Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

Matt and I saw Rufus Wainwright and Sarah Slean at the Centre tonight. Flawless. Girl Rocked--It--Out. Rufus is an army of fabulousness. When he sang "If Love Were All," the air was electric with flaming purple queerness. And Sarah was wonderful as always. Night Bugs is still one of my all-time favorite albums, although my ABSOLUTE favorite Sara Slean song is a B-Side, "John XXIII." Pure magic.

The concert was four hours long! That's a whole lot of fabulous. I was exhausted afterwards, as if I'd been forced to attend a wine and cheesecake banquet for hours. But it was really good cheesecake. Oh, and the lederhosen. Sweet Baby Jesus, the lederhosen. We love you, Roofs.

Billy, I Will Avenge Your Death!

One of my favorite MAD TV clips, with Christa Flannigan as Heidi Klum. "Vengeance is a dish best served--silently."

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Godfather

OK, I have set myself a new 12-step goal: once I leave the apartment today, I will not return to Myspace ALL DAY, until I go to bed. I can do this. Serenity Now!

Matt, Brianne and I are going up to SFU to move his office, then off to the Salvation Army to drop off some clothes. And then, AND THEN...I'll be watching The Godfather for the very first time at Jen's place. I know, it's pretty sad that I've never seen any of the trilogy, but tonight is the night. We've got box wine, we've got pasta, and we've got smokes. Let's do this.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Intervention Time

I am addicted to Pimp-My-Profile for Myspace. Too many backgrounds. Too many flash features. I need a cold shower.

South Park Me


















I stole this link to the South Park Character Creator from Mark Henry's blog, and then I stole his background color. Snap. Hopefully, there aren't too many character creators out there, because I'm addicted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Crash Position

I'm having one of those insecure days. First, I had to talk to the manager of my building to book time on one of the elevators for moving-day. He's nice and all, but he has this weird thing where it seems like he's looking into your soul, or maybe he has a positronic matrix or something, but it freaks me out and makes me feel like I'm 6 years old again and want to run away. Plus, it's not like I relish any type of practical interaction with landlords or managers of any kind, since I always want to do something terribly inappropriate--shriek like a monkey, make faces and then run away, or mess up their elaborate filing systems.

Then I went down to the bank to cash my modest (read: cheap) advance from a publisher. They're very nice to work with, but I have to get a little annoyed when they split an already-miniscule advance in half, and then wait a year to give me the second half. Plus, the book is already delayed arriving at Canadian bookstores, so my dream of seeing it on a shelf in my hometown probably won't happen until I've already left for New York.

The best part, though, was when the Sarah-Michelle-Gellar clone behind the counter didn't want to cash the cheque, because it 'seemed suspicious.' Yes, a cheque for 150 pounds is TERRIBLY SUSPICIOUS, especially when I have about five cents left in my bank account. This interaction was priceless:

Teller 1: "Well, does he get cheques like these often?"
Teller 2: "Do you get cheques like these often, sir?"
Me: "Well, yeah, sometimes. It's an advance, from a publisher."
Teller 2 [to Teller 1]: "It's an advance, from a publisher."
Teller 1: "A british publisher? From Britain?"
Me: "Yes, a british publisher from Britain."
Teller 1: "Well, how long has he had this account for?"

[Teller 2 punches some buttons. Then she looks surprised. Then she smiles.]

Teller 2 [to Teller 1]: "How old are you again?"
Teller 1 [insulted]: "Um, I'm turning 18, why?"
Teller 2: "Because he's had this account since before you were born."

I felt both old and vindicated.

Now, I'm nervous that my first novel won't get enough publicity. I'm sure it will be fine, but the little OCD-man inside of me just wants to be doing something to promote it, even though I've probably already done everything humanly possible at this point. In a nutshell, I'm just stressed out, exhausted from arranging a move that's supposed to happen in three weeks, anxious about relocating to the craziest city in the world, and wishing I could just press the 'time out' button. I don't have any time to work on lectures for my course in the fall, and normally I'm prepared far in advance, so that's totally giving me a nervous tic. Plus, the final edits to my novel have to be in soon, but I'm tapped out and barely have enough energy to life my coffee cup. Matt and I are booked pretty much every day for the next two weeks with moving stuff, along with various going-away parties and family dinners that actually just stress me out more, because all I want to do is lie on the couch in the fetal position and eat Godiva chocolates.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Me Wantz It

Someone needs to buy these books for me. These are my top 3:

Queer Youth
, by Gloria Filax.













