Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy-Busy, and--um--BUSY!

Much as I'd love to post about my adventures at OryCon 32, I'm a bit busy today, so this will be a drop in, drop out update, just so you all know I'm not still in Portland.

Though goodness knows, the Voodoo Doughnuts there are so good they should be illegal and are certainly enough to tempt me to set up a permanent base!  I'll post more on that after I clear today's workload!


I've just signed two NEW book contracts!!! They've been in the oven since last summer, but only arrived this week. Yes, commercial publishing grinds slow, but very fine!

First--a new anthology!!!  HEX SYMBOLS for St. Martin's, an urban fantasy collection, is now a reality. Its contributors are a stellar lot:
  • Ilona Andrews
  • Jim Butcher
  • Rachel Caine
  • Carole Nelson Douglas
  • Simon R. Greene
  • Lori Handeland
  • Erica Hayes
  • Carrie Vaughn

---and your faithful editor!

No release date, sorry--the writers have to turn in their stories first!

The next contract is a long awaited project of mine--my first foray into the land of steampunk!

My excellent agent, Lucienne Diver of The Knight agency (shameless plug) closed a three- book deal with Tor for


Titles have a tarot card theme: 1) The Hanged Man; 2) The Tower; 3) The Empress--and yes--of course the fate of the Empire is in dire peril!

In 1847, in reaction to increasing paranormal activity, Queen Victoria orders the formation of the Psychic Service, whose duty is to investigate such phenomena and either confirm or debunk it.  Of course the best psychics, physicists, and magicians in the realm are agents! 

This is an alternate history of England as well as a steampunk urban fantasy!

What's alternate?  Women get the vote in the 1850s.

Here ya go:

When informed at the age of ten that she was likely to be queen of England, it was reported that Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent replied, “I will be good.”
What she actually said was, “I will do good.”
Sometime in 1835—it is a well-kept secret—the sixteen-year-old princess escaped her highly managed routine and spent two weeks walking among commoners. The revelation of how ordinary folk lived and died made a profound impression on young “Drina.” She resolved to improve the lot of her people, especially that of women.
During this taste of freedom, she met the dashing Lord Arthur Godalming, who was in the right place at the right time to rescue her from street ruffians. It was love at first sight for both, and when she became queen two years later, iron-willed Victoria defied custom and changed law, allowing her to marry a peer rather than a prince.
The love match of Victoria and the Lord Consort Arthur marked the beginning of a new era of Enlightenment for England, and her progressive “Time of Women” policies changed the world.
The young monarch made her childhood declaration a reality.
Victoria’s Empire circles the globe, but the brass and steam progress of the Industrial Revolution has disturbed dark forces. Reason and science are in vigorous conflict with fear and superstition. The empress would not ignore the fact that something was supernaturally rotten in the state of England. In 1847 she called for the creation of a new department under the Ministry of Science.
This special branch, Her Majesty’s Psychic Service, is dedicated to investigating all matters supernatural, using the psychical gifts of those who serve in it to protect and preserve the realm.

The first book takes place in the winter of 1879.

Major players will be the Queen's god-daughter, Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (psychic forensics), Captain Claudius Miracle (airship pilot/mechanical engineer) and Alexander Humboldt Sexton (scientist/illusionist/debunking squad).   

They fight crime!  ;)

And now I have to WRITE this!  The first book has an April 2011 deadline.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Portland Bound!

I love going to science fiction conventions. Even after all this time, since discovering them soon after high school, they are still FUN.

My very first one got me hooked for life. By my standards today, it was amazingly lame: the dealer's room was about the size of my living room, there were no media guests, if local writers were on panels I didn't attend since I thought that sort of thing was only for published writers, not Mr. Spock fans. The media track was a tiny room with a screen and a projector clattering away with a Marx Brothers movie, The Big Store. The costume contest had three entries, all of them bad.

