Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Full Cover!

I have to share the full cover of BRIGHTWING for the paperback edition, which will be available very soon. It was designed by the talented Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Designs. She not only creates lovely covers (see her Deviant Art portfolio for some examples) but she can take care of all your other printing needs (bookmarks, business cards etc.)

So, tell me what you think of the full cover!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Win a copy of BRIGHTWING

The wonderful Sarah at Workaday Reads is hosting a BRIGHTWING giveaway. Enter for a chance to win one of five copies of my new criminal love story.

She also has an interview with me -- you'll get to hear my opinions about self publishing vs traditional publishing, a little history of the Tequesta paleoindian tribe, and learn of my undying love for every single person who has ever read one of my books.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Word of the Week -- My Favorite Body Part

It is time again for the Word of the Week! (Seriously – better title, anyone?)

Today I'll tell you about my favorite body part. (Mmmm... the possibilities!) Authors do a lot of interviews (mostly written, thank goodness, since I'm an incompetent speaker.) Invariably on the list is a question about our favorite whatever – book, author, color, food, footwear, mollusk. I hate these questions because I can never answer them honestly. It's hard for me to think in absolutes. I don't know what my favorite anything is, and even though I know the question is just a prompt and an excuse to talk about myself I over-think it and end up, delirious, swearing my favorite color is mud.

But favorite body part is a little easier because it is also one of my pet words – philtrum. It is a body part few people consciously notice, yet in its adorable declivity helps to define a face's beauty. The philtrum is the little dimple beneath the nose and above the lip, a kissable place. The word comes from the same origin as philter (or philtre) – a love potion – and before that from the Greek philos (dear, beloved, loving.)

Philtrum is one of those words I manage to work into every book (though I can't say for sure whether it survived the many editorial red pencils of doom.) Mustaches curl on philtrums like contented caterpillars, people caress their philtrums in contemplation. The philtrum is a self-soothing spot, too – notice how wee thumb-suckers stroke their philtrums.

Uvula, (“little grape” from Latin uva) is another pleasing body word, but hard to work into conversation. It is a useful thing to teach your four-year-old, though, for showing-off purposes. (Did you know people pierce their uvulas? One more thing to give me the willies.) And I recently learned the handy word panniculus, which allows a person to do the rude and inexcusable and talk about how fat someone is without them realizing it. (No, I don't, but I know people who do, and I forced them to remember this word which I hope is obscure enough so at least I'm not constantly sinking into a puddle of mortification. If you can't change people's bad habits, at least you can make them less obvious.) A panniculus is overhanging stomach fat, and is medically classified by how far down it depends. If the privities (another favorite word, which I got to use frequently in the Restoration-era Ladies in Waiting) are still visible it is a Grade 1 panniculus; if the knees are covered, a Grade 5.


Monday, July 18, 2011

To my Law Enforcement Brothers and Sisters: An Apology for Mallory Battle

** Slight Brightwing spoilers below. **

I'm a former deputy sheriff, and being in law enforcement is kind of like being in a fraternity or sorority. (I think. I wasn't ever in one, but I know there's hazing and painful initiation in both.) Even when you've moved on to other things, every law enforcement officer (LEO) is still your brother or your sister. Even after four years out of uniform, I still have to fight the urge to back up LEOs on traffic stops. I wave at every cruiser like they're my squad partner. And I cry whenever I read about a LEO getting killed in the line of duty. There have been a lot in the last year that hit close to home. Not, thank goodness, from my old agency, but from neighboring agencies – guys I didn't know, but might easily have met in training or in court. Guys I consider my brothers.

In Brightwing, LEOs die. Swiftly, anonymously, and for no good reason. (Not that there could ever be a good reason, but in the fictional world of course things work a little differently.) And it hurts me every time I read my own words. I want to stop the narrative and hunt the perpetrator down. I want to stop being an author, go back to being a cop, and do my duty in the pages.

But characters have to be in character. The two main protagonists, Lucy Brightwing and Edgar Battle, are no great shakes in the morals and ethics department, but they don't kill people. Edgar's brother Mallory, on the other hand, is a completely screwed-up sociopath who will murder without compunction, for fun if he has the leisure, or strictly for business if anyone gets in his way.

Yes, I despise him. But he's a heck of a character to write.

I want to make sure you know – particularly you LEOs out there – that I didn't take their deaths lightly. I was exploring – in a way, working through and purging – every LEO's biggest fear. The jump from LEO to writer isn't so great, really, because we have one thing in common – we're both constantly imagining complex and nuanced scenarios. In a writer, it is plotting a thousand possible books; in a LEO, it consists of mapping out every possible way we could die, and mentally preparing to avoid it. On every single call, we think, if if he has a shotgun I'll do this, if he has a knife I'll do that, if he has an syringe with an unknown substance I'll do the other.

