Namely that I have been very busy being sick. I’m not kidding. I have managed to infect those around me, including–and this is impressive even to me–a friend who lives 10 miles away and whom I hadn’t seen for a month before I got the cold. Yeah, top that!
Now. I’m going to go back to my special box of tissues–Kleenex with the aloe and e lotion. I have done an exhaustive test on my own nose and I think they are the best available. Yes, I have put myself out there for the team.
Hope all of you are doing well in your new year! If you’re having a tough start, go snuggle up and read a book. Yeah, it’s an order.
Rachel Dove just reviewed Underdead and Underdead In Denial for Kindle Nation–reading and posting the reviews in a record 2 days. (She’s going to make a steller teacher! Clearly has the chops and the sense of humor to succeed.)
“…a witty, funny read with more than enough mystery, intrigue and romantic tension to keep you reading till the last page….I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am already reading the sequel UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL, and I hear that the author is working on Book 3….keep them coming Liz!” Full Review
“I loved this book …. This is Twilight with a brain. I adore Twilight, but Jo has more balls and brains than Bella has, which gives these books a ‘rare’ advantage…..” Full Review
Author’s note: Yes I AM working on #3. Have draft. Letting it sit while I work on getting Princess Crimson In A Very Wrong Fairy Tale polished and out.
Here’s something to love about Facebook–you get to see a ton of funny images. Or things that inspire. Or awe.
Or that do all the above, like THIS:
How cool is that! If I understand the Facebook credits properly, the genius behind it is Craig Hurle and that link will take you to the Dr. Who page. (There may be others but do THEY have pumpkin Daleks? Are they awesome?) Darn straight I “liked” the page! I will admit here that I, Liz Jasper, am a Dr. Who junkie. The new series, not the the older ones. My sister used to watch those paltry excuses for whodom when we were kids. Yes, she wore the striped scarf around like a dork (she’s my sister so, yeah, I’m calling her a dork). She had a big crush on the blond doctor. And probably the curly haired one with the big nose, too; she was that into it. I would take one look at the screen and roll my eyes and run out and shoot hoops. I was very, very condescending.
And I still am. Hah! The new ones rule! Anyone with me? If not, Exterminate!
We had this cat, Fuzzy. No, I did not name her. I would not have named her something so insipid, so…generic. In my family, we like to get a feel for the cat’s personality before naming him or her. (Unfortunately, this often leads to confusion, as the cat’s name tends to change over time as we get to know him or her better.)
Anyway, the point is. my cat’s personality was not the sort that goes with “Fuzzy”. “Fuzzy” belongs to a sweet cat. A nice cat. The sort that sits on your lap and purrs.
THIS cat was more the sort to sit on someone else’s lap and purr, just to stick it to you. And she’s not cute the way a name like Fuzzy would imply. Frankly, she was much, MUCH better looking than that. You know that euphemism about someone having a “good personality”? Well Fuzzy was the reverse. She had a terrible personality. We kept her because she was so darned good-looking. She was a ridiculously cute cat.
Eventually, after a few years of spurning, we got over her blinding cuteness, stopped calling her Fuzzy and started calling her by the name that went with her personality: That Little Turd.
But even that name didn’t last forever. As will happen, The Little Turd got old and her kidneys went on the blink. Which means I had to give her (foul tasting) meds twice a day and inject her with some stuff. As you might imagine, there was a lot of hiding under furniture and complaining. Often by me. We changed her name to Cranky Pants. That lasted about a minute, until we got caught in the death ray of her glare at being, once again, named something insipid. She became known from then on as Bitter Butt.
About that time I moved. I was good. I read all the books. I bought her treats and crooned at her. I bought two litter boxes so Bitter Butt could have her pick. And how did she respond? How did she show her gratitude?
Spite peeing. She never used the litter boxes unless it was as a place to stand while she went off the side. She hit the bathroom rugs, so you’d get a little damp surprise under your feet if you had to go in the middle of the night. She went inside closets. On luggage, towels, and electronics. She particularly enjoyed peeing on iPods. I don’t have an iPod. But she could sense it from two rooms away if a guest brought one in the house and was stupid enough to leave it unattended.
