The Family Plot has arrived!

The Family Plot is upon us! IN HONOR OF THIS OCCASION or probably just by way of coincidence and generally awesome timing…please click over to Books, Bones, & Buffy and while you’re there you can ENTER TO WIN a copy of this book for your very own! (Also, there is a kick-ass review that I totally want you to read. Seriously, go on. It’s amaaaaaazing.)

Next! Here at the Qwillery you can find ANOTHER giveaway and review.

Likewise! Here at Dark Faerie Tales you can find YET ANOTHER giveaway and review.

FREE COPIES UP FOR GRABS ALL UP IN THIS INTERNET.


Meanwhile, here in meatspace …

TONIGHT, 9/20 – 7:00 p.m. – At the Hamilton Place Barnes & Noble (Chattanooga, natch), I’ll be signing a fresh spanky batch of books for you, yours, and whoever the heck else comes by. The Family Plot will be Officially Out and the nice B&N folks will have a fat stash on hand; but of course, I’ll sign absolutely anything else (that I wrote) which you happen to bring or buy.

Same rules apply on THURSDAY, 9/22 – from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Star Line Books (downtown, across from the Choo-Choo). I’ll add this, too: You do not have to buy your books at the venues, but I would strongly encourage you to buy something. Booksellers go to a lot of trouble to host these events, and it is very good form to show them that you appreciate the effort!

So that’s where you can find me this week, and I need to hurry up and post this – because I still have work to do today. But in closing, if you’d like to summon The Family Plot to your door via clicks and postage, then I would like to help:


Thanks so much for reading, everyone.
You are awesome!

5 things (or however many) make a very long (and long overdue) post

Hahahaha well it’s been another month, almost, and I’m only just now getting around to posting again. I feel like I say this a lot, but “In my defense”… it’s been a crazy month. Between wrapping up my Wild Cards project, setting up interviews/filling out interviews/lining up the launch for The Family Plot, adopting a sick dog, and the week-long mayhem of DragonCon…we’ve really had our hands full over here.

Wait. Lemme explain.
Um, okay. In that order (because why not):

1. I have finished up a novella for one of the upcoming Wild Cards projects, and GRRM is happy with it, and it only took one massive rewrite and a small clean-up pass. I’m relieved and chuffed and proud, and when the release details and final line-up are public information, you can safely bet that I’ll post all of that information here.

2. The Family Plot officially drops on the 20th of this month, so it’s been all ghost stories, all the time over at Chez Cherie. Fortunately, with (more than a little) wrangling from Wonder-Editor Liz and the good folks at The Missing Volume, we were able to sneak an early box to DragonCon – so if you were there, you might have gotten an advance copy like this nice fellow did. Go you! I hope you will be kind enough to post and cross-post reviews to all the usual places. It’s terribly helpful to authors, I swear, and we appreciate it more than we can ever adequately express.

Speaking of, early reviews for The Family Plot have been very good. As previously noted, Publishers Weekly gave it a fancy red starred review and added the shiny red box to the print edition, so they must have really, really liked it.

Other people are digging it, too. Booklist likewise gave it a starred review, declaring (in part) that it’s “Highly recommended for fans of contemporary ghost stories.”

Here, let me give you a short secondary link roundup:


3. We adopted another dog. You know this, if you follow me on Twitter. There have been….many dog pictures. It’s kind of a long story, but to sum up: We’d been idly in the market for a second dog for awhile now, sort of waiting for the right pooch to fall into our laps. Then two weeks ago, we went to Petsmart for cat supplies during an adopt-a-thon. My husband lost his shit over this sweet little lady, and she came home with us.

Her name is Lucy. We were told that she was about 3 years old, fully vetted and spayed, housebroken, crate-trained, good with cats, and good with all other dogs/people, too. And hey, some of that was true.

I’m not mad at the rescue; they pulled Lucy with 9(?) newborn puppies (her second litter) from a kill shelter before they could be put down in all in a batch. This rescue operates on a shoestring, and they’re doing the best work they can. I am not complaining about them. I absolutely appreciate that their mission is an underfunded and overwhelming one.

However…this rescue was, shall we say, not 100% correct on all those points.

