Deep Down Out in Paperback

Deep Down cover


Deep Down, the second book in my three book contemporary fantasy series set in western South Dakota, came out in trade paperback on February 11th.

About the story:

All that changes when she gets a call asking her to help an elderly neighbor who is being stalked by black dogs, creatures from the underworld that are harbingers of death. When a black dog appears, Hallie learns, a reaper is sure to follow. And if the dark visions she’s suddenly receiving are any indication, it looks like the reaper is now following her.

Meanwhile, strange events herald the arrival of ghosts from Boyd’s past, ghosts the young deputy isn’t ready to face. Refusing Hallie’s help, Boyd takes off to deal with the problem on his own, only to find that he’s facing something much larger and more frightening than he’d imagined.

Stalked by a reaper and plagued by dark visions, Hallie finds she must face her fears and travel into Death’s own realm to save those she most loves.

What other people say:

 From The Gazette:

This may sound like a fantasy thriller — and it is — but it’s also a story about  the sense of community and steadfastness present in the Midwest. When Hallie finds herself caught in a riddle, she turns to a neighbor. When she’s facing down an angry ghost, the county sheriff stands by her, even though he has no  idea what’s happening. In times of trouble, we turn to one another and show our true (and hopefully best) selves. Coates captures this beautifully.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Supernatural-sensitive Hallie Michaels returns for a thrill-packed adventure in this solid follow-up to Wide Open.


With Hallie Michaels, Coates has given us an interesting character with a compelling voice. The friendship between her and Boyd Davies—the developing relationship—feels real, honest, textured. Nuanced, the way real relationships are. Her interaction with the supernatural is a combination of eerie and well, shit matter-of-fact. I particularly enjoyed the fact that one of the black dogs just decides to follow Hallie around. Because it thinks she’s interesting.

 To buy:


It Is What It Is

It is what it is is something I learned from tracking.  I’ve talked about it online before, though I don’t think I’ve talked about it here.  In tracking, you train as much as you can, work with your dog until you both know what’s expected, plan for all the contingencies you can think of.  But then, the day of the test, maybe you get a downpour or it’s really hot or bone-chilling cold, maybe a hundred deer run across your track, maybe the judge makes a bad call or you make a bad decision or your dog just has a crappy day.

Yeah.  It is what it is.  You learn from it and move on.

When you write for publication there are some things that are under your control: how well you write, the story you choose to tell, how much effort you put into each draft.  But there are just as many things that are completely or mostly out of your control: what else is being published, your book’s cover, who your copyeditor is, the amount of publicity or the initial positioning or where your book goes on the shelves.  Big things and tiny things, fair reviews and unfair ones, whether anyone ever knows your book is out there or not.

It is what it is.  Other people get other things: a better cover, bigger advance, more visibility, just the right coattails, a particular, perfect moment in time.  You have no control over that either, though sometimes you desperately wish that you did.

The other night I found this passage at the end of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (a great book if, like me, you’re always looking for plotting and structure tips):

You must find a life within the confines of “It is what it is.”  This is where your skills as a bullhead will save both you and your sanity.  And while I’ve made fun of this trait throughout the book I do it as a means of challenging you to be more so: Whatever you do, don’t stop being a bullhead.  The powers-that-be can take away a lot of things.  They can buy your script and fire you, or rewrite it into oblivion, but they can’t take away your ability to get up and come back swinging–better and smarter than you were before.

Most of all, you must try to find the fun in everything you write.  Because having fun lets you know you’re on the right track.  So when you write those two dazzling words, FADE IN:, you’re as excited the hundredth time as you were the first.

It’s easy to get caught up in how your book is doing and which book is doing better or how much you wish this thing or that other thing had happened differently.  Or even: WHY CAN’T EVERYONE SEE MY VERY SPECIAL GENIUS RIGHT NOW!  But yeah, it is what it is.  The best thing you do is learn from it and move on.


There is an exclamation point in that title because somehow, inexplicably, I have not managed to post an update for nearly two months.


So, what’s been going on?

  • Blue and I were in a tracking test.  We didn’t pass.
  • Billie had pancreatitis.  She’s better now.
  • I wrote lots of words on a couple of different projects.
  • I went to North Carolina.  I came back.
  • I went to work, went for walks, went tracking, read a bunch of books.

I’ll try to talk more about dogs, books, and writing in subsequent posts.

Posted in Me

Mistakes Were Made

But not…oh, wait, they were made by me.

Tor/Macmillan now has a Google Preview of Wide Open available on their website (Look Inside is now up at Amazon too). In both cases, the first two chapters (plus some other pages) are available as well as most of the front matter, including the acknowledgements.

I’m a bit of a loner and I like doing things on my own, but there would not have been a book and it would not have been this book without lots of generous help from other people.  So, the acknowledgements are important to me, even if most people don’t read them.  They’re one of the ways I can point to all those important people and say thanks.

Despite their importance, despite double- and triple-checking them, I still left out two people I’d meant to include.

  • Paul Melko, (whose book, Broken Universe, will be out from Tor in June) was at Blue Heaven the year I brought Wide Open and not only gave me helpful feedback on that manuscript, but recently read book two and gave me terrific feedback on that manuscript as well.  Thanks, Paul.
  • Mike Mauton has been my go-to ‘gun guy’ for both my novels and short stories and provides me with all manner of useful information on guns and hunting, which, given the books and stories I write, is invaluable.  Thanks!

To them, and the people I actually did include in the acknowledgements: all the mistakes in Wide Open are mine, but so much of what’s good is because I had help from all of you.

Welcome to my new website

Hi, I’m Deb Coates.  And this may be a temporary, place-holder entry as I set up my new website.

But, for now:

I’m a writer of fantasy and science fiction.  I’ve published short stories in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Year’s Best Fantasy 6 and others.  My first novel, Wide Open will be published by Tor on March, 13, 2012.

I have two dogs, Billie, a Rottweiler and Blue, a German Pinscher.  I talk about them a lot. I live in flyover country.

Posted in Me