Monday, August 18, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: BRILLIANT DEVICES, by Shelley Adina

The fourth book in Shelley Adina's Steampunk adventures of Lady Claire starts off with a bang -- the ramshackle airship she is traveling in has major mechanical problems.

No fears. Lady Claire and her band of intrepid companions fix the problem with more ingenuity and brilliance and head off -- finally -- to civilization. There are chores to take care of, including that pesky problem of letting the world know, once again, that she isn't dead. In Edmonton, Claire and company are reunited with their noble, powerful friends and continue on their planned route -- which includes a trip far north to diamond mines and Eskimo (excuse me, Esquimaux) villages.

But all is not well. Sabotage and assassination attempts and social reform all congeal together into an explosive mess. Readers get to meet semi-historical characters, and Claire is caught between two young men determined to win her heart. Plus there's the fun and heartbreak of rough-and-ready Alice trying to learn to fit into high society while struggling to find her father, who vanished years ago.

The only downer in this story? The note from the author that she plans to start writing the adventures of Claire's alley mice companions. (Waaaah!) Never fear, the Lady is still in the stories, she just isn't on camera all the time. Let's hope that the Mopsies are just as clever, independent and full of adventure as their intrepid guardian. (Have I mentioned I really love this series?)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY: Improbable Solution, by Judith B. Glad

Today's Spotlight is on a book by a long-time friend, fellow author at many other publishing houses, and also my publisher at Uncial Press: JUDE GLAD, with her romance novel, IMPROBABLE SOLUTION

Welcome to Whiterock, Oregon, where Sally Carruthers nurses her dying father, and dreams of the day she can go back to her real life. Where Gus Loring seeks forgetfulness, but to find it, he'd have to do the impossible and forgive himself.
Whiterock is a town where people are from, because there's nothing to hold them there. Every year more of the stores on Main Street close, and every year more of its young people leave to find their fortunes somewhere else. Where what you see today may be different tomorrow.
Maybe that's why the town persists. Because there is more to Whiterock than its 639 residents, the elk statue by the park, and the Bite-A-Wee Café. More to it than a place where Gus and Sally find temporary passion together. Whiterock is more than just a town. A lot more...


Judith B. Glad was one of those fortunate children to be raised by someone who believed in magic. A great aunt, with whom she lived until she was almost seven, filled her imagination with stories of adventure and derring-do and magic, never letting her know which was fact and which was fiction. With a childhood like that, is it any wonder she grew up wanting to create worlds in which the good guys -- male and female -- always win, where right always prevails, and where love is the most important force in the universe?

Sidetracked by reality, Judith started a family, followed a couple of careers, went back to school and ended up as a botanical consultant. Eventually, the kids all left the nest and she cut back on the consulting, leaving her with time to work on creating those worlds. She and her favorite hero had a long and happy life together in Portland, Oregon, where flowers bloom every month of the year and snow usually stays on the mountains where it belongs. It's a great place to write, because the rainy season lasts for eight months -- a perfect excuse to stay indoors and tell stories.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Letters to Kel: USE YOUR OWN VOCAB, PLEASE?

Every once in a while, I get an editing job where it is oh, so painfully clear that the writer is trying to use a vocabulary that he or she does not normally possess. They're someone with a Kool-aid budget, but trying to talk with champagne words. You know what I mean?

Instead of using words they know, words they use every day, they reach for the fancy, multi-syllabic ones that they think will get people to pay attention and take their books seriously.

What they do instead is make themselves look ridiculous. Do you know who Mrs. Malaprop is? She's a character in an old English drama who used words that sounded "almost" right for what she meant. For instance, someone says "perspective" when they actually mean "prospective." Or in a recent book I edited, the phrase was, "His actions were admiral." I was pretty sure the author meant "admirable." You know what the writers mean, because the words sound a lot like the right ones -- but you also know they're using the wrong word. And that's where the comedy (or frustration) comes in. (I really do have to start a file of these silly gaffs, to bring up for future examples.)

Do you want your book to be considered a joke? Humorous? Amusing? If it's not on purpose, then don't do a Malaprop.

