Friday, September 28, 2012

The Book of Paul Blog Tour

I really wanted to get my review up for The Book of Paul Blog tour on Monday, but here I am, on the last day of the tour. Life, it seems, has been determined to keep me extra-super busy the past few weeks. And so it is that I'm only halfway through The Book of Paul, even though I started in good time and I'm a fast reader, and even though I'm really enjoying the book. But I promised a review, and a review I shall deliver--just keep in mind my comments are only based on the first half of the book (the quality has been pretty consistent throughout, though, and probably won't change too much by the end).

So. The Book of Paul is definitely not a tale for the faint of heart, or the even vaguely squeamish. It's creepy as hell, violent (though in a sort of not-really-blatant way), nasty, and dark. These are not criticisms, just warnings for readers who don't like that sort of thing. Because The Book of Paul is also really well written, and compelling in the morbid fascination sort of way. Reading it makes me feel seriously icky, but I won't be able to stop until I find out how it all turns out.

There are some minor issues that a hyper-critical reader like me will notice. Some of the similes, especially in the early chapters, seem to be trying to hard too be clever. There are a few typos (but mercifully few--I've seen plenty more in recent titles from big publishers), and a few odd sentence constructions. There's a peculiar formatting error where something--it's not consistent enough for me to tell what, exactly--is replaced with "3/4." One chapter has three or four instances, and then then are a few more scattered about. But generally, there was very little to pull me out of the story, and the writing was good--good enough to keep pulling me back in even when I was starting to feel soiled by the very creepy, nasty characters.

I can't say much about the structure of the story, since I'm only halfway through, but so far, so good. I suppose I wish there was a nicer character I could cling to--even the one innocent character has her twisted side--but the fact that I keep wanting to read even without someone to really identify with says a lot about the author's ability with words.

And here's the obligatory text from the tour organizer, Novel Publicity:

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About The Book of Paul: A cross-genre thriller that combines the brooding horror of Silence of the Lambs with the biting humor of Pulp Fiction. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. About the author: Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace. He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. Visit Richard on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Monday, September 10, 2012

She Wulf Blog Tour

You may have noticed I haven't been posting much lately. I'm working on the next Others novel, you see, and it's not coming as easily as the others. So I'm distracted. But I want to get myself back on a regular posting schedule, including lots of reviews, and further installments in my Defining Urban Fantasy series. And what better way to kickstart book reviews than signing up for a blog tour, I thought, with the deadlines and all? So I signed up for not one, but two blog tours via Novel Publicity.

Someday, I will learn to read samples before actually agreeing to review something.

She Wulf Review

The folks at Novel Publicity sent me copies both of She Wulf and of the first book in the series, The Day of First Sun. I had originally intended to review both, but after the first couple of chapters of The Day of First Sun, I realized there was no way I could review it. It is, simply, too obviously a first novel. And not just a first-published novel, but a first-ever-written novel. I probably wouldn't have finished it if I wasn't participating in this blog tour, but I wanted to be completely fair, so I read the whole thing.

She Wulf, I hoped, would be better. It's an urban fantasy (though it feels more like a grown-up version of Harry Potter than one of the girl-heroine-kicking-ass-in-the-city novels usually labeled UF), and it draws heavily on Beowulf. Beowulf is cool, and Sheryl Steines does some gender-swapping to give us a female Beowulf and a female Grendel. So far, so good.

She Wulf is definitely better than The Day of First Sun in nearly every way. The plot is more coherent (possibly owing to the use of Beowulf, but even the non-Beowulf parts seem better constructed). The characters are a little less like cardboard cut-outs, though they still didn't ever seem like real people, and I didn't quite care what happened to them. The writing is better, though there are still a lot of missing commas, ungrammatical constructions, and other things that drive me nuts. To be fair, a lot of the things that drive me nuts are things readers more interested in pure story won't be bothered by.

