About Jim Hines


Posts by Jim Hines:

Friday Wrapup, with LOL Book

Seanan McGuire (of Rosemary and Rue fame) has drawn a nifty promo piece for The Mermaid’s MadnessClick here to see her pretty little dead ghoul mermaid in all her glory.

• Tomorrow (9/26) from 11 am – 7 pm I’ll be at the Durand Fantasy Expo.  Details available on the Facebook page or on MySpace.  Lots of nifty guests lined up.

• I’ve heard from three separate sources now that Mermaid is on the shelves at some Borders stores.  Woo!  (I’d still call ahead though, just to make sure.)

• Finally, Elizabeth Bear unveiled the cover of her forthcoming book Bone and Jewel Creatures.  I like this cover an awful lot, and decided to express my appreciation in LOL form.  (For newcomers, the entire LOL Book series is available in my LJ archives, if you’re interested.)  Enjoy!

Depression at SF Novelists

I’m off to Durand today for a news interview in preparation for the Fantasy Expo on Saturday.  Today was also my day for blogging at SF Novelists.  So if I’ve set things up properly, you should be able to click on over and read my post about depression as a writer.

Or you can stick around and admire LEGO Wall*E, built by corran-101.  Click the pic for the full set.

Slush Reading, Seuss Style

Slush I Read
by Jim C. Hines

(Apologies to Seuss)

I read slush.
Slush I read.

That slush I read.
That slush I read!
I do not like that slush I read.

Do you like fanfic with vamps?

I do not like them Mary Sue.
Why do these vamps all worship you?

Here’s a tale from D & D!

I do not want your D & D.
I do not like your elf PC.
I can not stand your purple prose.
I want to punch you in the nose!

Would you like a hot sex scene?
I wrote it for my online ‘zine!

I do not like your pervy tale.
Your metaphors make readers pale.
Your paragraphs are pages long.
Your bad sex scene is oh so wrong!
Can people do that with their lips???
I do not like your manuscripts.

This one is in Comic Sans!
My parents are my biggest fans.

That evil font we do not want!
My aching eyes, my weary sighs.
Why can’t you get the format right?
We post our guidelines in plain sight!
I will not read your 8-point type.
I want to bash you with a pipe!

Would you read this in the loo?
Let me slide it right to you!

I would not, could not, while I poo!

You just hate me ’cause I’m new!
I’m too original for you!

Too original you say?
This book is one absurd cliché!
It should not see the light of day.

I do not like your Mary Sues.
I do not like your crackhead muse.
Eve and Adam, Star Trek slash,
Tolkien ripoffs, pointless trash,
Prologues forty pages long,
Spelling every third word wrong.
I do not want to read this slush.
It’s all too much, my brain is mush!

Just one more story for today.
Soon I’ll clear this slush away.
No more vampires, I pray.

This cover letter’s brief.
The format’s clean.  What a relief!

This story from the slush.
This story gives me such a rush.
These pages have a brilliant hook.
I want to read it in a book!
The wordcraft makes me start to swoon.
Is that the end? It came too soon!
I read it one time, two times, three!
It is so good, so good you see!

So I will read the slush again.
And wade through drafts by Twilight fen.
And I will read the pointless plots,
And tales of busty blonde sexbots.
And I will read your pissed off mail.
And I will read it without fail.
Yes I will read slush by the bale
So I can find that next great tale.


I’m still taking interview questions.  I’ve got a dozen or so good ones, but nothing silly yet.  Knowing y’all, this surprises me.  If you’re interested, e-mail a question at mermaid@jimchines.com and I’ll add you to the drawing to win a copy of Strip Mauled.  All I ask is that you post the Q&A on 10/6 when Mermaid officially comes out.

This was what I saw Sunday afternoon in the SF/F section at Schuler Books in the Meridian Mall.  Isn’t it a beautiful sight?*  That little hand belongs to my son, who lit up at the sight of Daddy’s books on the shelf.  He was almost as excited as I was.

Of course, he got bored fast when he had to wait for Daddy to sign everything.  But then I took him back and showed him the dedication page for Goblin War.  He read the letters one by one, and all the energy came rushing back.  “That’s me!”  Then he looked up at me and asked, “Why is my name in your book?”

It’s a good question, and got me thinking about the dedications I’ve done, and why.  In part, dedicating a book is a gift I can give that feels special.  But there’s more.

