Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back in the Finals

So, Assassin's Nightmare is back in the finals for the Royal Palm Literary Awards. It made the finals last year, but didn't win anything. It has undergone significant revisions since then. I hope it will do better this year.

Monday, May 25, 2009

OASIS Convention

I spent Saturday at the OASIS convention. It stands (sort of) for Orlando Area Science Fiction Society. I attended because four authors I read were also attending.

The panels weren't bad, though they could really have used more passing time between them. As soon as one ended, the next began.

The best part, as usual, was meeting authors I respect and admire. I spoke very briefly with Adam-Troy Castro. He was too busy to really talk, though. I wish he'd had more time. I would have loved to ask about his inspiration for the Andrea Cort character.

I had books signed by John Ringo and Peter David.

Then, I had a long chat with Sandra McDonald. She was very nice, pleasant to talk with, and said she'd look over my first chapter on OWW (Online Writers Workshop) since I critiqued one of hers. I was completely unknown to her, but she took time to speak with me. I appreciated that tremendously.

Then the hubby and I had drinks with C.L. Wilson. We haven't read her work, but we keep ending up at the same conferences, so we've gotten to know each other. Linnea first introduced us about a year ago. She's also a great source of help and information. I enjoyed spending time with her.

All in all, it was a good networking experience.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bood Review of the Day - Laura Anne Gilman

BLOOD FROM STONE is, at least for now, the last novel in the Retrievers series by Laura Anne Gilman. This is another of those series that I initially picked up out of desperation for anything to read that might interest me, and no kick-ass female science fiction was available.

It's a modern urban fantasy with a romantic sub-plot. And that's usually not my thing. But I felt myself drawn in by the fantastic characterization of both the main and supporting characters. And characters ARE my thing. Wren is a kick-ass, no-nonsense thief struggling to maintain her sanity. Sergei is the man with the dark past who knows exactly how to treat a woman, or at least works hard to get it right. (I fell in love with him even as Wren struggled to determine her own feelings.) The supporting cast has depth of its own. PB, for example, seems at first like your typical wise-cracking tough guy New Yorker (in addition to being a demon). But there's a sensitive side to him that is fully revealed in BLOOD FROM STONE. (We see hints of it in earlier books.)

The plot of this final story is fast-paced and ties up several loose ends. There's plenty of excitement and action to satisfy my adventure-loving side. Personally, I would have liked to see the romance play an even bigger part in this last installment, but I suppose that never was Gilman's primary focus.

The most impressive element is the growth one can see in all the characters from book one to this ending. Wren and Sergei mature. They learn about each other and themselves and the magic-filled world around them. Dynamic characters sell novels. I won't give away spoilers here, but I feel like I've grown with these characters.

I know Gilman's intention is to focus on another aspect of the same universe but with different characters. I'm sure they will be just as entertaining in their own rights, given Gilman's great skill in this aspect and in world building. But I will miss Wren and Sergei, especially Sergei.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Review of the Day - Lucienne Diver

Up front, let me say, I NEVER read young adult novels unless I'm critiquing my husband's manuscript or teaching them to my seventh graders.

And regarding vampires, I really tend more toward science fiction, but I'll pick up a vampire story once in a while, for fun and a change of pace.

Well, that's exactly what Lucienne Diver's YA novel VAMPED is -- a fun change of pace.

Teenage girls will love this tongue-in-cheek look at the vampire experience through a fashionista's eyes. Boys will enjoy the action and fast pace of the story. Both will find it quirky, funny, and exciting at the same time and may relate well to the main characters -- Gina and Bobby.

As I said, I teach seventh graders. While Gina and Bobby are in high school, I already see characteristics of the two in some of my students. Lucienne has nailed many aspects of the teenage mentality.

Since she came to speak at my school, I am noticing more and more copies of VAMPED in the hands of both my guys and girls during free choice reading time. It looks like Lucienne may have herself a hit with this one, and she's left us ready for a sequel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Winning the Lottery

No, we didn't really win the lottery, at least not the big one. But we did win $150.

The hubby and I never play the lottery anymore. We used to, before we had kids. It was fun to dream about it. But we realized the odds of winning were ridiculous. Then the Florida Lottery got smart. They mailed out coupons!

They sent a sheet of coupons in the mail for things like buy one ticket, get one free, or two dollars off a five dollar scratch off, etc. On Mother's Day, I said, why not? We used the entire page of coupons for a total of $23 dollars spent on a bunch of lottery and scratch off tickets.

Most were duds. But I scratched one off and won $100! Then I scratched off another one and won $50! Definitely a good deal!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another Contest

I caught the early-entry discount for the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest this year. None of this last minute stuff for me! (Ok, I admit, it was the last day of the early-entry discount, and the hubby had to drive to the open-late post office to get it postmarked correctly.) However, last year I sent the entry in on the last day of the contest, period (again, in the middle of the night). I like to keep it until the last possible moment in case I spot something wrong with it and want to make a revision.

This time around, the manuscript has been through so much, I really didn't have any more changes to make. Not that I'm not open to change. Quite the contrary. I'm always open to people pointing out how I can make my work better. But I feel I've gotten past the point where I can spot necessary changes myself.

Even waiting last year, I still felt rushed with it. And, I was a finalist, but I didn't place in the top three. Now that the opening has been rewritten (twice), and it's won a contest with the Florida Writers Association already this year, I'm hoping for better results in this competition.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Five Minutes of Fame

How many aspiring writers can say they were featured on a prominent literary agent's blog?

Well, I can. (I guess my husband can say it, too, since he was also in the blog entry.)

The wonderful Lucienne Diver referred to us as "fabulous" for hosting the author day at my school, and she wrote about the experience. I'm so glad she enjoyed herself.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Connections, Connections

It's all about the networking. I've said it before. And now my parents have jumped on the bandwagon.

I finally got up the nerve to let my father read Assassin's Nightmare. He says he is very much enjoying it. He should be finishing it this coming week. And he's impressed. This is a Harvard graduate, a patent attorney. The man is very hard to impress. And he never says it unless he means it. While growing up, I found this personality trait frustrating. In fact, it's one of the problems/themes the main character in my novel faces. But as an adult, I have come to realize that his demanding so much of me makes it even sweeter when he tells me he likes something I've written.

Anyway, my parents regularly go to a fitness center to keep in shape. And my mother is a talker. To everyone. She's inherently friendly. Apparently, a lady who attends the center with them is a retired slush reader for Random House publishing. She might even have been an acquisitions editor, but Mom wasn't too clear on her former title.

Mom being Mom told her all about my manuscript, the contest win, and Tor's interest. So this nice lady asked to read it. Dad wouldn't let her have it without my permission, which pleased me greatly. He's treating me like an adult. I've been one for quite some years now, (more than I'll admit), but I appreciate it when my parents show me the consideration of actually treating me like one. Of course, I said to go ahead and show it to her.

One never knows whom she is still in contact with back at Random House.