Dead Ice: Jean-Claude

In the lead up to Dead Ice hitting the shelves, I’m going to be doing a special blog series.  I’ll be answering three of the most common questions I get about a character.  I’ll be trying to include something not as commonly known with each answer. Then, you get a sneak peek of that character from Dead Ice. To kick off the blog series, we start with Jean-Claude – of course. 


Question: Is Jean-Claude named after Jean-Claude Van Damme? 

Answer: No.
Secret to share: In fact, Jean-Claude’s birth name wasn’t Jean-Claude. Vampires only had one name in Old Europe, so if there was already an older vampire with your name, your master could force you to pick a new name or even choose one for you. 
Quest: Why is Jean-Claude French?

Answer: Because he refused to be Spanish, the way I planned.
Secret to Share: Jean-Claude was first created in the late 1980’s.  That was close enough to my school days that I could still read Spanish and understand it if it was spoken to me – slowly.  Please, do not try to speak Spanish to me now, I am too out of practice.  My pronunciation must  still be good though, because Spanish speakers will still break into rapid Spanish if I answer any question in their native language. As for my knowledge of French, all I can do is apologize for all of it in the early Anita Blake novels because my language “expert” wasn’t nearly as good at French as they told me they were, and well, some phrases are just awful. As my own French has grown marginally better, even I don’t know what one or two phrases were meant to convey. *face palm* It taught me to be more certain that my experts in any field actually were experts. I still pronounce French badly, so much so that I’ve been told by more than one native French speaker that I can learn all the French I want, but I will never speak it as fluently and musically as I do Spanish.  In fact, I’ve been told that I speak French as if Spanish was my first language. It was my second, but apparently it has left it’s linguistic mark. 
Question: Didn’t I feel that making Jean-Claude French was too much Anne Rice’s territory, because of Interview with the Vampire?
Answer: Yes, I did, which is why I wanted him to be Spanish; but the harder I fought to force him into a nationality that he didn’t want, the more illusive he was on paper.  I couldn’t get my main vampire to cooperate on paper until I got out of his way and let him be French.  Only then did he show up in his full glory and write smoothly on paper.  He showed up in his typical black and white clothing with the frilly shirt, skin tight pants, and great boots.  I did not choose his clothes; he did.  Though in an effort to keep his clothes up to his standards I would watch the Fashion Channel for the first time and read my first copy of Vogue.  I joke that Jean-Claude taught me to walk in high heels; he helped me understand the magic of gliding in heels.  I don’t envision ever being as elegant as he is, but writing and living with him in my head for a couple of decades has helped up my grace and poise content.  Though he shakes his head over me sometimes, just like he does Anita. He’s been an interesting influence on both her fictional wardrobe and my real life one.  People will ask if my husband and I are in a band, or if we’re visiting from New York, as we get off the plane here in St. Louis.  I’m not sure exactly what it means that we get asked that so often, but I know that it’s Jean-Claude’s influence, or rather me writing him that’s changed the way I view clothes. 

Sneak Peek from Dead Ice:
“Perhaps modern people do not speak of it so bluntly, but it is the age-old game of chase and capture. There is always someone in a relationship who begins the hunt for someone’s heart, and the pursued must decide whether she wishes to be easily caught, or to be a long and difficult hunt.” He smiled when he said it.

I frowned at him. “Have you ever not gotten to sleep with someone you set your sights on?”

He raised the dark, graceful curve of one eyebrow.  “You led me on the merriest chase of anyone I had ever met, ma petite.”

New Blog – Show, don’t Tell

Writers are always being told – show, don’t tell. That’s great advice, but what the heck does it mean? It took me years to figure it out as a beginning writer, but once I did it became a filter I ran scenes through whenever my writing felt flat, or lifeless. If you’re a beginning writer thinking, great for her, but how does that help me figure it out, just be patient, because I’m going to give you some examples from the book I’m currently writing. It’s the twenty-third novel that I’ve written in my Anita Blake series, and my thirty-sixth novel counting one short story anthology, called Strange Candy. Why not tell you the title of the book I’m going to use as an example, because it’s still untitled.

