Friday, December 27, 2013

BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVER.

Christmas was pretty sweet this year. My mom gave me, from my late grandmother's kitchen, the Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking by Meta Givens. If you don't know about this things, it's epic. I've always experienced it as two hard-bound volumes full of classic recipes and food preparation/storage techniques and the science behind from-scratch cooking. This version, published in 1953 (its original copyright date is 1947) is a single volume. 1700 pages, illustrated and full of opinionated musings and straight-up strategy on how to work your kitchen like a tasty machine.

It also contains a menu for a full year, breakfast lunch and dinner. If I had the time, I'd attempt to follow it, starting with the first night's dinner: stuffed beef hearts.

I don't have that kind of time, but I'm going to explore this thing at every opportunity. Starting, of course, with appetizers. After all, who can resist morsels described thusly:

Canapes are midget open-face sandwiches charmingly decorated.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

GENUS: Elves SPECIES: Not Santa's

Backstory:
1) My kid is obsessed with Youtube. He thinks it contains all earthly knowledge. It’s like the apple given to Eve, but with a kick-ass soundtrack.
2) My husband is currently reading The Hobbit to my son.

Story:
Over the weekend, I get out of the shower to find my kind on my laptop. He gives me a guilty side-eye and sinks in his chair. I check it out and find that he’s muted and paused what appears to be a “behind the scenes” clip from Lord of the Rings.
Me: You know you aren’t supposed to be on my computer, and you’re never supposed to use Youtube without permission.
Him: I know. *squirms* But, Mom…what is this?
Me: You know The Hobbit?
Him: Yes.
Me: This is Rivendell. Where the elves lives.
Him: We haven’t gotten to that part yet. *leans in closer, examining the details of the architecture, then glances up* The elves that help Santa?

Me: No. Bigger elves. They’re bigger than hobbits, as tall as or taller than humans. More swords, fewer toy workshops. Now, off my computer.
Him: Okay. *runs off*


I checked his search history. He’d searched for “The hobbit” four times – misspelled each time – then  “Mario and Luigi” – spelled correctly – then “Luigi wins”, then "Mario gets mad", then “funny cat videos, no swords”.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

YEAR END, BEST OF

Thrilled to share that Suspense Magazine has named CARNIEPUNK a "best anthology of 2013".

Their review is here, or you can pick up the magazine at their website.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BARGAIN BOOKS FOR NYCC!

This weekend I'll be at home, vicariously enjoying New York Comic Con through Twitter with a plethora of mopey friends. Luckily one of my publishers, Simon & Schuster, had taken pity on us non-conners and put some of their fantasy and science fiction e-books on sale for NYCC! They'll also, I believe, be selling them at the Con.


Click HERE for sales links.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

ALIENS AMONG US

On Friday we decided to run away down to Seward, AK. It's the end of the season. Boats have sailed south and been pulled out of the water. Restaurants and other businesses are closed until spring. We were going to hike to the glacier but it was about 37 degrees, with the additional unpleasantness of drizzle and a breeze (also the name of my '70s Sonny & Cher tribute band: Drizzle and Breeze).

So we went to the Sea Life Center. In addition to having wonderful sea lions and seal exhibits, tons of educational material, the Sea Life Center has an amazing rehabilitation program.

The highlights for us today were the octopus, who was crazy active, and the moon jellies. The latter mostly because the harbor had been full of jellyfish, and while my son found those "icky" and "looking like floating brains", the moon jellies are tidy, elegant little creatures. Their dark enclosure makes it look like they're circulating in space. All very cool.





Saturday, July 27, 2013

BIG THANKS FOR A SHORT STORY

The act of writing may be solitary, a single brain in a single body in a lonely chair in a dark corner. But stories rarely make it to the shelf without help.

CARNIEPUNK is an anthology which includes 14 authors. Behind those 14 authors are an editor - Adam Wilson - assistant editor, all kinds of lovely bookish people and artists at Simon & Schuster, a stellar agent in Suzie Townsend, and enthusiastic first readers and supportive (or at least begrudgingly accepting) families and friends.

Huge thanks to the early readers of my short story, Recession of the Divine:

Brent Swanson
Alex Reagan
Joshua Roots
Jolanda Jongedijk
Tiffany Allee


Friday, July 19, 2013

THERE'S ART IN HERE!

