Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Swimming With the Dolphins

I'm still reading Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. This is one of those books that it is going to have a big impact on me. I can tell, cause you know, I know these kind of things. Maybe, I am a Wild Seed, too. If anyone ever asks me again: What do you want to be when you grow up? I will now and forever have to answer: A Wild Seed.

Ms. Butler creates a nice rhythm with her writing. The story has its roots in Africa and you can just hear the relentless droning of the djembe at a low volume on every page. Every now and then comes the shriek of a monkey, the roar of a lion, and the caw of an exuberant bird. The song is the whisper of ancient voices crossing the continuum of time.

Yes, I recommend reading it.

And I am over hear throwing my hands in the air, and swirling my hips because I found this picture. Did you hear that Crash-Thunk? That is me falling out of my chair.
OMG. Yes, I just wrote OMG!

You now have to read this book just so you can tell me whether or not you agree: Is this the perfect picture for this book, or what?

I wish Ms. Butler was still alive, I would send it to her with a note. YOU HAVE TO  SEE THIS!

The story has so many layers. Swimming with the dolphins is only one of them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Story of Doro and Anyanwu

I'm reading Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. I've never heard of Ms. Butler, but then I see this book on a Pixel of Ink special deal listing. I have to confess, it sounds intriguing.

From the Book Description on Amazon:

When two immortals meet in the long-ago past, the destiny of mankind is changed forever

For a thousand years, Doro has cultivated a small African village, carefully breeding its people in search of seemingly unattainable perfection. He survives through the centuries by stealing the bodies of others, a technique he has so thoroughly mastered that nothing on Earth can kill him. But when a gang of New World slavers destroys his village, ruining his grand experiment, Doro is forced to go west and begin anew.

He meets Anyanwu, a centuries-old woman whose means of immortality are as kind as his are cruel. She is a shapeshifter, capable of healing with a kiss, and she recognizes Doro as a tyrant. Though many humans have tried to kill them, these two demi-gods have never before met a rival. Now they begin a struggle that will last centuries and permanently alter the nature of humanity.

I read the first two chapters and it's not exactly what I'm expecting , but it's interesting, so I want to keep reading. I have no idea that Octavia E. Butler has often been referred to the "grand dame of science fiction." I guess she and Ursula K. Le Guin were groundbreakers. I wonder if they knew each other. Ms. Le Guin was eighteen years older than Ms. Butler, but it's hard to imagine that they didn't cross paths once or twice. Two incredible women.

I think what fascinates me about the book description is the contrast between the characters: kind and cruel; and their immortality. It will be interesting to see how Ms. Butler portrays these character qualities in her story.

I tell you, I love to discover new authors, even when they are only new to me. The lovely thing about digital books is the ease with which readers can discover writers like Ms. Butler.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It is Only October and There is a Lot of Snow

I am reading Need by Carrie Jones. What's her name … Zara, actually that's a great name, apologies for experiencing brain collapse right in the middle of a blog post … but now that I'm reading this book, I can't remember why I HAD to get it from the library … what is wrong with my brain?????

Okay. Zara has just arrived in Bangor, Maine. It is only October and there is a lot of snow.

I like the scene where she slides on the ice and hugs the tree. Yes, I could see that happening to me. Her grandmother is feisty—an EMT, how awesome--and I know her Dad is dead (or something), but she doesn't seem to think of much else—at all. I like Issie, so far, and yes, Ian is weird. Maybe it's the banana face.

I have no idea where this is going, but one of my friends on Goodreads LOVES it, so I'm going to hang in there. It's not that I'm not enjoying this book, it's not that at all … It's just that I checked out way too many books from the library over the past six weeks and now, after all that print, I'm dying to get back to my Kindle.

What can I say? I'm a truly-deeply-converted e-reader.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cut Out Hearts and Birthday Cards and Such...

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm reading Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff. Not exactly a romance, unless you count Finny…but…

We'll see where that goes. Cut out hearts and birthday cards and such…

I am really liking it. I love Hannah's fashion sense. And Decker with his sleeve. Throw in a ghost who doesn't eat--didn't eat. It's like a quirky whodunnit.

Like I said, not exactly a romance.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Indie Life: Keeping it Real

Being genuine. Keeping it Real. 

How to do that in an online, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google + world?

I have spent a year trying to answer that question for myself. What I have learned is this: By jumping into the river and swimming, I begin to discover things. As I'm paddling and floating along, my heart and mind connect to things that turn me on, make me feel more alive, and help me grow my way of seeing myself, others, and the world around me.

Those are the things I retweet, share, and comment on. It feels good. There's an impulse to be random, formulaic, and mechanical, and I have experimented with that. For me, it might involve some time savings, but it never feels quite right.

I struggled a lot last year with my website and blog. Having blogged in the past, I knew what a time suck it could be. I didn't want to start up anything I would come to resent, or worse feel disconnected from. Like I was just going through the motions, or just doing it because everyone says I need an author platform.

