Friday, November 30, 2007


Booking Through Thursday: Rolling

I wasn't going to answer this week's Booking Through Thursday question. I have so much other stuff to bring you guys, and the past two days have been crazy busy with running nonstop that I didn't want to give a pithy one-word answer.

Here's the question:

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…

Really. I wasn't inspired.

But then I came across the answer given by my friend Karen! and I knew I had my reply. Karen reads more than I do; she read 200 books in 2006. (By contrast, I *only* read 144.)

Her comment was that when she reads a lot of one particular kind of book, everything tends to run together in her head.

And you know what? I have to agree. It happens to me, too. And it's sad.

As writers, we all want our works to stand out in our reader's brains. We want our readers to tell their friends to read OUR books. Comparisons to other authors are flattering, absolutely. But when you confuse something we slaved over for something that someone else slaved over... well, that means we're not doing our jobs as well as we should be.

And that we readers aren't doing our jobs as well as we should be, either. No matter how many books of one genre we want to devour, we owe it to ourselves and to the authors to switch things up. Cleanse the palate, as it were.

So instead of rolling with an author, a series, a genre, take a break. Eat some lemon sorbet or crystallized ginger. Cleanse that palate and then return to what you're hooked on.

I bet whatever it is that's caught you on fire will be that much better for it.

And who knows. Maybe you'll find something else that sets you on the same sort of fire.

Happy reading!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #56 -- Trevor? Bored?

It's been a hectic Wednesday in Chez Susan. That has me longing for some quiet, unassigned moments. Trevor thought he'd pipe up and share some suggestions with me.

Thirteen Ways in Which Trevor Whiles Away the Time

Thanks to Casa Sosegad for the awesome header!

1. in strip joints like Moon Shadows

2. reading catalogs from Lyric's competitors and deciding what to bug her into ordering for him

3. practicing with Daniel. It's easier without Mitchell's fancy-assed rhythms and attitude.

4. getting stoned, usually with Eric. It's one of the few times they get along.

5. picking his nose -- or so he says, but the pasttime is probably more along the lines of irritating others.

6. tinkering with his Vincent.

7. picking on Mitchell.

8. eating: at Harry's Hoagies, Roach's, or conning Val or Sonya Voss into cooking for him.

9. checking out girls and picking them up and bring them to … their homes (for quicker getaways)

10. dreaming of how big ShapeShifter will be

11. crusing town on his Vincent, looking for trouble.

12. Check out the competition playing around town

13. When all else fails, take a nap.

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!

Uhh, I think I'll only take him up on that last one, although heaven knows I'm itching to hear some live music.

As always, to learn more about a character, click on their name when it's orange and you'll be zipped to a cool bio page with links to other outtakes. Or scroll on down for this week's offerings: Beached Whales and Letter G. Happy reading and may all our days quiet down a bit.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Letter G (the early days)

"R," Trevor said.

Mitchell looked up from his guitar. "The fuck?"


Mitchell growled.

Trevor gave an exaggerated sigh. "The prompt this week at that Writer's Island place Susan likes to hang out on. It's," he took a deep breath and waved his fingers near his face. "The Letter," he said in a voice that was supposed to be spooky.

"Oh," Mitchell said. He looked down again, then gave Trevor one of those looks that would have been through his bangs if the guy was dumb enough to have any. "I like G," he said, and strummed the chord.

Trevor considered. Gs were good. G marked the spot. G wasn't a grade. Yeah, there was lots to like about G. And it wasn't like he was attached to R in any way, shape, form, or sound. In fact, R was usually Mitchell's sound. The one he made when he growled.

"Yeah," he said at last. "G's good."

Mitchell smirked and Trevor realized what he'd said. Good. It fucking started with … G. So did almost every other phrase Trevor could think of. Go figure. Goddamn. Geez. Girl. Give me. Guitars.

Trevor turned his back on Mitchell and reached for a cigarette. Count on the asshole there to come up with a better letter than he could. Maybe that's what made them such a … successful team. M took Trevor's ideas and ran with them.

Trevor tried to tell himself that meant his ideas didn't suck.


Yep, a bonus excerpt this week! What can I say, I was inspired. In fact, I wrote a few more outtakes over the weekend and now my file of stuff for this here blog is about to burst. Stay tuned for all of it...

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Sunday, November 25, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Beached Whales (post Trevor's Song Era)

Kerri set down the dishtowel she was using to dry Val's good china with, handed the last plate over, and walked into the family room. Daniel and Mitchell were being awfully quiet for two men who'd been all hyped about the big game.

She walked down the two steps into the sunken room and took in the scene.

The boys lay head-to-head on the L-shaped sectional. Mitchell had one leg thrown over the back of the couch; Daniel had one foot on the floor. Both men had extended their other leg, Daniel's foot dangling off the edge of the beige leather couch.

Kerri chuckled as she noticed that they both hadn't just unbuttoned their pants after that feast; they'd undone their flies, too.

