New Vampire Story (Further Adventures, part 4)

Ready for a light bit of poolside reading?  Further Adventures part four is here!   Sunrise on Running Water is the latest offering, and Barbara describes it:  “This is my vampire-on-the-Titanic story, which appeared in Dark Delicacies II in 2007. I re-read it yesterday and still think it’s pretty funny. Don Simon Ysidro makes a VERY brief cameo appearance.”  I never saw this when it came out the first time, but in case you have a copy already, the story is the same.

 

She also says she’s working on a new Antryg story.  Yes!!  Write faster!

 

Sunrise on Running Water (and all the other stories) are available in pdf, epub, and mobi formats.  Enjoy!

Kid Gloves ‘n’ Hookers

ADVENTURES IN RESEARCH – 2
Kid Gloves ‘n’ Hookers
Barbara Hambly

So, did a hooker cost more than a pair of kid gloves?
Since the first moment long-ago when I sat down with a sheet of blue-lined notebook paper in front of me at the kitchen table to write my first “historical novel” (this was before I learned to type – and slightly before electric typewriters became sufficiently common that they’d be found in ordinary homes), I’ve been in quest of information about what things used to cost.
This is always important in detective fiction, because when your detective thinks, Hmn, he claims he’s just a poor boy from Podunk, so what’s he doing wearing $500 Tony Lama boots? it tells your reader a) that Poorboy from Podunk is lying like a rug and b) that Ms. Detective is the kind of person who notices that kind of thing. Specificity always makes your character sound more intelligent, and puts the reader firmly into the setting.
If we’re in the eighteenth century, that’s a whole nother wrinkle on that puzzle.
So, where do you get this information?
I used to go up to UCLA or UC Riverside libraries and poke around the stacks (which is how I figured out what motorcycle James Asher rides, and whether you could or couldn’t ride one if you happen to have just had your right wrist broken by an irate vampire). These days, I have a collection of books on the subject, though you can find this information about some things on the Net. (For instance, at janeausten.co.uk – an online magazine about the works of Ms. Austen – I gleaned the information that a family of five plus a maid-servant in 1825 could live on £2.11.7d a week, tough doings if Dad was only pulling in 15 shillings a week). (Which is what Scrooge paid Bob Cratchit, the wicked old skinflint, and Bob had six or seven children and no maid-servant in sight).
A History of the Cost of Living, by John Burnett, is a dandy.
So’s Oliver Bernier’s Pleasure and Privilege, for late 18th-century France.
I’ve always loved Paul Johnson’s The Birth of the Modern, for Ben January’s period – 1815-1830s (though Ben is slightly beyond that now). (It also tells what was the strongest patent-medicine opium).
Bernier sourced his book from Mercier’s Tableau de Paris, some of which has been translated: amazing stuff on Paris in the 1780s. Another good one is Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, written in the 1840s-50s. Both of these have been reprinted. Also reprinted are old Sears Catalogs, which give American prices, but estimates can be jiggered with on-line currency converters (how much does Ysidro pay for his shoes?).
Most helpful of all is Liza Picard’s 4-volume series about London: Elizabeth’s London, Restoration London, Dr. Johnson’s London, and Victorian London. All of these can be found on abebooks.com, through which I can often buy these very dry, obscure, specific volumes for only a couple dollars over the cost of postage.
So, which was more expensive? As it is today, of course, that depended on the hooker – and the gloves.

