Saturday, December 3, 2011

Where have I been?

That's a good question. Well in November I went to PhilCon, but that's not really what I'm talking about. I have been MIA from most online activities in the recent past. This post is to apologize for that. I haven't answered email in a week, and when I did answer it, I found a couple emails stuck in my spam folder that had been there over a month. I'm behind on my reviews and still haven't finished my PhilCon article. I was late posting this month's writing challenge on Fantasy-Faction and I haven't read my Twitter feed, except in bits and pieces, in 3 or 4 days. I also haven't talked to anyone directly in almost a month (posts on the forums don't count). For all of this I'm sorry.

Some of you may know that I haven't had the best year on record. My husband was laid off in May and is still looking for work, my father-in-law passed away suddenly in August, and my kids have been sick on and off since the beginning of November. Money is tight, stress levels in the house are high, and in the late fall I redeveloped insomnia that has been keeping me up until 2 and 3 in the morning almost every night. My husband and I have also been helping my mother-in-law get a house ready for sale, all this while I'm still trying to finish my second book and shop my first.

I've been trying to work on my book, write my articles, keep my house clean, keep my kids and husband from driving each other crazy, and not really succeeding at any of it. This week I decided I needed to stop the craziness and get my life back in some semblance of order. I spent the week cleaning, organizing, and trying to help reduce the stress levels in the house. My husband was able to get one of our friends to help him with fixing up the other house and now it looks like that will be finished this weekend.

As little things get ticked off my monstrous to-do list, I can feel tiny bits of stress seeping slowly away from me. It's going to take me a little while to catch up, but damn it, I am going to catch up!

This was not meant to be a pity party post or anything like that. But ignoring people while I tried to catch up with life is not the right way to go about this and I apologize for that. From now on if my life starts getting crazy, I'm going to let people know right away and hopefully that will head off some of the craziness.

On my to-do list today is answering emails and getting everything together for my PhilCon article. If I owe you an email and you haven't heard from me by tomorrow, please poke me on Twitter. I don't think I could get through this without all the awesome friends I've made online in the last year, and once again I'm sorry I kind of disappeared without explanation. I promise I won't do it again.

Thanks for everything guys. You're the best! :)

Fine Art Photograph by TheTwoMinds

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NY Comic Con!

My article on NY Comic Con is up now on Fantasy-Faction. The con was soooo much fun! But rather than rewrite the whole article here, I'll just touch on a couple things that I didn't have room for in my main article.

Day one was press/VIP night. I ended up going with my one of my younger twin brothers Tony and my buddy Vinny.

First I helped Tony do some filming for his video game blog Third Rate Minion. It turns out that I am a terrible cameraman and am not allowed to help in the future. :) Sorry guys! I really thought the camera was on.

When we were done, I headed over to the publishing section of the con floor and met up with fellow Fantasy-Factioner Mike Shackle. :) After we hung out for awhile I got to meet Peter Brett and Myke Cole who are fast becoming two of my favorite authors. :) I even got signed copies of both their books! Speaking of books, there were so many books!

It's a shame books are so heavy (and I don't have a lot of money) or I would have bought a ton more than I did. In case you didn't know that books were heavy, they are. By the end of the weekend I thought my shoulders were going to fall off! I might need a wheelie cart or something for next year. ;)

Day two was Friday, which was also the cheapest day to buy tickets to the con, so that's when my whole family decided they wanted to go. Our group ended up being all three of my younger brothers, my husband, my cousin Amber, my brother-in-law Dan, and once again, my buddy Vinny. Here is some of the group doing their best to thwart my efforts to get a picture of them.

My husband is the one hiding behind people's heads and Vinny is the one flipping me off. And with this picture you have a pretty good idea of what all of my family and friends are like. XD

Anyway, we did a lot of walking Saturday and saw a ton of cool costumes. We also got to meet the team behind Rooster Teeth who does Red vs. Blue among other things. Plus Amber got her brother an awesome tshirt. :)

Friday was also the day I went to my first panel and (as I've been posting about everywhere) I got to hear a reading from Peter Brett's unfinished novel Daylight War! You can watch the video in my article or on Fantasy-Faction's YouTube page. :)

Day three everyone wussed out and I ended up going on my own. (My husband has warned me to add that he would have gone if he had a ticket.) ;) Luckily I ended up hanging out with Mike Shackle for the afternoon and we went to two panels and a signing together. It was a blast!

You can check out more pictures of the con on my Flickr page. But I'll leave you with this last one, who was easily the coolest steampunk outfit I saw all weekend!

Have a great day! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

So this happened...

Can you guess where I was this weekend? Here's a hint:

If you guessed NY Comic Con then you win the prize! What is the prize you ask? Well, it's technically a surprise, but since you were all good enough to stop by I'll let you in on the secret. I think I told you I'm doing an article on the con for Fantasy-Faction. What you don't know is I got some amazing footage at one of the panels!

The Del Rey panel I went to on Friday was a lot of fun. We got to hear about all the cool new books coming out in the near future and heard from some of their authors.

One of the authors, Peter Brett (@PVBrett on Twitter), whom I had the pleasure of meeting the day before, decided last minute that he was going to do a reading from his yet to be completed novel Daylight War. And I got the reading on video! :D

I'll be posting it, along with a ton of pics when my article goes live later this week. I suppose that means I should probably get to work writing it. Right! To work with me!

Keep your eyes open, the article should go up later this week!

Happy Writing and Happy Reading! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Back Again

I can't believe it's been almost a whole month since I last posted. Well I have good news. I finally finished the review for Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) I was working on! Yeah I know it took forever, but it's not because I wasn't working on it. I just couldn't get it right for some reason. But rather than explain it twice, I'll let you read it for yourselves.

On a ship in the ocean, bound for a faraway place, in search of an ancient magical gateway, a group of adventurers fight off a band of evil pirates and encounter a creature too terrible to exist in our world or theirs. In the ensuing battle with said beasty, an ancient tome is stolen and our heroes go boldly off to reclaim it! Well maybe not boldly, but they do go.

Who are these adventurers you ask? Well our heroic group consists of Lenk a young swordsman and the leader of the group, Kataria the elf-like shict an expert archer and tracker, Asper a priestess of Talanas the Healer, Dreadaeleon the wizard, Denaos a thief, and rounding out the party is Gariath the dragonman.

This might sound to you like a typical sword and sorcery novel or possibly even the plot of a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot campaign; however, nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you’ll notice that this one has a different format then the others. In my normal reviews, I try to write a three to four paragraph summary of the plot, roughly equivalent to what I would expect to see on the back of the book, then move on to how I liked or disliked the story. But this book stumped me. I couldn’t do a straight summary of the plot. All the ones I started looked just like the first couple of paragraphs above and made the story sound dull and flat. For weeks, I would go back and retry, looking at different angles, using different formats, but nothing sounded as good as the story actually was.

I’m happy to say I’ve finally figured out why. The story in Tome of the Undergates is not unique. The setup, the main plot, and even the villains’ motivations, are what you would call standard fantasy fare. Trying to make it sound otherwise just didn’t work. So what is it about this book that sets it apart and makes it something I would fully recommend you read? It’s the voices.

Both the author’s prose and the characters themselves have, without a doubt, some of the most unique voices I’ve ever read. The prose of the story is in one breath comical and humorous and in the next deep and solemn. And where the story may seem to be a rather typical adventure it is really a journey of lost souls, seeking meaning in a world where none of them truly belong. The plot of this book is really just a steady current that carries our heroes through their turbulent lives; forcing them to either go with the flow or stand against it, choosing their own fates instead of letting them be decided by others. There are also a lot of pee jokes. Hey, I said it was unique.

