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Trout Nation Posts

I want coffins, damnit.

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It seems I can’t get away from the bloodsuckers. Apparently, I will be writing a brand spanking new vampire novel for Mira. And that’s fine with me. But it’s hard to come up with ideas that are fresh in a genre that everyone is tired of. Not to mention the fact that any book with a vampire in it, no matter what that vampire is doing, is written off as “just another vampire book.” Seriously, if they head read Dracula in Reading Lolita in Tehran, that would have been reviewed as a vampire book.

So, how to make something people are going to want to read, that is free from the pitfalls of modern stories? I have to say, I’m going to have to start with the heroine. Now, in Blood Ties, Carrie Ames was a doctor. But it seems like there are only three professions that ever run into vampires in fiction these days: doctors (and medical examiners), detectives, and vampire slayers.

Doctor, I’ve already done. Detective? So many people have detectives, I want to set this one out. Vampire slayers? Again, what can I do to distinguish my vampire slayer for anyone else’s vampire slayer? Give her three tits? I’m at a loss here.

So, there is problem number one. I remember someone had a dentist who met a vampire with a broken fang, and while that’s cute, I’m not really “cute,” am I? I mean, I am cute, but my writing style, not so much.

Then, there is the vampire. Yes, I suppose he could be human and she could be a vampire, but I’m not interested in that, damnit. I like my vampires to be sexy, and have wieners. So many people have been saying they’re tired of vampires who don’t like being vampires, but I don’t know… I’m not sure I could make a romance out of a guy who loves killing folks.

I want coffins in this story, though. I know that. In the Blood Ties series, everyone slept in beds. But this time, I want coffins.

More to come.

Public Service Announcement. You Are The Public, And I’m Gonna Fucking Service You.

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Okay, I know that authors, especially female authors in genre fiction, are supposed to be this supportive little cluster of hens who never say anything bad about each other because viewing other women as competition is wrong and we’re above that and also we’re really creative and creative people need to stick together because we’re so misunderstood blah blah bullshit bullshit bullshit let’s pretend like this isn’t a business and we’re a big sorority instead.

That’s why I’m not going to name names here. I’m just going to give a little constructive criticism, okay? And it can be about whoever you want to make it about, or maybe you could just take it to heart, in case you start spouting off incredible bullshit one day.

If your first novel came out in the early nineties, you did not “pioneer” vampire fiction. You did not create the Urban Fantasy genre. Buffy did not steal anything from you. Twilight owes nothing to you.

You are still relevant. You are still special. You are still selling more books than anyone else in your genre.

You do not need to wave the banner of “I was first.” Because you weren’t. Vampire myths, even vampire fiction, was around a lot longer than your books. Unless you wrote that first vampire novel while in the Tardis visiting Queen Nefertiti, you didn’t start the vampire trend.

A lot of people have been first. Marie Curie was the first person to discover radium. She died from radiation poisoning. Being first isn’t always the best.

Buck up, buttercup. There are literally hundreds of us out here, our noses to the keyboards, trying to make a living with our writing. You did it. You succeeded. You’re good enough. Stop with the ridiculous claims that no one is buying. You didn’t pioneer the vampire genre anymore than Al Gore pioneered the fucking internet. Be happy with what you’ve done and the success you’ve got, and stop acting like your readers are fucking idiots who never heard of Anne Rice, especially when you’ve got a carbon-copy of her main character swishing around your books, okay?

Frank McCourt

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I tend to roll my eyes at celebrity death mourning. You don’t know Farrah Fawcette, you don’t know Betty White. You know what they did, who they pretended to be, and how much you enjoyed it. But Frank McCourt’s death hits me like a truck. This isn’t a celebrity who got famous being someone else. This is a man who shared his life– no matter how controversially– with the world and did it poetically, beautifully, and touched many people’s hearts.

I count myself lucky to be among them. Rest in Peace, Frank.

James Blunt thinks your book is beautiful, Susan Krinard.

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Since the June of Doom is upon us, I thought I would take the time to inform everyone that I am not dead. In fact, I am not famous enough to fulfill any occult significance of the number 3, and therefore I might live forever.

In other news, you can now officially pre-order all of the Lightworld/Darkworld books (Queene of Light, Child of Darkness, Veil of Shadows) from Amazon.com and also something called “chapters,” which I do not actually know what that is, but whatever.

