Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hellhole by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert

I read this with no expectations. It's an easy read. There are lots of planets and lots of characters. It was fun. But when I finish it was more of a "Huh", than a "Wow."

So I went to Goodreads and checked out the reviews. The criticisms amazed me. People are writing about the lack of plot twists and overused tropes. I guess the average reviewer is more erudite than I realized.

That made me think about the book to see if I could find what made it feel less than spectacular.

There were several reviews that said the characters were one-dimensional. And there are a lot of view point characters. I can't say that any of them really got to me. There is so much going on with all of them. We only get to visit for a short period of time. I think I would prefer to stay with less of them for longer periods of time. And also, there's my dislike of spending too much time with the villains. I could have happily skipped those chapters.

Some reviews complained that the story stole too many story lines from other epic adventures. Well, in my opinion that's what space opera is. They all have a similar formula. Although I can't say I saw a reluctant messiah in this one. There's big evil controlling the masses and small rebellion struggling for the people. Yup - that's epic Scifi.

Maybe they wanted more space battles. There's only one in this story, which was enough for me. I know the next book will have more because the first book ended on the verge of war. I can only hope it's not all battles. The characters and situations intrigued me enough that I will give book 2 a chance, whenever it comes out.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Asher Blaine was an actor with significant star power before destroying his career with drugs. After years of cycling through rehab and relapse, he finally had his epiphany and chose sobriety. While carefully piecing together the ravaged scraps of his life in a quiet suburb of LA he is arrested for murder. The victim, his ex-business manager was shot with a re-fitted prop gun from one of his movies. A coincidence proves his innocence, but subsequent violence casts doubts. Asher realizes he must mend all his burnt bridges a lot soon than he'd planned When he turns to the people he trusted most, he discovers he must convince them not only of his sobriety, but of his determination to stay that way.

A series of calamities raises the stakes and he uncovers a stunning lie from his past. He must track down a man he thought long dead: a man who's been planning Asher's death for years.

Now available on Kindle at Amazon    I published it last night and it is now live! Very exciting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Odds and Ends and Updates

First of all, the apricot has progressed beyond knobby to buds-about-to burst. I think it's about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, which is waaay too early. A hard freeze is predicted this weekend. It's going to be dicey.

Second on the list - the short story I sent out was rejected. Bummer. I was surprised to receive quite a lot of feedback with the rejection, which was very nice. Now I have to decide if the story didn't fit their needs/taste or if it doesn't work as a story, period. I'll just let it simmer for awhile.

Third - White Lies is sooo close to being done. Rose is finishing the line edits on the very last pages. Whoo Hoo! If all goes as planned, I hope to have it loaded to KDP Select this weekend. VERY EXCITING!

Fourth - I am working on a short story, perhaps a novella. The working title right now is The Barrensman.

Fifth - I have been reading voraciously. More on that to come.

Spring is in the air around here. Yesterday it hit 70. I was out in the yard digging in the dirt. If we have many more days like this, I will probably get behind in the blogging. Just a heads up.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just pretty

This is a photo I took last winter. The sun was setting and the sky was "on fire". The maples were bare of all their leaves and the mountains were just a dark silhouette.

So lovely.

You just have to stand there and witness it because it's so wonderful. And you need to stop and watch and breathe because it only happens once in awhile.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comfort Zone

I have said a couple of times that something is outside of my comfort zone. And I thought I should take a look at what that means.

First, I want the  protagonist to be a good guy. He doesn't have to be Dudley Doright, but he does have to have redeeming qualities. I know I have a very soft spot for the pirate with the golden heart - like Han Solo. You think he's just a self-serving SOB until he saves the puppy. And you want him to be rewarded for saving that puppy. Lately, I've seen a lot of dark fantasy that has really unlikeable protagonists. That just doesn't appeal to me.

Second, he has to grow, or change, or achieve something. I've read a couple of stories where the protagonist was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and just sort of witnessed everything happening. Well, maybe that's too real. I want to read about someone stronger, smarter and more cunning than me. And he needs to be the one to solved the mystery, kill the villain or save the damsel.

Third, I'm really tired of the evil economy world. The kind that is run by maniacal corporations that will destroy the kingdom, planet, universe (and apparently all their consumers) in the name of glorious profit.

Fourth, I'm not a star battle kind of girl. Massive battle scenes - in space or on planet - don't do anything for me. In fact, all that death and gore really creeps me out. But an ultimate battle, with the painful repercussions is OK, and sometimes is required.

