Monday, July 31, 2006

i need to tell you something

three things:

1. blogging is like hanging out in a bar all day. why didn't i realize that until now? no wonder it's addictive. at one point in my life i tended bar and i sometimes fantasize about going back to that job.

2. the uterus coffin generated a record number of comments. but oddly enough the heavy, broken writer post generated a large number of comments too. that tells me a diverse bunch of people visit here. i love that. group hug.

3. a very short chapter one of Pale Immortal has been posted here:

pale immortal blog

you have to scroll down a little to find the chapter images, then be sure to double-click to enlarge them all the way.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

see my pretty picture -- psycho 101




Are writers broken?

This is a question I've asked myself many times over the years. I grew up in an abusive home under the care of someone who shouldn't have had children, much less have been left in charge of them. The physical abuse didn't start until I was a teenager, but the mental abuse was constant. Many writers seem to have come from similar backgrounds. I'd love to know the percentage, but I suspect a lot of people don't talk about it, maybe because there's still a deep sense of shame that goes along with that kind of upbringing. Not to mention all those overdone, melodramatic plots. I hate when people whine around about this stuff, and i'm only mentioning it because i wonder if it's at the unconscious heart of many of our books.


While growing up my entire focus was on pleasing my caretaker, to do whatever I could to make her happy and do whatever I could to avoid making her mad. Unfortunately I think that codependent way of coping has followed me into adult life and working relationships. For the most part I'm somebody who now refuses to take crap from anybody, but in a working relationship I tend to revert back to those old ways of coping. I find myself weighted down by a strong desire to please until I'm pushed too far and everything blows up.

I also think many writers become addicted to book releases, not because it's pretty damn wonderful to see your book on the shelf, but because they crave the mass approval a well-written book brings.

See my pretty picture.

Writing is definitely therapy, and I think my teenage characters are probably the most like me as I continuously revisit and deal with the past. I don't know if it helps. Probably not, but it's nice to hit back.

ahem ;)

reminder 1

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

blogger help

I have four blogs attached to my profile. each blog shows the exact same profile. does anybody know how to create a separate profile for one of the blogs without starting over? I'd like to have a madame S profile on my Madame Sosostris blog, but i don't know how to do it.

yes, i'm an idiot.

does this even make sense?


blogger is being a jerk today, so leaving a comment might be impossible for a while.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

tribe

tribe has always been a mysterious and cool presence on the internet. he has a fascinating blog where he talks about books and film and music and writing. Oh, and soccer. We can't forget the soccer.

tribe knows stuff.

who is the mysterious tribe? that's the question whispered around blogland.
his profile took a huge leap when he started flashing in the gutters, one of the hottest flash fiction sites on the web where we now discover that tribe is also a fantastic writer.

recently he started doing chat interviews. cool idea, cool format. his first interview was with Anthony Neil Smith. His second was with me.

the interview

and now it seems that the man of mystery is soon to be revealed: tribe and mrs. tribe will be attending Bouchercon this fall. have your cameras ready.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Buy new

Just got my Mystery Writers of America June/July newsletter The 3rd Degree. James Grippando has a great article about the state of mass market publishing. It's "in the toilet" in case you didn't know.

James says: "The sole remaining mass market demographic is the poor slob who is stuck in the airport with absolutely nothing to read."

I've been ringing this alarm bell for years, but of course when you write mass market you tend to notice these things. One of my first blog posts questioned whether mass market fiction was dead.

I'm afraid it's too late, but I always see a half-empty glass. But I'm still afraid it's too late.

James suggests encouraging people to buy new, and educating readers. but I have to admit I have a hard time expecting someone to pay eight bucks for one of my paperbacks. i feel guilty about that.


If you're a member of MWA, check out the article.

tagged! the blogger's interview

1. When did you first start blogging and why?

I think I started blogging in April of 2005. I came into it like an idiot on roller skates. The ONLY reason I started blogging was because my editor had been after me to start a blog for a long time. Maybe a year or two. I had ZERO interest in it. I didn't read blogs, I didn't GET blogs, I didn't want to get blogs, and I REALLY wasn't interested in putting my thoughts out there for people to read.

Now I'm a blog addict. Yes, it's true.