Jean-Claude was first introduced in, Guilty Pleasures in 1993. One of the true challenges of being a series writer is to keep long running characters fresh for you as a writer, and for the readers. Both the ones that have been reading from the beginning and for the ones that have just discovered your books, and jumped in at the end. If you’re just starting out and haven’t got first book published, you may think, why should I care? Well, hopefully years from now you’ll be writing your twenty-something book, and then you will care, or I hope you will care as much about your characters as I do mine.

I wrote Jean-Claude’s first introduction in my current novel like this:

“Jean-Claude sat behind that huge desk and that gleaming display of matrimonial treasure, but none of it was as pretty as he was, and I didn’t think it was just me being in love with him that made me think that. He had been a ladies’ man for more centuries than our country had been in existence. He still occasionally appeared on stage at Guilty Pleasures, the strip club he owned, and had managed for years. On nights when he was billed as the star attraction we couldn’t get all the customers in the club, even if we were willing to make the fire marshal unhappy.”

It’s not a bad start, but it tells you Jean-Claude is attractive and sexy enough to be a stripper and a seducer of women, but that doesn’t tell you anything about what he really looks like. People have very different ideas of what attractive means, so the reader may fill in the blanks with the a totally different looking character from the above, because I’ve told them he’s handsome, even sexy, but I haven’t shown it, I haven’t proved it to the reader, and that’s really what showing vs. telling is, proving to the reader that the character is handsome, sexy, or whatever. You have to make your reader, see, feel, taste, touch, believe.

So I rewrote the scene:

“Jean-Claude sat behind that huge desk and that gleaming display of matrimonial treasure, but none of it was as pretty as him. His black hair curled softly past his shoulders mingling so perfectly with the velvet of his jacket that it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. The shirt that peeked from the jacket was scarlet, a red that looked fabulous with the hair and that unearthly white skin of his, a perfect whiteness that no living skin could rival. he was very pale tonight, no blush of color to his face at all which meant he hadn’t fed yet. There was a time I couldn’t have told, but I’d been studying his face and moods for years. Once I had refused to be food for any vampire, even him. Now the thought that he hadn’t fed, and that it could be part of our foreplay tightened things low in my body so hard and sudden that I had to reach for the edge of the desk to steady myself, and I hadn’t even gotten to his face.

I raised up to finally look into that face and that near perfect curve of cheek, the kissable lips, and finally the coup de grace of his eyes. They looked almost black in the overhead lights, but some gleam always seemed to show that swimming blue like deep sea water where the monsters swim, and there are wonders to behold. His dark eyelashes were actually double-rowed on top so they looked like he’d used mascara, but he never had to, and then the perfect arch of black eyebrow . . . he looked too beautiful, too perfect, like a work of art instead of a person. How did this man love me? But the smile on his face, the light in his eyes, said plainly that he saw something wonderful when he looked at me, too. I didn’t know whether to be flattered, amazed, or ask why me? Why not a thousand more traditionally beautiful women? he could have had movie stars, or models, but he’d chosen me. Me, too short, curvy even with my gym workout, and scarred from my job, still struggling to heal all the issues life had saddled me with, and yet, he smiled at me, held his hand out to me. I went around the desk to take that offered hand, but I didn’t feel like the princess to his prince. I felt like the clumsy peasant to his very, regal King. ”

Do you see what happens when you show, rather than tell? The above didn’t just show that Jean-Claude is gorgeous, but it also revealed Anita’s character and inner world, too. It also says something about Jean-Claude that wouldn’t have been on the paper if I hadn’t shown his appearance through Anita’s eyes, and let her show her feelings about him and herself.

Telling is literally telling the reader what they should believe, but showing let’s them see it, feel it, experience it for themselves much more viscerally. Telling skims the surface like a bare brush of lips, the way your aunt kissed you when you were a kid. Showing digs deeper, it’s a lover’s kiss, that presses so hard against your mouth that you have to open our lips to them, and let their tongue slide inside you. Telling is having to kiss someone; showing is wanting to kiss someone.

I don’t want to tell you that Jean-Claude is hot, and Anita is uncertain of her own beauty, I want to show you.

Show, don’t tell.

Jean-Claude by Brett Booth from the comic adaptation of Guilty Pleasures

What’s Next for Anita Blake?

