Monday, November 24, 2014

New Cover Art - A Soul Remembered

I got the cover art for my December release over the weekend:

This is my story for the General Hospital pax at Amber Allure, a story set in a futuristic Bay Area about lovers reuniting. Reunions have been a big theme for me lately, with more still to come. I haven't quite figured out why.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mockingjay, Part 1

I went and saw the premiere of Mockingjay, Part 1 last night. If you want to remain unspoiled, don't read on.



When it comes to the books, Mockingjay is my least favorite of the trilogy. It's got nothing to do with the fact that it's bleakest - I love that it's not afraid to go to dark places - but that it's structurally the weakest of the three. It always felt like two different stories, and don't even get me started on how rushed the ending was (I love the author to death for her characterizations, but man, does she suck at endings).

So when they announced the book was getting split into two movies, I was thrilled. I didn't care that it was likely happening because of greed - Twilight and Harry Potter started the whole thing by making money this way - because it meant that if they were smart, they'd split the book up the way I thought it should've been in the first place.

Thank god I was right.

This movie is all about the construction of the mockingjay. Katniss is ever the reluctant hero, never more so than in the first half of Mockingjay. She's been broken by the second games, betrayed by the people she trusted the most, and thrust into the center of attention she loathes. That's where Jennifer Lawrence shines. This was probably the most emotionally resonant her character has been since the series started. It's only the prospect of saving Peeta that gets her to even consider agreeing to their plans for her, and thus the driving thrust of this movie is begun.

It's all about saving Peeta for her. Sure, there's the getting roused to anger by the reality of what Snow is doing to the districts, but ultimately, she is driven by her need to save Peeta. She failed to do that in the games and it haunts her, because she has always believed he deserved it more than anyone.

So while it's got its actiony moments, this is a much more somber, dramatic film than its predecessors. It succeeds in inciting the audience during the bombing of District 8 scenes - and the line I always felt was clunky in the book about if they burn, Snow burns, too is delivered with such conviction and pain by Lawrence that I was ready to follow her, too - but it also proves to resonate during the quiet moments, like the haunting Hanging Tree montage when she goes back to film in District 12.

One of the biggest changes from the book lies in Effie. She doesn't appear in the third book at all, but here, she's a political refugee brought in to be Katniss's stylist/escort while filming her propos. She provides confirmation of what happened to Cinna that we have to infer in the book, but more appropriately, she's a little bit of humorous light amidst the darkness (not to lose fact that she's also wonderful at the tragic bits).

Is it perfect? Definitely not. I always felt District 13 was a lot more claustrophobic than how it's portrayed in the film, and the tragedy of a broken Finnick is almost completely erased by keeping him in only a few scenes and jumping ahead past his problems. (He's still doing all his knots, though, which only served to remind me constantly of the missed opportunity there.) 

But it worked for me, and I think it's going to work for a lot of fans of the books (the audience erupted in applause when it was over). Just don't expect closure. The games aren't over yet.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This is me today

Mockingjay, Part 1 opens tonight, so this is me today:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Special Sale - Jamie Craig titles 50% off at Amber Quill

Through November 25, all Jamie Craig titles at Amber Quill are on a special sale - 50% off! That includes both m/m and het, as well as all the lengths.

So if you've ever wanted to check something out, now's the time!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Past into the Future

The very first book I wrote, a 400-page western romance about a young girl who'd been rescued by William Bonney, was written on a machine that looked like this:

It was 1981. I was 12 years old, there wasn't an Internet for me to research Billy the Kid so most of what I picked up was basic information and I made up the rest, and the typewriter was a heavy, metal beast that my great-grandmother had used in college in the 1910s. The red and black ribbon was ancient and a little ragged, and the letter p tended to cut through the paper, but I loved it with all my heart. I got really good on it. By the time I took typing my freshman year of high school, I was typing 75 words a minute. I was faster than the teacher. That might've been one of my easiest As ever.

When computers came along, however, I was thrilled. No more ink on my fingers! No more white-out! No more wasted paper because I'd spent half a day writing a page that would now get cut! I can't say my productivity actually went up, but my efficiency sure did.

In the past fifteen years, however, I've started longing for a typewriter again. I love the way they look, and I love the way the keys feel under my fingertips. I'm so in love that I have been known to get a little shiver when I hear a bunch of them going all at once. It's my own little Mad Men porn.

You know what's funny? They're making a comeback. Some people never left them behind, but with all the security hacks in recent years, they're seen as unhackable. That's not actually true, but it's a matter of perspective. With digital publishing, it's not quite as viable as a way of streamlining work, but you know what? I'd get one. In a heartbeat. Maybe not this model, and maybe not for everything I produced, but I'd do it.

