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So, who would like an ARC of SPELLCASTER?

So, anybody out there want a copy of SPELLCASTER?

That's the first book in my new witchcraft trilogy, and it doesn't hit bookstores until March ... but the ARCs are so shiny that I want to share a bit of the love.

How do you enter?

CONTEST RULES

1) Send me any question you might have about SPELLCASTER! Some of you have heard me talk about this before; for others, this might be one of the first times you've heard about it. So ask anything, from "how is this different," to "what do you like about the characters," to "who the heck are the characters?" -- you name it!

2) Send this question to me at evernightclaudia at gmail dot com, with the subject line QUESTIONS ABOUT SPELLCASTER!

3) Also include your name and address, or at any rate an address I can use to ship this to you if you win.

4) Do all this before Wednesday, October 17, when I'll answer the most frequently asked/interesting questions on the blog -- and name the three lucky winners!

(Yes, winners can come from anywhere in the world. And need I say that I am asking you to take good care of these ARCs and not post all the pages online? After all, if I've sent you the book, I know where you live, bwah hah hah.)

Good luck, everyone!

And FYI, I hope to have some international tour dates to announce very soon!
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Who's Afraid of "50 Shades"?

Disclaimer the First: I haven't read "50 Shades of Grey." So I'm talking about it in the abstract here.

Disclaimer the Second: I am a past, present and future writer and reader of fan fiction, including erotic fan fiction.

And here we go.

Everywhere you look, people are talking about "50 Shades of Grey." And a lot of those people are making fun of it. Though I haven't read the book, I've read enough excerpts to know that, yes, a lot of the prose is clunky. But there are other clunky books out there that don't have Gilbert Gottfried and Will Ferrell, et al, doing "dramatic readings" designed to make people giggle. The reason invective gets hurled at "50 Shades" is because it's erotica, erotica meant to appeal to women.

"That's not it!" you protest. "We hate it because this thing is selling so many copies! More than Harry Potter! That's not right!"

First of all, "fair" has zero to do with what sells. Better books than Harry Potter got outsold by Harry Potter, and I say this as someone who loves Harry Potter. "Lolita" is one of the masterworks of 20th century literature; its sales figures (while healthy) will never compare to that of "Valley of the Dolls."

Second - why is "50 Shades of Grey" selling so many copies? It's not because it's awful, though at this point it's got the momentum where tons of people are buying it just to see what people are talking about. But it got that momentum by turning a whole lot of women on, clunky prose and all.*

(Sometimes I think complaining that the prose in erotica is clumsy is like complaining that the internal workings of a car's engines aren't pretty. No, they aren't. Car parts aren't about being pretty; they're just about getting you where you're going. Not unlike some erotica.)

"But why couldn't some good erotica be out there getting all this attention?" is the next complaint, and the thing is -- the success of "50 Shades of Grey" makes it a whole lot more likely that all erotica is going to be given more attention by the publishing industry from now on. The good erotica only stands to benefit from this - though it, too, will be mocked in turn, this next big erotica hit, no matter how good it is, because our culture doesn't like it when women get turned on. That which women find sexy will be mocked as silly and trivial, no matter what or who it is.**

And now there are erotica versions of classic literature being published ... i.e., the kind of fan fiction that is already out there for free, if you care to look, but that's almost beside the point. This is NOT the greatest outrage ever perpetrated. This is NOT the end of literature as we know it. If Jane Eyre survived the last couple of centuries, she'll survive a couple nights of bondage with Mr. Rochester.*** And I find it wholly credible that Heathcliff and Cathy had something kinky going on the side; honestly, wouldn't that explain a whole lot?

To say that making something erotic automatically cheapens it is to equate the erotic with the cheap. This is not an equation I believe holds true.

Oscar Wilde once said there were no immoral books; books were only well or badly written, and that was all. I wouldn't go that far, but it seems to me the natural response to disappointment in the quality of "50 Shades of Grey" is not to knock erotica, but to make sure more of it gets out there. More and better! If "50 Shades" is simply not your cup of tea, then IMHO what we need is more flavors of tea.

The main thing I know about "50 Shades of Grey": The other day, I was getting my car serviced and was reading a book (a Maisie Dobbs mystery, for the record) in the oh-so-exciting waiting area of a Firestone. The woman next to me - a total stranger - whispers, "Have you read 50 Shades?" I said no. "You have to! It's so good! The guy, he's so mixed up, but he learns to love." That was her takeaway. It's the first time in a long time a total stranger was so excited about a book that she just had to lean over and tell me, another reader, to check it out. She thought it was sexy. She liked the fact that it wasn't just sex. She didn't care about the clunky prose. For her, it worked. And to me, making endless fun of "50 Shades" comes perilously close to making fun of that woman for loving a book.


