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Today was my first day as a full-time author.

Yesterday afternoon, I turned in my badge and left my day job for what will hopefully be the last time. I am finally in a position (thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act) to make a go of it. This means I'll have more time for work, more time to have a social life, and best of all, more time for glorious napping. I had a nap this afternoon. It was the best thing.

It also means that I'm going to be even more conservative, financially speaking. I regularly have to turn down conventions and speaking events that don't come with compensation for travel/lodging. I've been doing it up until now because it was a way to winnow things down to something I could handle with my available vacation time. Now...I can't afford it. I mean, right now, right this second, maybe I could, but in six months? In a year? I need to be careful, because I want to be able to do this, just this, the thing that I love, for as long as humanly possible.

Thank you all so much for supporting me as much as you have. You are why this can happen, and I am more grateful than I can express in words. I will do my very best to be worthy of your faith in me.

Because I know some of you will ask what you can do to help (and I am grateful for that, too), this is what you can do: buy my books. Buy my albums. When I say "here is a poster," or "here is a print," buy those, or point them out to people who will. Mostly, buy my books. That's what leads to royalty checks and more contracts, and wow are those going to be necessary going forward.

Again, thank you all, so much. I am so excited, and so relieved, and so looking forward to getting some actual sleep.

Comment amnesty is declared for this post! Because I want to spend that time napping.

A little holiday greeting.

me
'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my room
Were bunny girls bitching, and portents of doom,
And fairy tale murders and pandemic flu—
My friends hope my holiday dreams won't come true—

And Tara is working on graphics so fine
To help and promote that new novel of mine
(The third in a series I like quite a lot,
Narrated by Alex—please give him a shot).

I'm staying at home for a change and a shot
To catch up on sleep and do what's been forgot,
For changes are coming, and coming so fast,
And it's time that we leave this last year in the past.

Two thousand thirteen is a year nearly spent.
Oh, the things that we did, and the places we went!
I'm still with the agent—now more than five years;
She's my superhero, and I have no fear.

A whole week of Dayes can now sit on your shelves,
With wise-cracking Cait Sidhe and put-upon elves,
Another adventure is coming this year,
Which ought to be good for your holiday cheer.

In March, there's InCryptid, and Rose comes in May,
My Sparrow Hill girl who died so far away,
And then in September, the winter is long,
It's a bright, brand-new verse in my favorite song;

InCryptid and Velveteen, Babylon Archer,
And so many more are prepared for departure
At seanan_mcguire the updates are steady—
I'm keeping you posted. You'd better get ready.

The year yet to come will bring wonders galore,
And I can't start to guess at the great things in store,
So whatever you celebrate when the world's cold,
Be it secular, modern, or something quite old,

I hope that you're happy, I hope that you're warm,
I hope that you're ready to weather the storm,
And I wish you the joys that a winter provides,
All you Kings of the Summer and sweet Snow Queen brides,

And I can't wait to see what the next year will bring,
The stories we'll tell, and the songs that we'll sing.
The dead and the living will stand and rejoice!
(I beg you to rise while you still have a choice.)

The journey's been fun, and there's much more to see,
So grab your machete and come now with me,
And they'll hear us exclaim as we dash out of sight,
"Scary Christmas to all, and to all a good fright!"

Five years of Alice.

alice
Today is Alice Price-Healy Little Liddel Abernathy McGuire's fifth birthday. We did not meet until she was ten days old, but this is the day when she began. I am still so very grateful to her for deciding to do that.

As a kitten, Alice's name was "Ado Annie," and she was a prissy, prissy princess who didn't really care for any of the human suitors who came to visit her litter. Until she met me, and went to sleep on my arm, and I asked in a strangled voice if her breeder (my friend Betsy Tinney) took checks.

It took a good deal more time and conversation before Alice was ready to come home with me, as a sixteen week old fuzzball with firm ideas about the world, her place in it, and my place under her. She was my first Maine Coon, and after the learning curve was behind us, she quickly became one of my best friends.

She is pushy; loud; arrogant; prissy; very stinting with her love, and very particular about who deserves it. She gives affection when she wants to, not when people demand it. She won't eat human food, but she begs for it all the same, only to disdain it with a sniff if allowed to get a closer look. She sits like a human, and likes to hug the remote. She is, as I often tell her, my favorite thing.

Happy birthday, Alice. Let's celebrate a dozen more.

Tip jar is closed! And...well.

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Okay, so first off: the tip jar is closed. Any money that is randomly sent to me after this date does not go into the tip jar total. So please wait until the next time I do this, to make sure that you get the story to go with your silver, okay!

Second off, thank you to absolutely everyone who donated, thought about donating, or couldn't donate. You are all awesome.

Thirdly, the total:

$2,352

Uh, wow. I had sort of been hoping for $500, which felt greedy and illogical, but would have done a lot to help me with my story pacing. This is...wow. We beat last time's total by $40, and more than topped my wildest hopes. Thank you all so much, and now let's tell the people at home what they've won!

"We Both Go Down Together" (the followup to "Loch and Key") is finished, and Tara is designing the cover now. As soon as that's done, I'll send the files off for ebook conversion, and we'll be ready to post.

"Black as Blood" has been added to the schedule, tentatively with a January completion, to let me release it in tandem with the Fiction River issue containing "Red as Snow."

"The Ghosts of Bourbon Street" has been added to the schedule, tentatively with a March completion, to keep y'all from going into Verity withdrawal.

"Blocked" was already on the schedule from the last tip jar, and "Oh Pretty Bird" will be locked in if I have space.

Thank you all so, so much.
knives
(I thought a lot about whether this needed a trigger warning, and decided that it was better to err on the side of caution. So...TW: very oblique and carefully worded mention of a suicide attempt.)

I don't think it's any secret that I am a voracious reader. I read constantly. My friend Michelle has commented on more than one occasion that she, as a lifelong reader, is still amazed by the way she'll turn her back for thirty seconds, look back, and find me with my nose in a book. Since I grew up very poor, I also grew up a voracious re-reader; my favorite books were likely to be read five, ten, twenty times before I moved on, and I still go back to them. There aren't many new books added to that shelf these days—I finally have more than I can read—but when I need a friend, those favorites are always there.

When I was fourteen, I read Pamela Dean's Tam Lin for the first through fifth times.

Tam Lin is based on the ballad (which I was already enamored of, and would become obsessed with somewhere between readings three and five), but only very loosely so; it shares a structure, and not the details. It's about a girl named Janet, who loves to read, and goes to college, where she can read as much as she wants. It's about growing up and growing older and how those aren't always the same things, and it's about the things she does while she's at school, about falling in and out of love, and Shakespeare, and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and festive elephants, and pink curtains, and growing apart, and oh, right, the Queen of Faerie and the Tithe to Hell.

The main character, Janet, was everything I wanted to grow up to be. She was strong and smart and living in a world where the magic was subtle enough that I could see myself in her. She loved all the books I loved, and she wrote poetry constantly. It was because of this book that I wrote a sonnet a day every day for my entire high school career. Some of them were terrible, and some of them were just technically clean without being anything more than homework I had set for myself...but all of them taught me about word choice and meaning what you said, and they sparked a lifelong love of structured poetry.

Books were my salvation when I was a teenager (they still are, although I've gotten better about knowing how to save myself), but very few of them had real people doing things I could relate to and understand. Not like Janet. She was flawed and fallible and exactly what I needed, and better still, she gave my friends and I access to concepts like saying something when you needed help, and knowing that phrase would get you what you needed instantly, no questions asked. Because we thought we were being terribly clever, we used the phrase "pink curtains," which had been adopted for that purpose by Janet and her friends.

When I was sixteen, I decided I was done. I was out of cope. I was finished. I took myself and my favorite book (not Tam Lin, IT, by Stephen King) and went to a place and did a thing, and it was supposed to make me not have to exist anymore. And somewhere in the middle of the thing, I changed my mind. I literally started thinking about the characters in the books I loved, and how disappointed in me they would be, and how they wouldn't do this to themselves. They had more important things to do than die, and maybe so did I.

I went to a pay phone. I called a friend. I told her it was pink curtains, and she came and got me, and she did not judge, and she did not yell, and she helped me, because we had a framework for friends who would do that. That, like so much else that was good in our lives, we had learned from a book. From this book.

I still love T.S. Eliot and I still write sonnets and I went to college as a folklore major partially because I wanted to read, and study "Tam Lin," and be Janet Carter for a little while. Tam Lin influenced so much of who I grew up to be...and it helped me know that I could ask for help. So it's part of why I was able to grow up at all.

I love this book so much. I always will.

You should read it.
rosemary2
Today is the last day of September, 2013.

The first October Daye book—Rosemary and Rue—was published in September, 2009. It was not my first publication, thanks to a few anthologies that managed to speed through the publishing process (Ravens in the Library and Grant's Pass), but it was my first real sale, and it was the book that opened the door that led to those anthologies. Without Toby, I don't know that I'd be in either book, even though both were edited by friends of mine, because no one really thought of me that way. Not yet.

Since September 2009, I have published fifteen books, ranging from Toby to Velveteen. I have appeared in enough anthologies that I honestly can't tell you how many; not without counting them. I have experienced the soul-crushing terror of the Hugo Awards as viewed from the front row (which is a flavor of fear that I never truly appreciated until it was wrapping its arms around me and squeezing me tight). I have written more than a million words of fiction. Possibly more than two million words. And while I have been stressed and strained and stretched too thin, I have never lost sight of how incredibly lucky I am. I get to tell these stories. I get to see my name in bookstores, which is an honor and joy beyond compare. It's never not exciting. I hope it never will be.

Thank you. Thank you so much, for reading, for talking, for reviewing, for helping, by your very presence, because without people, there would be no publication. A book that is unread is a book that falls into obscurity, and has no sequels, and has no future.

I am very tired, but I am very grateful. The last four years have been amazing. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Now let's go steal me four more.

Tip jar is closed! And...um, wow.

average
Okay, so first off: the tip jar is closed. Any money that is randomly sent to me after this date does not go into the tip jar total. So please wait until the next time I do this, to make sure that you get the story to go with your silver, okay!

Second off, thank you to absolutely everyone who donated, thought about donating, or couldn't donate. You are all awesome.

Thirdly, the total:

$2,312

...um. I'd sort of been hoping for four hundred, but that felt greedy. So...wow. Thank you all so much, and now let's tell the people at home what they've won!

"Sweet Poison Wine" (the followup to "Married In Green") is finished, and Tara is designing the cover now. As soon as that's done, I'll send the files off for ebook conversion, and we'll be ready to post.

"The First Fall" has been added to the schedule, tentatively with a June completion. Could be sooner, as I knock other things out of the way, shouldn't be later, since Half-Off Ragnarok is due on May 1st.

"Loch and Key" has finally stabilized as a consequence of my mapping out "The First Fall," and will be going on the paid fiction list as soon as I clear "The First Fall" and can see the schedule again.

"Blocked" has been added to the schedule, tentatively with a February completion, to keep y'all from going into Antimony withdrawal.

Thank you all again, so, so much. You are amazing.

The 2013 Hugo Ballot has been announced.

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The 2013 Hugo Awards ballot has been announced, and is as follows:

Best Novel.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Tor)
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW)

Best Novella.

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Stars Do Not Lie by Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

Best Novelette.

“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)
“Fade To White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
“In Sea-Salt Tears” by Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
“Rat-Catcher” by Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)

Best Short Story.

