Showing posts from February, 2012

Magic, by Andy Gavin

I'm delighted to welcome Andy Gavin, author of The Darkening Dream, to my blog today. The Darkening Dream blends vintage horror with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, setting teenagers from the early 1900s against vampires, demons and more, and bringing a wealth of religious imagery to bear. You can find my review of the Darkening Dream here, but seriously, I'd recommend you read Andy's post instead. It's much more interesting. In constructing The Darkening Dream I wanted the meta-story to play off conventional tropes. Broadly, a cabal of ancient supernatural beings has sent one of their number to recover an artifact needed to destroy the world. And surprise, it turns out a group of teens are all that stands between them and Armageddon. How much more Buffy can you get? But that's just the high level. I also wanted to ground this preposterous scenario in real history and legend. So as a methodology, in designing my array of supernatural beings and occult practitione

Of Gods and Kings and the World of Fantasy

I reviewed James West's The God King last week (see review of the God King by James West ), and today I'm privileged to have him here on my blog answering some interview questions. I really enjoyed this interview and learned a lot about what goes into writing and creating fantasy. I'm sure you'll enjoy the interview too, and don't forget to leave comments and ask your own questions at the end. Thank you for visiting my blog James. Let's talk epic fantasy... Which fantasies have you most enjoyed reading, as a child and as an adult? Do you think they influenced you in writing the God King? First let me say how much I appreciate you setting up this interview and the opportunity it provides me to talk about what I consider my real work! Thank you! Now to the nitty-gritty. The first book I ever read that even smacked of the fantastical was the Talisman , by Stephen King and Peter Straub. The first traditional fantasy I ever read was The Eye of th

Paper doesn't break!

Okay, the pages of a book can get torn, I can spill things on them, and they bend if I sit on them. But seriously, paper doesn't break, and computers and kindles can drive me up the wall. I'm gazing at a stretched out screen at the moment because my computer keeps losing communication with the monitor. It might all go black and turn into an ordinary screen soon. Meanwhile nothing's where I expect it to be--even moving the mouse feels all wrong--frustration! Gaghghgh! When I've finished this post I'll probably go back to reading and reviewing a book, having finally managed to load it onto my kindle. First attempt it just didn't transfer. Second attempt it wouldn't open (and the kindle crashed). Third time's a charm. Gaghghgh! Or maybe I'll write, except then I'll be stuck with this crazy screen that keeps flickering and changing on me. Perhaps I should just go out and do some yardwork while the sun still shines. I did find one thing the ki

Computer reading

Reasons to read on a computer: It's easier to write the review if I can make notes while I'm reading. It's easier to stay awake if I'm sitting in a computer chair (though I've still been known to fall asleep over the keyboard). Some pdf files look really awful on my kindle. I can't read epub files anywhere else.  I can't read docs (or blogs) anywhere else. And it's easier to search for files on my computer. So here are reviews and coffee recommendations for four books read recently on my computer, plus one real hardback, just to be different:  Starting with the hardback, we read Annie Proulx's Bird Cloud for our book group this month.It felt a bit like a cross between Bill Bryson's At Home (which we read in December) and Jane Kirkpatrick's Homestead (which they read before I joined up). The memoir is nicely framed with the parallel migrations of family and nature, but it's a slow read with lots of detail and a rather down-beat

Connected ?

I needed to get myself organized, too many books still waiting for review, too many deadlines almost missed, too many times I plan  one thing and find I'm doing another. Since my website and blogs are all on Google, I thought a Gmail account, plus calendar and task list and all the rest, might help... plus a smart-phone (isn't Christmas wonderful). So now I'm almost organized and mostly connected and... ... and then I logged out of emails and went to my website (built with Blogger, part of Google) to check how it looked. It looked blank, blocked, gone. I searched (with Google) for help, then felt foolishly inspired to check for an email explanation. But I couldn't log in; my emails were likewise blank, blocked, gone. So I checked my phone where a nice warning triangle told me all my accounts were unavailable. Organized. Connected. That's what I wanted wasn't it? But now I'm so connected a single problem might leave me disorganized and unable to connect.

