullness of time, the Foodie Friends did answer. And they did say unto the Author Beast:

For as thy book is likened unto thy progeny, we will look upon this as a baby shower and we will flock unto you. And we shall come, bringing with us such earthly delights as homemade shortbread, and savory scones, and caramelized onion & fig tartlets, and stuffed mushrooms, and tea sandwiches, and Scotch eggs, and cinnamon chocolate truffles, and candied citrus, and bacon wrapped water chestnuts. And yea, for they did say, we art even prepared to attempt that sacred, of sacred, that holiest of holies, the treacle tart.

And the Author Beast did reply unto the Foodie Friends: And It Shall Be Delicious.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
On race and Steampunk.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
All about genre respectability, I find it interesting that they chose authors who are, within the SF/F genre, considered respectable (read: hard core with a literary bent).

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Couldn't resist quoting this whole section because it made me smile. "But now I must get to my favorite character, Lord Akeldama. He's a dandy to be sure, and a rogue vampire due to a mysterious disagreement over waistcoats, but he's so much more. He's a complex little spy who loves Alexia because she makes him feel human. But his spy network is really where it's at. His trusty Drones, led by Biffy. These dandy's are everywhere and hear everything, but at the same time are so stereotypical and a product of their time that they are a part of the scenery. They are perfectly calculated by Akeldama to be his eyes and ears lending him the appearance of omniscience. Also lets not forget they are great little helpers, in every sense of the word. Do to their cackling dandy herd mentality and the name of Drones and knowing that the author is a fan of P.G. Wodehouse, I can't help myself envisioning a whole different take on the Drones Club. This one would be more stylish, with lots more purple silk and more overt Wildean overtones. I would pay to read about that...really I would."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Edits hand done now just taking forever to enter into computer.

Quote of the Day:
"Another novelty is the tea-party, an extraordinary meal in that, being offered to persons that have already dined well, it supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment."
~ Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

10.26.2009

How to Throw a Soulless High Tea Part 1: Inebriatory Beverages

Alexia Ball
So my book launch party occurs next Saturday, Gentle Reader. It's a Victorian High Tea at World Fantasy on Halloween night (you see my reasoning?). Since that is mostly what is occupying my thoughts these days, you get the dubious pleasure of electronically watching the madness.

1. First on the agenda: select staff. In my case this involved calling in the big guns: my proxi Armenian lover (a professional bartender) and a brewmaster of my acquaintance. Doesn't hurt that both of them are very easy on the eyes.
2. Negotiate with said bartender over the acceptability of plastic glasses. No he cannot actually light anything on fire.
3. Come up with a list of drinks - well, you know, aside from tea.
4. Insist on Baileys, Advocate, Sheridan's, and Amaretto - because they are the only things I can think of that taste good in tea.
5. Come up with the following Soulless booze menu:
  • Red Coat - gin + cranberry
  • Silver Bullet - gin + tonic + tripplesec
  • Wooden Stake - rum + orange + cranberry
  • Ivy's Hat - blue c + grenadine + white rum + soda + lime + maraschino cherry
  • Pink Slurp - blood (Blackberry Cordial) & champagne
  • Deadly Parasol - gin + rum + grenadine + cranberry + tiny parasol
Rest briefly on laurels, or should that be, float briefly on fumes?



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
High risk biscuit peril study causes British government to recognize threat inherent in cookies!
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Publisher-Dating Dictionary

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
SF Revu reviews! "Soulless is a wonderful quirky mix of Victorian Era etiquette, steampunk, urban fantasy, mystery, and romance." & "Personally, I loved the voice of this novel."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now back with many edits & freaking me out.

