Sunday, June 29, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Foot Pedals (the Early Days)

It all began the day Mitchell bought the pedals for his guitar.

"You plug it in, right?" he asked Trevor, who looked up from an inspection of the match he'd just used to light a joint.

Trevor shrugged.

Mitchell stuck the plug into the hole on his guitar. The power cord went into
the outlet. "That's all, right?"

Trevor shrugged.

Mitchell tried a note. Nothing. He stepped on the pedals. Nothing.

"What the fuck?"

Trevor took a drag off the joint and gave Mitchell one of those raised-eyebrow looks that meant he was echoing the question. "Ask Gus," the bass player said once he'd exhaled. "He sold you the fucking thing. He shoulda showed you how to make it work."

Mitchell pulled his head into his shoulders. "I told him I'd read the manual if I needed help."

"So why don't you?"

"Gus kept it. He told me to figure it out on my own."

Trevor nodded slowly. It reminded Mitchell of those wise men in those bad movies Trevor always liked to watch. "So go figure and leave me the fuck alone already."

Mitchell shook his head and turned back to the new pedal. Gus was right. The best way to master something like this was to fart around with it until you understood it.

Still… it had to have a power switch or something.

Didn't it?

Ahh, my boys. If you're new to Trevor and Mitchell, click on their names to learn more about them and to maybe even read a few other outtakes they star in. You know you want to.

If you're not new to Trevor and Mitchell, why not poke around some anyway? Refresh your memory, find something new. There's plenty in my archives, you know.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008


Susan's Inside Writing: Vision

I love this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt. It's ripe with possibility.


Do I write about how Scott from Deadly Metal Hatchet wears glasses? Things Chelle observes in her role as a rock and roll reporter for the fictional Trumpet newspaper? What about Roadie Poet? What's in his vision these days besides a friend named Hambone and a girlfriend he calls More?

I could just post the outtake I have ready to go on Sunday night (so if you're reading this after Sunday, be sure to check it out). It's all about a vision Mitchell has. Or I could point you to an archived outtake, like this one. (For anyone familiar with my archives, it's the Flags outtake.)

But when you get right down to it, this blog and everything on it best represents my vision. My vision of my fictional world, my vision of what it's like to share it with readers, my vision of what it means to be a writer in 2008. Yes, I'm dying to bring you Trevor's Song, the novel. No, I can't even begin to tell you how much richer your reading experience will be because you hang out here with me. Or even stop in and visit from time to time, as many of you do.

I can tell you how much richer my own writing and my own vision for my fiction has become. Because I've got this place and because I've got readers, I'm constantly pushing myself to dig deeper into this fictional city of Riverview, USA. Not to mention the things I push myself to discover about these characters you read about here. Yes, even the ones you don't seem to love nearly as much as you love Trevor and Mitchell.

One thing really strikes me in all this: when I began to envision my fake band ShapeShifter (the fake band bit is a reference to my Thursday Thirteen this week and ooh, it hurts to think of these guys as fake. Fictional, sure. Fake? Not so much.), it was Mitchell and Kerri I created first. Trevor has become the proverbial secondary character who insisted on ... well, not just his own book, but really running the show.

Yet look at this. Who do you guys relate to the most? Who are your favorites? Trevor, Mitchell, and Roadie Poet (with Chelle running a close second and probably Lyric right there with her, if you knew her better).

They are all men.

I wish I could tell you about the rejection letters I've gotten from literary agents who ask me who'd want to read a book about a man. That's the reason some of them cite for why they don't want to work with me. They tell me that men don't read as many books as women, and that Trevor's Song can't possibly appeal to women.

Yet Trevor has become the man you can't help but love. You want more of him and frankly, I don't blame you. Trevor breaks the rules, and he does so in a manner that irritates a lot of people because he flaunts those rules he's busy breaking. He blows marijuana smoke in the faces of the school principals while Mitchell hides in a bathroom stall, afraid of what'll happen once he's caught and has to face his father. He's the bad boy with a soft side that everyone but him acknowledges.

I am eager to share my vision with you. I've often been vocal about the idea to collect the outtakes I've written and self-publish a little volume of them, for no reason other than to let you have some Trevor and Mitchell to hold into your hands. I'm holding off on that for now for reasons I don't want to get into, but know that it's something that I just may have to pull a Trevor and do for you. Flaunt the rules, do things my way, on my own terms...

Yeah, that's part of my vision for myself and for you, my readers. There's plenty more, of course, so stay tuned for it.

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Friday, June 27, 2008


Susan's Book Talk: It's been a Big Week

I'd been all celebratory when I decided to write up this post. After eight days away on business, the Tour Manager was headed home. Then he called to say he'd been held hostage on the plane AT THE GATE for an hour.

Poof! There went my shiny mood.

Anyway, so many of you responded that I should start my own website for fake bands that I'm going to. Sort of. It's going to be a page on my main site that'll feature books about rock and roll. I've got about sixty (maybe more) listed already. If you have suggestions, leave 'em in the comments or drop me an e-mail.

Huge thanks once again to Winter for doing not only my awesome ShapeShifter logo but for doing a bit of investigating on that front.

