Upcoming guests

I have a whole bunch of fantastic guests visiting this blog in the next couple of months.

February 4–M.A. Church
February 8–Tali Spencer
February 12–Charlie Cochet
Feburary 15–Matthew Lang
February 21–Skylar Cates
March 3–Chris Kat
March 5–Andrew Gordon
March 12–Cate Ashwood
March 18–Gus Li
March 20–Lex Chase
March 27–LJ LaBarthe
March 28–Grace R. Duncan
April 14–Pinkie Parker
April 19–Madison Parker
April 30–Jessica Davies
May 22–Hayley B. James

I’m really looking forward to these visits. Make sure and stop by here often. And on February 11 I’ll post the Venetian Masks contest.

Prize peek

This is a little tease.

My new novel Venetian Masks releases February 11. To celebrate, I’ll be holding a contest. First prize will be a box full of goodies from Venice and the other places in the book. The value of the goodies is approximately $100, and some of them are difficult or impossible to find in the US. I’ll also include a signed print of the book cover, which is gorgeous. So here’s a pic showing just a few of the items that will be included in the prize:

I’ll post the contest, along with rules, on Feb. 11. I hope you’ll have fun with it! Oh, and second prize is an e-version of your choice of my books.

Change and hope

Today’s message is about change and hope.

When I was in 5th grade–when dinosaurs roamed the earth–my family moved and I started at a new school. Right at the beginning, some of the kids drew me aside and told me two things. First, I shouldn’t play with a girl named Nancy because she was dirty and she smelled. And second, I shouldn’t play with a boy named Todd because he was gay.

I remember being faintly bewildered by these instructions. I had no idea what “gay” meant (this was 1976). And Nancy seemed clean enough to me. It didn’t dawn on me until some years later that Nancy was the only African American kid in the class. As for Todd, he’d had an early growth spurt. He was tall, slightly pudgy, and awkward.

I eventually became friends with Nancy, who turned out to be a quiet, smart girl with a great sense of humor. Todd moved away.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know prejudice hasn’t magically disappeared over the past decades. But I’m pretty sure things are getting better.

This weekend my 13-year-old daughter had a friend over. They were watching Merlin and cooing over how cuuuuuuute Arthur and Merlin were together and Look how that hill behind them totally looks like a heart! When I was a teenager, none of us spent our sleepovers shipping m/m.

And yesterday my 9-year-old announced that there would be no school today because of MLK’s birthday. And MLK, she explained, was a man who fought for equal justice. Because people used to have to use different bathrooms or sit at the back of the bus because of the color of their skin, and duhhh! Everyone’s created equal.

Last year, both of my kids raged at the injustice that their aunt couldn’t legally marry her girlfriend. How stupid! said the younger one. You’re supposed to be able to get married if you love each other.

I live in a conservative part of California (a very red pocket in a blue state), and I teach a university class where we talk about prejudice. We start out discussing the history of racial and ethnic prejudice in this country, then talk about religious bias. My students are ethnically and religiously diverse. About half of them are immigrants or the children of immigrants. They’ve often experienced these biases themselves and they feel passionately that they’re wrong. Then we turn to homophobia. I begin with a thought experiment: I ask the straight men in the class to imagine they’re at a bar and a woman who’s totally not their type hits on them. What do they do? The guys laugh. Some say they’d be flattered. Some of them say if it’s late enough, they’ll buy her a drink. Some say they’ll see if she’ll buy them a drink.

Okay, I say. Now suppose you’re at that bar and a guy hits on you. What do you do?

Here’s where it gets interesting. The guys used to make horrible noises. Some of them looked angry. A few of them even admitted they might hit the man, or at least call him names. Several said they’d be really upset that someone thought they were gay.

But I’ve been teaching that class for 18 years now, and in recent years I’ve been getting very different reactions. Now, most of the guys shrug and say they’d tell him they weren’t interested. Several say they’d be flattered. Some say they’d see if they can get a free drink out of him.

I think this is progress.

I know plenty of people are still treated like Nancy and Todd were. As I said, prejudice is a subject I study academically, and it’s also something I’ve experienced personally. I’ve heard plenty of stories from my students too–like the kid who came to that class one day with a swollen black eye and the aftermath of a concussion because he and his boyfriend had been jumped outside a gay bar.

But you know what? I hope things are getting better.

Geographical puzzle

My fiction-writing life is much more glamorous than the rest of my life. Yesterday I received the galley proofs for Venetian Masks, and today I spent a couple hours at San Francisco’s Caffe Trieste, reading them over. Which was perfectly appropriate, since a portion of the novel takes place in Trieste, Italy.

