Archive for October, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

The last time I did NaNo was in 2008. I finished the 50,000 words with some extra on top and this year I have decided to take the challenge again. I’ll be honest with the fact that I have major writer’s block. Not just a little writer’s block either, but something amounting to the Great Wall of China. After the total decimation of the writer’s group I was involved in, getting back in the swing of things has been hard. Without going into details, there was a major feeling of betrayal and something like that takes time in getting over. Another result of that is I’ve felt the need to purge myself of anything that came out of that group -including my completed novel and the subsequent sequels that were to go along with it – because in my mind it has been contaminated – it is dripping with viscous black poison for which there is no antidote.

So, after that lovely image and a lot of thought on my part, I decided that diving into NaNo with a fresh idea would be just the thing to help me scale that wall.  I have a novella length sci-fi story that I’ve been hammering out in my mind for a couple of weeks now. Sci-fi is different for me since I’m usually a fantasy girl – both in writing and reading, but I think I need the challenge. I also specifically decided to do a novella since the length will allow me to complete the entire story arc in 50,000 words – which is long for a completed novella, but good for a first draft. I also intend to go through the editing process after NaNo is over. Novellas are hard (i.e. impossible) to sell, but that’s not actually the point of this exercise for me.

So, Good Luck to myself and good luck to anyone reading this who is also doing NaNo!

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Just Finished Reading

Hannah Payne is now a Chrome – a Red Chrome to be exact. For the crime of abortion and refusing to name the father, who happens to be a married minister, her skin is dyed bright red for a period of sixteen years, signaling to all that she is a criminal. Before this, her life had been devoted to church and family and the harsh reality of living as a Red soon sets in. Upon her release from the Chrome ward of the Crawford State Prison in Texas, her father finds her a place in a kind of halfway house called the Straight Path Center. It turns out this is just another kind of prison with a cruel jailor. Hannah leaves the Straight Path Center and soon runs afoul of the Fist, a group of zealots whose guilty pleasure is beating Chromes to death. She is rescued by the Novemberists. Her rescue may not be all it’s cracked up to be when she realizes that with them all may not be as it seems. Hannah’s only hope now is to escape to Canada and be deChromed.

When She Woke is a powerful book. It is a frightening look at what might be when the few gain the power to govern the morals of the many. The title of this book has a double meaning. The first is literal, as the first pages open with Hannah waking from being Chromed and serving her thirty day sentence in prison. The second is metaphorical. The book encompasses the mental change Hannah goes through as she begins to question the things she was brought up to believe, allowing her for the first time in her life to become her own woman.

This book follows in the tradition of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in taking events of today and using them to create an extreme society. If nothing else, When She Woke, will make you think and perhaps give you a new perspective on laws that are being passed today and the words that politician are saying and what might happen if they actually got the kind of society they are saying they want. Hillary Jordan has given us an extreme world, but not one that is entirely out of the realm of possibility when people give up the right to decide for themselves.

Just Finished Reading

This week I finished up The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Oliver. It’s a YA book and one that was on my TBR list from DragonCon. Even though it is YA, I would definitely say it is for older teens because it does have some pretty harsh language in it, though it’s not swearing for the sake of swearing – it is appropriate for the book.

Riley Blackthorne is the seventeen year old daughter of legendary demon trapper, Paul Blackthorne. She wants to follow in his footsteps, but has chosen a difficult path since there is a Good Ol Boys camaraderie at the local Trapper’s Guild, headed by Master Harper – who seems to have made it his personal vendetta to keep Riley from becoming a certified demon trapper. When the simple trapping of a Grade One demon goes wrong, it sets off a series of events that changes Riley’s entire life and could end with the world literally in Hell.

The style of writing is fast paced and keeps your attention throughout. Riley is a character that anyone who in any way felt like an outsider during their teen years will empathize with. She is smart and capable, but full of that normal self doubt and uncertainty everyone feels.

I also read a short story that goes along with the series, Retro Demonology. It’s the story of Riley’s first solo demon trap and is available free as an ebook.

Just Finished Reading

As usual, I’ve been reading more than one book at a time. On my beside table I have Grave Dance by Kalanya Price and on my Nook I have Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane (which for anyone interested is only 99 cents as an ebook right now).

Unholy Ghosts is the first in the Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane. It’s an urban fantasy and the appeal of it for me is that there are no vampires, werewolves, or any of the usual urban fantasy fare. The main character, Chess, is a witch employed by the Church. She is a Debunker, the title in the Church given to those who prove false allegations of hauntings. She also has a drug problem and her debt leads her into a sticky situation.

This is one of those books I count as a guilty pleasure book. I enjoyed it and while there are some thought provoking ideas, it’s nothing as complicated as the usual epic fantasy or alternate history – which is what I read most. It was fast paced and had just enough “heat” to make it interesting. I’m looking forward to getting the next in the series.

 

 

Grave Dance by Kalanya Price is the second in the Alex Craft series. Like Unholy Ghosts, it is an urban fantasy devoid of vampires and werewolves. Instead, we have witches and Faeries. If you haven’t read the first one, Grave Witch, there might be a few spoilers here… you’ve been warned!