“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, June 2012)
“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)

Note: category has 3 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.

Best Related Work.

The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature Edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge UP)
Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Sigrid Ellis (Mad Norwegian Press)
Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who Edited by Deborah Stanish & L.M. Myles (Mad Norwegian Press)
I Have an Idea for a Book... The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg Compiled by Martin H. Greenberg, edited by John Helfers (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box)
Writing Excuses Season Seven by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story.

Grandville Bête Noire written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Saga, Volume One written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).

The Avengers
The Cabin in the Woods
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hunger Games
Looper


Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).

Doctor Who: “The Angels Take Manhattan”
Doctor Who: “Asylum of the Daleks”
Doctor Who: “The Snowmen”
Fringe: “Letters of Transit"
Game of Thrones :“Blackwater”

Best Editor (Short Form).

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams

Best Editor (Long Form).

Lou Anders
Sheila Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Toni Weisskopf

Best Professional Artist.

Vincent Chong
Julie Dillon
Dan Dos Santos
Chris McGrath
John Picacio

Best Semiprozine.

Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore and Michael Damian Thomas
Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams and Stefan Rudnicki
Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Jed Hartman, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Abigail Nussbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Dave Nagdeman and Rebecca Cross

Best Fanzine.

Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
The Drink Tank edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Emma J. King, Helen J. Montgomery and Pete Young
SF Signal edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester

Best Fancast.

The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, and JP Frantz
SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

Best Fan Writer.

James Bacon
Christopher J Garcia
Mark Oshiro
Tansy Rayner Roberts
Steven H Silver

Best Fan Artist.

Galen Dara
Brad W. Foster
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Zen Cho
Max Gladstone
Mur Lafferty
Stina Leicht
Chuck Wendig

Those of you with keen eyes may have noticed my name a time or two. So here are my firsts for this year:

First woman to appear on the ballot four times in fiction categories alone.
First person to appear on the ballot five times in a single year.
First person to appear on the ballot with a purely self-published work ("In Sea-Salt Tears," Best Novelette nominee).

Here are some other fun facts: this is the first time Sheila Gilbert, my editor at DAW, or Chris McGrath, who is responsible for the October Daye covers (as well as many, many more) have appeared on the Hugo ballot. As of this year's ballot, every novella or novel-length work in the Newsflesh series has appeared on the Hugo ballot. I have essays in two of the works in Best Related Work. Urban fantasy in any form rarely makes award ballots, and I have two October Daye-universe novellas on this ballot.

Fringe is on the ballot for the first time ever this year. So is Mark Oshiro of Mark Reads, which is just amazing. The whole ballot is amazing.

I have eaten nothing but ice cream today. I have cried a lot.

I am grateful and honored and terrified and fragile and amazed, because this ballot represents the best of 2012 in a very concrete way. I see so many works there that blew my mind, and I look forward to experiencing the rest.

Thank you so much. I will try very hard not to let you down.
midnight2
There are twenty-five days remaining before the release of Midnight Blue-Light Special, the second book in the InCryptid series. I am...I'm still not quite sure that I believe it, honestly. This is such a difficult series to explain to people, because it's so silly and so serious at the same time, and I'm still a little bit in awe of the fact that I'm allowed to write it.

Thank you, thank you, to everyone who's taken a chance on this series. Thank you for looking at my pink, pink cover and my silly, silly cover blurb, and going "Sure, this is worth my time and/or dollars." Thank you for reading and reviewing and spreading the word. I honestly couldn't be here without you.

Thank you also to my agent, and to everyone at DAW Books, because let's face it, I can be a little odd sometimes, and when an author who's doing pretty well with a dark urban fantasy series says "I wanna write something with talking mice," you'd be forgiven for being a little, well, hesitant. But they didn't hesitate. They said "Seanan has done good things with strange concepts before, and they let me have my weird little world full of cryptids and blood feuds and secrets.

There are not enough thanks in the world for what I'm feeling right now.

Thank you all.

Happy birthday to my puffy girl.

alice
Four years ago today, Betsy and Dave Tinney welcomed their Wild West litter at Pinecoon Maine Coons. There were five kittens in the litter, two boys and three girls. One of the three girls was a blue classic tabby and white, whom they called "Ado Annie" as a baby-name.

Fast-forward a few weeks. I didn't go to Washington looking for a Maine Coon. I didn't want a Maine Coon. I was deeply embroiled in the search for a classic Siamese cattery that would fill my needs. Instead, I got handed a puddle of irritated blue and white fluff, and fell instantly, irrevocably in love.

Things were arranged. Discussions were had. And when Ado Annie was sixteen weeks old, her name officially became Alice, and she officially became mine.

Alice is one of the best cats I have ever had, if not the best cat I have ever had. She's sweet, loving, and affectionate, while being sassy and determined to do her own thing, regardless of my opinions on the matter. She's talkative and friendly to my guests, while retaining her natural feline arrogance. She's beautiful and healthy and I adore her beyond words.

So happy fourth birthday to Pinecoon's Alice Price-Healy Little Liddel Abernathy McGuire, the best cat I could ever hope to have.

I love my puffy girl.

Winner of the second VELVETEEN giveaway.

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First off, I just want you to know that I had to generate three random numbers to get one winner. Why? Because the first two were people volunteering to pay postage. Thank you all so much. I should be getting more author's copies soon; once they arrive, I'll see about pulling another winner out of that post.

Secondly, the winner of this copy of Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots is sylviamcivers . Sylvia, please drop me a line via my website contact page within the next twenty-four hours. If I don't hear from you inside that window, I will have to draw another winner.

Thank you again to everyone who participated, and offered to help out. Y'all are awesome.

Windycon set list.

wicked
I am home from Chicago (again), and fighting my way out from the massive piles of paperwork and detritus that built up while I was at Windycon. I had a fantastic time, and I got to rock the house with one of my favorite temporary backing bands, Dead Sexy, which consisted of Wild Mercy, the Suttons, and Dr. Mary Crowell. Seriously, I am the luckiest girl in the world.

As is the custom around here, I now present the Windycon set list, with arrangement notes. It was a great show, and our song choices went as follows:

1. "Counting Crows." (Seanan, vocals; Debbie, Brenda, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)
2. "The Sealskin and the Story and the Sky." (Seanan, vocals; Debbie, Brenda, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)
3. "How Much Salt?" (Seanan, Debbie, vocals; Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Bill, mandolin; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, percussion; Jen, bass.)
4. "Ten Years." Talis Kimberley cover. (Seanan, vocals; Barry, Bill, guitar; Mary, piano; Jen, harp; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Debbie, Sally, percussion.)
5. "Fly Little Bird." (Seanan, Barry, Debbie, Jen, Sally, vocals.)
6. "Mother of the Crows." (Seanan, vocals; Mary, piano; Bill, Barry, guitar; Sally, creepy thunder noises; Brenda, percussion.)
7. "Silent Hill." (Seanan, vocals; Mary, piano; Sally, creepy thunder noises.)
8. "Landslide." Fleetwood Mac cover. (Seanan, Mary, Brenda, Debbie, Jen, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Amy, fiddle; Mary, piano; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)
9. "Dare to Dream." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)
10. "Burn It Down." Vixy and Tony cover. (Seanan, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)
9. "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves." (Seanan, Jen, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)
10. "My Story Is Not Done." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, Barry, guitar; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Brenda, Sally, Debbie, percussion; Jen, bass.)

The bridge for "Wicked Girls":

Brenda beats bodhrans and Vixy's run off with the fairies,
And Debbie will pour you red wine pressed from sweet poisoned berries.
Jen poses riddles and Mary plays tricks,
While Sally makes music by banging with sticks,
And the rules that we live by are simple and clear...


As always: "Counting Crows," "How Much Salt?" "Mother of the Crows," "My Story Is Not Done," and "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves" are on Wicked Girls. "Silent Hill" is on Red Roses and Dead Things. "Fly Little Bird" is on Pretty Little Dead Girl (out of print).

"Ten Years" has not yet been recorded, but you should check out Talis Kimberley's latest album, Queen of Spindles. "Burn It Down" has not yet been recorded, but you should check out Vixy and Tony's latest album, Thirteen.

"The Seal Skin and the Story and the Sky" and "Dare to Dream" have not yet been recorded.

Huge thanks to the sound crew, to the Windycon filk programming department, and to all my wonderful musicians, who uplift me to a level I could never reach without them. I am honored, I am grateful, and I am going back to bed.

Happy birthday, Stephen King.

zombie
Growing up in the 1980s means that I can't remember when I first heard of Stephen King, because everyone had heard of Stephen King. I know I giggled with recognition and delight when I saw the shirt that Sean was wearing in The Monster Squad (1987). By that point, I had already seen the "Gramma" episode of The New Twilight Zone (1986), and Creepshow (1982; I didn't see the theatrical release, so you can stop freaking out about what kind of movies my family took the four-year-old to see). Stephen King was my background radiation. Bruce Banner got Gamma Rays. I got a baseball fanatic from the state of Maine.

(Had someone told me when I was eight that Stephen King loved baseball, I might have learned to give a damn about the game. Clearly, the universe missed a bet.)

The first really serious piece of writing I can remember doing was a twelve-page essay, when I was nine, explaining to my mother why she had to let me read Stephen King. It had footnotes and a bibliography. I slid it under her bedroom door; she bought me a copy of Christine from the used bookstore down the street. I had already read Cujo and Carrie illicitly, sneaking pages like other kids snuck looks at dirty magazines, but Christine was my first ALLOWED Stephen King. I devoured it. And then, like a horror-fiction-focused Pac-Man, I turned on the rest.

Stephen King, without ever knowing who I was, helped me through some of the hardest times in my life. I read IT all the way through a court case that seemed like it was going to destroy everything I loved, forever. I was nine. My grandmother bought me his new hardcovers every year for Christmas. I bought tattered paperbacks with nickels I had hidden in my pillowcase, where no one else could find them. I skipped meals to buy more books. I read them all, over and over, and I endured. He taught me that sometimes, dead is better, things change, and you own what you build. He taught me to read if I wanted to write, and to love the words, and to never be ashamed of loving whatever the hell it was I wanted to love.

In a weird way, Stephen King gave me permission for a great many things, and since those things are integral to who I grew up to be, I have to say that he, through his work, was just as big an influence on me as any other adult in my life.

He taught me you can get out.

Today is his birthday; he was born in 1947, and he's still writing today, which I appreciate greatly. I may never meet him, and that's probably a good thing, as I'm not sure I'd be able to speak English if I did. But I surely do appreciate the man.

Happy birthday, Stephen King.

Thank you.

And finally...

coyote
I am home.

I am recovered.

I am well-rested.

I am the proud owner of the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fancast.

YES. YES, I WON A FUCKING HUGO AND IT'S IN MY HOUSE AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL AND IT HAS MY NAME ON IT AND I THINK IT STARTED OUT AS CAT'S (I'M PRETTY SURE WE TRADED AT LEAST ONCE) AND I DON'T CARE BECAUSE IT'S MY HUGO!!!! I HAVE A HUGO!!!! I AM A HUGO-AWARD WINNER!!!!!!!!

...be really glad you can't see my uncoordinated geek dance. You might go blind.

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who voted. This truly means the world to me. Y'all gave me a Hugo for never shutting up.

Message received.

