Saturday, January 29, 2011

Other People's Music

I've posted many a time about how essential music is to my writing process. Each of my novels has a playlist as I'm drafting and when copyedits are done the book gets a soundtrack. You can see the Nightshade playlist and soundtrack and the Wolfsbane playlist on my web site.

Discovering new music is one of my favorite things. I find a lot of songs through the incredible Minnesota Public Radio station The Current, which I'd recommend to everyone. You can stream it online no matter where you live. For ambient, mood music I often turn to Digitalis on Soma FM, which I'll sometimes stream as I'm writing.

But even better than finding music on your own can be the joy of learning about the songs and bands that other people love. David Levithan, author and editor extraordinaire, conducts a yearly music poll wherein his friends send in their favorite albums and songs of the year. David compiles the list and then gifts us all with an amazing compilation of music recommendations from some very music savvy peeps.

If you're looking for new music I'd check out these recommendations.

And here's a 2010 single on my list: Yeasayer's O.N.E. I love this song and am now obsessed with the video - it's like if a dystopian world decided the 1980s should be revived. It also kind of makes me think that this might be a club where the capital citizens of Panem might be found slumming it. (Sorry I can't embed the video here, but I'd highly recommend watching it. It's a hoot and a half!)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Back To School

First day of the spring semester has arrived, though given that this past week we've been living in sub-zero weather it hardly feels right to call it the spring semester.

As much as scheduling can get hairy when I'm doing two full-time jobs (writing and teaching), I'm looking forward to seeing my colleagues and students. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and as much as I'm an introvert who prefers being alone, it can be too easy to forget about the rest of the world. Teaching keeps me connected to people and ideas and for that I'm deeply grateful. While it's wonderful to be lost in a world of my own creation, it's also vital to remember that the stories are written to invite others in and share the journey.

Here's a song to get the semester started off right:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don't Be Taken

First, a request: if you are so inclined, perhaps you will stop by and vote for Nightshade in the Children's Choice Best Books of 2010. I'm so honored to be nominated!

Also in the awards realm, just a reminder that you can still vote for Nightshade for Best Otherworldly Kiss in TheSmoochies!

Now for business: I'm often asked about how aspiring writers go about getting published and I have a section of my web site devoted to this topic. I'm always alarmed, however, when someone includes phrases like this in their email to me "I'm already paying an editor," "I know it takes a lot of money to get published."

!!!! STOP!!!!

To all aspiring authors - it should cost you nothing more than time, sweat, tears and ink cartridges to get published. While it's true that you can hire editors for pay, you're much better off finding a writing group or critique partner to help you through revisions. You also shouldn't pay anything to get published, YOU get paid to be published (self-publishing is another matter and I have no authority nor experience in that realm so I'll leave that alone). Literary agents don't charge fees, they make their living off a commission (15% is the industry norm) of your earnings once the book sells.

It breaks my heart that there are companies out there that take advantage of writers' dreams in order make money. When you're going about searching for an agent and a publisher be wary, do your research, and keep an eye out for red flag phrases.

This post was inspired by a great blog over at Writer Beware. I consider it recommended reading for aspiring authors. Arm yourself with knowledge, then go forth and create!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Juggling Act

On the fabulous blog, Wastepaper Prose, you'll find a number of authors (including myself) answering the question:

Have you ever blown off a social event with real people in order to stay at home with ones you've made up?

My answer: More than once.

It's true - and I don't feel guilty about it. I'd follow up that answer by saying, I don't really consider it blowing off event as much as recognizing the time I have and the obligations I've committed to and making choices going from there.

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is 'how do you manage to write novels while being a professor?' Let's see - how about, by blowing off social events with real people in order to stay at home with ones I've made up.

Sometimes it's hard to communicate what it means to be a writer - and while I think the writer's life varies from person to person, for me it means sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean often) closing myself off to the outside world in order to devote time to the worlds I'm creating.

When I'm teaching I have to be even more protective of that time. These things are on my mind because for the past six months I've been on sabbatical and next week I go back to teaching full time. Have no fear - I wrote all three of my novels while I was teaching, and though it can be stressful it's also workable, as long as I set boundaries. If I can't do this I'll fail as both teacher and writer.

So in the next few months, if my blog posts aren't as frequent, or it takes a bit longer than usual for me to respond to emails or interview requests, be assured I have not forgotten you. I really like you.

I'm just spending some quality time with my imaginary friends.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vacation Location

Good guesses all around and quite a few correct guesses!

Here I am:
In Key West!

I was actually staying on a tiny island just off of Key West called Sunset Key and it was heavenly. I think I got enough sunshine and vitamin D to get me through the rest of the winter - let's hope so.

Now for the winners - yes I said winners, courtesy of Atom Books I just received some finished UK editions of Nightshade that I'll throw into the mix!

Regan Coomer

Tabby Lewis

Send your address to andreacremerwrites (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send your prize!

Thanks for all the entries!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bon Anniversaire, Nightshade: Lune de Sang

Today is Nightshade's book birthday in France and Belgium! Tres bien!!
Merci beaucoup to all those readers who join Calla and her pack on the wild hunt.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WITW: Day 3

Today's clues for a chance to win a signed hardcover of Nightshade. And I'm delighted to report that I have as yet avoided sunburn, which is near miraculous for me. Hooray for SPF 50!

