Saturday, July 29, 2006


Are you really my groupie?

If so, you'll buy and wear these proudly:

Author buttons

If you send me a picture of you wearing them, I'll send you a present. To make it a bit easier on you, the buttons can say my name, Trevor's Song, ShapeShifter, or Trevor Wolff Rocks. Ideas of your own might win you a better present. *wink*

(extra special thanks to Nimrodiel for the goods!)

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Fiction outtake: Meeting Trevor (The Early Days)

Mitchell watched from the couch, half-amused, as Amy pleaded her case on the other side of the family room. So far, she wasn't doing so hot.

"Mom, it's just a movie!"

"Not with a boy we haven't met yet, Amy," their mother said placidly. Mitchell watched her more than Amy, actually, fascinated by the way that she got calmer the more Amy yelled and whined. He wanted to shut Amy up somehow; she was getting as bad as Beth. Boys, boys, boys.

He shook his head and tossed his baseball into the air, catching it so easily, he didn't even have to think about it. There was more to life than boys.

Baseball, for example.

And, he thought, trying not to grin too bright in case Ma or Amy saw it and flew off the handle, thinking he was smiling at them, girls.

"Well, if you drive me there, you can meet him then," Amy tried.

"How's he getting there?"

Amy looked down at the carpet and twisted her shoulders back and forth. Mitchell's grin grew; this was going to be good. "He just said he'd meet me there, out front, and if he wasn't there five minutes before, it wasn't his fault and we'd try another time."

Mitchell sat up and leaned forward, elbows on his knees as he kept playing with the baseball. Ma was going to hate that excuse. She didn't go in for situations that involved if, unless they were science experiments.

Sure enough, Ma was frowning. "That doesn't sound like a dependable young man," she said. She gave Amy one of those long looks down her nose, the kind that made all of them squirm. Amy folded her arms behind her back and kept staring at the carpet, her shoulders still twisting as she fidgeted.

"Amy, are you sure this is the sort of boy you want to be with?" The question was gentle, which surprised Mitchell. He'd thought Ma was ready for some strong action. The fact that she wasn't was almost a let-down.

Amy crossed her arms over her chest and scowled as she nodded. Mitchell tossed his baseball again and kept quiet. Things were about to get good. Getting kicked out now would not be smart.

"Why?" Ma asked and folded her hands over her knees, like she did when she really wanted to listen.

Amy shrugged. "'Cause he's neat. He's different from the other boys. He's not a loser like Pipsqueak." She jerked her chin at him.

"Hey!" he said, his brain already in hyperdrive, thinking of ways to get back at her for what was sure to be his imminent eviction from the room.

"Leave your brother out of this," Ma said in that same calm voice, but Mitchell could tell, as he shot her a grateful look, that she was losing patience. "I will not drive you to the movies to meet this young man who may or may not be there," she said and stood up. What she said next was going to be the judge's verdict. Mitchell bit back another smile, thinking that social studies had been good for something more than a place to sit and daydream.

"If you want to go, find your own way there," Ma said.

She left the room and Mitchell tossed the baseball again, fighting the temptation to torment Amy somehow. It'd be fun to throw the baseball at her and leave a bruise for this movie date that might not happen, but Ma would kill him for that. Not worth it. Besides, he'd feel bad every time he had to look at the bruise, and bruises took a couple of days to fade.

"Any ideas?" Amy asked him glumly.

He shrugged. "What do I know? I'm just a pipsqueak."

She flounced out of the room and slammed her bedroom door behind her. Ma stuck her head out of the kitchen and frowned at the noise; Mitchell shrugged and sprawled on his back on the couch, still tossing the ball. It was sort of a bummer that Amy's new dude wasn't going to show up at the house. She'd been chasing around some pretty interesting guys lately.

That meant the sort that Dad and Ma hated.

Which meant that maybe Mitchell ought to be trying harder to get Golden Girl to that movie theater. Anything that got Amy in trouble was worth the effort, especially when he could conveniently get himself off the hook at the same time.

There wasn't much a thirteen-year-old kid could do to help out, though, and before Mitchell could come up with even a bad plan, Beth was coming out of the girls' bedroom and talking softly to Ma.

"I'll be right there with her, Mom. Nothing will happen. I'll… I'll take Pipsqueak and we'll sit in the back row and keep an eye on them."

