Showing posts from August, 2011

Look! Flower Child has a cover!

I've just got my first picture from Gypsy Shadow for the cover of Flower Child. Doesn't it look great! I'm really thrilled with it. So, maybe, soon you'll be able to find out who the Flower Child really is. Meanwhile, here's a quick blurb...

Flower Child:
The story of a grieving mother and her unborn child

When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it's the start of a curious relationship between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan's "little angel" has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother's world. But Angela's dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Coming soon from Gypsy Shadow Publishing!

With almost perfect timing... and thanks to Minnette Meador

My husband's on his way back from a trip to England, so when Minnette Meador--an author who has three books coming out this summer(!)--presented me with my surprise "grand prize" for following her online during the release of A Ghost of a Chance (paranormal romantic comedy, set in Portland, and released in June 2011) the timing seemed just perfect. I could welcome him home with a glass of Oregon wine, served in beautiful Portland and Oregon glasses, by the light of flickering tea-lights. I could serve something small, hot from the oven, with my new Portland rose-garden oven-mitt--something with blueberry and lemon preserve perhaps, and Oregon chocolate afterwards. I could even take a nice relaxing bath to get me in the mood...

Ah, but then I checked the flight status and found they'd cancelled his flight. So instead I stayed up half the night waiting for husband to wake up in England so I could give him the news. Since my husband had no access to the internet and no…

A sense of time

My son's been complaining about a book he's reading. He objects to the way the author introduces a situation, then spends the next few pages, or chapters, explaining how the situation came about. My son complains about TV programs too, when they start with the heroes in some unexplained danger then cut to "fifteen hours earlier," "three days earlier," or whatever...

I'm guessing the TV writers do this for a reason. Do they want us glued to the box because we want to know how the situation came about? Do they want us watching with that curious sense of dread that wonders how on earth things will fall apart so badly? Or do they just want us passively waiting to get back to the "exciting bit."

They tell us as writers that our first sentences should grab the reader, preferably by the throat (alas poor reader). D'you suppose they're right? Is my son the exception to the rule, and everyone else wants the exciting bit to come before the mund…

Catching up on those "other" book reviews

Reading (and judging) for the Dan Poynter Global eBook Awards was really a great experience, not just for the chance to read so many good books, but also for the discipline of scoring and the encouragement to think about so many different aspects of the books. I'm taking time to write and edit now and find myself viewing my own work through the same critical eye--I'm sure it's good for me--I just hope it will be good for my books too.

But I am still reading, and here are links to reviews on gather for the latest group of books. Remember to drink coffee!

Two books coming soon from the Permanent Press:

All Cry Chaos, by Leonard Rosen, could almost have been written for me--a mystery with a mathematical victim, chaos theory and fractals reflected in nature and relationships, a French detective working for Interpol and traveling to the US--what more could I want. It's also a very satisfyingly dark, taut thriller with intriguing detail tying into current events--one to read…

Suspension of Disbelief

It's over. The awards have been presented. And there's something really neat about looking at those lists and thinking--hey, I read that one and I loved it! (Yes, I picked some winners!) I read many books and loved many books this last few weeks, and I'd like to offer my hearty congratulations to all the winners, the finalists, and all the entrants of the Dan Poynter Global eBook Awards contest. (Follow the link to scroll through a presentation of finalists and prize-winners, and find some great books.)

So, what did I learn, besides that I can read even faster than I'd imagined...

One thing I really found myself thinking about was that willing suspension of disbelief that keeps a reader glued to the page. After all, this is fiction--well, most of the books I read were fiction anyway. We know it's not true. Why do we care?
We care about the characters: If they become sufficiently real to us, concern for them will keep us reading, even when we hit a place where we th…

What Questions would you ask?

The Dan Poynter Global eBooks Awards Ceremony is tomorrow (Saturday 20th) in sunny Santa Barbara. I know I can't go, but still, it's nice to feel I've had some part in it this year. I've really enjoyed reading and reviewing the books; I've even, almost, enjoyed generating scores--the score-sheets certainly made it much more interesting than just applying 3 stars or 4 or 5. It's got me thinking I should maybe make my own score-sheet for book reviews, or at least, for reviewing and editing my own work... Could be depressing, but I think it might help. But what questions would I ask? Dan Poynter offered 15 categories in 5 sets of 3, which seems a pretty good number. Of course, I wouldn't score covers and format if I'm just editing... so here's my personal 15...
Story structure: Does the beginning grab me? Does the middle keep me interested? Does the end satisfy?Words: Are words spelled wrongly or misused? Are words repeated? Are words appropriate to the…

When is a series not a series?

Books read for GBA: 31

I think I've finished reading for the Global eBook Awards. The ceremony's coming up soon, and I need to write comments on the book pages and start posting all my reviews. Two of the books I read most recently were parts 1 and 2 of a series; several others came from series too, so they got me wondering, what makes a series work?

Have you read The Hunger Games? I read the second book first and was so hooked I had to go out and buy book one and pre-order book three. I guess that means the series worked for me. But there are other series where I feel like I've only read half a story and I'm not sure I'll bother with the rest. Then there are those semi-infinite series where I can pick and choose a book and wonder, have I read this one yet?--Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee books for example--I'd love to read them all one day.

I think, for me, a series works best if I learn to trust the author. If a story feels complete while the bac…

Aubrie Dionne, and Sci-Fi's Powerhouse Couples

I'm delighted to have Aubrie Dionne, author of Paradise 21, visiting my blog today with this fascinating guest post about Sci-Fi's Powerhouse Couples. Check my last post for more information about Paradise 21. And I hope you'll leave a comment with your answer to Aubrie's question when you've read this.

