Jan 1

Blogs, Demons, Zombies, new releases, spam, and other happy fun time stuff

Ahem. Well, a few of you might have notice that I sort of stopped blogging for a while. Er, “a while” being a year and a half. In my pitiful defense, I’ve been crazy stupid busy. And, maybe a little lazy at the same time. ;-)

So, as most of you probably know already (assuming I have ANY readers left at all, though I figure that this will most likely pop up in some feeds and surprise the hell out of a few people) I’ve had a few books come out since I last blogged. In January 2012 Sins of the Demon came out, then in July Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues hit shelves, and finally, on December 31st Touch of the Demon made its appearance. Told you I was busy! LOL

Okay, so we’re all caught up now, right? :-D

All right, maaaaaybe there’s more news. In spring of 2012 my lovely editor agreed to buy three more books in the White Trash Zombie series, as well as four more in the Kara Gillian series. That brings the total books in each series to six and nine, respectively, and I’m pretty sure that’ll be enough to complete the story arcs I have planned for both.

Also, I just turned in White Trash Zombie Apocalypse, which will be out Jul 2, 2013. And, the next book in the Kara Gillian series will be Fury of the Demon, which will most likely be out near the end of the year.

And, in news mostly unrelated to books, part of the reason I stopped blogging here was because controlling the comment spam here ate up a ridiculous amount of my time, even with the akismet plugin. So, I’m debating shifting my blogging to something that isn’t actually something I host myself. Right now I use a wordpress platform, but I’m considering simply shifting the blog to an actual wordpress blog hosted on wordpress.com. Does anyone know if that would help with the whole comment spam problem? Or does anyone have other suggestions?

Either way, I do intend to get back to this whole blog thing. I actually do miss it.

But spam.. ugh. Don’t miss that.

Jul 15

More signing stuff and book neepery

In the department of “Crap, I should have posted this several days ago!” I have a signing tomorrow (July 16th) from 12-2pm at Big Easy Comics in Mandeville. This is a great local indie, so please come out and support them!

In other news, I turned in the fourth Kara Gillian book this morning, Sins of the Demon. Woohoo! (I’ll post later about how this was the hardest book I’ve ever written.) I took a short break and then started making notes for the second White Trash Zombie book–current working title of which is Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues. :-)

At some point this afternoon I realized that this new book will be my SIXTH contracted book. Holy shit.

Seriously. Holy shit. I started writing Mark of the Demon less than five years ago. Needless to say, there are times when this whole thing feels extremely surreal.

[pause to contemplate Stuff]

Okay, enough contemplating!

I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con next week, and if you are attending and so desire you can even find me at:

Thursday: 3:00-4:00pm Magic & Monsters— Adult and young adult science fiction and fantasy authors discuss the costs and consequences of “magic” in their novels and the scary, hairy, and dangerous creatures that lurk in the worlds they have created. Visit the worlds of Kim Harrison (The Hollows series), Andrea Cremer (The Nightshade series), Anton Strout (The Simon Canderous series), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Ben Loory (Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day), J. F. Lewis (The Void City novels), and Diana Rowland (The White Trash Zombie series), guided by moderator Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 25ABC

4:30-5:30–autographing in the Comic Con autograph area.

Friday: 11:00-11:50am–autographing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth (#1119)

And the rest of the time I’ll be geeking out!

Jul 11

I’ve reached a new milestone!

Who needs the New York Times bestseller list? I’ve just been deemed a BAD INFLUENCE! :-) According to the Christian News Wire, my Kara Gillian-Demon Summoner books encourage teens to experiment with demonic possession.

You only wish you could be this cool!

Jul 9

For the locals (and semi-locals depending on how badly you want signed books!)

I will be signing copies of My Life as a White Trash Zombie today from 2-4pm at the Mandeville, LA, Barnes & Noble.

(I will be signing all of my other books as well, if anyone wants them!)

Jul 5

Today is the day for braaaaaaiiinnnnssss!!

Hurray! My Life as a White Trash Zombie officially hits stores today!

My life as a white trash zombie cover

I say “officially” because I’ve been getting reports of sightings for well over a week. And, when the family and I were on our way back from Destin, FL, this past weekend, we stopped in at a bunch of different bookstores** on the way back, and all of them had several copies of the book in stock. (And yes, there are now signed copies of said books at all of those bookstores!)

But, just in case your local store actually abided by release dates, now here’s no excuse for them to not have it in stock!

And now for the challenge:

If My Life as a White Trash Zombie hits the New York Times bestseller list, I will get this tattoo:

I Love Brains tattoo

I am currently completely un-inked. This would be my very first tattoo. And I promise many pictures and much video should the inking take place!