One of my goals for this year was to work happier, so I gave myself permission to write anything I wanted, and that was great for awhile. I’ve made some notes and even chapters, or pieces of chapters in a brand new world. I’ve learned that I need dozens to hundreds of pages that aren’t for publication while I explore and world build. I’ve tried skipping this part of my process and it’s what led me to throw out 70% of the first Meredith Gentry book after the editor had already accepted it and start the novel over. The book was immensely better for it, and the world, my main character, plot, everything vastly improved, but I learned my lesson. Unless the muses give me a book opening and world whole and complete through near magical inspiration, I need to write out my world building before I write the first book in the world.

I finished a brand new Anita Blake short novel that’s even longer than Micah which was my last original paperback surprise. Eventually, I had to look at my deadlines and my goals for the year and realize it was time to get down to brass tacks and begin the next full-size Anita Blake novel. This year, 2014, will see the first new Merry Gentry novel in almost five years, 2015 will be Anita’s turn, but to make that happen I have to write the book. Funny, how they don’t write themselves.

I usually know what I’m writing next with Anita, but I did something I used to do years back, but had stopped in the press of deadlines when I was delivering two big books a year. A decade of doing that put a lot of things on hold. There just wasn’t time to do my usual process and meet those deadlines, but see that goal to “work happier”, so I was trying to recover some of the pieces that had made things more joyous for me and my muse. I used to tidy and sort my office between writing projects, but I’d fallen so far behind on that I had literally boxes of papers on the floor, and sticky notes on the wall so old the ink had faded.

I went through every file folder, every piece of paper in my office. The desktops are cleaned and ready to go for the next book, but which one? Because in going through all the notes and scrapes of paper I’ve got a wealth of possibilities. I thought I’d chosen a follow up on Sampson, the mermaid/man, and his rather dysfunctional family situation: sirens, vampires, and murder, oh, my! But I think that Sampson’s story maybe a short story, or a different book than I thought, so – not yet. I have this great opening that I wrote on the plane back from Paris a few years ago. It has Nicky featured and I thought, cool, we’ll do a book where he takes center stage. Um, no, not ready. That opening may have Nicky in a main part, but I think it’s a book more about Anita’s necromancy and the power boost/side effects from the Mother of All Darkness. (You didn’t really think all that happened without side effects, did you?) But the book isn’t soup yet, not done, not ready, so . . . Valentina, our forever five-year-old vampire, has a story to tell, and a modern spin on her own fate, and I thought that was next, but as I tried to write it . . . it slowed down, and . . . Edward’s wedding finally? No, that story isn’t ready yet, close, but not quite ready. Olaf’s return? Maybe, but not yet. Nicky will be going home to make sure his abusive mother doesn’t get parole and Anita will go with him for moral support, but not this book. (That may actually be a novelette, or short story, and not a book at all.) Bartolome trapped forever in the body of a twelve-year-old boy, has more to tell, but again he’s not ready to tell the rest of his story. I’ve got a short story/novelette with Micah doing his job for the Furry Coalition, but so not soup yet. I’ve got a Jade novelette, or short novel, and that maybe close, but not sure. I’ve got the beginning of a short piece where Jean-Claude and Asher tell an adventure they had when they were a happy threesome with Julianna. I know the whole plot there, I think, it’s more how to tell the story without running into the traps of “telling a story,” where you know the people survived, or they couldn’t be telling you the story now. I’ve got two short pieces where Richard is on stage, and one that revisits his family, his brother Daniel in particular, but that’s not even close to ready to be written. I’ve got several pages of a story about Jean-Claude, and Nathaniel, and we find out something from both their pasts that intertwine in a way that totally surprised me. That seems to be the front runner at the moment, but again it feels more like a novelette than a novel. There’s a piece that features Detective Zerbrowski and his son, and that’s close to being ready, but again I don’t think it’s a complete novel. It may even be a short story. I found notes about a visit to Philadelphia to visit Requiem in his new home. A book set in the Carolinas that was inspired by a horrible hotel room my husband, Jon, and I had in Charlotte, North Carolina once, but though a great beginning, it’s just an idea, a book length idea, but it needs another idea, or two to bump into it before I sit down and begin in earnest. That’s just a few of the ideas I rediscovered, or tidied up into folders for later.