Thank you Aubrie, for this post, and for an enjoyable read (click here for my review of Paradise 21)

Introducing Aubrie Dionne - 1

Aubrie Dionne's visiting my blog tomorrow with an interesting guest post and a question for readers. I hope you'll visit and join the conversation. Meanwhile, just to whet your's an introduction to Aubrie's new sci-fi novel, Paradise 21.

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew—a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage. 

But Aries has other plans. 

When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates—humans who escaped Earth before its demise—are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from abo…

Reviewing Romance

GBA books read to date: 25

It's interesting how so many books from different genres include some romantic relationship. And now I'm trying to "judge" what I read, it's interesting to wonder what makes that romance work. We've all read about (or watched) movies where the lead actors had no "real chemistry" between them. But what makes that elusive chemistry real, and how do we write it on the page?

The element of surprise: Whether it's love at first sight, or love slowly developing over time, it's going to seem more convincing if the characters don't immediately assume it's real.More than skin-deep: Honeyed skin and hair and eyes can only take you so far; if we're only told how beautiful the characters look, why should we believe any love between them is more than superficial?Not just physical: I guess love wasn't described in quite such physical terms in the past, but now it is. Still, I'll probably be more convinced by t…

Time for some Book Reviews

GBA books read to date: 24

I'll start posting reviews of them once the reading stage is done. Meanwhile, here's a few reviews of other books I've read while not glued to the computer: (as usual, click on links for reviews on Gather)

Bones beneath our feet, by Michael Schein is a beautiful historical novel of the Pacific Northwest, bringing the clash of tribes and Bostons to life just as Nathaniel Philbrick did for tribes on the Eastern Coast. Highly recommended; pair this rich elegant complex tale with a 4-star rich elegant complex coffee.

In contrast, Corduroy Mansions, by Alexander McCall Smith is a modern-day ramble through quiet residential streets of London, accompanied by a rather cute dog and many fascinating people--the perfect bedtime storybook with chapters complete in themselves and short enough they won't keep you from feeling awake in the morning. I suppose I should recommend decaf coffee for bedtime, but that would be heresy, so read it with a 3-star bala…

Drama and melodrama

GBE books read to date: 21

I've been enjoying reading in the mystery section of the Dan Poynter Global eBooks Awards. You know how it goes... ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, dodging danger, solving clues and saving the world... Of course, not all mysteries involve saving the world. Sometimes it's saving a child, saving a name, saving a farm. But in other books the stakes are high and it's down to someone just like you or me to stop a terrorist attack. That's where melodrama creeps in.

I read and reviewed a mystery a few months ago where protagonists  investigating possible murder stumbled on terrorism. The murder mystery was satisfyingly dramatic, but terrorism felt like melodrama piled on top of fun, tugging the story to a different level and leaving the reader stumbling on the step. Yesterday I read another mystery with drama and melodrama mixed. This time both were introduced near the start of the story. I was free to think "What's …

Trick of the Dialog

The books I'm reading for the Dan Poynter Global eBook Awards today have got me thinking about dialog and it's effect on story--will this book score high or low in the "distracting dialog" column? And why?

Attributions: He said / she said. We all know we mustn't overuse these, but how about when we under-use them, or use them unhelpfully? In a dialog scene with lots of characters, it might matter which person says what, but leaving the attribution till after he's spoken can leave the reader puzzled and needing to reread... "You silly child," said the little boy, and there was I thinking it had to be his mother speaking.

Accents: Sometimes it's hard to believe in a character who speaks perfect English (or perfect American) when we know they ought to have an accent (or they're too young to speak clearly). But sometimes it's hard to read what someone's saying if the author renders the accent too meticulously. " 'Wan' ca'…

Still enjoying those GBA books

GBA books read to date: 16

but some of those were children's books, so a little shorter than others :) Some of the books were non-fiction too, and got me wondering, how do I make sure the score I give a non-fiction book isn't biased by my feelings on the subject.

Imagine two such books. I agree with both authors in some chapters, and disagree in others. And I'm keeping score...

One score is given for whether the book keeps my interest. It's hard for an author to keep my interest when he tells me my opinion (still worse my education) is value-less. Another score comes from dialog (fiction) and distraction (non-fiction). If a non-fiction author moves into lengthy diatribes against something which is not part of his thesis, it might count as distraction. "Coherence" might lose points if opinion is argued as fact. And then there's the score for "Is this book applicable/useful to self/others." It's probably a bad sign if I couch my answer with &q…

Reading and Judging

GBA books read to date: 6

I'm really enjoying reading the entries for Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards. Judging is a little harder--like I've said before, I really don't like ratings. Luckily the process is simplified with a table of factors to consider. Each item is scored on a scale of 1-10, with space for comments too. And everything starts at 10, so it's quite simple to knock points off whenever I feel a complaint coming on. The scores are summed and a nice little comment reminds us if we gave 10/10 for everything this must surely be the best book ever, so score carefully. The result is then multiplied by 7 (?) with the reminder to recheck if the result's over 1,000. So far I've scored two books at over 900. Now I just need to decide if I should submit them as finalists. But I haven't read everything in a category yet, so I'll see what else I find.

Now back to the washing and cleaning, real life intervening on my reading life. Perhaps I should…