So, if you have ever written a book, or worked in the art department of a major publishing house, you might know that authors are usually asked to fill out something called an “art fact sheet” for the books they have written. The art fact sheet tells the people who design the covers exactly what they need to know about the characters and settings for the book without actually having to read the books.

In theory, the art fact sheet will help the cover artists get the right images of the characters, and the right mood for the story, on the cover. I say in theory because there’s a old Temptation or Blaze from a few years ago, I think it was by Stephanie Bond, but don’t quote me on that, where the hero is in the Marines and the guy on the cover has this big, unruly mop of dark curls. Also, have you ever seen one of those Harlequin Presents books with the so-called “sheiks” on them? Either the person filling out the art fact sheet is saying, “PLZ NO SCARY BROWN PPL, KTHNXBYE,” or the cover artists just aren’t aware that there are probably not that many white guys walking around in Dubai wearing caftans. Seriously, just painting a tan on a white guy doesn’t work, y’all. Same with Native Americans.

Anyway, I digress. There’s a section on the art fact sheet, at least, on the one from Harlequin, where they ask you to include any pictures of people who resemble your characters. Like, okay, when I was filling the art fact sheet out for The Turning, I said Nathan looks like Gerard Butler. Because he so does, I’m not even kidding. But I’ve been noticing lately that either cover artists are looking more and more to celebrities for their inspiration, or there are just a lot of people walking around out there looking like fictional characters by accident.

Here’s the one that got this whole thing spinning around in my mind:

This is the latest (I think) from Susan Krinard. Lord of Legends. Apparently, the hero of this book is the King of the Unicorns. Stop right there, Susan, you had me at Unicorn. I did buy this book, you best believe I did. But you know what initially stopped me? Check out Lord o’ Legend up there in the picture. Where have I seen him before?

Holy crap, it’s famed castrato James Blunt! He’s the Lord of the Unicorns? Of course, it all makes perfect sense now! Underneath that uber-manly, troubadour exterior beats the tender heart of a mythical beast!

So, then I started thinking about other books that had really bizarre resemblances to celebrities. There were two that really stuck out to me. One, being:

David Boreanaz stalking the streets of Crimson City and…

feeding grapes to…

in The Care And Feeding Of A Brad Pitt Pirate. This one makes me wonder if it was supposed to be a Brangelina cover, and the artist just made Angie too chubby round the cheekbones.

So, has anyone else been driven to distraction by this kind of thing lately? What are your favorites?

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There’s not much for me to say today. I just need to get back into the habit of blogging. Because, let’s be honest, it’s easy to forget I’m here, especially after a year with no new releases. Don’t forget about me, intarweb peeps! Especially when you’re going to spend your money! Because I love money and I want some more!

And with good reason. Mr. Jen and I are going back to college. No, not sexy, co-ed dorms, raging parties, lots of fun college. Grown-up, dear God we’re almost thirty and completely uneducated, this is going to be way more embarrassing if we wait until we’re so old the newspaper reports that we’re going back to college college. Mr. Jen is majoring in art. Me, Mrs. Jen, I am going into Automotive Technology.

In fact, I’m at college right now. I’m not currently in classes, but Mr. Jen had to do his pre-testing, so I came along so that I could re-aquatint myself with the student commons, which is this really cool area that looks like outside, inside, and has banana plants like I’m in Jurassic Park or something. There are also computers everywhere, freely available for everyone to use, with internet access, which is pretty much why on my transcript the last semester I attended here reads “Intro to Logic: 0.0 Astronomy 0.0 American History 4.0”

Things have totally changed, though. Like, there is wireless internet access now. We didn’t have that when I was here before. And there are all sorts of people who look way younger than me. Scratch that, who ARE way younger than me. I refuse to concede that I do not look eighteen anymore.

Sometimes Good Things Happen, Sometimes Not.

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Once upon a time, there was an author. She had written her lowly little first novel, about vampires. It was generally well-received, but it was one of those, “If you like it, you love it, if you don’t, you hate it so much you wish you could destroy the very printing machine that spat it forth and cleanse it with fire,” types of books.

The writer of the book was a bit taken aback at some of the vitriol spouted by some reviewers, namely Laurie Gold, who had this to say about Blood Fires:

Blood Fires: The Turning, Jennifer Armintrout (2006) – This debut by a fairly young author (she’s 26) of the first in a violent vampire fiction series isn’t a major disappointment, and it isn’t boring. It’s downright awful. My conclusion is that this is post-9/11 fiction for nihilists. Though the author created a couple of interesting characters and a difficult and intriguing tentative relationship for them, any interest I had was destroyed by one intimate scene that is the stuff of a true sadist’s dream. I’ve no problem with gore in general; indeed, an oddly favorite moment in one of Anne Rice’s vampire books features a couple of vampires literally breaking people’s bones and devouring their bodies, yet a similar moment in this book nearly brought up my lunch. This was, for me, the worst book of the year.

