Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Book Review of the Day - John Ringo and Julie Cochrane

So last night I finished Cally's War by John Ringo and Julie Cochrane. I've read a few other books in this series written solely by Ringo and didn't enjoy them as much, so I guess Ms. Cochrane's influence really shows. Don't get me wrong. I liked the other books, but felt the incredible attention to details was a bit over the top. I like more action and character. I don't need to know EXACTLY how a suit of body armor fits on a futuristic soldier. Just put him in the battle and tell me how he reacts to it.

Anyway, Cally's War features the character I've enjoyed most. She's a kick-butt female assassin, right up my alley. Perhaps she is a bit too resilient, almost a superhero in quality, but a lot of fun to read. And we all know I like my female characters to be able to take care of themselves.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Awesome Author Assistance

So, today Joe and I went to a pre-release book signing for Linnea Sinclair's Shades of Dark, the sequel to one of her other books that I read and enjoyed. Linnea is a science fiction/romance author who has been instrumental in inspiring me to finish my current book. I contacted her by email about a year and a half ago to compliment her work and ask for writing advice. Since then, she has taught us a class on world building, helped Joe research private detectives (since she was one for many years and how cool is that?) and done much more that was beyond helpful. Every time I begin to get discouraged, she pushes me toward publication. Without her, things would have been a lot harder. I try to plug her work everywhere I go, like at ReaderCon, and we brought her smiley face cookies today, but I can't do enough to thank her for her help so far.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Elizabeth Bear

As promised, here is my opinion of Bear's Dust. First off, I liked it much more than I expected to. I am a big fan of her Jenny Casey trilogy, and after that series, I felt her style had gone in a direction that, while brilliant, simply wasn't for me. I read Undertow and Carnival, but didn't much care for either one. I was actually going to give up on her for awhile, but then noticed she was attending ReaderCon and talking about Dust. I didn't want to look like a complete idiot when I met her, so I read the book. And I liked it. The main characters are action-oriented women, which I always enjoy. I wasn't too thrilled with the ending, but I am hoping the second book in this series will resolve some of my issues. So, she's got me back as a reader. I'm looking forward to the next book.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Convention Comments ReaderCon

Where do I start? What an incredible experience our first "big" convention was! And I'm told that this is really a minor one compared to WorldCon. Scary thought, considering I barely survived this one due to lack of sleep, food, and caffeine.

Well, first off, I am never driving to Ft. Lauderdale to fly to New York, to drive to Boston ever again. I'll spring for the extra airfare to get closer on either end, thank you very much. We started this thing tired. Big mistake.

First day was pretty cool. I got to hear Kay Kenyon read from her latest book. She's a good reader and does the character voices well, but since I was unfamiliar with the book, I found it hard to follow. She graciously signed my copy of Seeds of Time for me. Very nice lady.

Also met Ellen Kushner. I've never read her work, but she was all personality and a good presenter. She spoke about sequels, among other things, and since I'm writing a series, I found that interesting.

Then, it was back to our hotel to sleep. We couldn't get in to the convention hotel for the first night, but I didn't really mind. Our hotel, a Doubletree, was actually nicer and cheaper than the convention Marriott.

Second day, got to hear a talk by Elizabeth Bear on her book Dust. I was in the middle of it at the time, so she agreed not to discuss any spoilers. I've finished it now, and I'll discuss that in a different blog post. Later, I got to sit down with Ms. Bear in a round table discussion. That was very cool, to be that close to an author I admire so greatly. She was extremely nice and very entertaining. I've read six of her books so far. My favorites are still the Jenny Casey trilogy. Joe has read a pair of her short stories and enjoyed them. She signed two books for me.

We also sat down with Ellen Datlow, a prestigious editor of anthologies with whom the hubby has been conversing by blog posts. She, also, was nice, and helpful, giving us tips on how we should set up our business cards and telling us we should approach publishing house editors at conventions, even if we do not have agents.

We were staying in the Marriott this time, so we just crawled up to bed at a reasonable hour. One thing that surprised me was the lack of parties going on in rooms or in the con suite. Guess they're saving them up for WorldCon.

