Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Listen to Me!

I found out yesterday that Duty and Desire, which contains my short story "Dead on Her Feet" (and Lynn's "Snake Dance") has been released as an audio edition, either on CD or digitally from! (The Kindle edition, by the way, is on sale right at this moment for only $2.99, if you've been on the fence about picking this up!)

The audiobook has different cover art from the original book; an interesting change. The book is aimed at a primarily female audience, so I wouldn't have thought a naked woman would be a selling point, but maybe more men listen to audiobooks? (Something about the woman gives me an Uncanny Valley twitch in any case; the hair, maybe?)

Whatever; I'm not a marketer or a cover artist, so maybe they know something I don't. And anyway: audio version; the cover probably doesn't matter as much as it would for a physical book.

As far as I know, this is my first audio release, so that's worth noting, right? It's pretty exciting! If you like audiobooks, check it out!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cover: Human Aspect

Human Aspect will be coming out from Prizm Books (Torquere's YA imprint) in about a month, on June 19 -- and I just got the cover!

I am squee! Human Aspect is one of my favorite stories I've ever written, for many different reasons, and I'm thrilled for it to see the light. Here's the blurb I've written for it (though it may change somewhat before publication):
Dauch has never doubted his clan's wisdom: humans are fit only as prey and slaves to the shapechanging lochmari. Nor has he ever doubted his place in his clan: as the Warleader's son and heir, his only true rival is his despised cousin, Afel. But when, on the very cusp of manhood, he spies human lovers in the lochmari forest, he is suddenly faced with questions he had never thought to ask -- and a dangerous new infatuation. Dauch hopes to find a way to embarrass his rival and gain the woman he wants, but his anger and obsession will only pave the path to his doom unless he can learn something no lochmar has ever known before: how to love.

For my followers here who aren't actually regular readers, this is a good one to grab -- it's a fantasy coming-of-age story with a (m/f) romance element, but there's no explicit "on-screen" sex.

I'll be posting some excerpts and possibly running a contest in June, so be on the lookout!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I'm So Sexy

I do a thing, and I'd bet cash money that you do it, too.

Here's the thing: when I'm hanging around with friends, and I happen -- for whatever reason -- to end up looking especially dorky, or doing or saying something especially graceless, I'll say something like, "Oh, yeah, I am so sexy right now." Sarcastically, of course.

You do it, too, right? It's a pretty common thing to do. You recognize that you're doing something generally considered unattractive, and you tag yourself on it (with a hint of humor) to let others present know that yeah, you're aware.

Now lately, I've been reading through Emily Nagoski's blog ( archives, and recently, I hit this entry:

But since I know you probably won't read it, here's the summary: She got up one morning to take the dog running, and because it was cold, she put on a bunch of really kind of ugly clothes, and then as soon as she stepped out the door, she fell on her ass. And she thought to herself, "This is what sexy looks like."

When I got to that point in reading it, I thought: yep, I'd've made some snarky comment at myself at that point, too.

But then she goes on: getting up in the dark and cold to take care of the dog? That's proof that she's a nice, responsible person. It makes her sexier to her significant other. (And how adorable is it that she calls her boyfriend her romantic euphemism?) And then the blog entry goes on: she went to work, and this, too, is what sexy looks like. And then she gets home late and her boyfriend is waiting for her, covered with dog hair because he's been petting the dog, and smelling of curry because he made dinner, and that is also what sexy looks like.

And it was worth taking a minute to appreciate that.

It was worth taking a deep breath.

She wasn't being sarcastic.

And maybe, just maybe, I should stop being sarcastic with myself, too, sometimes. Is it not ironically but actually sexy if I wear a shirt that exposes my muffin-top? Or if I laugh when I'm eating and slop spaghetti sauce down my shirt? Yeah, maybe it is, because it means I love and trust the people I'm with not to laugh at me... not to mind... not to even care. That's a lot of love and trust, right there. It's the kind of thing that says, "I want you to know all of me."

That is kind of sexy, actually.

