Monday, September 28, 2009

Upcoming Releases

Yippee!! It's the end of the month!! You know what that means? Huh? Do ya? Do ya? NEW RELEASES!!!!! Woohoo!!! Okay. Breathe.

Right. So, lots of books are released either on the last Tuesday of the month or the first Tuesday of the month. So the last week of the month brings us two straight weeks of new books coming out. Let's take a look at what I'm waiting for, shall we?

This Week:
  • On the Edge by Ilona Andrews - Rustic Fantasy? (Cross between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but some of the characters are country. Way country) - The first in their (her and her husband Gordon) new series. Another odd magic sandwich world where a mundane world (ours) co-exists next to a magic world (the Weird) and causes, well, weirdness. To give you an idea of how this works, here's my favorite part from one of the snippets I read: "Go brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on dry clothes, and get the guns. We’re going to Wal-Mart." Also, if you want some chances at free On the Edge books (and a Sony e-reader), follow these contest links: The Book Pushers and Bitten by Books.
  • Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens - Regency Romance in her much-loved Cynster series.
  • Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre - Science Fiction - Book #3 of Sirantha Jax.
Next Week:
What are you guys looking forward to? Someone needs to chime in with some other genres here, because I've been woefully single-minded of late.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preview - Shadowlight - Lynn Viehl

A few weeks ago, Lynn Viehl offered a free e-ARC of her upcoming paranormal romance release Shadowlight, due to release on Oct. 6. This will be the first in her Kyndred series, a spin-off from her Darkyn books. They'll feature mostly the kids who were genetically altered by the Brethren and then thrown into the adoption system. They're all grown up now, of course.

Knowing how I feel about Lynn Viehl's writing and free books (hello!), I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you all that my keyboard has skid marks on it from how quickly I jumped at the chance. The only catch was that I had to blog about the book (she didn't care if the review was good or bad) and I couldn't redistribute or sell it. No problemo.

I was hoping to finish it in time to get this posted on yesterday's blog, but my lack of an e-reading device scuttled my plans. I was bound to my computer for the reading the novel, which meant no reading it in doctor's office waiting rooms or getting a chapter in while I killed a few minutes waiting for school bus arrival time. Grrrr. Want e-reader. Anyhoo. I finally finished it this morning and here are my thoughts (while still trying not to spoiler it).
  1. Like the Darkyn. Still getting Darkyn fix with Kyndred novels. Me likey.
  2. Viehl's bad guys are scary-cold-unfeeling-BAD. Not like kill your mom and dad and cat and then kill you in your deepest fear kind of way. They don't care enough about you to find out what your deepest fear is. If you're in their way, they'd run you down with their car and then take the shirt off your broken body to use it to clean the human-barrier gunk from their car. Makes for chilling reading and it fits well with the Roman roots of the story.
  3. I'm amazed that she's able to keep coming up with new and interesting abilities for her people to get. You'd think that she'd have to start duplicating somewhere, but each one is fresh and new. This novel introduced about a half dozen more er, novel abilities.
  4. This novel really highlights how well Lynn Viehl utilizes character motivation. All her characters have a history that makes them into the people they are now. Rowan isn't just an angry, mouthy chick because she's young and headstrong. There's a valid, compelling why to it. The main character, Jessa, had been young and carefree (sort-of) once. And then she had that ripped away. Her life now is necessarily bleak and focused. She's repenting for her earlier blindness, trying to atone for her guilt. And the fact that she feels that guilt in the first place for something that hadn't really been her fault, makes her a noble (if hard-headed) character.
  5. As usual, I was impressed by the characters, the plotting and the emotions involved.
  6. My only real dislike was Jessa's disbelief. She's got weird abilities herself and knows of others who have them, but she refuses to believe a word about the Darkyn or vampires for the majority of the novel. I just don't get that. Why wouldn't she at least consider the idea?
  7. Overall, another well-written novel by Lynn and a good start to the new series. I'm happy that we got cameos of Sam, Lucan and Alex and that the Darkyn will be playing more roles to come.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thrrree Days of Writing! Hahaha!

I hope you all read the title with your Sesame Street's Count voice turned on. For the first time in about three weeks, I actually had a few consecutive days off from B&N and landscaping. So I got some writing done! Yippee. I've always heard of authors who say that they "have to write." Until recently, I would have said that no, that's not me. I have to read, I have to eat Carrabbas & Papa John's Pizza at least once a month (not at the same time), I have to have some "me-time" or peace and quiet every so often, and I have to have hugs from my family. But I don't have to write. I daydream, and those daydreams end up being the basis for my stories.

Then I got laid-off and I actually started devoting some time to my writing. Now I might actually be turning into one of those people who has to write. These last few weeks have felt really off to me. The past two days of writing again have made me feel balanced though.

So what is it that you have to do to keep yourself centered? What makes you bearable to live with?

BTW, whining to you guys was yet again just the thing I needed yesterday. After complaining about my progress on the blog here, I went back to writing yesterday and hammered out another 1100 words, and they were good. It was refreshing.Thanks, guys and gals.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gah! Writing gods, why do you hate me so?