The five year old happened upon CARNIEPUNK. While I'm thankful that he can't yet read all the words, he was pretty thrilled with the look of the book ("there's art in here!"). You, too, can be thrilled by the look of the book on July 23rd. :)




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

HOT TIME SUMMER IN THE CITY

My husband has been telling me that we haven't had a good summer in Alaska in ten years. He moved here ten years ago, and that was a good summer - plenty of sun, some heat, some fish if I remember correctly - but since then they've been cloudy and dismal and cool. And we haven't gone fishing in a long time. Last year we broke the record for rainiest summer. That was a proud day. :/ Global warming seemed to have passed us by.

However, suddenly we are beset by hordes of mosquitoes

I am writing - from the linoleum floor of the downstairs bathroom - this in the heat. Like, the INTENSE heat. Our house faces south and its ugly face is splashed with windows, to make the very best of the paltry light and heat Alaska normally has to offer. Now it's like a convection oven, only instead of cookie pie we're cooking people.

As you do.

However, winter (It was still snowing in the middle of May) fled in a hurry, to be replaced by its bigger honey badger punk sister, summer, and now we're mobbed by mosquitoes and fainting from the heat while walking to the mailbox at ten in the morning. In reality, it's about 85 degrees. But that's like 595 degrees for Alaskans, because we do temperature like dogs do years. Also, we don't have air conditioning.

I'm ignoring the heat and the ungodly bug bites by writing, sneaking it in between 9 p.m. and midnight. And yes, it is still light the entire time. I'm reaching the tail end of Night Runner 2.0. I wrote Don't Bite the Messenger as a kind of wish fulfillment novella in the dark days of a rough winter saddled between two bad summers, when all I wanted was to get the hell out of Alaska. I would not surprised if Sydney and Mal end up at the North Pole by the time I'm done with this story.

So what are you all doing to beat the heat of summer? Are you plopping down in kiddie pools with sangria and books? Dipping into the darkness and icy A/C of movie theaters* Gorging on sriracha popsicles?




*I recommend The Croods. Slapstick family fun. Gorgeous animation. A little scary for smaller kids, particularly those raised on the geographical Ring of Fire and who have developed phobias thanks to earthquake and volcano drills.

Monday, May 27, 2013

STEP RIGHT UP...CARNIEPUNK ARC WINNER

Thanks for all the comments and tweets about the CARNIEPUNK ARC giveaway. This is a stellar urban fantasy anthology, featuring some good friends and great authors. I can't wait for all of you to read it, but as the Highlander says, there can be only one! ... winner of the ARC giveaway.

Hope Evey is the winner. Hope, please email me at writerjakes AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address, and I'll get his posted to you.

To everyone else, thank you for the interest. Do stay tuned because there are a few upcoming announcements related to the anthology, and I may just have another ARC or copy up for grabs prior to release.

A DAY AT THE ZOO


Today is gorgeous. It's over 60 degrees. No snow. No gale force winds. A perfect day for an outdoor activity, like chasing the five year-old all the hell over the zoo - which is full of hills and stairs and loose gravel - while wolverines and baby musk ox watch.

Actually, we couldn't find the wolverine, but that doesn't mean the wolverine wasn't watching us! (This is how I make zoo trips more exciting, by pretending I can see cut wires or tunnels burrowed under the enclosures that are empty. The kids love it, I tell you.)

We did get to see a few beasties on the move that we normally only find sleeping. Also, camels sound like wookies.

Prayer Bear (Grizzly)

Polar Bear, every day hustlin', hustlin'

Snow Leopard, moving with intent

Bactrian Camel, sounds like wookie

Happy Bear is Happy...also fatal (Grizzly)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

CARNIEPUNK ARC GIVEAWAY

My email and direct message repositories have turned into a knotted mass of frothing demands for a chance at Carniepunk.

You'll all have your chance to get your mits on this fantastic urban fantasy anthology on July 23rd. But if you really, really, really can't wait, here's your chance to win an ARC (advanced reading copy) of the story. It has that fantastic cover, and the font and ornamentation are gorgeous. It's drool-worthy. Seriously.

So I'm going to make this easy on you. There's a Rafflecopter widget thingie below. Choose and perish! Uhm...I mean choose and enter to win. The contest will be open for a week and I'll announce the winner here and on Twitter. If you include your email address in your blog comment, I will endeavor to email as well.