Each character while being a very typical trope was also a real person (or creature), not just a cardboard cutout glued flat to the page. Lenk, the fighter, is a true adventurer following wherever his path takes him and haunted (literally) by a past that set him on that path. Kataria is what the rest of the world would call a savage, yet she follows Lenk, partly to discover what it is about humans that make them so hated by her people and partly for reasons she doesn’t understand. Asper is trying to be true to her faith even while doubts of its validity continually bombard her. Gariath is an enigma and probably the deepest character in the story, but I don’t want to spoil too much and I think you get the idea. By the end of the story, each character is a fully fleshed out person (or humanoid) with just enough of their personal story left untold that you want to keep reading after the book is finished.

So the characters are all troubled souls, clinging to each other for support, right? No actually, they hate each other. They fight constantly, verbally and physically. Most don’t care if the rest live or die, as long as the others’ deaths don’t affect them personally. The dialog between them is one of my favorite parts of the book. Their snarkiness reminds me of the days all my guy friends invade my house and verbally beat on one another while playing games over chips and highly caffeinated soda.

For me this book works on so many different levels, it’s just too hard to explain it without giving too much away. And now I’m sure I’m beginning to sound little fangirlish, so let me step back and tell you what I didn’t like about the book. I could tell even before I finished, that this story would not be for everyone. I do think the beginning was a bit slow, and if you don’t like the fact that the characters are constantly arguing then the first part might be hard to get through. I also didn’t like the fact that the point of view switched back and forth between characters without any warning. That made it a little hard to follow in a couple spots, but once you get the feel of the writing, it does get easier to keep track of whose point of view you’re in.

Okay, so what do I think overall? Well, overall, I think the book was excellent. It really had everything I look for in a fantasy novel: a good (if simple) story, excellent characters, funny dialog, great prose, and a lot more heart than you’d expect from a book with this many fart jokes. And I as soon as I can get my hands on the sequel I am definitely picking it up.

Sam Sykes’s Tome of the Undergates and its sequel Black Halo are available now. The third installment of The Aeons’ Gate series, The Skybound Sea, is still in the works. (There was a progress chart on his blog, but it was too complex for me to decipher.) ;)
For disclosure purposes, I won a copy of Tome of the Undergates from the author in a Twitter contest, but chose to review it on my own. Winning the book did not influence my opinion in this review.
I also finished editing my story, again. This time I really like how it came out. I fixed the part at the beginning that was bugging me and did a couple other tweaks that made a big difference. I still haven't started my synopsis, but it's been a bit crazed here lately. Mostly due to my husband still being out of work and the fact that NY Comic Con is rapidly approaching.

Did I tell you I was going to Comic Con yet? Well, I'm going to Comic Con, as press! I can't wait! This will be my first geek con. I went to a couple gift shows when I managed a candle/gift shop at the mall and went to a food show while I was going to school to be a chef. Never got to go as press before though, so it should be a blast! I'll do another post about this next week, when I have all the details set up.

Also lots of writerly things happening on Fantasy-Faction. We have a spooky forest short story contest going among other things. Check out my article about it here!

Right I think that's it for the moment. I'll try not to disappear for so long this time.

Happy Writing! And Happy Reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's a Monday

Not that you didn't know that already. And actually as Mondays go, today wasn't too bad. I just didn't have a lot of motivation, which would be why this post is going out so late in the day. Still I did get some things done around the house and I did remember I was supposed to do some blogging today, so not a complete waste of a day.

I've started getting responses back from the agents I've queried; all politely worded nos so far. The first one stung, but after that it got easier. I was rather surprised I got responses back this fast. Most of the agents I queried had two weeks as a minimum response time, but I got a few back the day I sent them. And even though they were nos, it was a pleasant surprise to hear back so quickly. I still have a bunch of queries out there and a bunch more to send when I finish my synopsis, so I'm not worried, yet.

As for my synopsis, I did start it, but it's slow going. I'm hoping to get it done by the end of the week. And the review I've been working on? Haven't gone back to it yet, but I want to write it up either tomorrow or Wednesday.

That's it for now. Happy Writing! :)

Fine Art Photograph by NomadicNotebook

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wonders Never Cease

Isn't this amazing? I'm posting twice in one week! Actually, the reason I'm updating is because I feel guilty. The last time I posted, which was Tuesday, I told you that I had two things to do and I was going to get them done. Bets on whether that happened or not? Come on give it a guess.

Well, for those of you who that guessed I shirked my duties, you are correct. I got lots of other things done around my house like cleaning, dishes, laundry, feeding the children, but every time I sat down to do anything that required a creative touch, my brain would just wander off. To be fair I was up at 6am every day this week because my children are evil, but since I set a goal and missed it I felt obligated to "fess up" as it were.

I did start working on the review, but it was coming out terrible and I don't want to write a half-assed review of a book I really liked. I didn't even start thinking about the synopsis. Okay that's not true. I did start thinking about it, but it kept glowering back at me like a giant pair of eyes inside a dark closet, so I would get scared and quickly move onto something else.

Then last night I decided that avoiding this stuff was just silly and I sat down to work. However, instead of working on the synopsis, I decided to ease into things a bit and send out another batch of queries and organize my list of agents so I wouldn't double send or accidently query two agents from the same agency. I also tweaked my query and did some other housekeeping stuff on my new computer (Windows Updates take forever!).

Now I feel much more accomplished and with that small boost of confidence, I think I can finally make an attempt at kicking the synopsis monster's butt. Any tips or advice? I asked my writing buddies on Fantasy-Faction who were kind enough to offer their advice, but more advice is always welcome. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monster Painting by daisypaint

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Hate Change...Most of the Time

Last week my computer died. It would crash randomly and then every time I had to restart or turn it off it would blue screen. So, Friday for the first time in seven years I got a new computer in the mail!

It's so shiny! It also came with Office 2007 and Windows 7. I'm not entirely pleased with this. While I'm sure I'll get used to it eventually, right now it's driving me crazy! Nothing works the way I think it should and I have to relearn everything again. I am, however, tickled pink by how fast it is! My last computer was made of three 5+ year old computers and had barely enough ram to load Facebook. This one makes the net fly!

In writing news, I know in one of the last posts I said I was going to start working on my synopsis, but do to computer explosions, hurricanes, and being sick all this weekend, I still haven't started yet. But today is the day!

My plan for today includes writing up my review for Sam Sykes's Tome of the Undergates (which was a lot of fun to read) and writing my synopsis. Two things, that's it. I think I can handle that.

Happy Writing!

Pillows by diffractionfiber

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Querying Game

Did I mention that I started sending out queries to agents? Well, I started sending out queries to agents. The first time I had to push the send button was nerve wrecking! But every time after that it got easier. I would have finished by now, but a couple of them wanted synopsises with the query and I don't have one yet. So, tonight's job is to write one. I did this once before but I looked at it today and I don't like it all, so I think I'm going to start over. With any luck writing a synopsis will not be nearly as hard as writing a query. Wish me luck!

Happy Writing! :)

Hand Embroidery Hoop by Moxiedoll

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Long Week

Last week my father-in-law died of a heart attack. It was sudden and shocking. He was only 61. The event shook up my entire family and made us all completely reevaluate what was really important. It also showed how awesome a support system I really have. Between my 'real life' friends and family and my online friends and family I felt like there was someone there the whole time keep me and my husband afloat. And I'd like to say right now, that even the short notes on twitter and the virtual hugs meant a lot to us and gave me something to smile about each time I came online. So thank you. :)

Last night was the first time in a week that I thought about writing. It was kind of scary during the week, when we were still trying to organize the funeral and come to terms with what happened, that I didn't want to write. It's not that I didn't feel like it, it was more like the story had completely vanished from my head and I couldn't care less that it had. Considering how important my writing has been to me, it kind of freaked me out. I was afraid I'd lost it all and would have to stop completely. But then last night my characters seemed to reawaken and start nudging me again. I didn't write last night, but I plan on doing it tonight, even if it's just a few hundred words. Even if it's just a sentence.

