My blog is on hiatus.
I have been meaning and meaning and meaning to get back here and update you on my progress (for example, 3rd place in the Golden Gateway and 1st Place in the Emerald City Opener, how my conference went, what I'm reading and *loving* right now, etc. etc.).
But it's time to get real. With the Golden Heart deadline looming, work, school, and the swiftly approaching holidays (including 6 birthdays in my family - sheesh!), I don't see when I will have time to do better than I have been.
So . . . I'm officially hanging up this blog until January 15th 2010 - at which point I will launch a WHOLE NEW, improved, and very shiny Wordpress site. And then I'll turn over a new leaf and actually, you know . . . blog about stuff.
So - to anyone out there who is still reading this - thank you. Enjoy your holiday season, and see you next year!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
My blog is on hiatus.
Friday, September 11, 2009
*taps dust of microphone*
Phew! It's been a while! And though I've been absent, I haven't been idle. ;)
I'm closing in on my final rewrites for my parnormal romantic suspense novel, Inner Eye. My goal is to have them complete by 9/15 and I should land thereabouts. It will be a *crazy* month and a half for me coming up -- lots of fun stuff!
On to the good news . . .
I'm happy to announce that I'm a finalist in the Golden Gateway's paranormal category again this year (different ms than last year). They haven't announced the finalists on their website yet, but I hear I'm up against some stiff competition. I'm just happy to final. It's good to know that the baby you've spent the better part of a year tearing up and piecing back together doesn't suck. Coming from fanfic roots, I'm a glutton for that reassurance.
And I'm equally ecstatic to announce that the same ms finaled in the Romantic Suspense category of the Emerald City Opener contest. (Okay, maybe slightly more ecstatic, because the prize for this one is PRICELESS.) I get a personal one-on-one appointment with an agent/editor at the 2009 Emerald City Writers' Conference. *squee-gulp*
Yes, that's the same manuscript in two different contests, in two different categories. It is a paranormal romantic suspense, so I've been entering it into whichever category I think fits the specific contest. In my next entry, Inner Eye will be in the Single Title category. What can I say? The story really doesn't want to be pinned down to one narrow genre!
Obviously, since I have an appointment with an agent/editor all lined up, I'll be popping my conference cherry on October 9th. I'm equal parts excited and nervous. I have to get a pitch together, get my hair done, and go shopping! Luckily, the members of the GSRWA have been very welcoming, and I already have a conference buddy.
I'll also be going to hear my mentor/cp Debbie Mumford speak at a Vancouver Writers Mixer on October 3rd. It's starting to feel like this writing thing is actually *happening.* Perhaps the most gratifying moment was one day on a vacation/weekend outing, hubby picked up my Crackberry, looked at the list of emails, and just about choked. "How do you keep track of all that sh*t?" he asks. Truly, sometimes I think my whole family believes I'm just screwing off on the internet all the time. Srsly.
I'm also going to be visiting with mah girls in Atlanta the last weekend of September. I'm sooooo excited! (Except for the flying part, but I have Valium, so I'm covered
My next goal, after all of these social events, is to launch my new website/blog. I'm aiming for October. (I know, I know . . . I've said this before.) In my defense, learning a new coding language ain't no bowl of cherries.
Then I will hit the grindstone hard polishing up Inner Eye and my first novel, Cloak of Deceit. I plan to submit both to the Golden Hearts this year, and to get them going on the query-go-round in early December. I have entered a few other contests, so I may have more good news to share soon *crosses fingers*.
Oh, and I'll definitely post a conference update or two. I've got to get back on this blogging horse . . .
Monday, July 13, 2009
I thought I should put something up here before it gets too stagnant. There's been a lot going on the past month or so -- I have been a busy little bee, if I do say so myself.
I've also joined a start-up critique group, run by Lynette Labelle. She's pulled together a good mix of writers and we even have a name: The Rumored Romantics. I'm excited to get started. I've never been a critique group before and look forward to trying out a different venue. You know we writers are always looking for extra sets of eyes. The more opinions the better, in my mind. I haven't decided which project I'll be throwing at these ladies for starters, but I'm sure it will be a fun learning experience.