Or worse, the impression you give your readers is that you really don't care about your writing. It's a sloppy mess that you dumped into the computer and then before the pixils on the screen cooled down, you shot the file off to a website, a blog, an editor who didn't care toad squat about proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, or context, and it was published. Or, what probably happens more often than editors and publishers want to admit, the author is a prima donna who believes his/her writing is pure gold and has a hissy-fit if the editor changes one word -- even if the author mis-spelled his/her own name ...

The language in your book should sound as close to the way you actually talk as possible -- but with the grammar corrected, of course. Try to sound like a dry-as-dust academic, or use enough purple prose and sugary imagery to put someone into diabetic shock when you're actually someone who likes shoot-em-up adventure with a large dash of humor thrown in ... just don't.

On the other hand, if you know your vocabulary needs expanding, then do it naturally -- read the type of books you want your writing to emulate. Change the way you talk. Do it gradually. If you want to change your vocabulary from nickel and dime words to fifty-cent pieces, EARN the vocabulary. Get used to using those words. Make them part of you -- don't wear a mask.

Readers will know you're not being honest, and it will make your story come off as plastic, posed, contrived ... try too hard to be high-falutin', and you'll just be fallutin' flat on your face.

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NEWS!!!
COME TO A PARTY!
All day today, Thursday, August 14, Author Island is sponsoring a SHIFTER Block Party on Facebook.
What's a Shifter?
Shape shifter, of course.

Every hour, a different author will be talking about their shape shifter creations, the books they appear in, give excerpts, answer questions .... and there might even be prizes.
I KNOW there are lots of you out there who like to read Shifter books -- come on over and check it out.

From 2-3 pm, EST, I will be discussing my shape shifter creations, the Hoveni -- part of my Commonwealth Universe SF series. I'll be posting excerpts, and talking about stories that are in the works.

HOVEN QUEST was a finalist in the SF category of the EPIC Awards in 2008.
The Meruk Episodes, 1-5, WON the EPIC Award for Anthology in 2010.
I have 3 of the 5 stories in the next Meruk Episodes anthology -- maybe you can give me some feedback and ideas for stories #14 and #15, to help me finish the anthology?

Just put SHIFTER BLOCK PARTY in the Search field on Facebook to find us.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: CONCEALED IN DEATH, by JD Robb

It's my birthday -- okay, it WAS my birthday -- and I bought myself a present. And as a reward for finishing a big revision project and getting my next Quarry Hall book to my publisher on time.

CONCEALED IN DEATH, the latest Eve Dallas book in paper.

Roarke is renovating an old building that was a sanctuary for runaway and troubled youth -- to create a new, better kind of shelter. Because that's just the kind of guy he is, after all the things he and Eve have gone through, learning the brutal secrets of their childhoods. Of course, he gets to take the ceremonial swing with the sledgehammer to start gutting the building. Inside the wall are two bodies, wrapped in plastic. By the time the crime scene team is through investigating, twelve bodies have been found. All young girls. Of course, Lt. Eve Dallas is called in to lead the investigation.

I love this series, and I have to admit, it's the characters, the interplay, the relationships, the inside jokes, the growth in people's personalities ... it's great fun going back and seeing what "old friends" have been up to.

Now I need to get really busy and crush down this craving for the next book in the series, which comes out in hardback soon. I'm trying to be good, and economical, and wait until it comes out in paper. Besides, I have 100+ print books waiting to be read and more than that in e-book format. There's never enough time for books! Make time for this one, though.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Spotlight Saturday: BACKWOODS BOOGIE, by Trish Jackson

Today's Spotlight is on a fellow author at Uncial Press, Trish Jackson, with Backwoods Boogie, the third book in her Redneck Series, set to be released by Uncial Press on November 14th, 2014.

Redneck P.I. Twila Taunton cannot believe she is working for that scumbag, Jimmie-Ray, the man who stood her up on her wedding day.  She may appear to be tough, but she's a lot softer on the inside than anyone would imagine, and she can't allow the gentle Brit, Pam Taylor to go to prison for a murder she clearly did not commit. 

Twila brings in the big guns to help hunt down the real killer.  Her
former neighbor, and master computer hacker, Gasser Cunha, travels from Boston to see if he can figure out who set Pam up by spoofing her email. With the help of policewoman  Mad Maddy, who is a raging nymphomaniac, Gasser and Twila are able to 'borrow' the murdered woman's computer from the police evidence locker. 