Anyway. Back to the books. This was a big week for news of releases to cross my path. Ready for what I've found?

Beth Williamson
: Hell for Leather

Joely Sue Burkhart: Beautiful Death

Gena Showalter: The Darkest Pleasure

Lauren Dane: Making Chase (now in print!)

Melanie Atkins: Voodoo Bones

Vivian Zabel: Midnight Hours

Phyllis Campbell: Danger in Her Arms (now in print!)

and last but perhaps most longingly by me (because I'm missing her release party!)
Kathryn Miller Haynes: The Winter of her Discontent

Busy week, huh? Congratulations to all my author buds on their new releases. May your sales be huge and your advance earned out soon. And may the Tour Manager actually get off that plane and be back West of Mars.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Thursday Thirteen -- Susan's Scary Brain

Thirteen Things I Think

So most of you guys are familiar with the fiction I create here at this blog (as opposed to my other blog, Win a Book, which is mostly about contests to win books. For now.). What you don't get to see too terribly often is the warped way in which my mind works through things.

I thought I'd change that up for you today, knowing fully well that you very well may run screaming into the night, terrified of what really lurks here. At the very least, I expect many of you to beg for more fiction in the future.

1. I found this site,

2. I decided that I aspire to have my fake bands, ShapeShifter and Deadly Metal Hatchet (and all that will follow) listed there. ShapeShifter first, of course. They're better known. They're more musically talented.

3. One downside is that this site is pretty out of date; the last update was almost a year ago. And there aren't any bloggers represented. Of course, that could be because of the date of the last update. A year is a long time in the world of technology. Or it could be that I truly am this unique. Which means I deserve a spot of my own, here, there and everywhere.

4. Many of my friends pointed out that even though ShapeShifter exists only on a blog for now, there is a book waiting to be published. That means that I'm more than just a blogger.

5. More than one friend has commented that ShapeShifter seems more real than certain real bands. That's not just a compliment to me, but for this Fake Bands site, it's got to be a plus.

6. Looking at some of the other bands listed there, I wonder if The Barbarian Brothers or Stevie Faith or Jizm have fans who feel that way. (The Cheetah Girls might, but it's possible they're the only ones. Or are you going, "Who?")

7. Maybe I'd get too much notice for ShapeShifter if they are included. According to All Music Guide, there already are a few real bands named ShapeShifter. Some are even making music today.

8. I think that automatically means I can't be included on FakeBands. I'm not sure. I still think my band should be.

9. After all, part of me thinks that yeah, okay. Say another one of these Shape Shifter bands (or Shapeshifter, but still not spelled identically to my band) gets mad and sues me. Think of all that publicity I'd get for myself!

10. Lawsuits are hassles best avoided, but in this case, it could be fun. After all, my ShapeShifter doesn't make electronic and reggae and whatever else. They're a rock band. Maybe they have a blonde lead singer like Mitchell, but so does Motley Crue, Poison, and Warrant. None of whom are the least bit like ShapeShifter, who wore jeans and leather in the 80s, not spandex.

Nor are they like other four-member rock bands. Look at U2. Compare Trevor to Bono. Whoa. Hope that didn't blow your mind too thoroughly. Or is that a snicker I hear?

11. Part of me wonders if I'm too late in my ambition. The Fake Bands folk have already compiled all of this into a book. At best, I'd only make it into the second edition. Does Trevor Wolff do seconds? I suppose if she's pretty enough...

12. And really. If this were such a great thing to be part of, why did it take me over two years of blogging to discover it? Or am I having sour grapes? It's possible. The Net is huge. Which is, of course, part of the problem when it comes to making my fake band a household name.

13. I'm on the fence here. To be immortalized with Tijuana Tokyo, or not to be. That is the question. Opinions?

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 try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008


ShapeShifter unveiled!

I can't even begin to thank my friend Winter enough. She volunteered to take my rough idea of the ShapeShifter logo and was able to turn it into something amazing and incredible. Please stop by Winter's place and rave about what she's done for me. And if you have ideas of a special pressie as a way of saying thanks, I'm all ears.

One question before I spend the day staring in rapture at it (again): Do you think it'll help my chances of being listed here? I mean, is that site tailor-made for me, or WHAT? You know I aspire to be there.


Sunday, June 22, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Protection (just before Trevor's Song era)

I found this new prompt site, Velvet Verbosity, which challenges you to be inspired by a one-word prompt, but to make your inspiration fit into 100 words. No more, no less. This week's word: Protection.

Yeah. I thought the same thing.

"It's time," ShapeShifter's manager said. "You need to protect yourselves."

"Sounds like it's the girls who need to be protected from us."

"Either way. You're at the point in your career where you need to be careful. Paternity suits might be only nine months away."

No one smiled. Trevor didn't smirk. It wasn't funny. This was about contracts and rules and following them, three things Trevor particularly hated. This was about growing up, which was one of those things Trevor had vowed to never do.

"If we have to, we have to," Mitchell said. He wasn't happy about it, either.

