Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight

Book Review:  Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor

To say I read a lot of books would be an understatement.  And as much as I love to read and be transported to distant worlds and immersed in another's story, it's not often I find myself physically moved by a book.

As in elevated heart-rate and rapid breathing, until I had to put my Kindle down and physically walk away because I couldn't handle the suspense.

Laini Taylor is an incredible storyteller.  Not only does she create these amazing characters that she then makes me care deeply about, (and not just the hero/heroine, but 90% of the auxiliary characters as well) but she takes the reader on a wild ride that will leave you gasping and so sad when it's over but so enriched for the experience.

One thing I love about Ms. Taylor is she understands the importance of unique voices for each character.  Karou, the heroine, has a distinct voice and thought pattern.  Her best friend Zuzanna is her polar opposite in many ways, and as the reader you're never in doubt of whose head you're in at any given moment.

This story was beautiful and ugly, heart-breaking and hilarious in turn.  I stayed up until four AM to finish it because I couldn't go to bed until I knew how it ended.  And then of course it was over and I was plunged into despair because there's a wait of who knows how long for the third book.  But I don't care because the ride was worth it.

*****  Five stars, no contest.

Available at Amazon and your local bookstore

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

I bought this book when it was first released and started reading it immediately.  But then I stopped.  Why?  It's going to sound crazy, but I'll tell you anyway.

When I read a book with an amazing plot, wonderful characters, and just sheer beauty embodied on the pages, I will often stop halfway through reading it the first time.  Because that way the story isn't over, it can't end, and I won't have to stop living in this gorgeous world that someone else created.

That's how it was with The Raven Boys.

Blue is a mostly ordinary girl living in a house full of psychics.  She's been told all her life that when she kisses her true love, he will be dead within a year.  Blue has no psychic abilities of her own, but she somehow augments abilities in others, so she's usually present for readings that her mother and aunts give.

Gansey is a boy obsessed with finding Glendower, the lost king of Wales.  He's smart, rich, and charming and Blue is predisposed to dislike him on general principles.

Somehow, the two of them and Gansey's friends, Ronan, Noah, and Adam, come together to search for Glendower.

Maggie Stiefvater's writing style is, if anything, improving with each book.  I liked the Mercy Falls series.  I really liked The Scorpio Races.  And I loved The Raven Boys.  Ms. Stiefvater has an elegant, spare way of turning a phrase that I both covet and admire.  Her writing is smooth and economical, and the story flows smoothly.

I loved the characters and their development.  Adam, as proud as he is poor.  Noah, the forlorn fifth wheel.  Ronan, with his aggressive tattoos and barely contained temper, hiding a tragedy in his past.  Gansey, who can't help his riches or his charm, who only wants one thing; to find Glendower.  And Blue, who saw Gansey on the corpse road and knows that he is destined to die within a year.

The pacing is smooth and develops quickly without feeling rushed.  Once I was back into the book, I couldn't read fast enough, even knowing that I'd have to leave their world at the end.

This is my first official book review on my blog, and I think it's fitting to kick it off with a 5 star one.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is available at and other fine booksellers.  I was not provided with a free copy for the purpose of this review.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

In which I thank the bullies

There is a repulsive website whose sole purpose for existence is to "protect" those poor authors who can't handle a bad/sarcastic/meanypants review of their book, whether on GoodReads or Amazon.  (I will not link to their site - the last thing I want is more traffic to them.  If you must find them, feel free to Google 'em.)

They claim to want to "stop the GoodReads bullies", and then turn around and break so many of their own rules that I wonder why their heads haven't exploded from their inconsistencies.

For example, here's their list of what compromises a bully:

And yet, completely ignoring their own lovely list, they have harassed many reviewers, humiliating and insulting them, gossiping, calling them names, and teaming up on anyone who seems to be getting too big for their britches.

When I first discovered the site and began reading up on their "activities", I was pretty much like this throughout:

Well, except for being black and having facial hair.  Otherwise we could be twins.

But in the art of war, one must know one's enemies.  Sun Tzu probably said that; he was pretty badass.

So I read more of their site.  I found a wonderful, farcical "review" that Kat Kennedy did tongue in cheek and the STGRB posted on their website as being 100% straight up and not a farce at all.

Poor Kat.  Although with "enemies" like these, I'm sure she's not losing much sleep over them.

