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Quick post here. I sent off a revised Devouring Winter to my agent and two other authors.  So, nothing to do but wait and see what happens. Right. Just wait? I think not. The City of White Towers has been lying forlorn on my desktop and begs to be reopened. There’s an art thesis in my backpack dying to be read, and still mounds of essays on my coffee table to grade. Amid all that I’m desperate for a pair of flat heeled boots. Where the heck are they? All I see in the stores are these painful stiletto things that could be boots or some element of torture used in the Inquisition.

On a completely different note, look for upcoming teasers from The City of White Towers, an urban fantasy set in Denver. I’ve gone to some great panels discussing urban fantasy (which is very popular right now), so I’d like to open this question up to the audience:

What is your definition of urban fantasy? Could it ever happen in the a suburban community?  

Here’s a interesting story by Kafka called “A Country Doctor”–would you consider this urban fantasy–or something else? It’s a weird creeplicious tale http://malaspina.edu/~johnstoi/kafka/countrydoctor.htm

Now, must there always be a vampire or werewolf in UF, or do we need something new to invigorate and renew the genre? How might it differ from magical realism, horror, or the surreal?  (okay, I realize now this sounds like an essay test).  I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts!

 

17th-Mar-2009 12:02 pm - OPUS FEST!
This was a GREAT con. Met a lot of writers and artists. Check it out here: Opus Fest, Part 1 « Medieval Soul/Postmodern World

I've not learned how to post my entries from Wordpress into Livejournal :(


5th-Mar-2009 12:54 pm - Editing blues
Well, I've been going over the last seven chapters before I send my revisions back to super duper agent. Couldn't have done it with editing angel Adrian Cole, a friend of mine from Dallas. We've had phone calls every night ranging one to three hours where he painstakingly went through all my misspellings, awkward wording, and messed up plot points. I think it's paid off (we'll see, of course).

In the meantime, I have to grade a truckload of papers (at least, it feels like that to me), and get ready for Opus Fest, which comes to Denver in a few weeks.  Am reading Jim Butcher's Codex Alera, Martha Wells' Gate of Gods, J.M.  McDermott's Last Dragons, and Rachel Caine's Heat Stroke.

Also, desperately waiting for G.R.R. Martin's  A Dance of Dragons (sigh).

Hmm..not much else. Watchmen should be coming out soon. Anyone know of reviews--good or bad?
24th-Feb-2009 12:30 am - DWFcon---pics!


So, I went to my third con this past weekend in Dallas, Texas, and loved it! I came back with nine, count 'em NINE books.  I got to meet the fabulous people below. Jim Butcher actually remembered meeting me in Denver, which was a serious kick. Rachel Caine graciously answered all my questions and let me stalk her throughout a night of parties (not really stalking; we just ended up at whatever party she was at). 

I got to meet fellow Absolute Writers JM McDermott, author of The Last Dragon, and Michelle Muenzler, who wrote "The Fowler's Daughter" (which can be found in Shroud Magazine). I remember reading Michelle's story on Absolute Write and  being blow away by it, so it was really cool to meet her in person. Joe is right now in transit to Georgia, where a new job as a video game writer awaits him.

I also met Patrice Sarah within my first nervous few minutes at the con, which was grand grand grand. She's a talented author, and I bought her debut novel In Gordath Wood, after hearing her wonderful reading. Her second novel, Red Gold Bridge, is coming out this summer, so keep a look out for it! She introduced me to Stina Heicht, another fellow writer in charge of the Writing Workshop at Armadillicon, and
Martha Wells, author of the Fall of Ille-Rien series and eight other novels. There were tons of other cool people there too, but this list and these pics should do for now!

JM McDermott and Jim Butcher          Patrice Sarath

                              
         Me and Rachel Cain                                                                                Stina Leicht and Michelle Muenzler

 JM McDermott and Michelle Muenzler--fellow Absolute Writers Unite!
1st-Feb-2009 12:25 pm - New Prologue to Devouring Winter

Prologue

 “Watch where yer going’ fatty!” the blacksmith shouted, with a rough push.
               
The man toppled backwards, with the promise of falling had he not landed safely against the blond barmaid. A much more pleasant encounter than the cruel, hard floor.

“Get off me, you lecherous twit, I’ve got work to do, can’t you see that?” 