This review was, in my opinion, just a titch harsh. Also, it made my mom cry. Maybe that bothered me more than anything. No, wait, it was the allegations of nihilism and sadism and something about 9/11, which is sure to call everyone to attention. Because 9/11 was bad, right? Like, how this book was bad? That’s the only thing I’m getting here, because I don’t understand why on earth it was mentioned.

Anyway. I made a little joke of it, while inside my head I was screaming at the top of my lungs like Regina in “Mean Girls” after she finds out that the Calteen bars are responsible for her weight gain. Then, I got over it. It was in the past, and not everyone had to like my books, right?

Besides, I had this REALLY awesome review from Publisher’s Weekly:

Armintrout’s bold debut, the first book in a violent vampire series, bares its fangs early, unafraid to spill blood and vital organs from its very first pages. ER resident Dr. Carrie Ames tells the story of how, after being attacked and left for dead, she eventually realizes she’s been “turned.” Fellow vampire Nathan Grant saves Carrie from her sire’s jealous lover, only to give Carrie a life-or-death ultimatum: either pledge allegiance to the Movement, a group of humanitarian vampires dedicated to the eradication of their own race, or perish for their cause. Feisty, independent Carrie would like to make up her own mind, but an invisible “blood tie” to Cyrus Kerrick, her evil sire, leaves her in his thrall—she can’t help lusting after his body and power. A deadly game of wits develops between Carrie and Cyrus, whose desire for companionship masks his plot for world domination. Carrie, Cyrus and Nathan are all well drawn, as is the love triangle that develops among them. The book’s level of gory detail—the narrator is, after all, a newly minted emergency room doctor—may put off all but the most stalwart of readers, but if you’ve got the stomach for it, this fast, furious novel is a squirm-inducing treat. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

They were even going to put “…this fast, furious novel is a squirm-inducing treat” right on the cover of my next book, and probably the ones after that! How could this possibly go wrong?

I mean, only if the same person who called my book “post-9/11 fiction for nihilists” was the same person who wrote that line. But that would be quite a strange coincidence.

WHY LOOK AT FUCKING THAT, COINCIDENCES HAPPEN EVERY DAY, DON’T THEY, PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY?

Laurie Gold is EXACTLY the same person who wrote the positive PW review that is splashed all over my books, all over Amazon, any place that my publishers could put it.

But wait, there’s more!

There was a post about it on Dearauthor.com!

Let’s do a hypothetical scenario here, shall we? Let’s say that you made… something. How about… a cake. You made this cake, and you took it to a bake sale. The next day, you find out that someone at the bake sale thought your cake was the worst cake ever. Not only was it the worst cake ever, it was post-9/11 cake for nihilists. But it’s all good, because Bake Sale Weekly came out, and they seemed to think your cake was pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that you could probably use their opinion of your cake as a way to advertise future cakes that you make, and people might buy your cake based solely on the good reputation of Bake Sale Weekly. Bake Sale Weekly wouldn’t LIE to their readers, would they? Of course they wouldn’t. But then, you find out that the person who thought your cake was something out of a sadist’s dream was the same person who thought it was good in Bake Sale Weekly. Gosh, aren’t you glad you’re not the dumb sucker who plastered those positive words all over your cake? Wouldn’t that be humiliating?

And really, the fact that all of this was exposed back in February, and I’m just learning about it now, that’s really the icing on that big fat humiliation cake. It’s rather like being thirteen years old and getting your period at the popular girl’s birthday party and no one tells you that you’re walking around with a big stain on your jeans. You find out later, when you get home.

I have no idea what lesson one should take away from all of this. Maybe it’s that you can’t trust Publisher’s Weekly for reviews. Maybe there’s some vote trading going on between the Russian and French judges. Maybe I should read Dearauthor.com more.

I don’t know what I’m going to take away from all of this. But right now, I feel like the girl with the sucky cake who got her period at the bake sale. Or something.

EDIT: This entire fiasco was not Laurie Gold’s fault. Her original review was not positive, but it was changed by her editors at Publishers Weekly to be a positive review. I do not fault Laurie on this one.