Friday, January 29, 2010

Jennifer Estep is here!

A special day! The fabulous Jennifer Estep is here to give away a signed copy of her new urban fantasy novel, SPIDER'S BITE, first in the Elemental Assassin series. This is getting some awesome reviews! Jennifer is also the author of the Bigtime series. So, keep reading to learn how to enter, and get a little inside peek into some of the characters in the novel from none other than Gin herself, the heroine of SPIDER'S BITE.

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Kelly for having me on the blog today. Thanks so much, Kelly!

So Kelly suggested that I talk a little bit about the characters in Spider’s Bite – the first book in my new Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that was released on Jan. 26.

Of course, the main character is my heroine, Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who also runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. Gin is tough, sassy, smart, and sarcastic. I know, I know, so is every other heroine in urban fantasy these days. But hey, who wouldn’t want to write a character like that? ;-)

Now, Gin is an assassin and she’s spent her entire adult life killing people for money, something that’s she’s very, very good at. But that doesn’t mean that she’s completely heartless. In fact, Gin has several folks that she cares deeply about.

Spider’s Bite is written in first person, so the reader sees everything from Gin’s point of view – including the other characters. So today, I thought that I’d share some of Gin’s observations about her fellow partners in crime – as well as her enemies.

Fletcher Lane: Gin’s mentor and foster father who took her in off the streets when she was thirteen and trained her to be a master assassin.

Gin’s take: My gray eyes focused on the cash register perched on the right side of the counter. A lone man sat next to it, reading a tattered paperback copy of Where the Red Fern Grows and sipping a cup of chicory coffee. An old man, late seventies, with a wispy thatch of white hair that covered his mottled, brown scalp. A grease-stained apron hung off his thin neck and trailed down his blue work shirt and pants.

The bell over the door chimed when I entered, but the man didn’t look up from his paperback.

“You’re late, Gin,” he said.

“Sorry. I was busy talking about my feelings and killing people.”

“You were supposed to be here an hour ago.”

“Why, Fletcher, it almost sounds like you were worried about me.”

Fletcher glanced up from his book. His rheumy eyes resembled the dull green glass of a soda pop bottle. “Me? Worry? Don’t be silly.”

Jo-Jo Deveraux: A two-hundred-fifty-seven-year-old dwarven Air elemental who uses her magic to heal Gin whenever Gin gets injured on one of her hits. Jo-Jo also calls herself a “drama mama” because she runs a beauty salon that caters to trophy wives, debutantes, and all other manner of Southern women.

Gin’s take: Even though it was close to midnight, Jolene “Jo-Jo” Deveraux looked like she was ready to go to Sunday church. A flowered dress covered her stocky, muscular figure, and a string of pearls hung from her short neck. Her feet were bare, although flirty pink polish covered her stubby toenails. The color matched her lipstick and eye shadow. Jo-Jo’s bleached blond-white hair was coiffed into its usual, helmetlike tower of ever-tightening curls, although her black roots were starting to show. At an even five feet, she was tall for a dwarf, and her hair only added to her height. But I still had a good seven inches on her … The dwarf’s eyes were almost colorless, except for the pinprick of black at their center. Her pale gaze flicked over Finn’s battered face, and the blood spatters that coated both of us like strips of wet wallpaper. The crow’s feet and laugh lines that grooved her middle-aged face deepened with worry.

“Hell’s bells and panther trails,” Jo-Jo drawled in a voice as light and sweet as apricot syrup. “Come in, come in. Take him in the back. You know where.”

Sophia Deveraux: Jo-Jo’s younger sister at one hundred thirteen and counting. Sophia disposes of the bodies that Gin leaves in her wake. The dwarf also works at the Pork Pit, baking up the best sourdough bread in Ashland.

Gin’s take: Sophia was an inch taller than her older sister, and her body was thicker, with an extra layer of hard muscle. Where Jo-Jo was light, Sophia was dark—as in Goth. Short, straight black hair clung to her head, matching her eye shadow, eyeliner, and lipstick. Her eyes were also a flat black. Instead of a dress, Sophia wore black jeans, black boots, and a black T-shirt embossed with hot pink skulls. The skulls matched the plastic ones hanging off the spiked, black leather collar that ringed her thick throat. Even though she was a hundred and thirteen, Sophia had the moody adolescent look down pat … Her voice rasped worse than a whiskey-drinking, hard-living chain smoker’s would have. When she did deign to speak, Sophia liked to limit herself to small spurts of syllables. Nothing too strenuous. Then again, her dwarven sister, Jo-Jo, talked enough for both of them.

