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December 2013

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I’m delighted to announce that I delivered the manuscript for Poison Fruit, the third and final Agent of Hel book last month.  Yay!  Of course, my editor’s notes are yet to come, but I’m happy to have a little breathing room, especially during this busy season.  It’s going to be a fun read, and I think it wraps up the trilogy in a thoroughly satisfying manner.

As I reflect on my last post of the year, I realize that 2013 has been a real rollercoaster.  My partner Julie underwent hip replacement surgery last May, and during her recovery, I discovered exactly how hard it can be to be a caregiver, and how invaluable it is to have good friends who know you need a helping hand before you’ve realized it yourself.

Later that month, I was one of the writer guests of honor at Comicpalooza in Houston.  It’s not as insanely huge as Comic-Con, and I actually enjoyed it more.  I had more panels, which makes the time spent there seem more worthwhile; plus I got to come home with tales of hanging out in the VIP Green Room with members of the casts of Star Trek and Lost Girl, even if the entire extent of my interaction with Sir Patrick Stewart was him murmuring “Excuse me,” as he brushed past me to flop down on a couch and tug the rim of his baseball cap over his face.

In June, Julie and I planned and executed a big road rally-style fundraiser for our local Rotary club, which was a blast, but a lot of work, too.  Not the best undertaking to schedule after a major surgery, right?

And in August, we had an amazing trip to Croatia, where I was a guest of honor at the science fiction and fantasy convention Liburnicon, then did a book tour along the Adriatic coast.  Thanks to Julie’s new hip, we were able to explore this beautiful country on foot in a way that hadn’t been possible for years.

I was honored to part of the Unfettered anthologyimage that came out this year, featuring a stellar array of fantasy authors, with the proceeds going to retire medical debt incurred by our longtime friend Shawn Speakman of The Signed Page during his recent battle with cancer.  (Spoiler alert:  He kicked its butt.)

Unbeknownst to me, the Science Fiction Book Club celebrated their 60th anniversary by producing an exclusive edition of Kushiel’s Dart, featuring gorgeous new cover art by Donato Giancola.  That was a delightful surprise!

In October, Autumn Bones was released, and I did signings in Lansing, Houston and Seattle.  Oh, and if you’re looking for gift ideas, Shawn’s still got a few signed copies in stock at The Signed Page.

Since then, I’ve been hard at work writing; and now, enjoying a little downtime while I ponder what comes next.  Here’s hoping the year to come brings everyone their heart’s  desire!

Peace!

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November 2013

Autumn Bones by Jacqueline CareyThe dreary month of November is upon us here in Michigan!  And this will be a brief update, as I’m storming down the homestretch on Poison Fruit, the third and final volume of my Agent of Hel series.

Last month, I did a handful of booksignings forAutumn Bones, and a lot of readers are asking me what I’ll be writing next.  To be honest, I don’t know yet.  Of course, I have ideas, but once this manuscript is finished, I need to take some downtime and let those seeds germinate.

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve written and published fifteen novels in as many years—and a lot of those novels were doorstoppers, dense with research and packed with twice as much plot as an average-sized book.  It’s been a tremendous creative ride!  Writing in different subgenres beneath the fantasy umbrella is one of the things that’s kept my passion for the process alive and kicking, which means that whatever project I do tackle next will be something altogether new and different.

Loyal Kushiel fans often ask if I’ll ever return to that milieu, and I always say that at this point in time, I don’t plan to; but I reserve the right to change my mind if my Muse decrees otherwise.  Those books will always have a special place in my heart, but I’m truly happy with the way each and every intricate storyline was resolved.  Yes, there are other potential storylines that could be woven into a new narrative—what about telling Alais’s story?  What about Desirée’s story?—but they’re not loose threads.  If I attempted to pluck out a thread merely for the sake of setting another tale in Terre d’Ange, it would only weaken the tapestry.  And that’s not something I want to do.

