Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Readers' Rants Review and Other Stuff

For those of you who are checking out reviews for The Dust of 100 Dogs here's a new one. Readers' Rants Blog My favorite line? "This is a completely original, crazy story that will suck you in and hold onto you." I do want to warn those, though, who might read into the 'fantasy' label some folks are putting on the book, that this book isn't fantasy. There isn't any 'magic.' Sure, there's one little curse and a whole lot of reincarnation, but a lot of humans on the planet (like a billion, at least) actually believe in reincarnation - and I'm one of them. Oh - and have you checked out Lisa McMann's Freaking Huge Contest-O-Thanks yet? Go to her News Page and check it out. Some SERIOUSLY groovy prizes!

Monday, October 20, 2008

*Jen Robinson Digs Me!*

(The feeling is mutual.)

The Dust of 100 Dogs Meets Jen Robinson's Book Page. "The Dust of 100 Dogs is complex and dark (though with flashes of humor). But it's also unique and rewarding, written with a distinct voice, and featuring two very strong-willed female characters... It is not to be missed." Read the whole thing HERE.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Como es tu trabajo?

Since I took the week off from work, I want to know how everyone else is doing out there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Video Games Did Not Rot This Brain

Remember how worried everyone was when video games first came out? Remember the headlines? VIDEO GAMES WILL ROT YOUR CHILD'S BRAIN! This just in: video games made me what I am today, and I'm a happy, well-adjusted creative person with an awesome job. The Author's Video Game History My first video game was Ultima II on an Apple 2+ with a green monitor. It was 1980. I was ten years old. Before that, I had played Pong and Atari's Space Invaders and Asteroids and PacMan, but I was never a fan of TV-console or arcade action games. My sister liked those. I liked sitting in front of a computer, and I liked role playing games (RPGs). I liked saving my game on a disk and having inventories of stuff and keeping track of money earned and lost, and clues. I loved clues. Between the ages of 11 and 14, I spent a lot of time trying to solve Ultima II, and killing stick figure orcs, and searching the cloth map I had tacked to the wall above the computer to find the answers to the riddles posed. This was problem solving at its best. Make no mistake - my room was cleaned (READ: lots of clothing stuffed under my bed) and my chores were done, and my homework was finished. For me, video games came after learning basic human responsibilities. Up until the time we got the Apple 2+, my best friend and I played in her stream and caught crayfish, or climbed trees and built tree houses. I read books into the night, concealed in my closet with the light on, long after the rest of my family was asleep. And I was always an imaginative child, excelled in school, read above my grade level, and had an insatiable interest in math. But then....I got my first RPG. We played for hours on end. We'd cramp ourselves into my basement on sunny days and play for marathon overnight sessions during the summer, in order to raise our magic points so we could cast new spells. We'd get our asses kicked by bands of roving thieves and have to start over where we last saved, until we finally figured out how to win. You get the picture. We were hooked. I remember dreaming in green stick figures. This did me way more good than harm. For those ready to pounce on the fact that I've admitted to a healthy outdoor crayfish-catching existence pre-Ultima II, let me say this: most other teenage kids in the early 1980s were watching TV all day. More specifically, MTV. So, as far as I can see, as a girl growing up during a time of slutty-is-good-because-it's-what-ZZ-Top-likes-in-their-videos, I was lucky to avoid the more socially acceptable road. Yes, that made me weird. Whatever. I didn't care. Once I got home from school, I'd be back in Ultima II, and there were orcs to kill. Better still, playing RPGs made me want to make RPGs. I'd gone to computer camp (Yes. Geek. I know.) and knew how to program. I built my first game when I was 13. It started as a tablet full of flow charts and sketches and lines of code. It was very basic, and the graphics were horrible, but it told a story, required players to solve riddles, and rewarded those who got to the end with some of the lamest green fireworks the world has ever seen. But it was mine. Before I made it, it didn't exist. This feeling is what brought me here - to my present day life as a writer at 38. It's what took me to art school, and what took me to the farm in Ireland where, before I planted them, those potatoes didn't exist, and before I hatched them, those chickens didn't exist, either. Let's call it a creative complex - the love of making new things. But to take it one step further - could I have lived self-sufficiently on that farm, or forged my way into a writing career without those well-honed problem solving skills? Who gets credit for those? My parents. My teachers. My RPGs. Seriously. I'm not just saying this. It's true. At times, I have been addicted to RPGs. Most notably in 1997, when I was addicted to Daggerfall. I'm not kidding when I tell you that we played that game for four months straight. We did. It's how we got through our first winter on the farm. We had no central heat, no TV, a limited amount of food, and we'd just bought our first 'real' computer - a 486 PC with 8 whole megs of RAM. We bundled ourselves into my little office with an oil-filled electric heater, and played non-stop. The game was mind-blowing. I loved it. I loved it so much I eventually had to stop playing it. At the time, I was writing my third novel and we only had one computer. So, it's safe to say I - uh - wasn't writing my third novel. When the internet came along, and I eventually got connected by something other than Irish dial-up, which was slower than my five-year-old takes to put on her sneakers, I went to see some (really amazing) internet-based RPGs. And then I ran screaming. No way was I getting anywhere near this stuff. I was writing my seventh novel, was close to finding an agent, and was not going to let anything distract me. But in a way, it was sad. I am a child of video games. Some of the RPGs out there right now are what I daydreamed about in 1980. I was MADE to play these games. But there are times to play and times not to play**. Up until last night, it was not time to play. **Though I'm not saying being a serious writer and game playing are mutually exclusive. It was a video game that inspired a (very important) portion of my novel The Dust of 100 Dogs. What Happened Last Night When I saw Cynthia Leitich Smith was going to be appearing at the American Library Association's main stage in Second Life, I figured it was about time I checked out this Second Life thing. I'd heard about it. I'd even heard about authors who were using it as promotion, but I knew I was susceptible to RPG addiction, and also, since I last played games, my life has changed quite a bit (READ: two kids, real writing career & other life responsibilities.) But I decided I'd join, and have a look at the event, because I love Cynthia's blog and her reviews, and I was curious how an author could have an event in Second Life. Because I am a child of RPGs, I caught on to the interface rather quickly, and I showed up for the event at 8PM EDT to find a crowd of about ten people, who were really friendly and obviously, interested in the same sort of stuff I was. (Remember, this was an author event at the ALA main stage!) Mostly, these were very cool librarians. Cynthia put on a great presentation for about 40 minutes (no different really, than a regular talk in First Life) and then opened a Q&A time for 20 minutes, where we introduced ourselves and asked a few questions about Tantalize, and the upcoming books in the series. After the talk, the organizers stuck around and broke down the set and when I complained that I was a total noob and hated the lame suit my character was wearing, I was given a comfy pair of faded jeans and a READ BANNED BOOKS t-shirt. So maybe what I'm about to say makes me a complete geek, but LAST NIGHT WAS ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS EVER. Okay, so I'm easy to impress. I'm still wowed by the internet (which is a far cry from the Apple 2+ modem, which is the size of a small dog and pretty useless.) Seriously. A cyber author event? Sign me up. It was so awesome, I can't wait to do one myself. And I dreamed in Second Life last night. Does this mean I might get addicted? Probably not. Does it mean I might rot what's left of my middle-aged brain? Maybe. Does it mean that I might - oh no - say it ain't so - waste some time? Yes. It does. So far, wasting a little time playing video games has done nothing but good things for me. Anyway, I work too hard and pressure myself too much. It's about time I had some fun.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bookshelves of Doom Review