On the writing front, I'm at the halfway point with my re-write of Inner Eye. As I get closer to the end, the rewrites will be less extensive, so I'm hoping to have this one wrapped up and shelved in the next few weeks. I've submitted it to 3 contests to sort of test the waters. Then, I just have to polish my query packet and start throwing it at some agents. I'm both excited and nervous. I've put A LOT of work into this book, and if it doesn't find a home, that will be hard to swallow. On the flip side, I know the number one thing that keeps people going in this business is believing in themselves, so I do have hope!
I've done a little bit of reading recently, but not a lot. I think the most surprising was the Vampire Queen duo by Joey W. Hill. I enjoyed the Storywitch's writing so much, I even went and bought one of her early Ellora's Cave titles. The emotional depth, well-woven backstories, and top-notch writing have really made me re-think a lot of my own prejudices against the erotic romance genre (which I didn't even realize I had until I was surprised by how good these books were. *g*).
I'm still working down my list of exciting releases I mentioned in the spring. Devon Monk's 2nd in her Ally Beckstrom series lived up to my excitement. I have yet to read Lover Avenged, though from the sounds of it, BDB fans are pleased.
I've decided to nail myself down with an actual deadline for my new blog/website. Rain or shine, it will launch August 15th, so I've got my work cut out for me. I'll try to ease into the blogoshere between now and then, and spread the word. I have a few ideas for a little launch party. We'll see.
Time to get rolling!
Friday, May 29, 2009
I wish I had a legitimate excuse. Instead, I have a bunch of illegitimate ones, disguised as an update:
1. The idea of composing a review encompassing a four book series is daunting. I read Curse the Dawn, and loved it. Haven't made a peep otherwise.
2. My mom stole my copy of Lover Avenged. (I know!)
3. On the heels of being bookless, I entered into a phase of The Artist's Way known as reading deprivation. This deprivation includes blogs, so even opening google was a downhill slide I just decided to avoid. Consequently, I was very productive that week, and *extended* said deprivation just to see what would happen. (Apparently I reached a balance-point between being productive and being depressed because I couldn't read, so no worries - that's over now. :P )
4. The sun has been shining like mad in Seattle! (Don't tell anyone.)
5. I went to my first RWA meeting, but Ciara put my write-up to shame.
6. Working lots of overtime, but took a fantastic vacation to the coast.
7. I've been working like a madwoman on my new website/blog which will relocate to Wordpress. I'm shooting for the end of June to make the big switch-a-roo. Until then, blog play is more than likely suspended. If I do happen by some time to generate content, I'll probably save it for the new site.
8. RE-WRITES!!!! It's been brought to my attention several times, that the first step of getting anywhere in the publishing business is having a solid product to sell. So, that continues to be my focus. The first third of my current novel is getting a total over-haul and the rest will be hacked, trimmed, and then polished. I'm not sure how long this is going to take me, but I will definitely be having a party when it's finished.
Think that about covers it.
Friday, May 1, 2009
My thank-the-stars-I'm-so-lucky-to- have-her critique partner Thomma Lyn is celebrating the release of her novel Mirror Blue today, from Black Lyon publishing's Literary Love Story imprint.
I just had to publicly squee.
The eBook is available from Black Lyon today, and the paperback will be available next week.
I plan on doing both a review and an interview in the coming weeks, and Thomma Lyn is on a virtual book tour through June. If you're hunkering for a character-driven story to suck you in and pull on your heartstrings, I *highly* recommend this book.
Here's the blurb:
He’s her first chance at love.
She’s his last.
Free spirit Aphra Porter never thought Isaac Lightfoot would remember
the letter she wrote to him years before. But by some miracle, he does. Now a
successful Web site designer in her thirties, Aphra meets the man whose writing
talents she’s always idolized—an encounter that leaves her spinning. No longer
is Isaac a distant image, but a flesh and blood man who looks at her like no one
has looked at her before.