I've been working on my writing for about a half an hour now so far this morning, and it's like this:
  1. I write a little bit
  2. It sucks and I delete most of it
  3. I sit there and spin my wheels in place
  4. Go back to 1. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I can't seem to write a paragraph without deleting half of it! I've written probably about 500 words so far today and I only have 240 to show for it. And even those 240 words are blah. Just blah. :(

Book Review - Trick of the Light - Rob Thurman

I've already mentioned on this blog that I really enjoy Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros books. I thought her latest, Deathwish, was in a category all on its own for her treatment of the relationship between Cal and his brother Niko - heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. This book, Trick of the Light, which released on September 1, kicks off a new urban fantasy series set in the same world and has a similar relationship of mutual dependence (but in the same healthyish way) for two of the secondary characters. If you're thinking that she's re-using a plot mechanism, you're welcome to your opinion, but don't complain about it to me, because I think she does a super job with it, and I love these characters. DON'T rain on my parade, got it?

Like many other authors who want to actually eat something more costly than Ramen noodles, she's started a second series. Most publishers don't want to publish more than one book in the same series per year, so if an author wants to actually make enough money to rise above the poverty level, they're having to branch out to other works.

The Trickster novels feature Trixa Iktomi, an information merchant and cheap bar owner. As I said, it's placed in the same world as Cal's books (ours but with lots of scary-assed things that go bump in the night), but it's set in Vegas as opposed to NYC. We don't get any mention of the brothers, but Robin Goodfellow gets a cameo and we find out more about the peris (like Ishiah who runs the bar that Cal "works" at). This was a great urban fantasy and I devoured it.

Here's me as it's getting to the end of the book:
  • Okay, I got this. I'm onto what she's doing with that little trail of breadcrumbs throughout the book.
  • This other thing though, I think I know where it's going. But it can't really be, right? I mean, nah.
  • And what's up with that thing? It's got to tie in somehow, but I haven't got a clue as to how.
  • Oh, man. This main chick character is just waaaaay too cocky. Things are clearly getting ready to go FUBAR
  • (Closing my eyes) I just can't watch whatever is about to happen. It can't be good for the home team.
  • And wha- WTF just happened?
  • NO. Nuh. Uh. Damn. It really happened... But not quite like I thought. I like her way better than what I pictured. Good on ya, Robyn.
  • And holy hell! Where did that come from? Not a clue! I had not a freaking clue that that was in store for us.
  • Wow. Just wow.
And I sat there in shock for a while. Now, since I've been bragging on it, I'm sure that your experience won't be quite so intense. I've pumped it up too much maybe. Nah. It really is a great book and I hope that some of you all pick it up and read it. For me, it was time extremely well-spent, both as a reader and a writer. I wanna be like her when I grow up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whatcha reading?

I've got a great book review for you guys, but it deserves more time than I have to give it right now, so I'm putting that off until later this week.

Instead, let's talk about what everyone's reading right now. There are a ton of super books on my TBR stack, but I've got so much stuff to do right now that I've been avoiding new books for fear of getting sucked in. Instead I've been reading some oldie but goodies that make me happy but that I can put down when I need to. For me, Nalini Singh books are always awesome comfort reads, so I went through and read bits and pieces of three of those, and then picked up a few Linda Howard books. I love getting lost in her characters and their interactions.

So what are you guys reading?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Writing Progress

Perhaps that title should actually read "Weakly Writing Progress" for this week. Between the holiday, working, kids, and whining about my lack of time, I haven't done much writing this week. Maybe 200 or 300 words each of Tuesday and Wednesday - gak. But yesterday I was a good little writer bee and did about 800 words on my SciFi novel. Then, out of shame when I confessed to my writing critique partners that I hadn't worked on Quint's novel in almost 2 weeks, I went and forced out about 225 words on his book. I feel much less guilty now. Really. I'm sure those 200 words on his story made up completely for 2 weeks of abandonment. Is anyone buying that? Yeah, me neither.

Anyhow, I hope you all have a great weekend, and that you're putting the time in to do the things you want/need to do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Berkley & Ace/ROC Contest Link

Woohoo! Dear Author is doing it again. You have until 9PM CS tomorrow (Friday) to enter to win free books that are coming out in the next couple of months. Here's the link for the Berkley part of the contest. And here's the Ace/Roc contest link. There are lots of good books up for grabs here - Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Rob Thurman, Shannon K. Butcher, and the list just goes on.

Go win something cool for yourself or your lady.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

E3.5AllOrNothing & J6.2InteractiveGamer

Two stories from the family warfront today. E3.5's occurred first, so we'll start there.