So for now, and perhaps forever, the answer remains no.  I could change my mind in a year; I could change it in ten years.  Heck, Stephen King just wrote a sequel to one of his most iconic works after, what?  Thirty years?  All I can say is that everything I’ve written—a courtesan spy, a tortured prince, a bear-witch with a destiny, epic fantasy reinvented as epic tragedy, a teenaged girl boxer with superpowers, a reluctant hell-spawn with anger management issues—I’ve written from a place of passion and inspiration.

And all I can promise is that I will always do so.

That’s all for now!  Check out the Events column for a couple of new additions—a signing at Kazoo Books II in December and a guest appearance at ConFusion in January, courtesy of Subterranean Press.

See you next month!

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UPDATE: Pre-order your signed copy of Autumn Bones from The Signed Page!

Autumn Bones by Jacqueline CareyLate September-October 2013

Happy Autumn… Autumn Bones, that is!  Okay, I’m a little early, as Autumn Bones actually releases on October 1st, along with the mass market paperback of Dark Currents, (link to Amazon) but I wanted to get an update posted beforehand, since I’ll have a bit of book travel.

Just a few venues for this one, listed over in the Events column to the left—Lansing, Seattle and Houston.  However, I’m working with The Signed Page again to make signed, personalized copies available to anyone!

I’m a little tight for time this fall, as in addition to the release of a new book, and a delivery date for the next manuscript coming hard on its heels, Julie and I took the opportunity last month for a fantastic trip to Croatia.  It was sponsored in part by the science fiction and fantasy festival Liburnicon, where I was a guest of honor, and in part by Algoritam, my Croatian publisher.

PlitviceBefore we left, everyone in the U.S. said one of two things:  Either a) Is it safe, or b) Oh my God, it’s beautiful!  Yes, and yes.  The Bosnian War in the 1990s was a devastating conflict and the memory is fresh in the minds of everyone who endured it, but Croatia today is not only stable, it’s quite safe, with low crime rates.  And yes, it’s beautiful; stunningly so, as you can see from the photos posted here.

CroatiaThere are miles and miles of unspoiled coastline, with spectacular views from the mountains above them.  After making some wonderful friends at Liburnicon, we set out with our host Neven on a Croatian odyssey.  Inland, we toured the Plitvice Lakes National Park, famed for their cascading waterfalls and the remarkable hues of the clear water—turquoise, aquamarine, azure.  Along the coast, we visited Zadar, Sibenik, Split, the island of Hvar, and Dubrovnik.

CroatiaWe sunned ourselves on pebbled beaches and swam in the Adriatic.  We ate fresh-caught seafood and blitva, a traditional dish of potatoes and greens, and drank Croatian wine; some rather good Croatian wine.  We sipped countless cups of macchiato—espresso and milk—in cafes.  We visited cathedrals and fortresses, climbed mountains (okay, one small mountain), and perused shops in the labyrinth of Diocletian’s Palace.  At Neven’s summer house on Hvar, we breakfasted on cheese and pršut—Croatia’s version of prosciutto—bread and dark honey purchased by the roadside, tasting of the pine trees that perfumed the air.  We met more great people along the way.

The trip was in conjunction with the release of the Croatian translation of Kushiel’s Chosen, so it was only fitting that I did talks and signings and media interviews along the coast, where my Illyrian pirates plied their trade, and that the official book launch party was held in stunning Dubrovnik—Epidauro in my alternate history.

It was a lovely event, overshadowed only by the knowledge that we had to leave the following day.  After a quick flight to Zagreb, where we were reunited with our new friend Ana for an even quicker tour of the city and one last book event, we returned to Michigan.

It was a great trip, and I look forward to going back.  If you have the chance to visit Croatia, take it.

Meanwhile, happy reading!

Arrow

UPDATE: Pre-order your signed copy of Autumn Bones from The Signed Page!

