Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Today's post is all about curses and threats. Lately, I've been noticing the various curses/threats that authors put into their books - the characters get frustrated, angry, injured, snarky or whatever, and the bad words start flying. Inventive curses or threats can really add dimension to a story and increase its entertainment value. Two stories really did that for me recently: Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge and Demon Forged by Meljean Brook.

In Street Magic, the tone is very gritty - supernatural dregs of humanity sort of stuff. Its threats are accordingly um, colorful. Yeah, colorful... Most of them start out with the threatener's foot going up the unfortunate victim's ass, but what happens from there is where the entertainment kicks in (no pun intended). I was laughing out loud at some of the threats, and coming up with so many unique ones had to be a challenge. When I start the second book in that series, I've decided to make a list of all the curses, just as a writing awareness exercise.

Irena in Meljean Brook's Demon Forged is a bit barbaric, so her curses and insults focused heavily on animal-involved romantic exploits. Now, I'm not in favor of animal smexxing, but calling someone a 'serpent-f*cking whatever' brings up funny mental images. Irena was also an equal opportunity blasphemer - no animal was subjected to the same humiliation twice, so by the end it was entertaining just to see what animal would be picked on next.

Can't come up with any good obscenities? Not a problem. Online random generator site, Serendipity, has a Cuss-o-matic to help you out. Some of the curses it generates are pretty silly, but it's a good way to get started. I'm particularly fond of "Flaming mother of a pestilent kangaroo-abusing scorpion!" Ah, good times.

Have you guys heard or read any good curses or threats recently?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Smooth Operator

This morning, J6.7 had some bathroom commitments (Yes - 'some' not 'a') this morning that precluded her catching the bus. That meant that mommy had to brave the school drop-off line. Horrors! I was a bit peeved and a lot nervous, like driving downtown in an unfamiliar city. I really didn't want to do this. It's a school - there would be kids running around, parents in a rush to get to work, a drop-off process that I knew nothing about, and I was sure, about a dozen unwritten rules of drop-off protocol and expectations. I vaguely remembered a notice from last year telling all drop-off parents not to turn left into the parking lot or something like that, so I might end up having to turn around somewhere and backtrack. And what if J6.7 expressed another bathroom commitment on the way? These were just a few of my concerns. But I mom'ed up and got started.

Traffic was a nightmare and I had to employ some creative merging just to make it to the school on time. Luckily, there wasn't a big fire-breathing dragon waiting at the lot to roast me if I put on my left turn signal, so I darted in before they decided to employ one. I waited in the line, keeping an eye out for subtle signals from other parents that something "just wasn't done". And as we went, I kept up a running commentary to J6.7. "Okay hun, we're almost up there. Now don't unbuckle yet, but when we get up there, I'll stop and open up E3.10's door. You get out her door because it's on the side at the sidewalk. Don't forget your bookbag. Watch out for the blanket on the floor of the van back there - don't want you tripping and falling. Now, you go right to your classroom, just as if you'd gotten off the bus, okay? Unless the teachers tell you to do something different. Then do whatever they say. Got it? Alright, we're almost there. One more group of drop-offs and then it'll be our turn. Don't forget - go out E3.10s door. Not yours. Okay, here we go." Yes, I know - I'm an idiot.

So we get up there, I braked to a stop at the front of the line, hit the button to open E3.10's door and nothing happened. Right. Can't do that with the van in gear. I jammed the van into Park, and hit the button again. This time it worked. J6.7 fumbled her way out (no, she didn't trip on the blanket, but I'm sure she would have if I hadn't mentioned it... Riiiiiight) and set off for the building. I hit the button again to close the door. But I had gloves on and fat-fingered the back hatch button at the same time. So the side door closes and the trunk opens, complete with warning beeps and everything. I R cool... and even more of an idiot than you all originally thought. Whatever cool points I had (and there weren't many because I'm a mom in a mini-van), jumped out the back and abandoned me right there.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review - Heist Society by Ally Carter

Yeah, I've been on a YA (young adult) kick lately - not really sure why. Maybe the snow has been making me feel a bit immature. Dunno.