But to get to my point, they have links along one side of their homepage with names of authors/bloggers/reviewers to avoid.  They don't include the actual links, so I had to do some homework, but thanks to STGRB, I now have at least seven new blogs that I follow and greatly enjoy.

A sampling of them:

Stop the STGRB! Fun place for all your popcorn and drama needs.

Sweaters for Days and Moves Like Jagger. One of my favorites.

Cuddlebuggery  Another favorite.  This one has GREAT reviews, great reviewers, and a fun online community.

The Romantic Goldfish  One that STGRB considers "scary/run/fast".  I admit I just found her, but I'm having a great time reading the archives.

Dear Author  This one has a lot of reviews, because it's a collective of people writing.  Reviews are honest and never bullying, and they're always fresh and interesting.

The Bawdy Book Blog  Ooh, here's one I like!  Keep an eye on them, because I'm hoping to have some of my stuff posted there for one of their Indie Spotlights.

So THANKS, STGRB!!  I know you didn't mean to, but you guys have found me a bunch of GREAT new blogs to enjoy and meet new people on.

(Plus, any excuse to put the Hiddles on my blog.  Because YUM.)

Drama Llamas

It's something that not everyone wants to admit, but almost everyone enjoys a good bit of drama now and then.  Who doesn't like having their boring 9-5 day spiced up with a little mudslinging, as long as none of the mud lands on them?

I'm no different.  I can admit that.  I enjoy a good meltdown, although I almost never partake in them.

Come on, they're fun, right?  Tempers flare, rash words get said that really shouldn't have been said and make the onlookers go all:

It's true.  We all do it.  Until we're in the middle of it.  It's been a long time since I was at the heart of a controversy, and never since becoming an author and putting my work out for others to read and possibly revile.

But drama is the one thing you're never going to be able to completely avoid if you plan on having a public profile.  The question is how are you going to handle yourself when the shitstorm is suddenly revolving around you.

See that "hole" in the middle there?  That's the eye of the storm, the calm center.  All around it, chaos is raging, but right there?  Right there things are serene, peaceful in the midst of the turmoil.

That's my lesson of the day, if you're interested.  After having seen so many shitstorms exploding all over GoodReads and Amazon's forums, after witnessing author meltdowns ranging from spectacular to nuclear to just kinda sad, I just want to urge you to be more like the eye of the storm.

I know it's harder when you're in the middle of it.  People are saying things.  Mean things.  They're attacking you and your precious creation, the one you sweated bullets to bring into being.  And it hurts.

We do, though.  And the absolute only thing to do when controversy starts getting going is to stay above it.  Oh, and maybe, just maybe, don't start it yourself.  

Obey the purple striped lady with the freakishly huge hand and don't start shit.  Seriously, people, don't complain that you're not getting enough good reviews on your books, don't call them names, don't rant about how ungrateful they are.

Stay humble.  Stay professional.  Appreciate your readers.  And leave the drama llamas out in the pasture, okay?

Because seriously, that one there looks like she will cut a bitch.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Do you want a blogger to read your book?  If you're a self-published/indie author, then you probably do.  Even if you have a publishing house behind you, more exposure is not a bad thing (if you go about it the right way.)

This is a good list for authors to follow.

Monday, October 1, 2012

50 Shades of Grey

We're all familiar with these books by now.  (If you're not, is there room under your rock for me?)

But a lot of people, the majority, in fact, seem not to understand what is so deeply, fundamentally wrong with these books.

It's not about BDSM.  If anything, it's a (very) thinly veiled lesson on how BDSM is bad and if you're a good enough person, you can "cure" the person that suffers from it.

Jen Armintrout, author of the wonderful blog Sweaters For Days and Moves Like Jagger, is selflessly doing a review of all three books.  She's halfway through the second book now, so if you're curious about the story or would like to be able to debate intelligently with your friends WHY this series is a pile of rubbish, then here's where you can get started. 

The wonderful snark she infuses into each post is just a bonus.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Interesting article  Are female writers asked how they manage to create strong male characters?

Greg Rucka: Why I Write Strong Female Characters

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't Be A Douche

It seems to me that this is a fairly easy rule to follow.  Treat others as you'd like to be treated.  Give respect, be humble, show gratitude.  This is a concept my mother taught me when I was quite young and it has stood me in good stead my whole life.  If I treat others well, they (generally) do the same to me.  Even when they don't, at least I know that I did all I could to show them proper courtesy, and I can come away from an encounter feeling good about myself.