To learn more about ShapeShifter, Trevor, and Mitchell, follow these links. You'll be taken to their bio pages, and from there, you can read more of their fictional hijinks.

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Giving You... Bobbie Faye!

As promised in my most recent Book Talk post (missed it? You should fix that), I have a spare copy of Toni McGee Causey's debut novel, Bobbie Faye's Very (very very very) Bad Day. Autographed.

You want to read this. You need to read this. You'll never have a bad day again once you read this because compared to a Bobbie Faye day, you're small potatoes.

I promise.

Leave me a comment between now and next Sunday, June 22, and I'll pick a winner. All the usual rules apply: anyone on the planet, previous winners okay, you must be cool, I'll let the kids pick a number and the person who left that comment number wins.

One more thing, though. Since Bobbie Faye has a bad day, what's the worst you can come up with? Tell me in the comments; just saying, "enter me" isn't enough. You gotta work for it 'cause baby, you're still not working half as hard as Bobbie Faye does.

Thanks for the linkage! To Suey at It's All About Books and to myself at Win a Book.

Edited to add: congratulations to Tracy at BookroomReviews for winning this copy! Hopefully she'll read and review it there, too. This really is one of those books that deserves wider attention.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


BTT: Flavor

Booking Through Thursday has regained its stride, I'd say.

Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books . . . what is it about them that makes you love them above all the other authors you’ve read? The stories? The characters? The way they appear to relish the taste of words on the tongue? The way they’re unafraid to show the nitty-gritty of life? How they sweep you off to a new, distant place? What is it about those books and authors that makes them resonate with you in ways that other, perfectly good books and authors do not?

I think any of you groupies around here will know my answer: it's all about character. If you asked me to describe that eternal classic Flowers in the Attic, I'd tell you about the evil grandmother, the panty-waist mom, the curious kids who were a bit too smart for their own good. Maybe I'd mention the air that hung over the whole book, dark, dank, and malodorously ugly. But I'd definitely talk about each character's personality.

Same for just about any other book I read. Heck, I just finished The Rapture of Canaan and found myself thinking more about the character of Ninah and what a catalyst for change she is, versus her grandfather, around whom the society revolves. Really, the story's about a community in flux, but not to me. It's about how Ninah puts them there.

Now, to get a bit more personal...

If you're not a groupie but just dropping by to visit, you should know that I'm a writer, and that one of the things that keep my regulars coming back to read the fiction that I post here is ... yes, you guessed it. The emotional investment that all of these guys (and myself, of course!) have developed to my character, Trevor Wolff.

Here on the blog, I love to write about moments, outtakes I call them because they aren't long enough to be a short story and they aren't as fully contained as a good flash fiction ought to be. I pick these moments from the years leading up to Trevor's Song, my novel awaiting publication, from the time around when the book is set, and I've even done one or two others that are set after the time period of the book.

Everyone comes back, time and again, week after week, to see what Trevor's up to this time. Even if my readers can't relate directly to Trevor, they key into him in very astute ways. They see that his gruffness is just a cover, that he's smarter than he pretends to be, and that he's a hell of a people person -- in his own way. And when he and Mitchell start playing off each other, it's better than George and Gracie or Lucy and Ricardo. (However, that sort of implies that the boys are gay, which they're not. In fact, in the book, they find themselves in a bit of a love triangle, with a redhead at the center of it. Sort of.)

As a reader and as a writer, it's all about character. The literary agent I'm still in discussions with has described Trevor's Song as a character study.

That ... umm, characterization ... of my work flatters me beyond words.

If you click on Trevor or Mitchell's names, you'll be taken to a page on my main website that gives you a quick character sketch. At the bottom of each page are links back here to the blog, direct links to different outtakes and Thursday Thirteen lists and other fun I've had with these two pretend men. Or you can go to the Free Downloads section of the site and do a tiny bit of reading in chronological order. Your choice, but I do invite you to poke around and become a groupie, too!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Thursday Thirteen -- Progress

Thirteen Things for my Groupies

1. I've added a new download to the Free Downloads page of my website.

2. The new one is called Meeting Trevor.

3. You might have read it here, in a slightly different version. From the size of the comment trail, it looks like a lot of you have missed it.

4. I took some time and cleaned it up and edited it before letting it be a download.

5. That's because what goes on the blog is usually a first draft, or close enough to it to be called a first draft.

6. Part of the idea here is that the downloads will be easier to find, even though you can click on any character on their page at the website and find a list of blog posts that involves them.

7. Another bonus of the outtakes is that they will be in chronological order, which is something that currently doesn't exist anywhere. Some of you have asked for this. I'm happy to provide.

8. We'll try to remember to put a little "NEW" icon by the newest outtake when we post them.

9. For now, they'll all be set in the years before my novel, Trevor's Song, takes place. You'll get a unique look at the backstory that creates the book.

10. If Trevor's Song isn't published by the time I go through all my outtakes, I'll figure something out. Self-publish or write more outtakes are the two most obvious solutions!

11. A bonus to doing this is that if there's enough demand, I can collect the downloads into an actual book that you can buy and put on your shelves and give to friends. That's going to be entirely dependent on demand, however.