2. What don't you talk about?

There's nothing I don't talk about. Somebody taser me so I'll shut up. I'm an all or nothing person. My big thing is that I blab about the downside of the writing business. This pisses off both published and unpublished people. ((I'm hoping only a small percentage, but you never know.) Published because they don't want me to rock the boat, and I think some don't want the writer mystique destroyed. I think some unpublished people find me annoying because they would love to be in my shoes no matter what kind of crap they have to put up with. They would gladly trade places with me. I completely understand that.


3. Are you and your blogging persona the same person?

I think they are pretty much the same. Although I can be shy. That probably doesn't come across. And I don't talk with nearly as many of these: !!!!!!!!!! But I do talk with them!

4. How do you use blogging to build friendships?

Since I came into this with absolutely zero expectations and 100% stupidity, I didn't expect the wonderful community I've stumbled upon. That's where the addiction comes from. Oh, I have to see what this person is doing. I haven't visited Kelly today. I ENJOY it. Way too much!!

5. How would you describe your writing style?

Informal as hell.


I'm not going to tag anybody, but join in if you feel like it. This was a fun meme. Thanks, Kelly!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

through a lens weirdly

i decided to go to wisconsin to take photos for the somewhat dead Pale Immortal blog. I was after some stills of the locations and images used in the video, but I got sidetracked. My daughter came along. She was always extremely cooperative when it came to photographs. Today I started taking some shots of the mausoleum used in the video. She suddenly appeared in the very corner of the frame. And that gave me an idea that had nothing to do with our reason for being in wisconsin. i got about 100 images, some pretty damn nice. maybe one or two i can use on my other blog. :D


























Thursday, July 20, 2006

the first eighty pages

It's never fifty. It's never one hundred. It's always eighty.

The first eighty pages are the toughest for me. They take the longest to write, and they require the most false starts.
You are introducing characters, weaving in backstory while moving newborns through the plot. For some reason it always seems to take me about eighty pages to get most of the backstory down and get the players introduced.

It's also a little like that period when you first meet somebody and start hanging out. You have an idea of what this new friend is like, but that perception can drastically change over the next several months. This is also why I don't get too hung up on those first eighty pages because I know the characters will grow as I write. Once the book is done I'll go back to those pages and realize the character will no longer respond the way the scene was written because I know that person so much better now. When I wrote those early scenes, we'd just met. Now we've been living together for at least six months. Maybe much longer. I don't have a solid grasp of my characters until I've watched them in a few scenes. Until we've hung out a while.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

sex in the morgue revisited

i'm dying to ask

i wish writers could do a reverse interview and ask the reader/reviewer about certain scenes.
some of you might recall it was strongly suggested that i remove the sex-in-the-morgue scene from PI. for people who read the ARC, did that scene bother you?

(like anybody's going to touch that question. i can see why this reverse interview thing wouldn't work.)

there's a fantastic review up at barnesandnoble.com:

Pale Immortal review

i know it's harriet and harriet is almost always positive, but this is beyond the usual harriet nice.

Monday, July 17, 2006

print runs, pimps, peyote dreams





Print runs are down everywhere. Some are way down. The print run for Pale Immortal isn't what I'd hoped it would be. It's not horrid, but it's not great. I won't mention numbers, but I've been told it's still possible to get on the USA Today list. This is supposed to be a fall of blockbuster releases, so that makes my chances excruciatingly slim.


Enter PROJECT PIMP SQUAD

WHEN: SEPTEMBER 5

GOAL: 100 BLOGGERS BLOGGING THE PALE IMMORTAL VIDEO ALONG WITH A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK

I need your help.

Yes, I want to sell books within that all-important time frame, but this is also an opportunity to see if a writer has any power. And just how powerful is the internet? How powerful are blogs and the blogging community?

I'll be putting up periodic reminders and reposts about PROJECT PIMP SQUAD. You'll get sick of them, but they'll be for the people who don't visit my blog very often. Please ask your blogging friends to get involved. It's only one day, and it doesn't have to be the only post that day. Slap it up there and post on top of it. Doesn't matter.

September 5 is the day after Labor Day, so that presents a problem. I wonder if we should do this before the 5th and before Labor Day weekend. Whatever date I ultimately choose, I'll give everybody some warning, along with the youtube link and blurb. I think 100 participators will be hard to get. I'm guessing it will be more like 20, which could still have some impact. You never know. Whatever happens it will be fun and interesting.

Oh, I'm not completely sold on the name of this endeavor. If you have any other ideas, let me know.