August-early September 2013Click for a larger version

Wow, this summer’s flying past!  It’s been cool here in Michigan, so it hasn’t felt like summer most of the time.  That just doesn’t seem fair.

However, in just a few short weeks, I’ll be leaving for a trip to Croatia, where I’ll be the Guest of Honor at Liburnicon, a science fiction and fantasy festival held in Opatija on August 23-24.  I understand there’s a pirate theme!  After that, I’ll be traveling for another week with the editor in chief of Algoritam, my Croatian publisher, sight-seeing and doing booksignings.  It will be an adventure!

Since I won’t be back until September 2nd, next month’s update will be a little late.  There are a couple of events scheduled for the release of Autumn Bones in October over in the Events column, and hopefully, I’ll be able to add a few more in September—though no guarantees.  A number of readers have asked if I’ll be working with Shawn Speakman and The Signed Page to make signed copies of Autumn Bones available to readers everywhere.  At this point, I’m not sure.  It depends on whether or not there’s room in the publicity budget for a trip to Seattle.  If there is, I’ll post the info as soon as I get the word.  If there’s not, we’ll have to take a pass on this one.  I’ll miss it, but on the other hand, it’s been a hectic year, and I’ve got the third Agent of Hel manuscript to finish and deliver.

On a happier note, here’s something fun I don’t think I’ve mentioned:  As part of their 60th anniversary celebration, the Science Fiction Book Club released an exclusive special edition ofKushiel’s Dart, with brand-new cover art by Donato Giancola.  Lovely!  I only found out about it because a reader gave me a heads-up.  As is often the case, the author is the last to know… or at least certainly far from the first.

On a related note, artist Angela Sasser was inspired to hone her skills by creating an alternate cover for Kushiel’s Dart, which I’ve posted here on the homepage this month.  I love the atmospheric quality, and the depiction of Kushiel in particular.  She kept a diary documenting her creative process.

It’s always a pleasure to see different artists’ interpretations.  Speaking of art, check out the Tattoo Gallery for some new additions.  A lot of readers were posting pics that I’d never seen before on my Facebook page last month, too.

That’s it for now.  See you sometime next month… or if you’re in Croatia, vidimo se uskoro!

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July 2013

Click to purchase Unfettered on Amazon.comWhew!  If you happened to notice that there was no update here in June, it’s been a hectic couple of months.  As those of you who follow my Facebook author page may know, my partner, Julie, had hip replacement surgery in early May.  At the same time, in our infinite wisdom, we volunteered to co-chair a new fundraiser for our local Rotary Club, taking place in early June.

Note to self:  Don’t ever double-book massive undertakings again.

For the record, the surgery was a success, Julie’s doing tons of physical therapy and working toward a full recovery, and the fundraiser, which was a cross between an old-fashioned Road Rally and the TV show “The Amazing Race,” was a blast.

Somewhere in there, I also proofread the upcoming mass market edition of Dark Currents and the hardcover of Autumn Bones, and continued to make progress on the third Agent of Hel book, working title Poison Fruit.

You’ll have to wait for those—October 2013 for the first two, October 2014 for the third—but I do have book news to share.  The Unfettered anthology is out!  Unfettered is a project to raise funds to eradicate the medical debt incurred by Shawn Speakman of The Signed Page during his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Shawn’s been a great friend, working tirelessly to make signed copies of new releases available to all of you so many times, I was more than happy to contribute a story—along with a bunch of pretty heavy-hitters and some great new up-and-coming writers.

It’s a Kushiel’s Legacy precursor story… sort of.  I’ll let the preface I wrote for the anthology explain:

“Sometime in the mid-1990s, I awoke from a vivid dream that involved a barren, rocky shore bursting forth in a profusion of roses.  The image haunted me, and I incorporated it into a short story titled Martyr of the Roses.  Although the story failed to find a home at the time, it sketched out the rough beginnings of a complex theology and a map of the world that I went on to explore in detail in Kushiel’s Legacy, the series of alternate historical fantasy novels that launched my career.