Paper, kindle or pdf?

When people ask me to review a book I usually ask for paper if possible. I know it's bad for the environment and all that, but it sits in real space to guilt me, smiles from its cover to attract me, wanders around the house with me and even to the station in the car, doesn't mind being held over the cooker while I make dinner, doesn't break if I drop it... Failing paper I'll happily review a kindle copy--never loses its page, small and light to carry, letters grow bigger when the room grows dark so I can read it in any light... but I do tend to lose track of the titles I'm meant to read next; it doesn't guilt me or organize me very well. And, failing that, I'll take a pdf. I usually try them on the kindle first in hopes the text won't turn pale gray and spider-like. Sometimes some words are big enough to read, but if it isn't most of the words my eyes just can't cope with the confusion. Pdfs glue me to the computer, which glues me to the chai

Science fiction, science fantasy

My husband likes science fiction--solid, believable science, actions with consequences, characters who care about details and facts before opinions... My son's more interested in fantasy--complex, plausible characters, storylines with depth, worlds of intricate imagination... Me, I like both, especially when they're packaged in the same book. I read and reviewed Karen Wyle's Twin Bred some time ago, an exciting novel with lots of twists and turns, plots and sub-plots, ethical dilemmas, and an alien race worthy of Orson Scott Card, plus believable science and a just a gentle hint of fantasy. And I heard it's available free, just today (well, yesterday too, but that doesn't help you) on kindle, so why not give it a try. Hmmm, lots of interesting free books turning up on kindle. Will Amazon start offering free time to read them too? There's a thought for a tale...

Five Reasons to Leave...

I recently read and reviewed Carolyn Moncel's 5 reasons to leave a lover , a novella and two short stories that deal with love, cheating, cruelty, deception, ambivalence and death. The stories, like the author, travel the world from the US to Europe, and, as an English American, I wondered if the author felt the "reasons" might be viewed differently from different cultures. Carolyn Moncel very kindly gave me her thoughts on the subject, so, over to you Carolyn, and thank you for visiting my blog today.  French vs. American Attitudes Regarding  One Reason to Leave a Lover  By Carolyn Moncel   “Chérie, I must say that your people place way too much emphasis on affairs.”  These words are uttered by a male French character in my upcoming collection of short stories called Railway Confessions. I think his response generally encapsulates well what the French, in particular, may think about Americans when it comes to at least one of the reasons highlighted

Encouraged, pushed forwards, and Caught.

A few years ago I joined my first social networking site,, and met, amongst other good friends, a wonderful lady called Sarah Collins Honenberger. Knowing she was a genuine published author (I bought and enjoyed her first book, White Lies ), I was amazed by Sarah's kind and encouraging comments on my writing. So, when she suggested I submit something to an online magazine, I plucked up courage and asked which one. Sarah suggested , who had already published something of hers ( Night Noises ). So I tried, and they said yes. My journey began! Some time later Sarah Collins Honenberger's second book came out, Waltzing Cowboys , and she offered me a book exchange, her second real book for my second self-published one! A real live author actually my book and wanted a review from me! And so my years of book-reviewing began. We met again, online, in the Amazon Breakout Novel Awards competition. My Divide by Zero made the quarter finals. Catcher, C

Looking in on "The Bright Side"

I recently read and reviewed S. R. Johannes' tween novel On the Bright Side , first in her Starling series, and was delighted to get the opportunity to interview the author. A novel filled with zany puns, heavenly remakes of modern technology, green issues and high school disasters... where does it all come from? Well, here's your chance and mine to find out, plus some interesting hints on the joys of writing and getting published. Me.         Hi. And thanks for joining me. I enjoyed reading On the Bright Side and have to say, the heroine Gabby’s voice sounds so very convincing. Did you have a particular teenager in mind when you created her? SRJ. My self. I was kinda grumpy when I was a tween. I think I got in more fights about boys in middle school than in high school. Me.         I really liked the way you wove many religious ideas into the start (and anchored them in Gabby’s test in school). Did you have to do lots of research to get the ideas? SRJ. I am ver