So yes, it's a marked improvement. But... Yes, there's a "but." I still wouldn't have read more than a chapter or two if it weren't for this blog tour I signed up for. If I made it farther than that, I would definitely have given up when I hit the chapter with the horse, in which every single instance of the word "reins" was spelled "reigns" (yes, it's a word, but it's not the same word).

Maybe I demand more from fiction than other readers. I can ignore flaws in both writing and story if the characters grab me, but I can't forgive everything. But I'll stop there. I don't ever want to be the sort of person who tries to discourage people from writing, or even from self-publishing, and I do hope Sheryl Steines keeps writing and keeps getting better. Maybe someday I'll come back to her work and find I love it. Going by the glowing reviews Ms Steines, books have received on Amazon, it's possible the flaws are in me and not in the book. So my recommendation is this: download the sample first. You'll know by the time you read the first few pages whether or not this is a book for you.

Tour Notes

(The following text was supplied by Novel Publicity and is pasted in exactly as received.)

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the She Wulf eBook edition is just 99 cents this week--and so is the price of its companion, The Day of First Sun. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of She Wulf for just 99 cents
  2. Purchase your copy of Day of First Sun for just 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  4. Visit today’s featured social media event
About She Wulf: Annie is sent through an ancient time portal with only a prophecy to guide her; she struggles with a new destiny as she tries to figure out a way to destroy an un-killable demon and return home. Get it on Amazon.

About The Day of First Sun: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Few Little Updates

I am trying to get my schedule back into shape so I can continue my exploration of the Urban Fantasy genre and get caught up on posting reviews of things I've read recently. In the meantime, here are a few quick updates:

You may or may not have noticed that the paperback is currently unavailable. This is temporary. We've uploaded a new version of both the interior and the cover, and are now just waiting for the proof. The changes were very minor, so if you already bought the book, don't worry. There were a very few typos corrected, and we re-paginated the sample chapter of Hexen at the end, so it wouldn't look like it was an accidental repeat of chapter one. As for the cover, it just got a couple of cosmetic tweaks that were things we thought were fixed the first time around, but snuck through anyway. Without seeing the two versions side-by-side, they may not even be noticeable.

I had really hoped to at least have the e-book version of Hexen available by now, but I have someone copyediting, and she's quite busy, and I think it will be worth the wait. I'm aiming for the end of this month for the e-verison and the end of June for the paperback, but I'll post updates as I have them. We have been through one round of edits, so with luck once I get this one back it'll be ready to go.

Book 3
I had been calling Book 3 of the Others Series Koldun, and the Su/Evgeny storyline was going to be a trilogy, after which I'd either delve more into Cara (of the short story "Cara") and her developing relationship with Magne, or I'd dip into the story of Alex's ancestor Rose-Perle and her relationship with Su's ancestor SigrĂșn. Or possibly, I though I might explore the mysterious Karasu, who you'll meet near the end of Hexen.

Alas, my characters and stories don't always do what I think they will. Su and Evgeny's story is going to be two more books, the second of which (the fourth in the series) will be Koldun (though it actually takes place at the same time as the first (the third in the series)). So the book I'm now writing is what happens to Su right after Hexen, and will probably incorporate a lot (or all) of what was going to be the story of Su's and Alex's ancestors. The working title is Familiar.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hexen Cover

Apologies for my absence these past couple of weeks. Real life interfered, and all that. But here's the cover for Hexen, which should (if all goes well) hit Amazon and Smashwords early next week. Yay!

There's a lot of tea-drinking going on in this book (actually, a lot of food seems to appear in all of my books). And yes, more fox women!

In other news, I have a new series starting to form in my brain. I'm trying not to think about it too much, since I still have at least three more to write in this series (one more in Su and Evgeny's trilogy, one closely related, and one the follows the short story "Cara"). I also thought about making this new thing related to the Others, but the magical beings in it are more, well, magical, so I think it needs to be in its own world, so to speak. But that's a ways off, anyway.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Vixen, Chapter One

Curious about Vixen, but not sure if you want to buy it? You can get a free sample from Amazon or Smashwords, or you can read chapter one right here. If you're a book blogger or reviewer and you'd like a review copy, drop me a line (email is in my Blogger profile).

