Saturday, March 31, 2007


Buy A Friend a Book Week April 2007

A quick Spring Reading Thing Update before I get to Buy a Friend a Book Week fun...

I gave up reading Dead Man's Island (Carolyn G. Hart) and it's already been mooched from me. A Darker Place (Laurie R. King) was also abandoned partway through, and is available either from PaperBackSwap, BookMooch, or ... (what a segueway, Susan!)

... this quarter's Buy a Friend a Book Week contest.

There are two ways to win:

The first three people who e-mail me a scan of their receipt for Steven Lee Beeber's The Heebie Jeebies at CBGB's will get my last three copies of Lyrical Life. So make sure you include an address with your e-mail. Buy it for you, for a friend, for the rocker-type down the street. Steven and I don't care. Just buy it and read it. It's a really cool book, and Steven's a truly cool dude.

The other way to win a book between now and the 7th, with the winner announced shortly thereafter, is to visit my bookshelf at BookCrossing. Look under the available titles -- but be careful, because if there's anything in parentheses after the word available, that means I don't have the book anymore. Leave a comment here on this post (because there will be quite a few posts this week, I suspect, so let's keep things where they belong) and tell me what book you want, and WHY. Whoever has the best reason will win the book and I'll happily send it to you.

Be warned: I like multiple winners. And I've got enough books here to sink a rowboat, I suspect. Have at it.

Now, I know that in my Thursday Thirteen this week, I promised you more fiction about Mitchell's desk. It's coming. But you guys helped me have one of my busiest Thursdays yet, and I'm still digging out from it. Keep it coming and I'll reward you with, as always, more and better.

Happy Buy a Friend a Book Week! (and yes, if you run out today and buy Heebies for a friend's Easter basket, I'll count it as a purchase)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #22 -- Mitchell's Desk

While I've been busy putting together some Buy a Friend a Book Week fun for next week, I realized that I can't find the surface of my desk. It's actually been this way for some time now and I swear, everything there can't find another home somewhere else.

That made me think. What sorts of things do other people keep on their desks?

Here's one take on it, with an outtake to finish up the desk fun over the weekend. Stay tuned for that, and for the BAFAB contest.

Thirteen Things on the desk of Mitchell Voss, rock star:

1. Guitar picks

2. remote control to the sound system, empty CD cases, and some newish, trendy stuff that keeps getting overlooked in favor of the old favorites.

3. papers JR's been waiting on for weeks

4. papers Daniel's been waiting on for weeks

5. love drawings, instead of love notes, from Kerri and a sketch of hers that he stole and framed. Conveniently, she's never noticed it.

6. scraps of paper with random, so-far unused song lyrics scribbled on them

7. the first guitar string he broke onstage

8. bulk quantities of black Sharpies

9. three desk lamps to act as spotlights on strategic piles of papers

10. new lightbulbs for the lamps

11. two years' worth of music industry trade magazines he intends to read -- next time he gets the chance

12. a hairbrush that hasn't been cleaned since it arrived on the desk even though it gets semi-frequent use

13. an origami dragon folded by one of the crew during ShapeShifter's last tour

Anything interesting on your desk?

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Quiet due to technical problems

Hey, guys, over the weekend, I noticed that some of you were asking if I'd gotten a comment you'd left here, or I'd clear something from owner moderation and ... it wouldn't show up.

I have no idea what's going on, and I'm going to sic the Tour Manager on it today.

Stay tuned; I've got your monthly visit with Pam and I hope to have time to write you a new outtake.

Anyone got fun ideas for Thursday Thirteen? Feel free to e-mail me if your comment doesn't show -- my name at my blog's name dot com.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: mysteries, Buy a Friend a Book Week, and more on punks

First off, let me tell you that I've finished my first book for the Spring Reading Thing challenge: Linda Fairstein's The Kills. I really liked it, so if you'd like to read it, you can get it one of three ways: by requesting it at PaperBackSwap, by mooching it from me at BookMooch, or by leaving me a comment here and asking for it. Be sure to leave me an e-mail address, if I don't have an address on file for you.

My copy's a hardback and yes, it's registered at BookCrossing. I'd love it if you'd leave some thoughts about what you think of it.