Donovan Caine: One of the few honest cops in Ashland, Donovan has a total Boy Scout mentality, which is why he’s determined to track down the assassin who killed his partner. That would be Gin, of course, which makes for some great tension between her and Donovan – especially when they team up to find out who wants them both dead and why.

Gin’s take: I tracked Caine through the scope as he approached Giles. Thirty-two. Six foot one. Cropped black hair. Hazel eyes. Strong chin. Square jaw. Bumpy, crooked nose. Lean body. Bronze skin that showed his Hispanic heritage.

He was handsome enough, although not as pretty as some of the other men I’d seen in the lobby. But Caine moved with the loose, easy confidence of a man who knows what he’s doing—and knows he can handle anything that comes his way.

Was there anything sexier than confidence and the skill to back it up? I didn’t think so.

Mab Monroe: The Fire elemental who runs Ashland like it’s her own personal fiefdom. Mab runs a Mob-like empire and has a strangehold on all the illegal goings-on in Ashland. She’s also rumored to have more raw power, more raw magic, than any elemental born in the last five hundred years.

Gin’s take: Gasps surged through the crowd, and I searched for the source of the sudden disturbance. My gaze locked onto Mab Monroe. The Fire elemental swept through the lobby and walked up the grand staircase. Every eye turned to her, and conversation stopped, like a song cut off in mid-chorus. Mab had that effect on most people. Her softly curled red hair gleamed like a new penny, and she wore a gown of the darkest scarlet imaginable, cut low in the front to show off her creamy d├ęcolletage. Her eyes were black pools in her face. Fire and brimstone. That’s what I thought about every time I saw Mab.

A flat gold necklace ringed the Fire elemental’s delicate neck. My eyes caught on the centerpiece of the design: a circular ruby surrounded by several dozen wavy rays. The intricate diamond cutting on the gold made it seem as though the rays actually flickered. A sunburst. The symbol for fire. Mab’s personal rune, used by her and her alone. Even across the room, I could hear the gemstone’s vibrations. Instead of beauty and elegance, it whispered of raw, fiery power. The sound made my stomach clench.

Quite the cast of characters, huh? ;-)

I hope everyone has as much fun reading about Gin and everyone else’s (mis)adventures as I did writing them. Happy reading everyone!

What about you guys? Who are some of your favorite characters in urban fantasy and beyond? Share in the comments (Kelly here: Your comment will enter you to win a signed copy of SPIDER'S BITE!! I'll draw a winner on Monday).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Some updates

Finishing up on the young adult revisions for DARKNESS BECOMES HER. Plan to turn those in on Monday. I believe the release date for this book will be April 19, 2011, but I haven't seen the contract yet, so take this as a tentative date for now.

Working on the cover copy for the second Charlie Madigan book, THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN. Hopefully, I'll get to release the cover in the next couple weeks. *fingers crossed* For those who don't know, 'cover copy' is the text you find on the front and back cover of a book, and this includes the text you find on the inside of the covers as well. So, things like the tag line on the front of a book, the blurb on the back, and the author bio on the inside back cover, etc... Every publisher/editor is different, of course, on the level of author input here, but I get to see mine and can tweak it if I want. So, tweak, I shall. :-)

And what is my fascination with the word 'Dark' and all it's variations? My first three titles feature the word. I wonder what this says about me. Heh.

And last, but certainly not least, tomorrow is a very special day because I'll be hosting my very first guest blogger. Fellow urban fantasy and Pocket author, Jennifer Estep will be here to discuss her awesome new series, The Elemental Assassin, and the first release, SPIDER'S BITE. She'll be giving away a signed copy, too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend booksigning journal

Friday, Jan 22nd:

Urban fantasy author, Jenna Black, and I met up at our usual haunt around 3 P.M. I drove, which works out well since I prefer to drive and she doesn't. We made it to Gaffney, South Carolina around dinnertime and stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel (yum!) and then got a hotel for the night. Now, interesting thing about this drive... Agent Miriam called Jen (we have the same agent) and had some good news for her (and, no, I can't share), but it was enough to make me squee and clap. This wouldn't be worth mentioning except for the fact that I was driving in four lanes of traffic, going about 70 mph. What? :D I was excited. And, I even stayed in my lane. (There was no danger, trust me. Three seconds of no hands on the wheel, tops). Ha. Anyway, it was a cool moment to be there for Jen's good news.