Dream a little dream of me.

rose marshall
Last night as I was trying to go to sleep—I'm a slow-sleep insomniac, which means that it can sometimes take me upwards of an hour to power all the way down—I found myself wondering, in that half-place that only exists when you're caught between consciousness and Neverland, whether I'm so reluctant to sleep right now because I'm half-convinced that I'm in the middle of the longest, most detailed linear dream I've ever experienced. And that one day, I'm going to open my eyes and it will be December of 2008 all over again, when I was lonely and scared and had no idea what I was going to do about my future.

Anxiety and mild "my series is over, what do I do now" depression aside, I sometimes look at my life and I'm just staggered by the unlikeliness of it all. I had a book come out on Tuesday. Tomorrow, I'm leaving for Disneyland with my mother, my sister, and my best friend. I have cats that can be charitably called large, and uncharitably called props from a horror movie. I have a movie option. I'm reprinting my fourth album, because it's almost sold out. I have some of the most amazing, interesting, articulate friends and fans and readers in the world. I have an agent who, frankly, could not be more perfect for me if I had been allowed to design my own agent in a lab.

Even the little details are too good to be true. There's an immensely popular line of fashion dolls modeled on famous monsters; Fringe got renewed; Doctor Who is back on the air; the X-Men are awesome again; James Gunn has a video game about a chainsaw-wielding blonde cheerleader who fights zombies with high kicks and snark. Basically, it's like the universe has been rearranging itself to suit my deepest desires, and if not everything is perfect, that's because too much perfection is unbelievable. The world is trying to add veracity to my dream.

This is why I don't like to sleep very much.

I'm too afraid of waking up.

When will you rise?

blackout
Blackout is on store shelves today. After more than six years of work, and after three years of publication dates, the trilogy is over.

I may have seemed a little quiet lately. That's honestly because I'm sort of in shock. I just can't believe it's over. I've been living with these people for so long that knowing that their book is closed is just...it's stunning. It's difficult to wrap my head around.

It's finished.

When I finished Feed, it was the best thing I had ever written, and I truly believe that writing it is what enabled me to grow enough as an author to become publication-ready (the final revision of Rosemary and Rue happened after the first draft of Feed). Each subsequent book has stolen that title from its predecessor. I am proud of these books. I am amazed by them. And no, I am not ashamed to say that. It's my book-day. I get to be proud.

This trilogy has earned me two Hugo nominations (three, if you count "Countdown"), a place on the Publishers Weekly Best Books list, and so much more. It has brought me into contact with amazing people from around the world. It has allowed me to indulge my passion for viruses and pandemic preparedness without freaking people out (too much). It has changed my life forever, and I am so grateful, and I am so pleased that you have all been here with me.

I'll open the discussion thread for Blackout tomorrow or Thursday, after more people have had time to finish the book; please, no spoilers here. But...thank you.

Thank you all so much, forever.

Rise up while you can.

When the music stops, the rest is silence.

rose marshall
I've spoken before about how much I read, and about how much I seek for representation in fiction, both for myself, and for the sake of the people that I care about. How much it hurts when you're the token, or invisible, or the person that doesn't exist. How hard it is to accept that somehow, often through no fault of your own, you're the sort of person who doesn't get to be the star of stories, or even a major supporting character. And about how wonderful it is when that somehow, against all odds, you open a book and see yourself, or your friends.

Yesterday, I read Silence, by Michelle Sagara. She's a fellow DAW author, a sweet, smart lady, and an all-around neat person whom I adore both personally and professionally. But before yesterday, I have never wanted to hug her for an hour and thank her forever.

Silence is a solid, interestingly-told YA novel that seems, superficially, to be just another wave in the current flood of YA supernatural. Being a wave isn't bad; I write urban fantasy, I am basically sponsoring a surfing competition. But there's something wonderful about diving into a wave and discovering infinitely more.

Emma, our protagonist, talks to dead people. She has several close female friends, including Allison, who would be a stereotypical geek in some stories, and Amy, who would be just as stereotypically a mean girl. Yet they work, and they make sense, because they are genuinely written as people. It's not presented as criminal to be smart, or to be pretty: it's just who you are. Emma's greatest asset is her niceness, a genuine generosity of spirit that is so very rare in heroines today. She reminded me of Vixy, and that's about the highest praise I have.

But really, where this book won me, and why I recommend it so readily, was when we met Michael. Michael, who is a high-functioning autistic who has been going to school with Emma and the others since kindergarten. Michael, who is in advanced math and science classes and doing just fine, thank you. Michael, whose friends care about him and look out for him, and who value his friendship and his place in their lives. He is presented with limitations, but so is every other character in the book. He's presented as a person, and for that alone, I will love Michelle forever.

Read Silence. Read it because it's awesome, and read it because any author who includes a complex, well-written, believable, believably autistic central character deserves our applause, and book sales are the best form of clapped hands, for an author.

My hat is off to her.

A few quick followup comments.

knives
Pre-ordering books.

I've seen some people going "Oh, no, I pre-ordered! I'm sorry!" and variants on this theme. I want to state, for the record, that pre-orders are awesome. Pre-orders are the rainbow sprinkles on the delicious sundae of a new book: not always necessary, but always an improvement. Pre-orders tell bookstores that there is a demand for something, and can increase initial on-shelf orders. They also tell publishers how many copies of a physical book are likely to be needed. Pre-orders rule.

The issue here is not pre-orders: it's that some retailers started releasing books early. Normally, your pre-orders do count against week one sales, because normally, that's when the pre-orders are charged and delivered. In this case, due to no fault of my publisher or anyone who ordered a copy ahead of release, those pre-orders will be counted two weeks ahead of week one. My sales for week -2 are going to be awesome!

Calculating bestseller lists.

I want to say this plainly: all sales count. Period. If you buy a book, your sale is counted. That said, not all sales count for purposes of making bestseller lists, because those lists are snapshots of certain measures of time. In the case of the NYT list, it's calculated on a weekly basis, and a new book's best shot (not only, but best) of making the list is week one, when all the pre-orders are delivered and all the bookstores have the book on their "new releases" shelf.

Not making this list doesn't mean your book is a failure. I'm pretty sure Feed is my best, steadiest selling book, but it didn't make the NYT. It's simply continued to sell, week after week, and that demonstrates good long-term health for both book and author. But that's long-term. In the short-term, making the list is a good way for publishers to know that they have something worth holding onto. That's why authors hope to make it; because they want that position of "see? People like me" to support them when they try to sell the sequel.

Early sales are still counted against your overall "my book sold this many copies." They just don't count against snapshots of release week.

My publisher is awesome.

My publisher rules. They did not release my book early; some online retailers did that. They are not dropping me if I don't make any bestseller lists; they've already bought the second InCryptid book, and the next two Toby books. I worry about my sales partially because I want my publisher to be happy with me, and partially because I want to be able to sell them the next three books in both my series, but also because I love them and want them to benefit from everything they've done for me.

To recap: DAW rules, DAW did nothing wrong, DAW is standing with me, DAW is very annoyed about people calling me names.

You are awesome.

All the support and kind words have been just amazing. Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate it.

I feel a little better because you're here.
discount
As of today, it is ninety-nine days to the release of Discount Armageddon. This is the first book in the InCryptid series; it's my first new series since 2010 (and wow, does that feel like a weird thing to say). It's the introduction to my huge, crazy, wonderful family of cryptozoologists and happy eccentrics, who think that taxidermy and talking mice are perfectly normal things to have around the house.

I am excited. I am terrified.

See, when A Local Habitation came out, some people compared it to the latest Dresden files book and said that Toby lacked the emotional resonance of Harry Dresden. This was sort of understandable, given that I had two books to build my character, and Butcher had like eleven, but it also awoke in me a deep existential dread. Which is now back, full-force, since following One Salt Sea with the start of a new series is a really good way to invoke that same critique. I don't borrow trouble. I rent it, and yes, I am an insecure blonde sometimes.

I am also mad happy, because I love this series so much, and I love this family so much, and I'm writing nine books to make you care enough to let me write book ten, Spelunking Through Hell: A Visitor's Guide to the Underworld and have you really really care and WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT. You know I was an alien pod plant when you picked me up.

While I'm loving on things, I love my cover (and so do some other people, which is mad awesome, much like the cover itself). I love my subject matter experts. I love my Machete Squad. I love my publisher. I love my editor. I love The Agent. And I love everyone who has been involved, no matter how tangentially, in making this series a reality. It's had a long, weird genesis, and I am excited beyond words.

It's gonna be a book.

Thank you.

me
I am thankful for the turkey that is in my oven right now (and for my mother helping me pick the damn thing up; it turns out I can't dead-lift thirty pounds of flesh). I am thankful to be able to afford an oven, and a kitchen, and a turkey. A lot of people can't. There have been times in my life where I couldn't. So I am so, so grateful.

I am thankful to my agent for believing in me, and for defending me, and for making sure that my work is as respectfully treated as possible. Not everyone believes in agents, and I get that, but mine is one of my greatest champions. She's also my friend. I am so lucky in that. She works hard for me, and I work hard for her.

I am thankful for my friends. I grew up with this weird child of the 1980s idea that friendship really was the greatest magic of them all, and it would heal everything, and your friends would never leave you. And somehow, as an adult, I have managed to make that true. I am thankful for the people who share my life, and let me share theirs.

I am thankful to my publishers for giving my stories good homes, and helping me get them out into the world. I spent literally years trying to claw these characters into the world, and having it come true has been the most incredible dream of all. I have never been so lucky, or so happy, or so blessed.

I am thankful for my cats, insane bundles of neurotic fluff that they are. And yes, that means I'm even thankful when they pounce on my face demanding snuggles at five o'clock in the morning.

I am thankful for all of you. Thank you for being here, for reading this blog, for reading my books and silly stories, and for letting me be a part of your worlds. It's amazing. You're amazing.

Thank you.

Tags:

Conclave set lists!

one salt sea
It's been a week since my guest slot at Conclave—how time does fly!—and I'm almost back to a state of semi-normal. Michigan was beautiful, and filled with cornfields, which is always a good way to endear yourself to me. (Also endearing: the number of truly awesome meals I was taken for during the convention. I usually under-eat at cons, resulting in low blood sugar and a look of puzzled misery. This con had the opposite problem, resulting in the strong desire to take a nice long nap.) This means that it's time to post the set list for my concert, accompanied with lyric links and helpful notations. My backing band was the truly awesome Wild Mercy, plus the lovely Dr. Mary Crowell. I am a very lucky girl.

I am so grateful to have been Conclave's Literary Guest of Honor. It was, to repeat myself a bit, a true honor, and I couldn't have had a better time. The Conclave set list, with arrangement* notes, was as follows:

1. "Counting Crows." (Seanan, vocals; Barry Childs-Helton, guitar; Sally Childs-Helton, drums; Jennifer Midkiff, bass; Debbie Gates, piano; Amy McNally, fiddle.)
2. "The Sealskin and the Story and the Sky." (Seanan, vocals; Barry, guitar; Sally, bodhran; Jennifer, harp; Dr. Mary Crowell, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
3. "How Much Salt?" (Seanan, Debbie, vocals; Barry, guitar; Sally, drums; Amy, fiddle; Mary, piano.)
4. "Take Advantage." (Seanan, vocals; Debbie, Jen, backing vocals; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Jen, harp; Barry, guitar; Sally, drums.)
5. "Build A Chain." (Seanan, vocals; Debbie, Jen, backing vocals; Debbie, piano; Amy, fiddle; Jen, harp; Barry, guitar; Sally, drums.)

