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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

An Interview with Lucienne Diver & Book Giveaway

Lucienne Diver
I first met Lucienne Diver in her agent persona, when I started stalking following her online back in the days when I was still working at getting my fiction published. She was always smart and kind, and generous with her advice and encouragement, and we eventually became pals, bonding over our shared love of Ren Faires, jewelry making, and general silliness. In fact, she was instrumental in my signing with Elaine Spencer, her fellow agent at The Knight Agency, and so we became Agency Buddies. Then Lucienne had her Vamped novels published at Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Publishing (where my nonfiction books on witchcraft come from), and we became Publishing Company Buddies. (Fun fact: our birthdays are also just one day apart. You know, and a few years.)

My prized collection of Lucienne's books, including the first 2 in the Latter-Day Olympians series
We finally met in person at the RWA National Convention in 2009, and we had a great time together. Now we both have books coming out on the same day, September 2nd, so we are Book Release Buddies too. In honor of our mutual release date, I’ve invited Lucienne to come by my blog and talk about herself and her new book, and I’ll be visiting her blog to do the same. I hope you’ll visit me there and say hi! (She interviewed me, too.) http://luciennediver.wordpress.com/
Some poor woman whose name I can't remember, Lucienne, and me at RWA Nationals 2009

Let’s give Lucienne a nice warm welcome! And be sure to answer her question at the end, since she’ll be giving away a signed copy of her book so a random commenter.

 DB: Hi Lucienne, welcome to the blog. For people who aren’t familiar with your Latter-Day Olympians series (which I LOVE, by the way), could you give us a brief overview of the series and then tell us a little something about the new book, Battle for the Blood?

 LD: Absolutely, thank you!  To understand the Latter-Day Olympians, I have to start with some background. 

My heroine’s family line may or may not trace back to when the god Pan beer-goggled one of the gorgons.  Certainly that’s the way the stories go. Tori Karacis never believed such nonsense, despite the evidence of some of her family’s more colorful attributes—her grandmother the bearded lady of the Rialto Bros. Circus, her parents and brother able to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, her own strange power to stop men in their tracks, even if she can’t actually turn them to stone.  That is, she doesn’t believe until she witnesses a murder by something that looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon…with the victim Circe Holland, brass-bra’d Hollywood agent rumored to be that Circe, the enchantress of myth and legend.  Well, that’s just the start of things (BAD BLOOD).  The series continues into CRAZY IN THE BLOOD, RISE OF THE BLOOD and, on September 16th, BATTLE FOR THE BLOOD. 

By the end of each book, nothing is quite the same…or ever will be again.  There’s crazy fall-out from the proceeding books, along with all new threats.  The tensions escalate, the stakes are higher…  In BATTLE FOR THE BLOOD, Tori isn’t just dealing with the loop I threw her at the end of RISE OF THE BLOOD, she’s dealing with the rise of an ancient Babylonian plague demon who’s stirring up nosoi, djinn, demons, and other forces dark and deadly enough to bring about an apocalypse. Various factions vie to control the daddy of all demons and the end of the world, hoping that they will be the ones to rise triumphant from the ashes.

I love these covers, don't you?
 DB: This series is very different from your first series, the Vamped books, which are very funny and snarky. Where did the idea come from for these books?

LD: The series sprang from two sources, really—my crazy family and the five years I spent on Latin in junior high and high school.  I thought at the time that I might want to be a doctor (before I realized how ridiculously squeamish I am), and teachers, etc. had told me how helpful it would be in understanding medical terms to know the Latin roots.  Well, that turned out to be a bust, but my favorite part of my Latin class was when we went over religion and culture.  It turned out that I wasn’t so much cut out to be a linguist as an anthropologist.  Specifically, and I think my medical interest played into this, I was fascinated by forensic anthropology.  I even applied to grad schools for it at the same time I applied for jobs in publishing.  Publishing got back to me first, which turned out to be a good thing, because as much as I like mysteries and skeletal remains, they don’t always come fully skeletonized.  Examining remains in situ means bugs, fluids, any tissue still attached and, well, we’ll leave it at that.