At some point, I fully intended to capitalize on the success of Kushiel’s Legacy and put the story back on the market, but as I continued writing the series, I made creative decisions that rendered the story non-canonical.  It became a literary curiosity, the spark of inspiration that no longer fit within the framework of the narrative it engendered.  And while I wanted to share it with my readers, I didn’t know what the right venue for it might be.

When Shawn Speakman contacted me regarding the Unfettered anthology, I knew I’d found it.  Over the years, Shawn has done so much to connect fellow fantasy writers and fans.  Donating this literary curiosity is the perfect way to give thanks to Shawn for the wonderful service he provides with The Signed Page, and to give my own readers a never-before-seen glimpse into the origin of Terre d’Ange.

Just don’t ask me how House L’Envers ended up on the throne, because I honestly don’t know.”

So there you have it!  Please do consider checking out Unfettered.  It’s a fantastic line-up and a great cause—Shawn will use any proceeds over and above the amount needed to eradicate his own debt to help others in the community in similar plights.

And in closing, pay a visit to the Tattoo and Fan Photo galleries for some cool new pics!

Jacquelne Carey

May/June 2013

Autumn Bones'A quick update this month!  As you may surmise from the cover art posted here on the homepage,Autumn Bones', the second volume in my Agent of Hel series is now available for pre-order.  The release date is October 1st.  Dark Currents, the first volume, will be released in mass market paperback at the same time.

I suspect a number of readers are waiting for the paperback (or the corresponding drop in price of the ebook) to check out this series, which I totally understand.  It’s very different from anything I’ve done before.  And in a way, it’s hard to describe.  One of the reviews I thought did it best ran in i09, wherein Annalee Newitz declared it my best book in years and wrote, “Dark Currents is suburban fantasy wrapped around a crime thriller, which makes it sound like pretty much every other paranormal romance book you’ve ever read. But it’s really not.”

Why not?  As long-time readers know, I love tweaking the conventions of a genre.  Throughout the series, I take a lot of delight in contrasting standard elements of paranormal fantasy with prosaic reality, resulting in images like a lamia in a backyard swimming pool or a frost giant driving a dune buggy.  Daisy, my protagonist, isn’t exactly a world class kick-ass heroine – when it comes to a fight, she relies on skills she learned as a kid in Li’l Dragonz Tae Kwon Do classes to hold her own.If that sounds a little too frothy, well, there are dark themes in the books, too; and universal human themes of love, loneliness and alienation.  To quote i09 again, “Dark Currents is, in a sense, deceptively lighthearted. Blending romcom magic with some truly disturbing themes is incredibly difficult, but Carey makes it look effortless.”

At any rate, I hope everyone who enjoyed the first book is looking forward to Autumn Bones!  It’s as much fun if not more, and sexier, too.  And if you’ve been waiting for the paperback edition ofDark Currents, I hope you’re looking forward to its release.  October seems a long way away yet, but time flies!

In the meantime, pay a visit to the Fan Art Gallery for a new entry with a lovely take on Phèdre’s marque.  And if you’re in the Houston area, don’t forget that I’ll be at Comicpalooza on Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26.  I hope to see some of you there!

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April 2013

YarnHappy… spring?  At least that’s what my calendar says, even if the weather around these parts doesn’t agree yet!

Last month I happened upon a great insightful analysis (warning:  lots of spoilers!) of The Sundering, my duology consisting of Banewreaker' and Godslayer,' which got me thinking about that project; and I call it a project because it was intended to be a single volume.

My goal with The Sundering was simple:  I wanted to take the classic structure of Tolkienesque epic fantasy and rewrite it as epic tragedy from a point of view sympathetic to the losing side.  I think I achieved it – when I posted the link on Facebook, many readers commented on how heart-wrenching it was to watch the inevitable unfold.  My favorite was “…and by the end I was a whimpering, crying mess for days.”