Wicked Lovely
, by Melissa Marr












City of Bones,
by Cassandra Clare











Also, am I a sellout for listening to Rhianna? I really want to buy one of her umbrellas. She really does have a new umbrella line from Isotoner. Most brilliant marketing move I've seen in a while.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Murmle Murmle

All I want to do today is read my crime scene manual (CRC press continues to rock my world, as always), and possibly brainstorm more title ideas. I've already stolen a few bits from Shakespeare, and it's always fun to read Revelations in search of cool fantasy titles as well. Yes, I do read the KJ Bible occasionally. Really.

But I also have to pack all of my goddamn dishes and cups and other breakables in newspaper today for the move. Luckily, I can do this while watching TV. And once my fingers are completely black from newsprint, I can run around the apartment pretending to be a ghoul. That will probably annoy Matt. Yeah. Sweet.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Panjabi MC

















Panjabi MC is rocking my world at the moment. Rocking it. Thanks to the always-brilliant Liza Yukins for introducing him to me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Knackered!

Matt and I just finished helping two friends move (and were well-compensated for it). Two offices somehow managed to produce FORTY THREE boxes of books. And most were hardcover. And we had to cart them down two long hallways and into an elevator, then up two more flights of stairs. And then it started raining on the boxes.

I. Am. Fucking. Tired.

But pizza is imminent. Yum. Yumminent. Yummy...never mind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Address

Ok, this is seriously my last post today, since I'm supposed to be reading. Kate Moennig (the amazing Shane from The L-Word) has put together a documentary on homeless LGBT youth called My Address. Awesome.

Here are two episodes up on youtube. To learn more, check out Our Chart. Also check out the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who produced the doc.


Rain Over Me













Blessed Rain!

I can't tell you how excited this makes me. After days of alternating dry and muggy heat, finally, I can open up my patio and feel a cool breeze. I can look out the window and see my favorite non-color: gray. And, in case you're not a fan of gray, let me give you three good reasons to change your mind: 1) Gandalf the Gray, 2) Gray Goose Vodka, 3) Amanda Marshall's bitchin power-anthem, "Shades of Gray." Nuff said.

You could tell the die-hard Vancouverites because they didn't even put on jackets or open their umbrellas, just milled about downtown, safe in the knowledge that the west-coast weather would change in twenty minutes or so. Finally, I could drink my hot americano and feel myself sweating, not from the outside temp, but from more respectable over-caffeination.

If I had a boyfriend, we would have run through the streets singing like Marlo Thomas in That Girl. If I had a boyfriend. If. Hey, where did those Oreos come from? Well, if you insist....

In case you're wondering how happy this makes me, this about covers it. And yes, this video does date me.



Oh, and do yourself a favor and pick up the new Holly McNarland album, Chin Up Buttercup. So sweet. Hear a sample HERE. And while you're at it, buy Steve Berman's book, Vintage. Gay ghosts. Come on.

Aussie Love?

Apparently, there is a review of my Farscape book in the June issue of the Canberra Times. Trying to snag it now. I have to say, this book has had the oddest distribution so far. It was first available in Britain, then Australia, and finally Canada and the US (4 months later), although people are still having trouble ordering it from Chapters and Amazon. It's like Moya, slipping through hyperspace and very difficult to catch.

Simpsonized!

This is my new Simpsons avatar, which I got from the Simpsonize Me website. Matt was kind enough to customize him for me, possibly because I kept whining and begging.

The creepy thing is, I actually have an outfit like this. It knew what color my shorts were. IT KNOWS EVERYTHING!

I even get a cat. That's Guinevere, who is possessed by Illyria. She looks harmless, but trust me, she devours worlds.


Seriously, everyone has to try this.

Wouldn't you trust this face? With your money and/or soul?