The Dust of 100 Dogs got its first review today over at Bookshelves of Doom. CHECK IT OUT. I think you'll be hearing more on Leila's question about whether or not the book is technically YA. In a genre that's getting harder and harder to box, I'm sure there will be a few people weighing in on this topic. (Me included.) My new editor at Flux, Brian Farrey, starts the discussion at the Flux Blog today. In other news, I saw my friend Karen Dionne's book, FREEZING POINT for sale at my grocery store today! Yay Karen! And Andrew - are you out there? Remember when we first talked about DUST and you told me I should read Octavian Nothing? Just stopped at my library and got it. I'm taking some time off. Haven't been able to write with all the political distractions and self-applied pressure. I want to hang out with my kids, too. So I'm doing what any sensible book lover would do. Wrapping myself in a blanket of great literature for a fortnight and stocking the junk food.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Quick Update - Construction

I finally got myself up to see Stephanie at Moravian Book Shop on Tuesday and let me just say - I am the luckiest book fiend around. I have three awesome indies within a ninety minute drive. Some people say: A NINETY MINUTE DRIVE? ARE YOU NUTS? No. I'm not nuts. I'm picky. I like to support communities. I like to have conversations with my booksellers. I like to talk books and ask for recommendations.** And Stephanie gave me a great one! The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante looks awesome and I can't wait to read it! Of course, I can't read it yet. My to-do list is stupid long. Today, I go back to final copyedits on The Dust of 100 Dogs, and then I still have to get this next book finished and to my made-of-awesome agent. Until then, this blog is still under construction. But hey! Did you see the finished site for the book? Didn't Mike do an AMAZING job? SEE IT HERE. Oh! And don't forget to go to your local indie and buy these great books! LAMENT by Maggie Stiefvater and FREEZING POINT by Karen Dionne! Amy ** - This is not to say bigger corporate-owned bookstore employees don't give good recommendations. They do. I get great hints from a Borders bookseller I've known most of my life all the time. But when I stop into those bigger stores, it's pretty apparent that they are not there to chat with customers. And that's okay, too. I just prefer the human angle. I'm soft like that.