I'll pass, thanks.


*I've seen some people in the BDSM scene - which I'm not, FYI, TMI - argue that "50 Shades" is a very bad representation of that kind of relationship, and that criticism I think is totally valid. That said, once again, the answer is not less erotica but more, and better.

**Leonardo DiCaprio is a talented actor who gets a lot of ridicule - usually from men - because he had the nerve to be dreamy in "Titanic." The Beatles were considered laughingstocks in pop culture really until the one-two punch of "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" started to convince people all those teenage girls were screaming for a reason. So on, so forth.

***Some people have a problem with derivative works, period, and their objections would apply equally to, say, "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies," which to the best of my knowledge contains no erotica - I haven't read that either. But that's another argument altogether, and one that usually degenerates into me calling anti-fanfic people poopyheads, so let's just skip it today.
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How Not To Respond To Negative Reviews, ULTIMATE EDITION

OK, so we've all heard of writers getting upset by negative reviews. There is no author in the world so thick of skin that running across a scathing put-down of their work does not lead to a few moments of grumpiness, a strong desire for chocolate, or maybe compulsive whining to significant others and/or house pets. Sometimes, though, it goes further. Some writer might make the mistake of responding to a bad review on Amazon. Another might have the misfortune to run across insulting comments on Twitter late at night, after they have had a vodka martini. So on and so forth.

And then you have THIS INSANITY, which is so far beyond the pale, you can't even see the pale from here.

I am not blogging about this to say how shocked I am, because I would hope that all but the most pessimistic observers of human behavior would find this shocking. I'm also not blogging to denounce this and say that it's wrong, because, seriously, this could not be more obviously, incredibly wrong if it came with a huge blinking neon sign that read BAD KARMA HERE.

What I'm saying to any writer who would participate in this, even as a mere satisfied spectator, is that you have got to step back. There is nothing any reviewer could say that would warrant this response unless they posted your home address and a picture of one of your kids with a bullseye on it (which to the best of my knowledge no reviewers have done.) There is no book so precious that its reputation should be defended to the point of threatening people.

Are some reviews hard to read? Yes. Are some negative reviews legitimately shallow or mean spirited? Yes again - being a book reviewer isn't an automatic ticket to virtue, any more than being an author is. But the answer is definitely not for you to be even more mean-spirited in return. Not only is it hypocritical, not only is it counter-productive, but in this case it may well be criminal.

Personally I have no idea what the general climate is on GoodReads. Know why? I don't take part in it. Don't read it, don't visit it, don't look up my own books, don't look up anybody else's. Why? Because my own personal line for stepping back from this stuff is way, way short of "homicidal rage." It's closer to, "I spend enough time on work while I'm actually writing, so in my free time, I would rather look up cute pictures of James McAvoy." (We all prioritize.)

And the thing is - back before I was writing professionally, I'd have been all over GoodReads. But for now, that's so mixed up with my work life that it's not going to be a place where I hang out and have fun. What I'm saying is that, if you're a writer, and you can't approach GoodReads as a place where you have fun and find books, then you should not go there. If Amazon reviews fill you with anger, then don't go to Amazon. (Fanatically checking your sales rank every 20 minutes does not actually improve it. I know. I tried that.) Whatever thing it is online that triggers you, that gets at your temper, that turns you from a professional into a vengeful loony -- you must have the self control not to go there and do that. The best way to deal with your crazy is to steer around it altogether.

(This holds true for more than writers dealing with reviews, but I digress.)

Nobody else's bad behavior vindicates your own. You can't control what anybody else says on the internet, no matter how many creepy stalkery websites you create. You can only control yourself. I am no master of this art -- it's a lesson I keep trying to learn every day. But if you've gotten to the point where you're calling book reviewers at night and threatening them, it's a lesson you, too, need to take to heart.

ETA: I should mention that the anonymous site runners insist none of them are authors. I find that hard to believe, simply because, while I get but do not condone the insane overprotectiveness of your own books, I really do NOT get such insanity about other people's books. If these people think they are defending writers, all I can say is, "Get the hell off my side; you're making us look bad."

