Monday, April 27, 2009

Quick and Dirty

Update time!

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

Review: Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh

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…

Author: Nalini Singh (Website, Blog)
Cover Awesomeness: Darren Hopes, George Long, Ron Zinn
Publisher: Berkley
Imprint: Sensation
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 978-0-425-22692-6

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.

Final Grade:

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Joys of Manuscript Revision, or, All Good Writing was Written More Than Once

funny pictures of cats with captions

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:

All good writing was written more than once.

Consider this post a warning for the forthcoming whining.Photobucket

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Review Schedule

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

The Sun Found Seattle!

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!