But I’m still left with a puzzle. Last fall, I was discussing Caffe Trieste with some Croatian friends who’ve been there. Now, Croatians know the city of Trieste very well. It’s only a few miles from the Croatian border, and during the Yugoslav days, many Croatians went to Trieste to shop for things they couldn’t get at home. In fact, upon learning that my grandfather was from Trieste (Trst in Croatian *g*), more than one Croatian told me I’m practically an honorary Croatian myself. Anyway, these particular friends claimed that the mural in the cafe depicts not Trieste, but rather the city of Rovinj. Located on the Istrian peninsula, very close to Trieste, Rovinj was once part of Italy but is now Croatian.
I’ve been to Trieste but not Rovinj. But looking at this photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rovinj_old_town.jpg  I think my friends do have a point. That harbor does more closely resemble the one at the cafe than does the one in Trieste (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Triest_1885.jpg). Here’s the mural; what do you think?

Two new releases in one day!

At some point the other day it finally occurred to me that I have two new releases on February 11. As I’ve mentioned already, my new novel Venetian Masks comes out that day. Here’s the link for preorders: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3568 . In addition, Dreamspinner will be releasing the anthology Snow on the Roof, which contains my short story “No Place Like Home.” Here’s that link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3561

And as I promised, I’ll have a contest running February 11-25. It’s a sort of bookish scavenger hunt.

Here are my daughters’ culinry adventures this weekend. The older one developed a taste for haggis during a visit to Edinburgh. We found her canned haggis here in the states. Here she is yesterday, with her late-night haggis-on-tomatoes-and-toast.

The younger one is less adventurous. She’s been making Pac-Man out of potato chips and then insisting I take photos.

Tomorrow I’m running away from home. I’m escaping the family and fleeing to San Francisco for a couple of days. I have a lot of work to do for the day job, and doing it there involves fewer interruptions and less self-pity, since I can reward myself with fun breaks. I’m hoping to also make some headway on my current novel-in-progress.

Blurb and news

Just a few updates for you this evening.

  • I have a release date for Venetian Masks: February 11. Yay!
  • I have a blurb for Venetian Masks too:

Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone.

With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.

Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.

  • I’m going to run a fun contest to coincide with the book release. The prize will be a big box of souvenirs from Venice and other locations in the book–with a value of nearly $100. Stay tuned for details!
  • I’ve opened a Twitter account. Come follow me @KFieldingWrites
  • In February and March I’ll be hosting a bunch of fantastic authors here.

I love this cover

My next novel is called Venetian Masks. I don’t have an exact release date yet, but it should be some time in February. I’m working on the second round of edits today, in fact. But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you the cover by Shobana Appavu. I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing covers from Dreamspinner artists, and this one just blows me away.

Isn’t that gorgeous? I’ve spent a lot of time over the past day just staring at this cover in admiration.

The guy with the mask is named Cleve Prieto. He has some issues.

Little tease

Just a little tease for you today. This is the cover for one of my upcoming releases.

Night Shift is a 30,000 word novella. It will come out in March or April. My novel Venetian Masks will release before that. The cover for that book isn’t quite ready yet, but I saw a draft yesterday and I am totally in love with it.

Pictures from Europe

My next novel, Venetian Masks, will come put this month or next. As the title suggests, a good chunk of the action takes place in Venice. Other central European cities also appear. In preparation for a fun (I hope!) contest I’ll hold when the book is released, I was going through my photos from 2011, when I spent 5 months in Croatia. It’s made me homesick. But here are a few silly photos I thought you might enjoy.

  This is a train station in Slovenia. I could actually take a stab at pronouncing the town’s name (hint: the j is like a y), but it’s more fun just to admire it.

 I travel with a Spike the vampire doll. He’s been to many countries and even has his own passport. The reactions I get to him are often really fun. Here’s one I didn’t catch until later, when I was looking at the pic. I was sitting in a gondola in Venice, and the boat behind Spike is–appropriately enough–a hearse. I love the smile on the face of the hearse pilot. (My husband’s aunt is in the pic too. I think she’s pretending she doesn’t know me.)
 This is Trieste, a small city at the northeastern corner of Italy. I took this particular photo because I loved the Roman arch sticking out among the other buildings, which are relatively modern, being only 400 years or so old. And my grandfather spent his childhood in this neighborhood. But I also like the lady in the background.

This is in Croatia, in the region called Istria. The town atop the hill is Motovun, an adorable little city that resemblsd a dry miniature version of Venice (Istria was Italian for a long time). Motovun is where Mario Andretti was born. And that’s Davor, my Croatian tourguide, good-naturedly holding Spike for me. He even posed the arm upward. 🙂