Suffering a loss can affect people in different ways. It made me numb. It took away everything that inspired me, or at least hid my inspiration where I couldn’t get at it. Now that my family and I have started the healing process, my inspiration is coming back slowly. I’ll always miss my father-in-law, he was a great man, a loving father (and father-in-law), and a fantastic grandfather. But, thanks to all the people that love and support us, I know we will get through this together. Thank you all again.


Original Watercolor on Paper by MazzyBlueStudios

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happiness is a New Book

I got two books in the mail over the last week! Two books that happened to be MUCH bigger than I expected! The first is Progeny: The Children of the White Lions, whose author, R.T. Kaelin (@AuthorRTkaelin on Twitter), was nice enough to send me a review copy and a cool bookmark to go with it.

The second is a signed copy of Tome of the Undergates I won in a Twitter contest from Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears on Twitter).

I'm kind of hoping Tome ends up being the next Fantasy-Faction book club read so I get a chance to read it sooner. It's currently winning by one vote, so I guess there's still hope!

In receiving these books I also made two important discoveries: A) I need to step up my reading quota quite a bit and B) I need a bigger book shelf! My current bookshelf is full, and I have boxes of books in the attic and under my bed. But none of them are as big as these. I may have to add a shelf over my computer in the near future, and this is a problem I am very happy to have.

Look for the reviews for both books in the (hopefully) near future!

Happy Reading! :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Catching Up

Well a bunch of stuff happened recently and of course I didn't post about it. But as part of my new plan to organize my life better, I'm going to start blogging once a week. I'm even writing it on my calender!

So what did you miss?

Well first of all, I finished reading and reviewing the ARC of Hard Spell that I won from Angry Robot Books. Good, fun read!

Stan Markowski is a detective in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Like many normal detectives he has a partner, drives an unmarked car, and carries a gun. A gun loaded with silver bullets blessed by a priest. Okay maybe that’s where the similarities end. You see, Detective Markowski works in the Occult Crime Unit. Not that such a thing is unusual these days. After all, the undead are people too. And werewolves and witches have the same rights as everyone else, it’s just their cases sometimes need to be handled a bit…differently.

When an ancient magical tome is stolen, different is just what the town of Scranton gets. A serial killer is on the loose! A serial killer who just happens to be offing vampires. Are the two crimes related? Could the thief possibly be trying to revive some great evil and end the world as we know it using the missing book?

The facts point to probably, but the supernatural community is scared, and the answers to Stan’s questions seem harder to find than a witch at Christmas mass. And while tracking vampire killers, demon summoners, possessed women, and radical cult members is in the job description, generally Stan isn’t called on to do all of them at once. But with the help of his new partner Karl and a shady-looking gentleman named Vollman, Stan attempts to unwind the mystery and stop the killer before he (or she) can accomplish their evil task. Hopefully without getting himself killed in the process.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis is the first book in the Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series. Its first person narrative follows Detective Stan Markowski as he and his partner Karl Renfer try to solve a series of gruesome murders.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book as I knew nothing about it until I received it in the mail (I won it in a contest done by the publisher, Angry Robot Books). The back blurb reminded me of the old cop series my sister and I used to watch on TV growing up and the story itself did not disappoint.

The setting for the story is an alternate version of present day. In the book’s altered history, supernatural elements from Europe (i.e. werewolves, vampires, and ghouls) were brought back to the States after World War II. While initially despised, supernaturals, or supes, were eventually granted equal rights with humans during the American Civil Rights movement. Now supes are everywhere, and just like humans some are law-abiding citizens and some are, well, less law-abiding.

Stan Markowski is the typical hard-boiled detective whose job is working on cases where either the suspect or the victim is a supe. He’s good at his job and bad at dealing with his family. He has skeletons in his closet, but is trying to do the right things in life. He’s not a super-genius but he is very streetwise and always knows when he’s in over his head, even if it’s too late to do anything about it. And in this world were goblins do meth and True Blood is a documentary, Stan is just trying to keep his town safe and do his best to keep his partner and himself alive one more night.

This was a really fun story to read. It wasn’t very deep and if you ever seriously watched cop shows on TV there won’t be a lot of surprises. But the whole concept of a world where you call 911 in case of emergency and 666 in case of a supernatural emergency is just cool in my mind. My favorite thing about this story is its flavor. Unlike some of the other urban fantasy I’ve read, this is a place where otherworldly things are no longer mystical and seeing a werewolf at the grocery store is something that most people take for granted. Overall it was an interesting take on the genre and fun read if you like cop/detective serials. And for myself, I will definitely be picking up book two!

Hard Spell is due out in the US on July 26th and is available now in the UK and in ebook format. The sequel, Evil Dark, will be available in April 2012.

For disclosure purposes, I won an ARC copy of Hard Spell from the publisher in a giveaway contest, but chose to review it on my own. Winning the book did not influence my opinion in this review.
What else? Oh!

I did a guest post on Amy Saunders' (@amy_saunders on Twitter) blog Amy & The Pen, about how writing changes the way you read. It was the first time I ever guest blogged for someone, and it was a lot of fun! You can see the blog post here. :)

Also there's a lot of stuff going on at Fantasy-Faction! There's a new writing challenge for July, which I may or may not have posted about already. This month's theme is freedom.

We have a bunch of entries so far. I'm still trying to decided what I want to write. I will probably end up rushing around on the last day trying to get something together again. I'm not very good at planning ahead (see the needing to get organized bit above).

There is also a new writing group on the forums called the 500 Word Club. Basically you pledge to write 500 words a day of your novel starting on August 1st. If you can keep it up for the whole year, then next summer you will have a completed your first draft! Here's the article our esteemed Overlord wrote up about it. And here is the thread where we will be egging each other on!

And last but not least, the site owner Marc Aplin (Overlord on Fantasy-Faction and @FantasyFaction on Twitter) has finally announced the soon to be implemented site overhaul! Lots of cool things coming including a podcast, YouTube site, and a Fantasy-Faction anthology! There are also two new members of the Fantasy-Faction staff: Paul Wiseall (@PaulWiseall on Twitter) who will be helping Marc run the site and create new content (such as the podcast) and myself (Autumn2May almost everywhere) who will be the new assistant-editor! We are all very excited about the new things to come and are very happy with how the website has grown in only the last 8 months. Hopefully it will continue to grow and we will be able to bring you even more awesome fantasy content!

Hmm...I thought there was one more thing...

Oh yeah! I won another book in a Twitter contest! I will soon be receiving Sam Sykes' (@SamSykesSwears on Twitter) Tome of the Undergates in the mail, which has been getting rave reviews on Fantasy-Faction! I can't wait to read it!

That's it for now. Promise I'll have another post up next week, which hopefully will include a review of Shadow Fox by Ashley Barnard (@wckdwriter on Twitter)!

Happy Writing! :)

Fine Art Print by irenesuchocki

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Review!

July is going to be the month of reviews it seems. And yes I know it's still June. I'm just getting a head start. Today I'm reviewing Kevin James Breaux's Soul Born. It's a very classic style fantasy story full of magic and swordplay.

Everything Opal had ever wanted was now within her grasp. After years of training under the High Council of Mages she had finally been given the opportunity to show her skills and to earn the respect of her teachers. She would help her paramour, Karn, defeat the invading warlord, Mustaffa, who threatened to destroy the entire kingdom.