There were a lot of false starts. I kind of went off in this direction and that one; I felt kind of stuck and uninspired. As the year wore on, I was reading a lot more and then I picked up Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I fell in love with the stories in it and wanted to chatter about it. Out of all that, Eating Magic, my stream-of-consciousness eating journal, inspired by the Alice Hoffman quote: Books may well be the only true magic was born. 

I get more regular traffic from Eating Magic than anything else I've experimented with, and the truth is, I would continue with it even if I didn't get the traffic, because I love it and it's a lot of fun to write.

Russell Blake is a successful indie author who I follow on Twitter.  He made a comment on his post New Year, New Hurdles & Opportunities: They are singularities. He was referring to John Locke, Amanda Hocking, E.L. James, John Grisham, and Hemingway. He meant their particular road to success is not repeatable. So what are we to do if we can't mimic, copy, or follow behind in their footsteps?

It seems, indie authors--and authors--who experience break-out success don't follow any set rules; they follow their passions and find their own way to keep it real. I know that's the key to accessing the excitement that fired me up to take this journey in the first place.

So every now and then I ask myself: Are you keeping it real?

What about you? Does being genuine feel important to you as an indie author?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

eliciting Primal from Exquisite Prose

I am reading The Reckoning by Alma Katsu. I peruse some of the reviews before I am even done and am kind of glad to see that Anne Rice comes up. I've always been a big Anne Rice fan, I think I love Gothic.
I went through my own Goth phase…shaved head, doc martens, got the tattoo…frowned a lot. No new piercings though. One in each ear seems like plenty.

Katsu makes me dance. It is the best way to describe it. Her books are like a fire and I hop around them with little twirls and feints and jabs. One thing for sure, this story of hers about Lanore and Jonathan and Adair and the mild-mannered doctor, Lucas Findley, of all people, makes me think.

Yes. No. Ahh. Hmm. I tug on my bottom lip. Queen of the Underworld?

Other than one flashback--excuse me for a sec, while I have a writer's meltdown over the single flaw in an otherwise perfect book---which was repetitive even though it's a different point-of-view and almost put me to sleep…Lanore has returned because she's owning more of who she is. I like that. I don't mind my characters being dark, just OWN IT.

I have issues with Adair. My god, who wouldn't? He's such a creep. Okay, he's much worse than a creep. He's diabolical, sadistic and…a little bit stiff for someone who's such a libertine.

Jonathan and his whole plot line is kind of weirding me out, and yet…


I tell you (other than that one snoozefest of a flashback) this is like Anne Rice finally got past Religion and reached Love. Not because Katsu is getting it all right, I would quibble about some of the details of motivation, and yet, she's pulling us into that room, the one where all questions are safe to ask…and as a reader and a writer, I applaud her.

The thing is this, I don't think she's trying to sway you or me, I think she's just opening the doors and inviting us in. And that's what makes a great writer. And that's what makes a great read. And that's why I am over here dancing around the fire, shaking my rattles and beating my drum.

Katsu is eliciting Primal from Exquisite Prose.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Thank you, Jessica Fortunato for tagging me for The Next Big Thing. Jessica is the author of The Sin Collector books and her latest release is Steam, a 5-star original short story/science fiction/romance just in time for Valentine's Day.

So what is The Next Big Thing? Answering the following questions and tagging five more writers!

1. Diantha Jones
2. Bella Harte
3. Vanessa Wu
4. T.L. Rese
5. Michelle Muto

1) What is the [working] title of your next book?
The Dragon Carnivale.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for this installment grew out of one of my favorite characters in the series, Sevondi, a muannai and a powerful dragonwitch.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a fantasy fairy tale series and a spin off of the14th century French fairy tale, Melusine. There are faeries and half-faeries, and the enchanted world bleeds into the mortal world.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm pretty sure I am going to date myself here. I would love a young-someone-like Wynona Ryder for the main character Melia. Wynona Ryder is a beautiful, intelligent, irreverent actress.
Amanda Seyfried for the beautiful bad Plantine. She would be AWESEOME. Yes, all caps.
A young-someone-like the statuesque, auburn-haired, Aussie Nicole Kidman for Melusine. I can just see her looking down her perfect nose at her middle sister.
No one but Kathy Bates for Flora.
Waffling between Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Michael Caine for Uncle Raffles.

But if Peter Jackson would just direct the movie, he could do for Kathy and Anthony or Michael, what he did for Elijah Wood, Sam Astin, and all the other hobbits. He could make Ms. Bates the perfect Spring Faerie and either of the fellows the perfect head librarian/wood elf.
And what about a young-someone-like Javier Bardem for Ryder?
And no one, but no one, but Jada Pinkett Smith for Sevondi!!!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After the death of Elenda and the fall of the Stronghold of Calashai, energies in the enchanted world are shifting and new alliances are forming; the battle between Dark and Light has begun. Before Melia can deal with her feelings for Ryder, she must warn the halfbloods in the mortal world that Umbra is coming for them; and face the powerful Dragonwitch and her bacchanalian Dragon Carnivale.

