The Good, The Bad, and the Prom Dress

October is a difficult month for me. On one hand, it might be my favorite month of twelve to chose from.  Normally it’s a Beautiful Weather month, one of the few that is reliably cooler. Not necessarily cool, but cooler.  We’ll get some mornings in September that are worth leaving the patio door open. But witness this year, when we still had 99 degree days.

But the problem with October is that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Which is not a problem in itself except that all my favorite cosmetic companies put out special products and limited edition collections. And the only thing I love more than a set of limited edition lip glosses is a PINK set of limited edition lip glosses.

pink works - pinks By Essie

Essie’s “Pink About It” which jumped into my shopping bag yesterday.

So anyway. After my trip to ULTA resulted in a new eyeliner (black with metallic pink flecks), a jar of Philosophy moisturizer (exactly the same as normal moisturizer, except in a sparkly pink package), and a pink Origin’s lip gloss, I decided I’d better stay away from the cosmetic stores for the rest of the month, and just donate money directly to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It will be cheaper for me in the long run.

In other philanthropy news, lets talk about  I found out about this site because of Tina Ferraro’s book Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, which came out the same day as Prom Dates From Hell.  (Maggie’s Prom Dress could absolutely not be donated for re-wearing by another lucky girl. It was a very Unlucky Dress. Unless you count the fact that she survived the night. Spoiler.)

OKay, anyway, so what DO you do with a special occasion dress after you’re done with it?  I got double use out of my prom dress because I wore it to a Freshman Formal.  I usually tried to get more than one use out of all my dresses. If I wore it to a fall dance, I’d recycle it for the Military Ball in the spring, or vice versa. I got through college pretty well that way.

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress(Just to brag a bit… I even wore my college formals after college, including to my first RITA awards dinner.)

But through various circumstance–like changing fashions, changing weight *ahem* and tastes, when I moved I discovered an assortment of formal and semiformal dresses. So I went to to find a local organization that would take my dress(es) and pass it on to someone who needed it.  They’re all in really good shape, worn only once.  Why keep that hanging in my closet?

Dallas/Fort Worth has HEB Prom Closet. I just visited them with my armful of chiffon and taffeta and met the wonderful volunteers. It’s nice and clean, and they have formal wear for all occasions. They even have suits for guys.  They loan out dresses, shoes, purses, jewelry… the whole outfit.  And they take donations of all those things.

So if you have any dresses in good shape that you know you’re not going to wear again, check out the website and find your dress a good home.

Y’all have been reading all the way down to find out what the “bad” is in this post, haven’t you?  Ha!  Psych. There is no bad.



Brimstone is available today!  You can get it in your favorite bookstore, online or in person, and in many e-book forms!  And what a bargain! It’s two books in one!

I’ll be posting excerpts all week on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and this blog.  Are you following all those things?  It’s the best way to find out about late breaking news and impromptu contests and giveaways.  (Impromptu is code for “RCM doesn’t always plan very far ahead.)

Today’s News: Want to get your copy of Brimstone (or any of my other books) signed?  I will be joining the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour in Montreal Canada this Saturday the 14th and in Philadelphia on Tuesday the 18th.  Details, including the locations, times and what other authors will be there are all on the Smart Chicks page.

Brimstone Cover Today’s Random Brimstone Excerpt:

 The air seemed eerily quiet once the EMTs were gone.I found myself at the edge of the pool, looking for… I don’t know what. Another glimpse of black shadow, a whiff of something other than chlorine. I’m not sure what it would mean if I did smell something. That I was crazy? Or that I wasn’t. 

I never saw the future. I couldn’t have warned Karen any more than I could have warned my grandparents the night they died. There was nothing I could have done. 

“Of course there wasn’t.” 

My heart slammed against my ribs. I jumped, too, arms windmilling to keep myself from somehow defying physics and falling into water three feet away. 

“What! Careful.” Big, tanned hands caught my waist. Well, where my waist would be if I wasn’t wearing the World’s Most Unflattering Swimsuit.

Last Week’s Winners: Congratulations to the winners of their very own signed copy of Brimstone. Izzybella won the random drawing (by being comment #28 as picked by and Milena won the arbitrary “Most Creative Essay” award that I just made up because she amused me. Email me and send me your addresses so I can send your books!

Today’s Totally Impromptu Contest: Wish me and Maggie Quinn a Happy Book Birthday in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll pick someone to win a copy of BRIMSTONE!  (If you’ve already bought it, you know you can give away one copy to a friend. Or an enemy you want to make into a friend.)