The things we can prepare for rarely kill us.

The things we can foresee and rehearse don't frighten us.

What LEOs worry about are the things they can't see coming. The fake call that turns out to be an ambush. Pulling over to cheerfully help what looks like a stranded motorist, not knowing he just slaughtered his whole family and assumes you're there to take his freedom. The people with a grudge against law enforcement, who see a uniform as a target.

Because no matter how much we train, we still have certain assumptions about the world. LEOs expect a small percentage of people to want to kill them for a reason. They don't – can't – expect people to want to kill them for no reason at all, just because they're LEOs. You can't plan to be the initiation rite of a gang member. You can't plan for a sniper who picks you just because you're driving a cruiser.

You can't plan for Mallory Battle.

If I was still a cop, not an author, I'd arrest him. (And my LEO friends, you know he'd resist arrest, and then...)

But I'm an author, and so Mallory Battle exists in fiction as a warning of the worst that can happen.

Stay safe, my brothers and sisters. May you never meet Mallory Battle in real life. And if you do, please be ready for him.

In memory of all the law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty... in particular those who were killed in the last year near my home town:

St. Petersburg Police Department:
February 21, 2011
Officer David S. Crawford
Shot and killed by a 16-year-old while investigating a suspicious person call.

January 24, 2011
K9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz
Sgt. Tom Baitinger
Both shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant for aggravated battery. Officer Yaslowitz was killed after the suspect convinced them he'd surrendered. Sgt. Baitinger was killed attempting to rescue Officer Yaslowitz.

Tampa Police Department:
June 29, 2010
Officer Jeffrey Kocab
Officer David Curtis
Both shot and killed after stopping a vehicle for having no visible plate, and discovering the driver had a misdemeanor warrant for writing a worthless check. It was later determined the suspect had previously killed three other people, and believed he was being arrested for that.

Please stop by the Officer Down Memorial Page, read their stories, and remember the noble men and women who gave their lives trying to keep us safe.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My first adult novel BRIGHTWING is out!

I'm thrilled to announce that BRIGHTWING, my first self-published book – and my first novel for adults – has hit the virtual shelves! Right now it is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Soon it will be available on other platforms, and also in hard copy. I'm using the pseudonym Sullivan Lee.

For the first few months I'll be pricing it at 99-cents. I'm thinking of it as the ARC period, so everyone who might want to read or review it can get a copy practically free. And, much as I'd like you to buy BRIGHTWING, I'm more than happy to give you a free e-copy if you write reviews. (Pro, semi-pro, just an occasional Amazon or Goodreads reviewer... or even if you just like to talk about books!) Drop me a line at lauraleesullivan ((at)) hotmail <<dot>> com, tell me where you review, and I'll send you a copy.

Since I try to keep this blog around the YA level, content-wise (though honestly, my YA has about as much sex and violence as BRIGHTWING, though more subtly written) I'll be starting a separate off-shoot blog for more adult discussions relating to my Sullivan Lee work.

I'm so excited about this new venture! I'm so lucky to be living in a time when I can have the best of all publishing worlds. I'm not about to turn my back on traditional publishing, but I love knowing I have another outlet for books that I am passionate about but which are, for various reasons, hard to place.

Please give BRIGHTWING a try! I hope you enjoy it!
Here's a summary:

A Criminal Love Story
Edgar and Mallory Battle are on the run after a spectacularly violent escape. Now, with a trail of bodies behind them, they need a hostage against the inevitable standoff with the police. Their first doesn’t last long, thanks to sociopathic Mallory. Edgar has been hiding his brother's crimes since they were kids. Now he’s torn between loyalty and self-preservation.

They carjack Lucy Brightwing, a criminal fresh from her own heist, with a fortune of uncut gems hidden in her vehicle. She could escape – but she won’t abandon her millions. She could kill the Battle brothers, but she has to be careful. For one thing, if the law investigates, they’ll find her ill-gotten loot. For another, her own life is sacred. She’s the last member of a Florida paleoindian tribe thought to be extinct – the Tequesta. With her share of the money she plans to buy, bribe and blackmail her way into her own ancestral tribal lands in the heart of the Everglades, a Tequesta nation.

Lucy leads them into her beloved swamp, determined to kill them. But when she falls for Edgar she must decide whether to risk her heritage and the future of her tribe to save the doomed brothers.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And the winner is...

Suzy Turner!! Congratulations! You have won a $25 gift card and a signed hardcover of Under the Green Hill. As soon as I feed the ravenous offspring I'll contact you and get all your mailing info.

