SEPTEMBER 29: LESS HISTORIC, BUT SOME THINGS DID HAPPEN

The print version is now approved.  It is out of the approval pipes and in the pipes that take it to Amazon.  The printer says it will show up there in 3-5 business days.  You guys should do what I plan to do: Check impatiently in 1-2. 

And now I will leave you with a bit of advice.  Don't, when you go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy a simple shower curtain liner, also impulse-buy one of the round tins of Danish butter cookies stacked next to the register.  And if you do buy the tin, don't decide that because it was a mistake, you need to get rid of it quickly, and that getting rid of it quickly means eating all of the cookies in four days. It is too many cookies. Even if you think you earned them by finishing a book, it is too many. And when Day 1 of eating them goes smoothly, don't be fooled. Slow down. Or I promise you, Days 2-4 will not see you so blithe.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017: A HISTORIC DAY

That's stretching the definition of "historic," which I'm willing to do for the sake of a blog post headline. So what's the demi-great event? The book is live now -- vampires #3, up at Amazon.  Well, the ebook version, anyway.  The print version is still in the pipes (I'm waiting for the printer to email me the final "all systems go" message -- so that looks like it'll be up Thursday, unless an anvil falls on it).

This book took twice as long to get to you as I thought it would because it ended up being twice as long as I expected. "EPIC!" -- a review. Now, what's for dinner around here?  I gotta go out and eat something, I'm pretty delirious from handling this stuff. Maybe a tuna melt followed by a piece of coconut pie. That sounds like the perfect "book's finally out" dinner.

IN CASE YOU DIDN'T NOTICE

The third vampire book is up for pre-order on Amazon.  That means it's ready for the world, at long last.

I can't tell you how relieved I am to be finishing The Secret Inferno. We thought it was already mostly done back in May of 2016, when we started.  Then we realized that we had a fair beginning and a good ending, but... we didn't like the middle. Then the new middle got a lot longer than we originally estimated it would be -- but it seemed to be telling the right story at this length, so we kept going. Then we saw a way that our fair beginning could be a really good beginning, so we rewrote that too.  And then, obviously, a new beginning and middle meant some changes to the ending.  Like I said, whew -- what a relief to finally be done.  A whole year to write a book we thought was already written!  Now, it's going out to the world, and I hope you like it.  It was fun to work on, so it should be fun to read. Right?

(Of course, if you skate over to Amazon, you'll see the pre-orders are only up for the e-book so far. Coordinating with the printer for the book-book takes longer.  But the print version will be up by September 26 too -- just skate back around then, or maybe even sooner, to order that.)

DUE TO MY OPTIMISTIC NATURE, I LIED

"It's the end of May, and heyyy," you're saying, "no book?"

Right, right, I know I said there'd be one by now, but

"Yeah, so what gives, jerk?"

Uh, you don't need to start name-calling, we've been working real hard on it and

"Well excuse me, but not name-calling doesn't seem to be getting us a book, does it? You lazy hamsterfaced brickpunter."

I don't even know what that means.

"You better figure it out, toadfoot. Like, yesterday."

Oof. You guys are rough. Well, maybe I can calm you down by mentioning the book (vampires volume 3) is in its last lap around the editing track. This is the lap where the story is in its correct shape. All the right things happen (I mean, all the wrong things, but the right wrong things), and we're only streamlining it. It's the longest book of the three, so this'll take another 3 weeks. But I'll try to check back here to update you as it goes. Thanks for your patience.

"There is no patience. Just finish, [extreme insult deleted]."

YES, VAMPIRE BOOK #3 IS ON ITS WAY!

Prepping the final draft now, at long last.  Oh man.  We had this book up to its final draft once before, in August. The plan was to publish at the end of September, in time for Halloween.  Then the cowriter decided she didn't like part of it. Which part? "The middle 200 pages."

This was incredibly annoying, because she was absolutely right. The middle wasn't good enough. We'd dragged you readers through two volumes -- and it was going to be only to dump you into a volume 3 with a big, mushy center?  That would be wrong. 

So we pushed back our publication date to early December.  Then early February.  We kept writing and polishing, and disagreeing over what should even happen in the story.  (Lots of arguing.)  Finally, though, all that's in the past, and it's about to be done -- and I think this book is much better for all the rewrites and fights we put ourselves through.  I'm hoping you find it a fitting conclusion to the Laurena & Zack story.