"Hey, Val?" she drawled.

Mitchell's head shot up and he slitted his eyes as if shooting poison at her. She smiled; he knew her tone of voice all too well.

"Yeah?" Val asked, wiping her hands on her hot pink dishtowel and crossing the kitchen to join Kerri. She stopped on the stair behind Kerri, one knee bent, the same hip jutted out in a classic model's pose.

"Where'd you find the beached whales?"

"Wholesale district. Imported from Japan; they were cheap."

Daniel burped. Mitchell smirked and put his head back down.

Kerri shook her head. "Waste of good veal, if you ask me. Whale stuffing ought to be cheap."

"Actually, I think it's the highest praise a chef can get," Val said, tossing the dishtowel over her shoulder and pulling her hip back in line with the other. "When you can turn two grown men into beached whales, you know your cooking's good."

"Or that food on the road is that bad," Daniel said. "Really, Val, come out and be our caterer."

She winked at Kerri. As if there was any way to pry Val out of her house. "If I do," she said, "will you change the name of the band to Beached Whales?"

"We may have to," Mitchell said and, at last, burped.

The curtains fluttered, and Val and Kerri exchanged amused smiles as they went back to putting the plates away.

Want more? Click on the characters' names and be transported a quick character sketch, along with links to more fiction featuring Daniel, Val, Kerri, and Mitchell. And don't forget to take a ride on Rhian's Poetry Train!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007


Susan's Inside Writing: The Seven Things Meme

Lesley tagged me for this. Hmmm.

Here are the rules:

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Yeah, okay. Maybe.

1. I've been hearing an increased clamor for more about the woman behind all the fiction on this blog. Are you for real?

2. I mean, do you care that my idea of a glass of water is to fill the sucker up with ice and pour water into the cracks?

3. Yawn. The very thought makes me need a nap.

4. I'm a shoes-off kind of girl. This is reflected in my writing, as Mitchell, Kerri, and Chelle all hate to wear shoes. (Although the shoes are only the tip of Mitchell's iceberg... so to speak.) As I develop more characters, I'm sure you'll see more and more of them with the same issue.

5. A lot of you have asked how I can create such vivid characters. The truth is that I have no life. It's all about the fiction. Everything I see, I try to translate over to my fictional world. This is because, as I keep insisting, I'm boring as anything. My fictional world isn't.

6. Besides, translating it all into fiction keeps things properly hidden away from view. Like my kids. After the stalking incident where I wasn't even the victim but still got a phone call warning me to be careful, I'd just as soon keep most parts of my life private. That was close enough, thank you. And yes, I know that's the risk when you put yourself out there. Still, putting yourself out there doesn't mean exposing people you love to danger.

7. From the time I was six, my dream was to be a best-selling author. I got laughed at in grad school for this ambition, and I didn't care. But lately... the vision has changed. I'd rather be a small industry, with books and a vibrant blog and t-shirts and other merchandise. Yep, all centered around my fiction. I wish people would pop out of the woodwork and volunteer to help and make some of the hard choices I face that much easier, but clearly, my idealistic view of how the world ought to work is best saved for my fiction. Which is why I'd rather bring that to you.

See? You're really better off knowing me through my fiction. There's more of me in there than I think you realize you're seeing, and given that real life and fiction are so closely entwined for me, if you're clever you can find the real-life inspirations. Or just wait for me to at last publish the outtakes; each one has an intro that explains a bit of it, including inspirations.

I know I'm supposed to tag someone, but... that's even less fun than talking about myself. If you do it, I'd love a link back and a note so I know to come check it out.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write some fiction...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #55 -- Thanks for the Disaster!

Let's face it. Part of what makes Thanksgiving so much fun is seeing what sort of memories you'll leave the table with. Our friends in Riverview (and music reporter Chelle LaFleur) have had some memorable meals.

Thanks for the Diasaster!

1. There was the year when Mitchell and Trevor were 20 and they stumbled in to dinner, late, Trevor stoned and Mitchell drunk and stoned, and decided that turkey flambe was the main course. Sonya, who was about to put the cooked bird on the table when this happened, wasn't amused.

2. The first year that Chelle was living alone, she decided that the best way to celebrate her independence was to make Thanksgiving herself. Not sure how to cook, let alone roast a turkey, she microwaved it. For an hour. What she was left with resembled the shrunken heads she'd seen her elderly relatives use for voodoo ceremonies. Those creepy elderly relatives were all too glad to see her when she showed up for dinner.

3. One year, Pam accepted the invitation of some vegetarian friends for a Tofurkey dinner. She made sure they served fish the next time she ate with them.

4. Inspired by Mitchell and Trevor's lame attempt at flame, Val decided to try it herself. The apricot brandy glaze was a success. The flambe wasn't. The bananas foster that was an alternative to the pumpkin pie was.

5. When he was a teenager, Eric and his brothers had a pumpkin pie eating contest. Problem was, their mother had baked the pies for a church dinner. They learned fast how to bake a good pumpkin pie.

