Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Review of the Day - Adam-Troy Castro

Wow. All I can say is, "Wow!"

I just finished reading Adam-Troy Castro's second book in the Andrea Cort series - The Third Claw of God. Though the series features a very strong female protagonist, it was a bit of an unusual choice for me, because it was written by a male author. I'm very glad I didn't let that stop me.

First, let me say that I'm aware that my feelings about male authors are likely unfair to them. It just seems like when I read female protagonists written by men, they don't ring as true to me.

Andrea Cort is definitely an exception to that feeling. She is extremely well-written, strong yet sympathetic, and I love the way Castro has let us get to know her throughout these two novels. By the time I started this second book, I felt I knew her well enough to like her. Now, having finished the novel, I feel like I understand and respect her.

The plot itself, is excellent. It's a combination of science fiction and mystery, very true to both genres with lots of world building, specialized, futuristic tech, and suspense that keeps a reader wondering who the antagonists really are until the final ten pages of the book. When you think it's over, it's not. I love it when an author can skillfully pull that off. There's also the perfect amount of, "Oh, I saw that coming," mixed in with plenty of, "Whoa, where did that come from?" to make everything believable in the end.

I am looking forward with great anticipation to the next book in the series.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Rest of Woot

I never did post about the missing items from the bag of crap we got from Woot.com, so I will rectify that now. Heh. Crap. Rectify. Um, nevermind.

Anyway, we received the remainder of our shipment about a week ago. In it we found a camera bag, a battery-operated screwdriver with multiple attachments, a children's digital thermometer, and an action figure from some military video game whose name currently escapes me. All were new and still in their original packaging. Certainly the haul was worth more than the eight dollars. And the anticipation is so much fun.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review of the Day - Michelle Sagara

Outside my comfort zone, I picked up Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara. This is not the type of book I normally read. Though there is no genre on the spine, I would classify it as dark fantasy. But, it had a strong female protagonist, and it was recommended by one of my favorite authors, Tanya Huff, in a cover blurb, so I gave it a shot.

There were certainly things I enjoyed about it. The main character was intriguing. I could identify with her. And I enjoyed the main male character as well, though he does a "very bad thing" that is hard to get past. It's hard for the female character to get past it as well, so I guess that's the point - to have mixed feelings about him. There was lots of good action and intrigue.

And I will say that Sagara has created a rich world, full of interesting and unique species and cultures, all well described. She does everything right. It's just not my thing. I suppose I simply prefer a sparser style without so much world building. Now, granted, this is a weakness of mine. I could likely use more world building in my own writing. And, her rich world building is definitely a characteristic of the genre in which she writes. I'm not saying this is a flaw in any way. I'm saying I'm not really a fan of fantasy.

So, why am I reading fantasy if I don't much care for it? I like science fiction with strong female protagonists. Apparently, I have read all the books that meet those two requirements that have been released in the past six years or so. I walk up and down the aisles of bookstores, searching covers and reading backs of books, and I can't find anything that sparks my interest. And even when I know there is a book coming out that I want, I often can't find it in Barnes & Noble or Borders. Bookstores aren't ordering the books I want to buy.

Now, I understand that stores are cutting back on ordered inventory due to the economy. They don't want to have to return unsold books. But my question is, how can they sell books if they don't have books? And that lack of books drives me to order on the internet because there is no where else I can get what I want. And the internet drives the physical bookstores under. Sigh.

Of course, my husband would say I need to broaden what I read. And I have. I've read some science fiction/romance, some paranormal, some dark fantasy, some standard fantasy, some modern urban fantasy, and some superheroes. And I've found some things that I love in my wanderings. But, with only a few exceptions, they don't satisfy my reading thirst as well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Request for the Full Manuscript!

Got another request for the full manuscript today! Now I have multiple agents to bite my nails over. If I must have stress in my life, then this is where I want to have it, but, yes, it is stressful.

One full request feels like a fluke. More than one feels like I've actually got something good here.