Still, The Sundering is probably my least known, most misunderstood work.  Part of that may be because it is a tragedy, and not every reader is receptive to the cathartic pleasure of being reduced to a whimpering, crying mess.  Fair enough.  I’m not always up for it myself, but every now and then, I do want to read something powerful and tragic, something that leaves me emotionally devastated.  And I’m always interested in work that deconstructs tropes we take for granted.  I think a lot of writers are.  The most attention The Sundering received was probably when George R.R. Martin wrote about the inverted Tolkienesque structure of it on his website, noting “It’s a splendid idea splendidly accomplished, so much so that I ended up wishing there were three of them instead of two.”

A lot of readers have asked about that over the years, by the way.  The truth is, I never intended it to be anything but the cataclysmic tragedy that it is, or to extend it further.  Although the plot elements – the cryptic wizard, the throneless king, the unlikely chosen one, the rag-tag band of ‘heroes’ – derive from The Lord of the Rings, in terms of world-building and mythology, it actually hews closer to The Silmarillion, and the door that I left open at the end was merely meant to suggest the possibility of another tale in another era to follow, not the continuation of the current story.  That said, if my Muse ever smacked me upside the head with that tale, I’d write it… but so far that hasn’t happened and The Sundering as it stands is exactly what I wanted it to be.

Unfortunately, I think to a certain extent regarding the packaging and marketing, it was a victim of the success of the first Kushiel trilogy.  Tor Books, my publisher at the time, did a phenomenal job of launching my career, for which I will forever be grateful.  However, when it came to The Sundering, they were concerned about alienating the readership I’d developed, and soft-pedaled what I considered the strongest element of the project:  The fact that it is epic fantasy reimagined as epic tragedy.

As a result, I think the way the books were packaged and marketed was misleading, and a disservice to readers’ expectations.  And that’s too bad, because reading some trenchant commentary reminded me that I was proud of what I accomplished with The Sundering.  If I had it to do over, I would have pushed back harder against what I thought was a promotional misfire and urged Tor to market it on its merits, rather than worrying about readers expecting something more like the Kushiel series.  Because it wasn’t.  It really, really wasn’t.

Oh, and I would have fought harder against the decision to divide it into two volumes, just because.

Anyway, just something I was thinking about this month!  If you’ve never read The Sundering and you’re up for some catastrophic tragedy, check it out.  Also, I just, just discovered that there’s a new ebook' available for $1.99 bundling five stories from an earlier anthology, including You, and You Alone, my Anafiel Delaunay novella.

In closing, a reminder that I’ll be a guest at Comicpalooza in Houston next month.  If you’re into ink, check out the Tattoo Gallery for the latest addition! And if you’re into knitting, check out this yarn inspired by the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers and featured here on the homepage.

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March 2013

VinoAll is well here, but since there’s not a lot of news on my end—the revised manuscript of Autumn Bones was extremely well received!  Next up, copyediting!—I thought I’d tackle a different topic this month.  These thoughts have been bubbling up inside me for a while, and I’m about to uncork them and pour you a glass.

Over the past year, I’ve gone back and forth over whether I wanted to comment on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.  Oh, I’ve posted a few humorous items on Facebook, but I haven’t addressed it with any seriousness.  After reading last month that Penguin’s New American Library imprint has acquired another revamped Twilight fan fiction known as the Submissive Trilogy, I decided to voice my thoughts.

Let me say up front that I understand and respect the tradition of fan fiction.  It comes from a place of love, and like most authors, I’m honored to know there are readers that passionate about the stories I’ve told, the worlds I’ve created, and the characters I’ve brought to life.  As a legal precaution, I don’t read fan fiction based on my work, but I get it.  I get the desire to immerse yourself in a beloved setting, to play out scenarios that the author’s never going to explore, to tell a story from the perspective of non-POV character, to make worlds collide in a crossover.