My vet thinks Lucy might not be much more than a year old, perhaps a year and a half – if she did in fact have two litters. Lucy was tested for heartworms and spayed, and that’s it. Never dewormed, given shots, etc. She was not housebroken. She was not crate-trained, though it’s apparent that she’s familiar with crates and – generally speaking – doesn’t mind them.

She was also quite sick. She had a UTI and a bowel infection that made housebreaking her tricky as hell. We couldn’t in good conscience crate a dog who legit had to pee/explode with poop every twenty minutes – even at night. That’s just mean. So the housebreaking has been an exercise in patience and puppy pads and vinegar spray and enzyme cleaners and throwing away a very nice rug that simply could not be salvaged. And so forth.

That said, she really is good with everything and everybody – and her cat manners are superb. The ElderCat accepted her more or less immediately(!!!) except for a brief stand-off re: whether or not cat food was an acceptable snack for dogs. Quinnie was more dubious, but has warmed up fast. Greyson is a little jelly sometimes, but overall seems quite happy to have a baby sister.

She’s definitely jacked up his activity level, which is good because he’s become a total fatty. They love to play chase and wrestle, and sometimes play tug with a toy. They’re good together on walks, and the neighborhood kids have already figured out that our yard is a two-for when it comes to dog kisses at the gate.

Before anyone asks, Lucy’s puppies were weaned, spayed/neutered, and put up for adoption. I think they’re all gone off to new homes now. (At least, I know most of them are.) As the story went, someone bought Lucy as a puppy thinking (for whatever dumbass reason) that she was a purebred husky – and tried to breed her (too young) and sell her (not pure) puppies. By the second litter, her original owner realized they’d been taken for a ride … and surrendered her with the babies because they “didn’t need that many dogs.”

I don’t know what the hell is wrong with people.

Anyway, Lucy is feeling much better now, after almost 2 weeks of antibiotics and other assorted meds. She hasn’t had any daytime accidents since Tuesday, but she’s been surprising us with some magnificent gift of excrement or mayhem every single morning since her arrival … except for last night, when we finally felt she was well enough to handle a crating. She took it like a champ and even let us sleep in until 8:30 (beating the hell out of her usual 5:30-6:00 a.m.). This means it’s been a full day (and change) since there’s been any inappropriate pottying in the house! ::throws confetti::

Did I mention mayhem above? Somewhere in that paragraph? Yes, I think so.

That’s because Lucy is – in no uncertain terms – very, very smart. Much smarter than Greyson. Much more ambitious. Far less food-secure. Considerably more mischievous. When she thinks no one’s looking, she likes to bounce on the couch and fling the cushions around the room. When we put the cat food out of her reach, she waits until we’re gone and counter-surfs. One night she dragged out a full bin of kibble at 3:00 a.m., hauled it into the foyer, dumped it all out, and helped herself.

She is a character (and sometimes a challenge), but we wouldn’t have her any other way :)

Look, I don’t want to break anybody’s heart, but she’s got a real tough life here.

Right, so. That’s Lucy.

4. I went to DragonCon, three days after we adopted Lucy. So my husband was left behind for a week with three rounds of meds at different times every day, plus a geriatric cat who needs medicine every night, and Greyson and Quinnie, to boot. He did good! At least, when I got back home everyone was still alive, and that’s the important bit.

In a nutshell, DragonCon was magnificent, as always. There were SO MANY PICTURES. I can’t even. But what I can do is excerpt a few of my favorites. (For many more, see the media tab at my Twitter Account and scroll around. Also check out Kevin Hearne’s feed and Fran Wilde’s, too because I bet/know they also have jillions…)

Fran Wilde and I may have done some drinking.

We also have killer kind-of-matchy tattoos.

With all-around amazing human being Kevin Hearne.

With Tiffany Trent! Who I hadn’t seen in ages!

With Delilah S. Dawson, who was definitely not possessed or anything.

With Leanna Renee Hieber, having Serious Opinions re: the Penny Dreadful finale.

One more with Kevin, and the inimitable Myke Cole.

With Lynn and Caleb Beatty, my roomies for Friday/Saturday/Sunday.

Look, Kevin is awesome, okay? And so is Micheal J. Martinez, too.

And Eugene Meyers! Who I also hadn’t seen in ages!

With the always-handsome and awesome Tony Ballard-Smoot!