You might be reading this and thinking, “Oh that poor sweet dear kitty! So traumatized at illness and moving.” That just goes to show you’re a total sucker for a pretty face. “She was just expressing her feelings,” you insist.
Of course Bitter Butt was expressing her feelings! The feeling she was expressing most often was enjoyment in watching me me get down on my hands and knees and scrub up after her, coughing my way through thick vinegar clouds. I could tell because off in the distance, I could hear that rarest of all Fuzzy sounds: her purring. The little turd.
Anyone else gravely mis-named a pet?
I don’t know why I’ve bothered to take all those classes, why I’ve wasted blood sweat and tears over my book plots…when I could simply have used a Magic Eight Ball.
“Yes!” it agrees.
Consider this passage beginning from a potential novel. “Esmeralda looked out her window and saw…”
Now, I could spend hours debating what she saw. I could dither over the wisdom of opening the novel with my heroine spying on something. I could fret over the sentence structure. And so on. You know, the usual writer’s angst.
I could simply use the Magic Eight Ball.
Liz Jasper (to the Magic Eight Ball): Should Esmeralda see her hero?
Magic Eight Ball: Signs point to yes.
LIZ JASPER: Hmmm. I guess that means she should see him, but indirectly. Maybe he’s in costume?
Magic Eight Ball: Concentrate and ask again.
LIZ JASPER: Right, right. She sees him getting into his carriage on the way to a costume ball.
Magic Eight Ball: Reply hazy try again.
LIZ JASPER: They’re in the carriage together, on the way to a costume ball and he has on one of those mask thingies. AND, that when she realizes her guardian is the mystery man she kissed in the garden at the last costume ball!
Magic Eight Ball: Cannot predict now.
LIZ JASPER: And she knows he’s on his way to meet his fiancée, to whom he was promised at birth but has never seen, and Esmeralda knows she cannot let him marry someone else because she loves him! So she rings for her maid and dons the gown from that fateful night, the gown she swore never to wear again, and secretly follows him to the ball in the second best carriage!
Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.
LIZ JASPER: Dammit! No, you’re right. It’s been done. Hmm. How about she goes with him to the ball and that’s when she realizes he’s the one? Maybe when they’re dancing together?
Magic Eight Ball: Very doubtful.
LIZ JASPER: You know, this is very annoying! Why can’t you like any of my ideas? I’m a published author, you know. An award-winning published author. Fine, that was mysteries and the Esmeralda book is a historical romance, but still. Authors need to stretch themselves. Who are you to say I can’t write a big thick romance? Screw you. She’s going to that darn dance, she’s going to follow him out of the garden, and she’s going to…to seduce that blind fool!
Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.
LIZ JASPER: Fine. She’ll stumble and he’ll clutch her to him–just for the sake of keeping her from falling—and then they’ll kiss. Ha HAH! Now that’s good stuff.
Magic Eight Ball: Outlook not so good.
LIZ JASPER: You’d probably like it if they didn’t even exchange a smoldering look!
Magic Eight Ball: Most likely.
LIZ JASPER: Maybe You think I should be working on the next Underdead book like I’m supposed to be!
Magic Eight Ball: “As I see it, yes”
As you can see, the Magic Eight Ball can save you hours of time wasting and even help you with time management! I’d let you borrow mine, but it’s having some technical difficulties right now. Maybe when the glue dries…
(Hey, I LIKE Thanksgiving. I’d do a countdown but I figure my time is better spent in the Thanksgiving spirit of looking up recipes of things I can slop gravy over. Mmmm. Gravy! No, I’m not sharing. Get your own gravy bowl!)
Award winning UNDERDEAD and the sequel UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL are now available in eBook and trade paperback!
“Jo is terrific! An entertaining lighthearted romp!”~~Midwest Book Review
“UNDERDEAD is certainly not your typical vampire story, it’s better!”~~ Two Lips Reviews
“Hilariously funny…a page-turner extraordinaire”~~MyShelf
“Fun to read murder mystery with vampires rivals TWILIGHT series”
~~ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction
As a launch special, the eBook version of UNDERDEAD will be on sale for $0.99 for a limited time. To find links to both books in whatever format you prefer, click here.
