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December 2011

WavesSeason’s greetings!

Whew, this one snuck up on me. It’s been a busy year, with not one, but two books coming out, and another one in the works. But Saints Astray is out as of last month, and I’ve delivered the manuscript for my new project, an urban fantasy now titled Dark Currents. Time to take a deep breath!

I’m not usually one for making New Year’s resolutions, but last January, I did; and as we look toward the end of the year, I feel safe saying I’ve actually kept them. One was healthy, the other… well, it helps if you make them fun! On the fun end of the spectrum, I resolved to have a chilled bottle of champagne* on hand at all times. Well, at home, anyway. Obviously, I’m not going to keep one in my car or bring a bottle of champagne into the movie theater or grocery store. Although that certainly would make grocery shopping more entertaining, and I’ve seen a few movies it might improve, too. But I like champagne, and this resolution was a good reminder that one doesn’t need to save it for special occasions. Any day can be brightened by a glass of bubbly.

On the healthy side, I resolved to begin practicing yoga. I had a suspicion that it’s a lot harder than it looks, and I was right. Although I work out regularly, those first few classes kicked my butt! But I stuck with it, and I’ve come to really enjoy it. It was inspirational to see many older men and women (yeah, yeah, I’m not exactly a kid anymore, but I mean considerably older than me) in the classes, practicing with a level of grace and assurance that takes years to attain; not to mention strength and flexibility. I’m working on it! In the meantime, I’m happy to have found such a wonderful resource in my small community.

Heading into winter, things will be quiet. There’s not a lot on my schedule except editing, proofing and writing for the next few months. However, Arizona readers, please note that I’ll be attendingDarkCon as the author Guest of Honor on January 12-15. I’m looking forward to it; and once the snow starts falling here in Michigan, I’ll really be looking forward to it.

Nothing new in the galleries this month! That might be a first. But there are a number of new additions to the Links page, ranging from a video chat I did last summer with fellow fantasy author and all-around good guy Peter Orullian to interviews surrounding the release of Saints Astray. And I’m delighted to share a link to the results of a group of Italian fans who staged a costumed photo shoot in Turin. Che meraviglia!

Best wishes to all for a joyous holiday! See you in 2012.

*Actually a Spanish cava, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva. A great value! Hey, if I keep it up, maybe I can get a sponsorship like Chelsea Handler has with Belvedere vodka…

November 2011

Order Saints Astray on Amazon.comSaints Astray comes out this month! The release date is November 22, but a lot of my books have shipped early, so it may appear soon on a bookshelf near you.

Although it deals with some serious themes, in many ways this is a more light-hearted book than its predecessor, Santa Olivia. When I was searching for a title for it, some readers suggestedLoup and Pilar’s Excellent Adventure in jest, but that’s not all that far off the mark. Having known nothing but their very circumscribed lives in Outpost, I wanted to give my teenaged heroines a chance to experience the world writ large, with exuberance and aplomb. Of course, they’re also dreaming about a chance to liberate everyone they left behind, which will prove a dangerous undertaking… but they have a lot of fun along the way. I hope all of you do, too!

In unrelated news, I had a lovely getaway to Savannah, Georgia last month. It really is a beautiful city. While attending the traditional Oktoberfest wiener dog races (yes, it’s also a quirky place), my girlfriend Julie and I were spotted by local fantasy author Greg Keyes, whom we had met a year earlier at the Imaginales festival in France. Serendipity! He picked us up the next morning for a tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery, giving us the inside scoop on which ghost stories Savannah locals believe are true. Professional storytellers make for great tour guides, and we very much appreciated his hospitality.

I had an amusing encounter there, too. During the complimentary wine hour at the hotel, we met a number of guests. It was all very pleasant, but there was one Norwegian gentleman who was appalled that neither of us could tell him at what latitude our hometown was located. We were trading travel stories, and he made a number of jokes about the shallowness of American travelers, especially materialistic shopping-obsessed women who remain woefully ignorant of their latitude and longitude. I don’t think he intended it in a mean-spirited sense – his American wife was laughing in self-deprecating agreement – but I finally said, “Look, I write novels. When I travel, I tend to collect interesting bits of cultural and historical information, not geographic data. For example, you mentioned Spain. Did you know that the name Barcelona is derived from the Carthaginian conquerer Hamilcar Barca?”