BONUS: "The Ghost of Lilly Kane." (Seanan, vocals; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)

6. "Jack's Place." (Seanan, vocals; Debbie, Jen, backing vocals; Debbie, piano; Amy, fiddle; Jen, harp; Barry, guitar; Sally, drums.)
7. "Fly Little Bird." (Seanan, Barry, Sally, Debbie, Jen, Amy, vocals.)
8. "Still Catch the Tide" (Talis Kimberley cover). (Seanan, vocals; Barry, guitar; Sally, drums; Debbie, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle; Jen, harp.)
9. "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves." (Seanan, Jen, vocals; Barry, guitar; Sally, bodhran; Debbie, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
10. "My Story Is Not Done." (Seanan, vocals; Barry, guitar; Sally, drums; Jen, harp; Debbie, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)

The bridge for "Wicked Girls" was standard, except for...

"Marnie serves scotches, and Mary plays tricks,
While Amy calls music from wires and sticks,
And the rules that we live by are simple and clear..."

As always: "Counting Crows," "How Much Salt?," "Jack's Place," "The Ghost of Lilly Kane," "My Story Is Not Done," and "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves" are on Wicked Girls. "Take Advantage," and "Still Catch the Tide" are on Stars Fall Home (out of print). "Fly Little Bird" is on Pretty Little Dead Girl.

"The Seal Skin and the Story and the Sky" and "Build a Chain" have not yet been recorded.

Again, I am so very grateful to the Conclave concom for having me. I had a wonderful time, and I can't wait to go back.

(*It was a big band and a lot of skin-of-our-teeth arrangement, so I may get some of my instrumentation notes wrong. I will fix if this is pointed out to me, and mean absolutely no offense of any kind. I am simply a frazzled blonde.)

Proofer spotlight: Lauren and Priscilla.

editing
Wow, it's been a while since we've had one of these, hasn't it? The proofer spotlight is my way of publicly of thanking the tireless workers in the Machete Squad, who go through endless reams of bad prose and bizarre typos so that you won't have to. Seriously. I would have a lot more problems on the publisher end if I didn't travel with a trained squad of comma-killing, modifier-munching bad-asses. Hail to the Machete Squad!

It used to be a lot easier to get new proofreaders, because I didn't need to find people with the time, appropriate skill set, interest, and proven ability to keep their mouths shut until publication. I could literally just throw thirty people at a project, let them winnow themselves out, and keep whoever survived. Now I need to practice care and...gulp...discretion. But once in a while, someone new comes along.*

Enter Lauren and Priscilla.

Lauren has an amazing eye for time. She actually catches flow and logical progression in a way that none of the other currently active Machete Squad members tends to manage, which makes her invaluable to our cause. She also does line edits and presents herself with a dry, entertaining wit (I like funny in my critique). She's worked on Blackout, One Salt Sea, and Ashes of Honor, and she's amazing.

Priscilla is great with dialogue, flow, and detail work. She's one of my Manhattan-area subject matter experts, which is good; she's also a keen eye applied to general editorial matters, which is great. She's fun, she's funny, she's accessible, and she's enthusiastic, which is not something to be overlooked in measuring the value of a proofreader. She's worked on Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special.

And those are my newest proofers. Look upon their works, oh ye mighty, and rejoice!

(*Please do not comment here volunteering to read for me. I just wind up feeling awkward when I have to turn you down. I don't solicit readers in public, and I don't currently have any openings in need of filling. Thanks for understanding.)
blackout
Newsflesh trilogy, final stats.

Start date: September 4th, 2005.
End date: September 2nd, 2011.

Volumes: Three.
Words: 455,814.
Pages: An awful lot.

...so yeah. That happened.

Last night, at approximately 9:15PM, I finished processing the last of the editorial changes to Blackout, and kicked the manuscript off to The Agent for a final typo check. She kicked it back to me this morning, and at approximately 5:21AM, I finished correcting the last of the grammatical and typographical errors. The book is back with her for a final final check, and then it's off to The Other Editor, to begin the process of transforming into something you can read.

It's over.

I have other things to do in this universe, other stories to tell and to enjoy telling, but this story, this trilogy...it's over. I am finished with the Masons. Their tale is done.

I've never finished anything like this before. I feel a little numb and a little scalded and a little overwhelmed, all at once.

Thank you. Thank you to everyone who's read these books, recommended these books, loved these books, hated these books, or interacted with them in any way. Thank you to Michael and Amanda, Kate and GP, Spider and Steve, Alan and Jude, Brooke and Vixy and Bill and Mike and Rae and Sunil and Amy and Cat and...and...and everyone. Just thank you.

Thank you for helping me tell this story. I never could have done it on my own.

Alive or dead, the truth won't rest. Thank you for helping me to rise up while I could.
feed
I am...honored and delighted and a little stunned to announce that Feed, written under the name "Mira Grant," has been nominated for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The award will be given this August, at Renovation, the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Reno, Nevada.

Yeah.

I've been nominated for a Hugo.

And yeah, I cried.

This is such an honor. This is...this is one of those things I never expected, that I get to have for the rest of my life. "I was nominated for a Hugo Award." Winning would be awesome, but in a way, it's icing on an already delicious cake, because I was nominated. Out of everything published in 2010, enough people said "Feed was the best" that I made the ballot. Me, and four other people, out of all the books there were.

I am honored and stunned and delighted and terrified, and it's something I've dreamed of literally since I found out Ray Bradbury had a Hugo Award, so I must have been, like, eight. And now my name is on that ballot.

When will I Rise? I don't think I could Rise any higher than I am right now.

Thank you all so much.

Nothing says "love" like a filk song.

wicked
I am a filker.

It's an absolute statement of identity; it's been applicable for pretty much my entire life, even if I've only known what it meant since sometime in high school. I filk. I listen to filk. I love filk. It's a passionate, welcoming, supportive community of brilliant, talented, creative people, and I'm proud to call it one of my many homes.

For a long time, if you'd asked me who I wanted to grow up to be, as a lyricist, my answer would have been catsittingstill . Her melodies are delicate and complex, her lyrics are perfectly considered, and as the many people who had to listen to me wandering around singing "Annie" can testify, when her songs tell a story, it sticks with you.

All of which comes as background for why I screamed like a little girl when I found out she'd written songs about my books. Cat wrote songs about my books!!! That's like fulfilling one of the hidden win conditions of life!

The first, "Mayday," is about everyone's favorite Fetch (just ask her).

The second, "Oak and Ash and Rowan and Thorn," is a beautiful post-LE contemplation of events going all the way back to the first book (and was sung by Vixy at the book release party, for those of you who made it).

I win at life.

Squee.

Happy anniversary to my personal superhero.

me
I am asked, with reasonable frequency these days, "Which do you recommend getting first, an agent or a book contract?" Because I, like everyone else, speak only from a place of my own experiences, I always answer, "An agent. They'll know what the hell they're doing."

Every aspiring author I've ever met has wanted an agent like a little girl wants a pony (in my case, like a little girl wants a bat-winged vampire pony that can fly and also devour the kids who liked to beat me up on the playground). Having an agent is like having a Loch Ness Monster of your very own, one that you can saddle up and use to shock and amaze your enemies as you ride it into glorious battle against Godzilla and the Easter Bunny. Having an agent will transform your life from an abyss of despair into a happy cartoon wonderland full of sunshine and zombie puppies. And sure, we understand that might not be quite true, but we all just know that the right agent will make everything okay, forever.

For a long time, I thought that the right agent for me didn't exist. That getting an agent would be sort of like getting a job: necessary, important, even pleasant at times, but still going to require me to swear less, brush my hair more, and wear uncomfortable shoes. I was willing to do these things, if I had to, but in my heart, I still wanted a bat-winged vampire pony to negotiate my contracts and strike down my enemies in my name. Because I am a simple soul.

Almost four years ago now, a friend of mine decided to introduce me a friend of hers, one who happened to be a working literary agent, looking for clients. The Agent and I exchanged some emails, going slow, navigating the wilds of acquaintance and understanding long before we reached the point where representation would become an option. It was a courtship, rather than a barroom hookup, and I am incredibly grateful for that, because anybody who's met me knows that my full attention can be an exhausting thing. She gets my full attention a lot.

Three years ago today, she asked if I wanted her to represent me. If I'd said "Yes!" any faster, I would have violated temporal causality.

The past three years have been amazing. They have been filled with firsts, seconds, thirds, and hundreds of wonderful, confusing, incredible things, and The Agent has been there every step along the way to explain, encourage, and assist. I call her my personal superhero for a reason—that's exactly what she is. Books on writing will tell you that the best thing a working writer can have is a good agent, and they're right, but what they won't tell you is that it's even better to have a good agent who understand you, understands the way you work, and is willing to see what you can do together.

So here's a happy, happy anniversary to my personal superhero, to the woman who helps me understand the business side of my chosen career, and to the only person ever to respond to my description of The Worst Book I've Ever Read by asking me to send it to them. Happy anniversary. Let's have ten more of these.

GaFilk set list.

princess
I am home from Georgia and Massachusetts! I am no longer stranded in the snowy South or New England! This is awesome. Also awesome: the traditional posting of the set list from my most recent filk convention, accompanied with lyric links and helpful notations. My backing band was a little unusual, since it was assembled at the Absolute Last Minute, with lots of awesome people stepping up to make sure that my guest of honor concert wasn't a total disaster. Big, big thanks to Dr. Mary Crowell, Amy McNally, Bill and Brenda Sutton, Dave Rood, and Jodi Krangle, for saving my bacon.

I am so grateful to have been GaFilk's Guest of Honor. It was, to repeat myself a bit, a true honor, and I couldn't have had a better time. The GaFilk set list, with arrangement* notes, was as follows:

1. "The Sealskin and the Story and the Sky." (Seanan McGuire, vocals; Bill Sutton, guitar; Brenda Sutton, bodhran; Dave Rood, bass; Dr. Mary Crowell, piano; Amy McNally, fiddle.)
2. "Counting Crows." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, bodhran; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
3. "Mama Said." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, coconut shells; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
4. "Mother of the Crows." (Seanan, vocals; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
5. "Still Catch the Tide" (Talis Kimberley cover). (Seanan, vocals; Jodi Krangle, backing vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, bodhran; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
6. "The Ghost of Lilly Kane." (Seanan, vocals; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
7. "Dear Gina." (Seanan, Katie vocals; Mary, piano, creepy demon vocals; Amy, fiddle.)
8. "Silent Hill." (Seanan, vocals; Mary, piano.)
9. "Dare to Dream." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, bodhran; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
10. "Evil Laugh." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, dinosaur shaker; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, Merav, backing vocals.)
11. "Burn It Down" (Vixy & Tony cover). (Seanan, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, bodhran; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
12. "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves." (Seanan, Jodi, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, bodhran; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)
13. "My Story Is Not Done." (Seanan, vocals; Bill, guitar; Brenda, bodhran; Dave, bass; Mary, piano; Amy, fiddle.)

The bridge for "Wicked Girls" was...

"Now Brenda beats bodhrans, and Vixy's run off with the fairies,
And Deborah will pour you red wine pressed from sweet poisoned berries.
Autumn signs secrets, and Amy plays tricks,
While Sunnie calls music from wires and sticks,
And the rules that we live by are simple and clear..."