12. One thing that jazzes me is that when people ask if they can buy my book, I can say no, but they can read for free on my website.

13. Tell all your friends. Let's make them fall as deeply in love with Trevor and company as you are.

If you don't have a Groupie banner but want one, let me know!

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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Sunday, June 15, 2008


Susan's Book Talk and Author Spotlight

Let me first tell you who's up to what since my last report a whole two weeks ago...

LA Day, who is cool, has a new release at Ellora's Cave: Satin Seduction. And for you Fictionwise shoppers, her Undercover Pleasure Droid (which is a truly kick-ass title and I want it for myself) is now available there.

The awesome and smart Shelley Munro seems to have her name on two new releases, too: Lovers at Last and Midnight Treat, an anthology that's now available in print.

Beth Williamson, who I met at RT and thought was quite lovely and I'd like to be her friend, has an entry in the perfectly timed Sand, Sun, and Sex series. It's available in an e-book AND in print, for those who prefer to hold a book, not some sort of electronic device. Oh, yeah. It's called Marielle's Marshal.

And my dear friend Red Garnier has another new one. Color my Heart is its name. You know you can't resist.

Completely without intending to, I won a copy of the Nothing But Red anthology from Jessica Tudor, with whom I've been chatting all things Pittsburgh Penguins. This is an important book, one whose genesis just makes me sick. Let's all band together and make a difference in the world. A positive one.

And now... to make a difference in YOUR world, let me rave about Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day. I met Toni in an elevator at RT, where she showed off her Suck Me, Shuck Me t-shirt and raved about her book. She was on this incredible adrenaline high; I took to her immediately. Getting to know her a bit better at the Mystery Chix and a Dick breakfast that final morning before the book sale (hey, it was final for me!) was a treat. I hope to have lots more Toni goodness for you guys in the future. (Hey, Toni! Are you listening?)

Anyway. The book.

I mentioned in my last Book Talk that I was reading this and loving it. It only got better. Bobbie Faye is this woman who seems to be able to do nothing right, yet has as many fans as she has detractors. Think Stephanie Plum and her exploits and multiply it by a factor of ... a million. If it can go wrong, it does (except for maybe blisters. Maybe.) -- but somehow, Bobbie Faye finds a way out.

Not only does Causey write fantastic action sequences (that didn't make me squint as I tried to envision and understand what was happening. Ever notice how some do?), but the romantic male lead... okay, his name is Trevor, so I'm partial in the first place. He's a Trevor worthy of the name.

That was in April when I first met Toni. A few weeks ago, the second in the Bobbie Faye series came out, Bobbie Faye's (Kinda, sorta, not exactly) Family Jewels. I threw it on my wish lists at the book trading sites ... I'm not the only person at Paperback Swap who's a fan of Bobbie Faye, let me tell you. I'm #50 of 56 (at last check) in line for a copy.

Know what that means? Word's getting out, and fast. Check Toni and Bobbie Faye out and help spread the word, yourself. You know you want to.

You can thank me later.

(btw, stay tuned or scroll or something. I wound up with an extra copy of Very Bad Day and will be giving it away here in a second or two. See? I knew you wanted to!)

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Friday, June 13, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Backstage with Jen

I had my head down, which had to be the dumbest thing I've ever done. I'm supposed to walk at the back of the line and make sure there aren't any stragglers. I'm supposed to be helping out. That's part of my job, part of the price that goes with the perks of all these backstage gigs. I'm supposed to be working.

Work is what I was thinking about, too, which makes this even stupider. It's been on my mind lately. Is this what I want to spend my life doing? Seriously?

When I looked up, I'd walked to the usual meet-and-greet area, right outside the band's dressing room. Only, no one was there.

This is a problem. The backstage area in this Civic Center is huge. There were only about twenty people lined up for the meet-and-greet, and twenty people can barely fill one of the corners in here. Not to mention, they can be practically anywhere. I could spend the entire night hunting for them and still be looking when the last of the production trucks pull out.

Fortunately, before I could panic, a woman came out of the band's dressing room. She wasn't much taller than me, but she was wearing these amazingly high fuck-me heels. Skinny jeans that rode so low on her hips, I knew she couldn't bend over and keep them on. And the hair. Jet black and hanging loose, halfway down her back and teasing the back of her bustier, which, o of course, laced up the front and pushed her boobs halfway up to her chin.

I don't think I need to mention she had the nails and makeup to match.

I was staring at rock and roll royalty, only I had no idea who she was. About all I can tell you is that she was not crew. Nor was she your regular, run-of-the-mill groupie. Not with that air of belonging that she had.

She frowned at me and put the backs of her hands on those skinny little hips. I could almost see her hip bones. I didn't even want to try to compare them to mine. "Hmm," she said. "Looks like you're lost."

I nodded helplessly. There were no words for her. There were no words from me at all at that moment, which wasn't the smartest thing. I should have been introducing myself to her; I had every right to be … well, at the meet-and-greet, doing my job.

"Well," she said and turned, taking her hands off her hips and motioning me forward with one, "let's go. I'll take you over there."