I  have to wonder if this guy feels good about himself.  Sadly, I'm afraid he does.  He's probably patting himself on the back, congratulating himself for the canny marketing and public awareness "campaign" he just pulled off.  Unfortunately, he's also earned himself a permanent spot on my Will Not Read EVER list for his behavior.

The Man Who Thought He Was King

Pretty sad, I think, that some feel they have to resort to bragging and jeers to make themselves look better.  Even sadder that it just makes them look worse.

Writers, don't be douches.  Accept criticism with grace.  Have a sense of humor about yourself and your work.  I promise you'll have a much easier time getting and keeping an audience for your books.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

There are days, maybe even a week or more, when I just can't find it in me to write.  I used to beat myself up over that fact.  "I should be writing!  I'll never find an agent or a publisher if I don't finish this book!"  Etc.

But you know something...all that did was add to my stress levels.  Yes, I do try to write every day.  It helps to get into a groove and keep it going.  But I also have four children, a big dog that needs a lot of attention, and a horse.  Oh, and did I mention the severe chronic pain?

Sometimes something has to give.  As long as the kids, dog, and horse are fed, and the kids have clean faces and hands, there are days when I have to call it Enough.  And I won't apologize for that.  If that means I never get published, family really is more important, as much as I would hate to give up on this dream.

However, in the spirit of Mother's Day, I give you this.  I only have one son, but I grew up with three brothers.  It's funny cuz it's true.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's been a hectic couple of weeks for me.  I managed to get Finding the Path finished, the cover art done (and oh so beautiful it is!) and published to Amazon.  Initial sales are good, as are reviews.  This makes a wee author happy.

Amazon link to Finding the Path  (Check out that cover!)

Goodreads link to same

Doing that has meant that I haven't had much time to blog.  I also have gotten busy on another book - well, technically I have three in various stages right now, but I am concentrating on one in particular right now.  It involves shapeshifters, and I think it's going to be pretty good.  No post-apocalypse in this one; it's set in modern-day Austin, TX.

1300 words today, hopefully twice that tomorrow.  I think I've cracked what helps my hero defeat the villain, if I can just get it laid out properly.  About halfway done - 35,000 words total. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Common Enemy

This makes me laugh.  Only about 500 words today, but I got the bones of a scene down.  This weekend is going to be a whirlwind of birthday parties, so I doubt I'll get much writing in.  I am, however, beta-ing a lovely novel for a fellow Absolute Writer. 

If you're a writer and you've never beta'd, I really recommend you do.  I have found that it helps me to make my own work better, faster-paced, and more intense when I'm critiquing someone else's writing. Plus when you get lucky and find a beta who is really talented - well, there's not much of a downside there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beautiful pop-culture art, although John Travolta looks a little dyspeptic.

Wrote about 800 words today. Migraine has been dogging me for over a week. Kinda killin' the productivity, I gotta say.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm not sure why the Goblin Humiliator says I've been picking my nose and slacking off writing when actually I've been writing every day lately, thank you very much, AND updating my word count daily.

I just haven't had time to post here, what with being busy writing and all. I am 7100 words into my next novel. I get the strangest urges to drop everything and bang out a quick scene. Usually this happens when I'm driving and unable to get to a computer, or when there is maximum noise around me and I can't concentrate anyway. But every once in awhile I'm managing to carve out time to get some sequences down. Even if it means staying up until 1:30 am.

Also, this poster makes me laugh.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


They're not paying me to advertise for them. I'm just so enamored of this product that I can't help singing its praises. The software is easy and intuitive, and the index cards on the bulletin board at the top of your project mean that you can shuffle ideas and story fragments any which way.

Also, the ability to compile all chapters into a single cohesive document is not only genius, but you can save it just about any format you need. PDF, .MOBI, .RTF, .DOC, you name it.

It is, simply, awesome.

Been too long

It's been a hectic year. I took a break from writing for awhile. Moving a six occupant family, even just across town, is kind of exhausting, especially with chronic pain issues on top of that.

But my first book is going to be published soon, and I'm super excited about it. So I'll be posting reviews to books that I've enjoyed recently and what it's been like going through the self-publishing process.

Stick around!