Mitchell covered his face with his baseball glove. The last thing he wanted to do was sit through some movie Amy was sure to have picked. She went for that sappy romantic shit.

"Maybe letting her get stood up by this boy isn't such a bad idea," Ma said thoughtfully.

Mitchell tossed his baseball and wondered why.

An hour later, he and Beth were standing near the popcorn counter, watching Amy talk to her guy. Mitchell recognized him, sort of. He was in Mitchell's grade, but that didn't mean much. So were five hundred other kids.

This kid stood out, though, because he wore a jean jacket all the time, and had long brown hair. Like… below his shoulders long. Mitchell, who'd recently convinced Dad to let him grow out the brush cut he hated, couldn't see letting his own get like that. He wasn't going to start skipping classes, either.

Beth leaned over to him. "Looks like Perfect Amy's doing some rebelling," she said.

Mitchell shrugged.

"This could be fun," Beth continued in a taunting voice, like she was challenging Mitchell to something. He wasn't sure what, though, and again, he shrugged. Ma always said it was rude to not answer at all and that even a gesture was enough, so Mitchell spent a lot of time shrugging and not a lot of time actually speaking. No one seemed to mind.

"Beth, Pi-- Mitchell, this is Trevor," Amy said, leading him inside.

The other kid stared at Mitchell. "I know you." He nodded like it all made sense. "You saved my ass that one time at lunch."

Mitchell shrugged. So he'd seen Asshole Jerry sticking his foot out, ready to trip Trevor and send him flying. It hadn't been hard to ruin Asshole Jerry's plans with a quick gesture at Trevor. After all, that had to be the oldest trick in the book, the one that everyone was on to. Mitchell couldn't respect someone who took that route.

"Thanks for that," Trevor said, giving Mitchell a companionable chuck to the shoulder. "I'd have probably gotten expelled again if he'd dumped me."

Mitchell looked over his shoulder, frowning. The guy had touched him.

"That didn't hurt, you wuss," Amy said to him. She fidgeted some more, wringing her hands. Trevor made a point of separating them and holding onto one.

"Do you guys really have to watch the movie, too?" Amy asked, biting back a smile as she stared at her hand in Trevor's.

"Well, here's the thing," Trevor said, a smile playing at his lips. "If you think I'm gonna sit through some lovey shit like I said I would, you've got another thing coming. No, babe, we're gonna see the thriller. See if we can throw popcorn at the bad guys." He nodded like it was all settled.

"But…" Amy said.

"But nothing," Trevor said with a definitive nod. "We can make that sappy shit happen ourselves. But how often do you get to take on the bad guys and save the world?"

Mitchell nodded. He liked the way this guy thought. Well, other than being romantic with Amy. That thought made his skin crawl.

Beth was grinning. "So you mean," she drawled and tossed her long whitish-blonde hair over her shoulder, "you're teaching our little Amy that it's okay to fib a bit to our parents?"

Trevor looked her over for a long minute. Mitchell half-expected Beth to fidget like Amy was, but she didn't. "Got a problem with that?" he asked, sticking his tongue into his cheek. Mitchell wondered if he was trying to challenge Beth -- and if he had any idea how fast she'd put him in his place if he tried.

"Only that it took her this long to find you," Beth said, her voice warming like she liked this guy. Mitchell knew he did; he wondered what it would take for Trevor to dump Amy and be his friend instead.

"Stick with me," Trevor said, nodding firmly. "I've got lots to teach the three of you."

Mitchell shrugged and hoped that he'd get to learn some of it.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006


Virtuoso Dreams

First I thought that these would be found in Mitchell's home. But then I realized that no, they would be in Rick's.

Moonlight Sonata on 200-count

I'm debating a set for myself.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Susan's Book Talk: Two more bits about books not mine

First off, the mystery world has lost one of its pioneers: Mickey Spillane, the creator of the Mike Hammer series. Rest in peace, Mickey, and may Mike live on in reprints and collectors' editions.

Secondly, this book article mentions one of my old professors (who came up in conversation the other night; how's THAT for karma?): Chuck Kinder.

Chuck mentored not only me but Michael Chabon, among others. He's the one who convinced me to pursue this writing thing, and who gave me the confidence I need to pursue the rather unconventional genre of Rocktion, I think Joe called it the other night -- rock and roll fiction, about bands and the people who make the magic happen.