During the course of the investigation, Twila discovers a 'bunch' of dogs being abused in an illegal puppy mill, and hears rumors of a dog fighting ring in the area. With her canine companion, Scratch, in mind, she gathers all her quirky friends to help rescue them, including hard-drinking, Harley-riding octogenarian Great Aunt Essie, a vigilante biker gang, and her long-distance lover, hunky Harland O'Connor.
Oh… and she might be pregnant after some very passionate make-up sex in Harland's parents' barn. (You can read about that in Kick Assitude)

Find out more about Redneck detective, Twila Taunton, at  http://trishjax.tripod.com/redneckpiseries/redneck-p.i.html  

Trish Jackson writes provocative and soul-stirring romantic suspense/thrillers and romantic comedies, focusing on animals, astrology, and the passions, dreams, and tragedies in the lives of country folk in small towns.

Friday, August 8, 2014

REMINDER: Books & Brunch

In case you didn't see the first notice:

I've been invited back to the BOOKS & BRUNCH, sponsored by the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Library. Any chance you can come? I'd love to meet you face-to-face!!

WHERE: LaGrange Lion's Hall
240 Glendale Street
LaGrange, Ohio

WHEN: 9am to Noon
Saturday, August 9

This is going to be my third year. It's a lot of fun, the food is incredible, and I've met a lot of interesting authors with some fascinating books -- humor, history, family memoirs, adventure.

I'll have print copies of more than a dozen Tabor Heights books with me, along with lots of Commonwealth Universe novels. Now's your chance to stock up and catch up!

Hope to see you there!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Letters to Kel: BLEAH, MEH, OR YEAH?

I just finished editing an academic research paper that the author decided he would publish in book form to elucidate and educate and inform and enlighten others who are interested in the same question that he explored.

Got lost in all that convoluted language? Yeah, and I was afraid his readers would be lost in his academic, dry, repetitive, formulaic reporting. There is a vast difference between writing to please the requirements of your doctoral committee and the style and patterns of academia, and writing for ordinary readers. I had to ask the author: who is your audience for this book? More academics, or ordinary readers from many walks of life who just want to know what you found out? More than half the book was spent on discussing the research methods he used, the philosophies behind the development of those methods, and how he went about obtaining his sources. If his audience was strictly academics who care about the HOW just as much as (or even more than) the WHAT, then he would be fine. But if he was aiming at an audience that just wanted to know WHAT he learned, and didn't care HOW, then he was in trouble.

So the point of all this is: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Who are you writing for? What do they want to read? What are their tastes? What are they expecting when they open up your book? And that means knowing the proper labels to put on your book. Sure, romances sell big, but you can't write vampire-hunters-in-the-Old-West-meet-time-travelers-who-fall-through-to-the-time-of-dinosaurs, label it as a romance (when there is nary a longing look or kiss), and then expect readers to just devour it. The ones who like romances are going to be disgusted, and the ones who want vampires, time travel, and dinosaurs aren't going to be looking for it in the romance aisle.

What reaction are you going for?
Bleah = you didn't give me what I wanted, you didn't follow through on your promise, I'm going to avoid your writing from now on.
Meh = okay, you kinda gave me what you promised, but it wasn't what I was looking for, not what I enjoy, I might give you another chance, but don't disappoint me again.
Yeah = you followed through on your promises, it was what I was looking for, it was a lot of fun, I am definitely putting you on my "must read more" list.

An apocryphal story from a writing conference has an editor for a major romance publisher telling about a query letter she got. Essentially the author said, "Romance is garbage, nobody wants to read it, I have a book full of blood and destruction and a tough guy who doesn't have time for stupid women. Buy my book and you'll make a million." That author didn't know the publisher, didn't know the market, and definitely didn't know how to write a query that would make the editor say, "Yeah!"

So what am I saying? Essentially, just because YOU think a topic or story line is fascinating, that does not necessarily mean others will. You may be a great story teller, but it won't do you any good if the book isn't labeled properly and it is brought to the attention of people who want to read that particular type of story. Know your market, know your readers. Give them what they want. Make them say YEAH!