A critically acclaimed author and Vietnam war hero, Isaac is one tough
bear of a man. Faced with the physical and emotional scars of war, a
relationship with a daunting age difference, and an ex-wife bent on tearing
Aphra from his life, he’s about to learn that leaving the past behind and
building a new life can be the toughest battle of all.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Rewrites are coming along. I've done some major restructuring and have finessed the first 5 chapters into something I'm proud of. I also toiled (and toiled) over a synopsis and now have a full contest submission packet of Inner Eye ready to go. I'm planning on entering it into some contests in May.
Other than that, I've been playing with a lot of graphics stuff, getting ready to make the transition over to wordpress. I've been out of the graphics groove for too long, it is actually a thrill to get back into it. Ideas springing up all over the place. Whether or not I can master php well enough to make them a reality. =D
Oooooh! And I'm going to my first GSRWA meeting this weekend - I'm sooo excited! I was going to go last month, but I was heavy into the final chapters of my WIP and rudimentary hygeine was a challange. (Probably too much information, but still true.)
Other than that, I've been trying to take advantage of every second of sunshine, because around here, you never know when you're going to see it again.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she's the best—but she doesn't know if she's good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, only one thing is clear—failure is not an option...even if the task is impossible.
Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track. It's an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other…and pull her to the razor's edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn't destroy her, succumbing to Raphael's seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break…
Similar Universes: Meljean Brook’s Guardians series, Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage series
Nit Pick: A New Yorker calling elevators lifts and flashlights torches.
Favorite Quote (p. 325):
“Mortals . . . they burn so bright, but their light goes out too quickly.”
I’m a fan of Ms. Singh’s Psy-Changeling series of paranormal romances. I find her writing very sensual, evocative and character driven. The idea of a realm of vampires and darker things in her hands instantly appealed to me.
In this world, vampires are created by Archangels, and must pay for their immortality with 100 years of servitude. Because the vamps don't always hold up their end, there is also a division of specially trained warriors who hunt down and return the rogues, called the Guild. Elena is a Guild Hunter – the best. She’s hunter-born, giving her a super-sensory advantage over those who are merely trained: she can scent vampires. Raphael is the Archangel of New York. He rules his subordinates with an iron fist. And everybody is subordinate to Raphael. The Cadre of Ten (Archangels) have divided the globe into territories, and New York is his.
The Archangel of New York, p. 21:
“Then drink.” It was an instruction so absolute, she knew he expected instant
obedience. Something snapped inside her.“Or else?”
The wind stopped. Even
the clouds seemed to freeze.
Death whispered in her ear.
The one (really, the only one) thing I found disappointing in this story was the
lack of explanation how this (assumed to be) near future world is now lorded
over by angels. The author gives us this (p. 83):
For all that angels had been a part of mankind’s history since the earliest cave
paintings, they remained shrouded in mystery . . . Some called them the scions
of the gods, others saw them as simply a more advanced species. Only one
thing was certain – they were the rulers of the world, and they knew it.
I have a hard time believing humans simply bowed down to their superiority without putting up a fight. We just don’t have it in us. And if there was a war, or a magical shift, a plague, or an apocalypse mentioned in this book, I don't recall it. But really, once the story swept me away, I didn't care. Even without detailed orations on a false history, Ms. Singh’s rich descriptions and alluring voice make it extremely easy to suspend disbelief. Not to mention her heart-stealing characters and fast-moving plot.
While there are many interesting elements involving the powers and state of being of the angels, this book isn’t the world-building powerhouse that you’d expect in a typical urban fantasy. But there were still plenty of intriguing surprises and twists that kept things interesting. One of my favorite style elements were the short, sinister interjections from the villains point of view, which lent a sense of urgency. And the romance element carries its weight, and then some. From the very beginning, Raphael and Elena have a very shiversome attraction between them, summed up nicely when asks her if she desires his head vamp, Dmitri (p. 68):
“Hell, no. He’s like double-frosted chocolate mud cake. It looks good. You want
to eat the whole thing, but in reality it’s too sickly sweet.” Dmitri’s sensual
nature was suffocating, heavy, a blanket that repelled even as it attracted.
“If he is cake, what am I?” Cruel, sensual lips against her cheek, her jaw.
“Poison,” she whispered. “Beautiful, seductive poison.”