WHERE TO FIND LIZ IN NOVEMBER: Pin Up Hair Emporium and Unique Boutique. Reading, book signing and wine and cheese and palm reading. You saw it right, palm reading. 6-8:30. 1560 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA
When asked why I write book series, I usually respond with something suitably ponderous and writer-ly about character development and plot arcs. And it’s true that I like the way one really gets to know and care about characters in a series. But writing a series has an important advantage no one really talks about: you don’t have to come up with as many new names.
I hate naming characters. I’m not kidding. It’s really hard for me. Most of the names that pop in my head pop in because I know someone with that name. And that causes all sorts of problems.
For instance, imagine you’re creating your hero. He’s tall, dark and handsome or buffed, blond and gorgeous or whatever. You imagine your heroine leaning in for that first kiss. She moans, “Oh, John!”
Hold on. (And not because that’s terrible writing.) John was the name of the guy who took you to homecoming your sophomore year of high school. He had fish breath and damp hands. O-kaaay. Not John. You rewrite. Your heroine and hero are sharing a box of Junior Mints. He puts his arm around her. She leans toward him and whispers, “Oh, Rick!”
Backtrack, backtrack, ick, ick, ick. You have and Uncle Richard, which is awfully close to “Rick.” And don’t forget about Ranger Rick Magazine which you read as a kid. How can you possibly write a romantic scene when you think “raccoon?” I mean, how much chest hair does the guy have? Eeew. Now in your head your tall, dark and handsome hero has got a serious back hair problem.
Okay. Time to switch gears. Let’s name the murder victim. Okay. The victim is a female librarian in her 50s. How about Marge? You can’t think of anyone named Marge. Except for Marge Simpson, but since your victim is too old and square to have dyed her hair blue and too young to have a nice blue rinse, chances are no one is going to think Marge Simpson. Fine. Death to Marge! And then your mother reads the manuscript and you get this phone call:
Liz’s mom: “I can’t believe you killed off our next door neighbor.”
Liz: “What? What are you talking about?”
Liz’s mom: “Marge! Marge Wilkinson. How will I be able to look her in the face? Who’s going to watch our cat when we go to Florida?”
Liz: [awkward pause]”Her name’s Marge?”
Liz’s mom: “What did you think her name was?”
Liz (in her head): “Mrs. Wilkinson.”
Liz (aloud): “It’s okay, Mom. I can change her name to…” (Liz looks frantically around desk. Sees ad for Glendora Cleaners.) “Glendora.” Hah. Perfect. Death to Glendora!
Liz’s mom: “Glendora? Tsk. That’s a ridiculous name for a librarian.“
So you can see how difficult coming up with names can be. I think we should all be glad I haven’t resorted to Dirk Deedlehopper. But if I’m honest, it’s only because my best friend used to date a guy named Dirk and George Deedlehopper doesn’t quite have the same ring.
[Note: this was originally blogged elsewhere. I’m re-posting these here. See note below. Is this an endless string of notes destined to torture you? Perhaps. Why don’t you scroll down and see?]
For those of you don’t recognize the latter name right off, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai was “Broken Sword” in the movie Hero and now plays Mr. Lee in Lust, Caution. I fell in crush with him when I saw him in Hero. He’s just gorgeous. He’s got the long hair going on and enough quiet charisma to set a screen on fire. Very dangerous, given all the rapturous sighing going on in the audience. (Though if the conflagration were to set the multiplex on fire, the fire department would come, and I’m sure the audience would be happy to transfer their affection from hot actor to hot firefighters. But I digress.)
I’ve had a crush on Tony Leung Chiu-Wai for years now. I didn’t realize how unusual it was for me to keep an actor in my theoretical “Five people you get to cheat with” list (Oh, come on. Everyone has a list.) until this morning when I saw an ad in the paper for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Rendition. Instead of going “Jake Gyllenhaal! He’s so dreamy,” as would have back when Brokeback was still on people’s tongues, I shrugged and flipped the page to Doonesbury.