Chapter One

ALL I WANT is to sit in the darkest corner of the bar, sip my drink, and people-watch. I have a double of twelve-year-old Scotch on the table in front of me. No soda. No ice. Neat.

Every now and then I lift it to my lips and sip. Feel the heat fill my mouth, seep between my teeth, and slowly burn down my throat. I drink it slow because if I don’t, I’ll have another. And another. And in the morning there’ll be a hangover. I don’t get hangovers like other people. I get hangovers that literally make death seem like the better option. And that’s actually literally, not hyperbolically literally, the way most people use it. I get a hangover, and suicide seems like a happy choice. So I do my damnedest not to get hangovers.

And I sip. If a waitress or a bartender gives me hell for taking up space, I buy coffee and say I’m waiting for a friend. But tonight they seem to sense I’m on edge and they leave me alone. And hell, a double of good single malt costs enough they damn well should leave me alone.

After the evening I’ve had, I’m liable to rip someone’s head off. Not literally, but not far enough from it for comfort.

I sit alone and nurse my drink, and watch the people, and wonder if I was ever like them. Carefree, happy, normal. Human.

Someone bangs the door coming in and I turn to look. It’s a boy—okay, man, but I still think of myself as a girl at 26 and he’s got to be a couple years younger than me. He looks like he’s had a rougher night than I have, but boy is he nice to gawk at. Dark hair falling in his eyes, nice build. He almost trips over a woman perched on a stool at a table near the door and turns to catch his balance and I get a nice view of his backside. It’s a very fine ass, indeed.

Yeah, hi, I’m Su and I haven’t had sex in way too long.

The woman on the stool glares at the cute boy and he bends over her for a moment and says, “You smell good.”

And, dammit, just as my muscles were beginning to relax and I’m feeling better about how my evening went earlier and those three words throw me right back into the feeling of crap.

I had cut across the park on my way home, even though it can be a bad idea for a girl to be there after dark. Well, for anyone to be there after dark, really. But I’m not an ordinary girl.

I knew the vamp was tracking me from the moment I stepped in under the trees, but I wasn’t too worried. Vampires are a little leery of being discovered to be more than folktale boogie monsters, so they tend not to attack people unless they’re really sure the person won’t be missed, or they’re desperate, or stupid. And there aren’t many stupid vamps. They don’t last long. They get eaten by their own kind. And there are a lot easier—and safer—ways to get blood.

This one seemed too clever to be desperate, the way he was stalking me, but then I’m not exactly human. Whatever I am, it seems to be uncommonly attractive to vamps.

So when I hit the thickest part of the forest, I was prepared. He dropped out of a tree in front of me, and I met him with a kick in the crotch. Then I ran. Better to avoid a fight, if I could. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. The kick slowed the vampire, but not enough. He was in front of me again before I got more than a few steps.

I moved into a fighting stance. He thought I was human, so I might be able to catch him off guard again. And somewhere, I couldn’t remember where, or when, someone had taught me kung fu, and I was good at it.

I blocked his first strike and got in a hit, but not enough to do any damage. This vamp was old, and canny, and fast. Before I could strike again, he had me pinned against a tree, one of my hands trapped behind my back. He held my other wrist in his right hand, ragged nails digging into my skin, and with his other hand he held my hair, yanking my head to the side until it hurt. My body he kept pinned with his own.

He pressed his nose into my neck and I twitched, anticipating a bite. Instead he inhaled deeply.
“You smell good,” he said and licked my neck, tracing a straining tendon with his tongue. He smelled like dirt and unwashed male body. Most vamps keep up some semblance of hygeine to blend in better. Some are naturally fastidious, and a few are even vain. This one, it seemed, liked the smell of the grave.