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Master's Tools

As usual, Bitch PhD rocks my face off with her blog. Here's the latest:

"The opposition party controls the House. It (We) control half the Senate. It (We) are in a pretty good position to get the goddamn executive office back in our hands next year and buckle down and start (re-)establishing some Goddamn Checks and Balances in our government, and while we're at it let's quit with the deeply fucked up wars of aggression and repair some of our international credibility and reaffirm that women's rights are human rights, you fuckers, and also get moving on establishing a Social Security-style Universal Health Care/Coverage package (which is going to be a tough fight, because the insurance company folks are going to do their damndest to convince us that This Would Be a Disaster and things will be Much Better if we instead pass insane laws "requiring" everyone to purchase health insurance privately unless they fail some means test in which case okay, we'll provide a batter of confusing bureaucratic publicly funded plans for them to choose from, plans which will be a pain in the ass to qualify for and will provide minimal coverage and will merely reinforce the sense of grievance that people who Pay for Their Own Health Insurance Through Their Own Hard Work have against those Lazy Poor People Who are Yet Again Taking Advantage of Our Tax Money etc. etc.)."

What Would Buffy Do? She would slay. She would slay hard.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Let's Fighting Love

Oh, Ninjas. And Southpark. Such a good combo:

Another Muggy Day

Got a REALLY late start today, since I discovered THIS website. Damn you, old movie trailers! I'm only on page 20 of my final edits to NIGHT CHILD, and last night's editorial work was a bit uneven, since I was mostly hanging out with Matt and Brianne while I occasionally changed a sentence here and there. But Brianne did manage to finish her essay on medieval primogeniture and knighthood, and I don't think I messed up Chapters 1 and 2 too badly, even though I was kinda high while I worked on them. I hope my editor doesn't read this post.

Also, I'm playing around with the embedded video feature. Re-discovered this old gem, and had to share it:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hibernating

Today is one of those 'don't leave the apartment' kinda days. I frolicked on the beach yesterday with friends and now I'm tuckered. Actually, I've been feeling pretty exhausted for the past few days, which is odd, since I'm not actually teaching right now and this is supposed to be my downtime. I think the stress of the impending move, along with all of the other crazy stuff that's happened/is happening over the past few months, is starting to get to me. Who knew that finishing your PhD, publishing your first novel, and starting a new job in New York could be really, really stressful?

I might read some Kathryn Fox today--she writes about a forensic pathologist who investigates sex crimes, and so far "Without Consent" has been a tight and fast read. At some point I have to begin the revisions to NIGHT CHILD for my editor, but I can't quite get into that frame of mind right now. Too zonked.

At least it's not too warm today. The heat makes my brain soupy.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bow to the Master!













Matt successfully defended his master's thesis today! He is now a master! Hurrah!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Queer as Fuck














I love THIS story. A 'concerned' mom in Palm Beach is trying to ban 80 books from her kid's school library. A direct quote from the mom:

"My kids are going to school to learn, not to become a homosexual or an abortion doctor or an atheist." Personally, I went to middle school EXCLUSIVELY to become a homosexual and an atheist. What else was there to do?

What cracks me up too is that the school is in Palm Beach. This isn't Salt Lake City. Come on, lady, calm the fuck down and just let your kid read "Rumble Fish" already.

Sweating Bullets

It's sooooo hot today that all the ice in my iced americano has already melted. Sigh. I am such a pampered bitch.

Matt is defending his M.A. thesis tomorrow! Then we're retiring to the villa (i.e., our cramped and messy studio) to drink in his honor. Rumor has it there will be cake, possibly from Cupcakes or Marble Slab. Oh, Sweet Baby Jesus, Marble Slab makes good ice-cream.

It's off to the Drive for a bite to eat tonight, then 'preparation' for the defense, aka watching the Lost S2 Finale and melting into the couch.

Oh, and just for all my fans, I thought I'd post a typical picture of me in a tank top. This was taken today. You know, just a nice candid shot of me. My highlights look awesome.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

HP












Saw Order of the Phoenix tonight. Grade: B+

---> spoiler alert
---> spoiler alert
---> spoiler alert
---> spoiler alert

The movie was shorter than the last two, which surprised me, since Phoenix was such a long book. As a result, huge scads of material were cut. As a viewer, I appreciated the length of the film, since it was nice and palatable at a cool 2 hrs and 10 minutes. But as a reader, I was left wanting more of the scenes that were cut. Especially the asylum scene, as well as the various interactions at Sirius Black's home (hundreds of pages were cut to maybe 10 minutes of film--yes, it was boring, but there were some real gems hidden within that material).