As Raphael and Elena hunt the rogue Archangel together, the romance continues to simmer, and sometimes sizzle. (I need to get my hands on some Archangel dust. Srsly.) They fly all over the city, visiting gruesome crime scenes, tracking their murderer. And somewhere in the middle of it, Raphael decides Elena belongs to him, while Elena fights her attraction to the dangerous ruler of New York with teeth and claws (and bullets).
One of the things handled most deftly in Angels’ Blood was the theme of immortality vs. humanity. Time and again, the difference between the two of them was demonstrated by Raphael’s actions and thoughts. He was probably one of the most convincing immortals I’ve ever read (and, heh, I’ve read a lot.). And yet, he finds himself drawn to this dispensable mortal, and through his attachment to her (and fear of her death) he begins to think and act more like a mortal.
Elena has drawn a line that she will not cross - she won't be anyone's supplicant. She will not worship or be cowed by Raphael, even at the cost of her own life. The strength of her will and her lack of fear at first intrigue the Archangel, and later challenge him in a way he hasn't known before.
Since they are hunting one of his own who has gone mad, Raphael wonders if immortality has tainted him, made him too uncaring, and too inhuman. In this way, Elena saves him. She becomes his check-and-balance. But the author didn't take the easy way out here, as so many do once their tortured immortal has 'met his match'. They both struggle to hold on to who they are while falling in love, and it made for an extremely satisfying (read:angsty) journey on both sides.
The final battle is one that will stay with me for a long time, so I won't spoil it, but I can say the tension and drama ran high throughout this whole book. I devoured it in one sitting. Twice. And I'll read it again. If you like paranormal romance or urban fantasy, I strongly recommend this title, as well as Ms. Singh's Psy-Changeling series.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I swore I would never be that 'type' of writer. And I say that like there are 'types' of writers, which really their aren't - everyone is an individual.
But when I read that a favorite author of mine writes with a process along the lines of, Write it once, keep half of it, write it again, keep 2/3 of it, write it again, keep 3/4 of it, I laughed.
That's waaaaay too inefficient, said Gwen. I'll just write my books once, and do it right the first time. I'll use an outline, and be way more organized....
Yeah. Maybe there is something to being a professional at what you do, after all.
I wrote my book once. I even had an outline. And it took me 45K words more than I thought I needed to tell the story. Now I need dig for the gold, and re-write the rest.
But it should be an adventure . . . . And result in a much better finished product. So, I've called in some help - bought some books, and I'll be using those as I sort of experiment with this whole 'rewrite' thing, to see how it works for me.
Because all of us writers are individuals -- even if some laws are universal, like this one:
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Since this isn't a revew site, per se, and I could easily spend a great bit of time picking at books from my reading list that hit a nerve, or otherwise leave all nerves undisturbed (equally as bad), I've decided I'm only going to post reviews here of ones I really love. Or really expect to love.
This limits the number, and spreads them out. All my other reviews can be found on Goodreads, though usually in the form of a simple star rating, unless there was something I particularly detested.
So, on the blog, you can look forward to reviews of the following star-studded titles this spring/summer (sidebar forthcoming):
April 15th - Angel's Blood, Nalini Singh
May 5th- Curse the Dawn*, Karen Chance
May 20th - Lover Avenged*, J.R. Ward
May 30th - Dead and Gone*, Charlaine Harris
June 15th - Magic in the Blood*, Devon Monk
June 30th - Magic Strikes*, Ilona Andrews
July 15th - Bone Crossed*, Patricia Briggs
July 30th - City of Souls, Vicki Pettersson
August 15th - Darkness Calls, Marjorie M. Liu
August 30th - Hunting Ground*, Patricia Briggs
Hopefully between now and then I'll get some release dates on some of my other highly-anticipated series, or, if need be, I can fill-in with old favorites. ;-)
*Review will cover series titles up to most current release, unless previously reviewed.
Monday, April 6, 2009
This weekend was glorious! Blue skies, warm temperatures, and the trees started budding overnight. It made me feel sorta like this.
Despite the arrival of spring (Finally! Did I mention we got snow on April 1st?), what did I do all weekend? Pretty much spent the whole thing locked away in the writing cave, as I closed in on the end of my first draft of my second novel, Inner Eye.