I twisted my body to see how much he would let me move. Not much. The hand pinned behind me hurt, but I didn’t really mind. It was right next to the silver-tipped stake I keep in a leather sheath strapped to my belt. If I have to be unusually attractive to vampires, at least I can carry protection. I flexed my wrist, scraping it against tree bark and the studs on my belt, but I could almost reach the stake.

The vamp inhaled again. “No, I am wrong. You smell divine.”

If it had been a human threatening me, I’d have said something cheeky, but I’m not stupid. Not that stupid, anyway. Of course, if it had been a human, he’d still be rolling on the ground, clutching his pulped testicles.

“My progeny will so enjoy you,” he said.

Great. A vampire papa, looking for a special snack for his offspring.

He pressed closer to me, and I gagged on the heavy smell of male armpit. He ground his pelvis against mine and I heard his breathing quicken. I have really good senses, so I could even feel his pulse speed up and faint warmth spread under his skin. I didn’t need superhuman senses to feel his cock hardening against me.

Contrary to common belief and most folklore, vampires aren’t actually dead. They die—sort of, I think—in the process of being made a vampire, but then they are reborn. They have a much slower metabolism after, but it doesn’t stop. They breathe, their blood flows, their digestive juices gurgle away—they probably even fart—and their hearts beat. They even age. It just all happens much, much more slowly.

Except at two times, when their pulses pound just as much as a human’s does: when they feed, and when they fuck. A lot of vamps like to do both at once.

This vampire licked my neck again and I finally couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer. “I thought you bloodsuckers got smart and stopped killing people. So, you know, you could keep pretending you don’t exist.”

He lifted his head from my neck and looked at my face—I think it was the first time he looked me in the eye the whole time. He frowned.

“You know we exist, and you are not afraid.”

“Oh, I’m afraid,” I said. And I was. But I was also pissed, and my temper had a tendency to override my other emotions. It gets me in trouble, and loses me lovers.

“Perhaps you are very stupid,” the vamp said, pushing against me with his cock again. I guess stupidity wasn’t a turn-off for him. “Or you are more than you seem, which will make you an even better meal for my son.”

I bit back the urge to ask what sort of “more than I seemed” he thought I might be and concentrated on wriggling my pinned hand closer to my stake.

“My progeny will grow strong on your blood. He will grow so much stronger than cold blood could make him. So much more quickly. And he will make me stronger. And soon the Reborn won’t have to hide in the shadows.”

Great. A vampire with delusions of grandeur, who planned to make vamp children, feed them up, and eat them himself. Vampires are not above cannibalism. Not at all. Vamp blood makes them stronger, satiates them faster. And, I’m told, tastes better.

“Now shut your pretty mouth and spread your legs. I haven’t had a good fuck in ages.”

Neither had I, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it with him. He let go of my hair to yank my skirt up around my waist, which let me relax my upper body into a more natural position. And he had to lean his body away from mine to get his cock out of his pants. That was all I needed to get the stake in my hand and my hand from behind my back.

I wasn’t fast enough for a clean kill, not quite, but I was desperate enough not to get fucked or eaten by a vamp to jam the stake in far enough to hurt him, to make him stumble back, his incongruously pale penis flopping out of his pants. And I was mad enough to execute a perfect spinning kick and drive the stake the rest of the way into his chest to impale his heart. My skirt being hiked up actually helped—it wasn’t in my way at all.

For a moment, the vamp stared at me, blood leaking from the corner of his mouth, cock slowly deflating like an old party balloon. Then he seemed to crumple up, to fold in on himself. He collapsed.