I can't commit to a publication date -- that's a downside to collaboration.  Chalene and I have very different scheduling patterns.  I like to set a hard deadline and then throw everything else in life overboard to make sure I hit it.  It's a challenge, like a marathon (except I don't have to run). She finds this too stressful.  She hates deadlines.  Plus she has a kid and it's hard to throw those overboard.  So I can't promise you (dear reader) "It will be up for sale on April 24," because what if her kid gets the flu?  You never know.  Heck, what if I get the flu?  It could happen.  Plus our genius cover artist, Steve Morris, is busy doing covers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, which pays better than Midnight Rules; it's an honor to have him working on our covers too, so I'm happy to give him all the time he needs to finish up.

But around April 24, maybe a week-ish later, the world will get its next great vampire novel. 

SO LONG, 2016

Pretty mixed bag, 2016, right?  Not all bad.  For me, I published two books, but also: David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher...  So not all great.

Just got back to California after a hectic trip East. Got sick right before traveling and had to delay the flight from Dec 22 till Christmas Eve, so that was an adventure... (where "sleeping for two days" = "adventure")... but once I was able to get out of bed and function, all went well.  Great to see the nieces & nephews & cousins & my parents, plus a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a long time.  But I was still recovering from the sickness, so this was the first Christmas ever I actually lost weight.  Turns out if you don't spend five days eating homemade cookies every waking hour, the pants still fit at the end of the trip.

Also, I apologize/explain to two readers who emailed me after winning the Goodreads giveaway.  In my fugue of disease and travel, I wasn't checking email.  Plus I didn't think the giveaway packages would get to anyone before New Years -- media mail is supposed to be a real slow, stop-and-smell-the-roses experience -- so I didn't reply to these readers until days had gone by.  Bad form, Rooney.  Get on top of things.

Okay you guys, don't feel pressure to go nuts tonight.  (People go nuts.)  Just have fun whatever you do (whether it's a big party, a nice low-key dinner, or Twilight Zone marathon with a cat).  See you next year, as we used to think we were so hilarious for saying in fifth grade.

BACK IN BUSINESS! AFTER LOSING MY PASSWORD FOR THREE MONTHS.

I lost the piece of paper where I wrote down my password to log onto my own website. I discovered this because my browser forgot the password too, and the password reset feature did not work, and then a few days later, the computer fell apart. Not literally, it was still in one piece, but spiritually. It would not connect to the intertubes. The intertubes worked fine on my phone and TV, but the computer decided eh, it couldn't be bothered. So I spent a couple weeks intermittently opening service windows and typing in "ipconfig" and secret-lingo commands like that to get it back up on the horse. It was fun. I was living a throwback to the days of DOS, when computers were weird and required you to know stuff to make them work. 

But quickly it became no fun, as the commands didn't fix the problem and it turns out I know nothing.  Eventually I got on the phone with Dell (for 8 hours) and after reinstalling everything yesterday, the computer works again. Mostly. So now -- and this is great -- for the first time in months, I can relate to you all the blogworthy essentials, such as: what teas I'm drinking instead of coffee. The people need to know.

I'm down to 2-4 cups of coffee per week. I try to make them count by making them Americanos instead of Chock Full O Nuts. Who am I now? I don't even know. Right now I'm drinking English Breakfast Tea like I am Miss Marple or something, for Pete's sake, it's all I can think -- no wait -- CHURCHILL, that's who.  I am drinking this tea like Winston F'ing Churchill.

In book news -- probably more relevant -- volume 3 of Midnight Rules is nearing completion. It's soon to be on its way to you millions of clamoring readers. Sorry about the delay -- more on that later.  And volume 2 is in the last day of a giveaway on Goodreads. This will take you there, if you are lucky:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/211933

 

KINDS OF TEA DRUNK TODAY: FOUR

In book news, you have till Sunday to enter the giveaway at Goodreads. It's a copy of Clique of Strangers, which the cowriter and I will vandalize with our signatures and mail to you for free, if you win. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/186497-a-clique-of-strangers

Actually we are giving away five copies, so that quintuples your chances.  There are almost 200 people entered to win, which is exciting.  If you enter and lose, that's sad, but in that case you should drown your sorrows in paying for a copy.  That is my sincere advice, and I think it will help you feel better.

My sister just read it and liked it.  She said she immediately started volume 2.  That's really nice.  She's cool.  I can't really say enough things about how cool she is. 

In semi-book news, I'm watching a lot of vampire movies.  Tonight I watched Dracula's Daughter (1936).  It surprised me by being nonterrible.  Actually had a lot of good points.  I will write a review of it, soon.  With pictures! 

In non-book news, I took Tupelo out of his locker and went for a bike ride today along the canal.  (Tupelo is my bike's name.) About 12 miles, all total.  I haven't done that in a while so there is a chance I will feel it tomorrow.  It was nice to be out in the air.  I saw a lot of ducks along the way.  I gotta do more of that. 