Pick up Chuck's books, all of them, but especially this new autobiography. No one tells a tale like Chuck Kinder, and if you can't hear him in person, this should be the next best thing. I'll be picking up a copy myself in the next few days and reading it shortly. Hope you do the same.

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Monday, July 17, 2006


Hangin' with Jack Daniels' Daddy

Wha--? Huh?

This has very little to do with my fiction. Directly, anyway, so please pardon the slight burp in our regularly scheduled outtakes and other fictional fun.

But I got to hang out with the notorious and fun JA Konrath AND the way cool and lovely Rebecca Drake last night, as Konrath was in town, intending to visit as many bookstores in and around Pittsburgh as he could.

Good beer, better cheesecake, and amazing conversation that swirled among an amazing and at times impossible variety of topics. I learned much. I intend to learn even more.

It's back to work on the rewrite of Trevor's Song for me today, but an evening spent among published and soon-to-be-published folk was amazingly good for my soul.

We'll return to Riverview shortly -- wait until you see the fun I've got planned -- but in the meantime, thanks to Joe and Rebecca. Hope we can do it again soon.

And if you're still curious about the Jack Daniels reference, you clearly need to pick up Joe's books. Feel free to follow the link in my sidebar to Joe's blog, where he's been keeping a record of the stores he's visited and left autographed copies behind for your buying and collecting pleasure.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 14, 2006


Susan's Book Talk: Another Great Book

This time, it's Rachel Caine's Ill Wind. What a wonderfully imagined world. Here is what my friend JayYapaway had to say about it; she said it better than I can.

Hey, I'm an author, not a critic. An author who's been reading more than writing lately; time to fix that. More soon, but in the meantime, did you see the latest bit about Daniel's Obsessions?

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Susan's Book Talk: Dueling Charitable Authors

Join THE VENUS FIX Summer Buzz Promotion + raise $ for a worthy cause!

How it works:

From now until August 15, author M.J. Rose will donate $5 to the winning charity for every blog that links to MJ Rose AND The new book! in a post.

Please send permalink to to be counted; every blogger who participates will also be entered in a weekly drawing for a signed, personalized copy of THE VENUS FIX!

M.J. will also pledge an additional $1 for every "Friend Request" that receives until 11:59pm on August 15. Please help us to reach our goal of a $2500 donation by M.J. Rose to the winning organization!

And once you've done this, be sure to check out JA Konrath's blog, where he ups the ante (and suggests a partylicious evening)

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Daniel's Obsessions

If there were a ShapeShifter fan magazine, this might be printed in it:

Daniel's top three obsessions (in order):
1. Music
2. Val
3. CNN


Saturday, July 08, 2006


Late-night Load out (the early days) outtake

At first, Trevor thought it was HJ standing there, shadowing him. The kid was maybe taller than HJ, but had the same boringly long, straight, brown hair that never seemed to snag on the back of his denim jacket. He had the same hunched shoulders, making his face hard to see. And he had the same skinny legs and untied dirty white basketball shoes with an inch of padding around the ankles.

In a lot of ways, the kid looked like Trevor. Or, maybe more accurately, the way Trevor had looked -- and the way almost every other male metal head looked. Back before he'd thought up the band and changed his image to match it. Back when Mitchell was still stupidly dreaming of being a baseball star and Daniel and Eric were doing whatever it was they did.

The kid was currently hanging around the backstage area, near Mitchell's Bronco, like he was guarding it or something. Trevor lit up with a thought. None of them could really afford to have their gear stolen, not even Daniel. Maybe…

"Hey," he said to the kid. "Whatcha doin'?"

The kid shrugged and turned away, like he was expecting to get hit on or yelled at.

"Like the show?" Trevor asked, deliberately walking past him close enough that his bass case swung a bit and touched the kid's legs. Sure enough, the kid flinched.

"Yeah," the kid said, his voice trembling. "You guys rock."

Trevor shrugged. "I know. We make sure we do."

The kid shook his head. Trevor recognized his disgust, the old envy that someone had it better. He wanted to tell the kid the truth.

Eric came up, a guitar in each hand. "Hey, Dans and I were talking about going to grab something to eat. Coming?"

Trevor shrugged. "Where's Mitchell?" He usually didn't do anything with those two without Mitchell, too. Daniel was okay to be around, but Eric could get awfully preachy.

