You fuck, you ate my cat. Goodbye, my Tybalt.

This is difficult so I’m going to do it quickly. I wanted this to be a sort of tribute post, but now that I’m actually writing it I don’t think I have the stones to pull it off at the moment.

Anna readers may recognize the title of this post as one of my favorite Cas Lowood quotes. He says it after his cat, Tybalt, meets an untimely demise in Anna Dressed in Blood. What you might not know is that Tybalt is actually my cat. A black, sweet and slinky ball of sass who pulled tufts of fur out and left them around the house. He could catch flies in his mouth in midair. His eyes were sometimes green, and sometimes yellow.

When he died on Thursday, they were green.

It all happened very fast. A few weeks ago, he became a picky eater, and stopped sleeping between my feet. We thought he had a cold, and tried different kinds of food. We worried he might be feeling neglected, and lavished him with more attention. When he didn’t improve, we took him to our vet on Monday. Blood tests. Fluid in his belly. Cancer.

We thought we would be going to pick him up. Perhaps have a few good weeks to say goodbye. But Tybalt never came home.

Our house is sad now, and full of shadows. It’s too quiet. It’s cold. I would like to lie down and kick dirt over myself like a demented, post-partum sea turtle. But it’s been a dry summer here and the ground is just…packed really fucking tight.

Thank you to all of the readers who told me how pissed they were about Tybalt’s fate in the book. I used to tell him about it, and he would slow blink at me as if to say, “I told you. You shouldn’t have killed me off. I was the eye candy. I was the star. Now be a good girl and give me some treats. Just a small handful, as I don’t want to ruin my lunch.”

Cats pack a lot of words into slow blinks. Anyway, for the next while, if I’m slow to respond or absent-minded with anyone, this is why.

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Final Sasquan schedule, and a few fall events

I’m going to Worldcon this year! Effen Booking dot yeah I am. And I’m very excited, even though I am not at all informed about/involved with the Sad and or Rabid Puppy controversy. My only plan is to meet up with my good pal, author Trent Reedy and harass him about when the last installment of the DIVIDED WE FALL trilogy is coming, and to spy on George RR Martin around the corner of a wall, then giggle into my hand and run away.

Here’s my official schedule, for anyone who wants to find me:

Saturday 8/22

2:30-3pm Reading in DBT Spokane Falls Suite A/B

I don’t know what I’m reading. Probably one of the Goddess War stories, so either When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami, or The Dogs of Athens. Or, if I’m all alone, maybe my X-Files story, because then I can do my “Mulder voice”.

4-4:45pm Fresh Young Brains panel in CC Bays 11B

With Steven Barnes, Susan Forest and Julie McGalliard. It’s a zombie panel. Those who know me know I fear the zombies. I may have nothing to add to this conversation except vague, incoherent screams.

Sunday 8/23

10-10:45am Oh the Horror! panel in CC300D

With Scott Edelman, Susan Forest and Gillian Redfearn. This is a horror in YA panel. You’d think I’d have more to say on this topic. But I’m still planning on contributing mostly vague, incoherent screams.

12-12:45pm Signing in CC Hall B

I will sign whatever you’ve got. Anna, Antigoddess, books that aren’t mine. I won’t sign pets or children, as they can’t give consent. I’ll also be giving away some very fine Slasher Girls & Monster Boys commemorative T-shirts. First come, first shirted.

So that’s my Sasquan! Up on the Events page, you can find details on two other events I have this fall, including one very cool Halloween haunted after hours party where I will read tarot for people. If you’re in that area, definitely stop out.

And if you’re coming to Sasquan, say hi! Unless I’m spying on George RR Martin around the corner of a wall. Then just leave me to it for a few minutes or it’ll get weird.

I wish I was a better writer. Or at least an Oscar Mayer wiener.

Actually, despite everyone seemingly being in love with them, I do not care for Oscar Mayer wieners. They are too fancy for me. I take my wieners cheap, kept in some guy’s stand, soaking in tepid water half the day and made of lips and butts. That’s how I like ’em.

But this post isn’t about wieners. As usual it’s not about much of anything, but I suppose it could partially be about being a better writer. Because I do wish I was a better writer.

Work continues on THREE DARK CROWNS 2, and some days, it goes okay. Other days, I stare at my screen and ask who the hell taught me to string two sentences together. The answer? Nobody! Nobody fricken taught me how, because I can’t, and it sucks, and I’m going to burn this mother down.