Oops! Two sentences. Sirens. Here come the blog-meme police.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My series is totally indie.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I will tell you when I am done.

8)What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I am so heavily influenced by Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The first manuscript for the first book in Queen of the Realm of Faerie was a totally Tolkienesque, cast of characters, omniscient POV, quest fantasy, but it needed a lot of work. It was my first completed novel and was rejected by five agents. The next attempt was a Charlaine Harris-Sookie Stackhouse-like-first person POV-attempt with Melusine as the main character. That didn’t even make it past my husband and beta reader, although I had a lot of fun writing it. Finally, after reading The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1), I settled on the multi-but-predominantly-Melia POV epic fantasy. Even though multi-POVs are out of fashion, it felt like the best way to tell the story. So ... can you compare Queen of the Realm of Faerie to The Lord of the Rings? The Sookie Stackhouse series? Or the Greyfriar books? I don’t know, but they directly fed my muse.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The entire series was inspired by my maternal grandmother. Whenever I went to visit her, I felt like I was entering another world full of enchantment and rife with black magic.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
In the end, I think of it as a contemporary The Lord of the Rings with faeries, half-faeries and female leads. The Lord of the Rings is a love story enfolded in an epic quest fantasy, and that is ultimately how I view Queen of the Realm of Faerie. Contemporary, but traditional. Faerie Tale, but epic. And I hope that when it is all said and done that the love story between Melia and Ryder will hold a candle to the inspiring love between Aragorn and Arwen.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Raggedy Chan

Raggedy Chan: An Illustrated Adventure is now live on Amazon for $1.99! This Middle Grade fantasy contains 40 full-color illustrations from artist Joey Manfre

About Raggedy Chan:

Emma Chan-McDougal receives a special gift from her Auntie Gracie: a rag doll named Raggedy Chan. But Raggedy Chan is no ordinary doll. She is a beautiful Chinese princess who lives in a jasper palace on the enchanted isle of Kunlun. The peace of her island home is threatened when Drought Fury steals Winged Dragon, bringer of rain. Without Winged Dragon, Kunlun will wither and die. To save her stricken homeland, Raggedy Chan sets forth alone. Her quest leads her to America, where she meets people who distrust her because she’s different. Can Raggedy Chan adapt to the strange ways of this new land and rescue her beloved dragon?

In this modern fairy tale, Chinese-American author Camille Picott draws on her heritage to weave a story of magic, adventure, and sacrifice. Raggedy Chan: An Illustrated Adventurecontains forty full-color illustrations.

From Thursday Feb 7th - Friday Feb 8th, you can download the book for free.

To celebrate Raggedy Chan's release and Chinese New Year, author Camille Picott is giving away a limited edition Raggedy Chan book + doll set.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


As a reader who is passionate about Twitter, I'm always trying to think of ways to connect with other like-minded folks: Bibliophiles. People who love to read.

I'm also active on Goodreads. There are a lot of folks there with blogs and stuff, working hard writing book reviews, hosting cool giveaways, and otherwise sharing their passion for great stories and the written word. Wouldn't it be great if we all connected on Twitter?

So…I was thinking about this…


Use #TeamGoodreads in your tweet when you want to follow/followback other folks who share your passion for reading.

It would be so #awesome to build a great reading Twitter community.

I'm going to start experimenting with it today. If you're interested in making these kinds of connections, please use #TeamGoodreads  too!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Star Wars Meets Fairy Tales

R2D2, fairy godmothers, and magical pumpkins. Star Wars meets Fairy Tales. I'm reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer, of course.

What awesome fun. How can you not love a main character who's a cyborg and a mechanic? And it's set in New Beijing.

Poor Peony. Sob.

This is so clever it is entrancing. I'm reading it with one of my Goodreads groups in a Monthly Read-Along. Yes, I've heard about this book, but somehow have managed not to read it.

I just finished Book One. It's very tight, I like that. I do hope it holds, I've been in such a reading slump.

What's a reading slump? It's when the books you read, and you, aren't bonding at a cellular level. And then you start wondering…why do I read?

So … I'm really glad I'm enjoying Cinder. Fingers crossed, it will pull me out of my slump.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lucky Charms on Steroids

I'm in a bit of a reading slump. I think I've been reading too many books at once, so right now I'm in the middle of trying to finish every book I've started.

I checked out too many books from the library. What was I thinking? With all the ones loaded on my Kindle?

I am excited about starting my first read-along with one of my Goodreads groups this month. We're going to be reading Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer. I am definitely looking forward to that…cyborgs, and all.

Right now I've got a good start on The Demon King and The Death of Bees.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima strikes me as a very traditional YA epic fantasy, while The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell is like Lucky Charms on steroids.

If the weekend goes as planned, I'll be able to get back on track, all caught up, and maybe even have something snappy to say about what I've read next week.