Brimstone cover reveal and a little something extra

I’ve mentioned before that the first two books of the Girl vs. Evil series are being released in a new edition in September.

Without further ado, I present the cover of BRIMSTONE.

Here’s the cover copy:
Slinking down the streets, hiding in the shadows, always lurking just out of sight, evil follows Maggie Quinn. It’s no ordinary, everyday evil, either—it’s Evil with a capital E, and whatever’s behind it, it clearly wants Maggie.
But Maggie isn’t the type of girl to go down without a fight. She has a few powerful tricks up her sleeve, not to mention a best friend who’s a witch, and she’s declaring open season on demons.
BRIMSTONE is available on September 11, 2012.
In honor of Maggie’s new digs, I’m giving away something.
Answer these three questions in the comments section correctly to enter to win a signed copy of your choice of any of my books (including BRIMSTONE, you just have to wait a little longer).
1. What is one thing Maggie is afraid of?
2. What’s Maggie’s preferred way of dispatching demons?
3. What is the name of Maggie’s best friend?
Bonus (for tie-breaking):
4. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Good luck!

Book News — Brimstone

Cue the trumpet fanfare. I have a new-to-many-of-you book coming out in September. Yes, THIS September. BRIMSTONE is now available for pre-order on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. (It’s not listed yet on Books a Million or IndieBound, but it will of course be available wherever awesome books are sold.) 

BRIMSTONE is the new two-in-one edition of the first two books in the Girl vs. Evil series.* The cover is still under wraps, but here’s the description:

Slinking down the streets, hiding in the shadows, always lurking just out of sight, evil follows Maggie Quinn. It’s no ordinary, everyday evil, either—it’s Evil with a capital E, and whatever’s behind it, it clearly wants Maggie.

But Maggie isn’t the type of girl to go down without a fight. She has a few powerful tricks up her sleeve, not to mention a best friend who’s a witch, and she’s declaring open season on demons.

I know some of you are going to be SO excited to see Maggie Quinn’s name in the summary, but if you’re already a fan, here’s the bad news. It’s not a new book. (That that you might not want a copy of the cool new edition.) 
But here’s the good news: it’s a chance for more people to become fans of MQ and her crew. So I hope that you’ll recommend it to all your friends and librarians, and maybe we’ll see more of the Girl vs. Evil adventures in the future. 
BRIMSTONE comes out September 11, 2012.  
*If you simply can’t wait, Prom Dates from Hell and Hell Week are still available separately in paperback and e-book format.

On the trail of El Cupacabra

I am delighted to see that Amazon recognizes the value of books on cryptozology. Today in my inbox, I got this:

Dear Customer,
Customers who have purchased or rated Highway to Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl Vs Evil) by Rosemary Clement-Moore might like to know that Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore is now available.  You can order yours for just $14.91 ($10.04 off the list price) by following the link below.

Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
Benjamin Radford

(I’m including the link, because the book actually sounds cool, and I have already ordered my copy. If for no other reason than to find out what OTHER awesome works of fiction include El Chupacabra.)

Even more awesome were the other books in the e-mail:
Tracking the Man-beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More
Joe Nickell

TRUE GIANTS: Is Gigantopithecus Still Alive?
Mark A. Hall

The Michigan Dogman: Werewolves and Other Unknown Canines Across the U.S.A. (Unexplained Presents)

Linda S. Godfrey

Don’t know what Gigantophithecus is? From the book cover, it’s nothing I would want to meet in a dark alley.

Okay, so I’m poking a little fun, but I LOVE tracing the folklore of boogeyman legends. To me, the overlap of culture, geography, snippets of history–heck, even meteorology–that conspire to create enduring legends is fascinating. This should surprise no one who has read my books.

So what was YOUR favorite boogeyman story growing up? The more regional and wacky, the better!

Highway to Hell goes paperback

Cue the Beatle’s Birthday song. (Na na na na NAna nana… two three four)

Highway to Hell comes out in trade paperback today.
When Maggie and Lisa head to the beach for Spring Break, they get more action than they bargained for when a Jeep accident strands them in a one horse town where the locals are convinced El Chupacabra is killing their cattle. Having faced demons, sorcerers, and sorority sisters, Maggie and her allies should have no trouble with a Mexican mythical beast, right?
Go bug your bookseller to put it on the shelf. Oh, and if you want to buy a copy while you’re there, that would be okay with me, too!
Remember, all month I’m running a contest to celebrate the paperback edition of Maggie’s adventure in South Texas. When Maggie runs into killer mosquitos in Highway to Hell, they’re (mostly) fictional. But in parts of the world, mosquitos are real killers.
Anyone who donates to Nothing But Nets (a grassroots campaign to end malaria in Africa by distributing treated mosquito nets) from now until April 29th will be entered to win one of a growing list of prizes, including bookstore gift cards, an advanced reading copy of my next book, and tons of books donated by fabulous authors.
And happy book birthday to me!