Thank you to everyone who participated! I'm so happy to have you at my blog! I'll have another giveaway soon.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Debauched and Defiled

**Don't forget to follow and comment before tomorrow morning, July 12, for a chance to win a $25 Amazon card and a signed hardcover copy of Under the Green Hill. Giveaway closes after I've had my coffee.**

Today I present the inaugural edition of Word of the Week. (I welcome suggestions for a more creative – and less predictable – title for this feature... though the alliteration is pleasing.) And of course, since people will almost always cheat if they think they can get away with it, I'm going to muse on two words. Actually three. Well, probably more than that by the time I'm done.

I love words. I string them together for a living, but the words themselves, in their solitary state, give me at least as much pleasure. How I enjoy letting a favorite word roll off the tongue, loll in my brain! Word of the Week will be less an etymology lesson, and more about my emotional connection to particular words.

One of my favorite words growing up (and this shows you what kind of books I was reading, and how liberal was my upbringing) was debauch. One can debauch another, or become debauched, or act in a debauched fashion. One can host a wild debauch or engage in debauchery. One can, and one often does. Debauched means to be corrupted, or made wanton – both the act of being made these things, and the way one is afterward. It can be what one is, or what one does to someone else. I am debauched, and so I debauch you.

(Sorry for all of the ones. I get in trouble sometimes for using you, but I know one sounds a little pretentious.)

There's a sort of complicity inherent in the word. One may be forcibly abased or debased or corrupted, but I always feel that one must agree to be debauched. Like the word seduce, its roots lie not in forcing, but convincing – leading someone astray. They hold out their hand – but you have to take it.

It comes from Middle French debaucher, to lure away from work or duty. (Seduce is from Latin, se- + ducere, to lead away.) I'm almost perpetually being debauched. Whenever I put off making dinner to read one more chapter, I'm debauched. Every time I stop writing and jump on Facebook, I'm debauched.

I always felt guilty for getting distracted from my work – now I can feel downright wicked.

Only recently did I learn there's a similar-sounding word, debouch. It means to move from a narrow space to an open space, and is mostly used when referring to rivers or marching columns of soldiers. It can also be used more loosely – I can debouch from my car; a mouse can debouch from the crack beneath my refrigerator.

Here's the truly glorious thing, the part that really tickles me. People (and waterways) are almost always debouching from defiles. (A defile is a narrow gorge.) So now I'm just dying to set up a scene where a young lady traveling with soldiers can be debauched and defiled in the defile and then debouch from the defile. Can I write a whole book for the pleasure of using a single sentence?


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Do you need to like a character to love their story?

(**Don't forget to follow this blog and comment by July 12 for a chance to win a $25 gift card and a signed hardcover of Under the Green Hill!**)

Have you ever loved someone you didn't really like?
(Oh, I know what you're going to say – family!)

Maybe when I was a deputy I met too many criminals whose company I enjoyed. Maybe really nice people kind of annoy me. Whatever the reason, I can't seem to understand this idea that a main character needs to be likable. Interesting, yes. Irresistible, even. But likable? Maybe I'm defining the word to literally.

Can you care for a main character who shouldn't be likable? Do you have to like the MC to love the story? If you can become invested in the character's adventures does that, by definition, make them likable?

I ask because the comment I get most often from industry professionals about the books that don't wind up being traditionally published is: I'm not sure your main character is very likable.

There must be a bit of the misanthrope about me... or I'm just a realist. I think main characters need to be engaging, but not necessarily nice, or admirable. In fact, the best characters are often the worst, and though that's generally accepted when it comes to the villain or subsidiary characters, there's some disagreement about whether it holds true for a main character.

Tell me my MC is boring, flat, and I can fix it. But please don't tell me she's not likable. You don't have to like her – you just have to want to read about her.

I can't really like Amber (of Forever Amber) or Scarlett, but I love to read about their adventures. There are many favorite characters who, if they came to my door, would compel me to hide behind the sofa and pretend I wasn't home. I'd screen their calls. A lot of fascinating people aren't very likable. But I don't tend to judge my heroines by the same criteria I'd use to judge a friend.

So what do I do? Pretty up my characters? Leave them in the self-publishing world and see what readers think? Accept that maybe not likable is an industry euphemism for something else?

My main characters in my traditionally published novels (as Laura L. Sullivan) are likable, in the conventional sense: good, generous, gallant. My Sullivan Lee MCs... not so much. Criminals with bad taste in men. Slightly corrupt cops with, er, bad taste in men. (Well, maybe good taste but bad judgment.) But I like them.

Tell me about books you've loved with main characters you couldn't quite like. Or who you shouldn't like but do anyway. How do you define a likable character?

(You can comment on this post, too, to enter for the gift card giveaway. Please, both follow this blog, and comment by July 12 for a chance to win.)


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Free stuff to shamelessly lure you in

To celebrate my new blog I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of Under the Green Hill!