After the events of Grave Witch, Alex is dealing with new revelations of her fey heritage while being drawn into a new battle for power. Someone is stealing souls and using them to create constructs with terrible powers. Her investigations take her to the realm of Faerie and face to face with the Winter Queen.  I enjoyed this book and will keep reading the series as it’s released.

My “To Be Read” List

On the posts about what I did at DragonCon, I mentioned the panels that added to my To Be Read (TBR) list, so I thought I would share those books with you. Maybe one of them will strike your fancy too.

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner – This is actually a re release of a 1968 book. I’ve never heard of it, but it’s a speculative fiction of an overpopulated world with mega computers, psychedelic drugs, and genetic engineering.

Blood Song by Cat Adams – Urban fantasy with a half human, half vampire bodyguard heroine. What’s not to be interested in?

Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewskihard sci fi. Main character is a girl from a rich, influential family that is going to college in orbit.

Blood and Other Cravings – an anthology about vampires that suck more than blood.

Darkest Part of the Woods  by Ramsey Campbell – a supernatural horror

Farlander by Col Buchanen – This was actually just released in paperback, but I’d never heard of it, so it’s new to me. This is a dystopian fantasy with some steampunk elements.

Faerie Ring  by Kiki Hamilton – A YA about an orphan in Victorian England who runs into some problems when she finds a ring that belongs to Queen Victoria. She also gets into trouble with the Faerie realm too.

Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott – described as a fantastical thriller. The Hallows are powerful magical objects that can do great harm or great good and someone is collecting them.

The Wild Side – another anthology that one of the editors described as “paranormal smut” I think I could get into that. *wink wink*

Kalanya Price – She was a guest on several of the panels I went to and after hearing her speak, I knew I had to give her books a try. I am currently reading Grave Dance, which is number two in the Alex Craft books. I am enjoying it so far.

Jana Oliver – Another panelist I enjoyed hearing. She writes YA.

Cinda Williams Chima – Also a YA author. Her books are epic fantasy, which is rare in teen fiction. Since I love epic fantasy I have to read these at some point.

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory – Another that I believe was a just released to paperback, but I hadn’t heard of. A family finds a baby with his dead mother and it turns out the baby is a zombie. Instead of turning him over to the authorities, they raise him as their own.

Difference Engine by William Gibson – This is a re release and credited as one of the first steampunk books. Somehow, I’ve never read it but I think it’s time to change that.

Dearly Departed  by Lia Habel – Another YA. A proper young lady in Victorian England falls in love with a zombie. How cool is that!?

Traitor’s Daughter  by Paula Brandon – This sounded like a typical epic fantasy and I can’t resist those.

Coveted by Shawntelle Madison – Story about a werewolf who is the outcast of her pack and also has a slight hoarding problem. What really intrigued me about this book is the enchanted therapy group she goes to for her hoarding problem. The author was in attendance and she let slip that there is a mermaid who is afraid of the water! If that doesn’t make you want to know more, then I don’t know what will.

 

So that is the list. I hope I haven’t forgotten something. There was quite a lot. My plan is to do a kind of review as I finish the list, along with some other books that are being released by authors that I already read. I hope you find something you might enjoy.

DragonCon “What I Did” Part 2

Sorry for the delay on this one – but finally, the rest of my trip at Dragon*Con.

Day 3 – Sunday

Sunday was more panels and cruising the dealer rooms/art show. I actually did purchase some prints – to be shown off further down.

Panels

Switching… Young Adult to Adult and Vice Versa – This was interesting. It was three authors who have written both adult and young adult and they talked about the differences between the two.

Spotlight on BelleBooks & Bell Bridge Books – This company was the sponsor of the Writer’s Track at DragonCon and this panel was a collection of their editors and writers.

What’s Coming Next From DelRey – Adding to my TBR list!

Knowing Your Audience – This panel discussed a lot on audience and how to revise/edit and about author branding.

Editors and Agents Speak Out – A lot of this was stuff I already knew about submission, etc, but it’s always good to go and here exactly what they’re looking for.

 

I bought these for the kitchen.


Day 4 – Monday

Last day of the Con, last chance for the art and dealer rooms too! Of course, usually by this day I’m kind of ready to get home too.

Panels

Who Wants To Be  A Writer – Agents, editors, and authors discussing the business

Market Trends in SF/Fantasy/Horror – this was the only panel I was disappointed in. I actually got up and walked out because the panelists were such downers. All they could talk about was the decline of the publishing industry and how hard it was to get in the business and how they saw no future in writing. After all the positive talk of the rest of the weekend, this actually made me angry to hear.

Peter David – Jeff and I always end with this one. Peter David is not only a great author, but I think he missed a calling as a stand up comic. It’s always so much fun.


I just got this one because I really liked it.

 

These are for Chloe's room.

 

So, that’s my trip to DragonCon for 2011. We had a blast and I can’t wait to go back next year.