Even when it’s good, I’ll read it back and think: hmm. Not terrible. Pretty decent, even. But it isn’t THAT good. It’s not like, Marcus Sedgwick good. Not Caitlin Kiernan good. Not (insert a hundred other writers’ names here) good.  Sometimes, I’ll read through something I wrote and be horrified. Like, I-wish-someone-would-drag-me-out-into-the-street-and-beat-me-with-it-until-I-repent horrified.

But I don’t always feel that way. Occasionally I can read my old stuff and enjoy it as if I wasn’t the one who wrote it at all. When the writing is good, that’s how I usually feel. Good writing takes me out of the equation completely.

I will always push to be as good as so-and-so, and come up short. It’s the only plan I have to continually get better. I’ll try new methods. Different styles. This is what I remind myself when the self-critic says I ought not be in this business and puts a cigar out on my head.

Anyway, we finally watched IT FOLLOWS last week and while Dylan did not enjoy, I recommend it. It was annoying, but that was sort of the point, and the idea of being followed in that way managed to make it hard for me to sleep. I count that a win. Still not as good as The Babadook, though.

And speaking of movies, it’s weird how one can go from intense fear and dislike of raptors in Jurassic Park to intense love and devotion to them in Jurassic World. In Park, I begrudged them eating even that gimpy kid, and I was totally with Muldoon. Shoot her. Shooot….heer! And then came Blue and I want to put a bonnet on her and move her in with Ma and Pa Ingalls.

P.S., can anyone tell me how to feel about Jared Leto’s Joker? Because I just. Don’t. Know. Must see more.

Thunder Bay Event Recap

Hi there. Do you ever feel like you’re going nuts? I’ve just returned from fabulous Thunder Bay Ontario, home to Anna Korlov, and newish home to Theseus Cassio Lowood. I met a lot of people, stopped home in Minnesota for a few days and talked to more people, and since I’ve been back, I realize I remember conversations but am not certain who I had those conversations with. I find this very disturbing. I’m usually a steel trap (challenge me to a game of Kevin Bacon. Go ahead. Challenge me.) but this makes me wonder if I’m going to get early onset dementia.

Not cool, early onset dementia. Not cool.

Not cool, regular dementia, actually. Anyway, here’s some photos from the trip. First up, Mary and Bill Jarrett, proprietors of the Country Cozy B&B. If you’re ever traveling through Thunder Bay, I can’t recommend them highly enough. The breakfasts, man. Fresh chives make all the difference.

Such nice folks. See that cabinet behind Mary? That's where she usually keeps Cas' favorite Saskatoon jam.

Such nice folks. See that cabinet behind Mary? That’s where she usually keeps Cas’ favorite Saskatoon jam.

The event at Chapters was excellent, I was “in conversation” as they say, with E.K. Johnston and Michelle Krys, who were both grand. E.K. has A THOUSAND NIGHTS out this fall and it looks stupendous. Michelle has DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY out next year.

I restrained myself and did not conduct the panel in an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of James Lipton.

I restrained myself and did not conduct the panel in an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of James Lipton.

Photo taken by the fabulous Amanda from Chapters, who also introduced me to Persians, the Thunder Bay pastry of choice. Pink icing, cinnamon roll. Can’t go wrong.

One more photo, this one of our doggie chauffeurs to the airport: Meat, the Frenchie, and his Dachshund pal Scooter.

He only accepts tips in the form of meat products, placed gently into his under-bite.

He only accepts tips in the form of meat products, placed gently into his under-bite.

So. Good trip. On Tuesday I get off my lazy duff and switch immediately to my writing duff to start THREE DARK CROWNS 2, which should take all of the summer and much of the fall. It will be interrupted briefly by trips to Oregon and Worldcon, as well as edits for book 1, but I should be able to swing it. I’m actually ahead of the game this time. I took notes.

And a big thank you to everyone who entered to win an ARC of UNGODLY. It was really cool, to see the things you tagged and hear your casting picks. Winners have been contacted and the ARCs have all been claimed.

And, because I feel like doing it, here’s stuff I’ve been watching and reading.

Game of Thrones- I’m just not sure about this Jon Snow business. And still unconvinced that Dany is a fit dragon-mom. Maybe she needs Chris Pratt and his raptor-clicker.

Penny Dreadful- I love Eva Green.

Aquarius- I love you Fox Mulder, but who would follow this Charlie? Still though. Fox Mulder.

