Monday, November 12, 2012

Bone Dressing by Michelle I. Brooks

A complex dance between past lives and present.

Sydney is an angry young woman of almost 18. Her parents are both dead, she misses them desperately, and she lives in foster care. She's smart, but has some huge conflicts -- mostly in school, and mostly with one teacher. Until she meets Beau one night in the cemetery, she's living what she feels to be a rather aimless and lost life.

Beau is the signal for a turning point in her life. He, and his little sister, Sarah, and the black panther, T.J., appear to help Syd remember. To remember the past and to fix it.

This is a story of love and loss; life, death and rebirth; and, possibly, learning to live and trust. "Bone Dressing" is the first of seven books about the lives and loves of Sydney's past. In this one, her past life is that of Rachel, who we first meet in the story as a name on a gravestone not too far from Syd's parents' burial place. Rachel's story is tragic and beautiful. And through it Sydney finds a piece of herself that I don't think she knew existed, but once found she knows that she has missed it.

Sydney has a task before her... an almost impossible task. She needs to fix her life by healing the past. And not just her past. The only way for Syd to become whole is to find herself in her past lives and heal it. She needs to face her greatest fears and her greatest enemy, who has followed her down through the ages.

"Bone Dressing" is the first of an expected seven books, with the second soon-to-be available. Michelle Brooks showed me in just one book she has what it takes to be a masterful storyteller and a weaver of complex themes. She isn't afraid to test unknown waters, and this book/series is definitely treading them. The theme of reincarnation and past lives isn't really a new one, but Ms. Brooks explores it in a new and fresh way.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Storytellers: Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst is a wonderful writer.  Her YA and middle-grade fantasies and urban fantasies are really great. The first one I read was "Enchanted Ivy".

"Enchanted Ivy" tells the story of Lily and her discoveries about another world existing within ours, but not in exactly the same space. When we meet her, she is a high school student visiting Princeton with her mother and grandfather ostensibly to check out the campus and cement in her mind that that's where she wants to go to college. Needless to say, there's a whole 'nother reason why her grandfather wants her to visit. This story is well-written and captivating. Lily is strongly written and just the kind of 'female lead' I like to see in YA books: She's strong and self-sufficient without being egocentric. She has a purpose, even if it isn't one she'd thought of or would have picked for herself, but she does her best to live up to it.

Next, I read "Ice". This is a retelling of the fairy tale, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" and it is wonderful. I adore these types of stories because there is familiarity and comfort, along with the author's color and imagination. Again, we have a nice, strong, well-rounded protagonist who is somewhat lost but perfectly willing to work in order to find out where she is and where she is going.

I am now reading "Vessel". I can't really say much about this yet, because I only just started reading it. I picked it up on the strength of Ms. Durst's previous stories. So far I'm about 50 pages in and am not disappointed. Sarah Beth Durst seems to be growing and blooming with each new book. She is definitely one of those writers to keep an eye on.

I have not read the middle-grade fantasies, "Into the Wild" and "Out of the Wild" but I think I will. There's just something about a story of a girl whose mother is Rapunzel and brother is a talking cat that makes me want to read them :).

Here's to Sarah Beth Durst, a storyteller for the new millenium.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Storytellers: Seanan McGuire

A little over two years ago, I discovered two books while looking for something that didn't have vampires. The books I found were "Rosemary and Rue" and "A Local Habitation." By the time I finished the first 20 pages of "Rosemary and Rue," I was looking for more books in the series. They are that good.

With the 'October Daye' series, Seanan McGuire takes a helping of Celtic mythology, places it in California, adds a dollop of noir and ends up with some fantastic urban fantasy. These books are intelligent, sophisticated, eminently entertaining and, well, there are no vampires.... (Yeah, I'm tired of them.) Of course, when I first picked up "Rosemary and Rue," I had no idea that all what I was in for. I had no idea what a wonderful world was waiting for me.

The books so far have taken me for a wonderful ride. Exciting and heartbreaking, mysterious and dark, there is something for everyone. Ms. McGuire has created a world that is ours, yet not ours. Her heroine, October "Toby" Daye, is strong, savvy and very smart. The stories are compelling and fresh. I can't wait for the next offering.