So now you know what to do!

** Barnes & Noble stores in Destin, FL, Pensacola, FL, and Gulfport, MS. Books-A-Million stores in Destin, FL and Fort Walton Beach, FL.

May 3

Tra la! It’s May!

My god, this place has gathered a lot of dust. I’ve fallen into the (bad) habit of posting snippety updates on facebook or twitter instead of taking the time to write out blogs. Dear self: You can post those same updates here. There’s nothing that says a blog entry has to be lengthy. Duh.

So, some snippety stuff for y’all:

I have a new book coming out in about two months!! For those of you who come to this blog via the front page of my website, you’ve no doubt seen the OH MY GOD AWESOME COVER for My Life as a White Trash Zombie which comes out July 5th. But for those of you who have yet to see it.. *cue chorus of angels*:

My Life as a White Trash Zombie cover

I am so in love with this cover it HURTS! The artist is the amazingly talented (and super nice guy) Dan Dos Santos. The even cooler thing is that he entered this art in the Spectrum contest earlier this year, and this cover took silver!!! I’m SO stoked for Dan because he deserves all sorts of praise and adulation. He’s also part of a group blog of incredible artists where they talk about process and the industry and talent and other really neat stuff, which is a fascinating read even if you’re like me and can barely draw stick figures.

Click here for the back cover blurb. Oh, and you can read an excerpt of the aforementioned book also!

The Kid turned seven last month. Holy crapoly, she’s growing up so fast! *sniff*

In less than two weeks I’ll be flying to New Mexico, then driving up to Taos Ski Valley to participate in the Rio Hondo writer’s workshop. This is an invitation-only workshop hosted by Walter Jon Williams, and is usually populated by OMFG talented and award-winning writers such as Maureen McHugh, Karen Joy Fowler, James Patrick Kelly, Daniel Abrahm, Carrie Vaughn and others. I was floored (and thrilled) when I was invited last year, and found the workshop to be unspeakably valuable, rewarding and informative. I know my writing improved dramatically as a result of the feedback and shard insights I gained while there. Needless to say, when I received an invitation for the second year in a row, I couldn’t respond with a YES fast enough!

Besides, last year it SNOWED while we were up there! (The lodge where we stay is at about 10,000 feet elevation. Last year I was definitely gasping for breath for the first few days..LOL)

The next thing I have scheduled after that is San Diego Comic Con in late July—my third year in a row of attending this convention. I grew up in fandom and have been to more SF conventions than I can count, but SDCC is nothing like any of those. I’m completely in love with the crazy intensity and energy, and this is probably going to be a definite annual event for me.

I attended the Romantic Times Booklover’s convention back in early April and had an absolute BLAST meeting so many readers and other authors. Since it was held in Los Angeles I also had the chance to hang out with Roman White, who’s become one of my dearest friends. He was shooting a video for Kristin Chenoweth while I was out there, and Roman invited me to come hang out at the shoot. SO COOL!! I got to meet Kristin who is just an amazing and kind person with an insane amount of energy, and holy crap that woman has talent!

Then, after the shoot, Roman invited me along to dinner with some Sony execs, and we ended up at this restaurant in Beverly Hills. Y’all, this was the most amazing food I’ve ever tasted in MY LIFE. It’s all about the science of gastronomy and new cooking methods and the perfect combinations of tastes and textures. I had a drink made with dry ice. I had brussels sprouts that were so incredible and tasty that I wanted seconds (and I fucking HATE brussel sprouts!) I had a cheese and jelly combination that nearly made me weep with joy. It was so incredible that I almost want to never go back to that restaurant because I don’t want to risk ruining the memory of how perfect that meal was. (Though I’m sure I will!)

Plus, the Sony folks paid, which made it even better..LOL Speaking of the Sony people, I sat next to an incredibly interesting and lovely woman (and I’m blanking on her name! DAMN DAMN DAMN!!! I think it was Laura…??) who worked in the Masterworks division (possibly the head of it??) Anyway, she’s a big science fiction & fantasy fan, and we had a really fun time talking about music and books and other neat stuff. The whole evening was an absolute delight—a perfect combination of awesome food and amazing company, and I am eternally grateful to Roman for allowing me to tag along and mooch. :-D

I’m working hard on the next Kara Gillian book, Sins of the Demon! I know there were a lot of readers who were like, “Akk! OMG! How can you leave us hanging like this?” at the end of Secrets of the Demon, but I think people will be pleased with what’s revealed in this next one! This one is scheduled to come out Jan 3, 2012, and is already available for preorder!