Goblin War: To My Son

  • Because you embody everything I love about my goblins–the cleverness, the humor, the berserker attacks against your Daddy…
  • Because even if you betray me and ascend to the rank of Death God, I’ll still watch over you and protect you.
  • Because of Shadowstar’s “He’s my son” scene on pages 300-302.

Stepsister Scheme: To My Daughter

  • Because my wishes for you include Snow’s joy, Talia’s strength, and Danielle’s heart.
  • Because you’re as beautiful as any princess.
  • Because you don’t need to be rescued.
  • Because without you, this series wouldn’t exist.

Mermaid’s Madness: To My Wife

  • Because this was the worst deadline pressure I’d ever experienced, and you still loved me when it was all over.
  • Because in so many ways, you are the Beatrice of this family.  (Even though your Dad’s pontoon boat isn’t quite as cool as the Phillipa.)
  • Because part of this series is about family and teamwork, and you’ve taught me so much about both.

I didn’t know how to explain all of this to a four-year-old.  So I just told him it was because I loved him, and that I’d explain it more when he was older.  He seemed content with this.  But the whole thing left me feeling unusually sappy, so I thought I’d share with you all.

*Most bookstores won’t have it in stock yet … though it might be worth a phone call to check 😉

Arr! Google Update Ahoy!

“The proposed settlement gives Google rights to scan and provide online access to millions of books, many of which are out-of-print or otherwise not commercially available.”  (Note that out-of-print =/= public domain.)

“The Settlement Agreement uses the term Commercially Available, which generally means that a Book is in-print. If a Book is not Commercially Available, that means, in general, that it is Out-of-Print. Google is authorized to make Display Uses and Non-Display Uses of each Book that is not Commercially Available for the term of the U.S. copyright for that Book UNLESS the Rightsholder directs Google not to do so or directs Google to remove the Book.”

The latest twist: “Google’s book project has scanned and digitised millions of out-of-print books and made them searchable online as digital files. Now, it’s enabling web users to make old-fashioned, bound hard copies of these hard-to-find books using a new high-speed, on-demand printer called the Espresso.”

ETA: “And On Demand Books, the Espresso’s maker, potentially could get access to even more hard-to-find books if Google wins court approval of a class-action settlement giving it the right to sell out-of-print books.”

What?  Isn’t this Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Enough of that. Off with ye, me hearties, and go enjoy the pirate ditty Talk Like a Pirate Day (MP3) by Tom Smith!

Anthology Invites

Like I did last week, I’m rerunning this piece from 2006 (with minor edits) to get it into WordPress.

For a long time, invitation-only anthologies were my Holy Grail, a goal only one step below actually selling a novel to a major publisher.  I drove myself a little loopy trying to crack the invite market, and thought I’d share those experiences for anyone trying to do the same. More

Bechdel Testing

Hey, guess what showed up in a big ol’ Fed Ex box yesterday.  I’ll give you a hint–it wasn’t The Tick 🙂


Because it came up in the comments yesterday Tuesday, I thought I’d talk a little about the Bechdel Test.  For those of you unfamiliar with the test, check out the Wikipedia link.  In brief, a story has to meet the following three requirements to pass the test:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a man.

The Angry Black Woman posted a modified version regarding race:

  1. It has to have at least two people of color in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a white person.

The first time I saw these, my first reaction was of course to apply them to my own books.  The goblin trilogy is iffy on the first test.  Book one fails, but then we get Grell, Golaka, Kralk, Billa, and we start to fare a little better.  The female characters are definitely in the minority though, and I’d have to go back and check to see how much they talk to one another as opposed to being all about the men.

In terms of race?  Not a clue how to apply it to the goblins, since few of my characters in this series are human.  On the other hand, the actual humans, dwarves, and elves were all white.  Why?  There’s no deliberate reason; I just defaulted to white when I wrote the books.

The princess series fares better, passing the original test with flying colors.  When it comes to race though, that’s a little different.  Of the three heroines, Talia is the only non-white character.  It’s not until book three that the books pass the racial test.

I’m not aware of anyone saying every story has to pass the tests.  We’re not talking about quotas, and I swear to Cthulhu I’ll loose the goblins on the first one to raise that strawman.