6. Amy called it a disaster the year Mitchell was allowed to carve the bird for the first time. Until he did, Amy had visions of herself becoming a surgeon. After Mitchell sliced that baby perfectly, she knew surgery wasn't going to be her thing.

7. Eric's family is still traumatized from the year the TV broke and the football game was tied, with two minutes left and the home team set to score. The ball was intercepted, the visitors won the game -- and Eric's family missed it.

8. The year Patterson was called away from the table for work. He didn't come home until after the kids were in bed.

9. The year Eric's dad decided to invite the entire congregation to a Turkey Bowl -- and broke his leg on the first play. The Turkey Bowl turned into an annual event for about ten years. The broken leg became legend.

10. The year Hank came home in time for dinner, upended the entire contents of dinner into Jenny's lap, and turned Trevor into a punching bag. Yeah. That'd be a disaster. Trevor couldn't eat solid food for a few days after that one. This is not the only time Trevor had loose teeth around Thanksgiving, poor guy. (here is the reference to the other time)

11. The second year Chelle tried to cook. Instead of making voodoo turkey breasts, she set the oven on fire. Thankfully, she was quick-witted enough to put it out before it spread and destroyed her apartment -- or worse. This was the last time Chelle tried to cook. Anything.

12. Then there was the year the band was on the road. This was before the days of nice hotels. No one was terribly surprised when they came down with food poisoning.

13. Lastly was a disaster only in Val's eyes. She made a wonderful feast for the band. And I do mean feast. They ate it all, somehow -- and ruined her night by having another of their burping fests at the table. The boys, of course, thought it was the best Thanksgiving ever.

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!

If you're not sure who Mitchell is, be sure to follow the link in the first mention of his name. That'll take you to his bio page, and from there, you'll see a list of outtakes and Thirteens about him.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Maintenance Alert: Loading issues?

Three people, over the past two days, have said that they're having trouble loading the blog. If you're reading me via feedreader, come on over and see if you, too, are having trouble.

Let me know what's up.

We've removed the BlogRush widget (just as it's finally returning some hits) temporarily to see if that's the problem.

Your feedback helps us see things, guys. Keep it coming.


Susan's a Wicked Ass Blogger!

... or so says the reward bestowed upon me by the wonderful and amazing Rhian a few weeks ago.

This means a lot, because Rhian's a wicked ass blogger herself, among other things. Being part of her tribe is both frustrating and exhilarating, fun and a lot of work. It's all worth it in the end, though; Trevor couldn't have found himself a more staunch ally. If you haven't joined the tribe yet, now's the perfect time.

Thanks, Rhi! Happy Blogiversary!!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


Roadie Poet: Floor

I'm on the floor.
Hambone's snoring in the bed.


Did you miss that part?
Looks like I did.
I'm on the floor.
On the floor.

Hambone's got the bed.

More's got the other one.

I've got the empties from last night's party.
There's a lot of 'em.

Two beds.
Three peeps.
One's my girl.
Explains why we're naked.

But not






Want more Roadie Poet? Click on his name and whoosh, you'll be visiting his character sketch page, where you can link to more adventures. And for more poetry and other cool self-expression, check out Rhian's Poetry Train -- and join the party!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007


Byline Chelle LaFleur: The Heroin Diaries

Now, listen up, folks. Chelle here don't often step outside her fictional world and into Susan's, but today, she's just got to. What Susan saw the other day just burned us both up too much for me to keep quiet. And since we all know that when Chelle talks, people listen, she let me have the floor for this one.

You see, Susan stopped in at the Borders on McKnightmare -- she swears that's the street name but ol' Chelle's got her suspicions -- to pick up Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries already. Good thing she got the chance; she's only been reminding the Tour Manager to go and do it for her the past five weeks or so. Good thing that Tour Manager don't get paid for his gig, or he'd be out on his hiney.

Back to the book 'cause this is what it's all about. Mind you, that there book's been on the Best-seller list since it came out, back in October. You'd think a best-selling book would be near the front of the store, right? On them best-seller racks?

Nope. Susan had to ask for help finding the book. Stuffed away -- I gotta say it was face out on the shelf -- in the music section.

Now, I ask you. Is that where you'd go look for a book about a drug addict? Hidden away on a shelf, not in plain sight? And what about this so-called soundtrack to the book? Where's it at?

People, people, people. I don't care how big a jerk Nikki Sixx might be -- I hear he's not, but even if he was -- he deserves better than this. Susan's not even a hundred pages in and already, she's over at her own computer, typing away on a post about it. She's gotta rave. She's ready to make them kids she calls The Opening Act read it, even though they're way too young to get more than "Drugs are bad" outta it. This book's got power. This book oughta be required readin' in schools 'cept all them biddies who scared of their shadows would have a fit at the idea that Nikki Sixx is a bigger nudist than my good friend Mitchell Voss. But still, this is beside the point.