In coffee news, a good thing I can say about tea is that there are so many different kinds.  Today I've had Earl Grey, Chai, Irish Breakfast, and a different brand of Earl Grey.  No coffee at all, alas, but it's kind of nice looking forward to a choosing a flavor and let me tell you, if you think of Lipton when you think of tea, it turns out you are making a mistake. 

Lipton is for suckers.

What else?  Talked to my friend Paul for almost 2 hours, starting out about the election (it was the primary in California today) but then ranging off into diverse topics.  That is a lot more time than I usually spend on the phone, but I wear a headset when I talk, like I work in a call center.  So at least I looked cool the whole time.

Now I'm listening to "Huarache Lights" by Hot Chip.  It's groovy.  G'night.

NOT EVERYONE AMAZONS RIGHT

The plastic cribbage pegs I ordered Monday didn't come today.  This will matter on Saturday.

The estimated arrival on Amazon was today through Tuesday, and they had to arrive today to work out for me, so admittedly, I spun the wheel on this one.  But it's easy to ship a 4-ounce packet, I figured; they will handle this.

Then the order status stayed on "preparing" for two and a half days.  Then they bumped the arrival date to next Thursday. 

Sometimes I sell things on Amazon in the "used - like new" section, and I'm always proud of how fast I get those things in the mail.  I act like I have to operate under the Prime directive and get it to the customer in two days (three, anyway).  It's fun.  "This total stranger is going to be so impressed," I think.  I genuinely think that. 

It might be a defect.

But it's a defect everyone should have.  You are defective if you don't have this defect. Amazon vendor calling yourself "Family Board Games," you are hereby on notice.  Blog notice.  One star.  Would not airbnb again. 

Faithful blog reader, in the comments section below, leave the tale of your own negative experience with Family Board Games.  Together we will send them a message.

I'll explain why I needed cribbage pegs later.  Nothing to do with cribbage.

I AM BREAKING A PROMISE

I promised to complain in detail if the printer rejected the cover a second time, which they did. However, they turned around the third time within hours and got it right, so let's not complain.

I didn't order the proof copy, I just approved it based on a digital proof, so hopefully that does not bite me in the ass.

I haven't been promoting it at all because I want the print version to be orderable before I do.  I think that happens in the next 48 hours.  And meanwhile I've been prepping materials to display it at a convention in San Francisco this weekend, called Kubla Con.  A friend of mine, Jason Lioi, owns a company called Dapper Devil that has a table there, and he offered me some space on his table.  So we're going to find out how much appeal paranormal romance has to Kubla Conners. 

I figure tons because everyone who's anyone likes paranormal romance.  Updates to come...

SOME THINGS NOT WORKING OUT, AS EXPECTED

So my second book came out today, but there's bigger news.

This morning, I was checking my cowriter Chalene's Facebook page and saw she posted a jpg there of Werner Herzog with a humorous caption.  "So?" you are thinking, "A captioned Herzog jpg on a Facebook page is business as usual in 2016."  But wait: It was a jpg that I made a year or two ago for one of my movie reviews. So I sent her a note saying haha thanks... and she wrote back saying "What?" because she didn't know I made it.  She just found it in an image search.  WHAT THIS MEANS is that a stupid thing I put on the internet a long time ago turned up in someone's bored-at-work search and that person liked it enough to keep it. 

In some sense, that makes today the single greatest day of my life.

I mean, to post a jpg that strangers want? That is the whole goal of modern living.

(Obviously, Chalene is not a stranger, because we cowrote a book that came out today, but she might as well have been.  Right?  Anyway, you can see how we ended up cowriting a book; we both like Herzog and, more than that, we even like the exact same kind of captioned Herzog jpg and have, a year or so apart, posted it on interweb pages where we post stuff.)

In more literary news, like I said, our new paranormal book is officially published -- the ebook version, anyway. This is the sequel to A Clique of Strangers.  It's called The House of Candles and Stars, as you probably know from the homepage of this site, and you can use it to find out what happens to Laurena after the startling events of volume 1.  MAYBE SHE DIES.  (You don't know!)  Volume 1 set up a situation that Volume 2 gets us deeper into.  There's gonna be a volume 3!  (It is more than half written.)  But you should read volume 2 now, to live the rich tapestry of romance and menace we have woven for you, asap.  You won't be sorry.  That's a guarantee.  (It is not a guarantee but the odds are ever in your favor.)