Third day was definitely the most surreal. This was Doyle and MacDonald day. They are a married writing team that wrote the Mageworlds series. Both the hubby and I are fans and have read all seven books of the Mageworlds, so we could both fully appreciate their presentations on their own works. Prior to the convention, I sent them a fan email complimenting their work and when I got to meet them, they told me they had received it. We sat down for a round table discussion, but didn't really get to discuss anything because the rest of the table was filled with friends of theirs. However, later we ran into them in the bar and they invited us back to their hotel room to ask any writing questions we wanted to! It took me quite awhile to grasp that I was sitting on their floor, eating their homemade cookies, and listening to James MacDonald explain where the character of Beka (one of my all-time favorite female heroines) came from. How cool is that?!

Also, earlier that same day, we got to sit down with Mr. Hartwell, senior editor at Tor publishing. Afterwards, he gave me his business card and gave me permission to email him regarding submitting my work. Whew, what a day!

Sunday, last day of the con, we had brunch with Doyle and MacDonald. Then we went to their reading and they even included a selection from my favorite of their works, Price of the Stars, just for me and Joe! They signed two of my copies of their books for me.

I will write up the rest of the trip experience in a different post. But ReaderCon was definitely worth one all on its own.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Convention Time

So, on a whim, the hubby and I are attending ReaderCon in Boston next week. It was really a spur of the moment decision. Spirit airlines had an airfare deal from Ft. Lauderdale to New York, neither of which is our starting or ending point, but close enough on either end to make this worth our while. So, we will be getting to meet several of my favorite authors including Elizabeth Bear, Debra Doyle, and James MacDonald. I will also get to meet Kay Kenyon. I've only read one of her books, Seeds of Time, but I remember enjoying it. Hopefully, in addition to authors, there will be agents there as well. It would be great to use this convention to practice our social skills and novel pitches for WorldCon next month.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Kristin Landon

Just finished The Cold Minds by Kristin Landon which is the sequel to The Hidden Worlds. I enjoyed this one as well as the last. The romance between the two main characters is nicely developed and the antagonist is evil while still managing to be sympathetic which makes him an unusual bad guy and not a stereotype. The Cold Minds, however, do remind me a bit overly much of the Borg, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, I will be sure to read the next installment, assuming there is one.

On the personal writing front, I have two outside critters who have finished my complete novel. That kind of dedication to something not their own is really appreciated. And even after all the proofing and revising and editing, they and I are still finding things to tighten up to make the story better. I will likely rewrite the ending a bit, to make the main character's climactic moment more, well, climactic and dramatic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Osceola County Writers Group

So, I attended my first meeting of the Osceola County Writers Group last night. My husband had been attending for a few months now, and they had asked him to present on query letters. Since I, also, have been doing a lot of research on that particular topic, I went along and participated, bringing information and examples from my research. It was an interesting experience. I think we shared a lot of good resources, but it's strange being in the position of a presenter when I have not yet been successful in gaining agent representation with my own queries. Still, I think we gave the other members of the group information they had not yet found for themselves, so I guess that regardless of our own success or failure, we were still helpful to the other members.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Ann Aguirre

Just finished Ann Aguirre's Grimspace. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read with complex and likable characters. March is a guy you want to get to know. Jax is a well-written kick-butt female character. The supporting cast is equally endearing. The sequel comes out soon and I am looking forward to reading it.

I wrote to Ms. Aguirre to compliment her work and she responded almost immediately. I respect any author who does that. It tells me that the author understands that fans are what make or break them. I hope if/when I am published that I remember to make time to answer emails on a daily basis.

Ms. Aguirre will be attending WorldCon. She has agreed to sign my copy of Grimspace for me and I am eager to discuss characterization with her.

On an authorial note, I just finished the synopsis for Agency Files-Assassin's Nightmare. Boiling down over 400 pages into seven took quite an effort, but I think I've finally got something that not only gives the highlights of the story but also conveys the "voice" of the novel and its main character, Vick Corren. The plan is to send off my first official agent query on Saturday the fifth.