Book Birthday Party!

The Splendor Falls comes out today! 

I hope Amazon delivers your pre-orders and bookstores are obligingly stocked with copies!  I haven’t been out to make the rounds yet, because I LOST A DAY this weekend. Seriously, I got up thinking it was Monday, went to check my mail and couldn’t figure out why I had an inbox full of congrats on my release. Because it’s TODAY not TOMORROW.

Not only that, but if you are cheap like me, and haven’t picked up your own copy of the award winning book HELL WEEK, you’re in luck.

Hell Week comes out in paperback today!

That’s two books!  It’s like having twins.

I know that most of you want to RUN out to your bookstore to either buy your copy while they still have some, or harangue (nicely!) the bookseller for not having it in stock. But if you’re in the DFW area, you might want to wait for Saturday, because I’m having a…

Book Release Party
Hurst (Texas) Barnes and Noble
(at North East Mall)
Saturday, September 12th
2 – 4 PM

Can’t make it that day?  Here are some other events I have coming up:

FenCon — September 18-20
Booksigning at the B&N at the Parks Mall — October 10
Buns ‘n Roses Literacy Fundraiser – October 11
Booksigning in Little Rock, AK with many other spooky book authors — October 24
Texas Book Festival — October 31

I’m also doing a bunch of guest blogs, interviews and giveaways in the next few weeks, so I’ll keep you posted!

Field Trips and Freebies!

Missed yesterday’s blog post, which is sad, because I had it all planned! I headed up to Norman, OK, where I spoke to a YA Lit graduate class about writing, books, general blathering. They’ve been great hosts, and only made fun of my "Horny Toad" TCU sticker on my car a little bit.

So I come bearing gifts! On my website, I have Desktop Wallpapers for The Splendor Falls. They are tres awesome and artistic, so click and check it out. Thanks to for making them for me!

And while I’m on my OK field trip, I’m sending you guys to Pink Me, a blog that I enjoy reading ANYWAY, but today she’s reviewing HIghway to Hell. I think this blogger is fun and funny (she’s a librarian with pink hair!) and so it thrills me she gave H2H a great review. (This is not a children’s blog! She reviews YA books for Adult readers. However, there’s nothing untoward in this particular post.) Go read that review, then explore her site a bit.

Off to breakfast, then home to Texas. Oh, I-35, how I love you. Joy! /irony

Q&A Day: Building Character… the fictional kind

From Aliya (Who’s letter cracked me up. Thanks Aliya!):
As an avid reader and a hopeful writer I find something that really makes or breaks a story is the characters. So many times I find a book that has a sturdy, interesting plot, with flimsy little characters whose only purpose seems to be to carry out said plot. What’s something you found helpful when building the characters in your books, as well as keeping them from seeming too similar/one-dimensional? Was it something that came easily to you? If you could provide a little insight that would be awesome =).

My answer:
Characters are my favorite thing, except maybe for dialogue. I won’t say it always comes *easily* but it’s something I don’t remember having to learn how to do. I had to sort of retroactively figure out what I was doing with my best characters, so I could do it consistently do it with the rest.

A good main character is three things:
1) Multi-dimensional (They aren’t just one thing, they have facets and layers)
2) Relatable (You can put yourself in their shoes, even when they’re making mistakes.)
3) Internally consistent and internally logical. (Their traits mesh together and make sense as a whole).

When I create a character who’s going to get a lot of page time (a protagonist like Maggie, or major supporting character, like Lisa or Justin), I start off with the character "hook.” I like that term, because it’s the thing that the writer holds onto, and the thing that grabs the reader. If you had to describe ONE THING that told you the most about a character, what would it be? I knew, before I put my fingers on the keyboard, that Maggie was going to be plucky and inquisitive: the girl detective type who won’t let a mystery rest.

Everything else has to work around this core trait, whether it supports that trait, compliments it, or contrasts with it. It’s the thing that drives your character’s decisions, gives them direction like a compass. If you think about it like drawing, it’s a bold, dark stroke on a clean piece of paper: you can’t erase it, so the whole picture must be build around it.