As far as my crazy family—I wouldn’t have them any other way, but, well, to give you an idea that we may be an acquired taste…you know Stephanie Plum’s family in Janet Evanovich’s bestselling series?  Well, sometimes I wonder where she’s hidden the video cameras around our familial homes.  (For me telling tales on my family, check out the post I did for Faith Hunter’s blog here: http://www.faithhunter.net/wp/2011/06/07/lucienne-diver-and-bad-blood/.)

DB: You are both an agent and an author, which gives you a unique view from both sides of the table. Can you give us a little idea of how you balance them both, and what a typical day might be like?

LD: I’m trying to find my new normal, now that my son is off to high school, shifting our whole schedule an hour earlier.  Traditionally, I wake up, have coffee, walk the dogs, kiss my husband and son good-bye on their way out the door and sit down to write for an hour before my agent brain kicks in, the phone starts ringing off the hook and my overflowing inbox calls me away.  I have about an hour a day to write during the week, which is not nearly enough, so I work weekends as well, sometimes carving out as much as two whole hours to myself before I have to put my work aside to read and critique manuscripts or actually spend time with my family!

DB: Do you have any more books coming out in this series? What are you working on now?

LD: Samhain has contracted me for a fifth novel in the Latter-Day Olympians series, which I’m really excited about. I’ve established in the series that the Greek gods didn’t necessarily start there, but have been various things in various cultures, changing with the times and the worship.  I’m planning, finally, to bring in Athena, but as her Egyptian counter-part…or anyway one of them.  The fun thing with mythology is that different sources point in different directions, so I can pick the one I like best!  All I’ll say is underworld goddess and escape from hell.

[Note from Deborah—OH, boy! I can’t wait!]

Outside of that, I’m working on a YA thriller that I’m equal parts nervous and excited about.

DB: Why don’t you ask my blog readers a question—and we can give away a signed copy of the new book to a random commenter!

LD: Sounds great! I’ll go easy on you all so you don’t have to have read the series already.  Maybe I can get you hooked now! What god or goddess or other mythological beastie most intrigues you? Who would you like to be or meet (or definitely NOT meet) in a dark alley?  I’ll give away a signed print copy of RISE OF THE BLOOD, which just came hot off the presses yesterday, to one lucky commenter. (Or an electronic copy of BATTLE FOR THE BLOOD, if you’d prefer.)

Thanks so much for being my guest, Lucienne. I can’t wait to read this new book myself.

Thanks so much, Deborah, I can’t wait to read YOURS! I’m off to go queue it up on my Kindle!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014




As you can tell if you watched the video (or as you can probably guess, even if you didn't), I'm pretty excited. It seems like I have been talking about this book for a long time, and now it is FINALLY here!

If you want to pick up a copy of the book, and you don't happen to have a bookstore near you, you can get one at any of these places online:

Buying links:

Of course, you can also ask your local Indy bookstore or library to order it.

I'm celebrating the book release today over at Bitten By Books with a live chat that starts at 3pm EST/noon PST and will go on throughout the evening until I have to go to bed, and then continue the next morning. I will be giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card, so go enter the contest, and if you want, you can ask me questions or just say hi! (The live chat is only today and tomorrow--but the contest runs until Friday.)

And I know I said I wasn't going to do any more contests here, but it's RELEASE DAY! How could I not?

I'm going to do things a little differently this time. Instead of giving away a bunch of things and spreading the winning around, I'm going to give away a Bunch of Things to one lucky winner! Maybe it will be you :-) This will include a signed book (or a signed ARC, if you prefer--I still have a couple left), a bunch of swag, and a tote bag to carry it all around in.

[Note: because this is a Bunch of Things, I will only be able to send them to a winner in the USA. But if you win and you live outside the USA, I think of something cool. The contest at Bitten by Books is open to international entries.]