I tugged my skirt back down into place and bent over the vamp to retrieve my stake. His blood was already congealing in thick, stringy clots. Death seems to speed some processes up for vamps, as if their physiology is suddenly trying to make up for lost time. His face was looking older, too, and in an hour or so he’d be bloated as if his corpse had been a week in the heat. Unfortunately, the pop culture lore about vampires disintegrating into dust when staked is as true as the lore about them being dead. Which is to say, not true at all. Sunlight, though—sunlight will burn a vamp, even a dead vamp. So as soon as I made sure he was good and dead, I grabbed him by the lapels of his coat and dragged him up a short, steep hill to a spot I liked to sit on nice days. It was a shame to soil a good sitting-and-thinking spot, but it was away from any likely foot traffic, and it was open to the morning sun.

Come sunrise, the vamp’s flesh—and any identifying clothing along with it—would burn to ash and even his bones would not survive. There would be only enough fragments to puzzle a forensic specialist, should anyone come across it before those fragments succumbed to the weather and returned to dirt.

Before I left, I rifled his pockets. Two hundred in cash, a handful of change, and a credit card. I looked longingly at the plastic, but eventually put it back. That was far more trouble than it was worth. I pocketed the cash.

He had no jewellery but a nice brass pocketwatch with an attractive interlace design and gears visible through cutouts in the face. That, I kept. It might identify him to the right people (or for me, the wrong people), but I liked it, and I could sell it later if I needed some money. Who could say I didn’t find it in the park, dropped by its unlucky owner?

I looked down at the dead vamp. He looked smaller, and not so dangerous at all, now. That wasn’t the first time I’d killed a vamp, though I hoped—even as I knew it was unlikely—that it would be the last. The last time I’d staked a bloodsucker I’d almost died first.

Lucky for me, just getting bit by a vamp wasn’t enough to make you one, so even if I had died, I wouldn’t have been re-born. There was some arcane ritual for that—how much was symbolic and how much was real magic, I had no idea. Though vampires rarely kill these days (or rarely kill anyone noticeable), and attack the unwary only now and then, something about me seems to attract them. They seem to know I’m not quite human, but they don’t seem to know what I am any more than I do.

Looking at the dead vampire, I was suddenly overwhelmed with anger. I kicked him in the face as hard as I could with my right steel-toed boot and felt it cave in like an overripe watermelon. I was quietly sick behind a bush, trying to puke and wipe brain off my boot at the same time.

“I need a drink,” I said to the empty air. I was starting to shake, and it wasn’t the growing autumn chill that was causing it. So instead of going home for the good night’s sleep I had intended to get when I first headed across the park, I turned my steps toward the nearest bar.

One Scotch—one double Scotch—and then I’d go home and sleep.

So I’m in the bar enjoying my Scotch and almost unclenched enough to go home and sleep, and a pretty boy has to walk in and remind me that I could very easily have been raped and eaten not an hour before.

Because the young man is a vamp—I can just smell the dirt and blood on him from where I sit, though it’s almost overwhelmed by old fear and new confusion.

“Crap,” I mumble into my drink. “What is this, Su’s night of vampire fun?” It looks like the boy might cause trouble and then I might feel obliged to help. But then woman the boy tripped over tells him to fuck off and shoves him in the chest and he stumbles away from her to sit slumped on a stool at the bar.

He looks around, his blue eyes too bright—and how did I not notice that the moment he walked into the bar? He’s just a baby vamp, I think. Hell, he looks practically newborn. There’s still a trail of dried blood down the side of his neck where his parent vamp was sloppy. The way he smells of confusion, I’d guess he hasn’t figured out what he is yet. He’s so new, he might not even have begun to remember his previous life, his human life, yet. He certainly doesn’t know how to act like a vampire, let alone a vampire blending in with humans.

I look around, wondering if his parent is already here and that’s why he stumbled in. At the very least his maker should be looking after him. But if he’s as new as I think he is, he should be kept safe in some mommy-or-daddy’s lair until he learns a thing or two about how to survive.
A new vamp is not only a danger to humans, and therefore a threat to vampire hidden-ness—because they don’t know any better than to attack whatever’s closest when they’re hungry and they don’t have the control to stop feeding before their prey is dead—but a newborn is a danger to himself. Stumbling around without a clue about how to act or how to protect himself is going to draw the attention of other vamps.

