Monday, December 30, 2013

The 2013 Year-End Wrap-Up

2013 saw the tipping point in how writers in general regarded indie publishing, and how publishers regarded e-book sales.

Indie books made regular, steady appearances in bestseller lists. Indie publishing workshops dominated the annual Romance Writers of America conference. Both indies and traditional publishers  saw record e-book sales.

Here in the U.S., retailers saw a reversal of roles. Barnes & Noble paper sales are way down. Chairman Len Riggo has withdrawn his offer to buy the brick-and-mortar stores and dumped 2 million of his personal shares in the company. B&N itself is under an SEC investigation for misstatement of earnings. Half-Price Books is selling more recent releases in order to capitalize on B&N's reversal of fortune, while Books-a-Million has remained notoriously silent in the situation. On the other hand, more independent book stores are not only opening, but thriving, than since the heyday of Main Street.

In the meantime, trad publishers and agents are issuing more draconian contracts in an effort to tie up both writers and their rights.

The Kernel, a nasty little U.K. rag, launched a smear campaign against Amazon that only ended harming a ton of indie writers in the fall-out as other booksellers were dragged into the fray. As a result, most e-book retailers are cracking down on covers, descriptions and content, the terms of which are confusing and illogical.

For more thorough breakdown and predictions, check out:

Dean Wesley Smith has his run-down on the state of publishing at the end of 2013.

J.A. Konrath predicts what's on the horizon for 2014.

What do I think will happen?

- Barnes and Noble isn't going to survive much longer. They are showing the same penny wise/pound foolish behaviors that preceded Borders demise. The question is when they will go under. (Understand that I don't want to see them go under because I sell the most books through them.)

- Amazon and Kobo's over-reaction in the Kernel mess will come back to bite them in the ass and possible give Apple more market share.

- Since customers are getting away from e-reader devices and using more apps on their tablets and smart phones, we may see more e-book retailers spring up.

- More and more writers will jump into the indie publishing river. But just as many will leave based on their erroneous belief that one book flogged to death with marketing should make their career. By the same token, more writers will find they can make a living on their own.

- The trickle of agents leaving the business will turn into a tsunami when they find they can't make a living even by stealing delaying payments to writers.

So what do y'all think will happen in the craziness of the next year in publishing?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Songs I'm Listening To

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga with a classic tune.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Last of the Jonathan Moeller S&S 28 Interviews

After Thanksgiving, I plain out forgot to post links to the rest of Jonathan's interviews of the contributing authors of Sword and Sorceress 28.

I know.

Bad Suzan.

Anyway, here's the links:

Elisabeth Waters (our esteemed editor) and Michael Spence

Steve Chapman

Jessie Eaker

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - The Last Wish

Why are you on the internet, dude? Go spend time with your family.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - A Twisted Christmas

Yes, I have this album. Best version of "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful" EVAH!

To all my Christian friends, have a blessed holiday!

Monday, December 23, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - My Personal Favorite Movie for the Holiday

What? You think I only watch this at Halloween?

C'mon. It's worth it for "Kidnap the Sandy Claws." And the big man is still the one to save the holiday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Santa, Please Bring the Texans a Win

My family has been Texans fans since the start of the franchise. We've worn our t-shirts and jerseys proudly. GK packed his Mario Williams white jersey in his keepsake box when he got too big to wear it. I had to toss my first tee when it was literally falling apart. And for the first few years, we were often sneered at by our fellow Houstonians.

What pisses me off are the people in Houston who never cheered for the Texans until they went to the play-offs two years ago. And now they treat the coaching staff and players like shit for not giving them a Super Bowl team.

Despite what some of these idiots, including a couple of the sports writers for the Houston Chronicle, think, it's not any one person's fault. I could give you a list, but it means nothing at this point in the season. Like the sinking of the Titanic, it was simply a perfect combination for disaster.

Personally, I don't like the way Bob McNair threw Gary Kubiak to the wolves. This was the coach that led the team to their first winning season, that got the team to the play-offs the last two years. And like most CEOs, McNair has no fucking clue of how he just destroyed his players morale.

But today, Matt Schaub will have one last chance to show his stuff today against the Broncos. And when Peyton Manning was still with the Colts and in our division, he took Matt and the Texans seriously. He won't underestimate them in five hours. And if anything, Peyton will understand Matt's position because just two years ago, all the so-called experts said Peyton was finished, too.

So I'm proudly wearing my Battle Red Matt Schaub #8 and cheering for my team.