I still have that first novel, by the way. It's in a folder I've taped together twice over the years, tucked into the bottom of a box of keepsakes I can't bring myself to get rid of. It'll be one of those items my kids pull out after I die and wonder why I kept it. Then maybe they'll read it. Well, my daughter might. My son would reach the first kiss and walk out of the room. And I hope it makes her smile.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Call the Midwife

Netflix suggested Call the Midwife to me last weekend, so I caved and watched the first episode. I then stopped and ran to my husband to tell him, "You have to watch this show. You are going to love it."

So Friday night, he sat down with me to try it out. One episode became three. Saturday night, we watched four. Yesterday, we watched another two. We only stopped because he had to pack for the business trip he's on today and tomorrow.

We're both in love.

I know we're late, since there are three seasons already, but better late than never, right? My husband tends to be a sucker for period BBC drama (he LOVES Downton Abbey), especially when they have such real characters in them. We are both in love with Chummy, and he keeps complaining he needs more Sister Monica Joan. The detail is stunning, too. I've had to have my  husband explain a couple terms to me (for those who don't know, he's English), so that helps fill in a couple of the gaps, but otherwise, I'm utterly enthralled by the drama of these people.

Anyone else watch it?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Fun Sales at Amber Quill

Today and tomorrow, Amber Quill is putting all mystery titles on sale for 50% off, whether they're Amber Allure, Amber Heat, or Amber Quill ! That includes a number of my solo titles as well as Jamie Craig stories, including:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Today's Words of Wisdom

This is how I'm getting through my days recently:

Monday, November 10, 2014

$.99 Books at Amber Quill

Amber Quill has a new section for all you readers out there looking for a deal. Recently, they've started putting select backlist titles on sale for $.99. They change them out every few weeks, so if you don't see something now that catches your eye, make sure to check back every so often.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The New Into the Woods Trailer

Because the film version of Les Miserables disappointed me, I've been pretty jaded about the same thing happening to Into the Woods. I knew Meryl sings, but I kind of hated her in Mamma Mia, and I wasn't completely sold on some of the casting. And then this extended trailer came out yesterday. And now we're all pretty sure we're going to go see it on Christmas Day.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

DNF Books

Like a lot of readers, my TBR pile is insane, and it seems to only get bigger as I get older. I used to be able to whip through a book a day, but with kids, that doesn't happen anymore. No more curling up in a corner for hours. Now, it's constant interruptions - "Mom, braid my hair!" or "Mom, can I get on the computer?" - not to mention all the added responsibilities that suck away my free time.

Another thing that's changed? I'm a lot less tolerant on pushing my way through books that aren't working for me. It used to be I'd read it no matter what. Someone invested time in the book, so I owed it to them to see it through. I don't think that anymore. My time is too limited to waste it on books that I can see early on are going to annoy/bore/trigger me. I usually give a book a couple chapters to really hook me, and if I'm on the fence, I'll push through.

But my DNF pile has more books in it than it ever did before. And I seem to have a hit a slew of them recently.

The most recent one was a title called "The Yummy Mummy." It got great reviews, it's British humorous women's fiction, and it uses new motherhood as a platform. It seemed like a perfect fit.

It wasn't. I gave up after four chapters. I hated the narrator. That's not an exaggeration. Where other readers seemed to either find her funny or could identify with her, I found her self-centeredness attitude toward her child and the way she treated her partner absolutely appalling. I'm all for unlikable narrators - hell, I've written a few - but then the story needs to compensate in other ways. This one didn't.

I give up on books for other reasons, too. For instance, too many mistakes drives me absolutely bonkers. If I find more than a couple in the first chapter, forget it. It shows a lack of care for detail which I don't think is excusable.

So I'm curious. What makes you put a book down?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Last Chance for 50% off All My AQP Titles

Today is the last day to get all my titles at Amber Quill Press at 50% off, so if there's anything you wanted to try or that you missed, now's the time to run over there and pick it up!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Not Doing Nano

A lot of my friends are flying out the gate with their Nano projects. I'm cheering them on, but they don't have to worry about me. I don't do Nano. It's a rare month I don't get 50k written, so using that as a goal doesn't incentivize me.

Sticking to schedules incentivizes me.

I thrive on lists and consistency. The more consistent things are, the better I feel. Though I don't pay attention to a lot of reading books, there is one I always come back to. Stephen King's On Writing. And you know what one of his rules is?

Write every day.

So even though my life is chaotic with my kids, that's what I do. I work it in around their schedules, taking my laptop with me while I wait for them on school runs or at softball practices, making sure I take advantage of the hours they're out of the house for peace and quiet to get things done. Even on days where I seemingly have no free time or I'm exhausted, I sneak onto my computer and eke out a few hundred words.

Some words are better than no words. And it's amazing how those pile up.

So this month is like every other month for me, in all honesty. I'll add the words up and then start panicking about time management the closer we get to Thanksgiving. This month, I'm finishing up a cat shifter novel and a novella for a future pax collection, as well as working on stuff that's just for me. Am I going to hit that 50k? Oh yeah. That's my job, you see. Writing is what I do. If I didn't get the words out, they'd probably pile up inside of me until I exploded.

That wouldn't be pretty. Trust me.