Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Witch Hunt: Of the Blood

This was the book I didn't know I was waiting for.

Witch Hunt: Of the Blood is an anthology of 5 novellas each written by a different author: Devin O'Branagan (the creator of the Hawthorn family and "Witch Hunt"), Krista Walsh, Keri Lake, Suzanne Hayes, and K.L. Schwengel. Now, I don't normally read anthologies. I don't particularly care for short stories (these are not), but I have never explored the world of novellas before. I'm glad I made an exception.

"Witch Hunt: Of the Blood" fills in some of the history of the Hawthorne family. And there is a lot of history as the family ranges from the times of the Salem witch frenzy to modern days. After reading the original "Witch Hunt" I can honestly say that I was hungry for more. I wanted more information on this family that I had just gotten to know and this anthology does give me that. The bad part? There are a lot of questions left unanswered. The good part? There are a lot of questions left unanswered and new ones posed.

What impressed me the most with these stories is that each of the authors has an eye on the details. In historic fiction, the devil is in the details and the writer must be wary. Add in the paranormal aspect, and the detail of the history becomes doubly important. It is so easy to wave nonchalantly to the history as it goes by. It can be very tempting to scrimp on accuracy. And it is definitely easier to just nail down the big, important bits and let the little things go. None of these writers failed. Each of the stories is historically accurate in addition to being eminently readable. The history is accurate and the fiction is entertaining, what more could you ask for?

Once I finished the last story, I picked up the original Witch Hunt again for a re-read.

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

K23 Detectives by Noah Murphy

All I can say about the "K23 Detective" series is way cool! If you like Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" or Simon Green's "Nightside" or "Hawk & Fisher" books, I guarantee you'll love Noah Murphy's world.

Book one is A Clear and Feathered Danger. Where we meet the main central characters for first time, and upon meeting them, we are captivated. We meet Quintanelle Fillion, an elven mage who wants to make it in the wide world... or at least in New Delta. She's smart, and a bit lost at first, as well as very overwhelmed by the number of creatures and people she needs to deal with -- not as easy as it sounds when you have a rather racist and sheltered upbringing. She applies to go to work for Alfonso Deegan, a detective who is the owner of K23 Detectives. He is happily married and is a bit of a perfectionist. He's also a little grouchy :)  His associates include Mordridakon, a dragon (who is insatiable in a few different ways), and Trogg the Genius, the world's smartest ogre.

Once introductions are made, A Clear and Feathered Danger gets right to the meat of the story. The Avian Syndicate is a criminal syndicate in New Delta made up entirely of large birds (or bird-like creatures). They want something, but they can't steal it. So, they do the next best thing: The kidnap a goblin shaman to help them achieve their goal.

This is a very fast-paced story. Once the action starts, it doesn't stop. Occasionally it slows a bit, but not much, and usually to turn a corner. Along the way, we learn a bit about the politics of New Delta and how the Avian Syndicate came to be. Alfonso is smart, savvy and the kind of detective you want on your side. New Delta is not a city I want to live in -- ever -- but it is really fun to visit.

Book 2 is What Lies Within. With the addition of Eluna, the K23 Detectives are ready for some corporate espionage. What starts out as a murder of a private detective and a blackmail scheme becomes something much darker and much more dangerous.

After the first romp, you should be prepared for the fast pace... at least you'd better be because this is one rollercoaster of a ride. Politics, blackmail, murder and other shenanigans are sure to keep your attention. I honestly had to re-read several passages because I wasn't sure how Alfonso got to the answers he got to! It all makes sense in the end, but its a quick, twisty story that will leave you looking for more.

The third (and last, so far) in the series is The Impending Darkness. This book reminded me more of the "Nightside" books than anything. Again, a very fast pace, tight storyline and an ending that left me wishing that there was another book ready right now.

This time around, we follow Deegan and Co. to the twin cities of Brocenback and Alkhan. The rulers of othe cities want to marry and join the two cities. A lot of the people really don't want that. And, just to keep things a bit off balance, the followers of the forbidden deity of destruction and disorder, have resurfaced.

All in all, I highly recommend these books. They're well-written, logical and the world is quite different from most that are out there. There's a dystopian edge to the stories, as well as a very cyberpunk feel. Something for everyone whether you like sci-fi or fantasy, and especially if you like Harry Dresden :)