February 9, 2016

Books books books!

I am the WORST at Goodreads. I never remember to go there to tell people what I'm reading. I never think people care what I'm reading.

But I've read a lot lately, and thought you might like to hear about some of it! Maybe? I don't know. Perhaps. Well, no matter what, these are awesome books, and you just might enjoy them.

Picture this: a family who lives in filth by choice. A family who collects junk, loving on those bits and bobs of cast-off detritus like most of us love on each other.

No, this isn't an episode of Hoarders (though that show is, to me, like a train wreck - I can never turn if off if I've happened upon it). This is the Iremonger Trilogy by Edward Carey.

Beautifully written and illustrated by Carey, these young adult books are freakishly charming. Set in Victorian London, they follow the tale of Clod Iremonger and Lucy Pennant, two star-crossed teenagers who wind up having to save the world from the Iremonger clan. This devilish family can manipulate trash, and while that doesn't necessarily sound terrifying...it is.

In this wild and imaginative world, people become objects, and objects become people, and again, it doesn't necessarily sound terrifying...but it is.

I swear.

You should definitely check it out.

Okay, okay, okay...I should have read this book YEARS ago, I'm sure. But it came out before I'd heard of Neil Gaiman, who has since become one of my all-time favorite writers, and I only noticed it on a shelf in our personal library a few weeks ago.

But I picked it up and dove into his slightly-fractured fairy tale, and fell immediately in love. Seriously. Tristran Thorn is my new literary boyfriend, and I've even watched the movie. Twice.

If you haven't read it and you love the magical, please, do yourself a favor...go read.

* * * *

Beyond these books, I've read lots of nonfiction again lately, and I've been watching lots of movies. I think it's my way of refilling the creative coffers before diving into the writing of the sequel to HEARTLESS, which I will begin pretty much as soon as I'm done with this blog post.

No one can create in a vacuum, that much I know. Sometimes I need those outside influences to spark some flame of creativity in my belly. I love seeing how these voices, literary and otherwise, wind up influencing my own stories...and so we'll see how it all comes together.

In the meantime - go forth and read! Have fun! Enjoy!


February 8, 2016

Self-Promo and Linkies and Pre-Orders, Oh My!

The time has come, y'all! A moment of absolute transparency. A minute of begging. And a whole heaping helping of love to you, my friends, family, and supporters. 

See, here's the thing: in order to keep doing this writing-thing, this thing I love, I need help. I need to sell books. I need readers and fans and all sorts of other things.

In short, I need YOU!

A writer's career will be very short if she doesn't sell books. It'll be very short if she doesn't reach readers. It'll be very short without YOU.

But here's the problem: I hate hate HATE asking people for things! HATE IT! But I can't succeed without your help, and to get your help, I have to ask.

It's a conundrum.

So here's a post where I am asking - no, begging - for your help! I'll try to keep it short.

1. This is important. In order for bookstores to want to order HEARTLESS, they need to see that it'll sell well. So pre-orders on Amazon become VERY important, VERY quickly. If you are considering purchasing a copy of HEARTLESS at any time (either the hardcover or e-book edition), I'd be super-thankful if you'd go ahead and pre-order a copy here.

2. I have a shiny, new, official author page on Facebook. From that page, I'll share info moving forward about ALL my writing projects! I'd love it if you'd not only give it a like, but also click the Liked button and choose the option to Get Notifications...that way you won't miss any interesting and exciting posts!

3. There's still an open Goodreads giveaway for six of the gorgeous advance copies of HEARTLESS. Advance copies are used for promotions, for reviews, and (most importantly) for finding all those last minute typos we'd all rather live without. It's cool to have an ARC of a book from an author you love, so if you want one of mine, please do enter!

4. Regarding signed copies of things....so. I don't know if/when I'll have a stash of actual copies of HEARTLESS to sign and sell directly to you. Here's what I do know, though. 
  • This summer, I'll be doing as many events as I can find bookstores to host me. I hope to travel around the lower east coast, as well as up in the tri-state area. Maybe I'll even head to Tulsa, Oklahoma! You just never know. Hopefully I'll get to come to a bookstore near you, so I can sign your book in person! Stay tuned here and on Facebook for dates/times/events!!!
  • I am always, ALWAYS willing to sign and ship a book if you order from Amazon and have it sent to me. If you're interested in this, contact me directly via email and we'll talk. 
5. I will be at Captain's Comic Expo (February 20-21) again this year. I'll have the advance copies of HEARTLESS for you to see but not sell. I will be selling my Undead America series, however, and I'll have some fun swag to give away (including adorable HEARTLESS buttons courtesy of Marianne Quirk - she took the cover and made little button images for me and I love them and can't wait to share!!!). I am also trying to come up with a fun contest around the event...so we'll see what we can do! It should be a great time!

and 6. Work starts this week (time permitting) on a sequel to HEARTLESS. Tentatively titled SHAPELESS, it'll follow Lucy and Eli and some other familiar faces on further adventures into the dark side of the pesky Order of the Adversaries....and it's going to be FUN to write!