As always: "Counting Crows," "Mama Said," "Mother of the Crows," "The Ghost of Lilly Kane," "My Story Is Not Done," and "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves" are on Wicked Girls. "Evil Laugh," and "Still Catch the Tide" are on Stars Fall Home (out of print). "Dear Gina" and "Silent Hill" are on Red Roses and Dead Things.

Again, I am so very grateful to the GaFilk concom for having me. I had a wonderful time, and I can't wait to go back.

(*Dave Rood was actually moving around behind me quite a lot, so if I accidentally left him off something, or added him to something incorrectly, please let me know. Assuming you know. Which you may not.)

Let me tell you about Rose Marshall...

rose marshall
Let me tell you about Rose Marshall—
Might be the last thing you’ll ever see.
They say some stories will never die,
Well, she died back in fifty-three,
Kept her prom night date with the cemetery.


—"Pretty Little Dead Girl."

"Have you ever heard the story of the woman at the diner?"

—Rose Marshall, "Good Girls Go to Heaven."

Sparrow Hill Road is finished now. Twelve stories, twelve stops along a single stretch of highway. We didn't blow a tire or take any unexpected detours along the way, and that's good. And now here we are, and it's time to get out and stretch our legs, at least for a little while. The first part of the story's done.

I knew when I agreed to do Sparrow Hill that it was going to be a one-year commitment. Not only was I not sure how much of the story I'd be able to get through in a year—there was a very real chance that I'd finish the setting completely, leaving nothing untold—but I knew that 2011 would be extremely busy, which would make agreeing to a two-year tenure suicidal for me, and dangerous for Jennifer. A year looked just about perfect. That didn't stop it from being nerve-wracking at times. A few of the stories were turned in just as the ragged edge of my deadline was approaching, and the schedule I was on didn't really give me time to say "you know what? This story needs to be benched, let's do something else." But I never missed a deadline, and I never turned in a story I thought was bad. I can look back on the year with a sort of smug pride. I did that. I turned in one complete narrative a month, every month, for a year. And now I'm finished.

If you know me through filk, you may have met Rose as far back as 2004, when I wrote the song "Pretty Little Dead Girl," although most people didn't "meet" her until I was the OVFF Toastmistress in 2005, and did the song, along with my Rosettes, in a bright pink prom dress on the convention's main stage. I went on to write a bunch of songs about Rose, showing different sides of her story. I always knew I wanted to write the "what really happened" version, eventually, but it seemed too complex for lyrics.

Then Jennifer asked if I wanted to be one of the 2010 Universe Authors, and everything started falling together.

Sparrow Hill Road was challenging, exciting, and complicated in a way that neither novels nor short stories tend to be complicated. It was, essentially, my Green Mile: a serial novel told in strange installments. And like The Green Mile, I'm planning to revise it, turn it into a coherent whole, and see about finding a publisher. But that's going to need to wait a little while.

My big, big thanks go to Jennifer, for being the best editor I could have had on this crazy project; Amber, for taking amazing pictures; Torrey, for being Rose Marshall (and doing a bang-up job of it); Vixy, Amy, Brooke, Kate, Rebecca, and others, for editorial, copy-edits, and letting me talk things through with them; and Phil, always Phil, without whom none of this would have happened.

It was a good ride. It's over now, and there were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys I sent away, but it was a good ride.

Thank you for taking it with me.
marilyn
Last year, kodykeplinger declared December 11th to be Agent Appreciation Day, a holiday devoted to the adoration of every writer's personal superhero. Since December 11th fell on a Saturday this year, I've bumped my observation of this holiest of days to today, when there's a little more chance of my sitting still long enough to say "thank you."

It remains true that every day is Agent Appreciation Day at my house, except maybe for the days where I want to have a Doctor Who marathon instead of making my deadlines, and only the fear of The Agent's wrath keeps me at my keyboard. It's still nice to have an excuse to say, in public, "I appreciate this woman, and everything that she does for me." So today, I appreciate The Agent. Great Pumpkin knows, she deserves a little appreciation every once in a while.

Why are writers so protective of their agents? Because we are. Even when we're mad at them for not answering our phone calls/not thinking that a paranormal romance about steampunk space pirates with a super-evolved pod person as the heroine will sell/not understanding why it's so important that we spend a weekend dressed as Emma Frost and falling off our shoes, instead of making our deadlines, we're protective.

There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, we're frequently protecting them from total strangers going "will you introduce me to your agent?" (My answer, by the way, is generally not positive, and on the rare occasions where I offer to introduce someone to The Agent, she gets an email from me warning of the pending introduction. So emailing her cold, saying I sent you, doesn't actually work.) We're not trying to be nasty, and we're not trying to say "no, you can't join our special club." But we're also not going to sneak people we don't know through the back door, past the rest of the pending submissions. We are not magical doors to representation, and because our agents will often feel obligated to look at any real referrals, we try very hard not to be too extravagant with who we send their way.

Two, our agents are the people who take care of us. I mean, as protective as most authors are of their agents, our agents are ten times moreso. They're the ones who understand the weird little clauses in our contracts, tell us when interesting opportunities open up, and keep us from being eaten alive by our editors. When there's a problem, the agent fixes it. (That goes for problems on both sides. If I get behind on my word count, The Agent will probably be poking me about my deadline before either The Editor or The Other Editor. Because that's her job.) Since our agents take care of us, we feel a little obligated to do the same for them, at least to the best of our abilities.

Does this mean we don't want to share our agents? Hell, no. I want The Agent to sign twenty people who become New York Times best-selling authors and get six figure contracts and can afford their own diamond-plated ponies, because then she'd be able to eventually afford an island, and she'd probably let me genetically engineer dinosaurs as long as I kept meeting my deadlines. An agent is only as successful as their client list, and the more really successful clients an agent has, the more not-so-successful but-oh-so-wonderful clients they can afford to keep working with. It turns into a delicate balancing act that I'm really glad I don't have to perform.

I once heard somebody say that we don't work for our agents, they work for us, and so the submissions process shouldn't seem so much like a job interview. I view it as more like the relationship between a householder and their butler. A good butler is for life, and that's not a contract to be entered into lightly. If the butler can't like you, then they can't work for you, and you wouldn't want them to. My agent works for me. I also work for my agent, just like most people would agree that Bruce Wayne works for Alfred as much as Alfred works for Bruce Wayne. And because they have that relationship, he gets to go out every night and be Batman.

Why do I appreciate my personal superhero?

Because she lets me be a superhero, too.
princess
You guys.

This is so hard to write. I've literally started this post eight times, and deleted it every time, and started over, trying to find the words I want. Words are usually something that I find pretty easy—sometimes too easy, as my tendency to never shut the hell up can testify. Not right now. Right now, the words are very hard. So very hard.

I spent most of this year's WorldCon in a cheerful fugue state, throwing myself into things as hard as I could in order to keep from thinking about the Hugo Awards. Jeanne, Cat, Rob, Liz, Paul, Mondy, Jay, Shannon, John, seriously, thank you so much, because if you hadn't been there, I would probably have spontaneously combusted. As it was, it was occasionally difficult not to ask how people could be so damn calm when the votes were in and there was nothing we could do and why couldn't we just know already?

Sunday, Jeanne, Gretchen, and I descended on Cat's hotel room to get ready for the Hugos. Cat met us at the door, and ordered me to close my eyes. I am a trusting blonde; I closed my eyes. She led me into the main room, and let me open my eyes, to find myself facing a bed covered in tiaras. Covered in tiaras. "Because," she said, "your friends wanted to be sure that no matter what, you went home with a tiara."

You guys.

I love you so much.

Susan came to do our hair. We put on dresses and makeup and nail polish and smiles, like nothing about the night mattered...and to a degree, right then, it didn't. We sang along to "Firebird's Child" and "Ship Full of Monsters," and the Night Kitchen in Seattle filled with people watching the live feed and sending all their love across the sea. We were together, and the world was full of magic, and we went to the reception and drank free champagne and had people tell us how amazing we looked, and it was amazing. (Cat and I managed, totally accidentally, to acquire dresses in basically the same colors. I felt like I should have brought her a corsage.)

Then we went to the actual award ceremony. Cat and I sat in the second row; Gretchen and Jeanne sat right behind us. The order of the evening was "opening speech, video presentation, First Fandom Award, Big Heart Award, Campbell Award." Jay Lake and John Scalzi presented the Campbell. They took the stage together, and explained the tiara, and read the nominees, and I clutched Cat's hand like the audience was an ocean and I was going to go under. Kathryn Daugherty came out, holding the award, name turned toward her so no one could see it. John opened the envelope.

"And the winner of this year's John W. Campbell Award for best new writer is..."

And they said my name.

And I sat there, because the room was spinning and I could taste sounds and they couldn't mean me. And Cat pushed me to my feet, and everyone was clapping, and I walked to the stage while the Buffy: the Vampire Slayer theme played and the room spun and tears made everything blurry, and I just said "Oh my God" over and over again, because there was nothing else in the whole world that I could say. And Kathryn gave me the plaque, and John and Jay gave me hugs, and they put the tiara on my head, and you guys...oh, you guys...

I am the Princess of the Kingdom of Poison and Flame. I am the 2010 Campbell Award winner. I am the first urban fantasist to win the Campbell Award. Because they said my name.

I will be more coherent soon. I will write about my acceptance speech soon. I will stop gasping a little every time I see the tiara soon. But oh, you guys.

I won.

One year since the Rising.

feed
A year ago, I sat in my hotel room at Duckon and listened as The Agent walked back and forth, negotiating contract terms on her cell phone. It was an amazing process, frightening and enlightening and elating and terrifying and wonderful. And at the end of it, we had a verbal agreement with Orbit/Orbit UK to purchase the Newsflesh Trilogy (Feed, Deadline, Blackout) under the pseudonym "Mira Grant."

Since that day, I have launched a new website (www.miragrant.com), written the second book in the series, argued the logic of my zombies with a hundred people, and, best of all, seen the publication of Feed in the United States and United Kingdom, made available in virtual form, released as an audio book...and this is all just the beginning. Other languages, other volumes, other miracles, other outbreaks, they're all ahead of us.

It's amazing. It's just amazing. This last year has been such a wonderful adventure, and such an incredible education. I couldn't be more grateful, or more amazed. I've worked so long and so hard, and it seems a little, well...

It's all just a little unreal.

Thank you to everyone who's been here throughout this adventure. Thanks to The Agent, for making it happen; to Amy, for tolerating my crazy during the process of the contract negotiations; to David and Michelle, for all their amazing support; to Rae, for, well, everything; to Mars, for keeping the politics from becoming too much of the pie; to Chris and Tara, for my website; to Steve and Spider, for phone tech-checks; to Brooke, for the medical details.

Thank you to everyone for reading. Hasn't this been an amazing year? And there are two more to come. It's just amazing.

It was DAW or die, and we chose DAW.

alh
Two years ago today, I got out of bed (way too early), put on clothes (because nudity is frowned upon on public transit), and went to work. I don't usually remember what I was wearing on any given day, but this one, I do: jeans, bright yellow tank top, pink-and-yellow Chimera Fancies pendant that reads "fairy changeling this is all a dream." It was an ordinary start to what seemed likely to be an ordinary day.