This is actually all about the marketin' of this fine creation. 'Cause let Chelle tell you, them marketers missed a hell of an opportunity to blow the roof off the way things get done.

First off, how many other books have come out with their own soundtrack? Where's the push to sell the book and the music together? The music biz is so busy whining about how nobody's carin' enough to buy a CD, but here's a chance to change that. Instead of makin' someone pay full price for the music while you give 'em 20% off on the book, how about a package deal? Throw in a coupon for a free t-shirt while you're at it. But for goodness gracious, you marketin' wanna-be geniuses, don't leave it up to rock writers like me to tell you how to do your jobs! You just might wake up and find that you're outta your job and it's now mine. Just 'cause I can do it better'n you don't mean I want it. I like what I do.

And how many studies have we been seein' lately about how people ain't buyin' books no more? I ain't gonna go through the whole song and dance again, boys and girls. Go read the paragraph before this one. You might need the reminder already. This is where I mention that Nikki's said he's giving part of his bucks to charity, too. Hello? Raising money for a good cause? Why aren't you with me, people?

Here was a chance for y'all to work together. Music and books, just like in Susan's vision, comin' together in this whole package where they make each other better even though the one can get along just fine without the other. Best of all, a lot of music people, they don't read much. Same goes for a lot of book people -- they don't listen to a lot of music. Cross those folk over, show 'em a new way, people!

Here was a chance for y'all to sit up and smell a new day. And you blew it. Hidin' a best-seller in the music section. Not offerin' a package deal on the music and book together.

No wonder book sales are down and Susan and Rob Zombie are the only ones buyin' CDs anymore. You people in charge, you just don't get it. This was as plain on the noses on your faces, but God forbid you look in the mirrors.

Marketing people. Is this the sort of garbage they teach you in college? Then Chelle's damn glad she didn't waste her time.

Note from Susan: While I fully understand that those front displays are all paid placements and that the issue in my not finding the book was because someone at Pocket Books didn't pony up the cash, maybe what Chelle and I ought to point out is that, with minimal publicity, this book sits at #16 on the November 18 edition of the New York Times Best-seller list for Non-fiction (see link above), and that this is its fifth week on the list. Maybe it'd still be in the top ten with a bit of help. And to be fair, I didn't even see Slash's new autobiography anywhere in the store, which is listed as debuting at #8 on the list. (Because let's face it, if I'd seen it, I'd have bought it, too.) As for the Rob Zombie comment, I heard an interview with him on my beloved XM radio, and he admitted to being the only person left who buys CDs anymore. Since I still do, that means I'm in rare company; I think Zombie's a genius.

And by the way, Chelle and I wrote this last week; I've since finished the book. Go get it.

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Friday, November 16, 2007


Sticky: Susan needs bookmarks!

This is a sticky post; scroll down for the new stuff

I like to tuck a bookmark or two inside of the books I mail out via the various book trading sites. It's an easy way to promote authors, especially authors who aren't in the mainstream yet. (yet!)

I'm running low.

Are you an author? Are you friends with an author? Are you a bored reader who'd like to cause trouble by finding authors who have bookmarks to send out?

Get in touch and I'll give you the famed West of Mars PO Box address (located nowhere near Mars) because I need bookmarks!!!!

Yes, postcards and other promo items are eligible for this offer of free publicity, but I can't always tuck them inside a mass-market sized book.

And if you're an author but don't have bookmarks or other promo materials, why not? Don't you know I want to help spread your name?????

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


Booking Through Thursday: Preservatives?

Today’s Booking Through Thursday comes from Conspiracy-Girl:
I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?

To me, writing in a book -- especially a novel (or for those of you who'll get it: fiction novel) -- is tantamount to taking a Sharpie and writing on my face. While I'm awake.

I mean, really. Okay. You've got to make notes. You've been struck deeply by this book. I get that. That's a good thing. That's what we want.

But don't forget that you're holding a representation of something that someone spent a lot of time crafting. That someone else spent (hopefully) a good deal of attention on, editing. Not to mention the typesetters (do they still use those?), the agents, the muckety-mucks who hold meetings and discuss how they're going to help this book succeed (does that still happen? Hey, I warned you I was cranky. Oh, no, I didn't. I deleted that part of the post. Sorry. Okay, then. Watch out. I'm cranky.)...

So now you're writing on something that a whole slew of people worked on. People have hopes, dreams, and mortgage payments riding on this. And you're turning it into your own personal notepad.

Really, take a Sharpie. Deface me.

Of course, I hear Trevor in the background, mocking me. He thinks that if you write in a book and then want to do an online trade with it or something... well, it's possible no one will want it; most people don't want books that have been written in. Maybe instead of trading for it, the person who wants to read it will go out and buy it instead.

That helps sales. That's a good thing.

So maybe... when you write on my face with a Sharpie, slip a buck in my pocket for royalties, will ya?