Wayward Pines- what the ever-loving hell is this? But nice to see you again, Mr. Dillon. Who starred with Kevin Bacon in  Wild Things.

Books, finished: The Iron Trial (yay chaos wolf pups), The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories

 

An UNGODLY ARC Giveaway

So these bad boys arrived recently:

Ungodly ARCs

 

They’re nude. They’re provocative. They’re indecent. Want one?

If you do, there are lots of easy ways to enter. Note that this giveaway is US and Canada only, and ends June 8th.

TO ENTER:

-Comment on this post, telling me who your favorite character in the Goddess War series is

-Find my tweets about the giveaway and RT

-show me cool pictures of Greek Gods or Goddesses, or you in cosplay, or art, or actors you think would be good to play characters, (or hell, just tell me) and tag me on Twitter or Instagram with #UNGODLYARC

Comments on Facebook posts and at Goodreads will also count. Pretty easy, no? I’m going to try to pick a few winners from each entry style, so go nuts. Enter as many times as you like.

Once again, contest is US and Canada only, ends June 8th. Please make sure there’s a way to get in touch with you if you win.

Here’s a bit about the book, when it has its clothes on. It’s the end of the Goddess War! And did you catch the Princess Bride reference in there?

ungodly

As ancient immortals are left reeling, a modern Athena and Hermes search the world for answers in the final Goddess War novel by the acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood

For the Goddess of Wisdom, what Athena didn’t know could fill a book. That’s what Ares said.

So she was wrong about some things. So the assault on Olympus left them beaten and scattered and possibly dead. So they have to fight the Fates themselves, who, it turns out, are the source of the gods’ illness. And sure, Athena is stuck in the underworld, holding the body of the only hero she has ever loved.

But Hermes is still topside, trying to power up Andie and Henry before he runs out of time and dies, or the Fates arrive to eat their faces.

And Cassandra is up there somewhere too. On a quest for death. With the god of death.

Just because things haven’t gone exactly according to plan, it doesn’t mean they’ve lost. They’ve only mostly lost. And there’s a big difference.

Between-book Guilt

This post exists because I need to run a giveaway for UNGODLY ARCs soon, but I just featured one for SLASHER GIRLS ARCs, and I refuse to have two giveaway posts in a row. I don’t know why.

This post also exists to talk about my current experiences with Between-book Guilt, better known as, Downtime Guilt.

As some of you may be aware, I’m between books. That is, UNGODLY is off to the presses and THREE DARK CROWNS is with my editor being…edited upon, which leaves me here, all alone with no book, and no real necessity to start a new book until I finish edits on THREE D.

Joy! Some of you writers may be saying. Rapture! No deadlines breathing down your neck? No novel poking you in the head during dinner? Why aren’t you on your knees crying, “FREEDOM!” like Mel Gibson in Braveheart only less because your intestines are out and more because of yay?

And it’s true. Enjoy your downtime, people! Writers or otherwise, you’ve earned it. That’s what you’ve worked so diligently and efficiently for.

Except every time I sit down to read, or play Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns, or sit down anywhere that isn’t in front of my computer, I feel guilty. I don’t know when this started happening, but I suspect it was when I started to work exclusively from home.

I have other home-working pals who express the same guilt, and I’ve always told them to never feel guilty for taking time for themselves. How unpleasant to discover that all my assurances over the years have done no good. I know, because people say the same thing to me now, and I still feel guilty even writing this blog post. Every few lines I stop and yell out, “Quit whining, a-hole! Go write a book!”

Or, do anything that feels like work. Surely there’s SOMETHING I ought to be doing.  Old manuscripts I could shine up? New, experimental ideas to explore? And couldn’t the house be cleaner?

I could start the next book, I suppose. Except that edits from the first one might render what I start unusable, and when I think about that I would hurl, if only I had a tiny paper cup to hurl into.

Now I’m fighting the urge to list off all the writing-related work I’ve done in the last month so I’ll appear to be less of a huge, lazy, loser. But I won’t. I refuse!

UNGODLY ARC Giveaway will start next week.

 

 

The Great Slasher Girls & Monster Boys ARC Giveaway

SLASHER GIRLS ARCs have arrived! Our fearless anthology leader April Genevieve Tucholke is giving some away, and when giving things away, why not have fun with it? Ways to enter are below. Entries will be selected by some of the anthology contributors; perhaps me, or Cat Winters, or Megan Shepherd, or Nova Ren Suma, or some of the many, many fantastic writers with stories in this fantastic anthology. I personally can’t wait to see your creepy side.