Clue #1

Clue #2

Clue #3

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WITW: Day 2

Today I went parasailing! It was one of the coolest, and surprisingly, most tranquil activities I've ever taken part in. Absolutely loved it. Pictures will come in the next week :)

And here are today's clues. Post your guess as to where I am and all correct answers will be put into a drawing to win a signed, finished copy of Nightshade:

Clue #1

Clue #2 (note: I'm not on a cruise, but cruise ships dock here)

Clue #3

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where in the World?

Unable to endure the Mother Nature's overly enthusiastic take on winter this year, I've escaped to much friendlier climes. Since I'm in need of serious R&R I won't be online as much as normal. Even so, I thought it would be fun to hold a little contest.

Over the week I'll post pictures from my vacation spot. Leave your guess as to where I am (the photos will be pretty generic to start and give more obvious clues as the week goes on). Correct guesses will be entered into a drawing for a signed, finished copy of Nightshade.

Here are the photos:

Clue #1

Clue #2

Clue #3

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

At the Bookshop

Amid all the debates about publishing deaths and e-book revolutions, I always wonder about how far said revolutions can go simply because of aesthetics. I was wandering around the mall with my brother yesterday before taking him to the airport. We did some browsing in the Apple and *shinynew* Microsoft stores - which, by the by, are facing off against each other in the mall, both sporting futuristic all glass fronts and both feature employees wearing oppositional colors: Apple - all red shirts, Microsoft - all blue shirts.

My brother and I decided that someone needs to stage a YouTube flash of a mid-day mall rumble between these two stores.

But despite all the shiny, futurey goodies, I get tired of looking at screens, flashing lights, and consoles. The only place I spent money yesterday was at the bookstore. And the bookstore is also where we spend the bulk of our time.

There's something so wonderful about wandering through aisles of books, not knowing what you'll pick up, what you'll discover. As much as I'm used to reading books by author friends or books recommended by booksellers or blogger, it's still incredibly exciting to pick up a book you've never seen or heard of only to be captivated by its premise and prose.

Instead of waiting to post reviews of some new books, I decided that today I'd post about recent books I've purchased, but have not yet read, and why I picked them up. It's a mix of books I'd been anticipating and a few I just found and am really excited about.

David Levithan's Lover's Dictionary
David is not only an incredibly talented writer and editor - he's a genuinely exceptional human being who I am honored to call my friend. I've been super excited for his first adult novel. It's beautiful and so creative. I've only read a few pages (I just got it!) but I'm in love!

Cynthia Hand's Unearthly
I haven't met Cynthia in person, but she is a friend of my friend - the amazing poet and scholar Kristin Naca - and Kristin introduced (via the internet) Cynthia and I to each other. Like me, Cynthia is an academic trying to balance teaching and writing and so I feel instant kinship with her. I also loved this review of Unearthly and Nightshade together.

Matt Haig's The Radleys
The cover snared me on this one. And then I read a few pages. Suburban vampires. Commentary on abstinence and the repression of animal instincts. Wow. Yes.

Cherie Priest's Boneshaker
Zombies. Alternate Civil War. Steampunk. My next project is steampunk, as well as being alternate history. I'm psyched about this book.

Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men
I adore Terry Pratchett and this series has been on my TBR list forever. Finally picked it up.

Andrew Shaffer's Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love
Maybe wins best title ever?? Andrew is a fantastic columnist for Huffington Post, a master of wit, and I have been really looking forward to this book.

So what makes you pick up a book? Have you been surprised by any recent literary purchases?

Monday, January 3, 2011


It's the first Monday in January, which makes me want to run around shrieking and pulling at my hair. Why? Because now all that "I don't really have to get anything done - it's the holidays!" mantra has vanished and reality has come crashing through the door.

Does anyone else feel this way?

I'm approaching the 'real' New Year with excitement and trepidation. I see lots of good things on the horizon, but I'm also wary of the plate spinning I'll be doing to balance writing, teaching, and life.

That's where my 2011 resolution comes in, I'm talking about the big one here. There are also little ones about exercise and meditation, etc. but the big one is this:

I resolve to work with passion and then let it go.

2010 was an amazing year, but it also involved a lot of hand-wringing on my part. Too many questions, all of the what if followed by a negative thought variety, kept me from savoring the journey as much as I could have.

In 2011 I'm working hard to focus on doing what I love and letting the universe do what it will what that effort. I want to spend less time on self-doubt and anxiety and more time observing the joys that grace my life and being thankful for them.

Given that I'm an intensely self-critical, quasi-obsessive perfectionist this will not be an easy task. And yet, I am resolved!!

What are your resolutions for the New Year?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cover Love!

The results are in, and I'm thrilled to announce that the Urban Fantasy Cover Awards for 2010 have treated Nightshade very, very well.

Nightshade won Best Debut Cover and COVER OF THE YEAR!!!

If that wasn't peachy enough, Wolfsbane was honored with Best Sneak Peek Cover for 2011!

Thank you so much to everyone who voted I am giddy over this honor. And I would be remiss if I didn't say thank you, especially, to Suza Scalora - the incredible artist whose photographs have made the Nightshade covers so unique and beautiful!

I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be filled with great adventures and joyful surprises. I look forward to sharing the new year with all of you!