Two years ago today, The Agent was shopping the Toby Daye books, trying to find just the right house for my debut series. I mean, really, we knew what Just The Right House was: DAW Books. It was the very first publisher we'd been in contact with, after being referred there by one of their existing authors. They had exactly the right sort of atmosphere, and they'd published a lot of books I've really loved. I wanted to work with these people. All I could do was hope that they wanted to work with me.

Two years ago today, my phone rang. Caller ID said that it was The Agent—that's actually what her number is saved as in my phone book, because I am sometimes a little bit bizarre about such things—so I excused myself to take the call.

The Agent said three words to me. "We got DAW."

This was followed by a lot of other information about contracts and money and publishing schedules and blah blah blah fishcakes, because I had really checked out completely. Out of the conversation, out of body, out to lunch, buh-bye. I made all the appropriate noises of assent, and managed to sound like I wasn't crying, because years of fake-it-til-you-make-it has made me really, really good at that sort of thing. (Severe back injury plus chronic pain issues plus "suck it up" equals I can sound perky and happy about my situation while being consumed from the toes up by a giant snake. It's awesome. Also sort of bad, because my automatic response to trauma is frequently "gosh, what fun.")

Eventually, the call ended. I went outside. I called Vixy. I made horrible shrieky bat-noises, causing dogs all around San Francisco to bark themselves hoarse, run in circles, and slam into trees. Pigeons lost the ability to fly and splattered down on the pavement like really disturbing rain. Vixy, upon determining that I was shrieky with joy, not distress, made suitable noises until I calmed down enough to tell her what was going on. Then she started shrieking, too. It was a shrieky day.

Two years ago today, I sold the first three Toby books. Today, I have three framed cover illustrations on my living room walls, and five framed covers hanging scattered through the rest of my house. I have books on the shelf with my name on them, and published reviews in places like Locus and the Onion A.V. Club. I have a contract for two more Toby books after those first three, and my fingers crossed for more after that.

Two years ago today.

Wow.

Happy anniversary to my personal superhero.

me
One of the answers you'll almost always get when you ask an aspiring author what they need to do to further their career is "I need to get an agent." Having an agent is like having a magical unicorn that lays golden eggs, craps rainbows, and grants wishes following you around making your life awesome. Having an agent will transform your life from an abyss of despair into a happy cartoon wonderland full of sunshine and zombie puppies. And sure, we understand that might not be quite true, but we all just know that the right agent will make everything okay, forever.

My agent is not a magical unicorn, but there are aspects of the "I want an agent" dream list that actually work in the real world. I mean, it's an agent's job to understand the business side of the publishing world, partially So You Don't Have To, and partially because Holy Crap, That's Complicated. Also, getting good enough to get an agent is a sign that you've worked pretty hard, and you're pretty dedicated to this "writing" concept. It's possible for really good writers to make it without an agent. It's actually harder for really bad writers to get an agent in the first place. (To all those agents I applied to when I was a teenager: I'm sorry you had to read that. Thank you for being so nice about it.)

Almost three years ago now, a friend of mine decided to introduce me a friend of hers, one who happened to be a working literary agent, looking for clients. The Agent and I exchanged some emails, going slow, navigating the wilds of acquaintance and understanding long before we reached the point where representation would become an option. It was a courtship, rather than a barroom hookup, and I am incredibly grateful for that, because anybody who's met me knows that my full attention can be an exhausting thing. She gets my full attention a lot.

Two years ago today, she asked if I wanted her to represent me. I said "are you crazy?"

The past two years have been amazing. They have been filled with firsts, seconds, wonderful, confusing, incredible things, and The Agent has been there every step along the way to explain, encourage, and assist. I call her my personal superhero for a reason—that's exactly what she is. Books on writing will tell you that the best thing a working writer can have is a good agent, and they're right, but what they won't tell you is that it's even better to have a good agent who understand you, understands the way you work, and is willing to see what you can do together.

So here's a happy, happy anniversary to my personal superhero, to the woman who helps me understand the business side of my chosen career, and to the only person ever to respond to my description of The Worst Book I've Ever Read by asking me to send it to them. Happy anniversary. Let's have ten more of these.

In which the Circus comes to town.

wicked
This past Tuesday was my second book release party at San Francisco's own Borderlands Books. The folks at Borderlands are learning to believe me when I say things like "and I'm bringing a snake pit and an elephant and six dozen elvish acrobats," because, well, it's safer than the doubtful alternative. So when I said "I'm bringing Amy 'oh hai I am melting your face off with my AWESOME FIDDLING' McNally, Tricky Pixie*, and my usual cast of thousands, they believed me, and made space accordingly. This is because the crew at Borderlands is awesome.

The party was scheduled to run from five to nine, and they were kind enough to keep the bookstore, which normally closes at eight, open for an extra hour because they knew that we were coming. After mass discussion amongst the Traveling Circus and Snake-Handling Show**, we decided to begin our invasion at four, allowing time for things to be set up, any last-minute emergencies to be resolved, and the adulation of naked cats. Because we are clever. I arrived at the bookstore at roughly four-fifteen, and was promptly beset by a) Amy in a black leather under-bust corset HELLO, b) Ash, younger of the store's two pedigreed Sphynx cats, and c) Jude, with a stack of books to be signed and inscribed. I found all these things to be utterly awesome, and managed to keep myself from stroking the books, signing Amy, and hugging Ash. Barely.

Once I was finished signing at the bookstore, I proceeded next door to the cafe, where industrious setting up was underway. The musicians bustled briskly in all directions, and the entire small room at the back of the cafe became, essentially, our green room for stuff storage and makeup application. Awesome. Alan and Jude were trying to be everywhere at once, getting things into position as they raced in a dozen different directions at the same time. The band was decked out in awesome urban pixie togs (and no one looked at them oddly, proving once again that Toby worries too much). Alan and Jude were in Bookstore Ninja black...and I was wearing electric orange and green.

Um, go Pumpkins?

A raffle table was established next to the cafe's pastry case, and the prizes were arrayed for ooh-ing and ahh-ing: signed books, ARCs, foreign editions, CDs, random goodies, brand new chimera_fancies pendants that no one had ever seen before. Marti and my mother passed out raffle tickets, while I got strips of tickets to Jude (in the cafe) and Kary (in the bookstore). Mom successfully got Alan to provide her with a vase, because Mom is sometimes bad-ass, and we got things underway a respectable ten minutes late.

The first musical awesome of the night was provided by Amy, who did a solo set with grace, aplomb, and amazing fiddling. Betsy joined her for a few songs, on cello, and Alec joined her for one on the drum. Totally rockin'. After that, the first raffle drawing was held, and people won cool things (yay). I signed a bunch of books. I signed somebody's cup. The cafe sold out of pastries and bagels. The cafe made multiple runs to buy more bread. Let me say that again: they had to buy more bread. We ate all their bread.

We rule.

The second set of the night was Tricky Pixie, and they tore it up, with "Dryad's Promise" and "Tam Lin." More raffle. And then...

...Tricky Pixie set three. Which Sooj opened, solo, with a surprise performance of her newest song. "Tybalt." About, um...Tybalt. My King of Cats. I...um...wow. I only cried a little. That means I win, right? (Actually, the song's existence means I win.)

The rest of the set was a whole lot of awesome packed into a remarkably small span of time. Amy and I joined them for the last song: a cover of my own "Wicked Girls." Hearing that whole audience singing along nearly made me start to cry again. Then it was time for the final raffle drawing of the night (our table included donations from both the bookstore and the band, by that point), cleaning up, and heading home.

We got back to Concord way, way past pumpkin-time...and it was so very worth it. So, so very worth it.

I can't wait to do it all again.

(*Consisting of Betsy "I am too awesome to exist in fiction; only reality can contain me" Tinney, SJ "what do I know from alligator I ask you could you die" Tucker, and Alexander James "no, no, that's okay, you can trust me with your wine, women, and song" Adams. Tricky Pixie is twenty pounds of awesome in a ten pound sack.)

(**Sadly, this iteration of the Traveling Circus was missing several members of the sideshow, including Vixy, Brooke, and Tony. Their absence was deeply felt by the remaining members of the Circus, although we soldiered bravely on. We have great hopes for September's Circus, which will be in celebration of An Artificial Night, and will be designed to basically blow the roof clean off the bookstore.)

On authors and our crazy.

me
Well, we're two days out from official release, and I'm sleeping a little better at night, which is nice, especially since being two days out from A Local Habitation [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy] means I'm now fifty-eight days away from Feed [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy]. This is basically guaranteed to be a fun year, if you consider the distant sound of chainsaws and hysterical giggling to be the soundtrack of fun. I...kinda do, really. So that's all right.

As an author, it's natural and expected that I'll go a little crazy right around release day. I tell people it's less like having a baby and more like planning a wedding. You sink your heart and soul and resources and time and energy into this one day, and you just pray it'll be perfect, and that you haven't slipped into a horror movie (since weddings are basically catnip for demon serial killers). And then, whether it's perfect or not, you go to bed, you get up, and you carry on.

As a professional, it's also expected that I'll do my best to keep the majority of my crazy off the Internet. I'll twitch and flail and make little gasping noises about the pandemic, but at the end of the day, I won't scream at people, throw things, or threaten to have you all tracked down by my elite army of dinosaur commandos. (Well. Maybe the dinosaur commandos. They get so bored when they just sit around the barracks all day...) The Internet, as I have said before, is forever, and the fact that I'm having the release day crazies right now doesn't mean you won't be able to find my hysterical meltdown in black-and-white (or whatever your screen is set to) six months from now. As I do not want my crazy preserved for all time like fossilized mosquitoes in amber, I try to have more sense than that.

So if I've been overly crazy in the march toward release, I apologize, and hope that you'll forgive me. If I haven't been overly crazy, then, in the words of London Tipton, "Yay me!" You have all been wonderful, and I appreciate you all being here. I'll be running a few more contests in the weeks to come—as a hint, if you've already purchased A Local Habitation, you may want to say your receipt. I'll also be continuing to wind back down to my usual levels of madness, which has more pandemic, and less panic.

Life is good.

Wayward Coffeehouse set list.

wicked
As is the tradition around here, I present the set list for my latest concert appearance (Wayward Coffeehouse, December 2009). The set list includes annotation and lyric links, because otherwise, it's not so helpful.

The Wayward list, with arrangement notes, was as follows:

1. "Counting Crows." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony Fabris, guitar; Betsy Tinney, cello.)
2. "Mama Said." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
3. "Take Advantage (of Me)." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
4. "Carnival Glass." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
5. "Paper Moon." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
6. "Dorothy." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
7. "Evil Laugh." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
8. "Still Catch the Tide." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.) Talis Kimberley cover.

There was a break here. During the break, I read from chapter four of A Local Habitation. It seemed to go over well. Yay!

9. "In the Foam." (Seanan, vocals.)
10. "Fox Hunt." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
11. "Oh, Michelle." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
12. "Dear Gina." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)
13. "Tanglewood Tree." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.) Dave Carter cover.
14. "Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.)

Encore: "Archetype Cafe." (Seanan, Vixy, vocals; Tony, guitar; Betsy, cello.) Talis Kimberley cover.

These are some of my favorite people to perform with, and we were performing in a venue that's warm and welcoming in every possible way. The only thing that could have made this show any better would have been adding an Amy (the experience of hearing her play with Betsy was one that I won't get over with any time soon), and maybe a wading pool filled with autumn mix and lizards. I'm a fan of both autumn mix and lizards.