No, he did not. After a long pause, he said, “I think perhaps I have offended you.” And of course I dismissed it politely, but secretly I felt pretty good about the exchange. Maybe next time, he won’t be so quick to stereotype.

Then I went up to my hotel room to admire the beautiful ring I’d bought while shopping earlier that day, and Google my latitude.

October 2011

Lots of pumpkins from a local patchFirst things first! A number of people have been asking about this on Facebook, and I’ve posted the first chapter of Saints Astray¬†here. The book comes out in late November. Meanwhile, enjoy the teaser.

In other news, I’ve delivered the manuscript for a new project with the working title Siren Summer. This is an urban fantasy I’ve mentioned here and a few other places, the first in a series of three books featuring my reluctant hell-spawn heroine, Daisy. It’s a lot of fun, and quite unlike anything I’ve written to date. Of course, it still has to go through the whole editorial process and probably won’t be released until fall of 2012. I look forward to rolling out more details in the months to come.

One very cool thing I forgot to mention last month is that the Kushiel’s Legacy series made National Public Radio’s poll of the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books in August. Now, I try not to get too hung up on accolades, but… this is a good’un. When I saw the list of 200+ finalists, I figured my books were probably out of the running, because it was Top 100 of all time. Not just my contemporary peers, but titans of the genre! Tolkien! Asimov! Heinlein! LeGuin! Or more accurately, genres, because no matter how often science fiction and fantasy are placed under the same umbrella, they are very different critters. Well, usually. There are some exceptions like Frank Herbert’s Dune with a foot in both worlds, or movies like Star Wars or Avatar that are essentially fantasies set in space.

Tangents aside, I was delighted to find myself mistaken. Kushiel’s Legacy came in at #77, sandwiched between Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama and Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. That’s some pretty awesome company. Lucky double sevens! I’ll take it.

Another thing that makes this a particularly nice accolade is that people who glaze over at the mention of fantasy tend to perk up when you throw NPR into the mix. It lends a patina of respectability to a suspect genre. Maybe, just maybe, if these books are keeping company with listeners who enjoy Garrison Keillor, Diane Rehm and “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” they’re worthy of consideration.

On a somber note, I learned on September 27th that fantasy author Sara Douglass passed away after a long battle with cancer. I met Sara in 2001 during Tor’s 10-city “Women in Fantasy” book tour, featuring Sara, Juliet Marillier and me. We spent several weeks on the road together. I was a brand-new author, and it was a privilege to enter the world of book promotion with two wonderful women and excellent travel companions. Sara was one of a kind, a natural raconteur with a great sense of humor and a propensity for exaggeration that turned life’s little vicissitudes into grand adventures.

In the last years of her life, she wrote and spoke about her illness with tremendous candor. This article takes a hard, pragmatic look at the needs and concerns of the terminally ill, and the ways in which friends and loved ones often fall short in meeting them. I’m grateful to have read it, and I share it in Sara’s honor.

Be well, my friends! And check out the Tattoo Gallery before you leave for a very cool new entry featuring an Athenian coin and the phrase “All knowledge is worth having” translated into Ancient Greek.

September 2011

Where, oh where did the summer go? Wherever it went, it went way too fast.

Dune Schooner Rides!I’ve been listening to a lot of music in my car this summer. That might sound like a glaringly obvious thing to do, but it’s actually not for me. My relationship with music has become more sporadic in the last decade.

People often ask if I listen to music when I write, and if so, what. I don’t. Some writers do. I’ve witnessed lengthy discussions among writers about what they listen to and why. Me, I tune out everything when I’m writing, so music would be pointless. And I do a lot of my best creative thinking when I’m in motion, walking, jogging or driving, so weeks or months may pass when it doesn’t occur to me to strap on the iPod or turn on my car stereo. Then I’ll do so on a whim, rediscover music and remember that it can inspire, too.

In fact, I’d quite forgotten until thinking about this update that it was a song that inspired me to start writing. The year was 1980 and the song was Fleetwood Mac’s “Sisters of the Moon,” which intrigued and frustrated me with mysterious, arcane lyrics hinting at a larger, more compelling narrative that appealed to my Gothic little teenage heart. I wanted to know the whole story. Since it didn’t exist, I set out to write it.