Okay. In an effort to alleviate the crankies, I'm gonna go work on the follow-up to Trevor's Song now. Writing always makes me feel better, and I ran down to the mall today, only to be ignored by the help in a certain cosmetics store. That took up valuable writing time. And some of you complain that I don't reveal enough of myself in my Thirteens. Hello? Do you really want more of these vile crankies?


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #54 -- Lead my Rhythm

This week's Poetry Train/Weekend Wordsmith has Mitchell on my mind.

Thirteen reasons why Mitchell prefers rhythm to lead guitar

1. It's easier to play a rhythm line and sing at the same time

2. Singing gives you enough glory; someone else can have the guitar god status

3. Easier to cover for Trevor and his mistakes

4. If you want to take your hands off the guitar and gesture at the audience, you're covered by the rest of the band

5. It's just cool

6. Guitars are the ultimate chick magnets, but rhythm lets a shy kid hide a little bit. (as if singing doesn't negate that, but let's not argue)

7. Rhythm guitarists groove; lead guitarists wail

8. Rhythm gives a band an extra crunch

9. Not every band uses a rhythm guitar

10. Eric plays lead and he's damn good at it. Why compete?

11. Working together, Daniel, Mitchell, and Trevor create a solid rhythm that Eric can build melodies on.

12. It just feels right

13. He quickly realized once he got started that to most girls, a guitar's a guitar. They didn't care if he played rhythm or lead. They just cared that he played. Guitars, apparently, are sexy.

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!

If you're not sure who Mitchell is, be sure to follow the link in the first mention of his name. That'll take you to his bio page, and from there, you'll see a list of outtakes and Thirteens about him.

For more in this occasional series about who plays what they do, check out More About Trevor, and Pound Them Skins.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Susan's Inside Writing: Friendship

The prompt this week at Writer's Island was Friendship. No problem, I thought. I'll post something with Trevor and Mitchell playing off each other.

My first thought was Smoke Break. Problem was, that's mostly Trevor and Val, with Mitchell coming in at the end.

No, I thought. I want a real exchange between the boys. After all, I describe them as being as close as brothers.

Maybe Flags? That's a good one, but maybe... just maybe you had to have some more background on who these guys are and why they are dreaming like this.

Quitting? This was a good one, where Trevor has just quit school and Mitchell comes to find out why. No, I thought. It's too rant-laden. I wanted something more... gentle, I guess. Some quiet moment between the boys.

That meant that Mitchell's Ears and Naked were both right out, too. As was The Time Before Dinner.

I didn't want to resort to the Thursday Thirteen I'd written; that's a list. A good one, but...

Oh, the choices seemed endless -- and endlessly wrong.

I finally went with Eric's Flu, figuring that at least the guys were trying to show friendship toward Eric, even if they're sort of clueless about how.

But... what do you guys think? Was that the best choice, or should I have dug around a bit more? Can you think of something better?

And is Camille right? Do I have enough outtakes published here to collect into their own volume and put out there for my groupies to collect?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Hands (Trevor's Song Era)

A bit of scene-setting here: This outtake takes place during the early chapters of Trevor's Song. It's not essential to the story, so you won't find a hint of it there. This is strictly backstory. Yet when you finally get to close the back cover (and scream in frustration at me over the ending), and you come back to this outtake, it'll all click. I promise.

It was stupid, she knew, but when Mitchell reached for her hands, Kerri pulled them away and tried to stuff them somewhere he couldn't find them. Unfortunately, other than her pockets and behind her back, any place her hands went, the rest of her had to follow.

"C'mon," he said and tried again. "They're supposed to be paint-covered, Ker. It's what you do."

Reluctantly, she let him take her hands, both of them, in his. Palm up, he started to raise the left to his mouth.

He stopped an inch away.

"I know," Kerri sighed. "Turpentine, paint… It's not the world's biggest turn-on."

Mitchell stroked her palm with his nose.

"A woman's hands are supposed to be soft," she said. "Pampered. Or else calloused from all the hard, honest work she does to keep her family afloat. Not…"

"Not?" he asked, his lips barely touching that same palm.

She turned her face up toward the ceiling and let herself drown in the sensation.

He didn't linger long. "You know," he said, slowly easing her hand, still in his, back to her side. Every bit as slowly, he pulled both hands from hers.

She shivered, feeling suddenly alone. Cold.

"Mine aren't much better." He picked up her right hand and tapped the back of it with the fingertips of his left. "A guy's not supposed to be like this." He turned his hand over, claw-like, fingertips exposed. "Shit, Ker, I've got fucking string marks in 'em. On top of callouses a mile deep."

She smiled, not needing to see them. "What a pair we are." Taking his right hand, she massaged it gently at the third knuckle.

He closed his eyes, his breath coming hard. "Ker…"

"No," she said, not sure why or what it meant.

His free hand caught hers. As she massaged, he nibbled her fingertips.

And she knew he'd meant it. He loved her, paint and all.

