Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Developments & Shocking News

The shocking news first: I have discovered that there are some human beings—sharing the planet with us right now, I might add—who don't like pie. Until today, I was not aware that this was an option. I'm actually thinking that this is an elaborate hoax perpetrated by my students, and those who protested to me that they seriously don't like pie are being contrary. I am tempted to dismiss it all as teenage rebellion. I mean, how can you look at this...
and react to it like this....?
That's not right.

But in other news: I have found a neato website designer, thanks to a neato guy named Joe. The neato website designer is Sean; he'll be getting something together for me soon once my cover art is finalized. I'm going to migrate this whole honkin' blog over to my website, and it'll be a WordPress kind of thing because I hear all the cool people are using it (plus I'll be able to update the site easily, which is its primary attraction). 

Dudes: Six months until Hounded is on the shelves. It's starting to feel real.

I think (I hope?) Gaius Baltar will beat the White Witch in Round One of Suvudu Cage Match: Villains, and as such I'll get to write a new throw-down featuring him and whoever wins between the Borg Queen and Feyd Rautha-Harkonnen. (Can I just say how much fun it was to type that sentence? Most people would shuffle away from me and signal a taxi if I said that out loud, but I can let my Nerd off the chain when I blog.) Feyd is winning so far, so I'm having fun imagining that particular scenario. I'll know the final results tomorrow (Thursday) and then I'll have a couple o' days to come up with a lovely violent vision for Gaius. The new write-up will appear on Monday, and of course I'd appreciate your support once again for Baltar...I get to write about him for as long as he lasts!

Progress on book four, Tricked, has been going well this week. I introduced three new characters and gave Oberon his longest speech of the series thus far. But I realize now that Oberon has yet to eat any pie in my fiction—indeed, my books have thus far been pie-free. Perhaps I will soon have occasion to enshrine pie in my series. Any votes on what kind of pie?

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Villain Worth Celebrating

A common complaint about villains in stories and film is that at some point their motivation all boils down to ruling the world. The super-cheesy ones say so plainly with malevolent glee and tack on an evil laugh at the end—“And then I will rule the world! Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha-haa!” Mike Myers mocked this tendency brilliantly in the Austin Powers movies. But why do they want to rule the world? Because it’s there?

They’re power-mad, these villains, and we rarely get any idea of what truly motivates them. Take Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, for example—what drove him to hate so much? What was his beef with the Jedi? We never find out. He’s one of the flattest characters ever. He had a cool Halloween mask for a face, a neato double light saber and a gliding motorcycle thingie—but he was completely boring. Darth Vader was (and is) a much better villain, because we know what happened to him and we can empathize a bit with what turned him to the Dark Side—namely, the death of his mother.

But even though Darth Vader is one of the greatest villains ever and rightly deserves his top-ten seeding in the Suvudu Cage Match, I think there’s another villain in that particular tournament of evil that deserves a lot more respect: Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica.

The genius of Baltar is that he’s always able to convince himself that he’s doing the right thing, the best thing for everyone—it’s just a coincidence that it’s also the best thing for him personally. Occasionally, he’s able to convince people—and perhaps us, the viewing audience—that he’s actually the victim. Nothing is ever his fault. He doesn’t have an evil bone in his body.

He sure does have a selfish bone, though.

To my mind, Baltar is the best villain ever because any one of us could become him. We couldn’t become Sauron or the White Witch or the Terminator, or many of the others in the Suvudu Cage Match: they’re all one-dimensional bogeymen, a foil for the naïve hero. But we could (and we do) make choices based on our own selfish desires. Like Baltar, we could descend into corruption in our pursuit of power, fame, fortune, and the sensual luxuries that are supposed to attend them. And we could tell ourselves, all the while, that we are the heroes of our own story; we could even pile on great heaping dollops of this faith or that, as Baltar eventually does, and give our actions the hue of religious righteousness.

If you want to see someone truly go to the Dark Side, Baltar is the one to watch. The villains from Star Wars go there and get symbolically cloaked in darkness, but they, like many other fictional villains, are a bit over-the-top, a bit too cartoonish, and thus they are entertaining more than truly horrifying. Baltar, however, is wholly loathsome and terrifying, because I can easily imagine him in our world today; I think there may be a few copies of him running around right now.