But though Karn was a mighty warrior and wanted nothing more than to defeat the evil invader, he also knew something inside him was missing. The memories of his past seemed broken and twisted, as if they had been lived by someone else. And has he and Opal worked to bring down the rising darkness, Karn was sure that there was more evil afoot than just the enemy army. Someone else was pulling the strings and a deeper conflict set in motion years before was about to overtake them all.

* * * * * * * * * *

Soul Born by Kevin James Breaux is the first book in a three book series. It is a classic epic fantasy full of elves, wizards, and fairies. I actually won an ecopy of the book in a giveaway on Fantasy-Faction forums that Kevin was good enough to run a few weeks back. Kevin is also a Fantasy-Faction staff member and can be found on Twitter as @KevinBreaux.

I have to admit that the first thing that attracted me to this book was the awesome cover art, and I found as I began the story that the beautiful woman depicted was the main character Opal. Opal is a mage and one of my favorite things about this book is the way magic works and how it is depicted. Magic in this world is full of color and movement, with each type of spell represented by a different color. Magic is also very scarce and can only be performed by a select few.

The characters in this story are also unique, and even after getting three-quarters of the way through the book there is still more to learn about each one. The story itself twists and turns as it progresses, keeping you guessing as to who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil. At the end of this book there are still questions to be answered, making the reader wonder which way the story will continue in book two.

I think the story and perspective at times seems to jump around a bit, and I would have liked to know a little more about some of the side characters. I give Soul Born 3 stars, but only because I’m not a big fan of stories where the point of view switches back and forth a lot. If you don’t mind that type of story, then it’s probably more like a 3-1/2 to 4 star book. Overall, I think this was a good quick read and I would recommend this to those who like classic sword-and-sorcery style fantasy stories.

For disclosure purposes, I won a copy of Soul Born from the author in a giveaway contest, but chose to review it on my own. Winning the book did not influence my opinion in this review.
In other news I started shopping for an agent last night. Now to be fair, I'm not very good at shopping in general. And while the idea of having an agent and someday getting published is exciting, it's also very frightening!

So far I have a list of about ten people who represent the fantasy/scifi genre. The next step is to get my query/pitch setup for each person and send them out. I can honestly say that I haven't been this nervous/excited in a long time. Hopefully I'll be sending out my first batch of queries by the end of next week. If any of you have an suggestions or hints or warnings for me, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get!

Hope you all have a great 4th of July weekend, even those of you not in the US. Because technically it will be July 4th for you as well. ;)

Stay safe! And happy reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reviews and Writing

My review of The Last Unicorn is up on Fantasy-Faction! I LOVE this story. The prose Mr. Beagle uses is amazing. If you've never read it I highly suggest it! And rather than gush about it again, I'll just let you read the review.

In a forest that time wouldn’t touch was a creature who would live forever. A creature of immortal beauty and purity: a unicorn. She spent her days admiring her own loveliness and watching as the curious creatures in her forest went about their short and frantic lives. Time meant nothing to her, and the outside world was merely a dream inside the eternal spring of her forest. That was, until one day two hunters passed through searching for game, but found none. The first warned the second that they should hunt elsewhere, as this was the home of a unicorn. The second scoffed at his friend, saying there were no unicorns, they were myths that mothers told their children at bedtime, nothing more. But the first insisted that here, in this forest, was the last.

The unicorn had seen men before and listened to their stories as they traveled through her wood, but never before had she been called the last. Could it really be that she was alone in the world? That the rest of her people had disappeared from the earth? The conversation haunted her until she decided she must find out for herself. She needed to discover if she truly was the last.

She set out into the world alone, appearing to all who see her as nothing more than a beautiful white mare. But then her path is crossed by two people who know what she truly is. The first was Schmendrick, a bumbling magician trying desperately to come into his magical talents. The second is Molly Grue, a simple peasant woman who had been waiting to see a unicorn her whole life. Together the three travel over hills and valleys looking for the others where ever they may be.

Their journey takes them into the barren country of the wicked King Haggard, whose castle holds both a curse and a secret. Will they be able to learn the whereabouts of her people before they are discovered? Or will they succumb to the curse themselves?

* * * * * * * * * *

This is one of my favorite stories ever. It was the first fantasy book I ever read, though I had watched the movie many times before. The Last Unicorn is unique among the stories I’ve read, as the main character isn’t human or even humanoid, nor does she have a name until almost halfway through the book. But the thing that amazes me every time I read this book is the prose. The way Mr. Beagle puts words together is enchanting. The sentences flowing into paragraphs are as close to poetry as you can get without actually writing a poem. But the descriptions are not out of place nor too flowery either. They just feel right and add a touch of magic to even the mundane parts of the story.

The world that this book takes place in is our world, specifically Robin Hood’s Europe. But there is real magic here and real magical beasts. The people of the world believe in them, though these creatures are almost never seen anymore and are starting to fade into fairy tales. It seems as though this may be the last generation to treat the supernatural as truth rather than myth. That gives the story a very grounded feel and makes the disappearance of the unicorns that much more upsetting.

I had a hard time writing this review, as I love this story so much. While trying not to talk your ears off or go all fangirl on this book is tricky, not giving away the story is even harder. I would do a disservice to you if I mentioned some of my favorite parts or quoted the poem that cursed the king’s castle. So in favor of letting you discover this story on your own I will leave you with this. The Last Unicorn is a very unique dark fairy tale, the likes of which I think have yet to be written. If you enjoy fantasy, a good story, and beautiful prose, read this book. You will not be disappointed.

Also, if you have the means to watch the movie I would highly suggest it as well. The screenplay was written by Peter S. Beagle and follows very closely to the book. I would just add here, that even though it is a cartoon it is not for young children. There are some rather scary scenes and I would caution parents to watch it first and see whether their kids would mind the darker parts. I didn’t mind them, but I was a very odd child. Not that you couldn’t have guessed that part.
I started writing again last night, after a week off, and it felt great! I've figured out where my characters are headed and I can't wait to finish the scene I was working on.

Also my husband has two interviews next week, so hopefully one of them pans out and he can get back to working again! Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and I'll let you know how everything goes.

Have a great day everyone! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Books! :D

This has been a good book month! I have so far won three contests for free books! :D I won two ebooks from Lindsay Buroker (@GoblinWriter on Twitter): The Emperor’s Edge & Dark Currents! I won an ebook of Soul Born by Kevin James Breaux (@KevinBreaux on Twitter) in the Fantasy-Faction forums!

And also I won an ARC of Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis in an Angry Robot Books contest! Which is great because my husband stole my Kindle to read the Dresden Files.

My new shiny book!

On top of that, Ashley Barnard (@wckdwriter on Twitter) was kind enough to send me an ecopy of her book Shadow Fox to review!

I am a happy book monkey! Now I just have to find time to read and review them all. Looks like I'm going to have a very busy July! :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011


One of the best things I found about becoming a writer, is meeting other writers. Between Twitter and Fantasy-Faction, I have met some amazingly cool people! One of the people I've had the pleasure to get to know is Amy Rose Davis (@AmyJRoseDavis on Twitter). Amy is a self-published author currently working on the second novel in her series The Taurin Chronicles. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of her first book Ravenmarked and will be beta reading the second book Bloodbound!

Ravenmarked is a great story with some amazing characters and I can't wait to read the second installment in the series! Here is my review of Amy's book.

When Braedan, the heir regent of the kingdom of Taura, decides to declare himself king after his father’s death, he finds more than just a few upset nobles standing in the way of his plan. A true heir to the long-vacant throne has appeared; an heir whose coming has been prophesied to bring peace to the kingdom and to unite all its people once more. Luckily for her, the young woman Mairead slips through his fingers, escorted away by a hired sword named Conner.