The boy looks up as the bartender bends over to ask, “What can I get you?” For a moment he just stares, and then he smiles—a smile so sweet and innocent is has no place on a vampire’s face.

“You smell good,” the boy says.

The bartender scowls but then his attention is drawn away by a yahoo at the other end of the bar wanting a refill.

The boy looks around again. His eyes don’t seem able to focus on anything.

“Jesus,” I say into the last sip of my Scotch. He must have been born in the last day or two, he’s so clueless. And then I catch his dirt scent, his blood scent, again, and I know why he’s stumbling around with no parent. I killed Papa Vamp barely an hour ago.

“My progeny will enjoy you,” the whiffy old vamp had said. So this is the progeny whose dinner he had intended I be.

The boy is unprotected because of me.

Not that I regret killing the old bloodsucker, mind. Not a bit. But this poor, beautiful infant was going to become lunch to fuel the strength of some older vamp, and he probably hadn’t even had the chance to do anything nasty himself yet.

What I really ought to do is take him out in the alley and put him out of his misery before he learns that his kind are cannibals that prefer to eat their own kind for the rush, and because they’re tastier.

The boy’s gaze finally fixes on me and his mind seems to clear a little. Yeah, I’m Su, the vampire magnet. He smiles his angelic smile at me and I feel my resolve to not care vanish. He probably hadn’t asked to be reborn as a vampire—vamps are rarely interested in anyone who wants to be one of them. And just because they feed on human blood doesn’t make all vamps evil. I know a few who are pretty decent people. For criminals. Most of the people I know in this town are criminals, because I am one myself. Just a pickpocket, but it’s not exactly an honest living.

So there I am, feeling sorry for a fucking vampire so soon after nearly becoming lunch for another one. Well, the same one, really, but it was the other one that was going to do the feeding to. Hell, now I was confused.

So maybe if this boy had been a decent human being, he might turn out to be a decent vampire, too. I sigh and drain the last drop of golden, burning nectar from my glass and stand up.
And yeah, I have to admit, hormones are probably a big part of it. Vamps aren’t the only ones who like to fuck. Apparently whatever I am likes sex an awful lot, too (consensual sex, that is), because I looked at that pretty young man and the first thing I thought about was how to get him out of his clothes. Well, after getting rid of the dirt-and-blood smell.

“Fuck,” I say, then I cross the bar and hook my arm into the vampire boy’s. He smiles wider and I feel hot between the legs. He has killer cheekbones and crazy sexy lips.

“There you are,” I say, and pull him off the stool and towards the door. “Looks like you’ve had a few already. I’d better get you home or you’ll never make it to work tomorrow.” I smile dazzlingly at the people nearest the door as I manoeuvre the boy through.

“I can’t let him go anywhere alone,” I say, and give a tinkling laugh of the sort I most loathe as I let the door fall shut behind us.

“You smell good,” says the boy.

“I’m sure I do,” I say. “But I am not your meal. We’ll get you some takeout.”

The boy smiles again and seems content to walk beside me for now.

One advantage of being a thief, not quite human, and a supernatural vampire magnet is that I know all the dealers in not-strictly-legal goods in town. And I know exactly who to talk to to score some black-market bloodbags in the middle of the night.

It will mean spending more of the old vamp’s cash than I like—I’d rather have added that to my stash for next month’s rent—but I guess it was money that should have been vampire boy’s inheritance, in a way. Not that I intend to hand any of it over.

And if I’m going to help him, he needs blood and soon, and there’s no way I’ll feed him on my own blood. Even if I liked the idea of playing blood donor—and I don’t—he’s newborn and there’s no way he’ll have the self-control to stop sucking before he kills me.