I first picked up Ally Carter's Gallegher Girls series because I was an avid stalker of The Nelson Agency's blog and she's one of Ms. Nelson's clients. I read the first one, I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You and thought it was wonderful. It features a group of girls who attend a private school for spies but inadvertently get into some really deadly situations that are way out of even their league. The humor and spy references were greatly entertaining, and the second two books in the series (Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy & Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover) just kept the fun times rolling. A few weeks ago, I started looking to see when the next one was coming out (Only the Good Spy Young, June 15, 2010 in case you were curious, and MAN do I ever love her titles).

When I saw Heist Society, I assumed it was the next GG book. Wrong. HS is about a girl who comes from a family of thieves and conmen. She tried to get out of the life by conning her way into an exclusive boarding school but gets pulled back into the game when her father gets framed for a crime he didn't commit and the only way she can keep him alive is by getting the paintings back for the crime lord type guy they'd been pinched from. It was such a good, entertaining read. Yes, it's for teen girls, but I was smiling while reading it, and it was just plain fun.

Go pick it up for some gal you know, but make sure to read it before you hand it off. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Debut Book Review - Child of Fire by Harry Connolly

Guy urban fantasy novel for the win! Not a bit of softness to this one and it was great. Did I enjoy Child of Fire? Yep. Will I buy his next one (Game of Cages coming out in August 2010)? Yep. So why, those of you who know my Pollyanna-like reading habits might ask, did you like it, oh champion of romances? Because one cannot live on Marshmallow Fluff alone. Sometimes you need ribs and hot wings. First, let me talk about this one from a reader perspective and then I'll tell you why the writer in me thought it rocked.

This was a very involved novel featuring a magical thug, Ray Lilly, and his Very Scary Boss Lady with an uber-delicate name - Annalise. She's even more magical than he is. And scary. Very scary. Like Scary McScary. They're on the trail of someone who's welcomed a predator to our world (not like the movie). Predators are supernatural beasties from other worlds who want access to ours to sate their hunger for... something. Whether their dream buffet involves children, plant life, Circus Peanuts, blood, or DeWalt power tools is dependent on the particular monster, but they're all ravenous for something. Mmmm, power tools.... Ray and Annascary end up in Hammer Bay, town of weirdness. You get a whole town of creepy characters as a cast for this novel, but Harry keeps you from getting confused by making sure that no one has really similar names (thanks for that one!) and by leaving you subtle bread crumbs. e.g. You run into a lady and she's still wearing her diner uniform from earlier, so you can remember that, oh yeah, she was our waitress at the diner! What were the pluses of this novel?
  • the plot was engaging if creepy
  • the characters distinct and interesting
  • the dialog made complete sense
  • the emotions were spot-on for the situations
  • there was some good humor (I especially liked Ray's smart-ass comments to attackers)
  • there was a nice mix of mundane, spooky, and action stuff.
The only disappointment for me was NO EPILOGUE!!! I don't know what the fall-out was. At first I thought we'd have to wait until the next novel to carry on, but from the teaser at the end of this one, it looks like the next book picks up many moons after this one, so any resolution will have to be done by dropping snippets here and there. Very sad. I want to know what happened to the trapped predator - did the society send someone down to take it out once the henchman was out of the way? Was it successful? Did the town recover or dry up and blow away? Did the people regain their memories? How about the surviving members of the Hammer fam - what happened to them? Gah!

Okay - from a writer perspective, Harry Connolly's novel is an incredible example backstory without the Info Dumptruck. You'll find this out on your own within the first few chapters, and it's not spoiling this story, so let me give you a brief run-down. Ray is a less than sterling character who has a bad history with Scary Boss Lady - he betrayed her for a friend who turned out to be in league with a predator. Ray ended up killing said friend and trying to fix the fall-out, but of course, innocents were hurt and killed, most especially, Annascary's best friend from childhood. He went to prison, and was released for this mission. She HATES Ray now, and wants him D-E-D, dead. In addition, he's sure that someone from the society is going to kill him after this mission anyways because of his past transgressions. He's a dead-man walking with a boss who despises him. It makes for a tense partnership. But never once did you end up with a paragraph like I just had to tell you all this. You get it as the story goes along, in bite-sized doses that kept you waiting for the next helping. Well done, sir! I hope to be able to do that some day.