We were at a local family-run breakfast place for dinner on Friday, and E3.5 was playing with the little container of sugar/sweetener packets. J6.2 asked if she could have one yellow packet and one pink one to play with. And she really did ask - nicely and all - instead of snatching them out of her sister's hands. It was remarkable. And in the face of this sisterly consideration, E3.5 immediately says, very calmly, "No. Mine." Now, I couldn't let J6.2's efforts at politeness go unrewarded. Here's how it went down:

Me: "E3.5, J6.2 asked nicely and you must have at least 25 of those little packets over there. Why don't you let her play with two of them?"
E3.5: "No. Mine."
Me: "If you're not going to share, then maybe you don't deserve to have any to play with either. Wouldn't it be better if you could both play with them? J6.2 usually shares her stuff with you (after having her arm twisted and a contract filled out in triplicate stating what is being shared, for how long, how it may be played with, the condition it will be returned under and what is being used as collateral)."
E3.5: *silence*
Me: "You don't need all of those and you can't play with all of them at once anyways. She only wants two. Either give two of those packets to J6.2 to play with or I'm taking all of them away from you. It's your choice."
With no change in expression whatsoever, she packed them all back up and handed the container to me. J6.2 got all of them to play with, but E3.5 didn't care. She was perfectly happy just knowing that she hadn't given in to the Man, and had left the field under her own terms.

Now for J6.2's story. Just before school started back recently, she was at home with me for the day and wanted to watch my computer game for a bit and have me explain what was happening to her. I had decided to pull Heroes of Might and Magic V off the dusty shelf and play it a bit, and I was currently working on the Undead portion of the campaign. I was about 3 scenarios in and getting a bit tired of these particular troops. But I put it on and proceeded to educate her about the differences between wights, wraiths and banshees on the upgrade tree. Then we went to meet her dad for lunch with some of his work pals. She completely ratted me out. "Mom and I had fun this morning, but we're really tired of the undead units, and our banshees aren't kicking as much butt as we'd hoped they would." Or something to that effect was what she said. Thanks kid. Now, in my defense, she read all the game messages, and I quizzed her on the numbers that came up, like "Victory is yours! Defeated units: 436 peasants, 116 crossbowmen, 32 paladins, etc" I'm sure it was a very educational experience for her.

So anyways, yesterday she was watching a multi-player game of Heroes V that my husband and I were playing and it was my turn. Yellow was nearby and I clicked on their army to see what I'd be fighting. J6.2 took one look, shook her head and muttered, "Oh, holy hell." I kid you not. Now, it's entirely possible that she learned that from me except that I've been super-careful with the cursing around them. I was about 95% sure it wasn't me. I found out later, it was the other big kids at the daycare. We explained to her why she shouldn't say it and blah blah blah. She went on her merry way, and the hubby turns to me and says, "Where in the hell did she pick up holy hell?" That's one of the best things about him. He makes me laugh and has a good grasp on the absurd.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lisa Shearin Contest - Not much time left!

For those of you who took my recommendation to pick up Lisa Shearin's books, here's your chance to impress her with how much you loooooooove them (and win a t-shirt or 11x17 print in the process)!!!! She uses pics of actors to model some of her characters after (at least visually), and she's missing one of Talon, that young, smokey spellsinger. The contest is for you to scavenge the web for a pic of the perfect "Talon" and email it to her, but you only have until tomorrow, Friday (Sept. 4). Deets for the Talon contest are here at her website. Sorry this is such late notice, but I've been rather disconnected from the intarwebs lately.

Now, for a description of Talon so you don't have to weed through your books to find it (taken from The Trouble With Demons):
He was slender and sleekly muscled with waist-length black hair. His silvery gray skin was lighter than normal for a pure-blooded goblin, which Talon most definitely was not. His aquamarine eyes were from his mother, an elf.
Talon is a nineteen-year-old half goblin/half elf. FYI, in Lisa's books, goblin doesn't mean short warty green creature with big ears. They're more like the smexy vampire persona making the rounds today, complete with fangs. Talon is quite the hawt young ladies' man, and knows that he's about the most dangerous threat to a woman's panties since his daddy, Tam, first hit the sheets oh these many years ago. He's cocky but charming, a powerful young spellsinger and a bit of a daredevil. There. Go forth and scavenge the webs for a young hottie with er, silvery gray skin. Yeah. Prob won't find that, but really, that's just a small detail. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy September 1st!

That means happy b-day to my mom-in-law! J, if you're reading this, we were going to have the grandkids call you at 6:15 this morning to wish you well, but managed to restrain ourselves. It was tough going for a little while there though. You were very close to getting the wake-up call. :)

In other news, I've been working on the SF novel this week. 750 words yesterday and 530 today, bringing the grand total to just under 56,000 words, a bit over halfway. Quint's novel is at about 28,000 words right now, so it's about 1/4 of the way through. Ugh.

I've also decided to rework the beginning of my UF fantasy novel that's currently making the rounds of agents in the querying process. Oh joy. Because, you know, I sooooo want to muck with that one some more. Maybe I can suck some more life out of the beginning of it. Every time I touch it now I feel like it's dying just a little bit more. I keep telling myself that this time - this time is the time I'll get it right. Surrrrrrre. But clearly it needs more work and I'm not giving up on it. So wish me luck.

Anyways, hope you all have started out the week well. What are you reading right now? Anything interesting? I just finished Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre. Her first two novels were part of a SF series and this one seems to be the start of an UF series. It was good. I liked the heroine. Interesting story. Nice plot twists. I recommend it.

And now I'm off to work, fondling er, unpacking the books at our local B&N. Come to mama, Must Love Hellhounds!