Then you add other lines to make a more complete picture. These are secondary characteristics, quirks, hobbies, history, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses (never forget weaknesses!). Add shading: dark and light areas, fears and flaws as well as good stuff. But they all have to work with that first bold stroke. If they don’t relate to it, that’s when something rings false and fake. Going back to Maggie: she’s very determined, but the flip side of that is she can be a bit pig-headed. She’s extremely loyal, but she can be blind to her friends’ faults.

See how every trait has a positive and negative side? That makes them seem natural, like a real person, and not like I’m just giving her random strengths and flaws as the plot demands it.

While many stories concern the growth and change of a character, what’s actually changing is the outer layers: perspective, feelings, and how they express their core trait. For instance, Luke Skywalker starts off as a idealistic farmboy who craves action. He’s a hothead, but he basically wants to do good: save the princess, join the rebellion, etc. He struggles with that hotheaded impulsiveness and when it is expressed as anger, it tempts him to the dark side, but his good nature wins out. (He’s still a ‘doer’ but he learns to "let go of his anger.")

Stories with a major change to the character (i.e., a bad to good redemption) mean you have to think ahead and give them a core character that can be expressed in different ways so it the change is plausible. For example, if character who has a focused iron will realizes his goal is wrong-headed or even ‘evil,’ and then repents and changes, he’s still iron willed. (It takes a lot of willpower to change.) Alternatively, you may hide the characters TRUE core with a lot of layers of other stuff. (A fearful character may find his backbone, for example.) If you don’t want this change to come out of nowhere, you have to make those layers logical–why is the character fearful, and what would motivate him to change?

By playing with the core character, and all the layers and contrasts that you add to it, you can come up with a character who is textured, but in a way that seems plausible, logical, and realistic, so that all their actions, reactions, and changes ring true.

So, here’s a writing assignment. Take a character from a favorite book, whether your own work in progress or someone else’s, and say what is their ‘hook.’ My example above was Luke Skywalker, the hotheaded but idealistic boy who controls but never loses those core traits.

Post in the comments and discuss. On Friday I will randomly choose a poster from all blog comments to receive a copy of my (RITA® Award winning) book HELL WEEK.

A Rose by any other name…

Character names.

So, I totally stole this topic from Tina Ferraro over on Boys, Books, Buzz Blog. I think this is the second time I’ve done that. But I started to answer this in the comments, and it sort of got out of control, so I thought, hell, I’ll just make my own blog entry. So go click over there and give her some love, so she doesn’t hate me.

Anyway. How we name characters is a question we authors get alot (I know I do, and from Tina’s post, I guess she does, too.) They have to fit the character, and a lot of times they convey deeper meaning as well. Plus, you’re going to have to type them a lot, so it’s better to give it thought and not pick something you hate.

Maggie Quinn, the protagonist of the Girl vs. Evil series, was a character in search of a story, when I got the germ of the idea for Prom Dates From Hell. She as also named last name first. Her original concept was as a kind of female Kolchak (from the 70′s TV show, the Nightstalker, which was the inspiration behind X-Files), so oddly enough, she’s named after another 70′s rerun staple–Quincy (Quincy, M.E. was about a medical examiner who solved mysteries. This was before C.S.I., Kathy Reichs and Bones, etc., and so even cheesy 70′s reruns were addictive because there was nothing else like it. I also loved Columbo. These were all shown in rerun every afternoon, back when cable tv was only 20 channels or something.)

ANYway. Her first name “Maggie” just popped into my head from there. It went with the Irish/Gaelic flavor of the last name, it was both girlish but also rather down to earth. You’d expect it to belong to some hard working Irish washerwoman.

What’s really funny is that her full name, Magdalena, emerged as a complete surprise to me. Proof that my subconscious is often smarter than I am. By then I knew that Maggie wasn’t just going to be investigating your average zombies or vampires. She was going up against the forces of darkness, and she needed a name with some weight to it.

Oh, and further proof that our subconscious is weird? I was three books in when someone pointed out to me that Maggie and Lisa are Bart Simpson’s sisters. That is completely unintentional. Oops.

Justin is named after a rat in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I loved that book (and that movie, even though they were substantially different.) But Justin was a young, handsome and noble sort of rat in both, so it works.

Lisa, by the way, has no deeper significance. Except that, like Maggie, she doesn’t go by her birth name. And I’ll just leave you with that big ol’ teaser. :-D

Here’s my question: Do you think your name fits you, as a character in your own story? Personally, I’m on the fence on this question. Rosemarys are kind of all over the place as far as image. We have not fared well in American movies, though books have been kinder to us. (And video games, oddly enough. Though still the brainy girl, I notice.)