Thanks SO much for coming to celebrate BOOK RELEASE DAY with me--I really appreciate it...and you.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Release Party and Guest Blogs

I had a fabulous Book Release Celebration Party on Sunday (which worked out well, since I could clean the house on Saturday, have the party on Sunday, and recover on Monday!). A fitting 13 people come to help me celebrate this landmark--the release of my debut novel, Wickedly Dangerous.

To be honest, I almost didn't bother to have a party. I'm not much on being the center of attention, and I'm a wee bit tired and burned out from all the promo and preparation leading up to the actual release day, Tuesday the 2nd.

But I finally decided, what the hell, you only have ONE debut novel, right? So I invited a few of the folks who have been so supportive for so long, and who live within driving distance. Of course, they couldn't all make it, but the ones who did brought yummy food to share, and the company was great. I felt very, very lucky. And not just because of this...

Pals Rebecca and Jim brought this amazing Chocolate Guinness Stout cake from their favorite bakery

The gang, cheering for the book (along with my posters sent by Berkley)

More cheering, with me in the middle

My gorgeous sister Sarah came all the way from Niskayuna for the party

I hated to cut into the cake. And yes, that poster has legs.

My charming and handsome pal Rob came from Binghamton. And brought pomegranate mead!
It was a fabulous day...but now I'm back to work. I hope you'll come visit me at a couple of places online where I'm guest-blogging (or just being talked about) today.

I'm the guest of Nancy Hunter at the very cool Eight Ladies Writing blog, which features eight different writers from four states and three continents. Come see what I have to say in my guest blog, and leave me a question or a comment (you know, so they won't think I have NO friends).

Author pal Alex Bledsoe, who was one of the people who read early and gave my publishers a blurb for the book cover, is talking about me over on his blog Alex's Blog. I have no idea what he is going to say...hopefully it will be something nice!

Important Advance Head's Up!
I am going to be doing a live chat and giveaway of a $50 Amazon Gift Card on Tuesday, release day, over at Bitten By Books
Follow this link to RSVP early, and get an extra 25 points towards the contest!

And I'm going to have a special surprise for you all on release day, as well as one last big giveaway, so be sure to come by and say hi! We can have a party then too...but I'm afraid you'll have to bring your own cake!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Two Guest Blogs and Feline Friday: The Helpful Cat Version

I'm all over the Interwebs today :-)

Come visit me at Maria V. Snyder's Blog, where she asked me the best interview questions ever (you might even learn a few new things about me) and where we are giving away a signed copy of Wickedly Dangerous to one lucky commenter (including international readers).

Then pop over to see the fun (and very positive, thank goodness!) review at Talk Supe, where I answer the question: What are the 5 Top Fun Fact about Baba Yaga?

Any guesses?

As you can tell, the pre-release promo has moved into high gear, and I really appreciate the author friends and bloggers (including many I don't know at all) who have invited me to visit, or are otherwise spreading the word. Not to mention all of you! I hope you'll go visit some of these blogs, and keep spreading the word.

I'm not doing many book signings, but there will be one at my local Indy bookstore, The Green Toad on Saturday, September 6th from 1-3. If you live anywhere nearby, I hope you'll come say hi! [I will also be at a SF Con in Binghamton, NY the last weekend in September--more info to follow.]

Can you believe that the book comes out in FOUR DAYS????

I'm thinking about doing one more giveaway on release day itself--what do you think? Are you bored with contests, or do you want one more shot at winning a signed book and some Baba Yaga swag? Inquiring minds want to know.

Now--Feline Friday pics! The theme for this week: Cats being helpful. (And if you have cats, you know that this is sarcasm...)

Magic the Cat, helping me take a picture of the two posters Berkley sent me for book signings

Magic the Cat helping me make the bed. (It is a little tough to put on the top sheet and comforters this way...)

Magic the Cat helping me to package up giveaway winnings. Yes, Magic is UNUSUALLY helpful, even for a cat.