**

Thanks so much for ALL the wonderful comments to my last post about there being no wrong way to be a girl. I haven't been able to approve them because -- this is embarrassing -- I've sort of lost the password. Ahem. BUT I WILL FIGURE THIS OUT. When I do, I'll have a follow-up post with some of the most interesting comments, so stay tuned!
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"I'm not like the other girls."

This post comes from two things:

1) A quote I saw making the Tumblr rounds, which said, “I’m not like other girls!” It went on to avow wearing Converse instead of heels, preferring computer games to shopping, so on and so forth. When I saw it, about 41,000 girls had said they weren’t like “the others.”

2) A few weeks ago, I posted a comment on Twitter saying that, if the internet had been around in 1980 (the year “Empire Strikes Back” came out), we’d all be Team Luke or Team Han. Some guy took it upon himself to inform me - to explain to me, like I was not alive and aware during that year – that “girls didn’t like Star Wars.” He insisted that we were, in 1980, only interested in Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy, the heartthrob stars of “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.” (Surely some girls also liked Pamela Sue Anderson as Nancy Drew, but we shall let the heteronormative side of this slide for now.)

Let’s try to count everything that’s wrong with that, if we can:

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I shall now dismount my soapbox and get back to the important work of revising my latest book outline and looking at cute pictures of James McAvoy.
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"Prometheus" -- movie review!

Apparently this film has been the source of both great love and great derision out there in moviegoer land! I can actually express both emotions for "Prometheus," but I definitely enjoyed it more than not.

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One week until "Brave," right?

This weekend I'm finishing copyedits on SPELLCASTER! So excited for you guys to see this one ...
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"Snow White and the Huntsman" -- review!

So, I'd been looking forward to this movie for months. Did it live up to my (largely self-created) hyped-up anticipation? Not quite ... but I still liked it.

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Next up: "Prometheus"!

Also, you will notice that I am back to my blog! After my long travels came a time of working on proposals, and while that time has not ended, it has at least subsided to the point where I have free time again. Look for more nattering soon.
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NOW IS THE TIME WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HUNGER GAMES

First things first -- the tours are almost over and have been a whopping success! So, so great to meet all of you who came to Oxford, Doylestown, Salt Lake City, Miami, Atlanta, LA, the Somerset Festival, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth! Does reading that list exhaust you? Well, doing it has tuckered me right out. I am currently taking a few days of R&R before heading to Auckland, NZ, for my final BALTHAZAR promotional event this Saturday. (If you're in Auckland, or can be, I hope you will be there!)

But for now I must talk to you, o kindred spirits, about "The Hunger Games" movie, which I saw in Perth:

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BTW, it will be a while before I reply -- this tropical town is short on internet -- but I definitely want to hear what you think!
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winners of BALTHAZAR Contest #2!

Man, you guys love thinking about Balthazar.

You imagined him in London stalking Jack the Ripper, on safari in Africa, guarding the Romanovs, dancing with flappers in 1920s jazz halls, wisely fleeing the French Revolution, and even hanging out on Bourbon Street, which as a New Orleanian I appreciate. And several of you pointed out -- correctly -- that he's been at Evernight Academy more than once before, working on building up that self-control, so he doesn't go all Charity on everybody.

But without further ado: Congrats to winners Carolina D.V., Rachel C. and Leighjean G.! You get autographed BALTHAZARs (the book, not the guy, more's the pity), which I hope you will enjoy!

Speaking of contests -- I still haven't gotten address from two of the winners of Contest #1. Do you want these vampire rubber duckies to remain homeless? Drop me a line, guys!
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Australian tour dates!

Better late than never -- my tour dates for my upcoming trip to Australia!

Somerset Celebration of Literature
Somerset College, Somerset Drive, Mudgeeraba in Queensland


March 15: Speaking and signing at sessions @ 10:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

March 16: Speaking and signing at sessions @ 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Brisbane

March 17:

Signing at Black Cat Books @ 11:30 a.m.
Signing at Dymocks Brisbane @ 1 p.m.

Melbourne

March 18:

Signing and speaking at Dymocks Collins Street @ 4 p.m.

Sydney

March 20:

Morning event at Hurstville School for Girls

Dymocks online author chat @ 2 p.m. (check with Dymocks online for details of how to join in)

Speaking and signing at Dymocks Broadway @ 5 p.m.

Perth

March 21:

Speaking and signing at Dymocks Carousel @ 4 p.m.

March 22:

Speaking and signing at Dymocks Garden City @ 6 p.m.

**

I will also be doing some drop-ins during the day at other bookstores in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, which means that you may be able to get a book signed even if we don't get a chance to chat. Hope to meet so many of you there!