The giveaway opens now, and closes in one week. Let's say Tuesday, July 12, whenever I wake up in the morning and am coherent enough to tally entries and use Sound good? To enter, please follow my blog, and leave a comment on this post or any other post here at The Omniscient Third Person between now and July 12.

Please help me spread the word! I'll give you a bonus entry for mentioning and linking to the giveaway on your blog, facebook, or anywhere else. (Just send me the evidence, please!)

The fine print:
Amazon says the gift card can only be used at – not,,uk, or any of their other sites. So if for some reason you can't use, please don't enter this contest. Or if you win you can always re-gift it or use it as a prize for your own contest. You can still follow me, though – I'll love you forever, plus I'll have other giveaways soon.

To get you started... tell me, what were your favorite fantasy books when you were a kid? Mine were The Chronicles of Narnia, Half Magic, the Harper Hall trilogy (which is really SF, but there are dragons and a fantasy feel), Nesbit's Psammead books... oh, and dozens more!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Three Selves

I've introduced myself... now it's time to introduce my three selves.

I was thinking about having three entirely separate names for my writing – the real me (or real-ish me) and two secret identities. But that would be way too much work, and if I know anything about myself, it's that I'm fundamentally lazy. Plus, it would feel a little dishonest. I want to connect with readers, be friends with fellow writers... and I can envision the day someone would be cattily gossiping with one “me” about another “me.”

I wouldn't at all mind finding out that two favorite writers were the same person. That's just business.
I would mind discovering that two of my friends were the same person. That's, well, personal.

So I decided everything should be completely transparent.

Under my real name, Laura L. Sullivan, I write traditionally published fiction for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. My first two books (MG – Under the Green Hill and Guardian of the Green Hill) are with Henry Holt Books for Young readers. My next books (YA – Ladies in Waiting and Delusion) will be with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

But I write a lot. I mean, a LOT. In a lot of different genres. So for various reasons (which I'm sure I'll talk about later) I need pseudonyms.

And for various reasons (ditto) I'll be self-publishing books under those names.

Sullivan Lee is not for kids. Sullivan Lee books will feature criminals, cannibals, cops, es-ee-ex, vee-aye-oh-el-ee-en-see-ee (I'm actually in favor of both of those things, one more than the other, but I promised my agent I'd keep this blog's content more or less kid friendly. Don't worry, I'll raunch it up once she's not looking.)

Sullivan Lee's debut will be Brightwing – a criminal love story. Two escaped criminals – one a gentlemanly thief, the other a sociopath – take a girl hostage in the Everglades, not knowing she's (among other things) a thief fresh from her own heist. It will be out in a couple of weeks.

LuLu Sullivan will write everything else. Eva Ibbotson-type historical romances. Fantasy. Contemporary, comic, boy-centered YA. Light and funny women's fiction. I'll start with some short stories, maybe a novella, and probably have a novel out early next year.

The beautiful thing is, I'm all of these people. LuLu is a childhood nickname, and years in law enforcement got me used to being called by my last name (or Sully) so I'll answer to all of them. Under my real name, I can do what publishers and agents (and maybe readers?) love – brand myself. (Ow! What would I be, the Lazy L?) But I can still write the many and diverse stories which insist that they must be written. (You know how demanding stories are.)

Sigh. It's a good life.

Next time – a book giveaway!

Laura (or LuLu, or Sully)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Look -- another blog!

What is it they say – every minute someone creates a new blog that no one will ever read? Well, my minute is today at 4:20 p.m.

It took me a long time to decide to start blogging. The subhead above pretty much explains why. I love reading novels. I don't enjoy reading biographies of novelists. For the most part, I don't think writers are nearly as interesting as the books they write.

On the other hand, as I learned from places like Verla Kay's Blue Boards, I do like having writers for friends. Even online friends. Even the kinds of friends I only know by their avatars. I don't need to know about their troubled childhoods, or what they had for breakfast, but there's a more casual level of intimacy I really enjoy. That's what I'm hoping to have here.

Plus, I need somewhere to tell you about all the giveaways I'll have. Don't you love free stuff?

I'll talk about writing, natch. Publishing, both traditional and self-publishing. (I play on both teams.) Topics relating to my books – which, since I write fantasy, historical, romance, crime/suspense and a few other genres, can mean just about anything. And words. Words. Golly, how I love words...

In the next post, I'll introduce you to Laura L. Sullivan (that's me!), LuLu Sullivan (that's me, too!) and Sullivan Lee (me again!)

After that – free books!!

Oh, and please follow me. I really need a few followers to boost my self-esteem. I know, “followers” sounds like conformist minions to me, too, but all it really means is that you’ll find out about my new books and giveaways before anyone else. If I could change it to buddies or cohorts, I would.