What resulted was a sprawling, endless, multigenerational story that was part fantasy and part soap opera, and when I count my ‘practice novels,’ I don’t number this among them. It wasn’t a novel, it was an amorphous mess. Some teenagers keep diaries. I kept a story. Mary Sues abounded, replaced each generation with an even more perfect Mary Sue. Plotlines unraveled or were abandoned. One major character lost an eye just because I thought he’d look cool with a patch. If I did that now, I’d spend hours researching the impact and readjustment such an injury would entail, including spending time in an eye-patch to get an more visceral sense of the loss of field of vision and depth perception. Then… I don’t know what I was thinking. Probably that it looked badass on Kurt Russell in “Escape from New York.”

But it got me hooked on writing, and it all started with a song. And I do still find inspiration in music. Sometimes the connections are nebulous; listening to Arcade Fire’s “Black Mirror” got me started on a train of thought that led to the dragon’s reflection in “Naamah’s Kiss.” Sometimes they’re obvious. I’ve been listening to a lot of blues that echo the emotional journey of the protagonist of my current work-in-progress, and some of that will show up in the book.

More on that in months to come! But here’s a fun fact: The dune schooner photo on the homepage was taken as part of a research excursion. Yay for research that makes you go “Wheeee!”

August 2011

I’m a little late with this month’s update due to last month’s travel, so I thought I’d offer a sneak peek into the not-so-glamorous life of an author on a book tour.

Jacqueline's suitecase from her book tourA lot of it centers around the suitcase. Like anyone, I have favorite items of clothing; and it when it comes to packing for travel and public appearances, the list of favorites is narrowed to comfortable, attractive items that pack light and don’t succumb easily to wrinkles. And I have my perennial favorites; but in the age of social networking, if I don’t mix it up, I will be photographed wearing my perennial favorites… over and over and over again. And I will be tagged in those photos, whereupon I will realize a) I wore that same top in Seattle last year, and b) I really, really need a haircut.

Then there is the modern traveler’s quandary: To check a bag or not? Taking a carry-on means not having to worry about missing a flight due to long lines to check a suitcase, not having to pay the additional fee. But it also means having to leave out various cosmetics, cleansers, moisturizers, etc. that won’t fit into my quart-sized baggie, and fight for space in the overhead storage bins.

Inevitably, there’s one item I didn’t pack and wish I had. This year, it was the perfect light-weight travel coat. Oh, I checked the weather in advance and thought I’d be fine. But due to a delayed flight, I was stuck in the San Diego airport for hours, where the air-conditioning was cranked up so high, I was freezing. I debated shelling out $37.50 for an ugly fleece jacket in the gift shop, but I was so annoyed at the thought of my perfect travel coat hanging in my closet at home, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I walked laps around the terminal to stay warm.

When I’m flying out to the west coast, I spend a lot of time alone in hotel rooms watching TV, sometimes very bad TV. It’s not for lack of desire to get out and explore, but because of the three hour time difference, I’m likely to wake up at 6:00 am. Some authors can write on the road, anytime, anywhere. Alas, I’m not one of them. So I’ll flip around the channels, and think “Oh, Catwoman’s starting. That sounds good and mindless, and I’ll go out for breakfast when it’s over. Sure, it got panned, but is it really that bad?”

Yes. It is. Also, the singing in Mamma Mia is worse than I remembered, probably because I saw it at a singalong viewing where the audience drowned out the actors, especially poor, miscast Pierce Brosnan. Fortunately, USA Network airs a fairly steady diet of the television equivalent of easy-listening music, and if they don’t come through, there’s always an old episode of Law and Order, NCIS or Bones airing somewhere, procedurals that soothe the weary traveler’s nerves with their predictability and familiarity. That’s not a knock; there’s a reason for the longevity of shows like these.

Once the rest of the world around me is awake, I’ll venture out and see whatever I have time to see. I love public spaces and people-watching. I love art museums. If there’s good shopping, I may try to augment my wardrobe.

Of course, the highlights of a tour are the actual booksignings. People sometimes ask if I enjoy them, and I do. I really do. Doing a reading and a Q&A is as close as I get to a live performance and I get a rush from the energy of the crowd, especially coming off of what’s often a long day of solitude. I love seeing the diversity of my readership. I love hearing the stories my readers tell me, which are often tremendously touching. I agonize a little for the painfully shy fans, and always try to find a few words to put them at ease. I marvel at the fans who’ve traveled for hours to be there, and really, really hope they leave feeling it was worthwhile.