I’d forgotten that I did that, shed ideas like flower petals in a high wind, so that the path is strewn with wonders, and curious notes. My office is clean and neat as a pin, but my imagination is cluttered with fragments of this and that idea, character, plot, so that it’s like I’ve smashed a stained glass window and covered the floor with bright, shining, pieces, but which to pick up first?

The Blog I promised

It’s the 20th anniversary for the Anita Blake series, and to help celebrate that I asked you to tell me what the books and characters had meant to you, and how you found them. The response has been overwhelming and wonderful – Thank You.
I’m sitting in my office with just our three dogs for company, as I usually am when I write. It is a very isolated job, writing. Authors spend most of their lives in a room by themselves while the world passes by outside. The inside of my head is full of a slightly different world populated by people so real to me that sometimes it feels wrong that I will never be able to touch their hands, see their smiles across a table from me – not for real. I call them my imaginary friends, rather than my friends, because in years when I just said, my friends, some fans misunderstood and thought that Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, Micah, Nathaniel, Jason, all of them were based on real, flesh and blood people. So, I started saying my imaginary friends so people would understand that I did not base my characters on real people. It also started cutting down on fans asking for the phone numbers of my imaginary men. But one thing many of you made clear was that my imaginary friends had become your friends, too.
In fact, you told me that my imaginary friends, my world, my creations, had helped you guys get through some really tough times. That the books had been what you read at the bedside when your families were in the hospital, or even been a refuge when you had to face the death of those close to you. Some of you told me that Anita had taught you how to be strong, how not to back down, and that until Anita a lot of women, especially, hadn’t realized how to be strong. I’m always amazed by that, I guess because I was raised by a very strong woman, so strength and being female was just a given to me, but I’m glad I could share some of the strength I learned growing up, and building my life. I’d already lost track of the number of women who had told me at signings that they’d left abusive relationships, because they knew Anita wouldn’t have taken it. I am very proud of that, and I know that Anita would be, too.
I asked who your favorite characters were, and wasn’t surprised by most of the answers. Jean-Claude is big fan favorite, and he’s earned it. I think that he was more surprised by how he and Anita have grown as a couple than even she is, after all it’s not every woman that can surprise a man that’s over five hundred years old, but our girl keeps doing it. I think the key to that is that Anita keeps growing and changing, willing to be pushed outside her comfort zones. Many of you told me that you’ve learned to go outside your own comfort zones from reading my books. You know what? I’ve learned the same thing. I joke that I haven’t seen my comfort zones in at least ten years, and that’s true. It’s not a comfortable way to live, but it’s never boring, and it’s led me to be happier than I ever thought possible. What I hadn’t expected was to hear how many of you had learned a similar lesson. I guess, we’ve all grown together.
Trying to do justice to the hundreds of years of lady’s man for Jean-Claude led me to learn how to walk in high heels, and has totally changed my clothing choices. he’s like this voice in my head that pops up and goes, hmmm . . . what if you wore this today, or that would look lovely. I probably take more clothes advice from him than Anita would tolerate. *laughs*
I expected Micah to be a favorite, and the Wicked Truth, though Damian is very underused for someone that so many of you like. I’m sorry for that, but he’s happy being monogamous with Cardinale and who am I to argue with that? We may be seeing more of him in the future, but I’m trying to figure a way of doing that without wrecking his relationship. Zerbrowski is one of my favorites, too. I’ve actually made notes about a short story that would let us see him at home with his wife, Katie, and their kids. We’ve referred to Anita, Micah, and Nathaniel, going to cook outs at their house with the other cops, but never seen it on stage. Something about hitting this anniversary has made me look around the series and go, “What is it that we’ve never seen on stage that would be fun?”
Richard still has his fans, though admittedly most of you are not. Richard really is in therapy, and is making peace with himself and the conflict between the life he wanted and the life he has, which are miles apart. He’s been talking to me again, and I’m hopeful. I swear, that I brought him on to marry Anita. It was my solution to breaking her up with Jean-Claude and not having to kill him. It would take me years to realize that Richard was my ideal man, at the time, but maybe not hers.
The character that more of you mentioned than any other, either in a list with others, or alone, was Nathaniel. I knew he’d be on a lot of people’s favorite list, but I hadn’t anticipated what he’d meant to you so many of you. Some of you told me that him talking about his own therapy helped you be willing to see your therapy. That’s wonderful, because I’m a big believer in good therapy. It’s made a huge difference in my own life, and still does. I am so happy that sharing Nathaniel’s story has helped so many of you understand that just because something terrible happens to you, that isn’t the end of the story. We can heal, and grow, and learn to be happy. Thank you for telling me how much watching Nathaniel’s journey through the books has helped all of you understand that you can be happy, too. I know that would mean a lot to Nathaniel, too. Writing him has taught me, and Anita, that strength doesn’t always come full blown, sword in hand, but that some of the bravest people are the ones that learn to be brave.
In fact, several of you have told me that my books taught you that true bravery isn’t when you’re not afraid. True courage is being scared to death and doing it anyway. It was such a given to me that bravery is acting in the face of fear, that it never occurred to me that everyone didn’t understand that. It is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned and I am very happy to share it with all of you.
Thank you for so many of you telling me that my characters have helped you understand that you have to stand up for what you believe, what you want, who you are, and not let society tell you different. Anita and I both started the series so conservative, and now here we are so very not. :-)
I would be a different person today if I had never written Anita. I would be a different person if I had only written the original three books I was contracted for, and stopped, or even stopped with the first six. The research I did into real crime, real violence, showed me things that I didn’t always want to know, but it helped me make Anita’s police work, more real. I believed that if I wanted people to believe in zombies, vampires, and wereanimals, that I had to make the real life details as real as possible. I haven’t always gotten it right, but I thank all the police and military personnel over the years that have helped me try, all mistakes are mine and mine alone. You guys did your best with this writer that has never worn any uniform for a job. But more than the true crime, the research into alternative lifestyles opened my eyes and showed me a much broader definition of . . . nearly everything.
Some of you have been with Anita and me from the beginning, but I hear from people every day that have just found us. Thank you for being on this journey with us, whether you found us with Guilty Pleasures, or somewhere in the middle, or just watched the video for Affliction and thought, I want to read that. Me, too, it’s why I wrote it, why I still write Anita, because I want to know what happens next.