Samhain helping me write. At last, something really useful! If you like to read gibberish.
I hope you all have a fabulous 3-day weekend (those in the USA that have one, anyway). I'm actually going to have a small Book Release Celebration Party at my house on Sunday. I wish you all could come!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This and That

Congratulations to contest winner Paula! She won a signed copy of Wickedly Dangerous -- yay!!

There haven't been as many entries to the contests I've given lately, so I'm assuming people are tired of them and I'm going to stop doing them for a bit. Don't worry, I'll get back to them eventually.

I'm a guest today over at Manga Maniac Cafe, where blogger Julie asked me a fun question:
"What 5 Things Would You Never Find in Baba Yaga's Airstream Trailer?" I'd love to know what your guesses would be...then go see what the real answers are.

For those not on Facebook, as requested, here is a picture of the Necklace of the Week:
Fancy Jasper Stars

Have a great day? So really, what do you think would never be found in Baba/Barbara's Airstream?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Authors Do So Much Promotion: An Apology & an Explanation (And a Giveaway)

Note: We're only a week away from book release day! Oy! This is a long explanation about all the book promo, and worth reading (I hope)...but feel free to skip it and just enter the contest at the bottom!

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time over the past months talking about my books, rather than my garden, the writing process, the practice of witchcraft, or the antics of my adorable felines. I hope you’re not getting bored! I do try to keep it fun and amusing, and periodically reward people for sticking around by giving out goodies…but I thought it might be time to explain why I—and lots of other authors—do so much promotion when they have a new book coming out.

You’re still free to skip all the promotional stuff, of course, and wait for me to get back to putting up cute cat pictures and the occasional spell, but I figured that I might give y’all some insight into the realities of the modern publishing world, and why there is So Damn Much Book Promo.

Reason One: Publishers Don’t Do Much Promotion Anymore
In the good old days, an author could sit at home and write in his skivvies, and his publisher would take care of most of the promotion. If the author went on a book tour, the publisher paid for it. Not anymore. These days, if your book is coming out from one of the major publishers (like Berkley), they will do some promotional things—find you a few guest blog spots, maybe, put your book up on their website and include it in their newsletter for those who have signed up for it, even make you some bookmarks (yay! Giveaway!). But not much. For those authors who are self-publishing, like my friend Mindy Klasky is these days, it is all on the author. So if you want people to find out about, and hopefully buy, your book, it is up to you to spread the word.

Reason Two: Fewer Bookstores
Back in said ancient days of yore (you know, ten or fifteen years ago), most people found new books and new authors in one of three ways—at a bookstore, at the library, or through a friend’s recommendation. Sadly, there are fewer brick and mortar bookstores these days (I miss you, Borders!), and many people are buying their books online, where instead of competing against thousands of books to be noticed, you are literally competing against millions. Mind you, many of those millions are crap, but that doesn’t mean they’re not completion. Thankfully, there are still libraries, and Indy bookstores are making a comeback, and now your friends can recommend your books on Facebook and Goodreads. But still, it is tough to ensure that people even know a book exists. Hence the promo. (Even the big name authors have to do it to alert their fans that the long-awaited sequel to Kinky Sex with Steampunk Zombies is finally out.)

Reason Three: It is Harder than Ever for an Author to Make a Living
I know, I know—everyone thinks that authors get rich once they have a book published. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “So, do you make a lot of money as a writer?” well, I’d have a lot more money than I got from my last royalty check. Just sayin’. There certainly are authors out there that are doing quite well for themselves (Stephen King, I’m looking at you, dude), but for most of us, the income is simply a supplement to the day job we have to keep to put food on the (cat’s) table. Not that I’m complaining—nobody makes me do this wacky job—but don’t be fooled; most authors need to sell a lot of books to make anything resembling a living wage.
Most people think that if a book sells for, say, $16, that the author makes that much every time one is sold. Oh, har. Yes, you heard me. I said HAR. First of all, even the publisher only makes about half of that (because after all, the book seller has to make money too, although if you buy directly from Llewellyn, they make more than if you buy one of their books from a bookstore or Amazon, for instance). So on that $16 book, the publisher might make $8. That’s not so bad, right? But the author only gets the percentage they agreed to in their contract—usually 6% to 8%. Maybe 10%, if they’re very lucky. And that’s out of the money the publisher makes, not the cover price of the book. So for my Llewellyn books, I might average .60 cents or .70 cents on each book that’s sold. No, don’t ask me to multiply that by anything in my head. I’m a word person, not a math person. Ah, NOW you’re beginning to see why promoting books is so important to an author, yes?