But Conner is not what he appears to be. Under his rough exterior is man of earth and magic; a half-breed adopted by the forest tribes and born of the magical race known as the Brae Sidh. But he carries with him an even darker secret - Conner is Ravenmarked. Marked by the Morrag, the avenging spirit of earth, to kill those who she chooses should die. And as the spirit threatens to turn him into a weapon of untamed power, Conner fights to finish his mission to get Mairead away from not only the king, but also the growing powers of evil that pursue them both.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ravenmarked by Amy Rose Davis is the first book in the five-book series The Taurin Chronicles. The book follows a full cast of vivid characters each trying to make their own place in the quickly changing land of Taura. I was lucky enough to get a copy of this story from the author, who is also a staff member on Fantasy-Faction. You may know her as the author of our Writer Wednesday articles. This is the first full length novel she has published.

Going into this book I knew very little about the story, but became hooked in the very first chapter! Amy has created a unique world with an interesting magic system and great political intrigue all tied together by the prophesy of a coming queen. She has managed to create a compelling epic fantasy without using the standard tropes usually associated with one. And while there are no elves or dwarves, the supernatural creatures of her own design will make you want to find out more about this extraordinary new world.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the characters. Each one is deep and real. And whether you’re reading about the usurping king, the fleeing true heir or the roughish hired sword, you want each person to succeed even though some of their goals conflict with those of the other characters. I can always tell it’s a good story when I start rooting for the bad guy during his chapters and rooting for the good guy during theirs.

One of the only things I disliked about this story was the fact that it is (once again) book one of a series and when I got to the end, the story had not come to completion. There was also a good deal of romance in the book. Not that romance is a bad thing, and it did fit the story perfectly, but I’m not normally a romance reading type. However if you are anti-romance this book might not be a good fit for you. Aside from that I’d recommend this to anyone who likes epic fantasy.

The sequel, Bloodbonded, will be available in December 2011.

For disclosure purposes, I was given a copy of Ravenmarked by the author, but chose to review it on my own. Receiving the book as a gift did not influence my opinion in this review. I have also been given the opportunity to beta read Bloodbonded and will be reviewing the finished copy when it is completed later this year.
I would also suggest that you check out Amy's weekly Writer's Wednesday articles on Fantasy Faction. Here's a link to her latest in article: Story Structure: In the Beginning.

Have a great day everyone! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I almost forgot! In and amongst all the bad news I had a bit of good news! I won the April Writing Challenge on Fantasy Faction! :D The theme was spring inspired. The story also had to include themes of hope and warmth. The story I entered is actually based in the world I'm writing my books in, but is set hundreds of years earlier. You can see all the entries here. And here's the piece I entered.

Mela stood on the edge of the massive plateau staring out at the dark horizon. The ground far below appeared flat and even, but the sound of breaking waves in the distance broke the illusion. The sun would rise soon over the water and send its golden light into world once again. And Mela would be there to see it. Mela had to see it.

The cold wind whipped past her into the ancient forest at her back. The first birds were already awake and gracing the trees with their sweet songs. Mela heard something scurry into a bush at her side, but she didn’t turn to investigate. The sky fey, Sunil, had told her to watch as he left and to continue watching until the first rays of sun breached the surface of the ocean. Mela had been standing rooted to her spot for hours, determined to finish the last wish of her former master.

Another gust of wind blew up from the Flatlands brushing a tear from her eye and tossing her dark hair about her shoulders. The wind didn’t seem to care that the fey were gone. Neither did the forest or the birds. Mela brushed the cold tear from her cheek and added a ragged sigh to the twisting breeze.

“No one cares,” Mela said still staring at the horizon, “that’s why they left. People think they have no use for essence magic; they’d rather rely on technology to save them. But wild, untended magic is a dangerous thing, and the only beings who knew its secrets have finally abandoned humanity. We are lost, and yet the wind continues to blow and the birds continue to sing, as if nothing has changed; as if we can carry on without them.”

Sunil hadn’t told Mela why she must watch the sunrise. He hadn’t told her where the fey were going or what she was to do now that they’d left. Part of her hoped the sun’s light would cut through her body like Sunil’s last words had done. That the first light of spring would be the last she’d ever see, and that her spirit would stay forever watching the horizon and waiting for the fey to return.

The thought sent a shiver down her spine. Mela shifted her feet and felt the frost covered grass crunch under her boots. It was cold and her mind’s wanderings weren’t helping her repel the icy air. She rubbed her arms to warm herself, but the wind bit through her shirt as if trying to thwart her efforts.

The sky was starting to lighten and Mela could just make out the waves of the sea crashing against the sandy shore. She had thought that she would be too far off to smell the salt air, but even at this great distance she could hear the rhythmic crashing of the waves and the smell of the ocean drifting up the side of the plateau, giving the forest an otherworldly feel. It seemed the lighter the sky became the more clearly she could sense the ocean. The sounds and smells of the sea mixed with the deep earthy tones of the forest were tossed together by the ever present breeze. Mela had the urge to close her eyes and take in the sensations without the distraction of the view. But Sunil had given her an order and she could not tarnish his memory by disobeying him. So she waited; for the sun, for spring, and to complete her final task.

“How can I go on without my master? Without the essence?” Mela thought, as another tear rolled down her cheek. “My whole life was learning the balance and understanding the ways of magic and the fey and how to use it to help my people. Now I have nothing. Nothing but the sunrise and the wind.”

As if in answer, the wind blew straight up from the cliff face, startling Mela from her thoughts. She almost looked down to see where the wind had come from, but stopped herself just in time.

“You won’t distract me from my task,” Mela said to the breeze. “You are a trickster, but I won’t be fooled by you. The essence of the wind has no power over me. Go bother someone else!”

One last gust of wind blew past Mela into the woods and then the breeze fell silent. The whole world suddenly seemed tense as if the forest itself was holding its breath. Then a small bit of the horizon sprung to life and the golden rays of spring’s first sun leapt up from the sea into the sky. The light was blinding and Mela had to concentrate to keep from blinking. She took a single step forward and recited the verse Sunil had taught her.

“The sun has risen from the depths and touched the sea and sky. And with this I give one last breath and bid the fey goodbye. We stand alone to keep the day and push away the night. Grant us one last boon oh sun and bless us with your light.”

With that Mela closed her eyes, letting the warmth of the sun cover her face and chase all traces of winter from the air around her. She realized quickly that the warmth she was feeling was far greater than it should have been. And that the heat seemed to be coming not from the sun before her but from inside her very being! She opened her eyes and saw the world covered in the glow of magic; essence floating out of the forest and into the sky before her carried by the playful breeze. Sunil had not abandoned her completely; he’d given her a parting gift. He’d given her the gift of magic!

Mela took one last look at the rising sun, and then collapsed to her knees with a great sigh of relief. She would continue in her master’s footsteps and would save her people from the world and themselves. She again had a purpose, a link to the essence, and more importantly she again had hope. Smiling Mela picked up a dried leaf and let the wind carry it from her hand, watching as the blue-green essence magic blew it off into the distance, over Flatlands and into the sea beyond.
There were some really great entries in April, so I was happily surprised that I won. I'm thinking of entering this month's contest as well. This month's theme is storms! You can check out the specifics here if you're interested in entering. This months contest runs till June 30th. All you need to enter is a Fantasy-Faction account, and if you don't have one, it's free to sign up!

Well that's it for now! I'll try to remember to be back soon! ;)

Have a great day! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rollercoaster of Life

There have been quite a few ups and downs for my family of late. The biggest down being my husband lost his job. Luckily at the moment he has a few leads and hopefully he'll be back to work soon. But having him around all day has thrown the household completely for a loop! Not only have I not been blogging much, but I haven't had time to write much either. I was really hoping to finish my second book by now, but it looks like that's not going to happen till next month at the earliest.