“My pardon, Molls,” he said, with a small smile as he righted himself. He continued his way through the Three Sisters Inn, which was full tonight. Too full, he thought, as he began the laborious journey up the steep and narrow flight of stairs. The less people who remembered he was here tonight, the better. By the time he reached the top, he was breathing heavily, and lumbered down the dimly-lit hall to the fourth room on the right. Three knocks. Stop, then two more.

He waited for the doorknob to slowly turn and click back. The door opened a crack, and an eye peered out. “Who’s there?”

“I think my bulk alone would answer that question, Tarl,” the man wheezed. “How many three-hundred pound barbers do you know?”

The door opened to reveal a tall, dour man. “Come on, then,” Tarl slurred. He stumbled back to allow him inside.

Already, the air felt stuffy, the room too small as he stepped across the threshold. The lamp cast scarcely enough light for the place. The barber had half a mind to keep the door open, but that’s what fools did—trust in light to save them, just as the cruel believed darkness covered all sin. Well, he was in between the damned and the saved, so one lamp would do just fine. He closed the door behind him and stood there, dripping with sweat and wheezing like an old man. Tarl looked scarcely better. The tanner was swaying side to side, his brown tunic and breeches still covered in soot.

 “How drunk are you?” the barber asked.

 Tarl looked down at his work-worn hands. “Drunk enough.”

 The barber glanced at the little girl lying asleep on the small hay bed in the corner of the room. “How long has she been out like that?”

“Just a little while,” Tarl said. “She’ll stay that way for the rest of the night.”

 The barber nodded once. “Good enough. He’ll be here soon; then we can conduct business and be on our way.”                  

“Is that what you’re callin’ it now? Business?”

“In light of the unfortunate circumstances that are about to plague us, yes.” The barber unloosed the tie to his long cloak and flung it on the larger bed against the right wall. “I’ve made it my business to secure peace when war looms on the horizon. What else would you call it?”   

 Tarl pointed to the three maroon emblems emblazoned on the barber’s vest. “I can think of few other words—”

A sharp knock at the door.

“Who’s there?” Tarl barked.

“Someone who’ll slit your throat if you don’t let him in,” a quiet voice replied.

The barber heaved his body onto the center bed and motioned for Tarl to open the door. “It’s him.”

Tarl opened the door wide enough for a tall gentleman to step inside. He wore the maroon cloak and gold badge of the draper’s guild, with knee-high leather boots. A rather good disguise, the barber thought. Too blond, though. He liked his men a bit more dark and brooding. His women too. Still, a handsome face, with a strong jaw framed by short hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. The barber had to admire the cut and shape of both.

The draper looked over to the corner bed. “Is she—”

“Asleep,” Tarl said.

The draper nodded, withdrew a small bag from his cloak, and opened it to show the gold coin that filled it to the brim. He picked one gold piece out and tossed it to Tarl. “Test it.”

Tarl threw it back at the draper’s feet. “Ain’t doin’ this for money, damn you.”

"What my friend here is trying to say is that there are more important things at stake,” the barber quickly added, picking up the gold piece. He bit into it. Soft, just as it should be.  He dropped it back into the draper’s money bag.

The draper drew the string close. “You secure those stakes with this exchange, providing its truth.” Four long steps and he was standing over the little girl asleep in the corner. He knelt down beside her. Very gently he brushed a lock of dark hair from her eyes. “Are your certain this is the one?” he asked softly, his face unreadable. She had seen no more than seven or eight years.

“Oh yes,” the barber answered. “Our sentries have watched her wandering the Seven Woods alone for the last six months now. It took some time before we caught her, for she seemed to know the forest better than the woodland guards.”

“I’ve heard legends about your woods,” the draper said, still gazing at the little face. “Ours die so quickly.”

 “Any forest will die if you lay an axe or fire to it,” the barber retorted. “Which is why we are all here. Now, let us get on with it.”

The draper stood up. “Why are you so nervous, sir barber?” he asked softly. “Do you know, perhaps, of others?”

“I didn’t know about this one until your visit a year ago,” he said sharply. “I found her. I know of no others, nor have I heard any tales of them. May Neáhvalar forgive us.” He signed a circle in the air

then folded his hands. Tarl briefly looked up, did the same, then cast his eyes on the floor.

“If your god had wanted them safe,” the draper said in a voice as smooth as the silk he wore, “he would have saved them in the first place, don’t you think?”

The barber let a scowl pass over his face. “Such matters are beyond me, nor do I wish to get tangled up in them in the future.”