Otherwise, my life stays pretty much the same: I’m writing, I’m doing family stuff, I’m continuing my ongoing struggle to shed a few extra pounds, I go to the gym… well, I go more often than I blog!

And that’s about it, I ‘spose!

Jul 4

It’s the delusions that keep us going

Well, after a week of hard battle, the cold I was trying to fight off won, and I finally succumbed to the usual joy of sinus headache, sniffles, and cough. I’m not sure why I even bothered to fight it off, because the actual cold took less time than the battle leading up to it, and I probably could have saved the viruses and myself a lot of effort if I’d just been a bit more tolerant and allowed them access to my respiratory system in the first place.

Anyway, it’s generally over now, except for a touch of lingering cough and a bit of an odd toothache which I’m almost positive is related to sinus pressure. But, since I’m hideously overdue for a dental appointment anyway, and since I’d prefer to not suddenly discover the need for an emergency root canal while in San Diego two weeks from now, I’ll be making a dentist appointment on Monday (if the office is open, Tuesday if it is not.) Yes, my life IS that exciting.

My oh-so-ambitious triathlon training took a brief hit during the Battle For the Sinuses, but only for about three days. I’m already close to a half mile on the swimming, but I pretty much knew going into this that the swimming would be the easiest part for me. I’m a really strong swimmer, and even though it’s been close to twenty five years since I’d swum laps for any extended length of time, it all came back really quickly. (I used to swim long-distances (mile+) for “fun” when I was a teenager. One of the big regrets of my life is that I was never able to do any sort of swim team/racing. I think I’d have been really good at it. Oh well.)

As far as the cycling portion goes, both of my loyal readers will no doubt remember that I was doing a lot of cycling back in 2008–close to a hundred miles a week for much of the summer. On Friday I managed to pump out eight whole miles. *headdesk* Okay, I know, I have three more months until the race. It really won’t be that tough to get my mileage up in that time…

But the running… Ah, the running. That is going to prove to be the bane of my existence. It doesn’t help that it’s the middle of summer in the Deep South. Unless I want to run in 90F degree heat (and by the way, I Don’t) I have to get up at about 5:30 a.m., and even so, the humidity is high enough to make me wonder if I could simply combine my running and lap swimming into one moist activity. It also doesn’t help that I’ve never been what anyone could call a fast runner. Or not-slow runner. Okay, even “runner” is a stretch, to be honest. I manage to get up to a pace that’s not walking, and that’s about it. Even back a few years ago when I was running 3-4 times a week, and doing 6-7 miles at a time, my pace was never faster than 10:30/mile. (In other words, my goal will never be to actually win a race!) So, I kinda detest running right now. I know that there will come a point when I enjoy it, but that’s a ways off–I usually don’t get there until I reach the “five miles is an easy run” stage. Right now I’m still firmly in the “holy crap this shit hurts have I made it to the mile-and-a-half-mark YET??” stage.

And, work on the book continues, of course. I’m finally through the phase of thinking that the book sucks, that everything about it sucks, that it’ll never make sense, and that no one will want to read past the first five pages. I’m actually awfully close to having a readable draft, and not only do I no longer believe it sucks, I’m perilously close to thinking it’s going to be quite good.

Yes, I’m delusional that way. Kinda like how I’ll start to like running in a couple of months. Ah, pleasure is oh-so-close to pain!

Jun 17

We’ve come a long way… mostly

No working out today. Felt cruddy in the way that one feels cruddy when a cold is trying to take up residence, i.e. scratchy throat, cough, nonexistent energy. Plus my legs are pretty achy, so I’m taking today as a rest day, slamming the vitamin C, and will dive back into the bike/swim/run rotation tomorrow.

This past week’s massive excitement (Ha!) was the delivery of a new stove/oven/range hood/microwave. The appliances in our house are just shy of ancient, and we keep saying things like, “When we get extra money, we’re going to replace everything!” But, really, there’s no such thing as “extra money”, and so we’ve been limping along as much as possible. The microwave/range hood crapped out almost a year ago, so we bought a counter-top microwave to sub for that. The oven went into fail-mode a couple of months back, so we bought a toaster oven. Then the stovetop died last week, and we were reduced to using a hot plate, plus, by this point, we had no damn counter space left and had to admit that we would need to use some non-extra money and buy a new stove.

I do hope, though, that the fridge and dishwasher can hold out until my next royalty statement. Ugh.

The stove itself was delivered on Saturday, which was no more complicated than yanking the old one out and shoving the new one in. However the microwave required special installation, and yesterday the installers came out to do that, which means I now have the ability to cook AND have more counter space upon which to pile dirty dishes.