My husband has taken to calling me his vampire. And when he did manage to drag me out of the house (baited only by a promise to visit B&N), I realized that's not too far off base. I'm so pale I glow. =P
The good news - 1st draft is DONE!
The bad news - I'm 45K words over budget, so the work is just beginning.
Over the past few weeks, in preparation for the 're-write' phase forthcoming, I have read several great books on the craft. I plan to do a blog post on each of them. And to tie myself down to a new reviewing schedule that I think is much more doable. I also plan to get some more free reads posted, and to start to chronicle my journey through my WIP. Perhaps my experience of what works/what doesn't will be useful to someone.
I'll let this post stand for now as a placeholder: changes are coming. In fact, now that I have a drafted story to work with, the pressure is off of writing for a bit and I'll be putting some effort into a total website/blog re-design and possible move to Wordpress.
Hope the sun is shining down on you too!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I decided, instead of waiting for the sun to show its face, I would do a post on some of the books I'm really looking forward to this spring and summer.
As far as reading goes, this year is gonna rock!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
It's been a bit since I posted anything.
My thoughts, worthy enough to share, have been rather dark lately. I didn't want to drag you down with me. It must be this dismal winter weather. Or maybe it's just that rewrites = ugh.
This just about sums up my viewpoint of late.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Put yourself in a Harlequin romance!
He was a poor, simple boy. She was a wealthy, fiery young lady. Though they were worlds apart, their innocent friendship bloomed into a mutual admiration. Then suddenly Matthais was wrenched from Gwen's life.
Now, years later, he has returned to the Australian Outback society as an influential wealthy tycoon, determined to seek revenge on Gwen's father—and Gwen herself. But she is no longer the spoiled schoolgirl Matthais remembers. She is a brainy young super successful businesswoman of conviction and faith, raising a son on her own. Now Matthais must look deep into his heart. For only in abandoning his thirst for revenge can he finally become the man most worthy of her love.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Overall: Not a total waste of $20
Good: The casting. Bill Nighy as always superb, and Michael Sheen holds up well. The girl cast as Sonja also did a great job. Effects, costumes, makeup were well executed.
Okay: The music was ho-hum, and didn't hold any big drama. The acting was mid-range. Mostly, I was disappointed in the scale of the movie. It was supposed to be the beginning of an ancient war, and it really only barely touched on that. The scene in the movie that should have held the most drama (well, 2 of them) fell rather flat.
Not so good: There were no elements added to the story that we didn't already know about. Nothing really revealed, other than the origins of Lucien, which didn't even really make sense. The big war I was holding out for? Never happened.
I think this is the last one of these we'll be seeing, and I'm okay with that. I love the first two enough that I don't want to watch the franchise flounder.
Monday, February 16, 2009
This one is for my upstairs neighbor, who for some reason works the oddest hours . . .
I'm thinking you must be a bartender, or a pimp. That would explain the clackety-clack of the hoochie-mama shoes going up the cement stairs outside my bedroom at 2am on weeknights. As well as the weekly perpetual toilet-flushing and barfathon (yeah, that one's fun to wake up to).
Oh, and let's not forget the Sunday morning sex. I don't know how you manage it, but every frickin' weekend you're at it. Do you *have* to bang your flavor of the week BEFORE people (okay, not me, but other people) get up to go to church? You can't wait until the afternoon like the rest of us? I mean, some of us only get to sleep in one day a week, and guess what - it's SUNDAY.
At the very least, show some neighborly consideration and tighten the bolts on your headboard.
And dude - they're faking it. You have no rhythm.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
- Dr. Seuss
WAKE UP BRAIN CELLS!!!!
Monday, February 9, 2009
My new (although it feels like we've been working together forever) critique partner ThommaLyn got some AWESOME news yesterday! Her novel, Mirror Blue, (which I'm in the process of devouring) is going to be published by Black Lyon, for release next Spring. I'm so super-excited for her that I had to come squee about it over here too.