Did you get to visit with Trevor over the weekend? Scroll down if you missed him! And remember, clicking on the link in the characters' names will take you to their bio pages -- and a list of links to more outtakes featuring them. Have fun!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007


Tagged: A Weekend in Riverview

When Rhian tagged me for this meme, she wanted it to be about Pittsburgh, since she'll be here in April for the Romantic Times convention. That surprised me because she is, hands down, Trevor Wolff's biggest fan. I'd figured she'd want to let Trevor have some fun.

She did.

In her honor, let Trevor do the same meme, based around the town he lives in, the fictional Riverview.

Best Place to Eat

Oh, man. Like I know the hoity-toity places? Ask Rusty about those. If it were up to me, Harry's Hoagies would deliver. Three times a day. Meatball subs and a root beer.

When I'm stuck making Mitchell happy, we head over to Big Buck's Best Barbecue a lot. His family's entrenched at this Italian place called Paulo's. It's not the greatest, but they feed me and him for free sometimes. They made this special salad thing with a funny name just for the big idiot. You should see the way he grins when they put it down in front of him. Pathetic. It's a fucking salad, loser.

Then there's Roach's Diner. The whole fucking world hangs out there, especially after shows. Honey keeps a spot in the back for us on nights we play, and then she chases off the glory hounds if we're not in the mood. And sometimes if we are.

Best Shopping Mall

Yeah, that'd be Lyric's shop. Or it would be if she'd carry clothes for us guys. Clothes, I said. She's got plenty of G-strings and hardcore shit, but if I could get my leathers from her instead of that weirdo who likes to measure my dick to get the bulge in the pants just right, I'd be a lot happier. That guy scares me, but damn if the pants aren't the best.

Lyric's already dressing the girls up real good. She says she's got the city's most exclusive line of club wear. That's great. Gimme something more than a dress for a drag queen, okay? It works for them, not Trevor Fucking Wolff.

Famous Landmark
All Access, baby. That club's infamous. I don't give a shit if you've sold ten million albums. If you haven't found a way to play All Access, you're nobody.

Best Tourism Attraction

Like you expected any different?

Best Place for the Kids
Anywhere far away from me. Maybe the next town over.

Popular Outdoor Activity
Sleeping out for ShapeShifter tickets. You're an idiot if you don't know that at the end of every tour, we play -- well, shit, usually All Access, but every now and then they book up too fast -- a show under a fake name. The same fake name so it's not hard to figure out who Wolf Whistle is.

Mitchell and I once drove past the line waiting for Wolf Whistle tickets. We counted three fights and five couples going at it. Not bad.

Breathtaking Views
Me, onstage. What else?

Well, okay, my friend Diane when she dances. It's the only time she's not whining about something, for one. And for another, she's a damn good dancer. Good at other things, too, and yeah, she takes my breath away when she does some of 'em.

Only Found in Riverview
ShapeShifter. Me. All Access. Big Buck's. Lyric.

Mitchell's reading this over my shoulder and he says I can't include me 'cause we leave town, and that means I can be found in other towns. I say he's an idiot who ought to mind his own fucking business before I throw his ugly ass out of my band.

Yeah, asshole. My band. I don't care if you're the singer and the one the girls swoon over. It's my band. You'd be sitting in your room, too afraid to dream, if it weren't for me.

While Mitchell comes up with an appropriate response, check out my original response, a weekend in Pittsburgh.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007


Booking Through Thursday: Volume

This week's Booking Through Thursday is another good one.

Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less?

I've read less this year than in the past two. Between writing and agent hunting and ... well, okay. My feed reader (over 370 subscriptions!), I'm not reading as much as I did in 2005 and 2006, both of which were banner years. This year, I'm hoping to read 100 books. It's not looking great, sad to say.

The problem with this smaller number (as if 100 is small!) is that I've got literally hundreds of books sitting here, waiting to be read. I need to read those before I'll let myself buy more -- but don't you know that my plans for Sunday, since the Tour Manager will be out of town and I lose my Sunday morning to work, is to drop the kids off at Sunday School and then dash out and buy ... a book. And then, I'm going to sit at the temple and read it!

It's The Heroin Diaries that I'm planning to buy. I know you're not surprised to hear that from me, of all people.

So, yeah. The next time you send me a book and it takes years for me to get to it, blame it on Nikki. Or the heroin. Or Trevor. He likes hanging with other bass players, especially ones more messed up than he is.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #54 -- An Artist's Eye

So many of us, myself included, tend to look toward this part of November as a downward slide. So I turned to our resident artist, Kerri Voss, to see the season through a different set of eyes.

Thirteen Views from Kerri

1. Most people, when the leaves fall from the trees, look at the bare branches. Ever tried looking at the tree's trunk? Check out those knots and scars.

2. What about the underbrush? Ever think about it?

3. Think about the contrast of an illuminated room on a dark and stormy day. Not evening. Day. You've got the grey outside and the warm, welcoming light inside at a time when it should be the opposite.