And I’ll be honest, it tickles me when fans give me gifts. It’s such a sweet, unnecessary gesture, and I love the thought processes behind it, considerate and humorous alike. On this trip, I received a bejeweled bookmark, beautiful handmade paper roses, a lovely rose hair ornament, an array of freshly baked cookies, and a vial of hand sanitizer because “people are dirty.”

Thanks, guys!

Featured on the homepage is the suitcase itself. Check out the Fan Photos gallery for a fun pic from a signing, and the Fan Art gallery for a gorgeous new photo portrait.

July 2011

Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey - purchase it in hardcover from Amazon.com Travel dates this month! See the Events column on the left for details. Otherwise, I’m posting an essay I wrote in April. I like this piece a lot, because it’s really your collective voice speaking. At the time, I promised to share it if I couldn’t place it elsewhere. Since I didn’t find another home for it, here it is:

We, the fantasy readers

Long before I was a successful fantasy writer, I was a faithful reader. With the recent release of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” a spate of reviews made it obvious that there remain pervasive dismissive attitudes not only toward the entire fantasy genre, but to those who love it. As in any genre, there’s a wide range of quality out there. I’m content to let my work and the work of my fellow authors speak for itself, but I’d like to speak on behalf of the readers, because I am one.

Critics, I’d like you to know that we’re not the monolithic group of stunted adolescents you think we are. I polled my own fans on Facebook, asking “Why do you read fantasy?” I think the array of eloquent, heartfelt responses might surprise you, and I offer the following synthesis, Breakfast Club-style.

“We read fantasy because we crave wonder, a longing no one should ever lose. We read because it is life writ large on a vast canvas, and the timeless arc of the hero’s journey resonates for us. We read for the richly drawn characters and their complex and dynamic relationships. Yes, really. We read because we yearn for adventure, for tales with themes of adversity, honor, duty, loyalty, valor, sacrifice and redemption on an unabashedly grandiose scale. We read for the poignant ache of tragedy when a beloved character perishes, and the trumpeting glory of a hard-fought victory.

In a world that doesn’t always make sense, we read fantasy for the profound catharsis of an epic plot resolved at long last. And sometimes, we read because these stories give us hope and the strength and courage to face obstacles in our own lives. Sometimes, they’re our gateway to proud self-reclamation.

We read because fantasy, unshackled from the constraints of reality, is free to explore the depth and breadth of the human condition; to tackle ethical quandaries from unexpected directions; to ask philosophical questions couched in the form of entertainment; to use allegory to hold up a mirror and make us look at ourselves anew. We read to visit worlds that aren’t, but show us the shape of a world that could be.

We read to catch a glimpse into someone else’s unfettered imagination, marveling in awe at the scope and detail of their creation; we read to spark our own imaginations as our minds transmute words on a page into visions of dragons and unicorns and castles floating in the sky, things we have never seen nor ever shall.

And yes, sometimes we read to escape. We read to escape from childhood trauma, from abuse, from physical pain, from ordinary doldrums, from grief, from the anguish of divorce, from the creeping despair of enduring joblessness, from crippling depression, from the torment of sleepless nights spent in a hospital with a critically ill child.

We read because fantasy offers a beacon of hope in an increasingly cynical and materialistic world, an unapologetic celebration of the abiding power of storytelling and the triumph of good over evil.

We are not just boys. We are girls, too. Shy girls and sexy girls, funny girls and moody girls. We are men and women. We come in every shape, size, color and creed, and we live all over the planet. We’re gay and straight, bisexual and transgendered. We’re your sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas. We’re teachers, doctors and real estate agents; soldiers, plumbers and bakers; students, housewives and lawyers; bankers, dog-walkers and cosmetologists; computer programmers, farmers and artists; scientists, marketers and massage therapists; nurses, librarians and truck drivers.

We just wanted you to know.”

And there you have it! Be sure to check out the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries for some lovely new additions, including one of the best portraits of Joscelin that I’ve received, and an elegant anguissettephoto I didn’t dare share on Facebook.