Other stuff...

Barb at Front Street Reviews has asked me to tell you guys to check out a cool profile she's done of Capital Crime Press. Two of their more prominent authors are the extremely funny Robert Fate (author of Baby Shark) and Troy Cook (author of 47 Rules of a Highly Effective Bank Robber). This feature is in conjunction with Small Press Month; don't forget to finish off the month with some small presses!

Buy a Friend a Book Week is fast approaching. I'm going to do a small contest for it, so watch the blog for more details. But here's a hint: anyone who e-mails me a scanned receipt for the purchase of Steven Lee Beeber's The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's will win a cool book from me. I'll have other books to give away during BAFAB week, if only because I have too many here again and would like to get them moving through the world.

And while I'm talking about Beeber and punk rock, I'd like to once again put forth my willingness to review Clinton Heylin's new book on punk. Babylon's Burning. Not only am I curious to read it, I want to see how it stacks up against Beeber's book. Now pushed back to a July release, I'd love to be part of some pre-publication reviews -- and I'll offer up Barb's Front Street Reviews as a spot for which to post that review. Ain't it great to have friends?

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Friday, March 23, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: Two Reading Contests

Okay, I've got a TON of stuff for you guys the next few days (and none of it is fictional, scarily enough), so I thought I'd combine two posts into one.

First off is Kailana's request for the Blogger List of Books They Cannot Live Without. I don't expect to see many, if any, of these titles in her final list; they're too off the beaten path. But they're right up my alley and they've all had an impact on me in one big way or another. (if you want to know how/why, ask. I'll answer)

Susan's List of Ten Essential Reads:
1. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green -- Joshua Braff
2. Dragonflight -- Anne McCaffrey
3. The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon -- Richard Zimler
4. I'm with the Band -- Pamela DesBarres
5. Cowboys are my Weakness -- Pam Houston
6. Bright Lights, Big City -- Jay McInerney
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. The Handmaid's Tale -- Margaret Atwood
9. East is East -- T. Coraghessan Boyle
10. Fat Kid Rules the World -- KL Going

All of these books have impacted me in one way or another. Many you'll see in my Library Thing sidebar; I've included in my LibraryThing list only the books I've really loved.

And now... on to the other book-related list. That's Katrina's Spring Reading Challenge. Check out the cool graphic in my sidebar and join in! Here, we're supposed to list the books we want to read or finish before June 21.

Beware; you're about to see that I'm not kidding when I say I have too many books! All but the first three arrived in my house between April 2005 and June 2005. I'd love to have them all read by the end of June, but c'mon. I've got a life.

Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson -- Peter Ames Carlin
A Crazy Little Thing Called Death -- Nancy Martin
Every Little Secret -- Lila Shaara
A Darker Place -- Laurie R. King
Deadhouse -- Linda Fairstein
Cold Hit -- Linda Fairstein
Dead Man's Island -- Carolyn G. Hart
The Chatham School Affair -- Thomas H. Cook
Final Jeopardy -- Linda Fairstein
Blood Harvest -- Gary Gottsfeld
Track of the Cat -- Nevada Barr
Talk Before Sleep -- Elizabeth Berg
Where Serpents Lie -- T. Coraghessan Boyle
Harvest -- Tess Gerritsen
Bloodstream -- Tess Gerritsen
Flashback -- Nevada Barr
Deep Freeze -- Lisa Jackson
The Puttermesser Papers -- Cynthia Ozick
Buried Evidence -- Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
The Second Silence -- Eileen Goudge
Skinny Dipping -- Claire Matturro
I'm no Angel -- Patti Berg
Rain of Gold -- Victor Villasenor
The Ladies -- Doris Grumbach
Grime and Punishment -- Jill Churchill
The Quality of Mercy -- Faye Kellerman
Under Currents -- Francis Fyfield
Shock Rock II -- Jeff Gelb (Ed)
Imperfect Strangers -- Stuart Woods

Hi, there. My name is Susan and I have a small book problem...

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Inside Writing: Soy Sauce Scene #2

Yesterday, I showed you one variation on the real soy sauce story. Here's the other one.