The one thing I have had a lot of time to do is think and plan. I now know where this story is going and have a good idea of how to end it. I've also plotted out the next two or three scenes. All I have to do now is write them down.

So here's hoping you’re all doing well and that the next part of this rollercoaster is an up part. :)

Rollercoaster Fine Art Print by janeheller

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spotty At Best

The title of this post can describe both my blogging habits of late and the progress of one of the main reasons I haven't had time to post. And that reason is: I'm in the process of potty training twin boys. There, I hope reading that has made you a little happier about your own life.

Seriously though, I have been writing. Not as much as I would like, but the story is coming along. I've also been doing a lot of mental planning, since I'm away from my computer more than I normally am. I think I've got the end of the story figured out scene wise. Now I just have to get from where I am now to the end of the book. Piece of cake! (She says sarcastically.)

I think if I can just get through the scene I'm working on now, the rest of the story will follow. But this scene is kicking my butt and I don't know why! As I said on Twitter, it's like pulling teeth to get the words out for this one. Maybe I'm just too distracted with the kids? I don't know. But I'm not going to let this one scene sidetrack my whole story. I will finish this book! Just wish me luck okay?

Stuffed Animal Twin Monkeys by SewnNatural

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good Writing Night

I had to scrap a whole chapter towards the beginning of the book I'm working on. It killed me to have to do it. It was a long scene that added an important bit of plot, but it was flat and didn't really add anything else to the story.

I tried to rewrite it twice but nothing helped. I finally gave up and resigned myself to a complete rewrite. It took me two weeks to get up the guts to cut it, then another week to start writing. But once I started, the scene just flowed. It was like magic! Then I had my beta reader (my husband) take a look to see what he thought.

"I don't know if I like it," he said.

I was crushed. "What do you mean you don't like it? Is something wrong with it? Did you really like the old scene better?"

"No, it's a really good scene. I just feel bad for the character. It's funny when you pick on the comic relief guy, but picking on her, it's sad. It's just not fair. She's had such a crappy time and this just makes me feel bad for her."

"Thank you honey, that's exactly what I was going for!"

Yay! *little happy dance* I love it when a scene comes together! The only regret I have now is not writing it sooner.

Have you ever had a scene or even a paragraph just flow through your fingers onto the page? It is the best feeling ever!

Origami Lotus Flower Decoration by fishandlotus

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I haven't gotten to post in a while. My kids, husband, and I were all sick last week, which means I spent all my 'free time' cuddled on the couch watching children's programming with upset little ones. However I did manage to make time to send in a query to Angry Robot just in time for their open submission month!

I think I did a good job with the query, even though it was completely different format then most of the places I'd been reading about. Of course I ended up sending it from the wrong email address, but hopefully that won't confuse the issue too much.

Anyway, now that I've gotten up the nerve to submit to an actual publisher, I thought I might send my story out to a couple more. Not sure who yet, but I'm looking into it. Looking around at places is also helping me keep my mind off the fact that I probably won't hear back from anyone for six months. Waiting is not my strong suit, but I guess now is as good a time as any to learn to be patient.

I also posted another book review in my reviews section. This time I reviewed The Fire Roseby Mercedes Lackey.

Rosalind Hawkins was born in the wrong era. Before women were allowed to vote, even before electricity had reached all areas of the country, Rose was working towards acquiring her Ph.D. in medieval and ancient languages. While most women were reading Jane Austin and The Bronte sisters, Rose was reading The Odyssey in its original Greek! Rose cared little for what others thought of her. She would make her own way and not have to rely on her father’s money or some man to leave her mark on the world.

Rose’s plans ran smoothly even when a failed business venture placed her and her father under crushing debt. But, Rose could make do without the fancier things in life. She could walk to school instead of taking a cab and make her clothes instead of buying them from boutiques. Having to skimp a little here and there would not interfere with her dreams. However, when her father dies and the debt collectors force Rose on to the street, it seems fate as different ideas about where her future is headed.

That’s when she receives a mysterious letter. A rich rail baron on the west coast is seeking Rose’s services as a governess and tutor for his two children. And if that weren’t odd enough, the job description matches her qualifications exactly! Rose isn’t sure why two young children would need to learn ancient Latin or medieval French, but she accepts the job anyway, and makes her way from her home city of Chicago to the huge manor of her new employer an hour outside of the growing city of San Francisco.

But her employer, Jason Cameron, is not entirely honest with Rose, and instead of a job teaching children she instead finds herself translating obscure text on alchemy and magic for a man that she has yet to lay eyes on. And massive house seems to be empty, save her and Mr. Cameron’s assistant. Servants anticipate her every need and whim, but work in complete silence and are never seen or heard. However, the love of her work keeps Rose going without questioning, until she decides to read one of Mr. Cameron’s ‘magic’ books cover to cover on her own time. Her scientific mind suddenly brims with questions. Could magic be real? Could it be that her benevolent employer is really a wizard? And if that’s true, why does he need someone to translate texts for him? And what does he really want with Rose?

* * * * *

The Fire Rose is the first book by Mercedes Lackey in the “Elemental Masters” series. This series takes place at the turn of the 20th century. Each book in the series is a retelling of a classic fairy tale; The Fire Rose being Beauty and the Beast. The world it’s set in is pretty much historically accurate, except for the existence of magic. But magic and its masters are hidden from the world and most people go their whole lives without ever knowing that the unknown is all around them. In this alternate universe, for example, the general populous is blissfully unaware that the Great Chicago Fire was caused by two warring Fire Masters rather than Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.

The magic system in the story is based on the four elements: earth, fire, wind, and water. Every person has all four elements balanced in themselves. Only people whose balance is off, and leaning towards only one element can cast spells and talk with the spirits of their given element.

In The Fire Rose, Jason Cameron is a Fire Master and his ‘invisible’ servants are actually mythical salamanders, beasts of fire and magic. And if you haven’t guessed by now (from the cover of the book if nothing else), the reason Jason does not initially speak with Rose face to face is that he has accidentally turned himself into a beast and now needs someone to help find a way to change him back.

As a kid I was a huge fairy tale buff and to this day Beauty and the Beast is still my favorite fairy tale and one of my favorite stories of all time. So was this a good retelling of the story? After thinking about it for a week or so, I would have to say yes. I like the way the author made Rose a strong character before she even met Jason, rather than being a poor maiden in need of true love. I like the way magic works in the world and I like the way they fit major historical events into the story. Even the twist that he turned himself into a beast, instead of being cursed by an outside force, makes the story that much more interesting.

That being said, I was not thrilled with the ending. It made sense and it fit with the rest of the story, but it seemed rushed almost as if the author had a deadline or page requirement they needed to meet. And while the magic system is interesting, the book spends a lot of time explaining how it works, which can get a little tedious if you just want to get back to the plot. I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I have it on good authority that the books following this are much better, as the world is already fleshed out and the magic system doesn’t need to be explained a second time.

Overall I think the world and the characters were interesting and it was a nice easy read. But if you’re not into fairy tales or you like more gritty fantasy stories, you probably won’t be interested in this book. I, however, am going to dig up the next book and see if my family was right about the series getting better with each story. Plus, Snow White is the next retelling and I’m curious to see if the author keeps the seven dwarves in the story or not.
Need to finish another one today and then decide what to review next. I also have to finish the scene that I left hanging before the kids got sick. I don't want to fall out of the habit of writing every day or I'll lose my rhythm!

