An unlikely love letter

First, I have a post up on Writer Unboxed that you may find interesting. Or not. true love

I’ve been busy writing, and as you can see in the sidebar, I’m nearly done with my SKIN DIVE draft. I also wrapped up the KILLBOX galleys, so that book’s in the bag now. Hard to believe Jax is rolling toward book four, right? Amazing. At the end of August — shortly after my birthday — that book will put the series at 4/6 (or 2/3) completion. That makes me incredibly proud; that I could start something and finish it. How splendid! It’s rather a milestone, too, I think.

Other than that, I have exciting RAZORLAND goodness percolating behind the scenes. I’m finalizing the agreement for my book trailer with the UK production company, and I’ve been working with the Feiwel audiobook department. As it turns out, they’re doing a special CD sampler with excerpts from the audiobook, which will be included in the galleys. Part of that CD? An interview with yours truly. I did the call today, and wow, I was nervous, but I think I did all right. So many exciting things are coming down the pike this year. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap my head around. For instance, in the next month, I get to see my Cliff Nielsen cover art. I. Can’t. Wait. Interesting (or maybe not?) sidenote, he has done art for Charles de Lint, too, as has my Jax artist, Scott Fischer. This makes me feel like I’m playing Six Degrees of de Lint, who totally friended me on Facebook — without any prompting from me, I might add.

Along with Walter Jon Williams and Simon Green, de Lint holds a special place in my esteem, as he’s wrapped up in my courtship with my husband. Well, not literally. Geez, people. But both Andres and I love books. I logged those recommendations as another woman might gifts of perfume or jewelry; see, we communicate by recommending books to each other, and the themes say private things. The first book Andres ever told me to read was Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams. The next was Imajica by Clive Barker. After that, it was Someplace to Be Flying by de Lint. And then, of course, we discovered Simon Green’s Nightside books together. To this day, shared reading is important to us. When I find an author I love, if I love them enough, I give the book to Andres, and I say, Read this. The subtext is, I want you to love what I love. Maybe it’s goofy of me, but I see each instance as a quiet renewal of vows — that the commonalities that brought us together initially bind us still, so many years later.

I could never have imagined I would end up here… on the cusp of seeing my own words in hardcover. I marvel. Andres, on the other hand, does not. You see, he fell in love with my words first, and then the person behind them. He always knew. He always believed, even when I didn’t. His patience means so much to me now, more than I can say. And so I post a love note for all the world to see on our anniversary, vaguely blog-shaped. Love is not perfection; it is understanding and forgiveness.

Thank you for these marvelous years, my darling. May there be fifteen more and fifteen more again, until you’ve no hair, and I’ve no teeth, and I have forgotten everyone’s eyes but yours. Happy anniversary.

Love, Ann

Things that Piss Me Off

People who drive in the middle of two lanes.

People who don’t own their faults.

People who write one book, spend three years revising it and getting rejections, and then say sadly, “I don’t think I can start over.” Guess what? This business is about writing books, most likely many of them, unless you’re Harper Lee (and you’re probably not), and if you don’t want to write another book, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Sure, nobody likes to fail, but the business could use less whiners and more workers.

People who don’t apologize when it’s due.

People who talk on the cell phone while driving.

People who think the world owes them something.

Dogs who eat my lunch and think it’s cool. (I’m really talking about one dog in particular here. Bitch.)

People who want “tips” that substitute for hard work.

People who fondle me when we meet because they think they know me from reading my books.

People who Follow / Unfollow me repeatedly on Twitter to get my attention. (I’ve set those notices to go straight into my trash now. You’re not even hitting my inbox, people. So stop it. Either you’re interested in what I have to say or you’re not.) Let me be clear: these follow / unfollows would take place in the space of an hour or two, most times when I wasn’t even twittering.

People who spam their links all over my Facebook page, send me 12 messages, randomly IM me, and cover my wall with ribbons and hugs and toy poodles. Please stop. Seriously. Here’s a clue: if I didn’t answer your private message the first 11 times you said, “Hi!”, once in Arabic (I think you said hi that time but I am not sure since I don’t SPEAK Arabic), I probably am not going to answer #12 either.