100 BLOGGERS BLOGGING
BLOGATHON



EDIT: Nienke suggested i collect email addresses of people who want to participate. that's a great idea. if you want to be added to the pimp squad address book, post your address here or shoot me an email. if you'd rather not be added to the address book, everything you need will be posted right here a couple of days before the event and the day of the blogathon.




Peyote Dreams:

Reviews for PI continue to trickle in. I need to compile them, but here are a few snippets:



This is a stupendous work, worthy of an award nomination.
Harriet Klausner



Anne Frasier is a writer whose talent for creating vividly fractured characters and dark, disturbing atmosphere and theme is evident. If you want a taste of something a little different then Pale Immortal is definitely a heady and sinister brew.
Martina Bexta, Bookloons

Few books keep me turning pages from dark till dawn, but this one did.
Armchair Interviews


My over-active imagination made the most of the terror and turned my shadowy bedroom into a part of Old Tuonela.
Stacie Penney, Raspberry Latte Book Reviews

Sunday, July 16, 2006

days months years




A few people have asked about my writing method.

I begin with a synopsis of 15 to 20 pages for a 400 page ms

Those 400 pages are mentally broken down into four acts

400 pages divided by 4 = 100

100 pages per month

25 pages per week









Monday thru Friday 25 pages, 5 pages per day.
Saturday and Sunday - edit and backup. Make a hard copy.
Sunday and maybe Monday morning -- outline the scenes for the upcoming week.
(I'm constantly outlining and breaking things down into smaller and smaller pieces.)

I work in periods of 4 weeks, usually every day. Between those 4 weeks/100 pages I take a few days off. Sometimes I get 30 - 35 pages done in a week which can actually mean reaching my 100 page goal in 3 weeks and having a week off. My carrot.

The edit is much less structured and takes about two months.

Two more weeks for the final edit, proof, polish.

Anybody still awake?

Of course this intense writing period will be interrupted with other revisions, edits, conferences, holidays, emergencies, illness, and juggling clowns on unicycles.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"i'm crushing your head. i'm crushing your head."

i keep trying to upload my bookcover, but it always ends up smashed even though i've resized it about ten times.

it reminds me of those headcrusher skits from kids in the hall.





Mr. Tyzik/Mark McKinney
.
.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

myspace book explosion

i started this blog about about 16 months ago.
at that same time my daughter told me i should be on myspace, not blogger.
"You can blog on myspace too."

I was familiar with myspace because my kids are in a band -- so i knew it was a big place for music fans. and sluts. don't forget the sluts.

i wasn't feeling very enthused about the idea of myspace. it certainly didn't seem the place for books and writers, but my daughter grabbed my laptop and got me started. she put up my bookcovers and filled everything in.

i had one FRIENDS (tom, my darling) for several days. Maybe even a couple of weeks.

then i got a friend request.

I immediately called my daughter and asked her what to do. accept? decline? it was too much for me. all she could say was do whatever you want. big help. she told me i could always delete the friend later if things got weird. why would i want to put up a site, chum for "friends" then delete the person if he got weird? why send out the invitation to begin with? does any of this make sense? NO!


a second request. a second frantic call to my daughter. I read the bio over the phone. what do you think? should i? shouldn't i?


i ended up telling some actual friends about myspace, and they joined. suddenly i had 8 friends. and i found some of my favorite bands. and then young readers starting finding me. but there weren't many other writers. that was cool with me because i found myspace kind of frantic and the pages load slowly or don't load at all. but then WTF? an explosion of writers and books.

it will be interesting to see what happens. i'm a big music person, and i kind of like the combination of books and music at myspace. and it's fun to suddenly see so many familiar names and faces.


now i'm a pro. i lean back in my chair, one finger: accept, accept.
decline, whore. decline, perv.


have you seen this?



my death space

i guess i should also put up my link, but i really don't do much over there:

anne's myspace

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

book tour with Joshilyn Jackson!


THE #1 BOOKSENSE PICK FOR JULY 2006!

BETWEEN, GEORGIA


Starred Kirkus Review
"In her accomplished second novel, Jackson sweeps the reader away to where gravel crunches underfoot and the smell of corn bread wafts in the air. The plot is precise and sweet, and Jackson includes the perfect ingredients: quirky characters, a picturesque setting and ample surprises. Evocative and lovingly crafted.:

Starred Booklist
"Jackson returns with a second quirky and touching novel about the South. Jackson has been compared to Fannie Flagg, and rightfully so: her characters are vivid and lovable, put in situations that are so hard to explain it's just easier to pass the book lovingly along to a friend. A climatic ending with perfect story resolution makes this book tidy and uplifting, and even the most cynical reader will surely smile as the back cover closes."