However, when the installation team came out, I had an “Oh, cool!” moment when I saw that it was two women. Hey, great, we’ve come a long way, baby, and all that good stuff. But right after thinking that, I thought that it was a shame that I would even think “Oh, cool!” at all. Yeah, we’ve come a long way, baby, but we’ll have really made it when we don’t even bat an eyelash, and don’t stop and think about how far we’ve come.

Jun 16

Life in DianaLand

I’d make the excuse that my life hasn’t really been exciting enough to blog about lately, except… well, that’s not really true. I mean, it’s not like I have a double life as a secret agent or anything thrilling like that, but life has been good and fun and incredibly eventful in big and small ways. I am driving myself pretty hard on the writing front, simply because of some changes in deadlines, and some intense personal goals. And, I have some new fitness goals (which I’ll expound upon in just a bit.) My internet-type updates have been mostly in the form of twitter or facebook, but the big drawback to those is that not only are they merely small snippets of information (which is perfectly fine at times) but also that it’s not a medium where I’ll be able to go back years later and see what I wrote. (Yes, there are probably programs that will log and store my tweets or facebook updates, but I can’t see how those little snippets will make much sense without the greater context that a blog post will provide.)

The thing is, I started blogging back in 1996. No, we didn’t call it “blogging” back then. I had an “online journal” which I coded in html by hand. There was no comment feature, which gave the whole journaling thing a far different dynamic. I blogged fairly steadily until shortly after I got married in 2002, at which time my posts became fairly infrequent. In 2003 I had a miscarriage, and I pretty much stopped updating completely–which I regret now, because I have no journal record of when I was pregnant with the Kid or the early months of her life. I picked back up again with a free blog on journalscape in November 2004, later moving over to my own site and a wordpress platform, and since then have had only a few patches where I went for more than a few months without posting.

And, I’ve gone through the same strange angst at least a dozen times before, where I feel a sort of “performance pressure” about blogging, and worry that my posts aren’t interesting enough or compelling enough or [insert silly worry.] And, yes, I know I need to get over it and just write, but when I became a Published Author (and even when I was a Seriously Trying To Be Published Author) the whole dynamic seemed to shift again. Suddenly I felt that the blog had to be part of a Big Promotional Engine, and I had to be careful what I said, and diligent about providing content to draw readers in.

But you know what? That doesn’t seem to be working for me, and I don’t think that people who read this blog are all that interested in reading Promotional Stuff all the time.

So, I’m going to try and get back to my roots, so to speak. Yes, I’ll still talk about the books and my writing and my process, simply because all of that is a major part of my life. But I’m also going to talk about my opinions, and what I’m doing for fun, and what my family is doing, and stupid things that I find entertaining–all stuff that I’ll want to read five years down the road, which will possibly be stuff that you’ll want to read right now.


That being said, here’s what I’ve been up to in the past few months:

In April I went to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Columbus, OH. Even though it’s a pricey con, I really enjoy it because it feels like a perfect blend of hanging out with other writers, and meeting and hanging out with people who love to read. This year was a lot of fun, especially because of my last minute decision to bring the creepiest doll in the world. I’ll have to devote a separate blog post to Creepy Doll, because she totally deserves it.

In May I traveled to Taos Ski Valley for the Rio Hondo writer’s workshop. This is a week-long, masters-level, invitation-only writer’s workshop–and I have to be honest and say that I was more than a little stunned to get an invite. This too shall receive its own blog entry, but I’ll just say that it was a rare and awesome treat to be around so many other gifted and successful writers, and the critiques I received have improved and shaped my writing in ways that I’ll be discovering for a long time.

In April, May, and June, I did a lot of writing. A lot. When I met with my DAW editor in early April I was asked if I could shift my work/deadline schedule around and start working on the first book in my zombie series. The deadline for this is fairly tight, but I’m pretty confident that I’m going to make it, and still turn in the book that I want to write. I have some really high hopes for this book as far as content/theme, and I’m really pushing to get the draft written so that I’ll have plenty of time for revisions and input from critique partners.

And, finally, my latest “thing” has nothing to do with writing or books. For the last several months I’ve been struggling to get back into shape and lose the thirty+ pounds that have crept on in the last eight years. I’ll be 44 in a few months, and it’s not going to get any easier to lose the weight. Plus, I’m sick of my joints and back hurting, and I know perfectly well that losing weight will do wonders for easing all of that. While I’ve never been a “jock”, I’ve usually maintained a fairly decent level of fitness, and have even dipped into periods of uberfitness. I liked that. I liked being in shape, and I liked trying on swimsuits and saying, “Cool!” instead of “Oh, yuck!”