Really, is it that much of a surprise to hear how much I love Mitchell?

Mitchell scratched his head as he contemplated the seven varieties of soy sauces. He hadn't paid much attention when Ma had asked him to pick some up on his way over; he'd figured that just remembering it was the brand with the Chinese name would be good enough.

He could hear her reminder: "Good enough rarely is, Mitchell." And his father, chiming in about how to find success, a person had to give 100%, all the time.

Clearly, he'd fucked this one up royally.

He was still standing there when a couple walked by. "Get the Ping's," the woman said. "It's the best of the all-natural brands."

"How can it be best?" the man asked.

"I don't know," the woman said. Mitchell smiled at her exasperated tone. "But it is. Maybe they use special soy for it or something. Make it in small batches. I don't know. Call them and ask."

Mitchell wondered if they would answer that sort of question if someone called and asked it.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the woman nudge the man and make a subtle gesture in his direction. With a sigh, he picked up a bottle of Ping's soy sauce and tried to be casual as he walked away.

Just what he needed. To be spotted while making an indecisive ass of himself in front of something like soy sauce. It wouldn't be surprising if, over the next few days, someone's gossip column mentioned that he used Ping's Soy Sauce and there'd be a run of it.

And that he'd spend the next six months autographing the stupid labels.

He looked at the label on the bottle he held. Thankfully, it was black. That'd make it hard to sign. No one ever carried Sharpies in colors other than black.

He was safe, at least from that.

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Monday, March 19, 2007


Inside writing: Soy Sauce Scene #1

It dawned on me over the weekend -- after I'd posted the Soy Sauce Story, of course -- that I could have written the same story, only fictionalized. From the point of view of one of my characters. (Isn't Mitchell the perfect naif to play the stranger?)

And then my brain really kicked into gear, which was no small feat because I'm still pretty sick and headed to the doctor today. Maybe I only reached this epiphany because I'm sick; I'm not certain. But it goes like this: many of you, when you've nominated me for various writers' blog awards, have said that you really like that I give you an inside look at the writing process. I haven't seen myself doing much of that, so I'll do it here and now.

Today, I'm going to post one alternate to the Soy Sauce Story. A fictionalized scene that shows how I take real life and put it into my fiction. Most of my outtakes are based on some real-life inspiration, you know. You just have to figure out what the real-life inspiration is.

Tomorrow, I'll post another. And we'll culminate this insider look with a Thursday Thirteen that ought to make you laugh pretty hard.

One quick note and then we'll get to the fiction: This is about as rough as my writing gets. I haven't gone over this for typos, for improvements or tweaks, nothing. So bear with me.

Soy Sauce Story -- Val's Point of View

Val sighed and pushed her hair out of her face. They were out of Ping's brand soy sauce again. What was wrong with the place, that they couldn't keep up with demand? Everyone knew Ping's made the best soy sauce.

She turned to the woman behind the counter. "Excuse me?" she started, ready to chew the woman out. She worked there; surely she had some sort of control over the store's inventory.

It wasn't overly surprising that the woman ignored her. Val figured she was probably bristling with hostility and if the roles had been reversed, Val would have been reluctant to talk to someone so ready to explode.

What did surprise was when the woman yelled to someone in the back room. In perfect Mandarin, "Anyone want to come deal with the annoying slut out front?"

Val tried not to gasp or adjust her clothes. Yeah, so she was decked out; she and Daniel were on their way to a sex club and she'd asked if they could run in since the grocery was on the way.

"The annoying slut out front is pissed you're out of Ping's. Again," Val snapped back, not caring that her Mandarin was rusty. Not caring about anything except this had been a wasted trip and that she'd have to spend half the week searching out the Ping's.

The man popped out of the back room, full of apologies in both Chinese and English.

By the time Daniel came in to see what had happened to her, Val had promises that four bottles of Ping's would be held for her on the next shipment day -- Tuesday -- and that in the future, all she needed to do was call when she ran low and bottles would be waiting with her name on them.

Even if her name would be Annoying Chinese Slut.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007


Susan Speaks: The Soy Sauce Story

I got home from another great Penguins game last night to find this message in my inbox: Tell the Soy Sauce Story. The reminder came from The Bluest Butterfly and thank goodness, because I'd completely forgotten I'd left a comment on someone's blog that said, "Remind me to tell the Soy Sauce Story."