Congratulations Thomma! You deserve scads of faithful readers and you're on your way!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
No, not the Pink Floyd Album. Though . . . if that is the first thing that came to your mind, you're cool in my book.
Today is what we moon-keen folks would term the 'new moon', meaning that the moon is back at the beginning of its cycle (of course 'beginning' is relative, since it depends on when you start counting, but go with me here). It's perfectly aligned between the earth and the sun at the moment, therefore all the sunlight hitting it is, well, reflecting back at the sun and skipping us. So we are looking at the 'dark' side of it. If you were to step outside and look for it, you would find *maybe* a tiny sliver, most likely a spooky sort of ringy silhouette. I love the New Moon. I think most people don't even realize it's happening, but I always feel the moon, even if I don't see it.
The new moon is supposed to be a time of reflection. A rest from the business of life to pause, take a breath, and plan. Maybe to study up or prepare for something. It's a time to break bad cycles and begin new, better ones.
Hence why tonight, I decided to go and post all the things I had *intended* to blog this month so far. I know . . . it's cheating. But I figure the blogger folks wouldn't have given us the backpost feature if it weren't intended for procrastinators like me. Right?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Song of the Moment: Just Dance - Lady GaGa
Today is my dad's birthday. I called him and said, "Happy Birthday - I got you a new president." He said that was the best present he's ever gotten. *g*
I could go on a boring 'yeah, yeah, yeah' rant about everything about the last eight years that has sucked. Or I could write you something inspiring about how this day is the first in a long time that gives me hope, gives me some faith in my generation, and makes me proud to be an American.
But I won't. Instead, I want shine the spotlight on our country's unflappable ability to turn any event into an excuse to sell more useless stuff in the effort to cross-promote, because - hey! - this is America! The nation that brought you Super Bowl commercials, black-Friday, and cereal box toys. For Obama's first day in office, you won't want to miss your opportunity to get a book, cup, Chia pet, or commemorative plate to mark this day in history.
And don't forget . . .
Your official inauguration day Starbux cup insulator. It comes in a stylish, eco-friendly craft brown, with vibrant red and blue print, and boasts a moving quote from FDR, "The only thing to fear is fear itself . . ." to lift up your spirits as your triple skinny americana saturates your bloodstream.
I'm going to sell it on eBay, or whatever its equivalent is, in 50 years. After all, this is America, and though there may be change on the horizon, one thing you can always count on is ample opportunity to make a quick buck off of a faithfully practicing consumer. Heh.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Song of the Moment: Love Lockdown – Kanye West
Depending on what order you’re reading this in, you may or may not know that I have had a prayer answered in the form of my new critique partner. I haven’t been this ecstatically, frenetically involved in my current work in progress since I outlined it over New Year’s weekend 2007. Since then, I’ve been distracted by submission calls, diverted into a totally unrelated novel, and managed to bury myself in excuses to let the very first ‘book of my heart’ slide by the wayside. No longer!
I’ve set a very optimistic goal to have this one ready to start querying in Mid-to-end-February. And if it doesn’t happen, it will be entirely my own fault. Working with my new crit-partner, I’ve discovered what needs to be done, and plotted my course. Now we’re on to the execution. And, for the time being, I’m juiced! So, let this serve as excuse number one for why I haven’t tackled my goal to blog more this year.
And I know what you’re thinking . . .
See. Nothing slips by me.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
From the back cover:
Silver smoke winds around my torso, peeling away from my ribs and back, stealing the dark mist covering my hands and lower extremities…tattoos dissolving into demon flesh, coalescing into small dark bodies. My boys. The only friends I have in this world. Demons.
I am a demon hunter. I am a demon. I am Hunter Kiss.
By day, her tattoos are her armor. By night, they unwind from her body to take on forms of their own. Demons of the flesh, turned into flesh. This is the only family demon hunter Maxine Kiss has ever known. The only way to live—and the very way she’ll die. For one day, her demons will abandon her for her daughter to assure their own survival—leaving Maxine helpless against her enemies
But such is the way of Earth’s last protector—the only one standing between humanity and the demons breaking out from behind the prison veils. It is a life lacking in love, reveling in death, until one moment—and one man—changes everything...