Saturday, Jan. 23rd:

Did not sleep well. The room was hot during the night, and there was no noise at all. Usually, I'll turn on the fan, or run the bathroom fan, but, alas, the bathroom wasn't equipped with one and the other was virtually silent. Woke tired, and in desperate need for coffee. So I go downstairs to the lobby and make two coffees -- yes, both were for me ;), and I end up seeing two of my very best friends getting breakfast. Like, friends who live down the street and I just talked to a few days before. Totally weird, but so great to see my friends there.

So, Jen and I get ready, leave the hotel and drive to the first of our book signings in Greenville at a wonderful independent bookstore called, Fiction Addiction. The store is owned by Jill Hendrix, who was so kind and welcoming. She had two tables set up by the front door with our books. We arrived an hour and a half early (since we had to check out of our hotel at 11 A.M.), so we said hello, bought some books (because, really, who can go into a bookstore without buying something, right?) and then we went to lunch at Carrabas. Then, it was back to the store to sign books! I was thrilled to meet some folks who had already read THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS! That was a first, and was totally cool. Big thanks to you ladies for coming out! :D And to Jill for hosting us. I learned a lot just listening to her -- she's a smart lady. And she nominated BPOD for the Okra Pick, and she loves genre books like urban fantasy and paranormal romance, so she is cool as well. ;-)

Once the signing was over, Jill gave us directions to the Barnes & Noble in Spartanburg, and after we drove back up the Interstate and located the store, we checked into a hotel nearby, ate a quick dinner at O' Charley's, and then went back to the B&N for our second signing, which was held from 7-9 P.M. Met some lovely people, handed out bookmarks, signed a couple books, and the folks at the store were great. But by the time 8 o' clock rolled around, though, I was exhausted.

Got back to the hotel a little after nine. Checked email after the slowest connection in history, and then went to bed.

Sunday, Jan 24th:

Developed severe migraine in the wee hours and woke feeling like the blood vessels in my head had been pumped full of hot air until they were near bursting. Not fun. After taking migraine meds, went downstairs for breakfast, learned there were flood watches and tornado watches in the area, and headed in the same direction that we were about to drive. Yay.

Drove home in the rain. But, luckily, the weather wasn't that severe. We pretty much drove straight through. I dropped Jen off at our meeting place, and then went home. *sigh* Home.

So there you have it, the shortened version anyway. I'm really glad to be home. Today, I'm following up on some emails, working on the Young Adult revisions, and talking to my wesbite designer who just showed me some awesome concepts for my new website -- holy cow. *Love!*

Thursday, January 21, 2010

South Carolina here we come...

Fabulous urban fantasy and young adult author, Jenna Black and I will be hitting the road - yay, road trip! - and heading to S.C. this Saturday, January 23rd to sign books. Come say hello if you're in the area! Here are the details:

Fiction Addiction, Greenville SC, 2:00-4:00.
Barnes & Noble, Spartanburg SC. 7:00-9:00.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A quickie

Hey guys! The lovely Courtney Milan is hosting me (and a book giveaway) today at Eloisa James's & Julia Quinn's message board. I'm in fan girl heaven. :D And it's very cool to have the opportunity to introduce/showcase urban fantasy to some new readers out there.

A Bit O' Q & A

From the lovely Demon Hunter: How did you know that The Better Part of Darkness was the novel that would get you such an awesome agent? :-D The novel I'm currently writing feels like "the one" but I thought the one before this was "it" as well. What made you know? And, I may be late to the party, but what happened whe you got "the call" or e-mail?

How did I know? I didn't. :-) Honestly, I felt like every book I submitted in my agent hunt was 'the one'. I think if I didn't feel that kind of hope and excitement, I wouldn't have submitted those books in the first place. I think, in order to go through the submission highs and lows, you really have to believe in each book like that, like it's The One. Of course, now I can look back and see why they *cough* weren't 'the one'... But, I do have to say BPOD did feel special because it was different than anything else I'd written, and it was something that allowed me to explore a lot of things I couldn't in other genres I was writing at the time. When I started submitting the book, I had the same kinds of hope and fear that I had with all the others. It got a lot of requests and a lot of rejections. So, even though Colleen Lindsay had requested the full, I stayed reserved. Been there, done that, sort of thing. But when she came back with an offer, it was awesome. Totally couldn't believe it. She sold the first two Charlie Madigan novels and gave me start in this biz. A year and a half later, I moved to Irene Goodman and agent Miriam Kriss who sold my young adult novels.