Now, to fully appreciate the Soy Sauce Story, you've got to understand that I'm a bit geeky. I think some of it is from birth, but the majority of it has rubbed off from the Tour Manager. Fortunately for him, he's indispensible to me, so I'll gladly take a bit of geekiness on his end. And maybe mine, too.

One of our favorite shows is Alton Brown's Good Eats. (I won't link to the show because last time I did, it fought with my XM radio and took down my entire computer. I'm talking Blue Screen of Death takedown. And even though XM just made me choose between Metallica and Iron Maiden, I won't torture it again with the Good Eats link. You, I'm sure, know how to Google.)

One Saturday night, before our local indie station started running Farscape, we were watching Alton teach us about soy sauce. Alton pointed out that in the case of soy sauce (unlike crystal meth), better living does NOT come from chemistry. Soy sauce should be made up of soy beans and water, nothing else.

This probably wouldn't have stayed with me, but the next day, the Tour Manager and I were in the local grocery. Soy sauce was on our shopping list. The Tour Manager looked at me with that glint in his eye, the one that says he's about to unleash the Inner Geek. And then he set about reading the ingredient list on the bottle of soy sauce that we had a coupon for.

It was perfect: Soy beans and water. Into our shopping cart it went.

Of course, the Inner Geek wasn't done yet. The Tour Manager's Inner Geek is never satisfied that easily, not when there's geekiness to be wreaked. And so, in short order, the Tour Manager was off, reading the ingredient list of each and every brand of soy sauce and reporting his discoveries.

Now, this is merely a story of a geeky tour manager and his writer wife, who is standing there, slightly embarrassed, slightly intrigued, and definitely pleased that the Tour Manager's having so much fun. What makes this story such a good one is the man who was also shopping for soy sauce at the same time.

The man who reached into his cart and began reading the ingredient list on the back of the soy sauce he'd chosen.

The man who put that bottle of soy sauce back. Who looked none-too-casually into our shopping cart. And who picked up the same brand of soy sauce inside our cart. The one made of soy beans and water, and nothing else.

Okay, maybe you're not roaring with laughter the way The Tour Manager and I were as we walked away. Maybe you're only smiling as you're picturing this. Maybe it's a "you should have been there" type of story. I don't know. You tell me.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007


Susan Speaks: Whoops

Thanks to everyone who put up with me today and last night. I'd inadvertently turned off the comments on my Thursday Thirteen. Not sure how; can I blame it on my using the laptop instead of my more comfortable desktop?

HUGE thanks to those of you who stopped back JUST to leave a comment. I owe you guys.

Also, if you've been looking for your comments, I was (the horror!) away from the 'puter all day. ALL DAY. They're posted now; you guys rock. Thanks for visiting.

And lastly, SparkyDuck, what's your dirty comment that goes with Trevor riding his Vincent? I'm sure it's not something he tried, if not out-and-out did, so let's hear it!

(If you have no clue what I'm talking about scroll down to the Thursday Thirteen that now has its comments turned firmly ON.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #20 -- St. Patrick's Day Edition

Thirteen St. Patrick's Days adventures, as done by the various characters in and around Riverview, USA.

1. The year Trevor, who does have a bit of Irish in him somewhere along the line, put streamers on his Vincent and rode with a cycling group in the St. Patty's Day Parade.

2. The year Amy told Mitchell that the Riverview State Park had been formed to preserve the leprechauns and their pots of gold, so Mitchell took off for the park -- and got horribly lost in the woods. It took Patterson and a group of his colleagues to find the boy, well after sunset. Needless to say, Amy got into a bit of trouble. Mitchell didn't brave the park alone again for years.

3. Pam makes a ritual of dressing up for the holiday around her exercise class. For St. Patrick's Day, she wears those cheap cardboard top hats, green tails, green socks, black capri tights, and a green bra top. The tails come off at some point, but the rest stays on.