Mole sauce. That shit is rank. Enough said.

Hey, that was surprisingly fun. Feel free to vent in comments.

Through My Eyes

I get up. I shower. I work. I answer emails.

Later, I go to the grocery store. To get to Superama, I drive up to Pinon and back down Alcanfores. I pass a brightly painted shopping center the right called Plaza Jardins, but I don’t love shopping at Soriana. Their grocery section isn’t as nice. So I take the roundabout up and back down to the back road that leads to the market. This street is wide and has a garden running down the center of it. Fir trees march alongside palm and acacia, bougainvillea and redbud, aloe vera and rubber trees. My drive to the supermarket is, surprisingly, quite green. White paint bands the bottom of each tree, discouraging insects. The houses are bright, like a flock of tropical birds.

First on that road, I come to protesters angry with the government for closing down independent power stations. The government alleges these stations were corrupt and took kickbacks for power discounts. Either way, I see men in mufflers and down jackets milling around, carrying signs. In the next block, a man sits on a lawn chair behind an open red hatchback car, selling bonsai trees for fifty pesos. He is drinking from a thermos and reading a magazine. I make the left turn at the big tree, and this side street has a man washing a car. He waves as if I might know him. I wave back. I continue down to the restaurant that sells flautas and pozole and make a right turn. Two buses block the narrow road and the drivers are arguing in the street. It takes four minutes before everyone shakes a fist one last time and goes their own way. Then I’m at the store. I find a place to park and get a cart.

It’s cold out, the sky so gray I think it portends snow. It has been freezing these past weeks, and we are just not prepared for it. Everyone hustles in and out in their jackets and hats, head down. The man who sells magazines is not around; nor is the flower seller. The woman who sells pastries is not working. Clearly, this is a winter unlike we’ve seen before. To make matters worse, my back door is broken. The repair men were supposed to come today. Now they are supposed to come tomorrow. When will they be here? Who knows? This is Mexico. I have become philosophical about such things.

I do my shopping and listen to conversations in Spanish. In the produce aisle, a toddler tugs on his mom’s coat and wails, “Quiero fresas!” (“I want strawberries!”) Another woman talks about a scarf she is knitting. An old man tells his grandson that he cannot have the new Hershey’s Good Night Hot Chocolate. I ask the clerk to step away from the onions so I can buy some. At the checkout, I pay in a mix of vales and cash. The bagger is quick, so I tip him extra. In the parking lot, I pay a security guard twenty pesos to take my groceries out and put them in the trunk of my car. Once home, I carry them inside and put them away. Next I make a pot of beef vegetable soup to ward off the chill.

And this is a day, through my eyes.

Happy New Year!

I am posting because I desperately need your help. There’s a book on my mind, but I can’t remember enough of it to identify it:

It’s epic fantasy, probably written in the late 80s or possibly the 90s. The main characters were a bard and mercenary. They fell in love over the course of the book and had adventures, both together and separately. Because the country was at war, the mercenary (or soldier) did many brave things. He was a bit older, battered and scarred, possibly missing an eye. He was elevated to nobility by the end, and they could not be together officially because (a) she was a bard and (b) she was also barren. It was a lovely, bittersweet story. I’d like to revisit it but I can’t remember who it’s by! (I’m sure it’s not Mercedes Lackey.) Does this ring any bells for anyone?

Help!

Oh, and Happy New Year.

Showing Empathy

Have you ever thought about what this means? Are you a good listener? By which I mean, you’re not thinking about other things or plotting a scene in your head, or deciding what you’ll say when it’s your turn to talk next.

Maybe it’s because authors can become egocentric that I’m thinking about this today, but I decided to write this post because I think it’s an important reminder for all people that the world is a big place, and everything isn’t about you.