The wonderful WilowRaven commented: I absolutely loved The Better Park of Darkness (I gave 3 copies as Christmas presents :) Thank you, thank you!! :D I didn't know you were writing YA novels! 2011? April 2011, is the tentative date thus far. Can't wait!! I would love to know where you came up with the world you created for Charlie.

Hmm. Good question. Before writing BPOD, I knew I wanted to write about a world that had already come to terms with the supernatural. I love mythology, and ever since I was a kid I'd wonder 'what if's'. What if myths were really based in truth? What if all these beings you meet in my fictional world, actually spawned much of our world's ancient myths and legends. I wanted them to be real, you see. So I did that in my version of Atlanta. I looked at all the myths I loved, all the beings that intrigued me, and made it so they could exist. Picked a city with a dense population, one that was hot, one that could support the off-worlders, and then I went from there, deciding which beings I wanted to mold into 'my truth', like the Adonai were the basis for our myths/beliefs of angels. The nymphs and fae inspired much of our Celtic mythology, and so on... This is why I love fantasy so much. I'm not bound by the rules of this world, but of the one I created.

From the fabulous LeeAnn Flowers we have: I'm curious. I shopped my second novel around for about fifteen months and got nothing but rejections. The few people that read it liked it, but how could I go about getting a more professional opinion about it, since something's obviously not clicking?

This is a hard one. There aren't a lot of ways to get a professional opinion (agent, editor...) unless you're willing to pay for an editing service, which is pretty expensive. (And, I'm sure you know that not all editing services are equal. Some are total scams, some aren't...). Contests are great ways to get feedback. RWA holds a ton of contests where the finalists are judged by industry pros. And even if you don't write romance, they often have 'Novel with Romantic Elements' categories that you can enter. Some agents also hold contests every once in a while, and, again, if you have the money, auctions are an awesome way to get personalized feedback. Brenda Novak holds an amazing auction every year that you might want to check out where a ton of editors, agents, and publishers take part, offering critiques and feedback (and even a sit down lunch at a conference) to discuss your work. I believe Irene Goodman holds one as well. You can also try hooking up with a local writing chapter. Even though I don't write straight romance, I'm part of RWA and my chapter is a great resource. We have many published authors in our chapter who are always willing to help with time, opinions, critique groups, etc...

And finally we have the awesome Melissa Carmichael who said: How many times did you rewrite BPOD? Are you a plotter? How long did BPOD take to write? I really enjoyed BPOD. I've had to add Charlie to my must buy list. *yay!* Thanks, Melissa! :D Now, I have 4 authors that are an automatic buy:)

Let's see... It took me about three months to write the book (er, I think!), and I rewrote it (I might be off by a draft), including the revision from my agent and then editor about five times. Oy. I have such a bad memory!

I am a plotter. I'm also a seat-of-my-pants writer, too. And, sometimes, I'm in between. When I start writing a book, I just do what feels right. Sometimes, I'll be inspired to sit down and plot every chapter. Sometimes, I'll start without any notes at all, except for what's already stewing in my head. Sometimes, I'll plot a few chapters and then write some that aren't plotted. Every book I write is a little different in terms of my actual process. Some things are always the same, though -- like where I sit, how much coffee I drink beforehand and during and after... ;-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Behind schedule...

Will try to post some answers tonight or tomorrow. Got behind schedule today and trying to catch up. Just had an hour long conversation with Agent Miriam about career paths and planning, which was very nice.

More later...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Have questions? Fire away...

Opening the blog up to your questions. Have questions about writing, publishing, being an author? Curious about The Better Part of Darkness or The Darkest Edge of Dawn, or Charlie Madigan's world and future, or my young adult books? Ask away? I'll answer most anything that doesn't involve spoilers or private business matters. I'll collect questions (just ask them in the comments section) until Monday and then, depending on the amount, will answer in subsequent posts.

Today, while I continue to await news on whether or not Darkest Edge revisions failed miserably and horribly *sigh* thus making my editor wonder why the hell he ever bought my books in the first place (yay for writer angst!), I'm working on revisions for the YA. I'll also jot down notes/ideas on the second YA as they come to me (that manuscript isn't due until December, but as I'm reading over Ari's story, I'll write down thoughts, etc. in prepartaion for when I start the rough draft).