As always: "Take Advantage of Me," "Paper Moon," "Dorothy," and "Evil Laugh" are on Stars Fall Home (studio). "Oh, Michelle" and "Dear Gina" are on Red Roses and Dead Things. A distressing number of the other songs in the set will be on Wicked Girls (good luck guessing which ones).

Closing with "Wicked Girls" followed by "Archetype Cafe" was just...it was amazing. Vixy and I finished "Wicked Girls" hand-in-hand, and I basically wanted to either conquer the world or go home and hug for approximately a thousand years. It was a beautiful night, and it was made all the more amazing by the people who were there.

Sometimes I feel so blessed.

Many times, many ways.

me
Pretty much every culture I'm aware of has some sort of winter celebration, whether it's religious, secular, or somewhere in-between (since killing a dude to bring back the sun doesn't necessarily imply a particular faith, but definitely implies a belief that something out there takes requests). The depths of winter are the time when we most need to have faith in something, because in the days before cheap insulation, imported food, and really good central air, failure to have faith meant that you were prepared to have the sun go away forever. That's my favorite thing about this time of year. Everybody gets something they can celebrate. Even if all you're celebrating is not being the dude who finds the bean in his bread.

I celebrate my family, both blood and chosen. I woke up beneath a veil of purring blue cats. I spent the morning at the International House of Pancakes with my mother, my little sister, and my little sister's girlfriend. And now I'm on my way to Seattle to spend a week with Vixy, who might as well be my sister for as much as I love her, and Tony, and Jennifer, and all the other members of my extended family that I can cram into my days. I won't see everyone this week; not everyone is there to see. But I celebrate them all.

I celebrate reconstruction. We all burn bridges in our lives, either accidentally or on purpose, and while we may be sorry that we did it, it's hard as hell to shape the ashes back into something useful. In the last year, I have been fortunate enough to rebuild some bridges that provided essential access to the highways of my heart. Just as importantly, I've finally admitted that some bridges needed to be condemned, and ordered them quietly, respectfully torn down. I am happy with the choices I have made, and with the bridges I have built.

I celebrate my writing career. I've been a writer for as long as I can remember. I was explaining the plot of a short story to my mother the other day, and she said "You always have to be writing something, don't you?" I'm not sure even she realizes how true that is. It took me a long time, and a lot of effort, to get to where I could say that my work was of publishable quality, and there are days when I wake up and go "Wait, what? Was there some sort of mistake?" The sight of my book on store shelves has made me cry more than once. It's just amazing.

I celebrate the fact that we are living in the future. I'm writing this entry from 36,212 feet; I know that because the Virgin America trip display tells me so. I can send new stories to my beta readers without the words ever having touched paper—in fact, at least one story managed to make it to print without ever, so far as I know, being printed in any form prior to the page proofs. I can post this entry, and you can read it no matter where in the world you are. We are accessible to each other in ways we have never been before, and for all that it's a double-edged sword, I can't imagine living any other way.

I celebrate you. I celebrate the fact that you have things in your lives to celebrate, and those things are not the same as mine, and that's amazing. I celebrate the fact that we have all shared another season (although not necessarily the same one, since it's summer in Australia), and the world has continued to turn.

Have a wonderful winter. I promise that if I get any say about it, the sun will be coming back again.

Agent Appreciation Day!

marilyn
2010 debut author kodykeplinger has declared this to be Agent Appreciation Day. Now, around my house, every day is Agent Appreciation Day (except maybe for the days where I want to watch horror movies instead of making my deadlines, and only the fear of The Agent keeps me at my keyboard), but still, it's nice to have a day dedicated to appreciating somebody. So today, I appreciate The Agent, and I appreciate her by making a post I've been pondering for a while. Namely, why are writers so protective of their agents? Because we are. Even when we're mad at them for not answering our phone calls/not thinking that a paranormal romance about steampunk space pirates with a super-evolved pod person as the heroine will sell/not understanding why it's so important that we spend a weekend dressed as Emma Frost and falling off our shoes, instead of making our deadlines, we're protective.

There are a couple of reasons for this. I mean, one, we're frequently protecting them from total strangers going "will you introduce me to your agent?" (My answer, by the way, is generally not a positive one, and on the rare occasions where I offer to introduce someone to The Agent, she gets an email from me warning of the pending introduction. So emailing her cold, saying I sent you, doesn't actually work.) Now, we're not trying to be nasty, and we're not trying to say "no, you can't join our special club." But we're also not going to sneak people we don't know through the back door, past the rest of the pending submissions. We are not magical doors to representation, and because our agents will often feel obligated to look at any real referrals, we try very hard not to be too extravagant with who we send their way.

Two, our agents are the people who take care of us. I mean, as protective as most authors are of their agents, our agents are ten times moreso. They're the ones who understand the weird little clauses in our contracts, tell us when interesting opportunities open up, and keep us from being eaten alive by our editors. When there's a problem, the agent fixes it. (That goes for problems on both sides. If I get behind on my word count, The Agent will probably be poking me about my deadline before either The Editor or The Other Editor. Because that's her job.) Since our agents take care of us, we feel a little obligated to do the same for them, at least to the best of our abilities.

Does this mean we don't want to share our agents? Hell, no. I want The Agent to sign twenty people who become New York Times best-selling authors and get six figure contracts and can afford their own diamond-plated ponies, because then she'd be able to eventually afford an island, and she'd probably let me genetically engineer dinosaurs as long as I kept meeting my deadlines. An agent is only as successful as their client list, and the more really successful clients an agent has, the more not-so-successful but-oh-so-wonderful clients they can afford to keep working with. It turns into a delicate balancing act that I'm really glad I don't have to perform.

Somebody said recently that we don't work for our agents, they work for us, and so the submissions process shouldn't seem so much like a job interview. I view it as more like the relationship between a householder and their butler. A good butler is for life, and that's not a contract to be entered into lightly. If the butler can't like you, then they can't work for you, and you wouldn't want them to. My agent works for me. I also work for my agent, just like most people would agree that Bruce Wayne works for Alfred as much as Alfred works for Bruce Wayne. And because they have that relationship, he gets to go out every night and be Batman.

Why do I appreciate my personal superhero?

Because she lets me be a superhero, too.
coyote
I love Thanksgiving. I love the excuse to gather people in a teeming locust-mass, turning life into a potluck adventure of giant birds and pumpkin pies. I love the way the house smells once the first bird gets underway, and the sound of chopping, and the random things folks do to innocent asparagus. Most of all, I love the fact that it's a day where people are expected to stop, look at their lives, and really see what they're thankful for. Not what they're supposed to be thankful for; what they are.

Two years ago today, I was still struggling to finish the book that would become Feed, and still wondering if I was being silly in my refusal to abandon my dreams of being a novelist. Now I have one book on the shelves and five more coming out. All four of the covers that I've seen so far have just been amazing. I have an agent I love (and who puts up with my crazy like a real trooper). I have two editors who make me better than I could ever be on my own. I have two publishers who support me. I have anthologies with my name on the table of contents. I am so thankful for all these things that there are barely words.

I am thankful to the unpaid coal miners who labor on the tropical island where my private reality show is filmed. They scold me when I'm heavy-handed, cut out my sloppy adjectives and wishy-washy modifiers, and generally make me strive to become a better writer. These are the people who sometimes get asked to flip around revisions on a short story six times in sixteen hours. I love them so.

I am thankful for the health and happiness of my cats. Losing Nyssa was even harder on Lilly than it was on me, because Lilly just didn't understand. The fact that she has been able to bond with Alice the way she has is just such a huge relief. Alice herself is a revelation every day, as she grows into all her puffy glory, and Lilly remains the cat I've been praying to have since I was seven years old. I'm so lucky to have them.

I am thankful for the reception that Rosemary and Rue has gotten out there in the big wide world. I had faith in my book, I loved my book, but there's nothing like getting that first positive review and realizing that your faith was at least a little justified. Thank you, thank you, to everyone who's read it, who's liked it, who's encouraged me, and who's said they're excited about the next one. It means everything to me.

Finally, I'm thankful for all of you. I don't know many of you very well, if at all, but that doesn't matter; knowing you exist, participate, read, and care? That makes all the effort worthwhile.

Thank you.
me
Hello, and welcome to the thirty-third essay in my ongoing series of essays on the art and craft of writing. All these essays are based around my original set of fifty thoughts on writing, and are moving rapidly through a variety of aspects of the art, craft, and primary reason for insomnia that is the life of the writer. Many of these thoughts are not exclusive to the professional; if you write at all, they can apply to you. Here's our thought for the day:

Thoughts on Writing #33: Not Making People Hit You.

I tend to enjoy the process of not being hit, but it might help to have a little context to go with that summation:

Learn to be gracious to everyone who helps you. Thank your proofers. Thank your editors. Thank your agent. Thank your readers. They're doing you a favor. You're also doing them a favor—you're letting them play with your kids—so don't be servile, but do be gracious.

It may seem a little odd to you that I feel the need to say this, but honestly, after watching my own behavior under pressure, and the behavior of others, I feel that it's an important statement to make. Not just for writers, either. No matter who you are or what you do, you need to be gracious, and appreciative of the things that people do for you when you don't need them to. Our culture tells us it's better to give than to receive. How do you react to the good things without seeming entitled, arrogant, or just plain snotty? Let's discuss graciousness, what it means, and how we all sometimes fall a little short. Ready? Good. Let's begin.

My thoughts are not your thoughts; my process is not your process; my ideas are not your ideas; my method is not your method. All these things are totally right for me, and may be just as totally wrong for you. So please don't stress if the things I'm saying don't apply to you -- I promise, there is no One True Way. This way for my thoughts on being properly gracious.Collapse )

Home safe at last, with Alice in tow.

alice
So as most people probably noticed, I spent the last several days in Seattle, Washington. Why did I go to Seattle? Well, it let me spend time with my beloved Vixy and Tony, meet Cat Valente for the first time -- an important introduction, given that she's going to be staying with me later in the month -- hang out with SJ Tucker and the fabulous K, do an author photo shoot with Ryan, and talk venison with Dimitri. I even got to join Kitten Sundae for two numbers during their Saturday night concert (Vixy and Tony's "Thirteen," and my own "Evil Laugh"). But none of these things were the point of my trip.

No, the point of my trip was seeing Betsy and Dave Tinney, the owners of Pinecoon Maine Coons. Dave is the Master of the Salad of Doom; Betsy is, in addition to being one of my favorite wicked girls, and a subject-matter expert for the ballroom sequences in Discount Armageddon, the cello player for Tricky Pixie and Kitten Sundae. They're wonderful, enjoyable, delightfully multi-talented people...

...and they had my kitten. Alice -- short for Alice Price-Healy Little Liddel Abernathy McGuire (points if you can source all the names). A blue classic tabby with white, Alice is my first Maine Coon. We flew home this morning, and while she wasn't an angel on the plane, she wasn't a devil, either. She only cried during takeoff and landing, and is now merrily exploring the room, having had a snack, a drink, a nap, and an exciting adventure with the pumpkin-fucker orange cat tree.

I have two cats again.

Because Lilly and Alice are "unusual breeds" for many people, despite being gorgeous representatives of two of the most popular breeds of cat in the country (the most recent rankings put the Maine Coon at number two, and the Siamese at number three), they now have their own page on my website, giving a breed overview as well as a quick overview of the cats themselves.

They've met briefly, and while they weren't immediate soulmates or anything, they also didn't attack each other. So I'm calling it a win for now. We're home, we're safe, and the world is good.