Now through Thursday, you can go vote for Baltar in the Suvudu Cage Match. He’s up against the White Witch from Narnia. I wrote up the prediction for how I think it will go—and if Baltar wins, I’ll get to write more. I think he should win the whole tournament, and with your help, he will! Spread the word, please—a vote for Baltar is a vote for well-rounded villains that we love to hate. While you’re at it, vote on the other matches, too—it’s tremendous fun and a chance to geek out about your favorite bad guys.

If you’re visiting my blog for the first time because you saw my write-up on Suvudu—welcome, and thanks for visiting! Take time to explore the archives, follow me here or on Twitter, and feel free to say howdy in the comments!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm a Reluctant Adult

No...really! I've joined the League of Reluctant Adults at their invitation, and I'm thrilled! What is the League?

Well, it's a group of 23 authors (including yours truly) who write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. We get together during conventions and whatnot to hold group signings, do unspeakable things to action figures, etc. I haven't met any of my fellow Leaguers in person yet, but I've read quite a few of their books and I know from that experience that they're brilliant. For example, there's Nicole Peeler, Kelly Meding, Stacia Kane, Cherie Priest, Anton Strout...and more!

Go visit the League here and follow us! Nicole Peeler is introducing/hazing me sometime today on the site, so you're sure get a laugh or two. You might have to scroll down to find me (depending on when you click over there because two other authors will be introduced), but it'll be worth it—Nicole is pretty funny.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Wee Adventure in Bookman's

Right now I'm on October break—a week off in between quarters. It's an excellent time o' year to be off work in Arizona. The weather is freakin' perfect.

Today was an especially cool day. I all but finished copy editing Hammered, I got invited into a SUPER! SECRET! club (which won't be a secret on Monday because I'll blog about it then), I hung out by the pool at an awesome resort with some friends of mine, hit the comic book store to pick up Chew #14 and Northlanders #33, then walked into a used bookstore out here called Bookman's.

Here is what happened when I walked into Bookman's with my daughter:

UNKNOWN FEMALE VOICE: (shock, excitement) Mr. Hearne!

Hearne turns his head to the right. Two students stand agape at the vision of their English teacher existing outside of school.

HEARNE: (shock, bewilderment) Brunnhilde! Megatron! (Names changed to protect the innocent)

BRUNNHILDE: I can't believe this!


HEARNE: I know!

It is a magical moment for all concerned. Brunnhilde and Megatron realize that teachers have lives and do not live in coffins, iron maidens, basements, etc. Hearne is filled with hope for the future because he has now witnessed students visiting a bookstore of their own free will during a vacation.

Heh! Honestly, it was great. Those two kids are simply brilliant, and it's easy to see why, since they weren't at home watching TV or playing video games. They were in a bookstore. Looking at books. Talking about what they wanted to read! It made me ridiculously happy. Such a very cool day.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Still Life with Fantasy and Fruit #8

I'm on my October break—which means a week off from school—and having a WHOLE! WEEK! to read and write and run errands during normal business hours sounds like a swim in milk chocolate right now.

My copy edits for Hammered are going to arrive today, so of course I'll be diving into that, and I'm hoping to finish up my outline for book six this week, which is currently wearing the tentative title of Hunted.

My outlines are about 10-15 pages. I'm making them longer and more detailed than I used to because I saw the advantage of it while writing Hexed; the detailed notes I'd written on Hexed allowed me to crank it out in five months, and it was also far easier to edit/prettify than Hounded or Hammered, neither of which had detailed outlines. So I've learned quite a bit about myself as a writer—I can write as a pantser and as a plotter as well—but wow, the job sure gets done more efficiently when I plot. That doesn't mean I slavishly follow the outline, either—I change things as I go, especially the order of events. I'll probably post my Hexed outline after the book comes out so people can compare what I'd planned against what actually got written.

Here's what I plan to read this week:
Still Life with Fantasy and Fruit #8
We have three miniature fruits here alongside a giant variation of another. Miniature Clementine oranges, a wee watermelon, and a petite pumpkin frame Scott Westerfeld's dieselpunk Behemoth, while huge table grapes called Pristines nestle against the steampunk succulence of Cherie Priest's Dreadnought.

I loved both Leviathan (Westerfeld) and Boneshaker (Priest), so these sequels are going to be delightful returns to worlds I enjoyed on my first visit. I especially love that Dreadnought is printed in brown ink like Boneshaker was.

In other news, Suvudu is starting their Villain Cage Match! TODAY! You can go vote now for who should fill in the last few slots in the bracket here.