There was no sigh that showed she didn't want to be responsible for me. No nothing. Just straight matter-of-fact, no big deal. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was easier than letting me be in the wrong place when the band came out. They might get a big laugh out of the record label rep who had to follow the band to get to where she belonged, or they might go ballistic that I wasn't in my place. They were, after all, the band. I worked for them, and this one in particular wasn't one you pissed off or fucked around with. Not if you want to hang on to your job.

And don't you think that us local reps forget that. Once we do, we're done.

"Hey Charlie," my guide called when we'd gone around two corners and stood in a huge open space that would soon be filled with roadies pushing road trunks to their specific trucks for the trip to the next town. "I found a lost soul for you."

"I was wondering where you'd gotten to, Jen," the band's tour manager said. I touched the girl's elbow in thanks and went to stand with Charlie.

"Thanks, Val," the tour manager called as the woman strutted off.

"Val?" I echoed. Something about the name struck a chord, but I couldn't place it.

"The drummer's girlfriend?" Charlie said, giving me a look that told me I should have known this. I probably should have; when I'd started as a record rep, I'd known everything about every band on our label. I'd probably even met this woman. Hell, I'd probably talked to her at one point. Maybe even known her name back then.

After awhile in this job, names and faces start to blend together. The troublemakers and the divas, those are the ones who stand out, followed by the cool ones. My guide would be one of them now, too. She was the exact person I'd dreamed of being when I'd taken this job.

I began handing out cover flats and talking to the guests as I pulled Sharpies out of my purse, getting everyone ready for the band's appearance. Just doing my job, basically. But part of my brain wondered if this was really what I wanted to be doing the rest of my life. I'd passed the point at which I could morph into rock royalty, like I'd once dreamed of being.

I guess the question was who was I, and who did I want to be now.

You groupies may recognize Charlie and Val (and the mention of Daniel, too), but this is really Jen's piece. I'm not sure who she is, not really, except that I CAN say she's not autobiographical, as the Tour Manager asked. And while I'd like to get to know her more, I'm not sure there's a novel in her. We'll have to wait and see.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008


BTT: Clubbing

Gotta love this week's Booking Through Thursday:

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?

Nope, never been a book club member. Sorry. I OWN my book club.

No, I didn't buy them. I don't run roughshod over them. They just like me so much that the job of leader is mine until I don't want it any more. We've been together for almost eight years now. I love my group.

As to the reading experience, we all try harder to finish something we don't like. There was one that the whole group hated. They won't let me live down the fact that they managed to finish it and I couldn't. Believe me, I tried. It just wasn't meant to be.

Our most recent book was so poorly written that it made me gag. I've got another whole post about that, so stay tuned. One of the women described it as "Susan versus everyone else" and while I can't say that's not entirely true, it's not entirely false, either. I doubt I would have finished it if it weren't a book club choice, but the story was ... well-intentioned. The bones of it were there, and that part was ... okay. It was supposed to be about a woman, the title character. Instead, it was the story of her husband and his struggle to be a good husband. Okay, fine. I can deal. Just call it something else, will you? Of course, that ruins the theme of the series...

And yes, I'll shut up and smile when we read the third in this particular series. Hopefully, the author has taken more time and gotten the writing up to where it was in the first book. We'll see...

One note that the BTT question didn't address: Yes, I feel terrible when something I brought to the group is a total dog. But when I suggest something like Disobedience or A Day of Small Beginnings or A Thread of Grace (okay, a non-member suggested that one and I pushed for it), it's that much sweeter.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Thursday Thirteen -- The Music Store

Thirteen snappy comebacks (read on)

Leah Braemel had this story to tell, and it's so perfect, I had to share it.

In case you're too lazy to click the link (shame on you!), in a nutshell, the story goes like this: two guys shopping early morning in a guitar store. No one's around except this long-haired heathen, playing a guitar hooked up to a monstrous amp. An amp that's been turned to 11, at least. Maybe 14. In a guitar shop, not a concert hall.

For about half an hour, the shoppers do their best to shop, but Mr. Heathen-on-Guitar won't let up. He's got a full-on jam going.

But then, when he stops, one of Leah's guys yells, "Hey! Shut the fuck up!"

Oops. Turns out that Mr. Heathen-on-Guitar is a Mega Big Rock Star. You Ozzy fans might have heard of him and no, I'm not talking about Randy Rhoads. Think more current. Think who's playing with him currently.

Now, we have no way of knowing what the real Mr. Heathen-on-Guitar said or did, or if this is a story he even retells -- if he's cool, he does, complete with a chuckle at the chowderheads who didn't recognize him and a second chuckle at himself for not convincing the guys to buy the new guitar he was there to promote.

And since I've already taken great liberties with the retelling of this story, I think I'll take a few more.

What if Mr. Heathen-on-Guitar (isn't that a fine British name, sort of like Stratford-on-Avon?) had been ShapeShifter's Mitchell Voss? Or ShapeShifter's lead guitarist, Eric Wallace? Or even our favorite bad boy, Trevor Wolff (who'd never do this sort of thing because it involves playing in public without Mitchell covering his sorry musicianship, but he'd open his mouth and defend his best friend -- in typical Trevor style.), and don't forget our drummer, Daniel Sydor, too.