By the way, if you're one of those fair weather fans and you come here to piss on my boys, I WILL delete your comments.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Trans Siberian Orchestra

Even if you're not Christian, go see these folks! The Trans Siberian Orchestra puts on one hell of a show!

Friday, December 20, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Suggestion for Boys

Legos has been putting out a Star Wars Advent Calendar for the last three years. If you have a hard to shop for tween boy, these are a big hit!

(Actually, my twenty-year-old nephew likes playing with them, too.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - The Traditional Drinking Game

Get a bottle of your favorite liquor. Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Take a shot every time his nose lights up.

(It numbs the realization when you get older that Santa is a racist bastard.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Making Cookies the Suzan Way

Yes, I'm sick, but if you're a regular reader, you should know that by now.

With one exception, I've always had either a pass-thru or a counter separating my kitchen from the living room/family room. When it's cookie making time in December, these are the movies I pop into the player.

Lethal Weapon is for peanut butter blossoms and sugar cookies. Die Hard is for date pinwheels and Swedish heirlooms.

Unfortunately, I've had a span of a few years where I couldn't put GK down for a nap and stick to my tradition, but now that he's a teen, I can get back into my bloody Christmas groove.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Tasty Truffles

I've extolled the virtues of Lindor truffles before, but in December, they release their dark chocolate-peppermint. To me, the peppermint flavor is way stronger than their everyday variety. I stock up on the Christmas specialty ones to last me until the dark chocolate raspberry ones come out for Valentine's Day.

I'm officially in big trouble now that I know Amazon carries not only the peppermint and raspberry varieties, but my ultimate favorite, DARK CHOCOLATE ORANGE!!

Why do I love Lindor truffles: You need to try one to understand.

Monday, December 16, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - The Headless Horseman Rides Again!

And this time he's Death. Literally. As in one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sleepy Hollow gives Washington Irving's classic tale of a schoolteacher pining for the most beautiful girl in town a Revelations twist. Also, the producers made Ichabod hot, let him win the desirable Katrina only to have the American Revolution rip them apart, and turned Brom Bones into an undead corpse wanting vengence since Katrina spurned him for Ichabod.

Most of the series so far deals with Ichabod and his partner, Lt. Abbie Mills attempting to stop Brom and his demon master from unleashing Armageddon. One of the highlights of the series is the always fabulous Orlando Jones as Abbie's captain, skeptical at first but turned believer and ally.

Why I love this show: With the current fairy tale streak in media, I'm excited to see a show based on an American writer, even more a writer who's not L. Frank Baum (not that I have anything against Mr. Baum). Secondly, I'm happy to see a Christian witch such as Katrina shown in a positive light (yes, Virginia, there is such a thing). Sleepy Hollow has already been greenlit for a second season.

EDIT TO ADD: My buddy Angie shared a link to popular fanfic writer Cleolinda's hilarious take on Ichabod and Abbie texting each other. She captures the characters perfectly.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - The Romantic Movie I Watch with My Hubby

Once upon a time, It's a Wonderful Life was the throw-away movie every independent TV station carried because the rights were so cheap. But those repeated viewings in December made an impression on my generation, and we realized that the Boomers' mantra "Greed is good," wasn't true.

I love movies from the '30's and '40's, and I have an extensive collection for someone my age. Ironically, my Boomer hubby hadn't seen a lot of them, and I gradually have gotten him hooked. This is the movie we watch together after GK goes to bed on Christmas Eve.

Why I love this: Every couple has their ups and downs, but frankly, my nineteen years with DH have been a fucking roller coaster. George and Mary Bailey remind us to be thankful for everything that comes our way.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - My Secret Vice

Many singers put out Christmas albums. Many people go to concerts. I've been to five Barry Manilow concerts since 1984.

Why I love Barry: He's sweet, mellow, fun, and I really don't give a flying flip what you think.

Friday, December 13, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Spell-Slinging, Sword-Swinging Ladies

Twenty-eight years, famed SFF author Marion Zimmer Bradley thought traditional sword and sorcery fantasy was a little too testosterone-ridden. So she put out a call for stories with female protagonists in the S&S subgenre.

Why I love the Sword and Sorceress anthologies: I've discovered soooo many authors through MZB'santhologies. The first one was S&S 3, which had a story by an incredible lady named Mercedes Lackey. I've probably helped pay for Ms. Lackey's house with all of her books I've bought over the years. (I'm not just saying all this because I'm in the current edition, though it is pretty spectacular enough with all the other writers!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - The Guilty Indulgence

I've lived with diabetes for fourteen years now, and I do pretty well about controlling my diet during the New Hallowthanksmas holidays.