And when the first round starts, one of the matchups will be introduced by Yours Truly! The bracket is public now, so I'm not going to be spoiling anything with this: I've written up the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia (Seed #5) vs. Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica (Seed #28)! I hope you'll follow along and join in the fun by voting! These Cage Matches are the coolest thing's a chance to feed the Nerd Inside. So say we all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Speaking to the APW

A couple months ago, the Rim Country Chapter of Arizona Press Women invited me to speak in Payson about writing genre fiction and how I got my start, and I accepted gladly. I've had plenty of practice keeping high school kids entertained for an hour, but could I do the same with adults? It turned out to be two hours. Once I got going I found out I had more to say than I thought. And they paid me a huge compliment—when the organizer asked about halfway (??) through if anyone wanted to stop and take a break, no one wanted to go! So that gave me warm fuzzies and I'm glad it wasn't a snorefest.

It was held at the East-West Book Exchange, an extremely cool little place with some gift shop goodies and a coffee bar (free wifi!) in addition to books and a lovely room that they rent out for yoga classes and small events like mine. Owners Chip and Lisa Semrau are gracious people and their mochas are fantastically good. Like holy-crap-I-think-Starbucks-sucks-now kind of good.

There were 35 people there, which I thought was fairly decent considering that I haven't even been published yet. Many of the people I spoke to had already been published in nonfiction markets but were curious about how to break into fiction, so I explained why getting an agent is a Really Good Idea and how one might best accomplish that, and I also spoke about urban fantasy tropes and the glorious fun of steampunk.

I saw some folks in the audience taking notes and they had some great questions afterward, so I hope it turned out to be helpful. I like to think of the market as a giant pie, and everyone should have a slice.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Whiskey Row

This post isn't about whiskey. But I could see how you'd think that, what with the title and all. Nope, this is about a destination.

Whiskey Row is in downtown Prescott, Arizona. It's famous for an awful lot of rows begun by men who drank too much whiskey. And, of course, there used to be a whole row of bars there in the days when people only bathed seasonally. There still are quite a few bars there, but they're interspersed with gift shops and scented candle stores now that people bathe more often. It tells you how far Arizona's come in a hundred years: we used to just need booze, but now we need booze and a way to smell good afterward.

On the corner of Gurley and Montezuma is the St. Michael Hotel. It's over a century old, which is "old" for Arizona. Teddy Roosevelt stayed there. John L. Sullivan did too, and I was told by my paternal grandmother (maiden name of Sullivan) that I'm distantly related to him somehow. (I only remembered that today, when I saw a plaque with his name on it affixed to the hotel. I sorta thought, "Wow. You know you're famous when your sleeping arrangements get marketed to future generations."And I might not be related to him at all—Grandma's story might have been blarney; I think he's someone every Irishman wishes he was related to, because he kicked a lot of ass and his mustache was epically virile.)
My supposed relation, John L. Sullivan

In any case, my family and I decided to sup in the bistro located on the ground floor of said establishment. It looked like this:

We were early so that's why the joint looks deserted. I ordered a broiled portobello stuffed with artichoke, spinach, tomato, zucchini and parmesan spread out on a red pepper coulis. Jasmine rice and veggies on the side. It looked like this and it was nummy:
I gave the cauliflower to my daughter because I can't eat that stuff. It looks like braaaaains.

We were visiting Whiskey Row today because there's a very cool photographer up there named Amy Ryland, and if I absolutely must let someone take my picture, then it's gotta be her. She found a spiffy stone wall on Whiskey Row and shot me there for my author photo. Brace yourself.
As promised, I eschewed the infamous and ubiquitous Author Chin Cradle. (Though I'm leaving my Profile Chin Cradle up on the right sidebar, and I'll also continue to use it on Twitter and Facebook because it cracks me up.) I didn't give into temptation and stand in front of a bookcase, either. Nope, this is Stone Cold Whiskey Row, and there's a twinkle in my eye because that tends to happen when I'm in close proximity to that much whiskey.

I think you can click on the picture to enlarge it, but I'd recommend that you resist the urge, because there's only so much cute chubby Irish guy you can handle.

My editor tells me that Advance Reader Editions of Hounded will be available sometime in December. I have no idea how many they will print or who will get them: It's a mystery. But O, frabjous day! My cover shouldn't be a mystery for much longer! For one thing, there will be a poster of it on display at the New York Comic Con next weekend. If you're going to be there, stop by the Del Rey booth and check it out. :)