And, good news: I've found a wonderful website designer, and should have an awesome new Kelly Gay website ready in about a month or so. Very excited! And since I really love the look of the current one (and think that the 'mood' fits my young adult stuff), I'm going to have him rework that theme into a separate Kelly Keaton website. Glad to finally get this underway, and even happier that I'm not doing it myself.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reading outside my genre

Besides reading and writing fantasy (and all the subgenres within), I also like to take a break sometimes and read outside of the genre. There really is no genre I dislike. There are some I lean more towards than others, but if the quality of the work and the storytelling is good, I'll read anything.

So in the spirit of trying new things, new authors, new books, and going outside of your usual genre (if you don't already), I present to you two authors that I'm about to read, and you might want to try, too. Yes, they are friends of mine, but I happen to have read some of their work, and know they are also fabulous storytellers, so here's to a blast of fresh air:

Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan.

She was his last chance for a future of happiness…

A gifted fortune-teller from a humble background, Jenny can make even the most sophisticated skeptic believe her predictions simply by batting her smoky eyelashes. Until she meets her match in Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a sworn bachelor and scientist.


Brush Strokes by Jax Cassidy.

Can a chance meeting and one night of passion bring two unlikely art lovers together, or will fate intervene in the City of Light?

Monday, January 11, 2010

End of year stats & a look at 2010

If any of you read my post at The Magic District, you might have picked up on the fact that I like stats. So, I'm gonna take a look back at 2009, see what writing-related things made the cut, and see what I have yet to do. In 2009, we have:

*Completed copy edits and galleys of BPOD.
*Wrote DARKNESS BECOMES HER (YA manuscript).
*Wrote THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN (Charlie Madigan, Book 2).
*Sold YA, plus unwritten sequel.
*Had first book release!
*Blog toured/promo'd BPOD.
*Worked on DEOD revisions.

Those are the biggies. Looks like in 2010, I'll have:

*DEOD copy edits and galleys (that's *if* there are no more revisions needed).
*Finally hire someone to redo my website.
*Revisions on the YA.
*Write YA sequel.
*Possibly write Charlie Madigan, book 3, if contract is renewed.
*Promo the release of DEOD!
*Copy edits and galleys for 1st YA (those will, most likely come in late 2010).

That's all the official stuff, but sometime during this year, (maybe this month or next), I plan on submitting a proposal for a stand alone novel, a paranormal mainstream fiction, to my agent (just needs a weekend polish) and see what she thinks of it. I have the first 150 pages of it complete. This is one of those stories I've been working on for years -- very emotional tale that takes place in present day, but has its roots in ancient Sumeria. Very mysterious, very sexy, and, when it comes right down to it, is all about faith.

And, since the 2nd contracted YA needs to be complete this year, I'll ride that wave of creativity and work on some notes/synopsis for a 3rd book in case S&S wants to pick up more in that series at some point down the road.

And then there is my awesome turn of the century Middle Grade proposal set in an alternate NYC that has been sitting for a while... OMG, love, love, love this one!

You think that should keep me busy this year? :D

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Done, done, done

Revisions are done and turned in. I am tired.

I was able to get my first Magic District post up -- and guess what it's about? Revisions! Yay! Got some interesting stats up there, too.

And now I shall log off entirely, and stare at the wall...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Magic District and more...

I've joined a bunch of really cool authors at The Magic District. It's a group blog consisting of me, Diana Rowland, Greg van Eekhout, Tim Pratt, Margaret Ronald, Rachel Aaron, N. K. Jemisin, Jeannie Holmes, Michele Lang, Lisa Shearin, Kalayna Price, and M.K. Hobson. I'll be posting this Thursday...

And good news: I'm done with revisions on THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN. Been working every available moment, and I'm sure some of you might have noticed the silence here and elsewhere. I have a ton of catching up to do-- replies, emails, yahoo group stuff. Bear with me, the whole head-in-the-sand thing is almost over. Just a few more days of polishing up and fixing any small mistakes, etc..

I polished 110 pages yesterday. Six hours straight (er, except for a bathroom break or two, and a few minutes to heat a microwave meal). Hoping to get another 100 pages done today. *fingers crossed* And I am twenty-five minutes behind schedule because I had to get online and order pet medication and deal with an irritating bank issue. Fun. But now, I'm done with all and can get back to work! See ya!