It was magic. Life-changing magic. Thank you Larry Herndon, not the ball player, but the much missed owner of Remember When in Dallas. It's all his fault! So thank you, Larry!

Soon as I learned there was to be another convention in the area in a few months and that they'd have a costume contest with cash prizes I went on a money diet to save up for the event.  While sewing my first Star Trek costume I was unfairly dubbed a "tightwad" for not spending money at home, but a "spendthrift" for blowing it on stuff at the convention. (You can't please some people. Ever. So ignore them.) 

My attempts at costuming were rewarded over the years. My impersonations of Harpo Marx, Wonder Woman, Red Sonja, Princess Ardala, and Princess Leia all grossed cash or other coolness in the end. I worked a job to earn enough to pay for the next convention and had a vague idea I would someday be a writer. In the meantime I had to save and save for my next fannish fix.

That was ***** years ago and the habit is still in place. These days my convention budget is less focused on buying pictures of favorite actors and more on books or an occasional bit of art--oh, yeah, minor things like hotel rooms, food, and transportation, too.  I came to learn that those panel talks with writers were fun and instructive, and a danged good chance to find out how things work in an alien world.

By that I mean the publishing industry, not Mr. Spock's home planet, which has the hot climate.  (Hot? You call that hot?? Vulcan summers are on a level with a Texas winter when it comes to optimal heat stroke conditions, baby, so don't shake those pointy ears at me!)

I'm not sure just when I traded going to guest actor panels for panels featuring guest writers. There was nearly a decade where I was busy working for a wage and not writing at all, and didn't have money to go to conventions.  But there came a tipping point at a local event when I was informed it would be a really good thing to check out a specific writing panel. Robert Asprin and a publisher would hammer out a book contract deal right there in the room.

It was a bit less life-changing than seeing The Big Store on a big screen, but still made an impression.  Somehow, my thick skull absorbed the fact that people DO actually get paid for writing and can get paid a lot. The idea of making money by sitting alone in a room talking to myself seemed pretty danged nifty.

Even better--I found out writers could get into conventions for FREE. Okay, that got my attention. 

The equation was published writer = free pass to fun at a convention. Hot puppies, where do I get in line?

If you're reading this, then you know that worked out.

And tomorrow I get another "free" pass to a big convention as guest of honor at the 32nd OryCon in Portland.

Wow. Had anyone told me while I was on my way to see that Marx Brothers movie that something like this was in store, well, I was a moron back then and wouldn't have known what to make of it.  I am glad it happened, though!

It ain't exactly free, hence the quotes. I'm well aware that a number of people I've never met are busting their butts to put together a very complicated event. Their efforts are paying and paving my way in, and I don't forget it for an instant.

I expect to have an amazing amount of fun, but will be doing my best to earn my keep and justify their trust. They didn't have to invite ME to their convention. There's plenty of other writers out there, so I'm grateful for the honor. I've a busy panel schedule, but guest relations people are already looking after me like I'm visiting royalty.

Conventions are a working vacation to me but that's okay. I'm danged lucky to have a job that where the work is a joy. I love this part of it. Were I to just fly to another city and fend for myself as a tourist, I could manage, but it is more fun to hang out with other fans and talk shop.

Toward that end, I have much prep to do today. It's been a few years since I've gone so far from home base. I've a house-sitter to hold the fort and am cleaning the place up since it's a nasty shock to come back to a mess. No one wants to clean after a long trip.  I have to figure what to take, keeping in mind weight limits for baggage and my own strength limits. Experience has taught me that trying to sprint across an airport while carrying 75 pounds of gawd-knows-what in EACH bag is a bad idea.

Don't know if I'll be able to blog or make FaceBook posts while there. I'm no tweeter. But maybe other guests less technically-challenged can keep everyone filled in on events.