Quote of the Day:
"The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity."
~ Author Unknown

10.22.2009

Guest Blogging, Podcast Interview, & a Halloween Tweetup

Today one of my favorite guest blogs so far has gone live, Gentle Reader, in which I describe to Dani Kollin my experience first seeing my book on a shelf. Here's a sample:
A day or so later I was out shopping with a couple of girlfriends, as you do. We were consuming those Vietnamese beverages with the black tapioca in them, affectionately referred to by me as "Drinks with Stuff!" This process, three shopping females plus drinkies, involves much chittering and slurping and sideways perambulations. And thus engaged, we wandered by a Borders.
"Ooo," says I, "can we go in and see if they have my book?"


Podcast Interview up at Writing Habits. Poor Adam was really dedicated to this interview, he called me all the way from England and was sick at the time. He's an utter doll and I had a lovely time chatting with him, as you can probably tell from the interview. Why are podcasters so cool?

Speaking of which, there's going to be some kind of massive podcaster tweetup get together Thingy the Monday after Halloween weekend here in the South Bay, because both Pip and Tee are in town for World Fantasy plus the resident mess of Dan and Chris, and possibly Sigler and others of fame and standing. I, horrible little fan-girl hanger-on that I am, will be there too, only late after classes. If you are a podcaster or are a listener, you should try to come for the event...
Katie Bloom's Irish Pub in Campbell, CA
Mon, Nov 2, evening (prob 7-7:30ish)



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
More Ivy-esk hats


Your Tisane of Smart:
5000-year-old tombs under study in Malta
Your Writerly Tinctures:
The Turkey City Lexicon

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Waiting for Fairies gives me 4.5 stars. "Soulless is a head-whirling blend of paranormal romance, steampunk, urban fantasy, mystery and adventure. It’s not a vampire story. Or a werewolf story. Or a love story. It’s not a scientific adventure or a murder mystery. It is all these things – while gently poking fun at all of them – and I firmly believe that without all of these elements the story would not work."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now back with many edits & freaking me out.

Quote of the Day:
"When my horse is running good, I don't stop to give him sugar."
~ William Faulkner

10.21.2009

Proofs & Edits & Parties, oh my!

Writing by HandI'm being interviewed today, Gentle Reader, over on Juiciliciouss Reviews mostly about the writing process.

Meanwhile, I am being a good little writer beast and nosing down into the proofs for Book the Second, before jumping into the edits for Book the Third. Everything is due the same weekend as my book launch party at the World Fantasy Convention. I've said it before and I'll say in again, the publishing industry has a fiber issue: everything is either clogged up or due all at once.

And with that charming metaphor, I leave you with your regularly scheduled programming.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Some very Ivy-esk hats


Your Tisane of Smart:
Frieze dated from 5,000 years ago found in Peru
Your Writerly Tinctures:
The future of publishing?

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
I Read Romance really likes it. "Wow! That’s about the only thing I can say about this book is…well, wow."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now back with many edits & freaking me out.

Quote of the Day:
"What is wrong with evil weregoats in the third book. They can't be all that baaaaaaad..."
~ Zombie_Joe (twitter)

10.20.2009

Big Fat Contest Winners & Interview

Interview and review over on Elitist Book Reviews by my friend Nick. He's an adorable putz, who asks some rather off-beat questions. Such as:
In continuing our habit of asking authors to throw humility to the wayside, we would like to invite you cast off the shackles of humility and tell us why you're fantastic.

Sigh. Impossible child.

But I am sure you are here, Gentle Reader, to learn about the 5 contest winners!

Here is what I did, I assigned everyone a number based on their actual entry (as opposed to some other form of comment) once received and filed in my email (comments were auto forwarded) from both blogs (LJ & blogspot) and a few direct email entries. I numbered these sequentially by date, oldest to youngest, then wrote numbers on raffle tickets (because I'm the kind of person that just happens to have these lying around) and pulled five from a hat.

The numbers were: (drum roll please) . . .
  • 2: xd0nn4x
  • 12: goodwinsgal
  • 26: Hope (paper relics)
  • 49: Perla
  • 62: babbleprise

The winners have been contacted via email for the necessary information required for further action. Book 2 ARCs are not yet printed, but they are first on my list for when they come in, don't worry.