4. There was the time, early in the band's career, when they took the stage dressed as leprechauns. Complete with shorts that let bony knees hang out, and fake red beards. Pictures of this do exist -- in the scrapbook Amy keeps, of course!

5. The year that dark chocolate was first touted as having health benefits, Amy handed her patients some of those foil-wrapped gold coins that usually show up as Hanukkah gelt. Her older patients were horrified that a doctor would hand out chocolate. Her younger patients were amused. Her female patients laughed the hardest.

6. The staff at Chelle's newspaper once decided to dress in green to mark St. Patrick's Day. Chelle went out and found a green shirt and made herself a green skirt. It was quickly decided that Chelle looked like a green M&M, and that she should stick to black, white, and pastels in the future. Chelle hates pastels, but they do look good against her dark skin.

7. The year Daniel and Val began what became a yearly ritual: making shamrock-shaped sugar cookies for his grandmother. When Daniel's on tour and can't make the cookies, Val does. She sends half to Daniel's grandmother and half to him on the road.

8. The time Eric and his older brother Jared strolled into church in the middle of their father's sermon -- faces painted green and wearing full leprechaun clothing.

9. One year during the band's first tour -- the one they drove their way through -- Trevor poured a green beer over a blonde he was flirting with. She slapped him (the nerve!) and ran off. Trevor merely shrugged and said she apparently didn't know much about what made for good foreplay. No one in the band bought his bluster.

10. The year Val was still in culinary school and decided to make a traditional Irish dinner for Daniel and his grandmother, since her own family wasn't interested. It was one of her few disasters, if only because she didn't know enough about Irish food to make a palatable meal.

11. When Mitchell was six and Amy eight, she convinced him that their front yard was full of four-leaf clovers -- but they'd hide from bad little boys. Mitchell, of course, set out to prove her wrong. He, of course, failed at this.

12. A few years and a lot of culinary school later, Val finally managed to get the Irish dinner right. It's now something she does annually for Daniel's grandmother and her older sister, the only people who're interested in joining her in the tradition.

13. Life isn't complete without a Shamrock Shake or two for Daniel, Eric, and Mitchell, who sit and slurp happily as the tour bus rolls on…

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Susan's Book Talk: Groupies Galore

I got TWO rejections from agents Monday, and like the two before them, they said the same thing, if you read between the lines. It's either they hate that Trevor gets sick, or that they think they can't sell the book somehow.

I think the worst part is that these rejections I'm getting come in one of two varieties: the form letter that tells me they didn't read past the first word, or else the personal letter that's truly regretful and yet hopeful that I'll find the right one of their colleagues who'll take this on. One of the letters yesterday, from a VP at one of the biggie agencies, handwrote an additional "I am sorry" on the bottom of the letter. Like she'd wanted to take me on but someone stopped her.

Okay, enough of my frustrations. On to the good stuff.

I've been talking to Breeni about having a graphic made for when I talk up my groupies and when you guys blog about me. What do you think? You game? Do you want an official West of Mars Groupie graphic? What? (go on and say t-shirts; I'm on it)

Claire found this gem of an idea. We all know what I want for the world -- for everyone to have the chance to meet Trevor. What do you want?

Now, the real news: Camille at Littlebird blue sent me this link, to Green Man Review, where she's got a few reviews posted. Check them out.

And Karen and Janelle and I have been discussing this one via e-mail: The Bookseller is out with their (his? Her?) annual list of the oddest book titles. Be sure you vote.

Debut a Debut author Joshua Palmatier dropped into my inbox to tell me that his debut novel, The Skewed Throne, is one of the four finalists for the Baltimore Science Fiction Society's Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award for best first novel of 2006. HUGE congratulations to Joshua!! May the best book be yours!

Lastly, a shameless plug that you go check out what's new at Front Street Reviews. Nothing from me (I'm too busy with the query letters), but plenty of other gems that you might want to consider for the summer reading contest... Stay tuned for that, as well as that graphic I'm thinking about. If you'd like it, give me a yay or nay in the comments.

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Monday, March 12, 2007


Susan Speaks: What Set Chelle Off

I read a very nice blog via my feedreader. It posts all sorts of cool (and not so cool) jobs for freelance writers. And while I'm not a freelance writer, it's still neat to read and see what's out there. You never know where the road we're on will wind up, I figure. Besides, even if it's not something I need personally, you never know when a character or two might.