The sort of falling out of crush happens a lot to me, and I wondered why. The simple answer is “over exposure.” But that’s a little facile. I think the answer is that I don’t ever really have a crush on the actor, but the character he is playing. When I see an actor outside a movie, in an interview where he’s deliberately holding back personal information (for good reason), the actor goes from 3-D, surround-sound Technicolor to cardboard facsimile. And though crushes are two-dimensional in nature, I can’t be sustained by a piece of cardboard for long.
But Tony Leung Chiu-Wai lives in China, and while I’m sure he does the usual cardboard cutout interviews there, I never see them. So he is always Broken Sword. (Or some other rich, gorgeous character like Mr. Lee he’s now playing in Lust, Caution. But I haven’t seen it, so, he’s still Broken Sword in my heart.) Broken Sword. Shuddery indrawn breath. Flutter of lashes. Sigh.
Last December, my publisher changed their focus away from mainstream fiction. I got the rights back to my novels just as the self-publishing world took off.
The re-pub process has taken a bit longer than I’d anticipated. And I have to admit I needed a shove from one of my author buddies to go down this path. And a few long phone calls with another author friend who had gotten the rights back to his backlists. (He’s now a bestseller! He reports he doesn’t have groupies–bummer–but that he did have a woman come up and kiss him at Bouchercon. Yes, it’s those moments that sustain writers, even if it didn’t happen to them (and in their head they change “women” to “hunky guy”. Though I’m holding out for groupies.) More phone calls to other authors to see if they had a read on the market. Hard to believe at this point that all this back and forth was needed, but we were trying to figure it out as we went. The book market has changed tremendously in 2011.
On the plus side of all this, I have book covers that I love. And I can set the price for my books and decide whether to offer them in print. (Yes, they will be available in print. I still like to snuggle up on the couch with a print book and I know others do, too.) On the downside, all this is a lot of work. There’s a lot more involved in getting books out than I’d expected. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve done in the past months:
* Moved my website here and completely overhauled it. It took 8 calls to yahoo and many discussions with my genius social marketing friend about why I kept loosing my email. But it eventually got done. By me trying different things and finally discovering what worked.
* Taken professional author photos (At the behest of VV who said, “Liz. Really. You NEED to have a decent photo up.” And my sister who said, “Liz, you know all those photos I have of you in the ugly hiking hat? The ones we took of with my phone where you have the double chin thing going on and sunscreen dripping from your left ear? If you don’t put up a decent photo, I’m posting one of those.”)
* Sat in on a talk with Mark Coker, head honcho of Smashwords. (Nice guy, not CEO-ey or sales-y at all. For my virtual writerly backyard bbq, he and his family are totally invited.)
* Eaten chocolate. Lots of it. Got the cat and I addicted to Trader Joe’s Cheese Crunchies.
* Taken another course on marketing and promo. Not my fav. thing, marketing and promo. I really like doing booksignings and panel talks, but M&P isn’t all chatting with readers. If it were, I’d like it a lot more, because who doesn’t like that? I talk about books with my family and friends a lot. Always have. My mom sister and I will go ten rounds arguing about a book we’ve all just read.
* Made my (then) pregnant friend help me redo the back cover copy for both books. It’s amazing what you can get pregnant friends to do for chocolate and air conditioning.
* Started the next Underdead book.
* Had a fabulous cover done by the talented husband (Bob McAndrews) of one of my writer buddies. Having a cover that suggested mystery/vampire/humor/fun was a huge plus. Kimberly Van Meter did a great job with the next cover. As ever, thanks Ida Mary Walker, aka mizzd-stock for being the cover model.
* Admitted that I had better things to do than learn how to perfectly format a manuscript. Admitted that, as I am not a detail person by nature, perhaps that is one thing I can farm out. Really, really enjoyed making that decision. Steven James Price of Generation Next Publications formatted the print book layouts, the print covers and the ebooks. Great decision to have hired him.
That’s a partial list of all the stuff that goes into getting your books back out after you’ve gotten the rights back from your publisher. Now. I have to go check my print book proofs on Amazon. Keep tuned for the official release. No, this wasn’t official. Well, official whining, perhaps.