And one last shot of me with Derek Tatum, the horror track director who I’ve known about 20 years :)



Now, for item #5. Okay, so there’s no item #5 in my initial thesis statement at the top … but that’s only because I forgot. You see, I came back from DragonCon with the most ferocious con-crud of my life. The doc said he’d write down “pneumonia of the face-holes” if there was any such thing, if that gives you any idea.

On the upshot, it doesn’t appear to be strep throat. On the downside, I’ve had cases of strep throat before that weren’t this bad. But I have antibiotics and STEROIDS now and the STEROIDS kicked in this morning, so I’ve been a busy (if hoarse and drippy) lady today. To wit: I’ve done the dishes, made the beds (been sleeping in my office to prevent spousal contamination), walked/fed/medicated the dogs, watered the yard, paid some bills, filled out an interview, sent some emails, and spent about 90 minutes typing up this blog post.

Steroids are GREAT. This is the most work I’ve gotten done in a day since I left DragonCon.

At any rate, thanks for reading, and thanks for being patient with me. I’ll post again soon, because I have a couple of local events for The Family Plot‘s release, but I don’t want to post them right now – lest they get lost in the shuffle. Besides, this has gone on long enough, don’t you think?

I do. Let’s wrap this up with a critter picture.
:)

Partly how I heard it happened, and partly how I bet it happened: The Family Plot

A couple of years ago, a neighbor called me over to the fence. He’d seen workmen start excavation in our back yard, where we were restoring a set of failed retaining walls and adding a patio.

“You’re new here,” he noted. “So you might not know the rules.” Rules? Yes, rules. “It’s like this: When you start digging back there, you’re gonna find things…mostly little things. Buttons and buckles, old glass. Bullets, probably. You keep that. That’s for you.” He looked around to make sure no one else was in easy earshot, and added, “But if you find human remains, you put that shit back where you found it – and you don’t say a goddamn word.”

Wait. Let me back up.

Four years ago, my husband and I bought a Victorian house in a historic district at the foot of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

During the Civil War, this land saw plenty of fighting as the armies went back and forth, arguing over the mountain. After the war, it was subdivided into lots and sold off to fugitives from a yellow fever epidemic in downtown Chattanooga, a few miles away. (They escaped it with, shall we say, limited success.) In 1885 the neighborhood incorporated into its own town, and in 1920 it was annexed by the city.

A lot of people have lived here and died here, is what I’m saying. I’m also saying that if these blocks aren’t haunted, there’s probably no such thing as ghosts. But that’s another post, for another time.

At any rate, I knew my neighbor was trying to get a rise of out of me – but I’m harder to worry than that. I went ahead and asked him if Surprise! human remains turned up with any regularity. He pointed back up the hill. “It happens often enough. And you see that road up there? Just beyond that, the property belongs to the National Park Service. You do not want them thinking you’ve got dead soldiers hanging out on your lot. They might come dig ’em up.”

Can they do that, I asked? He said yes. I had my doubts, but I didn’t argue.

I won’t leave you hanging. We did not find any human remains when we dug up the old retaining walls. Of course, if we did…I probably wouldn’t mention it here. So you’ll have to take my word for it, even though I’m telling you that you maybe shouldn’t.

Sorry.

Our neighborhood is a hoot, in no uncertain terms. I picked up a few books about it, and made friends with a few neighbors, and chatted up a few of the old-timers who love dogs. (Greyson is the main reason I ever got to know anybody around here.) Along the way, I picked up a few stories.

Like, stories even Faulkner would call Weird South.

One of these bits of oddball lore stuck in my head, so I did a little research. I found documentation re: some of the details here and there (but not all of them), and a couple of the original players are still in the area (but not all of them, either). So here’s my disclaimer before I fill you in: This is partly how I heard it happened, and partly how I bet it happened. I only guarantee that maybe 20-30% of the following is completely true.

But some of it is.
Got it? Okay.

Sometime in the 1980s, a dude bought a run-down house that needed a whole lot of work. This house was set back on the mountain, so he went to the city and asked for a permit to put in a driveway – in order to bring heavy equipment up to the property, so he could restore it.

The city said “nope.”
There was a cemetery in the way.

Dude was confused and upset. He knew of no such cemetery! It didn’t exist! The city insisted otherwise, and showed him paperwork saying there was a private cemetery on the land. It had been open since at least the 1950s.