Reason Four: In Matters How Many Books Sell and When They Sell
It isn’t just about the money. (Okay, it is, but not how you think.) When you buy a book can make a big difference. The reason most authors pile on the promo right before a book comes out (and encourage people to preorder), and also as the book is actually released, is because some important decisions are made based almost entirely on the sales of a book in its first WEEK. (Preorders count towards those.) All those best seller lists you see? Based on early sales or preorder numbers.

A publisher may also determine whether or not to contract for another book from an author based on early sales, and will certainly do so based on sales numbers in general. For instance, Berkley will probably make a decision on whether or not to give me a contract to write Baba Yaga 3 at some point in late September or early October—based entirely on the early sales numbers for Wickedly Dangerous and the preorders at that point for Wickedly Wonderful. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying this is a bad way to do things. After all, it they’re going to invest money in a third book in a series, they’re going to want to see that the first two are succeeding…but there isn’t much time allowed for that success to happen. So I need to do anything I can to make those numbers as impressive as possible, because darn it, I want to write that third story!

So, hopefully you can see now why so many authors can be found all around the Interwebs casually dropping the title of their upcoming book into conversations about just about anything.
“You had pizza for lunch? That’s great! Did I mention that my protagonist in the upcoming Mary Does Lunch eats pizza almost every day?”

All of which is a very long-winded apology for spending so much time lately promoting MY UPCOMING BOOK, OUT SEPTEMBER 2nd. And if it is any consolation, I would much rather be writing the next one. Or reading Kinky Sex with Steampunk Zombies, which I hear was really good. On the bright side, soon the book will be out, and I’ll go back to posting cute pictures of my cats. You know, until book two comes out in December.

Here, have another giveaway. You guys are the best.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Guest Blogs and Upcoming Events

We're heading into the last week before the book release and things are gonna get a little crazy :-) I hope you'll all ride this roller-coaster with me. I need someone to hold my hand!

First off, congratulations to the folks who won the Book Release Celebration Blow Out CONTEST. I sent an email to everyone who won, and the names are also listed at the bottom of the contest form. Don't worry if you didn't win this one--I'm planning to give things away almost every day between now and the release of Wickedly Dangerous on September 2nd, either here or on my Facebook Author Page (you've "liked" me there, right, and then clicked on "receive notifications" underneath the like option...right?) So you're probably going to check back often, since some of these contests will be only one-day affairs.

Secondly, all sorts of lovely people have been kind enough to invite me to be a guest on their blogs in the next few weeks to help spread the word about the book. I hope that my WONDERFUL readers will take a moment to pop over to these places and say hi. You know, so it looks like someone likes me :-)

Today, Raymond Bolton did a seriously in-depth interview of me over on his blog The Write Stuff -- damn, I wish I'd thought of that name -- you might be surprised by some of my answers.

The lovely Karen Rose Smith is talking up the book on her blog. If you go there, be sure to read her earlier posts about Halo, the stray cat she took in recently, and see the progress of Halo's pregnancy and KITTEN PICTURES (warning: the cute may kill you). Karen and I had a great chat on the phone before the kittens were born, since she'd never helped to birth cat babies before, and I'd done it a number of times.

Here's a quick question for y'all:
I am going to be doing a live event online at Bitten by Books on the actual day of the book release, starting at noon PST/3pm EST. Since I'm going to be pretty much glued to the computer that day anyway, I was thinking about having a live event to on Facebook too, where people could ask me questions, say congrats, and win prizes. What do you think? If I did such a crazy thing, would you come?