"He found a girl."

"A girl found him, you mean," Trevor said. He thought for a minute. When Mitchell got done -- which probably wouldn't be too long, knowing him, he'd be hungry. And Trevor could put up with Eric until Mitchell got free.

"Hey, kid," he said, jerking his chin at the kid, who had turned when Eric came over, as if transfixed by the guitar player. "You want to watch the truck till we get back?"

"You don't think Mitchell will take it when he's done?" Eric asked.

"If he does, he'll bring you along." Trevor spoke to the kid. It sure beat talking to the guitarist, and the kid would loosen up a bit with the attention. He dug in his pocket and pulled out a pick. "Give this to M and tell him I want it back. He'll get what I mean."

The kid took the pick and nodded. Trevor and Eric went back inside for the rest of their stuff, one eye on the dressing room. It called to Trevor, daring him to poke his head in and watch some of the fun. Yeah, Mitchell would try to beat him senseless for it later, but it'd be worth it. Free shows were always worth it.

In the hallway, Daniel was stacking drums on top of each other to make them easier to haul out to his car. He'd stuff everything into the trunk and back seat and be off, rattling happily down the road. "Hey, Val's tired, so we're gonna bail on Roach's," he said.

Trevor rolled his eyes. Of course Val was tired; she was always tired when they wanted to go out to eat after a show. And of course Daniel would take her home and miss the bonding experience with his own band. Really, the guy needed to get his priorities straight.

"Tell her to sleep well," Eric said, handing Trevor some of the last of the gear. He picked up the rest and led the way outside, Trevor somehow feeling like a dog that Eric trusted to follow. It wasn't a good feeling.

Again, temptation to pop into that dressing room teased him.

"Trev, that kid outside? You've noticed him at other shows, right?" Eric paused at the door to the loading dock.

Trevor glanced outside. The kid, hands tucked into the pockets of his denim jacket, paced alongside the Bronco, his shoulders hunched in an eerily familiar way. Fog was starting to roll across the four blocks between them and the river, and the air was growing damp. Trevor would be glad to get inside Roach's, where it was always warm and greasy-smelling. Cozy, even.

"Never seen him before," Trevor told Eric, who nodded.

"I have. He … reminds me a lot of you."

Trevor narrowed his eyes. No wonder he hated the guy. Count on a preacher's son to see the wounds in everyone.

"That's how I know we can trust him," Trevor said, his throat suddenly thick. He turned his back to Eric and hoped that for once, the guy would let it lie.

He almost didn't see Eric knock on the dressing room door, and then he almost didn't move fast enough to peek inside when Eric opened it just far enough to stick his head in and call to Mitchell, "We'll be at Roach's. Trev was good enough to ask a guy to watch the truck. Please bring him with you when you join us."

Unfortunately, Eric had pulled his head out before Trevor could see anything but the door. He bit back a snarl and headed back outside so he could put the rest of the gear into Mitchell's truck. Here he was, being Mitchell's lackey, and what did he get for it? Not even a peek.

At Roach's, he and Eric slid into opposite sides of the booth. "I'm glad you talked to that kid, Trev," Eric said as they waited for June to bring miniscule glasses of water. She'd stop and ask how the show went, how many people were there, how it went over … all sorts of shit that only Mitchell's mom usually thought to ask. Pretty much everyone else wanted to know how much money they'd made and how many girls they'd picked up.

"What was I supposed to do?" Trevor asked, not sure if it was better to have sat across from Eric or beside him. Either way, he wished Mitchell was there to buffer them.

"Talk to him. You did a good thing tonight."

Trevor tried not to sneer.

Eric set his menu aside and leaned across the table. "Trev, it's people like him that are the reason I got into metal. I mean, I love the music. Don't get me wrong. I could neer play music I didn't love. But i can't love the ministry as much as Dad, so I make music. Yet it seems to me that if we can, as a group, reach wounded people like that guy tonight, we're doing a greater good than just standing up on a pulpit and preaching to the already-converted. We're giving comfort where it's most needed, directly to the masses. And we get to have these great experiences, too. We get to make music, and that has got to be pleasing to God's ears."

Trevor fought the urge to throw up. But later that night, thinking about what Eric had said, he knew the guy was dead-on right. That as a band they could reach people and make lives less miserable, even if the misery lifted for only a little bit.

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