If you want to read the print version of the book, alas, it's tied up at the printers.  This is the part that's not working out, per the headline of this blog post. They didn't approve the cover and I had to resubmit the art for review.  I expected this, and it is not even worth going into here.  I will go into it here if they reject it a second time.  But fingers crossed, they will accept it this time and, in that case, the print version will be up for purchase by the end o' the week.

RIGHT ON SCHEDULE NO PROBLEM

Volume 2 becomes a real ebook for sure on Tuesday.  (For sure unless the internet burns down; nothing is for sure.)  The print version miiiiight be out by Tuesday.  I'm waiting to get the proof from the printer.  If they get it right the first time, then we're good on Tuesday with that one too.  Fingers crossed.  (Crossing fingers rarely works, we need a more reliable trick.)  Last time, the printer took about six tries to get the cover right.  So I could be headed into a week of emailing and calling them about it. I will use this blog to keep you informed every step of the way, hypothetical super fan. Hopefully it's good news.

In nonbook news, I am going to try to see The Sorcerer tonight with a couple friends.  It is sold out online but there'll still be tickets at the window.  This is the movie that is mainly famous for being very good but bombing anyway because it came out the same time as Star Wars in 1977.

 

IF YOU LIKE FREE STUFF YOU'RE IN LUCK

I scheduled a book giveaway on Goodreads. It will kick in a week from today and last a month. You can enter for a chance to win one of five copies of the softcover version of Clique of Strangers (a $9.99 value, chief!).  Don't go look at Goodreads to sign up right now (unless you are reading this a week late) because it's not activated yet. But it will be.  I think Goodreads picks the winners at the end of the month using total randomness, and then I mail a copy to those lucky, lucky people. But this is my first giveaway so I'm flying blind on a rocket cycle.

If you are unlucky but have 99 cents and some device with a screen (phone, iPad, computer, or the infamous Kindle), then don't bother signing up (luck is key).  Instead, just buy it. Even if you hate the book, this way you will at least get cool cover art to look at. That's gotta be worth 99 cents. (You won't hate the book. Did you like Twilight? If you did, you will like this, because it's even better. If you didn't, you will like this, because it's better.)

I watched Veep before writing this and drank enough coffee to be up till 2:00 at least.

TOO BUSY WRITIN' TO WRITE

This blog fell into neglect while I went all in finishing up volume 2 of the vampire book.  It was already in decent shape, because we've been working on it for more than a year, but there was a lot of sanding and polishing.  It came out pretty good, I think?  You be the judge.  (You will have to buy it to be the judge.)  Anyway, there will be a real book inside the cover jpg that is currently pre-orderable at Amazon.   

I am still drinking tea in the morning instead of coffee. I feel ashamed of this.  As if a crucial part of my identity has been lost through weakness. 

I keep telling myself that England conquered a whole planet on tea. Jefferson and Washington led a whole revolution to keep tea affordable.  And there are so many different tea varieties.  Also -- and this helps me a lot in accepting tea -- I still drink coffee at night.  I feel like I am healthier?  I am not.  I haven't gone for any more acupuncture, as it was the acupuncturist who initially banned me from coffee.

I will try to be a less neglectful contributor around here and also have posts that are not just about how deeply steeped in coffee my sense of self is.

TRAINSPOTTIN'

Holy crap. If you go off coffee for 2 weeks and then go back on, you are in deep trouble.

Sunday night's 10- or 12-oz cup had me up past 3 AM with a racing heart. The I woke up Monday for work still with a racing heart. Tonight (Tuesday) I decided I could risk another cup.  Drank around 9 oz between 8:30 and 10, sipping slowly... it's 3 AM again and I am wiiiide the hell awake.

Two-plus weeks ago, for the past 10-plus years, I'd drink 16 oz every morning, then another 20 or so after dinner, feel normal, and conk out at 1 or 2 AM. 

I get it now: I get how people quit heroin, then months later go back for juuuust one more, and DIE. Because whatever dose you were used to, you are not built for that dose anymore.

I guess on the up side, it only takes two weeks to flush coffee out of your system, if you want to? Heroin is probably more involved. I hereby reaffirm my commitment to never trying heroin. Coffee is weird enough.

At least, though, I did okay with the writing while hopped up. I went through Chalene's notes on five chapters of Laurena Part Two, rewrote a couple of troubled paragraphs, added a new paragraph about witchcraft, then took it out (maybe for use in Part Three), and made a bunch of notes about issues I gotta track on my next read-through.

Plus I'm still stupid wide awake, so I can do yet more. Lessee...

Tonight's playlist through this no-blinking-a-thon, if you're curious, has been four Elvis Costello albums, Arcade Fire, Alanis Morrisette (she is underappreciated these days), April March, and now Ashley Monroe, which is country. Country is good but you have to be selective. Ashley Monroe just makes the cut. I should probably turn it off, though, since music helps me stay awake and the goal needs to be falling asleep soon.