But my single indulgence is Starbucks seasonal beverages. And starting December 1st, I indulge in my one-per-week Peppermint Mocha.

Why I love Peppermint Mochas: It's like drinking Girl Scout Thin Mints. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - New Orleans Holiday

Copyright 2008 by AreteStock 
After DH and I moved to Houston but before GK was born, DH and I spent the weekend before Christmas in New Orleans.

Why I love Christmas in the French Quarter: December is the city's slow time. You can get some great deals on hotels even if the Saints have a home game on Sundays. The pace is slower, the people less stressed, and the Quarter is gorgeous decked out in Christmas lights. As this picture by AreteStock shows, there's a tranquility to the city that it doesn't have the rest of the year.

I'm trying to talk DH into staying in New Orleans for the entire month of December once GK is in college. I've even picked out St. Philip French Quarter Apartments. I'm sure I can get all kinds of inspiration here!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Almost Human

Maybe networks are finally realizing they're never going to have the market share they used to and are taking more chances. This year is the most I've watched network TV since Angel and Friends went off the air in 2004.

Almost Human is basically a rip-off of the Will Smith version of the motion picture I, Robot. But any other comparison stops after the pilot when it turns into an almost-typical buddy-cop series. I'd be happier if there was a little more fleshing out of the secondary characters, more issues of Kennex's memory loss from the ambush were he lost his leg, and a season-long story arch dealing with the very bad girlfriend who betrayed Kennex.

Why I'm hooked: Frankly, Alter Ego would like to be the middle of a Karl Urban/Michael Ealy. Pervy thoughts aside, Karl and Michael take a preposterous concept and manage to throw enough heart and humanity into the mix to make it work.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The 26 Days of Christmas IS Interrupted for the Mother of All Rants

Well, I made it to December 9th before someone (or in this case, more than one someone) did something really stupid. I tried to be positive this holiday season.

Really. I did.

1) Posting links to your blog on someone else's is rude. Begging me more than once to let you write a guest post is rude. Here's the deal at WWW: if I don't know you personally, get involved in the conversation and leave a few comments. If you have no idea what's going on here, then you shouldn't be asking. Once I get to know you, we'll talk.

2) If you want something from someone, say 'please.' It's not begging. It's not a cultural thing. It's called common courtesy. If you can't use 'please' when requesting a favor from me, I'm not going to fucking do another thing for you. Capice?

3) If you leave a comment here on a post that's over a week old, you will get a message saying "Awaiting moderation." That means the comment won't appear until I check and release it. And frankly, I work full-time, so that means, when I get a chance. I've had enough problems with spambots, so fans OF OTHER WRITERS probably should not leave repeated messages.

I mean, seriously, dudes? That's insulting.

4) If you're an indie writer, I can no longer recommend Draft2Digital as a distributor. Frankly, the issues I'm having, above and beyond the Kernel Pornocalypse, need their own post for the details. And since the matter has yet to be resolved, the full details will have to wait for another day.

Rant complete. Please resume your holiday merriment.

(And yes, I will fucking say, "Happy Holidays," if I damn well feel like it!)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - You Need the Four Essential Food Groups

There are some movies that the whole family watches as part of the household tradition. The one flick we agree on is Elf. In fact, we saw it twice in the theater when it was released.

Why I love this movie: This is the one film where Will Ferrell balances ribald humor perfectly with the innocence of his character, Buddy the Elf, an orphaned human adopted by the denizens of the North Pole. My favorite scene is Will's duet with Zooey Deschanel of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" while Zooey's character is taking a shower. (It's not as pervy as it sounds.)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Jingle Bell Rock the Brian Setzer Way

Brian Setzer has been around for thirty years and never fails to entertain! I have a few of his CDs including his Christmas album.

Why I love Brian: He resurrected swing and rockabilly for my generation, and he continues to do so for my kid and the nieces and nephews.

Check out samples of his Christmas album at Amazon!

Friday, December 6, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - The Smell of Christmas

Even when you're not baking, you can fill your house with the smells of the season. For me, I like burning candles while I write. It keeps the senses engaged, and it does translate to the words I use.

Why I love Yankee Candles: First of all, their scent is strong, and the candles last forever! Yankee Candle doesn't use metal core wicks, which set off my allergies. However, they do use essential oils which may trigger an allergic reaction. (I can't do pine or fresh grass.) But the food scented ones? HEAVENLY!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Bannon and Clare Save the Day!

What do you get when you cross the Wicked Witch of the West with Sherlock Holmes in a steampunk Britain, solving murders and serving the Queen?

You get Lilith Saintcrow's latest series, the Bannon and Clare Cases, a rollicking damn good time!