Here’s the giveaway post, direct from April’s website:

The Great SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER BOYS ARC Giveaway

(US-Only, ends Monday, May 18)

Slasher arc pic

 

 

HOW TO WIN:

We want to see you at your creatively slashiest. Show us your macabre side and post a pic of something scary to Instagram or Twitter, under hashtag #SLASHERGIRLSARC 

 

SCARY PIC SUGGESTIONS:

1. Hold a seance

2. Read a horror story in a cemetery

3. Recreate a horror scene from film/tv

4. Play light as a feather, stiff as a board

5. Say Bloody Mary 3 times in a mirror at midnight

6. Show us your Slasher boyfriend/girlfriend/platonic friend–Pinhead, Freddy, Xenomorph Queen…

7. Draw a chalk outline of a body on a sidewalk. Possibly yours.

 

SUPER SPECIAL ENTRY: Dig your own shallow grave. Anyone who goes to this much trouble will be placed in their own pool, i.e. your chances of winning are extremely good. Shallow grave guidelines: Be safe about digging. We’ll not be responsible for bodily injury due to spade mishaps, digging near power/gas lines, or digging on a too hot day, etc. Keep it safe, keep it shallow. On a beach, perhaps. Or in your garden.

Enter the giveaway as many times as you want (but dig your grave only once).

The Special Pool entries will be given priority.

And don’t let us hinder your slashy creativity. If you have other ideas, let’s see them! Tweet us your fave horror quotes! Show us your…scary dogs? Just keep it legal. And don’t forget to RT and use the hashtag #SLASHERGIRLSARC

 

(US-Only, ends Monday, May 18)

Updates to the website, or Kevin! Bake on! We’re still going to need that celebration cake.

Get it? Kevin? Bake on? Kevin Bacon? It was my favorite gag in Dreamworks’ Penguins of Madagascar, which I watched this weekend, because Dylan loves penguins. Oh how he loves them. I’m running out of penguin-related knickknacks to buy him for his birthdays. Anyway, the octopus, voiced by John freaking Malkovich, snuck in a celebrity name whenever he addressed his octopi minions. Kevin, bake on. Nicholas, cage them! Elijah, would you hand me my death ray?

Also watched this weekend: Birdman (finally!) and it was just as imaginative and delightfully odd as I’d hoped. Exodus: Gods and Kings (I was on Ramses’ side, and what was Sigourney Weaver doing in that movie besides a whole lot of nothing?), and American Beauty, because Dylan hadn’t seen it. Performances aside, it has not aged well.

By this rampant string of movie watching, you may infer that I am in fact in between books. I have one more Goddess War story to write, which I will begin tomorrow (it’s about Artemis!), and copyedits for my Violent Ends story got done today, also edits will be happening for Three Dark Crowns, but the point is, I don’t have to start another actual brand new book until like….June. And then my summer will disappear behind this computer screen.

For now, I’m whiling away my days playing Dragon Age: Inquisition and formulating workshops and presentations for events I’m doing this spring. For more info, see the updated Events page. And I’m going back to Thunder Bay, where Cas and Anna are from!

Speaking of UPDATES: Also, see the updated pages for Ungodly, the anthologies, and a placeholder for Three Dark Crowns, all created by the lovely Rachel Silberman. And I updated my bio. It’s not as interesting, I don’t think, but I guess that whole “I like rare red meat and veganism” thing was confusing, and I was going to catch heat eventually for reading Ayn Rand, even if reading her is not the same as agreeing with her philosophy. So go on, and have a poke around, if you like. I’ll wait.

Great, you’re back. I missed you. Did you see that The X-Files is returning? I haven’t been this excited since Floyd Mayweather said he would fight Manny Pacquiao. When I heard the news, I started shouting, “Mulder and Scully are returning? Mulder and Scully are returning!” Joyfully, like Kathy Bates does in Fried Green Tomatoes when she learns that Mrs. Otis has died.

You are all too young to get that reference.

Tybalt’s Thoughts on THE WINNER’S CURSE

So, recently, my cat son Tybalt has become very excited about a particular book. Not one of mine, of course, they’re his mother’s books, and he thinks those are lame, except when I put him in them. No, the book he won’t shut up about is THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of this intriguing trilogy, the story of Kestrel, the daughter of a high-ranking General in the Valorian Army, and Arin, the Herrani slave she purchases at auction. If you haven’t heard of it, you should, and you obviously don’t live with my cat son, because I hear about it daily, no matter how many times I say, “yes, Tybalt, I read it, too, and I loved it.” He keeps on, and on, and it’s worse now that the sequel, THE WINNER’S CRIME, is almost out (MARCH 3rd! He yowls daily. MARCH 3rd!)

