Showing posts from February, 2010

Blackfire, Day Two

I got in a few hours of work and finished the opening sequence. Then I had a cigarette. Okay, I don't smoke. But if I did, I would totally have busted out a cigarette after finishing that chapter. Of course, then the smoking police would have hauled me away for lighting up in a coffeehouse - we don't allow such things here in sunny Illinois. But I'm getting away from the point. The point is that Sara's back. There's a bit of melancholy to the opening. While THE COLD ONES started with a scream, BLACKFIRE is a bit more atmospheric. Sara is different now. She had to be, no human being could go through what I did to her in THE COLD ONES and emerge untouched. And the place where Sara hides is important, to her character and to the story. I've done the best I could to capture Nantucket considering I've never been there. As much as I'd love to expense a Nantucket research trip, barring corporate sponsorship that ain't happening. So far I'm plea

What's in a Name?

It took a long time to come up with BLACKFIRE, and right away someone pointed out that there is a 1987 Star Trek tie-in titled BLACK FIRE. That teaches me not to Google. Sure, but it's two words, not one. And there's also an anthology of African-American writing titled BLACK FIRE and novels by James Kidman, Steve Brown and Maggie Bonilla-Thompson. All two words, which makes it a different Amazon search. Want one word? There's plenty: • A Native American music group focused on public activism; • A DC supervillain (only seen in the New Teen Titans); • A line of car care products; • A Canadian mining company; • A erotic magazine for black men (they got the dot-com); • A clamping flashlight; • A web and software development company; and probably more. Here's the thing: I've been mulling it all morning, and I find I don't really care. I mean, I survived having THE COLD ONES unintentionally named the same as those damn sparkly vampires in TWILIGHT. Every morn

Blackfire, Day One

There's a method to my madness. I didn't stop SANCTUARY just because it's an endless behemoth with no hope of publication or being, y'know, good. I stopped because I had a new book to write. Temporary title: BLACKFIRE. And we had a good start. Not bad for a first day, though we're nearly 2,000 words in and we're just getting to the first monster. But I think I'm doing okay at capturing a place I've never been. I've been obsessed with Nantucket Island to an unhealthy degree for many years, and though I can never afford to actually visit it, I knew when Sara Harvey ran away, Nantucket is where she went. Plus I really love my opening line. "Sara Harvey thought she was doing pretty well until the corpse started in with the puns." Watch this space. I'm hopeful this one might not suck. P.S. Thanks to Cole Gibsen and Rebekah Shelton for putting up with my endless questions. NO THANKS to the smartasses on Twitter. I ask a simple questio

Disproportionately Sucky

Claire Light writes about women and people of color not submitting to top magazines and anthologies. She's taking a lot of flack for a poorly phrased statement that such subs are "disproportionately sucky," but the rest of the article gave me a lot of food for thought. Specifically, she writes that women and people of color tend to stay in their comfort zone of their own community. And while I never thought of it that way, I think she's right. It takes a leap of faith and bravery, she says, to go from the subculture in which a writer first finds his or her voice into mainstream acceptance. Most never take that leap, she says, not because they aren't good enough, but because they never develop the skills/guts/knowledge to learn the rules and then jump off the cliff. You have to know the rules, even if you intend to break them. I'm about halfway on her side. I see so many writers - most of them women, people of color or GLBT individuals - who are simply cont

more raffle prizes

As of now, my paltry offerings have been joined by: • A copy of INTO DARK WATERS by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks; • A complete set of Shane Moore's ABYSS WALKER series, autographed by the author; • An original CD from folk musician Tom Atwood; • A copy of M.B. Weston's ELYSIAN CHRONICLES, first edition. I have also received this: I'm a professional photographer and am willing to donate gallery quality prints of anything on my website (or other extensive catalog, upon request) to anyone who donates $50 or more to the trust up to 50 prints. They will shipped within 2-4 weeks of "McCall sale close", date to be negotiated. Forwarding me a copy of PayPal confirmation will serve as proof of donation, and if "gift" or "other" is marked in the PayPal designation they do NOT charge a service charge. Well Wishes and Peace to all touched by this, Roberta Mander Maghouin SomewhatBent Images Please donate via the web site as

taking care of our own.

Friends, I want to tell you about the McCall family. Bud and Dawn were a St. Louis couple with four children, struggling as many of us do - Bud had been laid off from his job, a very common occurrence here in the sunny Midwest. Unfortunately, their load became much heavier last weekend. Today they bury their 10-year-old daughter. A housefire struck last Saturday, burning their home to the ground and killing little Tegan. Bud sustained serious injuries, both smoke inhalation and burns, from trying three times to get back into the house and rescue her. Several members of the family were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Meet them. My heart breaks for them as they endure the worst pain that can strike a family. As a mother, I cannot imagine anything worse - something I cannot imagine surviving myself. They're close friends of my dear friend Geoffrey, and he has been there holding their hands through this tragedy. And like so many of us, I wish there was something I could do.

waiting... waiting...

My birthday present arrived today. It's a glorious toy. My darling stepmother came up with the idea on New Year's Day: an early boon for my writing career and bookselling business in the form of a new MacBook Pro. My mother and stepfather, my grandmother and my dear friend Andy all joined in, and I get a new computer to replace my five-year-old iBook that has needed several hundred dollars' worth of repair in the last eighteen months. In case I haven't said it enough yet.... thank you, family. Without your support, I'd never have written any of my books. (I leave it to you, Dear Readers, to decide if that's a good thing.) Given how I usually use things until they're worn down to nubs... for example, my fourteen-year-old microwave, my hand-me-down television that snows over if I plug my computer into the same power strip, the ripped-up remnant of my mother's old fruits-and-vegetables couch, the surviving battalion of bookshelves dating back to my firs


Okay, so I haven't updated my Flickr in six months. Time to catch up. MOBOT, by the way, is short for "Missouri Botanical Gardens," to which I am addicted. Mobot Summer 2009 (Smaller than usual because my membership expired and I had to wait several months to afford the renewal.) Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis. ArsonFest 2009 Chain of Rocks hike/Six Flags (My family's Grandkids Week) Fall Foliage (with bonus Kiddo) Indianapolis War Memorial Mobot Train Show 2009 Mobot Winter 2010

your 900th blog post on Macmillan v. Amazon...

I don't need to summarize it; if you care about this particular fracas, you already know. My sympathies are mostly with Macmillan, as they have the right to overprice their ebooks if they choose, and while I think the graduated pricing plan is a poor idea, Amazon's bully tactics and bad faith make me disinclined to champion their cause. That said, there are a lot of people screaming about boycotts and protests, and frankly, that's not helpful. While Mom and Dad fight, the authors for Macmillan's imprints suffer. That includes a good percentage of the science fiction genre, as Tor Books is part of Macmillan. Look, we authors have no control over 90 percent of what happens to our books after they leave our hands. We accept this fate because we have no choice. But despite Amazon's cute little blog post that they will "have to capitulate" to the price set by Macmillan for Macmillan's own product, they have not restored the books - including print books