Happy writing everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cause I Don't Have Enough To Do

The creator of Fantasy-Faction, the fantasy book lovers' website I've been writing articles for, has just made me one of the new mods for the forums! So now I can abuse my power...I mean help people with their problems. ;D

Speaking of Fantasy-Faction I just sent in my next review and will be working on a third this weekend. It would have been sooner, but my kids picked this week to be sick.

The review I just sent in was of Storm Front by Jim Butcher. I did a review of the story itself and a short comparison between it and the first book of his other series Furies of Calderon.

Chicago’s mean streets are probably the last place you’d think to look for a fully certified, practicing wizard, but that’s exactly where Harry Dresden decided to set up shop. You’d think being the only wizard listed in the windy city’s telephone directory would make him a pretty popular guy. It turns out, however, that when most people see Wizard listed they tend to think he is the kind that pulls rabbits out of hats, not the kind that solves cases using true magic.

So, with the rent on his office and his apartment both a month overdo, Harry is surprised to get two clients on the very same day! The first a woman named Monica searching for her missing husband, the second Lieutenant Murphy of the Chicago police department needing his ‘special’ expertise in the case of a double homicide. The first case seems to fizzle out soon after he starts the investigation, but the second drags him deeper into Chicago’s criminal underbelly then he’d ever wanted to go. Mafia, supernatural creatures, powerful spells, and magical cults stand between him and the answers he seeks. Can Dresden find the murderer before they kill another victim? And can he do it without getting himself killed in the process? Or will the gathering storm spell the end of Chicago’s only practicing wizard?

* * * * *

Storm Front by Jim Butcher is the first in The Dresden Files series, but even as a standalone book it’s a great read. The story is a typical noir detective novel, but the addition of magic gives it an added level of interest. I think the thing I liked about it most was that the magic made total sense in the setting, which seems weird even when I think about it now. You would imagine, for example, that if a wizard ran a detective agency he would have an unfair advantage over his competition and do very well for himself. But just like technology sometimes makes things harder than they should be (like when my computer crashed halfway through me typing up this review, requiring me to start all over again), magic can be a useful tool but it doesn’t solve all of your problems, and sometimes it can even make things worse.

Harry Dresden isn’t a successful, respected member of society, using his magic to solve the world’s problems, he’s a poor, frustrated private detective struggling to get enough money to pay his rent and buy himself (and his cat) food. And that is exactly why this book is so good. Harry Dresden is the perfect guy to root for. He is honest, chivalrous, hardworking, and he still gets dumped on throughout the entire story. You want him to succeed, you want him to find the killer and escape whatever predicament he has gotten himself into this time. His easy to relate to, snarky personality makes him one of my new favorite characters and I will definitely be reading more of this series.

You might remember I reviewed Furies of Calderon, the first book of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera, last month. There has been a lot of talk in the forums about which series is better. Well after reading the first book of each series right after each other, I’d like to give you my thoughts on the discussion. I gave Furies of Calderon 4 out of 5 stars, which is exactly what I’m giving Storm Front, but for completely different reasons.

Storm Front was a great book with an awesome main character and a good plot. But the side characters aren’t quite as interesting as the supporting cast in Furies. And I will admit here, I’m not as big a fan of urban fantasy as I am of traditional fantasy. If you are an urban fantasy fan, or a noir mystery fan for that matter, I think Storm Front approaches five-star status rather quickly. I also think that Butcher is more comfortable writing in the modern setting and because of that the story in Storm Front seemed to flow a bit better then in Furies.

In the end the biggest difference between the two, is a flavor difference. If you like your fantasy epic with fantastic landscapes and great battles then try out The Codex Alera series. If you like an urban, gritty fantasy with intrigue and mysterious goings on, then definitely try out Storm Front and the Dresden Files. But whichever way you lean, I would suggest at least reading the first book of each series. Because both are great stories with great characters, and really that’s what awesome books are made of.
The next book I'm reviewing is The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey. I'll let you know when they all get posted. :)

Last night instead of working on my story, which was what I really wanted to be doing, I worked on my query for the Angry Robot Open Door Month. Which is this month. Which I knew about since the beginning of the month. Which is almost over.

Yes, I know I should have started it earlier, and I know I'm going to be rushing to get it done. But the prospect of having to essentially write a book report for my own book was daunting at best and down right scary at worst. I have so far gotten the easy parts done. I've written my name at the top of the paper and attached the first five chapters as they've requested, but just like with the pitch I did for the Amazon contest, summing up an almost 100K word book I just finished writing is proving to be incredibly difficult!

This time, thankfully, the publisher wants a two page summary instead of a 250 word pitch. That makes it a little less stressful, and gives me more space to breathe, but it doesn't seem to be adding to the easy of the writing. I can see why some people spend just as long on their pitches and queries as they did writing their stories in the first place!

I do have one question about this particular query. I think normally your query is your email to the publisher or agent. In this case, they want the whole thing to be an attached document. So if you were me, what would you say in the email the attachment is attached to?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Actually I have two blogs, so you'd think I would remember to update this one more often. Oh well. Anyway, you'll be proud to know that I went back and re-read my last post before writing this one, so there is a slight chance I won't be repeating myself. Wonders never cease!

I finished my latest edit/readthrough of both books. The first book went well, the only thing of import that I realized is that I have yet to name the world or the kingdom that my story takes place in. It just never came up!

The second book, which is now about half finished is another story (Haha story! Writing joke...sorry I'm in a mood). I found a whole scene that needs to be completely rewritten. And it's a scene at the beginning of the book so I have to make sure the status quo remains the same when the scene is over, even though I need to sort of change the tone and the direction of the whole section. Yuck!

I'm also working with my brother Tony on the book covers for all three books. He's a graphic artist/illustrator and actually designed the logo for my Autumn2May blog and my 2/tree avatar. It's fun so far, though I think I might be driving him a bit crazy with it. All's fair though, he drove my crazy till I got married and moved out of my parents house.

I'm also going to be working on two more reviews for Fantasy-Faction. I think I know what books, but I'll let you know when I'm 100% sure about it.

That's it for now I guess. Have a great day!

Hand Stamped Necklace by KristyLynnJewelry

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My First Review!

Once again I have come to this input screen without re-reading my previous posts. Apparently I have no long or short term memory to speak of. Anyway, if I mentioned this before, just pretend you didn't hear it yet.

I belong to a fantasy website called Fantasy-Faction. They have an awesome forum and do article and book reviews on all things fantasy. At the beginning of February the man in charge put out a call for people to write up reviews and articles for the site, so he didn't have to do all of it himself. I was one of the people lucky enough to get picked! So now, once a month or so, I'll be writing a book review for the site. And my first review just went live today! I reviewed Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher.

A single grain of sand can tip the scale. A single beat of a butterfly’s wings can add just enough wind to create a tempest. And the single action of one boy can change the fate of his homeland forever. Of course, that’s not what Tavi was thinking about when he shirked off his responsibilities for the evening to collect flowers at the request of the most beautiful girl in Bernardholt. But even as the ‘yes’ left his lips, the wheels of fate were already turning, propelling him forward towards a greater adventure then he could ever have imagined.

Tavi’s grandest hope for his future was simply to attend The Academy and make something of himself using his brains and wits. No one in Calderon Valley thought he would ever amount to anything. He was fifteen years old and still had no furies of his own. His aunt had a water fury and his uncle had both a wood and an earth fury. Even their simpleton slave Fade had a metal fury and some capacity to use it. But he would show them he could do great things even without an elemental fury helping him, if only he was given the chance.

However, there are consequences for every action, and his uncle’s anger for this one irresponsible act could ruin Tavi’s chances of ever leaving the valley. But how could Tavi have known the trouble that finding the sheep the next day would cause? How could he have known the great plans he was about to disrupt and the powerful eyes that would soon be focusing in on only him?

