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Archive for March, 2013



Sunday, March 31st, 2013
Home again

I am home, exhausted and feeling sickly. Not sure why. Started yesterday. Hoping it’s nothing. Norwescon was lovely fun. I only wish I could have found a way to spent more time with people by going to parties, but with the kids and man there, I wanted to spend more time with them. Plus the weather was lovely. Warm, green, and there were flowers.

I will tell you all about the panels soon, but right now, I am too tired to do them justice. I also got to see some friends and make some more.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
Hit the Road Jack!

And that is what I plan to do tomorrow. I’m heading to Norwescon after I get done with my teaching. So excited. Can’t wait. But that means I won’t be here for the next five days or so. I hope you all have a lovely week and a Happy Easter, if you so celebrate, and I hope it’s warm and lovely wherever you are. See you when I get back!!!! Or for some of you, maybe at Norwescon?

Monday, March 25th, 2013
Scary publishing

My Horngate books are published by Simon and Schuster (also known as Pocket Books), and so this particularly effects me, but it also effects readers. Right now, Barnes and Noble is not ordering a lot of S&S books into its stores. They say it’s because they want S&S to pay more for in store promotions, and that people come in and look at the books, and then order them online (though let’s face it, BN has been reducing how many books they carry and really pushing the bestsellers and stocking up on those, which sounds very much like what Borders did before total fail. How can you be a bookstore and not carry books? but I digress). BN also wants to pay less for the books. I don’t know if that’s because they want to discount them or because they want better profit margins. They already pay somewhere around 40% of cover price, if they are like my local indie, but given their size, it’s possible they get greater discounts. I don’t know. bloodwintercover1

Here are some articles on the subject:

Christian Science Monitor
New York Times
Wall Street Journal

The heart of the heart of the matter is that authors are being hurt. If people can’t find their books, they don’t buy them. Especially new authors. I’m aware of an author whose last book in her series was canceled almost as soon as the contract was signed because of this. Order are down and if orders are down, it must be because people don’t want the books. And yet if readers don’t know about the books, or if they can’t find them, then exactly why are they being penalized? On top of that, there’s fairly little promotion that happens around midlisters (those authors who are not bestsellers, and even bestsellers may not get that much, depending on who you are).

The point is that word of mouth becomes even more important. Really spreading the word on books you like. And Indie bookstores become crucial–support the places that carry the books is what readers have to do. I’m not saying don’t shop BN, what I’m saying is, BN is making itself irrelevant to readers because it isn’t carrying books. Indie bookstores tend to pay attention to customers and work hard to provide the books that you want.

The thing is, readers don’t see what’s happening because frankly, it’s happening off the grid. It’s just that all of a sudden the books you want aren’t available, book contracts are cancelled, and you’re stuck without. What to do about it? Tell BN. Tell S&S. And spread the word on authors you like so that even if their books aren’t on the shelves, other readers have a way of discovering them.

Sunday, March 24th, 2013
I survived! and my Norwescon Schedule

I survived the sleepover. Except that girlie now has what you might euphemistically call intestinal distress. By which I mean I’m washing a lot of clothes and her sheets (that I incidentally watched just yesterday) because, well, it got ugly, poor thing. Now she’s sipping Apple Juice and nibbling crackers. Gotta get some probiotics into her.

I have no idea what to wear to Norwescon. I have some cool costumery type things, but I just don’t know if I want to wear corsetry if I don’t know how uncomfortable it might be for the duration of a day in a hotel I’ve never been to. Same with shoes. I have a newish pair of boots that are very comfortable, but are they comfortable for 8-12 hours? My hotel is across the parking lot, so going back to change isn’t necessarily swift. Guess I’ll figure it out. Hopefully soon, since I’ll be leaving on Wednesday. My reading is Thursday night.

And speaking of Norwescon, here’s where you can find me. Also, I’m up for getting together inbetween and feel free to chat me up. My hair as some serious streaks of bright purplish blue in it right now. Bright. Can’t miss me.

Diana Pharaoh Francis reads Blood Winter Thursday 9:00pm-9:30pm Cascade 1
An excerpt from the latest Horngate Witches novel. Rated R
Diana Pharaoh Francis

Crowns & Swords Friday 2:00pm-3:00pm Cascade 5
Countless novels have been set in the intertwined worlds of monarchy and fantasy, often involving epic battles. Given that many fantasy novels are set in worlds drawn from medieval Europe, it’s no surprise to see so many stories based around monarchies – kings and queens, tyrannical emperors, and long-lost heirs to the throne. How much of fantasy’s appeal is grounded in this familiar setting, and how can this long-standing tradition be updated or refreshed; or should it be abandoned entirely?
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Gregory A. Wilson, Heather Hudson, Linda Pearce

Writing a Series Friday 6:00pm-7:00pm Cascade 3&4
Many of the most commercially successful speculative novels are series. Authors talk about how (and whether) they planned to write a series. How do you avoid repetition while keeping the setting and characters consistent from book to book?
Ken Scholes, John (J.A.) Pitts, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Rhiannon Held