So stolen medical supplies it is. Well, stolen by someone. I’m not stupid enough to steal from vamps (unless I’ve just killed them), or from those who steal to supply vamps.

I’ll feed him, and teach him how to be a vampire, and hopefully keep him alive long enough to start to regain his memories and learn to fend for himself.

And since I don’t keep a pet—dogs and cats get nervous around me and birds are even worse. Hell, even fish in a bowl just make me hungry when I look at them—the boy will give me something to talk to besides the spider that built a web in the corner of my living room window that doesn’t close right.

He bumps his hip against mine as we walk and I can’t stop myself from thinking, And maybe once he’s recovered from the newborn stupids, I can get laid.

If you want to read the rest, you'll find the e-book available on all the Amazons (US link here), and Smashwords. You can also get the paperback from Amazon (and soon from other bookshops).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Preliminary List of Urban Fantasy Comics

Browsing through the titles on Comixology the other day, I started to wonder if there were any good UF comics out there. Back in the 90s, when DC's Vertigo imprint was big, there were a number of good books, but what about now? The UF genre in fiction has taken off in recent years, so maybe the same is true of comics?

It doesn't really seem that it has, but then, it's hard to tell just from looking at the little blurbs and cover images. And there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information online (unless I'm looking in the wrong place).

So I'm starting to put together a list, and if you think of anything I missed (and I know there are some--there's a niggling in the back of my head that tells me I probably left out something important), please leave a comment or shoot me an email. For now, this list will just include North American and European comics available in English, but if you know of some in other languages, let me know and I'll keep track of those, too. I'll also eventually compile a list of manga (but there are so many that could at least marginally qualify as UF that I'm a bit daunted).

Vertigo Books
  • Sandman
  • Death
  • Books of Magic
  • Books of Faerie
  • Lucifer
  • Preacher
  • Hellblazer
  • Fables

Other Publishers
  • The Unwritten
  • Locke & Key
  • Hellboy/BPRD
  • The Good Neighbours trilogy (Kith, Kin and Kind) by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh
  • Foiled by Jane Yolen
  • Courtney Crumrin series by Ted Naifeh (I may be stretching the UF definition a little, but I love this series)
  • Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs (I put this here rather than in adaptations because it's a new story)


Adaptations of Novels
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Dark Swan: Storm Born by Richelle Mead
  • various titles of Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hurtling Madly Through a Story

So here's the thing, when I write, I tend to hurtle through the story at top speed, figuring it's better to get the story out while it all makes sense, and then fix whatever problems come up later. And when I say top speed, I mean top speed.

I never learned touch-typing in school, and though I've ben able to learn to type pretty fast on my own, I still write faster in longhand. Though my writing does become less legible the longer I write. So I draft in a notebook, with a pen (and owing to a gimpy wrist, I use fat pens, because those thin little elegant things hurt after a fairly short time).

I prefer cheap dollar store notebooks. Not because I don't appreciate good bookbinding--I do, very much. It's because a cheap notebook isn't precious, so it doesn't matter if I write crap in it. And that freedom to write crap is important. It means I'm not held up by insecurities over the quality of my writing, and I can hurtle through the story and maybe, almost keep up with it.

And that's the real reason I write fast. I seldom plan stories at all, except to have a general idea of their trajectory, and maybe a few scenes I know need to happen somewhere along the way. I write to find out what happens, just like a reader reads, and the faster I write, the sooner I know. And the faster I write, the better chance I have to keep up with the story as it spills out of my brain. because I have this weird notion that if it gets away from me, I might never catch up. I might lose the story. And for me, there's no point in starting a story if I'm not going to finish it.

The surprising thing, even to me and I've been at this a while, is how complete the story is when I get to the end. I always think I'm going to have to go back and add all those subtle details and hints that really tie a story together, but when I go start to edit, I very often find my brain was way ahead of my conscious thoughts, and those things are already there.