And no, I absolutely will NOT behave myself!  ;>)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writers Call Shenanigans on Editor Judith Griggs for Theft

If any of you have seen my FaceBook page, The Smart Bitches Blog, or any of a growing number of writer  / blogs / today, then you know that Judith Griggs, editor of the grammatically-challenged Cooks Source Magazine, is getting a serious public drubbing as a thief.

Yes, I know, innocent until proven guilty, but this one sure walks and quacks like a duck, whether roasted or trolling the pond for snacks--or copyrighted articles to reprint, minus permission and payment.

Author Monica Gaudio was tipped off that her 2005 piece on apple tarts was in the latest issue of Cooks Source.  

Ms. Gaudio contacted the editor. How could her article be available when the magazine had not gotten permission to reprint and perhaps pay for the privilege? 

(I tried to put a link to the original page with the recipe, but it has been disabled on the site, which is too bad.)

An e-mail exchange followed, with the author making wholly reasonable demands to compensate for the theft of her copyrighted material:

"I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism." -- Monica Gaudio [Quoted from Ms. Gaudio's LiveJournal blog as are the excerpts below. -- P.N.E.]

Instead of a groveling apology, Griggs shot back a patronizing mail:
"Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. [Evidently NOT!] 

It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.  [Like proofread and use the spell check?]

But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" [W-T-F???]  

and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it!   [ I'm sure she's thrilled to bits that this is theft, not plagiarism. Yes. I imagine her lawyer will be thrilled, too.]

If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally.  [Apparently Griggs-the-Bleeding-Oblivious was unable to grasp that the original site's Medieval spellings were intentional. Now that this has broken and gone viral, she's likely experiencing the joys of countless writers, editors, and readers going Medieval on her arse. In public.]

We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!  [All together now: W-T-F????]

I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!

Which seems to be how she prefers to acquire her articles. A number of energetic google-fu surfers have found LOTS MORE apparently stolen articles.

Chances are good that Cook's Source will remove their FB page, what with all the ultra-negative wankage that's up, so here's a few links to give you all a taste: and and and
The article on "Food Frauds" is lifted wholesale from

The "Healthy Eating Part 2" article is lifted from a Martha Stewart site.

The Great Plastic Bag Plague was lifted from Alternet.
And another swiped from Paula Deen:

Spicy Pumpkin Bars here!/photo.php?fbid=439516966748&set=a.439514776748.238553.196994196748 are these Pumpkin Bars here:
I'll stop now. You get the idea.
Too bad for her that Griggs didn't.
Shame-shame. What were you thinking, Ms. I-Have-30-Years-of-Experience-and-Apparently-Didn't-Learn-a-Damned-Thing?
Griggs--most of us learn in *kindergarten* that one may experience instant social ostracizing by one's peers for being a "copy cat."  Crayon thieves may be sent to the principal's office.
After this debacle, one might hope you'll be heading for the unemployment line.  While you're qualified for work in the food services industry, I would suggest the only keyboard they let you near is on a cash register where you may ask customers whether they want fries with that burger.
It's gonna be a bit before I pay off my karmic debt for this intense bout of Schadenfreude, but really, I can't help myself. 
Griggs, you brought it all on yourself, so don't blame me for joining the crowd that's pointing you out as a bad apple.
 Late entry, excellent reading:
The stolen article:
Late in--apparently Griggs has a travel magazine, either out or pending, I'm not sure. Round two may be on the way.
For those who have been contacting the magazine advertisers, be assured they are as horrified as the rest of us and have lost income by trusting Griggs.
Please show your support of those merchants by purchasing their products if that is possible.  Many of them paid in advance and won't be getting any refunds.

Monday, November 1, 2010


What do Rachel Caine, P.N. Elrod, Simon R. Green, Laurel K. Hamilton, and Kim Harrison have in common?? 
We're nominees for The Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy!
Thanks to my agent Lucienne Diver for letting me know!!!
Glad I'm not on the judging committee. I wouldn't know who to pick.
I'm going to go faint now.