This request comes from the same agent who wrote me the apology mentioned in an earlier post. She certainly got through my partial very quickly. She is actively looking for adult fiction rather than YA, and science fiction is apparently her first love, so I have great hope.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More Encouraging News

On the writing front, I heard back from an agent I queried seven months ago. Apparently, my query was dumped into some random folder on her computer. This happened to the follow-up I sent as well. She wrote a very sincere apology for the delay and asked for 60 pages, though she was certain I must have already found representation by now. Alas, no. Not with today's economy. But, she clearly liked the ten pages I sent her initially. Anyway, it's encouraging.

And, I got my critiques back from the Do It Write Literary Competition in which I won second place. These were a complete turnaround from the ones I received when I entered the Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition. Extremely enthusiastic and full of lovely praise. Of course, the novel has undergone significant revisions since then. I owe much to my mentor and all my critique partners.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Assassin's Nightmare is a Winner!

Assassin's Nightmare just took second place in the FWA Pasco County Do It Write Literary Competition! That means a trip to the top of the slush pile for an editor at Tor publishing! I get feedback from the editor and the potential for more. Can you tell I'm excited?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wacky Rejection Times Two

Well, here's a new one on my road to publication. I haven't seen this one before. About four months ago, I sent a partial at an agent's request. She liked my query and wanted to see the first three chapters. She kept it for three months. At the end of that time, I received a very nice rejection from her. She really liked it, read and re-read it, and had tried to find a place to work it into her agency's list, but could not, so she was rejecting it with regrets.

The unusual part? Last night, after another month had passed, I get another note from the same agent. She was, apparently, still attached to my partial. She said she had continued to review and re-review it. She called it "very strong work" and invited me to resubmit to her in six months if I had not found representation elsewhere, but currently the market would not allow her to take it on.

Sigh. How close can one come without smoking the proverbial cigar?

Book Review of the Day - Linnea Sinclair

Finished Hope's Folly today. Now I have two favorite Linnea Sinclair novels - Games of Command and Hope's Folly. It's hard to tell which one I prefer more. I like them both for different reasons. But, here's why I love Folly.

For one thing, it's nice to see a more mature male protagonist. Not that her other books feature immature characters, but Philip Guthrie is 45. Closer to my own age than many of her other heroes. He's knowledgeable, experienced, and fallible, which makes him completely desirable.

The main female character, Rya, is my kind of gal - an assassin with an insatiable affinity for weaponry. She's young, but wise beyond her years, aggressive, impetuous at times, and, did I mention she's an assassin? Gotta love her.

This book is full of great action, hidden enemies, and hot romance scenes. There is a perfect balance between the demands of both genres - science fiction and romance. I'm sure fans of either one will be pleased with the result.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We Love Woot

After the first item arrived, we checked the status of the rest of our shipment, only to be informed by the website that all our order had been delivered. Eeek.

Ok, I know a wine cellar refrigerator for $3.00 plus $5.00 shipping is an awesome deal, even if the unit is rather dented in the back. However, the description of the bag of crap is pretty specific. Three or more random items, and a bag of some sort. We got one item, no bag.

So, I emailed Woot. Not because I was trying to be greedy. And I told them how much I appreciated the wine cellar. I just wanted to make sure something hadn't gone astray, and I wanted to be able to stop rushing home every day to see if a package had arrived.

They emailed back to tell me that they apologized for the missing items, and the rest would arrive in a week or two. Cool! Likely it will really be crap, this time, but at least we get a few more weeks of fun anticipation, and a bag of some sort.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

first woot crap has arrived

The first of our three craps from the bags of crap has arrived. If I didn't already mention it in the post a few posts ago, the bag of crap comes in threes, so three random items, plus a bag of some sort, all for a total of $8.00 including shipping.

The first surprise came today. A wine cellar refrigerator! Ok, it's a little dented, but it apparently works fine. The dent is in the back. It holds 12 bottles of wine and keeps them chilled to the perfect chilled wine temperature.

Other two surprises are due by Friday!