Affliction Update

Affliction will be out July 2, 2013! Why isn’t it in June like normal?
I was writing along on Affliction, and it was slow going, which isn’t usual for me at the beginning of a book. The book seemed to be fighting me and I wasn’t sure why, this usually happens when plot, or character, are not conforming to my initial idea and I’m refusing to make the change that the character wants. The book and I continued to duke it out, and I had some all time low daily page counts after page 150, that’s usually the moment that a book gains momentum, unless . . . unless it’s going to be longer than planned. My deadline was coming, I didn’t have time for substantially longer. You see the problem, right? Books are like legs, they need to be as long as necessary to reach the ground, otherwise you have serious problems with walking, running, and just moving forward in general. The more I tried to keep things under control, the harder it got, and the slower I wrote. What I had on the page was good, and I was having fun while writing, but still there was something wrong. Early on I’d told my editor that Edward might be in the book, but as we neared page 300 I assured her that he wasn’t going to be in it, because if he was going to show up that he would have put in an appearance by now. You see it coming, don’t you? Yep, you guessed it, Edward strolled on stage after page 300.
Now, I love Edward. I love writing him. Anita loves to work with him. He is her best friend, after all. Yes, I know that she needs a girl best friend again, since she and Ronnie had a parting of philosophies, but since my best friend, not counting my husband Jon, is male, I guess it makes sense that Anita would gravitate that way, too. Edward’s first scene was perfectly him, and wonderful interaction between him and Anita. It was great! I always love their dialogue. Here’s the problem, any time Edward steps on scene a book is guaranteed to be at least a 100 pages longer than I had planned, and usually between 150-200 pages longer. That’s great for you readers, but I still have to write the pages and meet my deadline. Affliction was plotted out to be a long book anyway, but adding Edward so late in the game, I knew was in trouble.
I called up my wonderful editor, Susan, and told her I wasn’t making my December deadline, it just wasn’t happening, was there anyway to make a later deadline? So, that’s how we ended up with the book moving to July, and my deadline moving to February, because I needed the time to play with all the characters that kept insisting they would be on stage this book.
Not only is Edward a surprise guest star, but Jean-Claude has a much bigger role than I had planned on, and the Wicked Truth are on stage, which I was trying to avoid. I love them, and they are yummy, but when I started nearing 500 pages I thought we had all the familiar characters we were going to introduce in this book, and yet, when I stop typing this I will be finishing their introduction scene for this book. Introducing two minor major characters at nearly page 500? What the hell? I mean, you just don’t introduce people this late in the game if the book is going to stop soon, right? Right? Argh!!!! I love everyone and the book reads well, Jon is really enjoying what he’s gotten to read, as has my editor, but come on all you fictional guys and girls, enough already! I got a deadline to make!
I now realize that one of the things that has slowed my page rate per day is that I’m still fighting the book. I’m still trying to force it into the smaller shape I had planned. I have to stop fighting myself and just let the book be what it’s going to be. My goal for the day is to stop worrying about how many characters are in the book and how late in the game they are stepping on stage and just write. It’s really all I can do, write, and let my imaginary friends have their heads, and like a horse that I’ve been fighting to hold back in a race, I’m hoping that once I give them their heads we’ll pick up speed and fly past that finish line ahead of the pack.