The ministry of magic was perfect--just as I pictured it. But they also cut some of the coolest tangential scenes, like the bizarre magical experiments that the kids discover. When Hermione finds the hummingbird that keeps hatching from its egg and then disappearing, over and over...I mean, hell, that was one creepy scene, and I loved it. But most of the more atmospheric moments had to be cut for the sake of the movie's length.

The fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort was visually impressive, yes, but what about the freaking statue that comes to life? And what about the psychological terror of these two mystical juggernauts actually fighting? It got relegated to maybe 2 minutes of cool cgi, and then it was over. This was probably the most satisfying moment of the book, especially since we'd sat through so much exposition. The Ministry of Magic section was some of Rowling's best and creepiest writing, but I just don't think there was enough in the film.

Sublime casting: Helene Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix. So, so hot. But why did she only appear for 5 minutes? She's crazy, evil, and powerful. I wanted more!

All in all, a pretty good film, especially given the unwieldy length of the Phoenix book. But Prisoners of Azkaban is still my favorite, and I actually liked Goblet of Fire more than this one.

Plus, it's odd that the same director is doing the next film. I thought it would be a different director for each one, excepting the first two films. I heard Guilermo del Toro turned it down. That would have been an absolutely amazing film if he'd said yes, but I don't think it's his style to do such a big production.

Bring on more Potter! But please, just admit that Dan Radcliffe has gotten older, and stop dressing him in weirdly infantilized shirts with blue stripes and 'I'm a big boy' clothes to make him look younger. It's kind of pervy. Sure, Ron can keep wearing lame sweaters because he's got an excuse, but what was with Hermione's and Harry's outfits this time around? At one point, it looked as if Hermione was wearing pink overalls. I loved when Alfonso Cuaron dressed them in edgy outfits from the Gap--that was fun. Now, maybe steer them away from the Little Miss section at Harrod's, and towards Structure.

And please make a spinoff for Bellatrix. It could be called 'Bellatrix and the Goblet of Big Steaming Crazy,' and Helena could just randomly shoot sparks at everyone while cackling like Bea Arthur. God, that will haunt my dreams in a good way.

Hart to Hart

More great news. Matt got back from the heart clinic today, and after getting an echo-cardiogram, his heart is 100%! It's completely recovered from the previous hypertrophy and assorted other nasties that happened two years ago. So he's fully recovered.

And broke. The universe is very weird sometimes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moya Lands in Canada

My Farscape book hits Canadian bookstores TODAY. You know what would be the sweetest thing? If you picked up a copy! And by 'you,' I mean 'all who have ever loved me.' If you're the slightest bit ambivalent, click HERE.

You get it now, right? Yeah. You get it.


If it helps, the book has pictures. And the aliens are hot. Moya is one sexy biomechanoid.




Sunday, July 8, 2007

American Getaway

My parents are coming to pick me up this afternoon, and later we'll be hitting Bellingham like Nicole Richie on a shopping trip. Mad, I tell you! In the meantime, I'll be catching up on some crime fiction. Namely, Bev Connor's "One Grave Too Many." Her protag, Diane Fallon, is a prickly forensic anthropologist who works for a museum, but always ends up getting drawn into murder investigations. I like her because she's always yelling at people. My kind of academic.

Lolcats



My favorite pics from Lolcats:










Saturday, July 7, 2007

Vega, Baby

Suzanne Vega has a new CD! Just listened to a sample, and it's awesome. Also, one of my critically underrated faves, Garbage, has a greatest hits CD coming out. Say what you want about Garbage--they're tenacious, and they have a song about milk. Come on. That's sweet and you know it.

Slackoff

Today is about nothing. I'm going to sit on the couch like a lump and read my Kathy Reichs novel. Maybe (probably) I'll check on my livejournal postings, because I'm such a feedback slut. At some point I have to pack up more books. Why can't I just beam them to New York? I'm definitely disappointed in the lack of beaming technology.