The list of job postings that went up on Sunday sorta horrified me, which is why you're not getting a direct link. The typos. Oy, the typos! I've been reading this blog long enough to have an idea that they didn't come from Denise, who runs the site. But come on now, folks... why would any self-respecting writer want to work for you if you can't tell the difference between you're and your. Heroin and heroine. Breath and breathe.

If you've been following the exploits of Chelle LaFleur, you've seen her harp on this sort of thing in the past. Namely when I messed up as I wrote a piece for her, and all you groupies caught it for me. (thank you for that, too)

So it seemed natural to let Chelle loose on the subject again. And while I'd have ranted more about how important it is for potential employers (and literary agents) to represent themselves more... well, Chelle may be fictional, but she's her own woman.

If you need to catch up on her exploits, search my tags for Chelle. And anyone who can tell me how to make an index -- or who wants to do it for me, just for the link love and bragging rights -- please, speak up.

Oh, and check to make sure your feed's turned on, will ya? I'm talking RSS or Atom, not Feedburner. I'm a Google Reader sort of girl. (why does that make me feel all flirty and like I should be kicking up my heels and batting my eyelashes?)

Talk at you soon...

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


Byline: Chelle LaFleur -- More about Typos

Here I go again
about typos. Sue me, all right? I'm a journalist even if I never went to school for it. But maybe that's why it gets my goat so much, you know what I'm saying here, people? If Chelle LaFleur can find a way to spell right, so can you.

Yes, it's that simple. No, don't you dare come whining to me about how busy you are and how something like spelling shouldn't matter. It does and it should. If I can hustle to make my own bills and still take the time to spell right, so can you.

Besides, we live in a world that's more and more about our computer screens. We don't see faces no more; we see pictures and while y'all might have some pretty darn interesting body parts, that's something else you gotta consider.

Here's the deal: The Trumpet here is looking to hire some freelance writers, now that they've gone and put me on staff full-time with a salary and everything. We all know they did this so I'll stop writing for every news outfit in town and so they can keep me for themselves, but that ain't the issue, here. What it's all about are these applications we've been gettin' in at the office.

"I wanna be a righter."

I kid you not, that's what one application said. You wanna be a lefter, too? You wanna get an interview? Work with real people and not monkeys or your greased-up right hand? Learn how to spell.

One kid came into the reception area wearing a dirty red hoodie, pulled up and looking like it hadn't been washed in a year or two. Alls we could see was his nose, and that didn't look too clean, neither. I kid you not. And this small voice comes out, "I can write music reviews."

Well, people, lookie here. That's Chelle's job. No one said nothing about writing music reviews.

Look. I meet folk like you daily. You all wanna have a glamour job like ole Chelle's. But to get where I am, and to get to the point where you can write a column like I do and use slang like I do -- but you'll notice it's all spelled right slang -- you gotta impress. You gotta make people believe that you can do the job from the first second they lay eyes on you.

You can't do that if you can't spell. Take two seconds and look up those words in the dictionary. You just might learn something along the way, and learnin's always a good thing. Use that word you just learned and make someone think you're smart.

I remember a day when being smart was sexy. Well, in this corner of the world, that hasn't changed. Smart is sexy. Good spelling is hotter than hot. And being professional from the get-go is what'll get you where Chelle is.

You heard it first and you heard it here. You may not get to where ole Chelle is, but if not, it's only you that's holding you back.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007


new red?

You repeat offenders (aka groupies) might have noticed something different around here. We're trying to match the red on my website.

How's it looking?

Are you seeing the sidebar okay?

And does anyone want to take on the completion of the project, just for the challenge and public kudos?

(btw, this isn't the only cosmetic change afoot... stay tuned...)

Friday, March 09, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: Small Press Month

My dear friend Janelle, who will be more involved here as we do more major book contests, has proclaimed March to be Small Press Month.

Keep an eye on The Eclectic Closet to be exposed to some pretty cool stuff in the upcoming weeks.