I apologize, but this contest is only open to US residents. Thanks to Gallery Books for the ARC. You can find "buy" links on my Books page if you'd like to pre-order. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 13, 2013

DAYS LIKE THIS

Sometimes I think back on the last year and sigh with contented delight as I recall the marvels I've experienced, such as:

  • Discovered Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series (seriously. phenomenal)
  • Sold CARNIEPUNK (outstanding authors, outstanding book)
  • Took my husband and kid to SeaWorld (the husband loved it. the kid thought it was pretty cool)
  • Joss Whedon joined twitter (file this under very recent memories)

And then, on days like this, I'm more like:


Sunday, April 28, 2013

FIRST DRAFT BLUES AND GREENS

Writing a first draft is the hardest thing in the world.

It's like waking up every day feeling hungover but never getting to take a drink. It's being acutely aware of every perfect sentence and description and cover in existence, while not having the time to read them, all the while feeling like you're never going to finish and will probably die on page 21 of a draft, pantless and alone. It's forgetting to eat and not being able to sleep, and having the neighbors steer their children away from you on account of the muttering and questionable hygiene.

It's staring at muted, charcoal sketches of characters for hours, with them smirking because they know you'll never figure them into full color. It's plotlines that veer, pick up speed, and crash into unforgiving dead ends, using your brain for their car bumper.

It's a sore back, sore eyes, sore wrists and sorely tested relationships.

It's not being able to wait to get home to finish a scene and capturing dialogue in the margins of menus and trade publications while nodding along with business associates and hoping you aren't promising something you can't deliver. It's dropping the post-it notes with your recalibrated outline in the hallway at work and not caring that your coworkers think you're threatening them.

It's that sentence you tossed off at midnight that still shines the next morning. It's the scene after that which opens up into a gleaming handful of possibilities. It's that moment when you're reduced to tears alongside your character. It's seeing the end in sight and dawdling because you don't want to let these characters or this story go.

Writing a first draft is the hardest thing in the world.

Friday, April 26, 2013

THE STORY OF JOFF WASHINGTON AND THE CHERRY TREE

At dinner the other night, the four year-old asked his father to tell the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, then reciprocated with gruesome alternate history. Here is their story:

Kid: Dad, tell me the story of George Washington and the cherry tree.

DH: One year, for his birthday, George Washington received an axe. And he loved the axe so much that he started chopping down trees. Chop, chop, chop. All over his father's farm. Chop chop chop. Until he chopped down his father's favorite cherry tree.

His father saw that his tree had been chopped down and said, "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, who chopped down my cherry tree."

Kid: That doesn't rhyme.

DH: My story. "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, who chopped down my cherry tree." And George Washington thought about lying, but instead he stepped forth and said "Father, I cannot tell a lie. It was me." And the moral of the story is...

Kid: To never chop down the favorite cherry tree if your father is a giant.

DH: Close enough.

Kid: Let me tell you a story now. It's the story of...of...Joff Washington. One year, for his birthday, Joff Washington got an axe for his birthday. A big axe. A REALLY big axe. His father told him not to use it because it was too big and he couldn't use it until he was older.

But Joff tried and tried, and finally lifted it. And then he dropped it on his foot. And cut it off.  And there was blood everywhere. Because you shouldn't play with big axes. The End.

Indeed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

THREE THINGS: WARMTH, WRITING AND CARNIEPUNK

Travel (Warmth)

Last week the family took a quick trip down to Arizona. When we left Anchorage it was 8 degrees and snowing, and the forecast was for more of the same. When we arrived in Arizona, we were told it was cold (haahaahaaa - 75 degrees), but it felt amazing.

It's hard to describe to someone who doesn't live here how draining six months of not being able to bare your skin to the outside air or walk a block without fear of falling - if you can find a sidewalk that's been plowed well enough to walk on.

We had an excellent few days. Played in the pool. Walked everywhere we could. Hung out with writer friends Kevin Hearne (and family) and Tiffany Allee (and husband - sorry if we gave you the plague, dude). Ate tacos by the bushel. The kid got a ball at the Diamondbacks game (thanks, Nieves!).


Writing

A few weeks ago I finished the rough first draft of a near-future sci fi mystery thingie. After a few weeks of crawling through major clean-up, I've sent it off to my wonderful beta readers. Here's hoping they are kind in their scathing critiques. :-)

CARNIEPUNK!

From what I've seen around the Interwebs, Carniepunk ARCs (advanced reader copies) have landed in the hands of reviewers and bloggers. I should be receiving a couple of copies soon, so watch this space because I'll probably need to do some kind of giveaway.

Monday, April 8, 2013

RUNNING FROM THE DARK

I'm running away for a few days. Why, you ask? Why would you leave home as the temperatures are rising and trees are budding and birds are singing? Heh. I'll tell you.