Well, that's a start. I'll revisit this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yarn by Jon Armstrong

The world in this book reminds me a bit of Blade Runner or Minority Report and maybe a smidge of Clockwork Orange. The world is so potent, so bizarre, that it shapes everything said or done. It is a chaotic, overblown place so foreign that sometimes I felt as if I was reading the 7th or 12th in a series and should understand the references more. It was definitely outside my comfort zone, but still not too difficult to read.

That said, I didn't like the world (just my taste) and I wasn't sure what Tane's goals were. There was a hint of revolution, but not enough description of the world as a whole. I felt that all of the characters were unreliable narrators, and that left me wondering what I might be missing. This felt like the first of a series, but I'm not sure if it is. Also not sure that I would wade into that world for a second round.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How can it be spring...

...if we haven't had any winter? Most of my crocuses are already spent. Daffs are blooming and the hyacinths are sending up fat buds.

Now don't get me wrong, we've had the bitter cold day or two. But that's it. Temperatures have been downright balmy throughout December and January. I've been out working in the yard in my shirtsleeves!

And now the fruit farmers are worried about an early flowering. Our plum and apricot are getting ready to pop. If a late freeze gets them, we will be sorely disappointed - but it won't be the economic disaster that the local orchards might face.

I've got my fingers crossed that this will be the magic year that all the fruit trees produce good harvests. We haven't had a good apple harvest since I started pruning it. And the Bing cherry only had a handful of flowers last year which delivered exactly 2 cherries. The Montmorency really struggled with some scale and only produced enough for a crumble. We lost all the apricots to a hail storm that followed a late frost. And the new plum tree delivered 1 perfect plum.

Hopefully this lovely warm trend will continue. I've got my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Last Goddess by C. E. Stalbaum

A very enjoyable read. Good world building, the characters are fun and the pace is good. The writing is good, and flows well. I will definitely look for more by this writer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mundane and Metaphor in SciFi

Two shakes of lamb's tail, New York Minute, dry as the Sahara, crazy as a bedbug.

There are a lot of sayings in our language that you just can't use in a story that is placed on another planet or in another universe. It's part of the world building to create new metaphors and swear words. But you already have to know your world really well to come up with realistic replacements.

I think one of my favorite Star Trek The Next Generation shows is the one where they meet the people no one can communication with. They understand the language, but the words don't seem to make sense. And it turns out that the people only speak in metaphor. So you need to know their entire history to understand what they are referring to.

Every family has its inside jokes and special speech. You know those things that only the family gets and can make you collapse in giggles. A good story needs those, too.

When a writer manages to create a believable world and gives you sayings - May the Force be with you, Live long and prosper - and metaphors - emotionless as a Vulcan, mean as a Klingon, cold as between - the story comes to life. You can live in it and see that new world through the inhabitant's eyes. That's when it becomes addictive and readers want more.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


It's that time already! I've started the seedlings in the sun room. This is a mushroom box full of alyssum seedlings.
Here's a tiny broccoli that just came up. I think this "flat" is a Chinese food take-out container.

And here are the artichoke transplants. I just put them into 4" pots. They live in an old toolbox for easy transport outside on sunny days.

There's nothing like viewing the seedlings in the morning to start your day on a high note!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wandering POV

I have been reading a lot of self published work since I got my Kindle. One thing I am finding a lot of, is inconsistent POV. All of these stories start out as first person. Then they slide into third person and sometimes omniscient narrator for other characters.

In essence they are telling everyone's story at the same time. I have been guilty of this myself. I have a story in the wings that I still haven't decided whose story it is for the rewrite. And it will just sit there til I do.

Who is most impacted by the events? Who grows the most? I think the author needs to ask that question and stick to that POV. Or at the very least, narrow it down. I think a wandering POV waters down the story.

It dilutes the tension if we know that the hero's girlfriend is already smitten. Or if an ancillary character that might be a red herring is actually innocuous. And once I am introduced to the protagonist, I want to stay with him. Popping around to all these other heads doesn't move that story forward. I think it is watching too much TV.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

I have read some wonderful first person POV - Jim Butcher and Robin Hobb just off the top of my head. The whole point is to make it more intimate. You are in their heads for a ride along. I think some of the newer authors use first person because they are living out the scenes in their heads (as we all do), and it feels natural. But they aren't using all the first person possibilities. And the break from first to third should be just that: a scene break at minimum and preferably a chapter.

OK, got that off my chest.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Veiled Eyes by C. L. Bevill

After a bit of a rough start I fell into this book fairly easily. It has some editing problems and a wandering POV, but the storytelling makes up for it. I am not a romance reader, but I would say this falls into paranormal romance. And the romance line isn't so overwhelming as to steal the plot. The characters are strong and the pace quick. I would read her work again.