And, as always, share any gems you come across!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #19 -- Daylight Savings Time Edition

We all know how Daylight Savings Time affects our kids: they're cranky for a week as their little bodies adjust to the change. We, ourselves, are out of sorts for a day or two, but we spend at least a week, if not more, complaining about the effects of the change on our kids. But then the increased exposure to light kicks in and all's good.

However, when you're in a rock band, the time change can affect things that we ordinary folk don't think about. I sat down with Mitchell and Charlie, ShapeShifter's longtime tour manager, and asked them to enlighten us.

Due to the fact that Mitchell's already pulling a #5, I decided to summarize rather than expose you prematurely to his adjustment (or lack thereof) issues.


Thirteen Things that Suck and Rock about the Switch to Daylight Savings Time

1. An hour less in the day means the band has to be on the bus and hitting the road sooner after a show's end. That means that...

2. The after-show party has to be cut a bit shorter. After all, getting to the next town on time does take precedence over a party. Believe it or not.

3. A shorter after-show party means ... you guessed it. Fewer beers consumed (leading to a less severe hangover) and ... yes, it's true. Fewer girls.

4. But on a good note, it's in the band's tour rider that the bus is to be stocked with food for the trip to the next city. Often, though, the food doesn't get put away. An hour less of sleep means that the food is discovered an hour earlier, which means maybe the stuff prone to spoiling won't. Since the guys often don't discover the spoilage effect until it's too late, this can often be a very good thing.

5. Another good thing is that no one sleeps well on a tour bus (and I don't care if you say you're the exception. You're not! NO ONE sleeps well on a tour bus). The switch to Daylight Savings Time means one less hour of crappy sleep on the bus.

6. This lost hour of sleep makes Mitchell a very cranky boy, indeed. You thought kids were bad? They're nothing on a sleep-deprived Mitchell Voss. Because, after all, this time switch was done just to fuck with him, don'tcha know. (That is how Trevor likes to put it, just before he ducks one of Mitchell's swinging fists.)

7. And, of course, there's the issue of time zones, states that don't recognize Daylight Savings, and a band that already has no clue what time it is. Keeping track of such issues is a very important part of a tour manager's job.

8. Daylight Savings Time heralds the onset of spring. If you watch the band's road crew carefully, you'll notice the smokers among them who, when coming outside for a smoke break, turn their faces to the sun, eyes shut. So much better than that weak wintry sun.

9. With springtime comes another important moment for the road crew -- the day when the merchandise tables change. There are fewer sweatshirts for sale and more tank tops. The crew loves this change because, let's face it, 100 tank tops in a box weigh less than 50 sweatshirts in a same-sized box.

10. New merchandise means more sales. Which makes everyone happy.

11. The shedding of winter jackets and other bulky clothes makes for a neater bus, as coats and whatnot aren't left laying around. (It will be months before Eric's missing glove reappears, and when it does, another band will be using this bus and poor Eric will never get his glove back because, of course, the finder of the glove is smart enough to recognize a souvenir when she sees one.)

12. Shedding of clothes is always welcome in the ShapeShifter camp.

13. Of course, when you're ShapeShifter, the only time that really matters is show time. Part of the magic of a ShapeShifter show is that it happens at the same time every night, no matter what time zone you're in: thirty minutes after the warm-up act ends.

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Waiting for Thursday Thirteen...

So... while I figure out what to do for tonight's Thursday Thirteen, I have a question:

Reading anything good?

I'm reading an okay science fiction, but earlier in the week read my first James Alan Gardner, Expendable. I figured it was sort of fitting, when I realized it was his -- yes, here we go again -- debut.

Just can't lose the debuts, can I?

Back to our question: Reading anything good?


Monday, March 05, 2007


Susan Speaks: WIP update

So here's the post I had prepared for today:

I've been thinking about the WIP I've been spending the most time with. Meant as a follow-up to Trevor's Song, I've been writing away and having a lot of fun with it. These are really fun characters, as most of you guys know.

But I always get to a point in my WIPs where I get worried that I've fallen off the track, so I go back and read and give a light edit to what I've already done.

As you can probably figure, it's that time again. As I think back over the first chapter, where I am now in the story is so far afield, I need to stop and see where and how I can fix things. I have some ideas; it's time to see if I can make some of them happen.