The point, at least for me, is how few stories actually pass these tests.  Because we default to what’s easy or familiar, or what we’re used to reading and writing.  Why did Darnak the dwarf have to be white and male?  Why is Talia the only non-white servant I’ve described working in the palace?  Did I think about the politics and racial atmosphere in Lorindar and make a conscious decision to minimize non-white characters, or was I just lazy?

Most of the time, I don’t think it’s a conscious choice.  I know I don’t always see the trends in my own writing until I deliberately stop and look back at my work.  The Bechdel tests are one way to do that.

Remember IDIC from Star Trek?  (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, for those of you whose geek-fu is not as strong.)  It’s not about quotas or satisfying the PC police.  It’s about telling better stories.  Because defaulting our stories to a single narrow slice of reality, limiting what we write and read to tales of Straight White Men, is simply illogical.

Diabetes Details 3: $$$

SciFiChick is giving away a copy of The Mermaid’s Madness. Deadline to enter is 10/16.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work. I absolutely love this piece.


So apparently this is the week to talk about invisible diseases/conditions.  I don’t know how invisible my diabetes is … the insulin pump is kind of obvious, and I don’t try to hide when I’m checking my blood sugar.  On the other hand, it’s not like my pancreas has fallen out in the middle of a convention panel or anything like that.

I’ve chatted about the disease a bit already here and here.  With a doctor’s appointment set up for this afternoon, I got to thinking about the cost of the damn disease.

I’m very fortunate to have good health insurance, which means most of that cost is actually invisible to me.  The insurance is one of the reasons I took my day job, and it’s the biggest reason I’ll likely never be able to quit and write full time.  But recent events got me thinking about how much diabetes would cost if I were ever to get laid off or lose those benefits.

  • Blood sugar test strips (testing 6-7 times/day) : $200/month
  • Lancets for blood tests: $63/month
  • Insulin pump infusion set:  $116/20-day supply
  • Insulin pump reservoirs: $33/20-day supply
  • Insulin (this one is a guess): $100/month

That’s $586.50 per month, and that’s before we get into doctor visits (every 3-4 months), bloodwork (also every 3-4 months), and occasional costs like replacing the insulin pump if it breaks ($1000?) or, if things go really badly, a trip to the hospital.

If I were covering the costs myself, there are changes I could make to save money.  I could test my blood less frequently, switch from the pump back to multiple daily injections, not see my doctor quite as often, reuse lancets and syringes, and so on.

Of course, the more I skimp on the daily care, the more likely I am to end up in the hospital due to complications…

It’s not something I think about very often, but it scares me a bit, and I very much resent that it takes away my option to try to go full-time as a writer.

Three Weeks to Mermaid!

• I don’t link to many reviews of my work, but I’m going to make an exception for this one.  sigelphoenix has posted one of the most thoughtful reviews of The Stepsister Scheme [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] that I’ve come across.  Some spoilers, but worth reading: http://sigelphoenix.insanejournal.com/168038.html

• Balancing this out, Andrew Wheeler glanced at a copy of Mermaid and warns readers to “Expect a lot of singing Motown into shampoo bottles, or whatever the fantasy-novel equivalent of the ‘girls bonding montage’ is, when The Mermaid’s Madness hits stores.”  Hmph.  I’ll have you know my book contains absolutely no shampoo, minimal singing, and only a few bondage scenes.

• Hey reviewers!  The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] has gone to press, which means physical copies of the book exist, even if they aren’t showing up in stores quite yet.  If you would like a review copy of the book, please contact me, and I’ll try to hook you up with my publicist.


  1. Snow White becomes a Sparkly Vampire®.  (She is awfully pale…)
  2. Meet Queen Beatrice’s newest agent: Dragonslayer.  Jig Dragonslayer.  007, License to Cower.
  3. Magical power is revealed to come from tiny magichlorians in the blood.
  4. Snow White gropes Neil Gaiman.
  5. Danielle, Talia, Snow White, and the Little Mermaid transform and merge into SuperMegaPrincessZoid.
  6. Prince Armand comes back in time, blows up Lorindar, and reboots the whole series using mysterious “Puce Matter.”
  7. Montage of all three princesses singing Motown into shampoo bottles.
  8. Fairy Tale Princesses vs. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus!
  9. In a shameless attempt to build Internet buzz, Talia tapes bacon to a mermaid.

Feel free to suggest your own 🙂

*It’s possible that some or all of these shocking revelations might have been cut from the final manuscript…

Jim C. Hines