Why I Threw Out Everything I Wrote Yesterday

So many of you wrote in and feared for the lovers in Anita’s life. They are in peril. This promises to be a very hard book, but two days ago it wasn’t that kind of trauma for Anita and me. She did her duty. She stayed at her post. She made the hard call in the midst of death and violence. She was a good cop, a good soldier, a good . . . she did her duty. She did not panic. It ended up with her in the hospital and it cost her the life of someone she valued. It also cost the lives of good men and women who stood shoulder to shoulder against the great bad thing. There are losses that aren’t about romantic love. There are losses that are about a different kind of love. The people that will go into the bad place with you and not panic, but stay at your side shooting, fighting, risking it all for the goal, the objective, the mission, but there will always be moments that come down to just surviving. The men and women who stay with you through something like that – you love them. They love you. It’s not romantic love, but it is a bond that will make you answer a phone a decade later and say, “What do you need? What can I do?”
It’s also the kind of emotion that will make you not answer the phone ever. It is a level of pain and trauma that makes you want to forget. You don’t want to relive it. You don’t want to look at it, or talk about it. You want to move on; forget. sometimes in that effort to push it away you will destroy everything in your life to avoid the pain of it, the truth of it.
I have had the privilege of knowing men and women who have served their country, worn the badge, and come away with the real deal. I have dated, and been friends with men that are still haunted. I know when they share their stories with me in any way that it’s a privilege to be trusted with those moments of truth. a lot of them are told with laughter, but every once in awhile their eyes grow haunted and the pain comes too close to hide.
Anita had one of those moments and I spent the next twenty-four hours trying to ignore the pain. I was willing to blow up my imaginary world and throw all the hard work that Micah and Jean-Claude had done to bring together the preternatural community so that we could have a crisis and Anita and I wouldn’t have to deal with what was really bothering us. We were willing to ruin our relationship with Micah. Willing to ruin our relationship with other lovers. Anita and I tried to sink ourselves into sex. Nothing worked yesterday. Some of it was good pages, but really I was blowing up my world, destroying books and books of relationship building. It was my husband, Jon, who told me not to do some of it, that it made no sense. I was angry with him, though we didn’t fight, because I knew something was wrong with me and how I was reacting.
This morning when I woke up I understood what I’d been doing. I also knew what I needed to write today. I have to look at what happened in the shoot out. I have to let Anita feel the pain of what she had to do, and what it cost her and others. I was willing to blow up my world, Jean-Claude’s world, Micah’s, sacrifice Damian, hurt Nathaniel, or try to just skip to sex and comfort. I fought with myself all day and at midnight I called it, because I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I just knew it I wasn’t thinking right.
This morning it was so clear, even logical. I’ve spent twenty years writing Anita. I’ve interviewed people about what it feels like to take a life in the course of their duty. I have been blessed and trusted with the stories, without them this series would have been so much weaker. I wouldn’t have understood, and there are things that I will not understand because this is fiction for me. I’m not there. I’m not going through the real doors. I’m not having to look down the barrel of real guns and make choices that will be irrevocable. In real life there is no rewrite, more’s the pity.
Today Anita has to wake up in the hospital with that moment of confusion of “where am I, what happened,” and then the memory will return. She’ll remember the moment. The gun, sighting down the barrel, pulling the trigger and watching him drop. She would make the same choice, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be haunted by it. You can be right. You can be brave. It is some comfort, but in the end the people still died, and you couldn’t save them all, and sometimes killing the killer is just one more trauma.
There are losses that make you weep, that drive you from sleep to pace the darkened house, because sleep is full of dreams, nightmares, or sometimes it’s just too quiet and alone with our thoughts isn’t that great. I should have remembered that yesterday, but it took me time to work it out – to remember.
I’m just lucky that what I do is fiction. That I didn’t ruin my actual relationship with the man I love, and I have a chance to rewrite the fictional mistake. That I didn’t blow up the political structure of our country for real, but just on paper and I had a smart man to tell me, “This isn’t logical.” Thanks, my husband. Lucky for me, and for Anita, there is a do-over today. It won’t be pleasant, in fact it will be emotionally pretty horrible, but when she’s faced it, worked some of it through, then she will still have the loves of her life, the men she depends on, and the careful political structure that Jean-Claude and Micah have worked so hard to make will still be working. I am dreading writing this, but I feel strangely peaceful about it, too. This is what comes next and the days when Anita would destroy her love life, her friendships, to avoid the pain of what she’s had to do in her job are past. I’ve had better therapy than that, and so has she.
As I write today I will think of my friends who have done, and are doing, this for real. To the men and women who put on a uniform and do their duty, thank you for your service.