Thanks to everyone who participated, I promise there will be more cool contests in future!



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
More steampunky cakes!
Your Tisane of Smart:
Penn archaeologist recreates ancient brews.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
All about the things writers do outside their comfort zones.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
The Book Smugglers have a mixed take.
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now back with many edits & freaking me out.

Quote of the Day:
The spelling of a word: 1386 magyk, 1390 magique, 1490 magyque, 1590 magicke, 1642 magick, 1776 magic

10.19.2009

Guest Blog VampChix

I'm so darn busy, Gentle Reader, for the next few weeks I'm wondering how I will find time for tea! No, seriously.

However, my virtual self has managed to get ahead of myself, as it were. I'm guest blogging at VampChix. Here's a sample:
Vampires are awkward. No really, they are. Let me try to explain what I mean. I'm sure you are all used to thinking of vampires as dark, handsome, swaggering, sexy, mysterious, and sometimes sparkly. But really, in the end, they're kind of the socially challenged of the supernatural world.

Now I'm sure you are all wondering about the contest. I promise I will pull the winner today and post it tomorrow. Check back then!



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Home movie shot at Disney Land in 1956.
Your Tisane of Smart:
A 200,000-Year-Old Cut of Meat
Your Writerly Tinctures:
StoryCorps Podcast 135: Page Turners, two short stories about the power of librarians. Fabulous.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
DearAuthor gives me a B-. Still, not unkind. "The worldbuilding was extremely robust and given in small, telling details as well as broader strokes."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now with third beta.

Quote of the Day:
"It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word."
~ Andrew Jackson

10.16.2009

The Call

Submission Before I tell you the story, Gentle Reader, one last reminder I'm running a contest to win much cool loot. It ends this Sunday.
And now, on to The Call.

I'd written two and a half books in a YA fantasy trilogy and had been trying to sell the first for about six years. There'd been a little traction here and there, mostly from publishers (as opposed to agents), but hope was slim. I'd sold two small education fiction readers to the Australian market in the meantime, the second of which went south in such a way as to make me Very Very Wary of the publishing industry. And a small handful of shorts had found homes in varying markets with varying success.

Essentially, I was still waiting for that Call, but I hadn't any hope. So I gave myself six months to switch gears, write something completely different, and send it out. Told my friends I was breaking the rules, I was writing for the market as I saw it in two years multi-genre including steampunk, and if it worked I'd turn myself from artist to artisan. Soulless was the result. I sent it out as a stand alone in its fourth draft (usually nothing of mine sees the light of day until after draft ten at least) I figured it might as well work for me while I worked on it. I expected to wait. I expected to wait a long, long time.

An editor called me within two months (2!) and left a voicemail on my repulsive little cell phone. Two months Soulless had been floating the black hole before getting scooped out of slush, after ten years of waiting.

I was sitting in my favorite coffee house. They'd seen me through a lot – mostly caffeinated beverages, frustrated silences, and mountains of student essays. They are the kind of coffee house that boasts vegan cupcakes, uncomfortable chairs, and pierced baristas with sour expressions. They knew my name but they always said it as though they were doing me a favor. But after two years in Italy I don't care about attitude if the coffee is good, and by good I mean Italian, none of that French burn-the-beans-into-submission mumbo-jumbo.

My voicemail buzzed at me. My repulsive phone has a will of its own on the subject of whether it will ring, or just send calls to voicemail and notify me a few hours or days later.

I listened. The editor was the senior editor at big house, an sf/f house, a house that published most of my favorite fantasy. The editor called Soulless charming. (This is a word I was to become very familiar with.) I went white as a sheet. I walked out of the back of the coffee house and bounced around. A lot. There might have been squealing but I refuse to admit to it. I took a number of deep breaths. And then I started to panic.