Also, I just discovered that my Farscape book is in the library at a place called Old Dominion University. It sounds like something from DS9. I am conquering the Old Dominion!

(Much geekery ensues)

Friday, July 6, 2007

'Night, Child


Vermillion sunset outside, all pink and bloodred, only interrupted slightly by the annoying teenagers having some kind of patio-party across the way. I really kicked it into high gear tonight: Matt and I had sushi, and then we bought some books (buy 3 and get the 4th free...damn you, Chapters!); then I bought another plastic tote, you know, for packing up the books that I'm not supposed to be buying.

In the meantime, trying to create hype for my novel without annoying people online. How do you hype a novel when you don't even have a cover yet? I've been assured that the publicity process has to start as soon as possible, since publishers do very little advertising for first-time novelists. So, I post, I blog, I email, I try to get added to cooler website's lists, I cajole, I beg. Seems to be working so far.

Mmmmm...Lost in a few moments.

Deja Dead


What I love about Kathy Reichs is her similes. Blood "fizzes like soda." A detective "cocks his head like a dog listening to tin foil." Temperance Brennan leads us down a delicate spiderweb of metaphors and adjectives, all of which make you forget that you're reading about osteology and decomposition.

Plus, she's an alcoholic. At least Reichs gave her forensic anthropologist a vice of some kind. I love Kay Scarpetta, but she has to be repressing something. I imagine that she's got a hidden doll collection, or a coke habit. Or maybe she eats steak burgers in her Mercedes like Kirstie Alley on Fat Actress. Please let that be true.

Stupid Shorts

Why don't my shorts fit? I just bought them two weeks ago at Old Navy, and now they're suddenly too tight. I know I didn't gain ten pounds in two weeks. This is bullshit. It's a conspiracy. Someone is force-feeding me cinnamon buns in my sleep. It has absolutely nothing to do with the venti raspberry mocha frapp that's sitting on my desk right now. What? They were out of grande cups. THEY WERE OUT OF GRANDE CUPS! What was I supposed to do?

(Sigh)

Kiehl's


You know what proves to me that there's a benevolent God in the universe? Kiehl's. Now,just because I'm totally butch (hysterical laughter) doesn't mean that I can't pamper myself with hair and skincare products. And Kiehl's is amazing. The herbal shampoo for dry scalp feels like Josh Holloway from "Lost" is giving you a cool massage while whispering sweet Southern nothings in your ear ("any more a' that conditioner, Freckles?") The papaya facial scrub is like Matthew Fox storming into your shower and--oh wait, this ended up in a very different place from where it began.

My Explosive Friday

Once again, the construction across the street from my apartment sounds like the Apocalypse. How long does it take to tear down a building facade and put a new one up? My parents are showing up on Sunday to kidnap me--they've been planning a daytrip to Bellingham for a while, so we're going to hit the used bookstores, the Target, and (for me) the A&F. Yes, we're crazy. crazy people. Like adventurers, really. I'll be wearing my Indy hat.

Today's plan: reading Kathy Reichs, probably going to the comic shop with Matt, possibly drinking a Cleanse (my favorite cocktail) at Section 3 in Yaletown. Oh, and the Raspberry Mocaha Frap at Lunch? Check and double-fucking-check. Those things are seriously like crystal meth. Only without the brain damage.


FOUR DAYS until my Farscape book hits Canadian bookstores. Want a sneak peek? Click HERE for the Introduction in PDF. Just try to read it without wanting to read the rest of the book. Go on. It can't even be done, I promise.

Lost

---> spoiler alert
---> spoiler alert
---> spoiler alert


Ok, I'm watching the 2nd season of Lost (no spoilers, please), and I've just gotten to the point where Sayid, Charlie, and Anna-Lucia are looking for Crazy McCrazy's big smiley-face balloon. I just don't understand why Lock and Jack are being so dumb. I mean, 'Henry' is clearly playing with their minds. Lock is supposed to be this amoral super-genius/survivalist, and Jack is a brilliant doctor, yet the dirty, defenseless guy--locked in a safe, by the way--is somehow outsmarting them. So, the answer: let's take him out and give him some Dharma flake cereal. Why is everyone being so stupid all of a sudden? And how are we supposed to redeem Charlie when he's gone all Rosemary's Baby and tried to attack Aaron?