Joshilyn Jackson burst onto the scene with her first bestselling novel, gods in Alabama, which was the #1 Book Sense Pick when it was released. Now, to the delight of her growing fans everywhere, she returns with another novel set in the eccentric South of her own invention - her second #1 Book Sense Pick in a row - BETWEEN, GEORGIA -- Warner Books Hardcover; July 3, 2006

Nonny Frett understands the meaning of the phrase "in between a rock and a hard place: better than any woman alive. She's got two mothers, "one deaf-blind and the other four baby steps from flat crazy." She's got two men: a husband who's easing out the back door: and a best friend, who's laying siege to her heart in the her front yard. And she has two families: the Fretts, who stole her and raised her right; and the Crabtrees, who lost her and won't forget how they were done wrong.

Now, in BETWEEN, GEORGIA, population 90, a feud is escalating, and random act of violence is about to ignite a stash of family secrets. Ironically, it might be just what the town need...if only Nonny weren't stuck in between.

About the Author
Joshilyn Jackson is the bestselling author of gods in Alabama, a native of the Deep South, a former actor and award-winning teacher, and now a mother of two. Her work has previously appeared in TriQuarterly and Calyx, as well as the anothology ChickLit II. Jackson lives with her family outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Also available in paperback for the first time:
gods in Alabama (Warner Books Trade Paperback; June 13, 2006


joshilyn's blog:faster that kudza

(check out joshilyn's blog post about her book tour. funny stuff. sadly familiar stuff. :D)

downward spiral

print runs are based on orders. The cover flats go out, the publishing brochures go out. Orders come in. Say the print run of your first book is 100,000, and you sell 60,000. 40,000 are stripped. (I'm only talking paperbacks, and i'm really simplifying things here.) That's a pretty fair sell-through and above average. But here's where the inescapable downward spiral begins. Buyers for your next book simply check to see how many copies of your last book sold and base their orders on that, usually ordering less and almost never more. So the print run for books 2 will be 60,000. Let's say the sell-through for book 2 was 50%. 30,000 copies. The print run for book 3 will be 30,000.

The only chance you have of breaking that is to somehow impress the marketing department within your own publishing house. They will then promote your book more, promise their buyers that they're putting more money behind it so please buy more copies than the last book. They might throw in nice incentives, but all of this is rare and a little like winning the lottery. Fat chance.

Marketing liked my first thriller and wanted to back it, but they wouldn't get behind it unless I change my name. They didn't want orders tied to previous sales. My previous sales figures weren't bad, but marketing was thinking blockbuster. I was told not to tell anybody about the name change. Only my family knew about it. I didn't want to lie, so I avoided other writers and writing groups for a year. My real name wouldn't even be on the copyright page.

The downward spiral is inevitable for everyone, so even before orders and sales figures for book 1 were in I was asked to go a different direction with book 2. I was told this was in hopes of making some kind of impact on the marketing department the next time around. At this point, a writer is no longer writing for readers, she's writing for the marketing department within her own publishing house. All plot discussions had to do with pleasing the marketing department and what might possibly get their attention this next time through. From day one I've been against all this jumping around. Seemed like a really bad idea to me, but I was told it had to be done to stay ahead of the numbers.

My downward spiral wasn't massive, but over a span of books it becomes a bigger issue. The plan for my latest was to make a shift to a different genre in hopes of wooing M. The video I made wasn't so much for readers, but for the marketing department and reps. See, she's doing something different. See she's writing the kind of book that's hitting the Times. She's holding up her end and more. She's getting her name out there. She's involved, networking, featuring contests of her blog, going to conferences. (oops.)

So after all of this I got my print run figures yesterday. They exactly match the sales figures of my last book. What this tells me is none of what I did mattered. Nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I don't know if there's a moral to this story. Maybe that numbers are numbers. Maybe that it's time for publishers and writers to focus more on readers rather than trying to please and trick a computer.

The interesting thing about all of this is that my first book, Hush, is in its sixth printing and I'm still receiving royalty checks. It's the only book that was really mine and written without restrictions and dictates. The anticipation of the spiral is what screwed things up.