Well, it's been quite some time since I read this one, so bear with me. Initially, the premise put forth in that first little blip was enough to snag me. And then, of course - hello? - cover awesomeness. Tattoos that become demons . . . sweet. Then there was the fact that I read Ms. Liu's novella 'Minotaur in Stone' in the Hotter Than Hell anthology and was severely impressed. And I'm hard to impress. So, on to the Iron Hunt.
Unlike a few other reviewers I've read, I haven't read the Dirk and Steel series, so I didn't really have any expectations other than for the writing to stand out as it did in the anthology. From that aspect, Ms. Liu does not disappoint. What can I say? I'm a sucker for good writing and she is simply masterful with prose in a way that galls me to the bone with envy. I simply get lost in her words, her imaginative metaphors and the way she can evoke images and emotions like she's plucking heart strings if you let her. This was one of those rare books where I did not skip a word - not a single one, because I had never, ever read anything like it. An example of what I'm talking about, from page 70:
The demon tilted his head, just so, and his body twisted, flowing like the skim of a shark through water. He danced when he moved; on the city street, wrapped in shadows: a kiss on the eyes, a devil's ballet, and only his feet moved, only his cloak had arms; and his hair, rising and flowing as though lost in a storm. I heard thunder, and when his toes sliced spirals in the concrete, I listened to the wind bury winter; and when I tasted his grace, his grace had no name; only, night became something else in his presence, as though darkness had a soul, here, swaying to heartbeats roaring.Add to this hypnotic prose a story rooted in deep ancient myth, with references that - I'll admit - made me feel under-educated, but left me no less captivated, as well as a crew of characters that were refreshingly UNIQUE and I was a gonner for the day and a half it took me to devour it.
As far as the story goes, it followed no conventions, and that in and of itself is what I value. Much of that is due to the characters. Maxine is a reluctant but tough hero, determined to get some happiness of her gritty life, which she already pretty much knows is scrapped. Her journey takes her into the past (literally) and into other dimensions, where she hits rock-bottom (again, literally) and finds out what she's really made of. Her boyfriend Grant is softspoken and gentle, with a fascinating gift, able to charm those unfortunate souls being fed upon by demon parasites and in some cases even rehabilitate them by playing his pipe. And the boys . . . well, let me just say that I wish I had some of my own. Even though they barely spoke, they were ever-present, and well-loved by the time the story was through. Even Maxine's mother and grandmother managed to capture my attention and curiosity, simply through memories. Not to mention a demon with blades for feet, who you're not sure is good or bad, but he makes the hair on your arm stand up either way; and an intriguing, reluctant immortal protector (with a backstory I simply must find out more about) who makes his first appearance by pushing Maxine in front of a bus. (I know - you'll just have read it to get what I'm saying.)
In the end, it was time and money well-spent. I admire Ms. Lui's ability as a writer and storyteller greatly, and I'll definitely be reading this one again, reading the sequel, and checking out her other books. Four bleeding hearts.
Monday, January 12, 2009
So when I was brainstorming for ways to try to keep my blog fresher, I thought I would try to limit myself to rants, because, really - who likes a whiner? But I'm not always a bowl of sunshine, and I figured at least once a week, I would allow myself a bitch post where I could regale some tiny snippet of my life that irked me. And I would name this series of posts exactly what I was thinking during that little snippet: Srsly. (Okay, in some cases it might be: Srsly?, but you get the point.)
Without further ado, here's #1:I work a full time job in downtown Seattle, but two days a week, I hop on a bus in the middle of the day and go to the UW campus at the North end of Lake Washington for class. Now, I'm not complaining. Not by a long shot. This is one of the highlights of my week. I get to break up the day, listen to my iPod on the way, and it's one of the few times a week I take myself out to lunch, because, well . . . the rest of the week I'm glued to my chair and computer screen.
So, there I am, sitting in tunnel, enjoying my custom-stuffed Chipotle burrito, foot-tapping to Pork and Beans and in my own little private 'world away from work'.