No one was supposed to be that deep in the pine hallows that day. No one was supposed to see the single Marat warrior that had crossed through the pass into the valley. And no one should have been able to escape him even if they had. However, as Tavi was about to learn, the simplest choices can have far reaching effects, and even a simple ‘yes’ can change history.

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This was an interesting book. The plot, while not complicated, was good and the world was typical high fantasy, with just enough uniqueness to make it interesting. But the thing that made this story so hard to put down was the characters. Each person, no matter how small their roll seemed at first, had a greater purpose and their own unique challenges to overcome. They struggled through their normal lives, then when trouble came they faced danger and hardship as best they could, striving to rise above the everyday and reach their goals no matter the odds. And while most stories focus on some highly talented or gifted person destined to bring about great change in their world, the main character in this story was just the opposite.

Not only was Tavi young and inexperienced, he was also the only person in remembered history to not have an elemental fury companion. He was, as far as everyone around him was concerned, completely helpless, someone to be pitied and protected. Definitely not the type of person who normally sets off on a quest to save his homeland, or at least not the type that does so and returns to tell the tale. But it’s always more fun to root for the underdog. While he doesn’t possess the same gifts as everyone else, he still shows time and time again how a little courage and some thinking on your feet can make up for a lot in life. And unlike other books where the main character starts off magicless then awakens during story, Tavi stays furyless for the whole book. That somehow makes him even more appealing as a main character, because it’s easier to relate to him and makes his triumphs that much more triumphant!

The magic system in the story is also very interesting. It consists of spirits called furies, elemental beings of earth, fire, water, air, wood, and metal. They can affect objects of their specific element, giving the owners of air furies the ability of flight or the owners of earth furies the abilities to shape and move stone. Everyone at some point in their early teens or younger becomes bonded with at least one of these other-worldly creatures. Well, every human does anyway. The warrior tribes of the Marat that live just outside the Calderon valley do not have furies. They instead have animal totems, great beasts that they commune and speak with as brothers and sisters. They are not really human, and as such are treated like wild savages by the people of the valley, who drove them out just over fifteen years before the story begins. It is this tension between the Marat and the humans that threatens to erupt the entire valley into war.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, mostly because of the wonderful characters and how easy it was to keep reading about them. They could grab you enough to keep reading in just a few short sentences and not let you go again for chapters and chapters. But by the end of the story it still had not reached 5 star status, simply because not a lot happened in this book. Sure it was 500+ pages long and I would have kept reading past that if it had been longer. And there was plenty going on, lots of danger and intrigue, but the plot portion of the book was very short and you get to the end of the book with a lot of, well, loose ends left. Now granted, this is the first in a series and I am definitely going to read the rest of it, but as a stand-alone book it’s just a little light on plot. But I think if you like character-driven stories and high fantasy; this would be a good book to try. I also have it on good authority that the next few books in the series are just as good, if not better then the first, but that’s a story for another day.

I'm not sure what I'm going to review next, but I'll let you know when I've decided. You can see my review on Fantasy-Faction here. There are also a bunch of other amazingly cool articles on the site, and I suggest you check them out!

In other news, I didn't make it to the second round in the Amazon contest. I was bummed at first, but I'm cool with it now. There were so many other amazing entries with ridiculously good pitches that I'm not really surprised I didn't make it. And since all they looked at was my pitch it didn't really upset me as much as if they had rejected my actual story.

Since I'm now on my own again as it were, I've started re-editing my first book. I just can't seem to leave well enough alone. I have ulterior motives this time though. I wanted to re-read it to get back into the flow of writing and even out my prose a bit (still too many adverbs).

And I still don't know how the whole story ends, but I have decided to keep the two books separate for the moment. I only split them originally because of the word limit in the contest, but I really do like the way the first book ends and the way the second book begins. So unless the story ends much sooner then I think it will, I'm going to keep them separate. The way it's looking at the moment I'm going to be running this story into a third book anyway.

That's my life at present. I have to make a decision in the near future as to what exactly I'm doing with these books when they're done. Self-publish? Submit some queries? I have no idea. Any of my readers out there have any experience and/or suggestions on the matter? All help would by much appreciated!

Have a great day! :)

Monday, February 21, 2011


Everything was going too well, I should have know better. I almost had a mini heart attack over the weekend, when my computer crashed and wouldn't come back to life! Luckily it was my motherboard and NOT my hard-drive with all my writing on it that died. Also luckily, my husband and I were able to craft me a working computer out of three dead ones and now I am back in business! Well, except for loading everything from my old computer and reinstalling all my programs and fixing all my settings. But that shouldn't take longer then an eternity to do.

The experience did get me to realize I need to back up my work onto our external hard-drive more often. And thankfully it was a lesson that I didn't need to learn the hard way. Alright, back to installing.

Have a great day! :)

Fine Art Print by fosterbk

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello again! Remember me?

Okay, so I'm not very good at blogging regularly. I've been busy, but I guess you figured that out. Hmm...I guess when I'm gone this long without posting it's best to read my last post so I remember what I was talking about last time. Be right back!
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I'm back! Wow it's been three weeks since I posted last? And you are all still following me? Thanks! I promise I'll try to post more from now on.

Anyway, since we last met, our hero (me) had just finished editing her first book and submitting it to a contest. I probably told you this already, but I ended up splitting my book into two novels. The first book is done and I am now working on the second. I had thought that the second book was about 1/3 of the way done. Hahaha! Apparently I was mistaken!

I finished editing it and then broke it into chapters that were about the same length as the chapters in the first book. My first book ended up with 19 chapters and a word count of about 98K. My second book currently stands at 7 complete chapters and 44K words. So if I want the two books to be about the same length, then I'm actually about halfway done. But the story isn't!

I had no intention for this story to be two books long and I certainly had no intention for this story to be three books long! Well that and I don't think I have three books worth of story. It's more like 2-1/3 books worth, 2-1/2 at most. Now I was planning on doing a third book, but it would be about what happens after this story is over and also cover some backstory on one of the main characters.

I'm not sure how this story got away from me, but it seems to have a mind of its own. I feel like I'm stuck in Zeno's paradox. No matter how close I am to the end, I just can't seem to get all the way there! Does this happen a lot? Because I'd really like to finish this story sometime in the near future and it is just not cooperating with me. And I thought my characters were troublemakers...

Story Time Fine Art Print by elr104

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Well That Would Have Been Nice To Know...

If read my last post you'll know that I stayed up till ungodly hours of the morning formatting and editing my story so I could enter it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I was and am very happy I got it done on time. However, it turns out that after you submitted your work you can still edit your document until the contest submission period closes. So really, I didn't have to rush like a crazy person to get it done. I had two more weeks to play with it once it was entered.


Oh well, if I had waited and given myself more time then the contest would probably have filled up then I would have been really annoyed!

The nice part about this realization was since I was able to go back and edit it, I was able to do one last leisurely readthrough. Now I thought I'd taken out a lot of adverbs and unnecessary words during the first edit, but apparently not. My husband has jokingly dubbed me the Queen of Adverbs and Monarch of Commas. I think I reduced my document by over 100 words just be removing slightlys and quietlys!

I am now REALLY glad I got to do one last edit as I'm sure this story would NOT have made it past the second cut with all those adverbs! And now that I know I add them too often, I can be more careful when I'm working on the second book.

I read an article someone posted on Twitter, which I unfortunately didn't save, about how every author has one thing they repeat in their writing that they shouldn't. The article's author's problem was repeating lists of three things, like "It was old, gold, and cold." I now know that no matter how good it sounds in my head, adding slightly to almost every verb is NOT the way to go.

Do you have a quirk that you've noticed in your writing that you usually end up cutting out come editing time? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great day! :)

Comma Print by papergangsterprints