Here's what they might have said:
1. Eric: Hey, come check out my new guitar. I'll let you play it.

2. Eric: Oops. Sorry I'm so loud. Here, have some guitar picks.

3. Eric: Got anything you want me to autograph?

4. Mitchell: No.

5. Trevor: If you don't like the sound of a guitar, go home.

6. Trevor: Who the fuck died and made you the music police?

7. Mitchell: Why?

8. Daniel: Hey, I'm just the drummer. Don't look at me.

9. Trevor: I can tell them to make it louder.

10. Mitchell: Next you'll ask me to play fucking Freebird.

11. Trevor: Are you some Bettina Beverly* fan?

12. Mitchell: What? I can't hear you!

13. Trevor: We were here first. First come, first served doesn't only apply to me and my girls, you know.

* Bettina Beverly? Think Celine Dion, only Riverview style.

And now that you've had fun with me and the band, go thank Leah for inspiring me so nicely this week, okay? I know she'd appreciate meeting you.

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 try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, June 09, 2008


Deadly Metal Hatchet Fiction: Fozzy's Skateboard

So you came here, expecting to read about this fictional ShapeShifter band. Nope. Not today. I've been playing with this idea for the other band that's starting to test the waters here, and finally had the time/energy to get it down. If you're new to Deadly Metal Hatchet, they are a baby band -- as compared to ShapeShifter's world domination -- who are more about the Deadly Metal Hatchet, their gimmick, then they are about music. In a word, they suck. But they aren't letting that stop them.

Lido could only stare when Fozzy pulled it out of his road case. If it had been Scott or Gecko, he wouldn't have blinked or thought twice or anything like that. But this was Fozzy. He who hated having his picture taken, even when he was wearing jeans and long-sleeved shirts. Not that he had scars on his arm, but that was Fozzy for you. He'd almost died in a motorcycle accident; he was allowed to be weird about certain things.

"You for real?" Scott asked as Fozzy set it on the floor and put a foot on the deck, testing its stability.


"But… Fozz…" Lido paused, not sure how to word this. Fozzy could be sensitive -- too freaking sensitive, as Scott would say -- about anything that might make any one of them bring up the motorcycle accident.

And, of course, Fozzy was glaring at him. Daring him to go there.

Lido could hear the Hatchet panting.

He held up his hands. "It's just not you, man. That's all."

Fozzy laughed that bitter, harsh laugh that made Lido cringe. It was the sound of the Hatchet and as much as Lido loved the band's gimmick, he hated when Fozzy tried to bring it into their lives like this.

"It's not me," Fozzy said and laughed again. "Like you'd fucking know."

Scott eased over so he was standing beside Lido, like he was getting ready in case Fozzy charged. Scott was really the only one who could defuse Fozzy when he got like this, but Lido wasn't so ready to hand the control over.

Without ideas of what to say next, Lido started to rethink that idea of control.

Fozzy moved his leg back and forth. The wheels made a cool sound.

"Do that again," Lido said, tilting his head to listen. When Fozzy did, he sang a few nonsense syllables along.

Scott patted Lido on the shoulder as Fozzy nodded and stepped up onto the skateboard. He wobbled immediately and jumped off -- and glared at Scott and Lido, as if he was expecting them to laugh at him.

Lido just shrugged. "Guess it takes practice."

"We've got plenty of time for that," Scott said, glancing at his watch as if it meant something. It didn't. Not really. Their tour manager would round them up when they needed to get ready to go on stage. All they had to do was find a way to kill the time between now and then.

"I know," Fozzy said. "That's why I did this." He tried the skateboard again and managed to stay on a hair longer.

Scott touched Lido's shoulder, telling him to stop staring and come along. In typical Fozzy fashion, the guy didn't want an audience.

It was enough to make you wonder why the guy had picked up the guitar in the first place. But then again, with Fozzy, most things made you wonder.

Like what you see? Want to know more about Deadly Metal Hatchet? There's not a lot yet, but if you follow this link (or the one above, the first time their name appears), it'll take you to their bio page, which links to more fiction about them. Happy reading and be sure to leave comments, even on the old posts!

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Saturday, June 07, 2008


Susan's Inside Writing: Nights

By now, the devoted groupies of you should have caught on to the fun I've been having with certain writing prompts. Like this week's Sunday Scribblings.

The prompt this week, for those of you who didn't go visit it, is called "My nights." My nights anymore are boring. The Tour Manager puts the kids to bed and I dive for this here computer and begin trying to catch up on everything I didn't accomplish during the day: blogs, outtakes, and the current novel-length Work in Progress.

Yeah. Like I said, boring.

But, you lucky people you, I write about people who come alive at night. No, not vampires (although some would call KISS such).

I write about a rock band (well, two of them now that I've got Deadly Metal Hatchet) and the people who orbit them. That gives me lots of opportunities to write about the night.