Now, when someone is wearing headphones, and making quite an effort not to pay attention to what's going on around them, you'd assume people would leave them alone, right? Apparently this rule does not apply in bus tunnels. Or to crazy people. I hate, repeat HATE, when people make you take your headphones off so they can ask you some inane question. But it happens. Every. Time.
This guy walks up and starts talking at me. And he's a bum. Seattle bum, mind you - wearing a newish Columbia Sportswear jacket and carrying a Venti from Starbux - but a bum none the less. He's dirty, he smells bad, and the bottom half of his considerable and hairy gut is hanging out from the underside of his shirt.
And he's talking at me.
I could ignore him, but for some reason, I just don't have it in me to be *that* rude. So I take out one headphone, and he says, "Can I have that to eat?"
I take out the other headphone and finish chewing before I sputter, "What?"
"Can I have that to eat?" he says again, smacking his lips.
I look down at the burrito in hand, suddenly less appetizing than it was before. But still, it's mine. I've gnawed on it. It has my cooties on it. And this fat, latte-carrying bum is asking for it right out of my hand? It's not like I was about to throw it away!
"Uh . . . I'm eating it," I say. I mean, c'mon - the guy didn't look hungry.
"I hate it when the forks and spoons are mixed," he says conversationally and sits down beside me. The smell, at this point, does in the rest of my appetite. The bus pulls up.
I surrendered the burrito, and hopped onto my getaway, thinking, "I wonder what he would do with a spork?" And watching the fat, happy bum nosh on my lunch, with his probably pilfered latte in the other hand. Whether he was really that crazy or not, I have to admit, his technique worked. I mean, who can say no to that?
Monday, January 5, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Well, it's that time again . . . the time when we reflect on what we've accomplished over the past 365 days and lay down some of our plans for the future. I'm all about accountability, so I'll share mine here, and take a page out of Thomma Lyn's book. Another good post on setting goals for the year can be found here (thanks Debbie!).
Also, if you're interested, I wrote an essay this year titled Building a Goal Pyramid. Which you may or may not find useful. No guarantees, no refunds. =P
Rather than list all the tiny steps I took this year in the general direction of my goals, I'll just list the five most valuable things I discovered and/or did, then move on to goals for 2009.
1. I wrote 1.9 novels, 3 novellas, 2 shorts and a mishmash of flash
for a total of a whopping 250K words. That's half of what I wrote in 2007,
but I think my quality (and the amount of sleep I got) increased
2. I met an amazing number of people who are just as obsessed with this
*cough*hobby*cough* as I am. I've been inspired, consoled, and had a whole
lotta fun. I feel so much less alone than I did at the start of all of
3. I ventured into the publishing world, queried, and entered contests
- some with positive results. I also earned (yes EARNED) my first few
rejections and learned that with practice (and lots of chocolate), getting back
on the horse after those devastating form letters *does* get easier.
4. I have amassed a huge amount of knowledge and resources on the craft
of writing, and on the publishing industry. There are still a great many
mysteries yet to be uncovered, but at least now I know what I'm aiming
for. Much better than diving in blind!
5. I achieved a level of balance I'm comfortable with between my
personal life, and my writing life. This was much harder than it
Now! . . . On to 2009. Armed with all the tools, weapons and knowledge I so greedily gathered this past year, I plan to:
1. Become more active in the writing organizations I belong to: attend
local meetings, network, enter contests, and *hopefully* go to my first writer's
2. Break 100 blog posts, including: > 20 book reviews;
> 10 essays; and > 10 flash/short reads.
3. Re-design my website and blog(s) and centralize them in one
4. Submit/query my first novel to at least 10 other spots. (Spots
meaning contests, agents, editors, etc.)
5. Submit my second novel to at least 10 spots.
6. Write 2 more novels. (I have about 5 ideas on the backburner,
and as soon as I finish revisions on novel #2, I will pick one. More info,
and inevitable whining, will follow along soon.)
7. Perpetuate the balance I've found between work, school, real life,
8. Find the perfect critique partner. I know you're out
there somewhere . . . I'm waiting for you! (Ad placement to follow.)
Well, there ya go. It's not a concrete goal, but I hope to be more present in the blogosphere too. I wish everyone a fantabulous year . . . on your marks, get set, GO!