And it's the kind of sexy that I need to remember to write into my stories once in a while -- not just the magical, falling-in-love, everything-is-perfect-and-beautiful sexy, but also the other kinds of sexy.

The kind of sexy that gets baby spit on its shoulder.

The kind of sexy that forgets its allergy meds, but skritches your pet's ears anyway.

The kind of sexy that cries on your shoulder at 2am.

The kind of sexy that challenges an 8-year-old to a belching contest, or lets a 4-year-old paint its fingernails.

The kind of sexy that lets you nurse it through a cold.

Sometimes, it's worth taking a breath and remembering... sometimes, the deeply unsexy is profoundly sexy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Following Directions

All over the web, you can find advice for writers who are looking for their first publication. Some of it is advice about the writing itself, and some of it is advice on how to find a publisher that's a good match with your work, and some of it is advice on how to actually perform that submission so that your work will stand out and be noticed in the slush pile along with all the... well... slush.

In that last category of advice (and often in the other categories as well) you will see this invaluable bit of advice: Check and follow the submission guidelines. ALL OF THEM.

Torquere's submission guidelines are at JMS's guidelines are at Nearly every publisher -- even the big ones -- have submission guidelines linked to their front pages (even if those guidelines are "we are not accepting submissions at this time" -- don't ignore this, or you may have made a name for yourself as someone who doesn't know how to follow directions by the time they are accepting submissions again).

Now... I've never thrown out a slush manuscript for failing to meet the formatting guidelines, or for using British English instead of American. (I even accepted a story once that was a downright formatting nightmare, because the writing was strong and the story was sweet and hot.) When I reject a story from the slush pile, it's generally because the writing is still too rough for publication, or because Torquere (I don't read slush for JMS) isn't the right audience for the story (straight-up nonromantic erotica, for example, or stories with tragic, non-HFN endings).

But some of those guidelines have more to them than simply making things easier on us to edit.

Recently, an author sent us a whole collection of short stories. The writing was good -- really good -- and so we took them. The plan was to publish each story separately, and if they did reasonably well, to bind them together into a collection. So I started in on the pile. I edited the first story, went through the edits with the author, and then sent the file on to my proofreader...

...who sent it back and said, "Were you aware this is fan-fiction?"

Well, no, I hadn't been aware of that. The show it was based on isn't one I've ever seen. Ditto for the editor who'd first picked the collection out of the slush pile.

Right there in Torquere's guidelines, it says:
...We will also reject stories that are clearly a copyright infringement, including any that have been converted from fan fiction or that are based on TV shows, movies, or literary characters.
JMS has a similar notation. In fact, pretty much every publisher says this. It's one reason Fifty Shades of Grey got such a bad rap, because it was pretty well an open secret that it had started out as a Twilight fan-fic. It had been sufficiently altered so that its origins were no longer obvious, which is how it managed to skate through to publication.

I sent the information and the tags and tells the proofreader had marked on to Torquere's management, who spoke to the author about it. The author admitted that every story in the collection was, in fact, a fan-fic. Now, I can't swear as to the wording of that author's contract, but Torquere uses mostly boilerplate contracts, and my latest contract with them reads, in part:
The Author certifies that this is his/her original work, and that he/she maintains the rights to this material. The Author certifies that this work is not based upon another entity’s copyrighted work.
Standard boilerplate stuff, mind you. Which means that the author was in breach of contract. Sigh. So now there are ten stories that we thought we were going to publish which are now off the schedule.

I don't have anything against fan-fic. Some of it is horrible, of course, but some of it is really good. This story was really good, and I'm both sad and angry that it turned out to have been fan-fic, because it would have made a great addition to Torquere's offerings.

But the author didn't read the submission guidelines carefully enough. Or did and thought that maybe we wouldn't notice. Or that this rule didn't apply to them. Or whatever.

Well, whatever, indeed: Read the damn directions. Especially the stuff that looks like it might have legal implications, folks. Write all the fan fiction you want; there are hundreds, if not thousands, of forums out there in which you can share your writing with thousands, if not millions, of appreciative fans. Go for it. But if you want to get paid for your writing, if you want to be a professional writer? You have to follow the professional rules.