Because this was our Easter:


And this was today:


This spring shit ain't working too good in Alaska.

Monday, March 18, 2013

WHAT GOES UP

I'm a single scene away from finishing the first draft of my work in progress. When it's done it will be around 90,000 words of first person mystery set in the near-future. It's not a dystopian world, but it is a little dark and, unfortunately, not as unlikely as I wish it were.

It's a story of expectation and severe disappointment, of having to steer your life in a direction you never imagined or wanted, finding some measure of success there and then having it pulled away again. It's a story of the power of friendship and connection, of systemic deception and the relief of believing the lies that everyone else believes. It's about loyalty and cruelty. One day the characters might look back and say it had something to do with love as well.

It first arrived in my head in three parts: the world which is ours but both more advanced and - due to a single large difference - more primitive; the main character who is living a normal life, which is neither what she was born to nor trained for; and the final scene, in which everything changes.

And now it's time to write that scene, and I'm having a really hard time. It's not that I can't figure out what happens or find the words to convey it. No, I know exactly what happens. I just don't know if I can do this, after everything the characters have gone through. It seems so wrong, so unfair. I've been sitting here for a half hour, trying to argue myself out of it. For their sake.

And so, of course, it has to happen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

LUCK - A SNIPPET

Following is a paragraph from my work in progress, which I haven't named or examined deeply enough to determine genre. I am enjoying writing it. The characters are not exactly enjoying being in it.

Luck


I tumbled, bounced off something sharp and caught for a second on a utilidor before gravity reared up and hauled me over the edge. My left femur broke, the edges of the bone shearing away from each other and waking nerve endings I hadn’t known existed. Then a man came out of the house. Not the owner, maybe a groundskeeper who’d been taking a break or a cook with no regard for hygiene. His hair was greasy. He wore threadbare brown pants and a rough brown shirt, and the second he saw me he stalked over and stabbed me with a short, thick knife.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

HUMP DAY SPECIAL

Sometimes you need a little something special to get through the middle of the week slog. 


Beatboxing Chipmunk

Purring Cheetah


Friday, February 22, 2013

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, YO

Yesterday a friend came over and we ate awesome baked barbeque chicken and from-scratch red beans and rice, and some not-so-great (very stemmy) sauteed baby kale. Then, after my child went to bed, we almost got caught up on Lost Girl. (KENZIE!!!)

So there we were, sitting in the dark, watching spooky supernatural things pop out of the woodwork. As I turned in the recliner, I felt it bump against something. So I turned around, to find a tiny, misshapen humanoid thing standing silently behind me, staring at me. I screamed, my friend screamed, and then my son giggled.

He had - forty minutes after being put to bed downstairs - crept up and knelt behind me, waiting for me to notice him. An hour later I had to walk my friend to her car because she was still so creeped out.

It's possible that small, silent children have become too prevalent in horror movies. Of course, for one heart-pounding moment last night, they were also too prevalent in my home.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Q&A WITH AIMEE LAINE



Aimee Laine and I, like so many writers, first met online. I don't recall when or where exactly. Probably on Twitter, likely through a mutual acquaintance. Our first publications occurred around the same time, in early 2012, and I came to recognize certain parallels between the two of us. Between the full time jobs and round-the-clock families, we're both marching down the road of publishing.

You aren’t just a writer, but also a photographer. How do the two mediums compliment or complicate each other?

One kinda led to the other. You see, I started with photography, seeing and visualizing images, searching for and pulling out the emotion in a face. That allowed me to understand the nuance in expression – when is a smile real vs. fake. And when I sat down to write my first novel, tada! I understood just how important those little details were. So for me, it’s a definite compliment.

You also – another duality here – write adult fiction as Aimee Laine and young adult books as Emi Gayle. Is that a struggle, switching back and forth between those voices, or is the variety refreshing?

The variety is totally refreshing. I write adult novels in third person. I write my YA novels in first person. So not only is it refreshing, it’s also a huge challenge because switching back and forth, especially while editing, can be tough. I have to both remember who’s POV I’m in, what person and what tense, because yes, I even switch that up! Call me crazy. It’s okay. I already know.

I completely understand the point of view shift. I can’t read books in third person when I’m writing in first, and don’t even get me started on what happens when I read present tense while writing in past (it’s so, so ugly). On the spot time! What are a few of your favorite lines that you’ve written?