4. When the weather gets cold, shorts are replaced with jeans. They make a person's legs look entirely different. We've gone from muscles and hair and scars and tats to blue sheaths. It's sort of boring, but makes for a quick sketch.

5. Being the cool rock star that he is, Trevor wears his leather jacket -- and pants -- year-round. In Riverview, that's not such a big deal; it gets cold in the evenings and mornings here. But when we're somewhere cold, it's fun to watch Trevor shiver.

6. Ski jackets. Ever noticed how many colors they come in? Especially the really expensive, high-end lines. It seems to me that there's a group of people who make skiing into a fashion sport. Go for it.

7. Look at the flowers that are done for the season. Brown, shriveled -- there's a poetry in there that's not the usual ShapeShifter all-about-dead-stuff.

8. This time of year, sunglasses go away and you can see people's eyes again. Eyes fascinate me. Each pair is so different from any other and so many things go into making the eye area unique. I can always tell when Mitchell is stressed; he shows it around his eyes. Look at the eyes of the people around you. What do you see?

9. Colder weather means colder ears. Hats, headbands, muffs. All sizes, shapes, colors. Headwear speaks volumes about a person. I mean, have you seen Trevor in a hat?

10. I wonder how many calories a person burns by stamping their feet to get warm. Ever try to draw a person stamping their foot? It's hard to deny the sense of motion that a raised foot inspires.

11. Pets get those lovely, thick winter coats that are just great to bury your hands in.

12. Ever notice how lonely a now-dead patch of grass looks once the leaf pile's been disturbed?

13. November begins candle season. That's all there is to it. You see candles in my art, I did it around this time of year.

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, November 06, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: A New Reading Challenge

I discovered this challenge after November first, so I haven't been in a huge hurry to catch up and get my voice added.

At any rate, it's my favorite sort of challenge: catch up on Mt. TBR (that's To Be Read, and mine is not just a single mountain but an entire range these days).

The From the Stacks reading challenge encourages you to pick five books from the mountain and read them. The time frame is November 1 to January 30 -- and they'll be handing out random, small prizes along the way.

For me, getting a little more caught up is prize enough.

Thus, my five picks:
Auralia's Colors, by Jeffrey Overstreet
I'm reading this now and will review it for Front Street Reviews. Stay tuned. I'm on page 33 and so far, it's a great read.

My New-Found Land, Bunnygirl's book. I've blogged about it before. Here, in fact. Even though my copy's not autographed, I have the feeling that if you'd like me to part with my copy, it's not going to happen. Sorry. (unless an autographed copy happens to show up in my PO Box? Maybe?)

Death du Jour, Kathy Reichs. Yep, I'm WAY behind on kicking this series off.

The Hook, by Donald E. Westlake. I loved his book The Ax. Will I feel the same about The Hook? And will it inspire any Deadly Metal Hatchet adventures?

Death of a Saint Maker, by Allana Martin. This book's been here so long, I don't remember where it came from or why. Yes, I'm that far behind.

And for a bonus read, I've had The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova here every bit as long, too. I'll admit it: I'm daunted by its size. I need to get over that, as it's one of a number of thick books awaiting me.

It'd be nice, too, if I could finally finish July 7th, Jill McCorkle's novel that's been on my nightstand for awhile now. I really like reading it, but it falls victim to exhaustion more often that not, sad to say.

One final plug: have you seen my reviews up at Front Street Reviews? Reviews for Jennifer Estep's Hot Mama are now up, as is Rebecca Drake's The Next Killing. And if you haven't seen my thoughts on Colleen Gleason's first two Gardella Vampire Chronicles, it's still there, too. Let me know what you think of this bounty of reviews!

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Sunday, November 04, 2007


Poetry Train: Inside Unforgettable

I am the prompt queen today. Writer's Island is all about Unforgettable things. Weekend Wordsmith is Inside. And me, I'm doing a poem for the Poetry Train. Yee haw.

Inside Unforgettable


of fear
of joy
of anticipation
of realization


Bright lights beckon
Lines intimidate
Fingers gone to prunes
Sopping towels
Lost lounge chairs

Retreat to the hotel room
for a nap
for dry clothes
for food

Back in bathing suits

Hit the water park again.

Yep, the kids are off school for conferences and we're joining a bunch of friends -- and half the Cub Scout den -- up in Erie PA for what's promising to be some unforgettable fun at an indoor water park. See everyone in a few!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007


Tagged: A Weekend in Pittsburgh

Since Rhian (and hopefully Lisa) and Jennifer Estep and Colleen Gleason, Tilly Green, and Shane Gericke and everyone else I've forgotten (leave your name in the comments and I'll add you) are coming to my fair city in April for the Romantic Times conference, Rhi thought it would be fun to tag me for the Weekend in (insert your city here) meme. (but feel free to give her some garbage 'cause she's not supposed to be tagging me for things! she's supposed to be designing a ShapeShifter logo!)

Since you guys should be able to look cool and sound like you've got a clue, here's a primer, in the form of the meme.

