Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Reginald Pantry: A Zombie Chronicle

Recently, my friend the brilliant writer and artist J.A. Johnson approached me with an impossible-to-resist offer: collaborate with him on a zombie novella.

And not just any novella, mind you! Nope, this was the opportunity to co-write a story based on an album by the indie rock band The Gifted Children. J.A. had already done the hard work: he'd roughed in a plot and, as all of us know, plots are not my strong point, me being a serious and dyed-in-the-wool-seat-of-my-pants writer. So going into a story with a plot already in place was certainly a plus.

And the musical tracks by The Gifted Children were eerie, creepy, strange; they'd been created, in fact, as a soundtrack for an imaginary zombie movie.

J.A. and I named our alternate chapters after the track titles. The end result, the complete package as it were, has a variety of interesting bonuses:

1. Links to the music, so the reader can hear what inspired us.
3. Deleted scenes.
5. An alternate ending.
7. Interviews with the band and the authors.
9. A 'from-music-to-words' page.
11. Alternate cover images.
13. Band and author pictures.
15. End credits, just as if it were indeed the zombie movie it was intended to be.

[Note: I like odd numbers; so sue me.]

So be on the lookout for the soon-to-be-released THE REGINALD PANTRY: A ZOMBIE CHRONICLE! In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here's a teaser trailer.

And here's the cover art, also by J.A. Johnson, who continues to amaze me with both his writing and artistic skills:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Coming Soon: My First Attempt at a Regency romantic suspense!

You guys know me: I write horror and science fiction and pulp and fantasy and westerns and mysteries and suspense and comics. But I don't write romance. Not that I think there's anything wrong with romance, of course. I read more than my share of Victoria Holts and Mary Stewarts back in the day, not to mention getting plenty irritated with Marguerite Blakeney and how she treated Sir Percy. Honestly, was that woman too stupid to live or what?  

My brilliant co-writer, J. Kirsch, writes killer romance. And there are certainly romances in a lot of my work. Of course, generally there are swords involved, or rayguns, or monsters. Or all three. And zombies. And evil wizards. And more zombies. And occasionally, my characters end up in each other's arms. Granted, more often they end up in some reeking, hideous, ravenous creature's maw, but the thought's what counts. Right?  

So anyway, I decided I needed to stretch my wings, throw caution to the winds and see what else I could write. I'm a proud, card-carrying history geek, especially of all things English-history related. I love Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel, as you can tell from my mention of poor Sir Percy and that wife of his, and I've always thought the time period from the Napoleonic Wars on into the regency of George IV was fascinating. So why not try writing a romance set in the Regency, just to see if I could? 

So I did, and wonder of wonders, Rogue Phoenix Press is going to publish MISS MAYFAIR'S DILEMMA in May.  

Kitty Carlisle was my brilliant editor, who whipped the manuscript into shape for me. See my previous post to recognize just how awesome she is.  

Here's the cover, by the amazing Genene Valleau:
Here's a short blurb: 

Miss Patricia Mayfair is a wealthy, orphaned Regency bluestocking. While in London for the Season, Miss Mayfair spends more time buying books than ribbons, to the despair of her more conventional friend. Begrudgingly attending a dinner party, Miss Mayfair meets Lord Andrew Aragon, who fancies himself tired of London and the ton and never expects to fall instantly head-over-heels. But Lord Andrew is a notorious gambler, and Miss Mayfair has vowed she will never marry a man who indulges in such a vice. Can the leopard change his spots or the rake his habits? 

And here's an early review quote:  

MISS MAYFAIR'S DILEMMA is a Regency romance filled with likable characters, villains, love, and plenty of suspense. The characters are well developed, especially those of the greedy villains: Patricia's guardian and Lady Christabel. This is a very enjoyable read. Lovers of suspense as well as Regencies will find this a terrific tale. Besides, who can resist reading about a heroine addicted to books?  ~ Carol Durfee  

We all need to step outside our comfort zones occasionally. I like to think that my monsters and zombies and wizards and space ships are none the worse for having a Regency romantic suspense added to their ranks.  

And they'll soon have a Gothic suspense sister in the family as well…but more about that later.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Good Editor Is Worth Her Weight in Rubies

I tutor English and algebra at a community college, so I see a lot of essays. My not-so-funny joke to the students is that I take my red pen and bleed on their papers. The results are varying degrees of bloody, from the occasional needle-prick splotch to running oceans of gore. I circle misspellings and incorrect word usage and underline run-on sentences and fragments. I put unclear statements in brackets. Then I go over the paper with the student and point out why the red is there and suggest how to staunch the ruddy flow. 

Last week, we all suffered through the dread midterms. I saw lots of essays from lots of panicking students. And of course, since the Universe has a crafty sense of humor, also last week appeared in my email box the first edits on my upcoming book, A DOLEFUL KIND OF SINGING, a suspense-y, gothic-y, romance-y novel guest-starring Nessie, aka the Loch Ness Monster. The Universe, not satisfied with that little ill-timed outburst of humor, also decided it was time to have me deal with the final edits on my even-sooner upcoming book, MISS MAYFAIR'S DILEMMA, a Regency suspense-y, romance-y mystery novel. Both these books, by the way, are being released by Rogue Phoenix Press, an excellent small publisher with astonishingly good taste. I mean, they're publishing my books, right?  

So I spent all last week and last weekend and part of this week reading a large number of student papers and pointing out errors, all the while spending my free time reading my only-slightly-less-than-deathless prose and correcting all the errors which my genius editor pointed out to me.  

A good editor is worth her weight in rubies, and my editor, Kitty Carlisle, is worth her weight in rubies with a few extra tons of diamonds and emeralds thrown in for good measure. She had to suffer through both the aforementioned manuscripts. Yes, you read that correctly. Both. And yet she survived with her humor intact and, hopefully, few long-lasting related health issues. She ruthlessly slashed unnecessary commas with what must be a vorpal blade—really! I heard the snicker snack!—and then had the resilience left over to point out blurry plot points and suggest clean, crisp corrections that made sense. Her patience and pertinent comments have put me forever in her debt. Both books are far, far better for her input. If you're looking for a considerate, immensely competent and delightful-to-work-with editor for your latest opus, look no further than Kitty Carlisle.  

And FYI: she's not the Kitty Carlisle who was married to Moss Hart, because I asked.  

Nothing is more valuable than a trained, professional editor. All I can say is, I hope none of the students, whose papers I have so blithely bled upon, ever see one of my works with the original editing marks in place. I'd never be able to wield a red pen again.
Here are the covers for my books, both by the brilliant artist Genene Valleau. I'll let you know when they're available.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's READ AN EBOOK week, people!

Book Sale!
Smashwords has an awesome program, stretching from tonight at midnight through March 8. All my stuff at their site is either FREE or marked drastically down. Click on either picture to go straight to my Author Page. You can scroll down and see all my books on sale.
Book sale. The two most beautiful words in the English language.
Well, other than free books. And look: we've got both!