Anyways, gentlemen, I highly recommend that you pick this one up. I was very impressed. If you'd like to read an excerpt, try his blog here or click the B&N link to the novel above and catch it there.

And for the record, I don't really like Marshmallow Fluff anymore. Circus Peanuts, yes. Fluff, no. Hot wings, yes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Writerly Links

I haven't been snooping at all my usual publishing industry blogs in a couple of weeks, so today I spent some time hitting the intarwebs and have some links for the rest of you who also haven't had the time.

  • Lit Agent Nathan Bransford had a whole slew of links on Friday's post, so I'm just copying and pasting here on a few that might help aspiring writers.
In agent advice news, Janet Reid has an awesome checklist of things you need before you query, divided between fiction/memoir/nonfiction, Jessica Faust at BookEnds writes that unless each book can really truly stand alone, it's probably not a good idea to write a sequel to an unpublihsed first book in a trilogy, and Rachelle Gardner surveys ten query mistakes.
As a side note, I'm really glad I decided to catch up today, because I saw that the February Secret Agent contest was getting ready to start over at Miss Snark's First Victim and one of my genres was being represented. The contest opened at noon, I hit Send on my submission at 12:03 and I was one of the last entrants to sneak through before she hit the 50 entrants mark. Yippee! I'm looking forward to the input. The last time I entered a writing contest at MSFV, the feedback was painful but helpful. Here's hoping for less pain and more "you're on the right track" this time. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Giddy About Upcoming Releases

With today's release of Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh (which is waiting for me to take a break from work later today and start reading it on my nook), I started looking at what else is coming out soon that I'm looking forward to. Whoa, baby! Good stuff.

Feb. 2 (TODAY!!!!) Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh
So first, let's cover Archangel's Kiss. This is the next of Elena and Raphael's story. If you haven't read the first one, Angels' Blood, pick it up. Fantastic. She's also written a couple of novellas in the same world - "Angels' Judgement" in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology that covers Sara and Deacon's story and the e-book novella "Angels' Pawn" that gives us some insight into Ashwini - she's crazy fun.

Feb. 9 - First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost
This is written in the same world as Cat and Bones, but it covers Slade (Bones' vamp buddy) and Denise, Cat's best friend. The book cover is... not too appealing. I mean, I wouldn't let that guy anywhere near me until he had some close contact with soap, shampoo, a comb and some nail clippers. Throw a hair cut in there too, come to think of it. But c'mon! This is Ms. Frost - she's a fantastic writer, so I know the story is worth it. Yet another benefit to having a nook - I don't have to look at the cover every time I pick the story back up. :)

Feb. 23 - Fantasy In Death by J.D. Robb
Need I say more?

Mar. 2 - Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop and Roadkill by Rob Thurman
These are each the next book in their respective series and I hop Rob is hard at work on the next Trickster book for her adoring audiences while we sate ourselves on this Cal and Niko Leandros novel.

Mar. 23 - Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair
Ms. Sinclair is the master of SciFi romance, and I can't wait for this one. It's even got a hawt, nerdy guy on the cover - complete with glasses! Rrrrrowr.

Mar. 30 - Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
Max out the giddiness for this one. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait. Mercy and Adam, yay! And all the other fun characters! More yay!

Apr. 6 - Changes by Jim Butcher
The next Dresden installment and I won't be able to read it right away because of E3.9's 4th birthday. Maybe I can convince her to have a Harry Dresden birthday party and we can read the novel as part of the festivities. I'm sure a bunch of four year olds won't have nightmares after that...

Apr. 27 - Bewitched and Betrayed by Lisa Shearin
More Raine Benares - can't get enough of that! Funny, awesome stuff.

I'm sure there are some novels that I missed, but these were the highlights. What are you guys looking forward to?