All of the 'October Daye' books are listed here. I'm not going to go into any detail on any of them because I am afraid that I might go too far in my descriptions and spoil the experience for others. What I will say is that if you are interested in Celtic mythology, or like Dashiell Hammett's stories, or love Urban Fantasy, you really need to read these books.

Ms. McGuire has started writing another series as well: Incryptid. So far, there's only one book out, but its very fun, and very different from the "October Daye" books. Verity Price is a cryptozoologist, ballroom dancer and, well, that was enough to grab my attention.

The 'Incryptid' books (well, book) have much more humor in them than the 'October Daye' books, but that's just fine. Ms. McGuire handles the humor as easily as she handles the noir. I look forward to the next installment in this series. I don't know Verity Price very well, yet, but I want to. And I want to get to know her world and the people in it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Proofreading Business -- someone has to do it

I am slowly starting a proofreading business. Right now, it will only be digital (preferably in Word format) and won't involve 'hard copy' at all. This is mostly because I really do not have a place to work on a hard copy at home :)

I have finally come up with some rates..... took a little bit of looking, and I really hope that I'm within the realm of reasonable.... Anyway, here are the rates:

Quick Proofing
If your work is already complete, but you're nervous and would like to make sure there are no errors:

•$1.95/page for corrected file copy

Basic Proofreading
Includes proofing for spelling mistakes, typos, punctuation,
capitalization errors, and awkward grammar.

•$2.50/page for corrected file copy

Extended Proofreading / Line-by-Line Copyediting
Includes everything that comes with the basic service plus proofing
for general structure, clarity, sense, word choice, redundancies, and
inconsistencies in narrative voice.

•$3.50/page for corrected file copy

In the case of this last one, I would mark a copy in red and seek
approval before making changes.

Standard page is 250 words (divide total word count by 250 to get
number of pages). If there is a "rush" there would be an extra charge
determined on a job-by-job basis 

I'm thinking I should have a 'minimum charge' but I'm unsure of what it should be.  Suggestions are welcome.

Payment accepted through PayPal
 I can be contacted at 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Book or the Movie?

I really hate it when someone asks me if I liked the book better than the movie. I hate it because they get really confused when I tell them I don't compare the two. When they go on to let me know that they thought the book was better, they get even more confused when I ask them "why?" They stutter about how this was left out and that should have been done differently, etc., etc., etc. Usually coming up with no real GOOD reason why the book was better.

Almost everyone seems to do it. Critics, writers, readers, people on the street, and they almost always say "the book was better." Interestingly, the one time in recent years when the movie was very nearly a scene-for-scene shoot of the book, the complaint was that the movie was too much like the book! ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"). I've come to the conclusion that most people really don't care whether the book or the movie was better. They just want something to complain about.

I used to compare the two. I gave it up. Comparing books to movies is kind of like comparing apples to broccoli. No comparison whatsoever. Two totally different media. The three movies that make up "The Lord of the Rings" are a favorite target. The most popular complaint I've heard around here is that they really wanted to see Tom Bombadil. Yeah? So leaving him out made the movie awful? (Yes, said some.). Peter Jackson had good and valid reasons for leaving out Tom Bombadil (and some other scenes). Those reasons mostly had to do with time constraints and that the scenes in question did not move the story forward.

Among some of the lay people, that is not a good reason. I have had to point out that in order for Peter Jackson to have placed EVERY SINGLE SCENE they liked in those movies, they'd be sitting in the theater for a lot longer than three and a half hours per movie.

This is why I don't compare the two. I know that some of the fun scenes in a book will be cut because they do nothing to add information and they don't move the story forward. Yeah, I like those scenes; and yeah, I'm a tad disappointed that they aren't included. But, I also know that there's no way the powers that be will allow every single book that is optioned to be made into two or three movies (just to get the WHOLE story).

Yes, I occasionally will make comments about movies when I've already read the book. Mostly, those comments have to do with casting (I either don't like the actor, or I like someone better) or with some things that I "saw" differently in my imagination. I will continue to refuse to be caught up in the argument over which was better.

The answer is: Both.