Rogues and Anti-Heroes in Fantasy Saturday 10:00am-11:00am Cascade 7
From Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, to the denizens of Thieves’ World, to Alec and Seregil of Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series — loveable rogues and anti-heroes have been part of Fantasy since the early days. But why do we love them? Do they fulfill some need in us when we “aim to misbehave?” Come join us as we talk about our favorites and muse about which ones show promise in current fantasy fiction.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Brenda Carre, Peter Blanton, Mark Nelson

Autograph Session 1 Saturday 2:00pm-3:00pm Grand 2
Our Attending Professionals are available to sign autographs. PLEASE NOTE: So that as many fans as possible can participate, we will be enforcing a three-items-at-a-time (or single-sketch) autograph limit.
Autumn Grieve, Camille Alexa, Kevin J. Anderson, Carol Berg, S. A. Bolich, Clinton J. Boomer, Kurt Cagle, Chelsea M. Campbell, Charles “Zan” Christensen, Brenda Cooper, Erik Scott de Bie, Cymbric Early-Smith, Ellen Forney, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Jean Johnson, Karen Kincy, Nancy Kress, Edward Martin III, Susan R. Matthews, Angel Leigh McCoy, Dan Murphy, Mark Nelson, G. David Nordley, Brian D. Oberquell, David J. Peterson, Cat Rambo, Jon Rogers, Lorelei Shannon, Jack Skillingstead, Jeff Sturgeon, Jonny Nero Action Hero, Dennis R. Upkins, G. Willow Wilson

How to Write Vivid Scenes Saturday 5:00pm-6:00pm Cascade 5
What makes writing vivid? What does vivid writing do for the reader? How can you edit existing writing to make it more vivid? How to use all five senses.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Karen Kincy, S. A. Bolich, William F. Nolan

Congratulations, It Sucks! Saturday 8:00pm-9:00pm Cascade 8
How to tackle a major rewrite. Rescue your story from your writing, and actually learn from your mistakes while you fix them.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Chelsea M. Campbell, Jack Skillingstead

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
The state of me

Is surprisingly sane. I have an extra girl here and apparently little girls turn into freaking cocaine-jumped-up kangaroos when they get together. They were (thankfully and finally) playing outside when a friend drove by with her father and she stopped and the upshot was that I had yet another girl for a few hours. Batshit Crazy. Then I had a bit of a meltdown with my son, recovered, apologized, and calmed things down. And put them into bed. It’s been quiet. Thankfully. Though I will admit the blood pressure went up a bit (a lot) when I discovered after I’d put the dogs out for awhile, that the kids had left the back gate open and the dogs had gone walkabout. I’m a bit attached to the dogs and never let them go walking out in the streets and anywhere else all by themselves. So I called them and eventually they came home and now I’m calming down a bit.

I have decided the book I’m working on will be set in Gatlinburg. Anybody have any information on the place would be helpful. I’m looking for anything and everything. Places to read about it and investigate it to give me a better sense of the place would be great.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Dead Roman Emperors and life

It was Roman day at boy’s school today and he was assigned a famous Roman to dress up as. He wore a toga and gold laurel head piece and this ornament pin we made him. So that was exciting. Oh, you want to know who he dressed up as? Hmmm. Well, since you asked . . . The answer is:

Caligula.

Yes, my son went to school as Caligula.

In other news, I had a most brilliantly wonderful idea for the first scene in the new WIP. I’m so excited. It’s perfect. It involves SPIDERS!!!!

Tonight I go to family movie night at girl’s school. Apparently the movie is Wreck It Ralph. Kids are excited. Dogs are less so, since they don’t get to go.

Next week is Norwescon and I get to see the man and he will come home for a week and I’m delirious about it.

Also, been teaching literary theory. My students left today saying how much they love Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” This made me wonder–am I doing it right or wrong?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
I feel smart

I’m teaching advanced literary theory right now, with a focus on postcolonialism. Of course, that means by default I also teach a lot theory about power, Marxist criticism, structuralism, and so on. It’s a microscopic class size, which is very cool, and means it’s more of a graduate style class than not. Anyhow, I’ve not taught it for a little while and I forgot a) how much I love it and b) how smart I feel when I read this stuff and we can discuss it.

Theory is really hard. It’s obscure, uses a lot of jargon, and gives many people a headache. But I still love it! I love talking hegemony, epistemology, ontology, ideology and the way colonization happened/continues to happen. I like talking about power structures and how power flows. We talk about how to apply things to literature, but also look at culture and talk politics, movies, history . . . I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this. Plus my students ask smart questions and make smart connections.

Sometimes, despite certain job toxicities, the teaching is so worth it.

Monday, March 18th, 2013
Snippet of Soul Mage

It’s cold. As in a miserable wind chill. Of course, by the looks of the storms hitting east of here, from Minnesota to Main to Florida, I’ve nothing to complain about. So I will endeavor not to.