Hope to see you out there on the road!

June 2011

Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey - purchase it in hardcover from Amazon.com Naamah’s Blessing comes out this month!

Okay, I know technically that’s barely true, since the official release date is June 29th. But it seems as though my books almost always ship out and appear on the shelves earlier than expected.

In fact, I’m counting on it this year. Over on the left in the Events column, signings for the Naamah’s Blessing book tour are posted. That first one in Frisco, Texas is a bonus. I’m going to be in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area on a brief personal trip, and I was able to add this signing. The store is placing a rush order onNaamah’s Blessing, and my publicist thinks it should arrive in time. Fingers crossed! UPDATE: The Texas signing has been moved to a Real Bookstore in Fairview, TX. They’re asking that customers purchase copies of Naamah’s Blessingthrough the store. You can preorder your copy here and pick it up the night of the event!!

If you’re not in the vicinity of Dallas, Seattle, Lansing, Ann Arbor, San Diego or San Francisco, you can still order a signed copy from The Signed Page. I’ll be signing those in Seattle on July 13th, and copies will ship afterward. I’m sorry we couldn’t arrange to do it earlier, but there were various scheduling issues.

Naamah’s Blessing marks the last volume in Moirin’s trilogy, and the last book set in the Terre d’Ange milieu – if not forever, at least for the foreseeable future. I may revisit it some day. I may not. At this point, I honestly don’t know. I’ve spent many, many wonderful years in this setting and while there may be further D’Angeline stories to tell, right now, that’s not what the Muse is whispering into my ear.

Endings are always bittersweet, but I think this one is fitting, bringing everything around full circle. The sequence in Terra Nova is one of my favorites over the course of this trilogy; and one of the most challenging, too. I really wanted to convey a sense of vastness and adventure in the scope of the journey, and the dramatic arc of the sequence culminates in a scene that’s both terrible and beautiful in its own awful way. There are certain scenes that stick with you as a writer in terms of ambition and execution, and this book has a couple of them.

Check out the Tattoo Gallery for a pair of new additions! There’s a new fansite, Kushielverse, that’s been added to the Links page. Happy anticipating, happy reading, and I hope to see many of you in Texas later this month!

May 2011

Purchase a paperback copy of Naamah's Curse at Amazon.com Naamah’s Curse is out in paperback here in the US! If you’ve been waiting for it, wait no longer!

I’m also happy to announce that I’ll be doing a signing with¬†The Signed Page again this year for Naamah’s Blessing, and you can pre-order your copy now. The signing will take place on July 13th in Seattle, and copies will ship afterward. That is a couple weeks after the release of the book, so bear in mind, you won’t be the first on the block to own a copy… but it will be signed!

Yes, that also means that I’ll be doing a public signing in Seattle, plus a few more events later in July. As soon as I have a fully confirmed itinerary, I’ll post the details, but it looks like the additional venues will be Ann Arbor, Lansing, San Francisco and San Diego.

This is a way in the future, but if you’re in the vicinity of Phoenix, I’ll be a guest of honor at DarkCon in January 2012. Whenever possible, I try to accept invitations to sponsored (eg. travel expenses and lodging) appearances at conventions or book festivals, especially if it’s in an area I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to visit, and connect with readers there.

Not much to report otherwise! I’m still hard at work on a new project, which it’s still too early to discuss in detail. It’s been a long, rainy spring here in Michigan, and my backyard is filled with water, much to the delight of my mud-loving dog Maya. Games of fetch or soccer with her favorite big red ball are followed by intensive toweling-off sessions on the front porch. I’m hoping for drier days to come, and a bit more sunshine would be nice, too.

Visit the Tattoo Gallery for a couple of nice new entries, and if you haven’t joined my page on Facebook, check it out! I post there regularly, and I think you’ll find a diverse community, odds and ends of interest, some fun discussions and the occasional giveaway.

Cheers!

April 2011

Yaks in China - Click for larger photoIs it spring yet? According to the calendar, yes; according to the rhodometer, no. What’s a rhodometer, you ask? It’s what we call the big rhododendron just outside the front door. It’s actually an evergreen, and its leaves respond to temperature. At around forty degrees or higher, they’re spread in the familiar open umbrella shape, but as it gets colder, the umbrella closes; and the colder it gets, the harder and tighter the leaves shrink together.