I mean, when you're as big a band as ShapeShifter, you play at night. Even when you're participating in those day-long (or multi-day-long) concerts. You get to close the show. Like ShapeShifter did that one New Year's Eve. Or this night.

A good way to spend a night off is to go check out a new band.

The night doesn't end when a band leaves the stage. Oh, no. First, the band's gotta have a post-show meal. Or a party.

Sometimes, when a band is in its early days, roadies are hard to afford. That means the band has to do their own load-out after the show. This isn't always such a bad thing. After all, they might meet interesting people. Or field interesting propositions.

Nights are also good for dreams and serenades. Interesting things bubble out of your subconscious at night. And it's easy to be romantic at night.

Yeah, I'd rather spend my nights writing about the fictional rock band ShapeShifter and the people who orbit them. The possibilities of what can happen are endless, and I have yet to get tired of exploring, creating, and dreaming. Not to mention writing it all down and sharing it with you here.

Have fun exploring all these links to old posts. If you're not already a proud West of Mars groupie, hopefully I'll turn you into one. If you are already a groupie, stay tuned. New stuff is on the way.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


BTT: Trends

After a few weeks off with nothing to say about the question, Booking Through Thursday and I are back together.

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?

Of course they've changed. I've changed.

Beyond that simple answer, though, is a bigger one: the Internet and, more specifically, online book trading and BookCrossing.

I've always had a hard time finding people who read the same stuff I do. Pittsburgh just scored very low on the scale of people who aren't sheep (or lemmings, take your pick), and so often, the people around me who read tend to pick up the latest Oprah book, or the latest Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham... you get the point. The best sellers.

Once I began finding online book communities -- and am now building one of my own -- I'm finding myself exposed to so many genres, authors, books, and all the rest that it's mind-boggling. I mean, hey. The wishlist I maintain here at home has over 1400 books on it, and I've got a good thousand more to enter from my pre-online days. (mostly of the higher-brow variety, which is one reason I'm not super hard on the trail of those books)

It's refreshing to be involved with more than the literary set I was surrounded by during my grad school years. I like commercial fiction and have never made apologies about it. It's what I write.

And with the book trading sites and with the friends I've made with whom I pass books back and forth, I'm finding that I'm more open to new ideas, plots, genres, what have you.

Well, so long as it's fiction. Fiction has always been my true love; it's just the way I'm wired.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #Awarded Dreaming

The most excellent Alice Audrey awarded me the I Love You This Much award -- for Roadie Poet! He's got a groupie! (and yes, Trevor's jealous. After all, RP is crew. Trevor's band. We all know how much cooler it is to be band.)

I'm touched and flattered. And encouraged; I've been in a funk lately. I'm expecting a discussion about the Trevor man and it's been two months and I'm still waiting and going nuts as I wait. I hate to wait, but the reality is that sometimes, the best things in life are the ones that are the hardest to get. And I'm putting the time to best advantage -- I hope -- by working on another full-length work that I know you guys will dig, and then some.

At the same time, I'm MONTHS overdue in acknowledging this one:
... E is for Excellent!

Gwen, She Writes Poetry, and Marcia all think I'm pretty excellent.

I think you guys are, too.

SO. Ready for Thirteen things?

Thirteen Awards we all dream of winning. C'mon. Admit it. You do.

1. The Stanley Cup.
Okay, so it's on my mind. Go figure. Sue me. Whatever; just help root the Penguins on to an improbable victory. And no, their winning isn't the same as MY winning. *I* want to win it and hold it and hoist it over my head... Did you know I am a certified coach and that I used to play ice hockey? It was the last Stanley Cup craze in Pittsburgh that encouraged me to learn all that.

2. An Oscar. What can I say? Maybe I'm shallow, but I'd love to walk the red carpet and watch my band win. Yes, for a movie version of Trevor. Or something else I've created. I'm not terribly picky.

3. An Emmy. ShapeShifter hits your TV. Could be fun.

4. A Grammy. For writing the music behind ShapeShifter. Nevermind that I'm about as musical as a door, I've got a really good ear for what's hot and what'll be popular. Or so I learned during my years as a college radio DJ.

5. A Tony Award. Yep, for writing a musical.

6. The Nobel Prize. Not because I want to write heavy literature that changes the world (quite the contrary; I want to entertain the world), but because it's awarded for an entire body of work, and to win it, you have to get an entire body of work published. No small feat in today's day and age.

7. Best new writer. From anyone. From everyone. 'Cause, you know, it'll mean there's a book in your hands.

8. Community service awards. I have plans in mind. My good friend Bridget and I will be working on them over the summer. Stay tuned.

9. Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hey, why not? If there are songwriters in there (Lieber and Stoller come immediately to mind), there can be novelists, too. (What? You don't know who Lieber and Stoller are? Google them as you sing "Hound Dog," okay?)

10. How about an MTV Music Award? Or an American Music Award? Yeah, so what if they don't mean what they meant back in the late eighties, I still dreamed of winning them for something I'd written. Like that makes sense, I know. Music awards for writing. But this is me. I like breaking rules.