He ran back to the house, grabbed a weed-whacker, and sure enough – soon turned up a good number of tombstones beside and behind the house…all of them fallen over, half-buried, and completely overgrown. And much older than the 1950s. So he called up the house’s previous owner (or rather, the representative) and threw a fit about this revelation. The explanation he got was a real corker: Contrary to all appearances, what he’d found was not, in fact, a cemetery.

The house in question had been built by a fellow who’d owned a large monument company back in the late 1800s/early 1900s. This company had specialized in statuary, plaques, and…tombstones. One Halloween in the 1920s, apparently this guy grabbed a bunch of unclaimed stones from the family business, set them up along the house, and threw a big party. But tombstones are heavy, right? He never got around to putting them back.

The whole neighborhood knew about it for a long time. Everyone laughed about it. Nobody cared. Nobody thought it was a real cemetery. But decades passed, the stones fell over, and newer residents had no idea they’d ever been there in the first place.*

Relieved but still kind of confused, the new owner went to the city and explained the situation. But he couldn’t prove there were no bodies present without digging up the “graves,” which he wasn’t allowed to do, because it was a legally open cemetery…and round and round and round he went.

Eventually, he got the family’s representative to go downtown and legally close the cemetery (which wasn’t a cemetery), making it legal for him to collect and discard the tombstones and/or get the permits to put in a driveway. So that’s what he did.

And then, on the second day of work, he turned up the first set of human remains.

I KNOW, RIGHT? So many questions!
Writer brain went into overdrive!

Before long, this idea collided with another one during a marathon of Salvage Dawgs on the DIY Network.

One of the salvage guys said something – I don’t remember what – about a cool old building they were breaking down, and I had the thought, “I bet they have some good ghost stories.” I mean, renovation/remodeling work supposedly stirs up the spirits, right? Surely a good demo/tear-down would do likewise…?

Mind you, I know just enough about old houses to be dangerous – and most of what I know comes from the restoration side, not the salvage side. But I did some due diligence homework, held my breath, and got started on a draft of a southern gothic haunted house story about a small family salvage company taking a week to break down a big ol’ estate on the side of Lookout Mountain…and poltergeists ensue.

When I was about 2/3 of the way through this draft, I may have hypothetically been drinking and watching Salvage Dawgs again. (My husband was out of town. I was bored. I love old stuff. Don’t judge.) At the end of the episode, there was a little blurb about checking out their website and sending them email and I was like AW SHIT, MAN. I CAN TOTALLY DO THAT.

So upon my phone, I looked up their website and sent what – in retrospect – was probably a wildly rambling message that was equal parts earnest and tipsy, asking if I could pester somebody there with a few VERY SPECIFIC questions about the salvage business for a book I was working on and I PROMISED that I would not ask anything stupid like, “How do I start my own salvage company?”

Then I hit “send.”

Lo and behold, I logged on the next morning to find an email from the general manager of Black Dog Salvage. Not only did he not make fun of me or point and laugh, but he offered his phone number and told me to give him a call. I waited until lunch, when I had perfected my ten-second pitch, and I dialed him up – then talked his ear off for about an hour.

So Grant Holmes, if you’re reading this – thank you again for being so indulgent, patient, and an all-around class act. Also, please forgive me for not sticking precisely to the letter of (some of) your feedback. For the sake of narrative convenience, sometimes spooky contrivance must prevail. Rest assured, dear readers, if you find any improbable factual errors in The Family Plot, they are not Grant’s fault. They’re all mine.


Right. So.

Perhaps this is a good time to mention that The Family Plot comes out next month – on September 20th! (You might actually be able to find it early at DragonCon, but don’t quote me on that just yet. It’s not in the bag.)

HOWEVER. You can enter this Goodreads raffle to win a copy, and you can click over to Tor.com where you can read an excerpt. Yes, we’re ramping up to the big release. It’s all The Family Plot, all the time. I do hope you’ll pardon me, but this is my job and here’s my hustle.

If you’d like to preorder The Family Plot, then I would like to help:


Thanks so much for reading, everyone – and stay tuned! There will be more pet pictures soon, I promise. And also some more hustle, but like I said. A girl’s gotta eat.

:)



* It would seem that a non-local census worker in the 1950s had made note of the cemetery and entered it into the public record, not knowing of its party-time origins.