This isn't an easy WIP for me. I'm writing about strong emotions I have very little first-hand experience with. I'm writing about situations that I'd never in a million years let myself fall into.

But this is why it's fiction. It's good to push myself like this. After all, writing is a craft.

Time to craft the WIP a bit.

Before I go, though, let me hear from you regulars: do you want more of Daniel and Mitchell? Eric? What about the girls? Kerri and Val? And Mitchell's sister, Amy? Of what I've shown you in this blog before, who intrigues you the most? Who do you want to read about?

But then, two things happened:
First was that I FINALLY hit 10,000 hits. So thanks to all of you who've helped make that happen. Pretty cool to see on the old stat counter!

And I sat down and wrote down each chapter number, point-of-view character, and major themes. Floated some ideas at the Tour Manager. And had one that, for now, stuck.

If you never take chances, you never learn and grow as a person -- or as a writer. And besides, I'm not on deadline yet. This is the perfect time for experimentation.

I still want to hear which characters you want to spend more time with, though. If you're not a regular, read over the character descriptions I've linked to each character's name. Tell me who intrigues you -- and why.


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Sunday, March 04, 2007


Me, me, all about me

More about me than you'd ever want to know... Right Spanking Here

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Friday, March 02, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Meet Pam

Shit, shit, shit.

Molly and I are supposed to go hang out at Decade tonight. ShapeShifter's playing, and I've got to make them notice me already. Mitchell's so hot. I'd look so good with him. We can be in the papers together. Pam and Mitchell. Riverview's power couple.

Pam Derbish. The only woman on the planet with abs better than Mitchell's. And do I know how to use them, too.

But no… won't be happening tonight. Can't be happening tonight. I've got to call Molly and tell her I'm not going anywhere near Decade tonight. Shit. Shit shit shit.

Pam and Daniel… he'd throw over that bitch for me, I know it. I'd get a spiral perm so we'd have matching curls. Maybe even let my natural color grow out so I don't look too blonde next to him, his hair's so dark.

I'm not even going to leave the house. Maybe I'll even cancel classes tomorrow, too. Or however long it takes for this to clear up and go away. And then I can get back to work.

I've got to make that band notice me already. I've got to be part of their inner world. I need to be important to them, just like they're important to me. It needs to be a shared thing. They need to know.

I can picture me and Eric. I'd buy dresses that hit my knees so I could go to his dad's church with him. I could wear those little pillbox hats like Jackie O, and I'd have to get certified in a few more dance-like classes and do less weights. You don't want to look too cut when you're with a minister's son, but you do need to look good. You've got the eyes of the congregation on you. Even more than the other ShapeShifter fans, the congregation's got to be won over.

I'm not going to be able to do it looking like this, that's for sure. And I'm sure as hell not leaving the house. I hope Molly doesn't hate me for life. I deserve it if she does.

This is what happens when you exercise; it's the one thing that no one warns you about. Oh, you can have abs to die for, Pam. No problem there. A gorgeous ass, sculpted arms. Just… forget about having clear skin on your back. Forget about having beautiful, flawless skin on the one night you know you'll be able to get close enough to ShapeShifter to get them to notice you.

To make matters worse, the problem's right by my mouth. It looks like a cold sore, except it's already formed a bit of a white head. And besides, I don't get cold sores. I know it may not seem like it, the way I go on about ShapeShifter, but I am careful about who I sleep with. I do, after all, have standards. Especially about something like sex.

I was hoping that tonight, I'd be showing those standards to one of the ShapeShifter boys. The night's perfect. I don't have a class tomorrow. No roommates around tonight. And brand new candles.

And this zit.

Shit shit shit.

Tonight was perfect. ShapeShifter's getting hard to get near. They're popular now. They're putting out another album, and rumor has it that they'll be touring in a real bus this time, too. People outside of Riverview are starting to hear about them. Lots of people.

I need to make my move soon, if I'm going to be able to do it at all.

Maybe I'll get my period tonight. That would be the only way I'll ever forgive this zit. Especially if Molly calls me in the morning and says that the band noticed her instead of me.

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