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM...

I've been off coffee for two weeks. It has been rough. Now I am looking at the calendar and seeing how much work I have to do to get the next Midnight Rules book in fighting shape, and tea ain't gonna cut it. So within the next hour, I will drink the first cup of coffee I've had in 15 days.

This is the longest I've gone without coffee since the '90s. There is simply none left in my system. So when I reintroduce it... I don't know what to expect.

Possibly I will explode. 

I AM A TEA DRINKER THIS WEEK

The back is better now (thanks for asking) but at what cost?  No coffee, man that's rough. I was ruined for a solid day after going off coffee, and have stabilized since, but I am not as productive. Coffee is diesel. You can roll across the country on that. Tea is solar power. You do real well for a while!  And then it's been dark out for five or six hours and everything halts.  So, this coffee ban might end soon, since I gotta lotta book stuff to do.

Today and tomorrow, though, I'm getting off book stuff, because my old friend Tom is in town with his kids and his mom. We're all going out to Joshua Tree (please don't rob me, now that you know I won't be home), along with other old friends Jason, Layne, Becky, Joseph -- I just came from a brunch with those guys and it was not only great to see them all, it was also nice to spend a couple hours not working on book stuff.

Oh!  I should note that I checked the Amazon rankings last night, and Clique was briefly #57 in its category (YA relationships > "dating & sex").  I was just behind someone who's a big deal and ahead of someone else who's kind of a big deal.  I took this screen grab because the cover similarities made me laugh:

 Clicking this image takes you to the Amazon page where you can buy the book, now ranked 99, a tragic fall. Help it climb back to the glorious height of 57!

Clicking this image takes you to the Amazon page where you can buy the book, now ranked 99, a tragic fall. Help it climb back to the glorious height of 57!

TODAY'S BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT: EATING LUNCH

I got a bonkers headache that took me out of commission for four hours. That's unusual for me. Also with the back not at 100 percent, sitting in a chair for more than an hour gets uncomfortable. Between these two irritants, not a lot of writing got done today.

Still, I fixed up a chapter in House of Candles -- before, it wandered, now it gets to the point.

I did read a bit. I'm reading a Sarah J. Maas book, which is YA. Since I wrote a YA book, I should try to keep up with the newest stuff. So far, this one seems to be like if Katniss Everdeen got stuck in Beauty and the Beast, with a little Narnia around the edges. But I'm only a quarter of the way in, and there's lots of ways it could go.

btw I blame my four-hour headache on coffee withdrawal. Not cool, tea. Not cool at all.

I WAS STABBED MAYBE 30 TIMES TODAY

I'm not sure how many times exactly, because they were all in the back.

It all started when Monday I got out of my car and could barely stand. My lower back just did not want to support the weight of my torso. Or any weight?  I think even in space I would have had a hard time.  It felt like there was a balloon inside the base of my spine, inflated with pain. A balloon animal of hurt.  Anyway standing up took at least half a minute, and then I could walk with the shuffle of a 90-year-old man.  I tried to view it as a kind of time travel: How lucky am I to see what life will be like in 2066!  But looking on the bright side only took me so far, so I made an appointment with an acupuncturist.

I never did acupuncture before, but their website said it's good for the lower back.  So let's try.

It happened this morning, and I feel pretty good!  With a minimal amount of bleeding.  (No bleeding.)  She also put all these stickers on my back for something called color therapy, whereby the frequency of certain colors under the stickers will cancel out the frequency of pain! (I know, but let's find out.)  And I'm supposed to not sit on couches or drink coffee for two weeks.

Couches, fine.  I own chairs.  But I fear this coffee ban.  I fear it.

ALREADY I HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING

I stayed up late to upload volume 1 for preorders and as it turns out, nothing is as easy as I think it will be.  There was the matter of picking categories and search terms, which has to be strategic so readers can find out about you -- which is another way of saying I had to read a bunch of websites to figure out how to do it right.

For example, "vampires" is not an Amazon subcategory -- but plenty of books appear with that as their subcategory anyway.  How'd they manage that trick?  (It is relevant because my book, just like most books, has vampires.)  It turns out you just type "vampires" in the keywords line, which took 2 seconds -- but it took an hour to find out I should have the vampires category, discover it didn't exist, and then find out how to do the trick. And I won't know if it worked till tomorrow, when the entry is done processing.

Even if the category works, though, I'm not done.  Because I forgot to add myself as author. Doy. Hope that's easy to fix.