Best Place to Eat: The Carlton in the Mellon Building. Can't walk there from the hotel, the tablecloths are white and the wine's famously priced at $10 over cost, but this is my favorite. Hands down. Sure, you'll spend $25 an entree, but you'll be in ecstasy with every bite. (DO NOT, I repeat, do NOT look at their dinner menu! Aaugh! Take me there now!)

There's also the Church Brew Works, in Lawrenceville. This is where we bring out-of-town friends to eat (assuming they don't keep kosher). Slightly cheaper and instead of wine, go for the beer. They're not making the Belltower Brown Ale at the moment. It's my favorite. They serve bison, too, from time to time. And if you can get the rattlesnake and cactus pierogies, you're set. Don't forget the ice cream!

Best Shopping Mall: Downtown? Forget it. Try Macy's or Saks. Otherwise, it's out to the Burbs with you!

Famous Landmark: Duh... the Point. You'll be able to see the famed fountain from the ballrooms of Hilton, which is located across the street from another famous landmark: Point State Park. (see a pattern?)

But be sure to spend any free time on the inclines or the Gateway Clipper. I wish the convention was going to be small enough for us to party one night on the Majestic. It's always fun to cruise the city's other famed landmark: its three rivers. If your hotel room's high enough, you'll be able to see them. Assuming you're facing the right way.

Take a trip into Oakland and check out the Cathedral of Learning. More famously called the Tower of Ignorance, or the Pittsburgh Phallus, it's a mastery of gothic architecture. If you have time (which I doubt you will), take a tour of the Nationality Rooms. Classrooms on the first, second, and third floors have been reconfigured to show and celebrate the different countries around the world. I had classes in the Chinese room and the one on the third floor with the lights that took forever to warm up and the chairs we weren't allowed to move into a circle. That made it hard to hold a really good writer's workshop, but the professor more than made up for it.

Have I mentioned PNC Park or Heinz Field? This is a sports town, baby. If the Pens are in the playoffs, I'm bailing on you guys for a few hours!

Best Tourism Attraction: Any and all of the above, but don't forget to add in a Just Ducky tour if you have the time. And remind me to tell you the story of how I managed to get a group of fifteen or so of us bicyclists chased by a Just Ducky boat...

Best Place for the Kids: The Carnegie Science Center. No contest. The Children's Museum is fun, but it's nothing compared to the Science Center. And don't accuse me of being biased; I've got memberships at both places. Like you'll be bringing the kids anyway...

Popular Outdoor Activity: Must be a Pirates game 'cause there's no other reason why people go when they stink so bad...

Seriously. Biking is gaining a foothold in the city; bike paths are springing up all over the place. Soon, you'll be able to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. Not in one day, though.

And if the timing is right, check out the Head of the Ohio. Since it won't be, come back in October.

Breathtaking Views: I'm partial to the view of the Bayer clock on Mt. Washington, as seen from the banquet rooms in the Hilton, but that's because I watched the minutes tick away during my wedding to the Tour Manager.

For better ones, be sure you're watching as your taxi or limo brings you through the Fort Pitt Tunnels and you've got the famed panoramic view of the city stretched out before you. Or ride the incline and see the city from Mt. Washington. Keep your eyes open; a tornado's been known to touch down on Mt. Washington. And keep your hands on your wallets, too. They've been known to find new owners while you're up there.

Riverside, there's always the Gateway Clipper. You'll be able to look inside the bowl of Heinz Field, which we know a certain author will be doing, to snap pictures to bring home and hang on her walls. Hallowed ground, Heinz Field.

Only found in Pittsburgh: What? All that's not enough??

Well, then, let me remind you of this: ME.

If you'll be joining me in April, be sure to let me know. I'd like to try to take you guys out for the best fries you'll ever taste. Followed up by even better ice cream.

I'll bring the Zantac, have no fear.

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Friday, November 02, 2007


Booking Through Thursday: Oh, Horror!

Another good one from the good folk at Booking Through Thursday!

What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?

This one is so good because for about a month now, I've been slowly working my way through Shock Rock II, a collection of short stories about ... well, rock and roll. Some of the stories are predictably delish and so far, only one's not been able to meet the standard of writing set forth by the others. The collection will end with a collaboration between Kevin J. Anderson someone previously unknown to me and Rush's amazing Neil Peart.

This book was published in 1994, making it a one of my favorite sorts of reads: A Hidden Treasure.

While Shock Rock I and II seem hard to find, you writer friends who publish with Samhain and Ellora's Cave and those other cool e-publishers might want to check out Jeff Gelb's erotic horror fiction, a collaboration with Michael Garrett. Check out this review.

As for the second part of that question... do they keep me from sleeping? Maybe. Something's sure giving me vivid dreams and nightmares lately, but is it the phase of the moon, the time of the month, stress, or the stories? Who knows? Who cares, so long as the fiction's good? Sleepless nights mean more writing time!