You guys. Seriously. I wouldn't have come this far without you, and I am so grateful for this wild ride of mine! You are the BEST and the most WONDERFUL and I absolutely adore YOU!!!!

February 3, 2016

Gamut Magazine's Kickstarter

Hi friends! How are you? What's been going on?

I'm excited right now. Want to hear why?

It's because one of my favorite writing pal's, Richard Thomas, is trying to start a brand spankin' new literary magazine/web site for transgressive, interesting, genre-bending fiction!

Called Gamut Magazine, when it gets off the ground, it'll publish new fiction, reprints of cool older work, poetry, and essays. It will focus on the darker side of the world - neo-noir, or the new black, so to speak.

And seriously - it's got some of my favorite writerly people involved.

First we've got Richard Thomas, who I've worked with at LitReactor for several years. Richard's a fabulous writer and editor - a short story anthology he was a part of editing, Burnt Tongues, went pretty much off the charts last year. He's also a publisher at Dark House Press, so to say that Gamut has someone at the helm who's been in the trenches and knows what's up would be an understatement. Richard is also kind and generous with his time, and he's been like a literary big brother to me.

Also on board is my awesome bud, Dino Parenti. He'll be one of the fiction editors, which is great, because I've never read work from Dino that hasn't ripped open my soul. We met when we were both taking part in a weekly writing contest, and though the entries were always anonymous, I'd know Dino's voice anywhere. Dark and tragic, while still funny and engaging...he's someone special. Trust me. Oh, and he's a total sweet pea who'd do anything for anybody, too. So yeah. Good to have on staff, to say the least.

Other staff members include Keith Rawson and Max Booth, two razor-sharp writers I've traded jabs with at LitReactor. They're fantastic.

And the lineup Gamut has planned? Jeeeez. They already have amazing writers promising to submit stories and other work...like the aptly-named Sarah Read (her stories will make you ache), Rebecca Jones-Howe (her short story collection garnered her an angry email from a granny, calling her a "dirty girl" or some such nonsense) and the ever-amazing Amanda Gowin (who's one of my favorite people with whom to karaoke). Transgressive master Stephen Graham-Jones is on board, along with Laird Barron....and oh man, I could go on and on.

The pay rate is totally professional ($0.10/word), so you can make some cash if they start publishing your work, and they even hope to run some novel serializations (Richard, talk to me about this, because I can't write short form anymore! Hahahaha!!).

Oh...and if you don't want to listen to me babble on about it, why not listen to Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk, who says:
Now that short fiction has become as standardized as the SATs and Common Core—all in order to 'judge' and 'rank' writers—I'm excited to see what Richard Thomas brings to the game. Gamut will be the new magazine not written for the little old lady in Dubuque.
So. Gamut Magazine. Go check out the Kickstarter (which has raised over $8k in two days!), and support it if it sounds like your thing. And it should sound like your thing! After all, you're friends with me, aren't you? 

Happy reading, and good luck to Richard, Dino, and the amazing Gamut gang! 

January 29, 2016

A Friday Funny - Mixed Up Song Lyrics

Here's some (mildly) NSWF fun for your Friday morning.


My parents didn't believe in censorship, even when I was very young. My mom believed that we kids would understand what we could, even from mildly "inappropriate" content, and what we didn't understand...we'd find something cool to learn, and figure it out as we went. 

This was the 80s, of course. There was much to learn from everything around me! I saw boobs on TV (no biggie back then) in movies like Stripes (Bill Murray!!!) and Carrie (Stephen King!!!), so boobs were never a big mystery to me. Never a big deal. I learned curse-words early, so that I knew how and when to use them appropriately. Since it was kind of normal, I didn't take much glee in using those words around adults, and kept myself out of trouble.

In short, I loved the fact that I wasn't censored. 


And now that I'm an adult....

...I'm struggling to allow my child the same freedoms. Because! Her sweet and innocent brain! Do I want to corrupt it?

(Who am I kidding...of course I do...I'd rather she learn stuff at home than out and about...but I digress...)

That said, I have a certain song I sing to her in the morning when I have to drag her out of bed for school. It's "Good Morning, Starshine," from the musical Hair. I grew up on the movie version, watching it over and over and over with my dad. (There are boobs here, too. Boobs everywhere in the late 70s, early 80s!) It was one of our favorites.

This morning, I *almost* pulled out my DVD copy to finally play the song for reaslies for my Zoe. I thought, well, maybe it's time she sees one of my all-time favorite musicals...

And then I remembered...

There's a song called "Sodomy."

The lyrics are sooooooooo dirty. Here they are, unedited, in all their glory...