Beauty, eSpecial, or the Sexy Outtake

Whenever I tweet, FaceBook, or blog, that I had to delete a perfectly good scene because it no longer worked with the plot of the current book, a lot of you ask to see the scene. You’ve even suggested that I share my Anita outtake file with you. Well, guess what, Beauty, the eSpecial that everyone’s been asking me about is an outtake from Kiss the Dead. It’s a sex scene that unfortunately had to be cut, because character decisions made it impossible as written. More unfortunately it was the scene between Jean-Claude and Anita. I really wanted them to have some up close and personal time in this next book, and it was a great scene, and . . . I still had to cut it.

But one day I was talking to my editor, Susan, on the phone, and I bemoaned the loss of the scene. She thought it was a fabulous scene, too, and regretted it’s loss. That was the point that she and I came up with the idea of doing the outtake as my first ever eSpecial. I thought great, and it’s already written, but like much in this whole e-experience that wasn’t quite correct. I had to write a new beginning for the scene, because it was taken out of the early middle of the book where the world, the characters, relationships, everything had already been explained, but suddenly the scene had to stand on it’s own without all the earlier pages. So, I did add a few paragraphs to introduce the world, Anita, and her relationship to Jean-Claude and Asher. Yep, try as I might in Kiss the Dead to give Jean-Claude and Anita their alone time, Asher was just not going to be left out. When things work well between the three of them it’s so worth it, when it doesn’t, well . . . it’s just a freaking disaster. So I did the extra bit up front so the scene would not be quite so naked to everyone who buys the eSpecial, and then it was done. Okay, except for the whole editing part when it came back from New York, but other than that it was done.

But one of the weird things about publishing of late is that e-books are still evolving in how they are handled, and before I’d ever seen Beauty back from New York, before I’d even signed the contract, and sent it back to them, I had people asking me about it on the internet. People were asking what Beauty was, and were thrilled it was coming out on April 24. Since my editor had told me that Beauty was scheduled for a month before Kiss the Dead came out on June 5, I was a little confused. I called her up and she double checked, and the actual date for Beauty is May 8, because the whole idea is that it comes out about a month ahead of the novel, that it’s an outtake for, so . . . No one at my publisher is sure where the first date of April 24 came from, but it is now corrected on line to its actual release date of May 8, so yay, for that!

So, Beauty is my first eSpecial. It’s the first outtake from any Anita Blake novel that I’ve allowed to be published. It’s a very hot, steamy, outtake with Jean-Claude, Anita, and Asher. It comes out May 8, as a sort of preview for Kiss the Dead which comes out June 5.

Links to preordering Beauty –

Amazon Kindle edition

Barnes & Noble nook edition