Sayid: "Ok, scary ex-cop who shot my girlfriend, even though none of us trust you, let's go on a secret mission together. And we'll take the musician who's crazy and can't defend himself."

Anna-Lucia: "Sounds like a plan. And even though I have no friends on this island, I somehow NEED to help you, because I must unravel the mystery of the Others...even though they're clearly 10x smarter than me and have a militia."

Charlie: "You are everybody...you ARE everybody...."

Oh, season 2, how you fuck with my mind. But I keep coming back for more sweet mindfuckery.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Family Guy

These are currently my favorite video clips. Ever.

Family Guy Panic Room
Family Guy Rock Lobster

Slashy Goodness

I love fanfic. If you don't, then...you're weird. Sorry, that's just how it is. Here are some of my favorite fanfic sites:

Danny/Don Slash (CSI: NY)
The OC Slash
"Say 'Repressed Homosexuality!'": VM Slash
"Love You Long Time": WeeVer Fanfic (check out Eli's Boy's stories)
Lost Slash (Charlie/Lock=Gross; Sawyer/Jack=Sweetness)
Deadwood Slash
CSI: LV Slash
CSI: GSR (yes, I support hetfic if it's Grissom and Sara)

Clearly I have no motivation to work today, since I keep posting. Oh look, the TV just turned itself on magically. Guess I'll have to sit on the couch. What's this? Reruns of Malcolm in the Middle, you say? Why, sure, I'll partake of that.

Blood Relations

You know what else is still cool? My Buffy book. Yeah, it's not cool in a head-cheerleader kind of way, but it still pretty much blows my mind whenever I stroke its sweet cover and sleep with it under my pillow. You can't put a price on that kind of feeling. Check out a synopsis at the McFarland & Co website, or snag yourself a vintage copy at Powell's or Chapters. Why do I avoid Amazon? Because some wankers posted shiteous reviews, even though 9 out of 10 academics agree that it's a masterpiece. My friend Matt posted a kickass review, so only believe his.

Good Readin

Just wanted to give a shout out to some of the great authors I'm reading at the moment.

Chaz Brenchley, "Selling Water By The River"
Lynn Flewelling, "The Bone Doll's Twin"
Patricia Briggs, "Moon Called"
Ilona Andrews, "Magic Bites"
Beverly Connor, "One Grave Too Many"
Mark Del Franco, "Unshapely Things"
David Levithan, "Wide Awake"

Why does my fan sound like an Apache helicopter right now? I don't know.

Oh, and if you haven't watched Transformers yet, you haven't really lived. Blah blah, Michael Bay can only make things explode, etc. JUST WATCH IT.

Welcome to Hextacy

Yes, that's right, I've finally started a blog. The purpose of this site is twofold: 1) to offer updates on my fiction and academic writing, and 2) to post information on writing and publishing in general, academic minutiae, tomfoolery, and generally to do whatever the frack I want. Often, 2 will prevail over 1. Wait. That doesn't sound right.

My first novel, NIGHT CHILD, is due out next Spring. The cover isn't ready yet, so I've substituted this cool image. Why? Because it's got bloody hands on it, and in my book, that's pretty sweet.

For more info on the novel, visit my website: HERE

Also, my academic book on Farscape hits Canada in five days:



You can already order it from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, and soon, so very soon, it will be on Canadian shelves at Chapters/Indigo. To learn more about this sweet, sweet book, visit the I.B. Tauris Website.

People who love me will buy this. Multiple copies. It's that simple.




Now, here's a question I get asked fairly often:

"How did you publish your first novel?"

So I thought I'd tell the story for those who are wondering. Hopefully it helps.

Let's begin at the beginning. I started writing 'seriously' when I was about 10 years old. By seriously, I mean that I actually thought I might publish something. I printed out numerous prologues and first chapters on my parents' dot matrix printer. Ah, those were good times.