I mean, we all have a tendency to make things about us and filter things through our experiences. Sometimes we don’t get what the other person is saying because of it. We all have a tendency to do it. But we can’t let our self-involvement get in the way of caring and making connections. We can’t let jealousy or envy color our responses. We live in an age of ennui, when there’s an excess of everything except compassion and kindness. sad_smiley

I challenge you to think about your last conversation. Were you an engaged listener? Did you come into it without an agenda? When was the last time you talked to someone just because you wanted to, not because you had something you needed to get out of it? To some extent, this behavior is natural and human. It’s only when it occurs to the exclusion of showing empathy at all that it becomes problematic.

If you tell me your sister has broken a bone, and I’m like, I broke a bone once, that’s a problem. The proper response should be along the lines of, OMG, how? Is she ok otherwise? I hope nobody else was hurt. Are you all right? Or some combination thereof. Not because you know your friend’s sister or because it impacts you in some way, but because her hurt presumably hurts your friend. Right?

I wonder if all the modern conveniences have impacted our ability to focus on other people. We live in a me-world, and sometimes it makes me sad.

My Computer Conundrum

Four years ago, I bought an Ibook on Mercado Libre. It didn’t cost a lot, but I had always wanted one. I didn’t care about how fast it was. I only cared that it could do word processing and let me IM my friends and check email. I’ve never been one to want the newest and shiniest; I have to confess that I find the retro Macs irresistibly charming (which is why I have a 600 mhz Blueberry Imac in my office, and yes, it works for me just fine). I ordered a cute pink skin for the top of it, carefully applied it, and christened this Ibook Pinkie. pinkie

I wrote the first novel I sold on that Ibook and pretty much every one since then, or at least a portion of it. I can’t even count the number of words I’ve pounded out on it. The feel of the keys is somehow comforting when I use it. I love this machine. The ink has started to wear off the keys from so much use.

Which is why this is such a problem for me. You see, when I hurt my ankle, Pinkie also suffered an injury. Andres cut me out of the cast early, and the day after, I was tired of staying in bed, so I tried to hobble down the stairs on my own (i was alone) to work on the couch. The dog ambushed me near the living room, I stumbled into the wall, and Pinkie took a header on the marble floor. She hasn’t been the same since.

We took her to the Mac repair shop and they managed to replace some memory and get her going again, but she’s sluggish, which she wasn’t before, and the wireless has stopped working. Would a new airport card do it? If so, that’s an easy fix.

I keep looking at the Macbooks, which are a bit bigger than Pinkie. Is it dumb that I’m so attached to a piece of hardware? Would it be the same trying to write my books on a new one? Do any other writers have this problem? I feel weird weighing this decision like I am. It should be no big deal, right? And yet it is, and I get upset over the idea of replacing her.

I welcome your thoughts.

Where in the world is Ann Aguirre?

Ordinarily, the answer to that would be:

“At my desk, writing.” Or “On my Ibook, writing.”

But as I whoop it up during the first week of Blue Diablo‘s release, I have emerged from perpetual hermitage to run amok in San Diego with my fabulous agent, Laura Bradford.

Insanely early tomorrow morning, I will catch a plane from Mexico City and land in Tijuana, where I will avoid all offers of illegal drugs and/or carnal pleasures, and make my way to San Diego to meet up with Laura. From there our revelry will know no bounds, as we sweep San Diego in a stock-signing Bacchanalia.

And then there’s this…

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
Blue Diablo signing at April 10 at 7pm
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302
San Diego, CA 92111

If you live within reasonable driving distance of Mysterious Galaxy, please come see me because I would love to meet and chat with you, and I so rarely get the chance.