11. Maybe I'll start a new award. The Trevor Award. I'll be the first person to get it, and I'll give it to people who are rebels like me and Trev... hmmm.... that's not a bad idea...

12. Every blog award that's out there. Not because I'm greedy so much as because it's how I know you guys love what I do.

13. A published novel that you can buy in any bookstore and that gets reviewed in all sorts of great places. To nothing but praise, of course. What other reward could there be in life beyond the gratification of sharing your vision with the world? All that comes before in this list pales next to that.

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 try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


...and the winners are!

Well, come ON. I've been a Penguin season ticket holder since before I had kids (and sat through a multiple overtime game while six months pregnant, too -- although we didn't stay until the end). How can I NOT gush about my Penguins this morning? I need to give props to the Red Wings, too. It wouldn't have been the amazing game it was if they hadn't played so bloody well.

Oops. Sorry. I know, that was Ryan Malone playing with bloody cotton sticking out of his freshly (in the second period) re-broken nose. His nose will look like Trevor's before too long if he keeps this up...

While we're talking hockey, my thoughts turn to Nova Scotia, where Sidney Crosby's from. And so is the winner of my excerpt collection. Yes, Julia, you pulled it out, too. I'll contact you for your address and get these out to you. I know you'll like them.

I'm going to leave you with that for now. I'm beat after last night, which makes me wonder how the players feel this morning...

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Giving you... some excerpts

As I make my way through the stack of goodies I brought home from the Romantic Times Conference, I'm starting to share things with you.

Today, it's a collection of excerpts from Wicked Writers Shayla Black, Shelley Bradley, Charlene Teglia, Cathryn Fox, Mackenzie McKade, Sylvia Day, SJ Day, and Sasha White. Many of these women you'll find roaming the blogosphere; just like I always say over at Win-a-Book (been there lately??), check their sites and blogs out. You never know what you'll find.

The second collection is an excerpt from the about-to-be-released novel, The Accidental Demon Slayer, by Angie Fox. This book is getting a lot of press, so I'm giving you a quick peek at the start of what looks like a lot of mayhem.

While the Wicked Excerpts is largely non-sexual, I'd like to restrict the winner to being over 18, just to be safe. It's pretty suggestive (and full of cool-sounding stuff). So... make sure that in the comments, you certify that you're 18. I'm gonna hold you to your claims (and investigate if necessary).

Like usual, if you'd like these two little excerpts, leave a comment here, with contact information and, if you're not a regular, a statement that you are, under penalty of law, over 18. The idea here is to share some neat fiction, not to get me the publicity for being arrested for distributing sexual material to minors. Although the publicity might not be so bad...

I'll close comments next Tuesday, June 3, and pick a winner then.


Sunday, June 01, 2008


Susan's Book Talk: Book Binge!

I decided that joining the Book Binge challenge was something I could easily accomplish. Despite the fact that school is letting out and the Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Finals (for how much longer, no one knows and I really fear for Game 6, but that's how life is. I loved my Pens when they sucked. I love them if they don't win the series.), I read like a demon.

Here's the list:

The Long Lavender Look -- John D. MacDonald
Nine Princes in Amber -- Roger Zelazny
Master -- Colette Gale (read my review at Front Street Reviews!)
H -- Elizabeth Shephard
The Rabbi's Cat 2 -- Joann Sfar (read my review at Front Street Reviews!)
Little Vampire Does Kung Fu -- Joann Sfar
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress -- Dai Sijie
Rashi's Daughters II: Miriam -- Maggie Anton
The Island of Dr. Moreau -- HG Wells
Windfall -- Rachel Caine
Leave a Message for Willie -- Marcia Muller

Wow. Eleven books. Pretty good, but I'd been hoping to finish a certain ARC of a certain upcoming release of a certain series I love so much, I can hardly wait to sit down, crawl inside, and read some more of. Stay tuned for more about that, but it's possible that I like this place more than my own creation right now (probably because it's not my creation. You know how that goes).

Only one of these books disappointed me, and I'll have more about that later on. The rest I really dug, especially Little Vampire, which both my kids attached themselves to. The book says it's for kids 10 and over. My kids aren't ten. That hasn't stopped them yet.

Three of these books are still here in the house (H, Dr. Moreau, and Willie). If you'd like to read one of them, give a yell and I'll share my copy with you. Yes, they're all registered at BookCrossing. Why? Because it's fun to see where a book I've read ends up (and for how long, which is something I'm terribly guilty of).

Now, I must leave and go finish up that ARC 'cause I'm also in the middle of a cool mystery I'll tell you about when I finish it. And there's a lot of buzz right now about the way cool Toni McGee Causey, whose new book, Bobbie Faye's (Kinda, Sorta, Not Exactly) Family Jewels, has me excited to pick up the first in the series as my next read... I've got a copy to share, too, so stay tuned.

Other new releases on my radar:
Fox's Bride, by my bud Amy Ruttan.
A new Ellora's Cave release from Anna J. Evans
One Too Many by Marie-Nicole Ryan
Reilly's Promise by Christyne Butler

Maybe I ought to quit this writing gig and do nothing but read all day. And ride my bike, but that part's a given...

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