Coincidentally, my sister has also been going through a “get into shape” period, and has been doing amazingly well with it. (Far better than I have, I must admit!) For the past few years she’s been saying that she wanted to do a triathlon, and while I’ve agreed that this seems like a neat goal, and even made noises about doing it with her, neither of us ever really got up the will to take it farther than talking about it.

But, like I said, she’s been kicking ass with the fitness thing. She hired a trainer (a former workout partner of mine from one of my uberfitness periods) and has lost a ton of weight, and gained a bunch of muscle and overall conditioning, and last week she emailed me the link to a sprint-level triathlon and asked me if I wanted to do it with her.

See, I do a lot better if I have a specific event or goal to train for. I tend to lose focus if my goal is just “lose 20 pounds in the next four months”. I’ll find any number of excuses as to why I can skip a day, or eat the fried chicken. Therefore, before I could think about it too hard, I went ahead and signed up and paid the money.

Therefore, on October 9th, 2011, my sister and I are going to compete in the Mighty Magnolia triathlon in Hattiesburg, MS. It’s 1/3 mile swim, 16.5 mile bike, and 3 mile run. Go us!

I started training this week, and on Monday I took my road bike out for the first time in over a year. (Bad me!) I managed a measly five miles. (In my defense, though, I deliberately didn’t push myself since I’d managed to nearly cripple myself the week before by enthusiastically throwing myself into intervals on the stationary bike and straining the ever-loving-shit out of the hip flexors on my left side. And that hurt like I’ve never had a muscle strain hurt before. Ugh!) Tuesday I went to the gym and swam laps. I’m a very good swimmer, but it’s been–literally–decades since I’ve done any sort of serious swimming. I managed to swim a quarter mile (nine laps–eighteen lengths in a 25yd pool) alternating breastroke and freestyle for the first twelve lengths, and then just breaststroke for the last six. The freestyle lengths kicked my ass, and I had to stop and catch my breath at the end of the pool after each one. Again, ugh. And then, this morning, I got up at 5:15 and ran. Well, walked/ran. Not very far either–barely over a mile. But I’m going to ease into the running very gradually since I have past issues with plantar fasciitis. (That’s another thing that I’m hoping will ease up once I’ve lost weight.)

And, otherwise, life continues. :-)

Apr 26

RT Schedule

Yes, I know that yesterday I said that I’d post my Romantic Times schedule “later today.” I, of course, meant a Mercury-length day.



Anyway, here’s where to find me this week:

WEDNESDAY: 11:15 - 12:15

What makes a villain compelling rather than cartoonish? How do writers create their bad guys, and what do readers love and hate about them? Join these bestselling authors to see how to make a bad guy come to life … BYO fava beans and chianti, as you never know who might be served for dinner.
Captain: CJ Lyons Panelists: Brett Battles, Juliet Blackwell, Diana Rowland

WEDNESDAY: 5:00PM - 6:00PM

From antiheroes to kick-ass heroines, bestselling authors will discuss why their characters’ quirks not only make them unique, but irresistibly intriguing.
Captain: Patrice Michelle Panelists: Ann Aguirre, Stacia Kane, Cheyenne McCray, Diana Rowland

THURSDAY: 8:30 AM - 9:45 AM

It’s no mystery why this Mystery Mixer is a perennial fav at RT! Join us for free food, free books and other goodies, as well as the chance to meet your favorite mystery writers. Over a dozen mystery and suspense writers will unveil their latest creations and give readers a sneak peak into future whodunnits.
Hosted by: Lori Armstrong, Brett Battles, Juliet Blackwell, Robert Gregory Browne, Toni McGee Causey, Carole Nelson Douglas, Harley Jane Kozak, Julie Kramer, Sophie Littlefield, CJ Lyons, Rick Mofina, Brad Parks, Diana Rowland, Hank Phillippi Ryan

FRIDAY: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The hero may always win but the villain has more fun. Villains get to break the rules. They don’t have to play nice. Lying, blackmail, kidnapping, torture, murder, illicit sex … a villain forces your hero into the dark places we’re supposed to shun, and readers can’t wait to go along for the ride. We’ll discuss our favorite bad guys and girls, and the motivations for their amoral behavior. Learn how to give readers what they want, a wicked guilty pleasure.
Panelists: Mario Acevedo, Juliet Blackwell aka Hailey Lind, Mark Henry, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein

I’ll also be at the Book Fair on Saturday. Otherwise, look in the bar!

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