After having observed this phenomenon for years, during the winter months, with a single glance at the rhodometer I can usually tell the temperature within a few degrees. This particular skill came in handy this winter when our outdoor thermometer, located in a hard-to-reach spot you really don’t want to contend with when there are several feet of snow on the ground, died.

Now what began as an idle guessing game has become an ingrained habit, and let me tell you, I’m tired of getting chilly news from our poor, shrivel-leafed rhodometer every morning. So I’ll try to spread a little warmth and cheer of my own by posting the first chapter of Naamah’s Blessing, coming out in late June. I hope it whets your appetites!

Yes, I will be doing some booksignings this summer, details to be posted when the itinerary is confirmed. And yes, although it’s not listed for pre-sale yet, I’ll also be doing a signing with The Signed Page for readers in parts elsewhere.

In other news, I’m hard at work on the first book in the new project I mentioned last month; and if you missed that or any other announcement, you can always check the Archives. I don’t want to sound like a broken record (and how’s that for a dated simile?) here on the homepage. The first volume probably won’t be out until fall of 2012, so there’s plenty of time to divulge more.

Not a lot of extra tidbits this month, but check out the Fan Art Gallery for one reader’s fun and inspired way to represent a marque in T-shirt form! And since one of my favorite not-entirely-guilty-pleasure TV shows, The Amazing Race, provided me with a nostalgic reminder of my research trip to China three years ago, I’ve posted a photo on the homepage.

Yay for yaks! Alas, unlike the Amazing Racers, I didn’t have a chance to ride one of these beauties. Next time!

March 2011April

At last, it can be told! After long months of nothing to report, I’m happy to reveal that I’ve accepted an offer for three books in a new series, a not-exactly-urban fantasy series with the working title Pemkowet Tales. I know it’s a crowded genre, but as long-time readers may have noticed, I enjoy the challenge of taking familiar tropes and putting an original spin on them.

I’ll talk more about the new work as the time draws nearer; it will be a while, since Naamah’s Blessing (June 2011) and Saints Astray (November 2011) are yet to come out. In the meantime, I’m writing away merrily, and having a lot of fun. I will say that this first book features one of my favorite secondary characters to date. I’ve often heard other writers mention having a compelling character unexpectedly take over the narrative and demand a storyline of their own. While I wouldn’t go that far, for the first time, I do find myself scheming ways to give her more screen time, as it were.

I had an experience last month that got me thinking about a particular aspect of the craft of writing fiction. I served as a juror for a residency program, and reviewed dozens of applications. One thing that stood out for me was the degree of difficulty many of the applicants had in handling dialogue. The narrative would be flowing along smoothly, filled with lovely bits of descriptive writing, and then… ka-thunk! There was an awkward clunker of an exchange that killed the momentum and knocked me right out of my willing suspension of disbelief.

Dialogue can be tricky. The goal is to evoke a sense of the way real people talk without actually replicating it. In real life, very few people speak in consistently concise, grammatically correct sentences. We ramble, we abbreviate, we hem and haw, we lose our trains of thought, we suffer from verbal tics. Although I fancy myself a reasonably articulate speaker, I have no doubt in my mind that I would be aghast to hear an exact tally of the number of times ‘like,’ ‘y’know,’ or ‘I mean’ comes out of my mouth over the course of a day. In a real-time verbal exchange, we tune out those extraneous bits of vocal clutter. On the page, it would make for excruciating reading.

So writing convincing dialogue is a bit of a balancing act. I began to get a grasp on it in one of my unpublished ‘practice novels,’ a mainstream coming-of-age novel that basically featured five young people in a cottage in the woods, and was about 80% dialogue. I know, small wonder that it’s unpublished, right? But it was valuable training. One handy piece of advice I recall reading is that the word ‘said’ tends to vanish in text. Your characters don’t need to be yelping, blurting, remonstrating and expostulating all over the place for the sake of variety. Adverbs are best used sparingly, lest they become obtrusive.

When in doubt, try reading your work aloud! It’s a great discipline for uncovering a multitude of flaws that your eye skates past.

In the monthly round-up, check out the Fan Art, Tattoo and Fan Photo galleries for new entries! And here on the homepage, I’m featuring a reminder that spring and the annual reawakening of my sleepy little resort town are right around the corner, even if it sometimes feels as though winter will never end.

