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!