This is one of my all time favorites:
“Dawn conceals what the dark of night reveals.”
This is where After Dark (an Emi Gayle novel) started. That one line. One idea. Three books later … it’s on a cover.

Now, for my adult books, this:
“Do you trust me, Lexi? Will you, just for a moment, or a few days, even a week, set aside the moral compass against which you measure me day in and day out and just trust me?”
is one of my favorites. Tripp is speaking here, and it’s indicative of what Lexi puts him through in the whole book. It’s exasperation and for him, he finally said it. It’s a turning point for them in fact.

I love that! Rarely does a bit of dialogue, out of context, feel like a precipice.

One thing that I discovered after I’d been writing for a while is that I was returning to the same themes again and again. The stories and characters were different, but in a way, writing helped me to recognize some of the things that I find most important in people and in life. Do you ever find that, a recognition of your own values in your stories?

Yes, absolutely. As a photographer, I focused on relationships. Yes, I did a lot of portraits of individuals and of big events, but my true love is putting 2 or 3 people together and seeing how they interact. It’s the same in my books. I love seeing my characters grow and fall in love. But I also love the mystery that surrounds all of that. So more and more, my stories are getting complex with mystery and complex with relationship dynamics.

Aren’t all our lives the same way? We love to love but at the same time, it’s getting harder and harder to do. Same with work. With parenting. With … anything. The complications in our lives (be it work, hobbies, commutes, etc) keep us from truly engaging with others. I love diving into that and finding ways to get around it.

Who are some of your favorite writers, either those who inspired you to write or those who delight you to read?

As a kid, I read classics. Classics. Classics. Classics. I remember very little of them. I was just too young to truly appreciate them. I only read them because I had a ‘chore’ (Yes, I did) to read 20 minutes every day and if my shelf of books came from our family room – a la Classics.

Somewhere in my early 20s, I found Nora Roberts’ romances and FELL IN LOVE (with capital letters).  Is she my favorite? Maybe, maybe not. But she restarted my love of reading.
I am not, however, the voracious reader that so many are. I’m incredibly picky. When, however, I fall in love with an author’s style, I’ll read everything they have. This is true of my author friends (Jocelyn Adams, J.A. Belfield and Julie Reece for example) as well as some of the bigger names in books like Kristin Hannah, JD Robb and Sharon McCrumb.

Oh, I hear that. There are certain authors whose shopping lists I’d read if only I could get my hands on them. J

Emi has two books in The 19th Year series is due out in 2013, and Aimee’s Silent Echoes will be published in March. With that much on your plate, I’m hesitant to even ask, but what’s next for you? 

Ha! Oh, there’s always more. I’ve just finished writing Perry Road, the first in a dystopian YA series and I’ve never, ever had my beta readers get back to me so fast with the ‘OMG, this is the best thing you’ve ever written’ comments, so we’ll have to see where that goes. I’m also writing the final in the Mimics of Rune series, Redeemed. It was supposed to be ready for 2013 production, but I’m kinda happy that it isn’t. :) Outside of that, I have another Games of Zeus book in editing and book two after Perry Road called Delta Street already started in my head. 

Plus, I work full time, have three kids, a husband, two cats, two guinea pigs and some desire to sleep, eat and exercise, so I’m thinking that’s probably (maybe?) enough for this year. :)

*raises hands in surrender* That’s somewhere beyond plenty to do. I wish you the very best of luck with that, and can’t wait to see the new books! Thank you so much for stopping by, Aimee.

You can find Aimee's books at: Amazon     Barnes and Noble

* * *

Aimee is a romantic at heart and a southern transplant with a bit of the accent (but not a whole bunch). She's married to her high school sweetheart, and with him, she's produced three native North Carolinians, two of whom share the same DNA. 


With an MBA and a degree in Applied Mathematics, there's absolutely no reason she should be writing romance novels. Then again, she shouldn't need a calculator to add two numbers, either ... but she does.


Aimee Online: Website     Facebook     Twitter
Emi Online: Website     Facebook     Twitter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

WORK IN PROGRESS

I'm very much enjoying my work in progress. It's at around 55,000 words and has a long way to go, and I'm aware of a pair of large disconnects that will have to be joined and sealed with tonnes of elbow grease when I revise. Good thing I melted down all those elbows I found last summer.

I'm not sure of the genre, but there are Themes in this story, and, I'm hoping, some surprises.

Snippet:

Varen paid extra for a private bathroom and I spent twenty minutes scrubbing and drying before he sat me down on the bed and glued my lip closed.


What secret stories are you all working on?