February 2011Jacqueline Carey as Dr. Horrible - thanks, Kim!

Okay, I’m starting to feel a little guilty, because once again I have nothing of substance to report! As I said last month, and the month before, it’s not that I’m not working on something, it’s just not ready to be unveiled.

So let me tell you what it’s not: It’s not another book in the D’Angeline milieu. In between finishing trilogies, I’ve always needed to take a break from that world; from the intimacy of the point-of-view protagonist, from the sheer, sprawling scope of the plot and setting. This time is no exception, as I’ve sent poor Moirin careening over a goodly portion of my alternate globe.

Will I return to it? At this point in time, I can’t say for certain. I know there are readers with an inexhaustible appetite for the D’Angeline books, but I’ve played out a lot of scenarios in that world. It’s a challenge to keep finding new and different ways to create conflict, to raise the stakes over and over, all the while dealing with an ever-growing amount of backstory.

All I know for sure is that nine books into the series, it’s time to give it a rest. And if I do return to it, it will be with fresh eyes and renewed creative vigor.

Of course, Naamah’s Blessing is yet to be released, so that journey hasn’t ended for my readers. It’s due out in late June 2011. The major narrative arc has a denouement that plays out in a way I think is quite unusual for an alternate historical fantasy novel, and I’ll be interested to hear readers’ responses to it.

And for fans of Santa Olivia, 2011 will be a bonus year. The sequel, Saints Astray is scheduled for release in November. I had a lot of fun turning my favorite Santitos loose on the world, and I hope you’ll enjoy their adventures.

In the meantime, feel free to join me on Facebook, where I’m happy to answer readers’ questions, as well as post periodic updates, items of interest, giveaway contests, or whatever tickles my fancy on any given day.

Here on my official site, be sure to check out the Fan Art and Tattoo galleries for lots of new entries! We’ve got some fun manga-style character depictions, as well as personalized versions of a marque, and other lovely offerings. And on the homepage, courtesy of my sister-in-law Kim, a depiction of her two favorite evil geniuses merged into one.

All hail the Evil League of Evil!

January 2011

Happy New Year!

This will be a quick post to wish everyone the best in the year to come, as once again, I have nothing of substance to report. It’s not that I’m not working on something, I promise!

Last month, I noted that I always forget how much festive activity there is around the holidays. This month, I am also reminded that I also have a seasonal whammy of a publication schedule. Just when I thought my plate was clear, a typeset copy for the mass market edition of Naamah’s Curse arrived for proof-reading over the holidays.

This isn’t an absolute obligation, but it’s a good chance to correct any errors that slipped past us in the hardcover or were introduced in reformatting for paperback. And despite our best efforts, the former do occur! Several readers wrote to ask me why I left Kushiel out of a list of Elua’s Companions in Curse. It was an accident, plain and simple, and no one in the editing, copyediting or proof-reading process noticed.

One of the more embarrassing errors occurred in Kushiel’s Mercy. In several instances, I’d written “yolked” when I meant “yoked.” Once again, it slipped past all the professionals involved. One lone reader politely brought it to my attention, asking if I might have it corrected in future editions so that no one else was forced to picture a fried egg instead of a metaphorical harness.

So I always make an effort to proof-read with care. After several days of diligent poring and finding no new errors, I was a bit disgruntled at the waste of time. But then at last I found one! And it was the best kind – one that wasn’t my fault! In the middle of a very fraught scene, there was a vestigial hyphen smack dab in the middle of a proper name, a remnant of a line-break in the hardcover that had survived the reformatting.

It was a gratifying catch. Such a small thing, but at that particular place in the story, it would have completely thrown the reader out of what was meant to be one of the most intense, compelling scenes. That little hyphen made all the hours I spent finding nothing worthwhile.

That’s what I’ve been up to, along with eating, drinking, making merry, and baking an unprecedented number of cookies! If you’re a fan of candy canes, I highly recommend these Peppermint White Chocolate Chip babies.

In closing, check out the Fan Art Gallery for a lovely new drawing of a pensive young Ysandre. And on the homepage, I thought it fitting to say goodbye to 2010 with this great cosplay photo of reader Valentino and friend as Imriel and Sidonie.

Cheers, all!