Father, why do these words sound so nasty?

Can be fun!
Join the holy orgy
Kama Sutra

That's it. I kid you not.

How could I let my sweet child watch a movie in which there's THIS SONG??? OY!

Until I remembered...

...allllllll this remembering on a Friday morning before breakfast....

....and I've had the giggles ever since....

....because, true to my mom's theory....I've always known all the lyrics to every song in the movie-version of Hair. I've been singing these songs since I was bitty.

But this song? This dirty, icky song, with a word I actually just had to look up? (Pederasty...no idea what that one was until just now...ick.)

Here's what I thought it said, when I was a kid. These are the words I sang to myself, over and over and over....

What do you think?

The way she goes....
Gonna linger....
Ever after...

Father, why do these words sound so nasty? (I didn't understand why they sounded so nasty! They were normal words!)

Masturbation (I got this word right, but I had no clue what it meant)
Can be fun!
Join the holy order
Come on, supra...

Seriously. That's how my brain translated words I didn't understand.

So yeah. There's something to my mom's theory for sure.

That said...

...Zoe still can't watch Hair

Not till she's at least nine.


January 15, 2016

Thinking out loud

Good morning, friends! I know, I know, I don't blog much lately. Or, like, at all. Forgive me.

I felt like I had to say something today, though. Like I had to speak out, at least a little, to say what's on my mind.

Here's the thing. It's been a weird, sad, bizarre week. It's been full of death (Bowie! Rickman! You will both be so missed! So many others, too! F-you, cancer!). It's been full of public displays of grief that are both heart-wrenching and cathartic. I sometimes think that these kinds of deaths can bring us together, at least briefly, as we all collectively mourn the passing of...well...of art, I guess. And brilliance. And people we admire.

For me, though, this week has been full of life, too. Anxiety. Terror. Panic.

Because I wrote a thing on LitReactor, and that thing was about rape, and I swear...I'm so programmed to try to make people happy that it's HARD for me to know something I wrote might piss people off.

I had a panic attack the day the piece went live. I knew it would reach a broad audience, and I knew some people wouldn't like it.

I even begged my editors to read it carefully before they hit the Publish button on it; I was so afraid I'd done something wrong. 

Because here's the thing: whenever I write, it's my own Leah-ish brand of thinking out loud. Even this. I work through things by writing about them. Every book, every story... every single opinion essay I've ever written. I figure things out by writing. I think out loud. I muse. I almost never know what I'm going to write before I write it.

I start with a question, and I see if I can find any answer to it.

Since I suffer from a supreme lack of self-confidence, so I always doubt that I'll get to the Single Right Answer.

But I try to figure stuff out.

It's what I do.

Read anything I've written and you'll see the struggle. In the zombie books, I'm figuring out how far I think I would go if facing certain situations. What would I do, facing the end of the earth. That's why that series is written entirely in the first person narrative, though the character perspective switches by chapter. What would I do in these situations? I think about that, and then I usually have the character do the opposite.

In Heartless, you'll see me musing about a lot of things. Life, death. Self-sacrifice. The love of a daughter. The love of a best friend. Gah! You even see me working through my own college relationship with my first (real) boyfriend through the tumultuous struggles of Jo and Eli.

I think out loud. It's what I do.

So that's why I panic when I think out loud (and very publicly) on super-sensitive subjects like rape.

Because here's another thing: lots of people on the Internet think they know everything. Lots of writers out there, when they publish inflammatory blog posts about sensitive subjects like rape, think they have the Single Right Answer. And they DO NOT LIKE IT when your answer(s) differ from theirs.

So honestly. I was terrified I was going to get  beat up by the Internet this week, simply for asking questions and posing a few possible answers.

But something amazing happened instead. Something incredible, even.

People read my post, my questions, my possible answers, my theories...and they started offering their opinions. Not their Single Right Answers. Their own theories. Their own questions. The discourse on the actual article on LitReactor was (mainly) polite and respectful. The comments were long and almost as think-out-loud-ish as if I'd been writing them. (I wasn't. I didn't know any of the commenters, I don't think.) 

The article's been viewed by thousands (which blows my mind). Chuck Palahniuk shared a link on his Facebook fan page, which always drives hits way up. There was a Reddit thread about it. The comments everywhere have been startling in number. There have been some nasty-grams, of course. There always will be.

But the discussion? The actual, reasonable discussion? It's been incredible.

I've learned so much this week. So much from survivors. So much about the way people view fiction. So much about how much we ALL care about this issue.

This morning, I saw a tweet from a stranger. "Thanks for writing this," he said. "It really made me think. Made me work my brain muscles."

And that, my friends, made it all sooooooo worth it for me.

I guess I'll continue to think out loud. I guess I'm doing it at this very moment. 

And so long as, every so often, I can make other people think, too...then I guess I'm doing my job.

Happy musings, everyone!