Two months later I had an agent, a negotiation, and a treatment for a second book. It would be over a year before I signed an actual book contract, but that's a whole other story.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
New nail style I love.

Your Tisane of Smart:
Threadbanger has a pretty cool tutorial on how to make your own top hat. In this case, it's intended for a Mad Hatter Halloween costume, but I was thinking it could be adapted easily for steampunk.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
FTC is now telling Amateur Bloggers to disclose that they’ve gotten free review copies or ARCs or face fines.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
On the nightstand review. I don’t really think I’ve ever come across a book quite as quotable as Soulless, and right from the start it had me in a combination of giggles and 'oh, I’m so going to have to remember that line."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now with third beta.

Quote of the Day:
"People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it."
~ Harlan Ellison

10.15.2009

The Series That Changed My Life

This American Life recently had a podcast on The Book That Changed Your Life. I realized that I had one of those, or more properly, a series that changed my life. In my case it was The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce, one of the only series for which I have hard back first editions (which I keep at my Mum's house for safety) and pocket paperbacks (initially to travel around to various academic institutions with me, now just to read). As a general rule I'm not a collector, I don't care about the edition, and I loathe hard back. I was eight when I read the first book and it changed my mentality ~ the very I idea that a young girl could be the central character and really kick some proverbial arse! But that wasn't how it changed my life ~ that came six years later.



Picture a small town girl, 13 people in her eighth grade class, tried everything she could not to go to gangland public high. Luckily, she managed to slide into a private prep school (and while there was a scholarship, we aren't going to talk about what the parentals had to do to afford it, not to mention make the drive every morning). So, there I was in Freshman English class and this adorable sweet-tempered other-worldly young lady and I start gravitating towards each other. However, it wasn't until after class, at lunch, that Tamora Pierce came up in conversation.

Turns out we were both rabid fans. No, really. And then, as you do with books, we started sharing the other ones we really loved, and she told me ones I should read, and I told her ones she should read. And by the end of that lunch, we were rabid friends. And that, as they say, was that.

Going on almost 20 years now, Phran and I have played writer's hopscotch with each other. She got her first short story published in MZB's Sword & Sorceress when we were 15. Took me 3 years to catch up. She dragged me to my first science fiction convention (BayCon '95). Significant others have come and gone, but it's Phran and I who go to book parties together, who make the trek to WorldCon, and who, more often than not, are each others plus one. She's my favorite traveling companion (which is saying a lot for an archaeologist, we travel all the time). She's gone on to work for Locus and I've gone on to write books. Throughout it all, Phran has read my scribbles. In fact, she's reading the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series right now.



Not only that, it was through Phran I met the Iz, who is my most vicious red penner (believe me, I need it) and with whom I have gotten up to more trouble than I care to admit. And through Iz I met Sarah and through Sarah I met Willow and Rachel and . . .

It's these friends who turned up at my reading last Sunday, and these friends who'll be cooking, and cleaning, and decorating for my book launch party. Some people are defined by their family, or their partnership, or their children ~ I'm defined by my friends. I moved back to California because of them. When something wonderful happens, I call them. When I sold Soulless: Phran screamed, Iz said "well, of course," and Willow cried.

And all of it started because of Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet.

So that's how a book changed my life.

Please don't forget my big fat contest this week for lots of cool stuff. (You know that Rachel I mentioned above? She made the pins). Hope you participate.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
Maya calendar app.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
What Do Publishers Bring to the Table when you are a debut author.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
So very perfectly on point, Reflection's Edge totally gets it! Soulless is fluff of the highest order, with the sole mission of being fun. Reading this book will impress no one, but all of your friends will ask to borrow it. It’s a welcome addition to the lighter side of dark fantasy, and one which feels as though it’s been there all along.
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now with third beta.

Quote of the Day:
"The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it."
~ James Bryce

10.14.2009

Reading Soulless at Borderlands


All photos taken by J. Daniel Sawyer.