Refuelling

Refuelling. That’s what Poppy Z Brite called it, standing on a streetcorner of Royal Street one evening in 1997. “Reading books, going to clubs, listening to music,” she said.
It’s the part of writing that a lot of non-writers don’t really understand.
I’ve just spent a very pleasant afternoon cutting out shirts for myself. Later I’ll go for a walk, and hope to put in a couple of hours this evening slaughtering unoffending Evil Mercenaries on the X-Box. This is as much a part of being a writer as the actual sitting-in-front-of-the-computer part. Getting out. Breathing air. Talking to friends. I find I always work better, when I can put my brain in a bowl of cold water for a couple of days.
Sometimes, one has no choice. Lower advances = taking as many projects as are offered, and these +a part-time job (see: “lower advances” above) = a heavier work schedule. I am fortunately insanely disciplined about my work, and, when possible, insanely disciplined about my rest-time as well. (I’m a Virgo, it’s what we do).
But a part of writing is – metaphorically or actually – lying on one’s back staring at the clouds, and this can get difficult if there is another member of the household, and understandably so. (I’m sure the legendarily crabby Xantippe, wife of Socrates, got pretty tired of Soc just hanging out talking instead of bringing in even a minimal paycheck). I’ve been on both sides of that line, and both are ugly. Where does refuelling turn into procrastinating? I generally know for myself (since I don’t procrastinate about writing), but living with a writer who had a different clock-speed than I got pretty tense sometimes. “Why don’t you help out around here?” is bad enough, but there’s also, “I’m bored, come talk to me…” I have no idea what the appropriate response connected with either of those is, but closing the study door did not help).
Essentially, the part of me that writes is still a five-year-old child. During the ‘seventies those New Age effusions about “Caring for your Inner Child” put my teeth on edge – they often seemed to me to be simply a justification for bad behavior, irresponsibility, and selfishness – but yes, the part of me that writes is very much a child. Writing – any kind of art, I think – is a balancing-act, being simultaneously child and adult. The stories – the dreams – the people I see in my head – those are produced by that five-year-old sitting in some mental inner closet pecking away at a keyboard. But it’s the adult that crafts them, so that other people can see them exactly as I do: “WAY too many adjectives, dear… that’s the fifth time you’ve used the word ‘deleriously’ in three paragraphs… does the reader really need to know about Zelda’s toenails?” Or, “What does the air smell like, when it smells like that?”
And the adult has the responsibilities of an adult, to make sure the dog gets fed, to behave responsibly with sales people, to maintain her part of the relationships that nourish the soul.
But part of my job as the adult is to take care of that child. And children need their naps.
(I also buy her presents from time to time, which unfortunately I can’t deduct from my income-tax the way I can a new monitor for the computer.)

Happy On-Sale Day!

Barbara is the featured author at Open Road Media today, to mark “On-Sale Day”. You can now purchase ebook versions of almost her entire back catalog. Hurray for ebooks! Even better, they have released the “About the Author” video they shot a couple weeks ago and you can either watch it on their site or RIGHT HERE! Thanks to Open Road for sending me the nifty embed link. I’m so pleased for Barbara, and for everyone who has been clamoring for digital versions of her work. Enjoy!

Ebook extravaganza!

Hi, all-

I’m finally able to announce that YES, you can get almost every Hambly book in e-format, starting at the end of this month! Yay! Open Road Media has picked up Barbara’s back catalog, and will be releasing the books via their site, Amazon, and the B&N nook store on March 29, 2011.

Even more excitingly, Open Road recently shot an “About the Author” video of Barbara. I’ll post the link as soon as it’s released to the public. Let me know if you’re planning to get an ebook, comments, what platform you’re using, etc.

Deb

Exciting Surprise Mail

I was vacuuming this morning when the mail came in, with a package for me from Severn House, Barbara’s newest publisher:

Shirt on His Back pic

Yippie!

I have to temper this slightly by saying that this book has been released in the UK already, but won’t be officially released in the US until June, 2011.

Thanks very much to Severn for sending a copy to me – and just in time for weekend reading, too (see the book underneath?  That’s a statistics book – guess who probably won’t be reading about statistics this weekend??). Severn has completely redesigned their website; it’s clean and informative. Most excitingly, it looks like they’re planning to start offering ebooks soon.

Speaking of ebooks, in case you haven’t heard the news, Barbara’s entire back catalog has been picked up by Open Road Media and will be released soon.  Barbara and I will both be posting more information about this in the very near future, but her blog/Twitter feed will keep you up to date as things go along.

Further Adventures, Part 3

Just in time for Thanksgiving weekend reading: Further Adventures part III is here!

There are two new stories this time: Princess, in which John and Jenny from the Dragonsbane series get tangled up with dragons, demons, and an unwillingly betrothed young woman…and A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven, starring Rose Janvier (while Ben is out of town for The Shirt on His Back), whose neighbors provide her with a very…em…exciting day.

Hop on over to the Further Adventures page to preview these stories, and to purchase any of the eight FA offerings. Stories are available in pdf, epub, and mobi formats, and should be readable on pretty much every device (including paper, should you wish to print one out)!

Thanks very much to everyone who has purchased/enjoyed these stories so far! FA has been a success so far, and will definitely be continuing.

News of the week

Here’s Barbara Hamilton/Hambly appearing Friday at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego.

In other new, Barbara is hard at work on two new Further Adventures stories, one to be about Rose (from the Ben January books).

A Mysterious sighting of Barbara Hamilton

Barbara Hamilton will be making a public appearance next Friday at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. If you plan to go, take a picture for the site!