First day of block today. It’s advanced lit theory and we’re focusing on Postcolonial theory. Went well. Tiny class, which is fun. The only bad thing is that I can’t find this one Pears Soap ad (which were incredibly racist and devoted to the colonial project) and it’s killing me. Looked online, on my saved files (a bunch of which seem to be missing), and in my files. Can’t find it.

The final revisions on my WIP titled Soul Mage went off to my agent to be shopped around. Now I have to both wait and start on my other idea.

And in honor of that event, a snippet:

Seavik ran a finger over the odd black and red design ribboning along the edge. Something bit his finger. He jerked back sharply, making a startled sound. A bit of skin and several drops of blood dribbled onto the page. Then as he watched, the blood and skin absorbed into the pale sheet and vanished, leaving the page pristine except for the writing.  He shoved himself back, his chair tumbling as he lunged to his feet.

Acting on instinct, he drew his dagger, skewered the invitation and flicked it into one of the braziers burning along the wall to light the room. Flames licked the page and the paper twisted as if resisting. A keening sound filled the room, making Seavik’s skin prickle. The paper knotted up and then melted flat. The design on the edges rose like blind, toothy worms, jaws snapping. The fire turned blue and green and the paper exploded in a puff of ash. The room quieted.

Seavik stared. What manner of magic was this?

Slowly he sheathed his knife and looked at his finger. An oval divot had been sliced out of it. He blotted his finger on a napkin as he considered. The ambassador could not have expected the attack to go unnoticed. Seavik would have to make a bloody reponse. Which begged the question, why do it?

He recalled the way his blood and skin had disappeared into the paper. His hand clenched around the cloth. What sort of magic did these visitors posses?  What evil had they brought to Keatu-Safi?

He reached for the bell to summon— Who?  He blinked. What was he doing? He turned, confused. His attention fell on the pile of papers on his desk. Something to do with—

Whatever it was slipped from his mind. He shrugged, rubbing his hand over the everpresent ache in his stomach, then reached for his cooling cherza. He glanced down at the napkin in his hand. There was blood on it and a small oval cut on his finger. His brow furrowed. How had that happened?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013
One of those days

I had one of those days that really are productive, but at the end you wonder just what the hell you did and where did the day go?

So I’ll recap for myself:

vacuumed entire house (AND actually moved some furniture to get at the dust dragons beneath. Well, dog hair dragons)
did all the kids’ laundry
took in recyclables
brought in wood
built a fire
took a long walk (yay exercise!)
showered
read boy’s book (he wants me too read the book he’s reading in class, but hasn’t brought it home in ages, so I was behind.)
Hounded children into doing their chores (more work than it sounds like)
Put away a bunch of stuff that was hanging around
emptied garbages
sorted out the too small clothes of girlie’s and took them to a friend’s
took kids to lunch

Yeah, now that I look at it it, I wasn’t all that productive. Sigh.

It’s frigid today. Well, that isn’t exactly true. We’ve got a shit of a windchill going on right now, so if you’re out in that, it’s cold, but if you’re behind a windbreak, it’s not bad. Still, walking in it was an exercise in sweating and freezing at the same time. But at least I got out.

Tomorrow is the first day of the block, and in about a week and a half is Norwescon. Looking forward to it, and not just for the con, but because I get to see the man. It’s been too long.

Saturday, March 16th, 2013
Old or antique?

The purple I put in my hair is not holding. That means my hair is too healthy. Dammit. So I have to do a bit of bleaching apparently. The color is also oddly darker than usual, so maybe the bleach will brighten it up.

I finished prepping my class for Monday. I’m happy about that. Of course my son brought home his book that they’ve been reading at school and wants me to read and catch up. Not that hard, but I’ve a ton of stuff to do.

What’s the difference between antique/vintage and old/outdated? I went into the son of a friend’s house that he’d just bought and the former owner had left behind a metal avocado green breadbox. It’s atrocious. But I don’t recognize antique/vintage vs. old and crappy. This could have been. In fact there’s a lot of old stuff that I find crappy, and some I like. Is it the same thing as weeds? One person’s weed is another’s garden flower?

I’m trying to start work on a new proposal and I have so many pieces but they are still whirling around and not settling down. I need something else, but I’m not sure what. I think I’ll just jump in and explore and see. One of my issues is that I haven’t figured out the setting. I want to set it in the south. I’m thinking maybe not far from Asheville. Or maybe northeastern Georgia or southeastern Tennessee. The trouble is, the research. Google Earth is my friend, as is the net and books and tourist brochures, but I still would like to have eyes on the ground. The chances of me getting to go look around aren’t excellent at this point. I’m looking for a place that’s fairly rural, but within 1-2 hours of a larger city (of maybe 50-100K or more). I’m needing hill/mountain country with trees and rivers. I’m thinking Smokey Mountains. Anybody got ideas?