Recently, Gentle Reader, I had my very first book reading and signing. It was at Borderlands Books in San Francisco. I am no sure how many of you who frequent my blog (you know, all six) are aspiring writers, but this is a journal-sort of endeavor, so I thought I would jot down the nature of the experience to support my own fading memory irregardless of the benefit to posterity. Still, I hope it manages to entertain some and provide necessary information to others.

I was asked to do a reading at Borderlands by email, shortly after they received my ARC, many months ago now. Such a request was quite thrilling to Newly Minted Author Beast, one of those mile markers I'm always prattling on about. I'd heard of the store, one of the last great specialty independents, but I have an abhorrence for driving in San Francisco so never managed to visit. Shortly thereafter, circumstances conspired to get me in to visit the august establishment (despite said abhorrence) not once, but twice: to see Jay Lake and Ken Scholes "write off" and for David J. Williams's reading. After the completion of the latter, I introduced myself to the staff and encountered my first fan girl – yet another mile marker! (I quickly discovered I love fan girls!)

Borderlands is fabulous, a perfect bastion to the SF world, large enough to supply any book you might need, small enough to be intimate. There is the required couch, the required lap cat (although naked and kind of alien-like - even more apropos to a science fiction shop), and the required stacks and stacks of books. Not only that but they are wonderful about supporting the SF/F community with events, and help, and interest.

Gail, are you going to get on to your reading anytime soon?



Right. So, due to the advent of a meeting that morning in the East Bay and the usual combination of unappealing events in The City (AKA Fleet Week) traffic was a nightmare. The Armenian Lovers handled it with aplomb and, it must be said, must greater calmness and presence of mind than I would have, placing us at Borderlands well before the prescribed time.

While the store set up the stadium seating, I chatted with a few early arrivals and arranged the tea. Slowly people filtered in. This is my home ground so, to be fair, at least 80% of the people there were friends or family. My mother had quite the posse, but then, my mother is like that. However, Borderlands is known for weekend events and a small collective was in attendance because it's one of the things they do on the weekend, and a few had come especially to see me, either because they heard of it on twitter or had read the book and liked it enough to follow my blog. This was sooo cool! There were fellow authors in the audience Seanan McGuire whose book Rosemary and Rue has recently come out from DAW (and who once, and I don't think she remembers this, gave me some very sound advice about the publishing industry at a BayCon) and Blake Charlton who has a forthcoming novel, Spellwright, from TOR (and whom my friend and I kidnapped to our room one BayCon because he looked hungry and lost, and fed almond butter and jam sandwiches).

I encouraged people to drink tea, then read a passage from the book (the bit where Alexia and Ivy are walking through Hyde Park after The Incident) and took a few questions. Intelligent questions were asked, some of which I wasn't prepared for. After poodling about the blogosphere doing interviews for the past two weeks I did think I had been asked all the questions there were. Apparently not. This was much fun. Then I signed books, chatted to individuals, met some of the audience members I didn't know, and drank more tea. It was quite delightful. One of my audience members has a recap on the event as well.

Then a group of us wandered across the street to the pub for food and, in my case, a half pint of Guinness. Then we battled post-ballgame meets post-Fleet Week traffic out of the city, me dozing off, and the Louder Half singing softly to himself.

In other news: Orbit blogs about the cover of my second book, Changeless. Spoiler warning for the first book on the second book's blurb.

The obligatory reminder I'm running a contest this week for lots of cool stuff. Hope you participate.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Torchwood's Ianto Jones shrine in Cardiff
Your Tisane of Smart:
Flickr Commons = photos with no copyright restrictions from national libraries.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Should writers blog?

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Getting its first reprint! Fantastic Book Review "I really didn’t know what to expect going into reading this book, but I am thrilled to say that it delivered on all accounts. The plot, characters, and writing has me wanting to dive in and read more of Carriger’s books."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Now with third beta.

Quote of the Day:
"Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto."
~ Ray Bradbury