Why I love this series: Saintcrow turns gender expectations on end with all her protagonists, but never more so than with Emma and Archibald. Emma is prickly, powerful and believes her mentath needs to be protected. Archibald believes in cooperation to achieve their goals, but can hold his own in a fight better than Emma assumes. In a world where clockwork dragons rule and gryphons dine on unwary sorceresses, Emma and Archibald combine her magic and his logic to guard Queen and Empire from the forces of chaos.

P.S. I added The Damnation Affair even though Bannon and Clare don't appear in the story, it is set in the America of their world.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - N. K. Jemisin, Not Calgon, Takes You Away

I tried N. K. Jemisin on Tobias Buckell's recommendation. And now, I've got another must-buy author.

Even crazier, I whipped through the first book of The Inheritance Trilogy in three days during the middle of NaNoWriMo. Jemisin's style reminds me of Tanith Lee, but with a harder edge.

In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine Darr is drawn into her cousins' machinations for the throne as she tries to unravel the plot behind her mother's assassination. To make her already tenuous position deadlier, four imprisoned gods demand her help in gaining their freedom in exchange for the truth and revenge she seeks.

Why I love it: Marvelous book with an incredible, believable heroine! Yeine knows she's doomed, but she tries to make sure her death is worth something to somebody other than her evil family. I didn't know it had been nominated for a Nebula, so I didn't start reading it with pre-set expectations. This is one book I suggest you curl up and savor!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The one thing that pissed me off about The Avengers was Joss Whedon killed S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent Phil Coulson. I should have trusted him. He never let me down in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." starts with Coulson's reinstatement to active duty after recovering in Tahiti for several months. Supposedly, the med team of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier resuscitated him, and Fury hid this from the Avengers to push them into facing Loki together.

Except Coulson, and his right hand Melinda May, are beginning to suspect that's not what really happened to Phil.

Joss's brother Jed is the showrunner, and he's definitely got the family talent for delivering rip-roaring action, intense characterization, and a creepy, season-long story arc.

Why I recommend it? Clark Gregg has always rocked as Coulson in the movies as the every man touchstone in a world of superheroes. I always wished he had a bigger role, and had big hopes for him in The Avengers. Seeing a normal looking guy star in a series makes me happy.

Oh, and I've had a serious girl crush on Ming-Na Wen since the first season of "ER".

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Movie Mania - Thor, The Dark World

Oh, don't worry, kids! This is still part of the 26 Days of Christmas!

Why? Because even S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Melinda May says, "Thor is dreamy!"

The gratuitous naked shot of Chris Hemsworth for the ladies aside, this is one rare sequel that I think surpasses the original.

The movie begins with a look back to Odin's father Bor and his battle with the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Of course, this sets up the Dark Elf king's oath of revenge as we jump to the present. Thor and his buddies are cleaning up the rebellions that broke out thanks to the destruction of the Bifrost at the end of the first Thor movie.

Thor's human love Jane gets infected with floating red crap the dark elf plans to use to destroy Asgard. Big battle starts...

And that's when things get really fun. Loki's in prison due to the events of the Avengers movie. And Thor has no one left to help him save his girlfriend and the Nine Realms except his insanely jealous, power hungry, possibly sociopathic, brother.

1) Naked Chris Hemsworth. (Really? What did you think #1 was going to be?)

2) The incredible Tom Hiddleston making Loki sympathetic and loveable.

3) Zachary Levi playing Fandral was FUCKING incredible. I knew Joshua Dallas, who played the lothario in the first movie, couldn't do The Dark World because of his commitment to Once Upon a Time. But seeing Levi's name in the credits? My estimate of Levi went up a thousand fold.

4) Stellan Skarsgard is incredible as the comic relief.

Um...uh...not enough naked Chris?

Seriously though, Chris can act. When I saw Star Trek (2009), I questioned why Abrams didn't cast him as Jim Kirk, instead of George Kirk.

I give Thor, The Dark World 9.5 stars out of 10!

Even better, you can already pre-order it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

26 Days of Christmas - P!nk Rocks!

I know P!nk's album The Truth About Love came out a year ago, but the music is so damn infectious!

It's hard to believe Alecia Moore has been a fixture on rock/pop scene for nearly fifteen years now. She's gone from unabashed party girl to devoted mom without losing her edge. Funny how the opening act for N'Sync is still going strong while the boy band has long since disbanded.

Why I recommend it? Because I love her brutal lyrics within both her catchy rock licks and her incredible ballads. Despite the ugliness of her early life, you know she's a survivor, and her career has proved that!