Just look at his The Winner’s Curse-loving face:

Tybalt's Book face

That’s his face when he REALLY likes something. Conversely,

Ren

This is his face when he thinks something is only….okay.

Anyway, he (we) wanted to commandeer the blog today to lay out some of his (our) favorite things about the book that’s way better than his mother’s books. (Very nice, son.)

1. Kestrel. She’s remarkable. Complicated and with real convictions, and we loved her relationship with her horse, Javelin. No, Tybalt, you may not have a horse named Javelin. One thing we particularly liked about Kestrel, this girl who faces a hard life choice (to join the army, as her father wants, or to marry, the only two choices for a girl of her rank) is her strategic mind. She knows her faults, and her strengths, and she knows everyone else’s too. She has blind spots because of her position in society, and because of a certain boy, (who, yes, Tybalt, we’ll get to in a minute) and it felt very real. A good heart gives you blind spots, no matter how clever you are. It’s a virtue, and a vulnerability. And Kestrel has a very good heart.

2. Arin. So much more to Arin than meets the eye. Once you come to know his story, his history, the discipline he shows throughout the book is nothing short of AMAZING. Tybalt wanted me to type “amazing” and that’s a pretty accurate word for Arin. He also requests that I change his name to Arin, and that all future male characters I write be named Arin. To which I say, No, dammit! Arin is copyrighted, and Marie Rutkoski probably wouldn’t appreciate it.

3. The military strategy and the conqueror culture. I was more into this part than Tybalt was, but he was still quite fascinated by the expansive culture of the Valorians, which led to many discussions of Alexander the Great, the Romans, and a re-watch of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

4.  The You-Guys-Are-So-Screwed Factor. Because no matter how much you want Kestrel and Arin to hug it out, those hugs don’t come easy. From the outset, they are separated by their motives and their place in the world. Kestrel is a master. Arin a slave. Kestrel is a conqueror Valorian, who must marry a Valorian, or go away to war. Arin is a Herrani, the conquered, the subjugated, and an entirely unfit match as friend or lover. By the end, Tybalt was rolling about on the carpet, because he couldn’t see how their stars could align (and also because he had an itch and needed a nap from staying up so long reading), and I was, too (though I had no similar excuses).

To summarize, on March 3rd, he and I will be poring over our new copy of THE WINNER’S CRIME! Ouch, he bit me. He has no teeth, but it still smarts. Apparently he gets a copy of his own.

You should snag one too, wherever books are sold.

The Winner's Crime

Room 237

Two nights ago, I awoke from a dead sleep to the sound of a chime. The very familiar chime of an elevator arriving. There is no elevator in our house. I woke Dylan, to see if he could hear it, and when he could, went to investigate. Turns out it was a short in our doorbell, that made it charge up and emit just one, rather dead-sounding ding. And I was so sure it was the elevator from the Overlook Hotel, finally arriving.

I mention this because it genuinely freaked me out. I was so positive I would go into my living room and find several decaying corpses with noisemakers and party hats, ready to get down. They weren’t there, but it was still fun, probably because Dylan was there. Had I been by myself, it would have still been fun, but the kind of fun that is followed by staying awake all night long.

I never used to truly enjoy being spooked out. I wonder if it’s a side effect from writing so much dark stuff.

Completely unrelated: What did the Wachowskis do to Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending? He looks like Mugatu from Zoolander. Can you not see it?

channing tatummugatu

 

 

 

Come on, they’re at least cousins.

Anyway, my life as a doberman’s body pillow continues, but today he’s going to have to face some tough realities, as I’m back to work in earnest on Three Dark Crowns. Last month, I managed to complete the short stories I needed to complete, and I actually like them all. Made it through two sets of edits for them also. But ThreeD (Three Dark Crowns, formerly 3D) needs to get to its turn-in-able (word? No? Fine, but I’m keeping it) draft by February 16th. I have high hopes. It’s all too easy, in my head.

Alas, my head, is probably in my ass.

Next week, on the 28th at 7pm, I get to hang with Susan Adrian on her tour for TUNNEL VISION (just released!) at University Book Store (U-district, Seattle). The always excellent Lish McBride will be there, too. Come on down!