I get it, I really do!  True confession:  Once upon a time, I even dabbled in it.  Back in, oh, maybe 1996, I wrote a couple of Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction stories.

And I’m all for a twice-told tale, too.  I love a good retelling of a classic—as long as it’s in the public domain.  My Sundering duology is a critique of Tolkienesque epic fantasy, and if Tolkien’s work was in the public domain, I would have loved to do a straight-up rewrite of Lord of the Rings as epic tragedy sympathetic to the losing side.  But it wasn’t, so I didn’t.  And this phenomenon is something altogether different.

I don’t blame publishers for acquiring these properties.  Traditional publishers are hurting, and they need hugely popular hits like Fifty Shades to keep the whole industry afloat.  I don’t blame E.L. James for taking the deal; life’s tough, I probably would have done the same thing in her place.  After all, the story itself is hers.  Character names and context and a sufficient number of distinguishing elements were changed, it’s all legal and aboveboard.

Heck, I’ll admit it; in the innermost snarky part of my being, I laughed a little at the irony of the chaste-until-marriage characters of Stephenie Meyer – who appears to be a very nice woman, but whose views are a lot more conservative than mine – being recast in a series of torrid quasi-BDSM-based erotica.

But…

Then I thought about how I would feel if those were my characters.  What if someone wrote a story about, say, Phèdre and Joscelin, still my most iconic couple, in which Joscelin undertook to prove his love to Phèdre by turning himself into a total dom, despite the fact that it’s inimical to his nature, and somehow magically healing the broken, hurt child within her in the process?

Actually, for all I know, someone’s done it, but as long as I can remain ignorant, I’m okay with it.  But what if that story, based on a premise I find offensive, appropriating my characters in ways I find abhorrent, became a huge commercial success and a full-blown pop culture phenomenon?  Something I couldn’t avoid, something that was all over the media, something reporters were asking me to comment on?  How would Ifeel?

One word:  Violated.

That was my honest, gut-level response.  I have no idea if Stephenie Meyer feels the same way.  I find it hard to imagine she doesn’t feel at least a little sick inside, but to the best of my knowledge, she’s been very gracious about the whole affair, taking an “It’s not my thing, but good for her” stance.  If it were me, I probably would, too.  The deed is done, and there’s no upside to igniting a backlash among readers, many of whom may like both authors’ works.

So why am I speaking out about it?  Good question.  It’s not like Fifty Shades is the first published work to begin as fan fiction, and it’s certainly not going to be the last.  I don’t know.  I just keep coming back to that question:  How would I feel?  And I feel a weird moral imperative to state my answer, perhaps in part because I haven’t seen anyone else making this point, and I believe this is a conversation that those of us in the industry should be having.  Are we sure we’re all okay with this?  Maybe the answer is yes, writers have always drawn inspiration from writers they admire, and when you strip away the sensationalism, this is nothing new.  Either way, it seems to me that we should talk about it.

Besides, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about a backlash with my readers.  You’re the ones who are out there telling people, “Oh, let me recommend a series to you that’s sooooo much better!”

So there you have it.  Cheers!

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February 2013

Maya at the windowHurray!  The big news this month is that I’ve delivered the revised manuscript of the second Agent of Hel book, Autumn Bones, to my editor.  Of course, that doesn’t hasten the release date, which isn’t until October, and the book still has to go through copyediting and proofreading, but it’s a significant accomplishment.

I found myself thinking a lot about the process of editing this time around.  It’s not as immersive as writing; I don’t spend all my waking—and plenty of my sleeping—moments thinking about the book.  And yet, once I’m engaged in it, it has its own rewards.  Over the course of my literary career, I’ve had the good fortune of working with several talented editors.

At the most basic level, what a good editor does is identify weaknesses in a book and suggest possible solutions.  I’m a fairly clean writer so my manuscripts don’t usually have glaring flaws, but there’s always room for improvement—scenes that don’t deliver the intended emotional impact, sequences where the pace falters, places where the reader needs more on the page to understand the conclusion a character has reached, etc.