Yay.

Awesome things that are awesome.

rosemary2
So we're once again hard at work on the website -- aren't we always hard at work on the website? -- and I thought it might be a good idea to let people know what there was to experience, see, and enjoy. This is what we call 'making all that work not have been in vain.' I'm really big on work not being in vain. So...

* The Toby Daye landing page is fully functional. This is where you can go to link to any of the existing books, get a series overview, and take a quick peek at any new developments. More specific news relating to any particular book will naturally be on that book's own unique landing page. Speaking of which...

* The Rosemary and Rue landing page is fully up-to-date and shiny, with the book's back cover text, some really exciting blurbs from names you may well recognize, a basic plot summary, and more. And, of course, the pretty, pretty cover art. Nothing makes me happier than the pretty, pretty cover art. Well, except for maybe...

* The art card gallery! (You would normally access this through the 'Extras' drop-down menu.) We've got sixty cards uploaded and annotated so far. Because I have no hobbies. Also proving I have no hobbies...

* The 'With Friends Like These' archive is starting up. 'With Friends Like These' is my comic strip, which I draw because I bore easily. There are only ten strips up so far, but more are coming. (Again, under the 'Extras' menu.)

Big, big thanks to porpentine , who did truly yeoman labors over the weekend to get the gallery code up and working. There are other surprises to find and see, but these are the big ones. I'm thrilled.

Happy anniversary to my personal superhero.

me
I think 'get an agent' is one of the goals almost universally shared by aspiring authors. Having an agent is like having all the good cheat codes to the video game; it's like having the natural mathematician on your Academic Decathlon team, or having the guy who knows the whole town by heart on your side in the scavenger hunt. Whether it's true or not, we just know that the right agent will know everybody, will understand everything, and will be able to open doors we don't even quite realize exist.

To a degree, this belief is true. Not only is it your agent's job to understand the business side of the writing business -- not entirely So You Don't Have To, but partially, because there's a lot to understand -- getting good enough to get an agent is also a sign that you've reached a certain degree of skill. It's possible for really good writers to make it without an agent. It's actually harder for really bad writers to get an agent in the first place. (To all those agents I applied to when I was a teenager: I'm sorry you had to read that. Thank you for being so nice about it.)

Almost two years ago, a friend of mine sent me a letter introducing me to another friend of hers, one who happened to be a literary agent. The Agent and I started chatting via email, taking it slowly, navigating the wilds of acquaintance and understanding long before we reached the point where representation would become an option. It was a courtship, rather than a barroom hookup, and I am incredibly grateful for that, because anybody who's met me knows that my full attention can be an exhausting thing. She gets my full attention a lot.

A year ago today, we stopped courting.

The past year has been an amazing ride of wonderful, dizzying, confusing things, and The Agent has been there every step along the way to explain, encourage, and assist. I call her my personal superhero for a reason -- that's exactly what she is. Books on writing will tell you that the best thing a working writer can have is a good agent, and they're right, but what they won't tell you is that it's even better to have a good agent who understand you, understands the way you work, and is willing to see what you can do together.

So here's a happy, happy anniversary to my personal superhero, to the woman who helps me understand the business side of my chosen career, and to the only person ever to respond to my description of The Worst Book I've Ever Read by asking me to send it to them. Happy anniversary. Let's have ten more of these.

A moment of sincere appreciation.

rosemary
The cast of my personal reality show (So You Want To Edit One of Seanan's Novels?, hosted by Jane, the alcoholic muse who's probably going to get a spin-off on VH1 one of these days) tends to rotate -- not because we kick people off the island, but because editing for me can be a fairly time-consuming experience. Folks who watch me blog periodically comment on how many things I seem to be doing at one time. People who edit for me know how many things I seem to doing at one time, because they're expected to critique them. All of them. At my idea of 'a reasonable speed.' And since I write like the bastard daughter of Quicksilver and Mother Goose, my idea of 'a reasonable speed' is not like your Earth ideas.

I am enormously appreciative of all my readers, editors, and proofreaders (and yes, these are three very different things, although some folks wear more than one hat). Right now, I'm being enormously appreciative of Lu, who had to leave for a few books to go off and have a life -- I know, right? -- but is now back in the saddle and scolding me viciously for my first draft tendency to hit people upside the head with two-by-fours when I'm trying to make a point. It's people like her who get me to stop hitting unless it's necessary.

Lu, this moment of sincere appreciation is for you. Because you just rock.

Thankfulness addendum.

princess
To whomever gifted me with a virtual pony and three months of paid account time:

Thank you so much. You really made my day with that, and I am totally delighted by my fashionable little purple horse. You rock me.

Love,
Seanan

Tags:

Time to be thankful. Time to be glad.

coyote
This morning, when I made my emergency run to the store for leeks, an extra roasting pan, and a Diet Dr Pepper the size of my head -- the necessities of life, and also, God bless 7-11 -- I got asked the obligatory Thanksgiving morning question by the nice man who bagged my groceries: "What are you thankful for this year?"

My answer was immediate, and didn't even require thought: "Everything."

This last year has been an amazing roller coaster of good, bad, and stunning. Last November, I was still struggling to figure out what was wrong with my favorite manuscript. I was talking with a potential agent. I was fighting to finish Newsflesh, a book that seemed destined never to be finished. I was, in short, in a holding pattern.

A year later, I have a wonderful agent who loves me. I have a place at a publishing house I've admired all my life, working with an editor I respect and trust to treat me fairly. I have a mind-blowingly good cover artist committed to do the covers of my first three books...and I can say that now, I can say 'my first three books' without my more sensible friends saying 'maybe you shouldn't get your hopes up.' I found what was wrong with Rosemary and Rue and fixed it, turning the book into something beyond my wildest dreams, and now I'm working on book five in the series; the first three are all turned in. Newsflesh is done. Lycanthropy and Other Personal Issues is done. I've sold two short stories and syndicated a column.

I am thankful for all these things. I am thankful for the daily reassurance and stability provided by my friends, the wonderful people that I've been lucky and privileged enough to have in my life. I am thankful for the health of my family, for the well-being of my loved ones, and for the fact that we're all still here. I am thankful for Lilly, even though I sometimes want to microwave her. And I am thankful to James Gunn for making a reality show about torturing wanna-be horror movie stars. He so needs to call me.

Finally, I'm truly thankful to everyone reading this journal. Sappy, yes, schmoopy, yes, but it's true. I'm starting on a big, strange, scary journey, and knowing that there are people interested in coming along makes it easier.

Thank you.

Proofreader spotlight: Amanda.

editing
(To be specific, today we're spotlighting Amanda-the-physicist, not Amanda-who-isn't-a-physicist. Why doesn't real life work like fiction, where two people are only allowed to have the same name if one of them promises to die five pages later?)

Amanda was one of the first people ever to get their hands on Rosemary and Rue, in a much earlier form. She's also one of my longest-running proofreaders, having now been involved with every book in the series. Oh, and she's married to Michael, the man that Newsflesh was functionally inspired by. All of which makes her an awesome friend, but not necessarily an awesome proofreader.

Luckily for me, she is an awesome proofreader, and because she's known me -- and been reading for me -- for so long, she's capable of making statements that might be offensive coming from just about anybody else. Right now, she's proofreading Late Eclipses of the Sun (the fourth Toby book), and had this to say:

"Okay, hon. During the Shadowed Hills sequence, they are all still having a major attack of stupid."

Behold the honesty! Being a) an academic, b) a folklore geek, and c) a scientist, she then proceeded to support this argument with fully two pages of 'this is why all your characters are dumb right here.' Seriously, two pages, not of edits or continuity catches, but of detailed and nit-picky textual critique. I'm going to lose my entire weekend to rewrites solely based on this set of notes, and I am overjoyed.

Good writers are made by talent, practice, persistence, luck, and alcoholic muses with sick senses of humor.

Great writers are made by their editors.

In which the roses come home to roost.

rosemary
The Toby Daye books are urban fantasy with a hefty dose of traditional folklore, all mixed up with fairy tales, fables, and as many folksongs as I thought might be a good idea. It's mythology soup, and it's an awesome universe to play around in, because I can attack things from so many angles. My main character, Toby, has two half-Siamese cats named Cagney and Lacey, and a rose goblin named Spike. Spike is roughly the same size as the cats, gender neutral, and covered in thorns that make it sound like a small percussion instrument when it rattles them at people. I like Spike. Spike is lovely. Spike is constantly underfoot, but Spike is lovely.

Since I started working on this series, 'one day we'll have plush rose goblins!' has basically been the rallying cry of my proofreaders and sounding boards. (Well, that, and 'Seanan, go to sleep, it's four in the morning and I have to work tomorrow.') Something about an animate rose bush that wants to share your pillow just seems to appeal to people. I have no idea why.

The lovely Kate has been experimenting with crocheting a rose goblin. So far, her best attempt has actually turned into an Ood (from the current series of Doctor Who). Being the enormous fangirl that I am, this doesn't make me love it any less. The Ood now lives atop my desk, at least until I can get it some glossy black eyes and maybe a little plastic brain to tote about on its little crochet chain.

Upon returning to my home the other day, I found a large, unexpected box waiting on my bed. I eyed it warily. While I have never received a box that actually contained a) explosives, b) smallpox, or c) a live squid, I know my friends, and a certain degree of wariness is simply a function of wanting to live a long and successful life. The box didn't tick, slither, or explode. I decided to open it. And inside, I found...

...a large floral-print rag doll cat, covered in irregular lace 'spikes,' with bright green shoe button eyes. I stared. The 'cat' stared back, that being what shoe button eyes do. And then I started to shriek. ELUCREH MADE ME A ROSE GOBLIN!!!! Yes! My first plush rose goblin has been achieved, and it is awesome and large and currently sitting atop my dresser, staring at things. It's very good at staring at things. It doesn't have a name yet, but it definitely has a piercing stare.

This is so cool.

The best part of this adventure.

princess
So far, of all the people I have told about my wonderful adventures in the world of publication, the best two reactions have come from my mother, which is sort of to be expected...and Joe, the man who owns my comic book store.

See, when I was a kid, most of the book stores and comic book stores and retail stores with magazine racks didn't trust children anywhere near the precious, precious reading materials. We might touch things. We might breathe on things. We might, heaven forbid, learn something that our tiny brains weren't yet prepared to handle. I didn't think much of this attitude then, and I don't think much of it now. If you can be respectful of books, you should be allowed to have access to them.

Joe was the owner of the only comic book store in the area that not only allowed me access, they encouraged me to take advantage of it. When we visited my Aunt Debbie, who lived a quarter-mile from the store, I would beg quarters off every adult I could find and walk down to the comic book store, where I would dig through the quarter bin looking for treasures. I always found them. I discovered the X-Men that way; Spider-Man; the Teen Titans. I also discovered the Omega Men, the Wanderers, Amethyst Princess of Gemworld, and a lot of others that people who aren't fans of comic books have probably never heard of. I learned a lot about storytelling -- both good and bad -- from that quarter bin, and I learned a lot about generosity with stories from Joe.

Yesterday, I went to the comic book store I've been going to since I was a kid, and went up to Joe, and said, "I sold the books." And he held my hands, and he laughed, and he hugged me, and he understood. And we're probably going to have a party, in my comic book store, when the first one sees print.

I have given stories back to the man who gave stories to me.

That's the best thing in the world.

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