Of course this isn't the end of the story. It will be interesting to see if the work I've done on the publicity side will have any impact. I'm guessing not much, but we'll see.


this is something writers aren't supposed to talk about and most don't talk about, but i see it as a massive problem within the book industry. talking about it is just going to get me in trouble and not solve a damn thing. my big mouth.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

does it scare you?


i'm afraid of every chapter, every page, every paragraph.

and i'm not talking horror.

the fear has been with me for so many years that i actually forgot it existed. like an old dusty pen lying on the floor in the corner of the living room. i got used to it, and pretty soon i didn't notice it anymore. pretty soon i thought it was supposed to be there.

but today i was suddenly aware of the fear for some odd reason. something from the past -- an old memory -- brought it to my attention. and i realized the fear has always been there. from the very beginning. unchanged, unwavering, silently watching from the corner.

sign, sign, everywhere a sign

i decided to take some pictures of a plant in my backyard called an oriental poppy. poppy, my ass. it's a weed, and it's crowded out my lavender and sage. anyway, i decided to take a photo of the pathetic plume at the top of this towering clown. then i check the image on the computer and notice that the plant is throwing me the finger.



























the day was sunny so i decided to go for a walk along the mississippi. dark clouds appeared out of nowhere.



























i looked down at my feet and saw this:





















it was attempting to throw me the finger.

and it makes me wonder how many times the world is telling me to go to hell and i just don't see it.
you have to stop and smell the weeds and the latex gloves.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

sweet little lies

Never start a book with a lie.

An editor told me this years ago. What she meant was don't trick the reader into thinking your book is one thing when it's really another. Don't promise a roller-coaster ride when you're really taking them on a sedate merry-go-round.

I've always thought that was great advice.

But I've noticed a lot of lying going on in bookland.

A lot of recently released books start with intense action and violent murder. After that first-chapter hook, the book settles into a slow police procedural, a court-room drama, literary fiction, even a cozy. I suspect many of these opening chapters are added later at the request of an editor.

Has anybody else noticed this trend? What do you think of it? Does it drive you crazy, or do you simply see it as evolution? As publishers doing what they see as necessary to sell books?

Monday, July 03, 2006

august event -- mark your calendars

i'm thrilled to announce that i will be collaborating with jason evans this august at
the clarity of night




jason says it much better than i ever could, so i've taken this directly from his blog:


August's Promise


















Illusion bleeds and love descends
As days recline
And summer ends



Have you been ever drawn to a place? Belonged to it? No matter how far you might choose to run?

What if you knew it is a shadowed place? A place you should never go?

Rachel Burton knows those shadows. And she believes. And knowing and believing, she will return to embrace the darkness, but not quite touch it.

Until it touches her.

Come with me in August. We are going to meet a very special friend. USA Today bestselling author Anne Frasier will point our way to Rachel's path. It winds where the forest is tall and the memories deep.

*****

My friends, I am incredibly excited to announce that the next short fiction contest here at The Clarity of Night will be a first-ever collaboration! USA Today bestselling author Anne Frasier will join us to celebrate the release of her new and wonderful novel, Pale Immortal.

Not only will this upcoming contest once again give you the chance to be part of a thriving writing community, but Anne will share her thoughts on writing, reveal hidden web content for Pale Immortal, and comment on each and every entry submitted. How unbelievable is that??

Look for the contest announcement, rules, and theme in late August.

dog parks














Some of you already met Harry, the incredible barfing dog. Two minutes in a car and Harry is throwing up. This was taken a few days ago at the Minnehaha Falls dog park in Minneapolis. The park is beautiful and amazing, bordered on one side by the Mississippi River where Harry's just been for a swim. He actually expected to be able to walk on water, and was a little traumatized when that didn't happen. I used to think dog parks were ridiculous. i was so wrong. they're wonderful, especially if you have a hyper dog.





Minnehaha Falls

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Rusty Nail by J.A. Konrath

J.A. Konrath launches his Rusty Nail book tour.
Check out his schedule and be prepared to be amazed, astounded, shocked, and horrified.

website and tour schedule



i had the good fortune to read Rusty Nail last winter.
What a treat! Great characters, great style, great plot.



















my blurb:

"J.A. Konrath serves up chills and thrills and a lot of laughs.
Rusty Nail is twisted and violent, creepy and clever, fast, frightening, and funny.
This is not your granny's thriller." - Anne Frasier





oh, and i've put some Pale Immoral blurbs in the sidebar. if the text overlaps, please let me know.