Of course, having those weaknesses pointed out isn’t pleasant.  I always give myself at least a full day to process an editor’s notes, because my initial reaction… well, let’s just say it isn’t a wholehearted embrace of the critique.  Hey, I’m human!  But once I’ve had a chance to let the comments sink in, a switch in my brain flips.  What was fixed and rigid becomes plastic and mutable.  I’m able to regard the manuscript more objectively, to recognize the issues the editor has identified and consider their suggestions.

Sometimes I use a solution an editor has proposed; sometimes I find a different way to resolve the issue.  Sometimes I don’t agree with an editor regarding the particular nature of an issue, but their feedback alerts me that there is an issue, which I’m subsequently able to identify and fix.  Sometimes, very, very rarely and only after a great deal of consideration, I disagree with an editor’s assessment, and don’t implement a change.

Good editors understand that this is a collaborative process, and that’s how it works.  Good authors understand that it’s an editor’s job to help make the book the best it can possibly be, appreciate their feedback and take all their notes seriously.  I’ve heard of authors deciding that their success entitled them to completely disregard editorial input.  You know what?  It shows.  And I’ll never do that, because I want each and every one of my books to be the best it can possibly be.

I’ve had great experiences with editors, and I’ve had at least one not-so-great experience, essentially resulting from a divergence of creative visions.  But in every single instance, great or otherwise, at the end of the revision process, I’ve always been utterly confident that the book was stronger, tighter and better for an editor’s input.  And that’s a satisfying feeling.  So here’s to editors!

In other news, I’ve updated the Events column on the left to note that I’ll be a guest at Comicpalooza in Houston in May.  On the homepage is Maya gazing out the window, yearning to go outside and frolic in the giant puddle that is our backyard right now.  And be sure to check out the Tattoo Gallery – there are some very cool new pics this month!

January 2013

WindyHappy New Year!

As I write this, the sun is shining brightly through my office window, a sight I haven’t seen for years.  That’s not a poetic exaggeration; for the past decade, my office windows have been completely blocked by a giant spruce planted far too close to the house by the previous owners, left to grow to titanic proportions.  We finally had it removed this month, along with a dead oak tree and a couple of white pines threatening to topple onto the roof.  I hate to sacrifice a healthy tree, but it’s good to see the world outside my window.

By and large, it’s been a good year.  I took a wonderful trip to Spain in June, gathering inspiration.  The photo on the home page was taken atop Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, not long before we learned they’d closed the towers to further visits that day due to high winds.  Ya think?  It was spectacular, though.

Dark Currents, the first book in my Agent of Hel urban fantasy series came out in October.  Publishers Weekly named it one of the Best Books of Fall 2012, which was very cool!  As the holidays end, I’ll be going into editing on the second book, Autumn Bones, before commencing work on the third and final volume.

I thought I’d usher in the New Year by recommending my favorite book of 2012.  It’s all too seldom that I read a book that makes me want to grab my friends by the shirt collar and say, “You must read this!”   This year, I make an exception for Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, a novel set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.  The story unspools in the form of back-to-back diaries written by two young women.  I’m not generally a fan of epistolary narratives, but this one… whoa.  It’s one of the few books I’ve wanted to immediately begin rereading upon finishing, and the only reason I didn’t is that it’s absolutely heartbreaking, and I wasn’t ready to put myself through that wringer again.  But one day I will, because it’s just that good, and I want to analyze what the author did with her dual narratives.

Code Name Verity was released as a YA novel, which I suspect was a marketing decision, and perhaps not the right one.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good YA novel, but it doesn’t feel like genre was the best fit for this title, or vice versa.  It’s not a book I’d recommend for hardcore fantasy fans who truly don’t enjoy reading outside the genre, but if you like good literature in general, check it out.

That’s all for now!  Best wishes to all my readers for a happy, healthy and prosperous year to come.