When I was fifteen, I sent a complete manuscript to Tor Books in New York. Yeah, that's right. I was crazy even then. I figured--I like it, maybe they will too. Of course, the book was mostly just my friends and family placed in a fantastic situation (why were the sorcerers wearing jeans?), and I didn't understand the concept of the slush pile. But I was actually reading Writer's Market at around 14 years old, so I wasn't completely in the dark. 2 years later, I got a polite form rejection from Tor. I didn't care that it was a form letter--it had the fucking Tor imprint on the letterhead! I was completely psyched. And, in the meantime, I'd published a poem in a small literary journal, so things were looking up.

Flash forward. Since I wasn't sure what to do after graduation, and I hadn't hit the NYT Bestseller List yet (why the f not?), I decided that I should take some college courses. A psych course here, an anthro course there, nothing serious. Don't ask me how, but through some horrific mutation, this transformed into an English degree. Then the English B.A. morphed into an M.A, and the M.A, like the Blatant Beast in Spenser's Faerie Queene, transformed into a howling PhD in Literature. I still don't know how it happened. I think I was drunk.

Over the 10 odd years I spent in university, I kept working on different novels. I wrote variations on the same story for a few years, and finally, while taking some personal time (i.e., crazy nervous breakdown from my field exams time), I decided to rewrite one of my drafts as a forensic-style mystery. I did a lot of research. A lot. I took a course in forensic science. I read everything available to the general public, and then started ordering books from university libraries. Grisly stuff. But so, so cool. I read articles in the Journal of Forensics. I say all this because that's what doing research meant to me. Total immersion. There's nothing greater than becoming totally and unhealthily obsessed with something that will probably have no practical value for you.

At the same time, I was also writing my dissertation, which was based on the work of several contemporary fantasy writers. Two of them in particular, Chaz Brenchley and Lynn Flewelling, answered my emails and were extremely supportive. Lynn suggested that I query some agents, and after shamelessly cribbing from her sample query letter, I sent out my first queries. The formula was simple:

Paragaph 1: ms title, length, word count, status (completed), looking for representation

Paragraph 2: provocative question, blurb about plot, significance of book

Paragraph 3: publishing history, why xyz agent, publisher, etc., offer to send complete ms

I used the 2006 Literary Agents Guide. There is also a website for registered American literary agencies that provides email addresses and info about each agent. I sent off about 20 queries, and got a few positive responses. Three agencies requested more material, but ultimately passed on the book. One agent asked for the full ms, and liked it. We worked together for a bit editing the ms, but didn't sign a contract. Eventually, the agent politely declined the book. It was heartbreaking at first, especially since I'd already done a lot of editing. But, in the end, the agent made the right choice for both of us, and I knew that I had a stronger book as a result of the work.

The changes were big, but simple: it was all about motivation. Why did each scene matter? Why would a character subject herself to a 10 pg exposition-fest? What momentum drove each scene forward? The agent helped me learn how to create tension, and that was invaluable.

I sent off another round of queries, and one of them went to Lauren Abramo at Dystel and Goderich in New York. Why did I submit to her? Honestly, I saw her picture on the Dystel site, read her profile, and thought: she seems cool. I'd like her to read my book. Later, through a freak coincidence, I would discover that she went to school with the daughter of one of my colleagues and mentors. Small world. He confirmed that Lauren was a great agent and a fantastic person. So I felt comfortable working with her.

Lauren read the ms in about a week, called me twice, and then I had a contract with Dystel. Holy fuck. After 17 odd years of writing, it happened that fast. But getting a contract didn't mean that the book sold magically the next day. It's not like in the movies. Lauren had some editorial changes of her own, and then she sent off the complete ms to 10 publishers. We waited. The rejection letters started trickling in. They were more personalized, more specific, but they were still rejections. After about 4 months, Lauren sent the ms off to 6 more publishers, and we waited some more. All told, it was 6 months before we heard from Ginger Buchanan at Ace/Roc. And that was a very, very sweet day. It rocked my face off, to be honest.

I'd say that it took 1.5 years, from the time I finished the ms to the day that Ace bought it. So it was a process. But everything is.

Hope this helps those of you out there who are still plugging away. And I am too, since once you make your first sale, you're already editing the novel, working on book 2, doing publicity, and trying to promote everything by yourself. It's a job, most definitely. But a really cool one.

Questions? Comments? Email me at jbattis@sfu.ca, and visit my website HERE