“We honor those who honor us, lord barber.” He smiled, a long slow grin that made him quite beautiful even as hurled the bag of money straight at the fat man’s chest.

The barber only slightly flinched as he caught the bag. “We have neither lord nor king in Gaelastad. Play out your politics in the great lands, and leave us in peace.”

“You have my assurance there will be peace, but even that comes at a price.” The draper went to kneel by the little girl again. He placed his hand gently on her forehead.  “Where will you take her when I am through?”

“We’ll return her to the center of the Seven Woods,” Tarl slurred, “where we found her.”

The draper’s ice blue eyes lighted up—with understanding or desire, the barber couldn’t tell. “An excellent
choice,” he said, kissing her brow and reaching for a second time into the depths of his cloak.

Whatever their choices tonight, the barber thought, they were damned, all of them. No no no, this is to keep damnation from coming, another voice inside his head argued. The moonstone blade flickered purpled in the candlelight, its jeweled hilt half hidden by the draper’s hand. A thing of beauty, the barber thought, as he turned his head away. Tarl buried his face in his hands, moaning softly. It was just enough noise to cover up the little girl’s gasp.
 


We love 'em, don't we? The villains of any story. So, thought I'd list a few of my favorites.
  • Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup from Neverwhere. They don't do all the damage they could (and should have) in Gaiman's novel, but their dialogue is priceless.
     
  • The Mountain and the Hound (the latter whom you come to love for his slow journey towards redemption) in George Martin's Ice and Fire Series.
     
  • The Shrike from Dan Simmons' Hyperion. What can beat out that tree of thorns the Shrike impales his victims on?
     
  • The "machine" in Kafka's "A Penal Colony"--technically not a beastie, but in the end the machine acts like a living thing, and it tattoos its victims to death. Pretty cool invention for 1914, when Kafka wrote it.
     
  • The "do me a solid" anteater Anubis from Kingdom Hospital.
     
  • Coppelius/Coppola from ETA Hoffman's "The Sandman"--how terrifying to find out at the end that the Sandman does indeed exist.

So, those are a few of my favorites. Now I want to know: Who would YOU pick?

1st-Dec-2008 01:00 pm - New Website!
I'm so excited to show you my new website: http://nancyhightower.com/

Check it out and let me know what you think!
 

 

24th-Nov-2008 03:23 pm - I'm sick of hot vampires
There's a great discussion going on over at Absolute Write about Vampire Lore--what's cliche, what you can't live without, what new thing would you like to see...

With the premiere of Twilight, I think I've about had my fill of the whole gorgeous sexy vampire gig. There's something about it that smacks of...oh, I don't know...cheesy greasy cliche. Give me Nosferatu anyday, or even Gary Oldham in Bram Stoker's Dracula, who was cute, but his creepiness outshined his attractiveness, and that made him all the more compelling.

So, why is it that the vamps have to look so dang vampy? Does that then undermine the true complexity of the vampire mythology? Thoughts?

Well, I’ve been sick for a week–nothing out of the ordinary there. The common cold is the common plight of the common human. And I’m just a common gal.

Until I catch a cold and slowly morph into an alien so slimy and gross, it would rival Ridley Scott’s magnificent salivating monster. And how does my cabinet of cold medicine curiosities only serve to fuel my strange state of being? Well, let’s run run down that list:

I’ve got my small tub of Vicks Vapor Rub to open my sinuses and clear my breathing, then a tube of Vaseline to sooth the sore nose, and the Puffs with lotion, in case the globs of Vicks and Vaseline didn’t lube my schnozzle enough. That’s just the outside. There’s the saline nasal wash that I’m supposed to shoot up my nose and sniff way up into my brain. This just increases my sniveling, of course.

Then there’s the cough syrups: DM has the suppressant that will give you a nice buzz. CF loosens all the mucous from the nose and lungs, making your cough so damn productive you’re practically drooling phlegm–alien city. I’d rather just have the dry high, but instead choose the healthier route and chug the decongestant, then turn on the humidifier.

I’m now the swamp thing in jammies.

I’ve got an assortment of lozenges to suck on, various teas and soups to slurp. Today I whipped out my  Burt’s Bees Miracle Salve to slather my hands and lips, which managed to become cracked and dry despite the humidifier and liquid diet. It might be a few more days until I turn back into my human self, but I have hope. Until then, I’ll just lumber around my house and pretend I’m some sci-fi creature, perhaps even taking a moment or two to be productive and, oh, I don’t know….write...

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