The Scratch N Sniff Post

Do you guys remember Scratch N Sniff cards? I was trying to explain the concept of Smell-o-Vision to Andres the other night, who I suspect was convinced I had made the whole thing up on the spot. I was convinced I didn’t, mind you, but I wasn’t armed at the time with the facts and figures that tend to persuade males that I’m not delusional. Until now I’ve been too busy to unleash my mad Google skills on the issue (read: I totally forgot about it), but here are the stats:

One of the more curious fad gimmicks of the period was Smell-O-Vision, a process initiated in 1960 by Mike Todd, Jr., son of the famed showman. Mike Todd, Sr. had entertained the world with his massive production of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956), but sadly, perished in a plane crash in 1958. Todd, Jr. invested his inheritance in the development of Smell-O-Vision, a process in which evocative smells were pumped to the cinema audience through pipes leading to individual seats in the auditorium. Bottles of scent were held on a rotating drum and the process was triggered by a signal on the film itself. Only one film, SCENT OF A MYSTERY, was made in Smell-O-Vision and was far from a milestone in movie history. Mike Todd, Jr. lost his entire investment and left the film business. As an added audience incentive, Eddie Fisher, best friend of Mike Todd, Sr. and, at the time, the husband of Todd’s widow, Elizabeth Taylor, sang the memorable theme song from SCENT OF A MYSTERY. Filmmaker, John Waters, paid homage to Smell-O-Vision with his 1980 film, POLYESTER. Waters created the process of Odorama and, rather than pumping in scents, used individual audience “Scratch and Sniff” cards.

You know something is cool if John Waters pays homage to it. He’s like the king of quirk. In any event, I’m doing something similar with this post, except I can’t mail you all sniff cards and I can’t fill your homes with fresh pine-y scent (and isn’t that too bad?!) But I can fill this entry with lots of interesting clickables.

So here we go!

First order of business…

How many of you have received your copies of THE EYE OF NIGHT? If you don’t mind, sound off here. I want to get some idea of when to schedule the book club. I was thinking the last week of February. Suggestions welcome! (The first rule of Book Club? We DO talk about book club! Tell your friends. Get them a copy of this book. Srsly!) Pauline is seven flavors of awesome cake with sprinkles. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with her a bit via email, so maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll get her to pop by.

KILLBOX is clicking along nicely. I expect to have a draft by the end of this week. Then I’ll wrap up final revisions on DOUBLEBLIND, and go back to KILLBOX for first revision / polish before my March 15 deadline. Then I get to dive right into SKIN TIGHT, which is the second action romance by Ava Gray. (Yo, that’s still me.) In case you forgot, the first book is called SKIN GAME, and I was just talking about cover concepts with my wicked-tacular agent, Laura Bradford. I then sent the ideas to my kick-tastic editor, Cindy Hwang. Fingers crossed that I get a sexy cover like Anya Bast did for The Chosen Sin.

But enough about me. I’ve also collected some clickies on emerging technologies. I’m always watching Wired, Engadget, Discovery and others for news of stuff I can stick in my books. Here’s what interested me this week:

A “beam me up” update

Invisible cloak? Eat your heart out, Harry Potter.

3-D TV? Sweet!
Flying car? It’s about damn time.

What have you guys been reading this week?

Yesterday was a sucky day

Therefore, the only thing I can do, clearly, is cleanse the crap from my aura by explicating my problem via a Simon and Garfunkel song. I’m sure many of you do the same. So without delay, I present to you:

The Sound of Violence

Hello douchebag, my old friend,
Look here, you’ve cut me off again,
Into my lane rudely creeping,
Slung your car at me while I sat beeping,
And the collision that was granted to my frame
Still remains
Within the sound of violence.

In vexed steam I waited alone
Narrow streets near my home,
Where I could only sit & cuss,
And I turned my back to such a fuss
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of
A five-oh’s light
That such delight
Could complete the sound of violence.

And in that stupid street I saw
A family of assholes in a car.
Jerks talking without listening,
Wanks threatening me even more,
Driver using words I never heard
And no one cared
About the sound of violence.

A-hole, said I, you do not know
You drive like a blinded mole.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Better yet, fuck off, before I beat you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And I said
Why don’t you go to hell?

At last the agent finally came
To the scene that was so lame
The ding, it hardly measured up,
It was no bigger than a cup.
And the guy said, the words of the statements
Are written on the paper here
Sign your names
And we left the sound of violence.