Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Queen B's hubby reviews A Devil in the Details by K. A. Stewart

When it comes to demons, always read the find print. Jesse James Dawson was an ordinary guy (well, an ordinary guy with a black belt in karate) until one day he learned his brother had made a bargain with a demon, Jesse discovered there was only one way to save his brother: put up his own soul as collateral, and fight the demon to the death. Jesse lived to free his brother-and became part of a loose organization of Champions who put their own souls on the line to help those who get in over their heads with demons. But now experienced Champions are losing battles at a much higher rate than usual. Someone has changed the game. And if Jesse can't figure out the new rules, his next battle may be his last...

Note: I received this book to review from the publisher.

My darling hubby, aka Mr T, agreed to read and review this book for me. I tried to read this one and I just couldn't get into it so my man threw himself on that grenade for me and put together his very first review! So, show him some love! Plus he's cute. What? I know we're all shallow like that...

When my wife approached me to see if I would be interested in reading an urban fantasy about a demon hunter featuring a male lead, I was fairly excited. I am told by the Queen that the UF market is saturated by a deluge of hard ass female protagonists. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but my sex isn't equally represented. I have read a lot of UF's with female leads, most of which I've enjoyed immensely, but that got me thinking that my resplendent wife is correct in her assessment. There simply isn't a large number of gentlemen kicking ass as the main character. My wife should know because she is far more prolific than I in the book department. So upon learning of this book, "A Devil In The Details", I was looking forward to it, with high expectations for my gender. I was hoping that this book would be a trailblazer for the guys, leading the charge for an influx of hard ass male protagonists. Is that what I got? Well... Not so much.
The story of bartering for souls is engaging but honestly this book could have been much better. The protagonist, Jesse, is generally likable with a good sense of humor and self worth. It's too bad that he reads pretty much like a female in a male's body. I swear that I tried not to be biased or judgmental of the character, but despite all my effort he still came across like a woman. I am not saying that men are better than women or any of that male chauvinistic bullshit, but if I'm reading a male character I want it to read like a male character. Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne is a fantastic example of how to write a male character. It's hard to describe but almost all of Jesse's internal dialogue is decidedly female. From the things he notices, to his reactions to certain events, it all has a feminine quality with a few good exceptions. In short, this book is not the most stellar paradigm of a male lead. Now there is one more major issue that knocked this book off my must buy list; it was too mundane. It was an interesting angle that Jesse is a family man, and he has to deal with family shit like the rest of us. All the cooking and cleaning along with the work schedules and play time were fun and relatable for the first 40 or so pages, but when you're 200 pages in and you're still dealing with all the banal errands..... Let me tell you that I was not relating anymore. Of course it is peppered with interesting events here and there, but for the most part this book kinda slogs through the daily grind. The purpose of reading is to be transported away from your grind, not reminded of it every other page. The action scenes however, are worth reading, but those only occur at the opening and the close of the book. Perhaps the inevitable sequel will be more action oriented, but even if it is I'm not sure I'm willing to witness it. Also Jesse's family is so perfect and sweet it's enough to cause a damn cavity. Seriously, if I was a woman this book would piss me off because I will never be as perfect as this dude's wife. That's why I'm giving this book a solid C rating. There is a decent story lurking beneath a pile of mundane crap. Some will have the patience to dig for it and others won't.

I want to thank my handsome hubby for reading and reviewing this one for us. Thanks baby!! ::waves and blows kisses::

My girl, Wendy, also reviewed A Devil in the Details and you can read what she had to say here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Follow up Twisted Love Post

Here's a great montage of the twisted love of EJ and Sami. The embedding is disabled so a link pops up for you to watch it on youtube.

I love that song too. It's definitely their theme song, lol. It's also mine and Wendy's. What? I dare her to deny it...

I'm a fan of twisted love...

I can't help it. My theory is, it aint real if it aint twisted. Just a bit. You know, enough to make it a lil intense, a lil fun, a lil....hawt. Yeah, you know you like it, too. *evol grin* This couple is one that embodies twisted love. I'm not a huge soap opera fan and I'm not very faithful to them *gasp* After all, they reel you in on some nail biting story line and then shit on you. So I've learned to protect my self by only watching when it's good and skipping the rest til it gets good again. Shallow maybe, but better than the alternative.
Days of Our Lives is not one of my faves and they've really been sucking lately, but this couple keeps me coming back. They have such fabulous chemistry. Sparks fly when they banter, their looks between each other are melting the ice caps and when they kiss? My tv nearly shorted out. They torture each other constantly and they love each other against their wills, their families' wishes and all reason. I am addicted to them since day one. The writers (curse their black black hearts) have never given them a real break and I hope they wake up and do so eventually, you know before soaps go extinct? Yeah, thanks. Anyway, here is a lil clip of my sexy couple that embody all my fave twisted loves from books to movies and tv.

I give you, EJ Dimera and Samantha Brady:

I think I need a nice frosty glass of iced tea to cool down now. They are so yummy delicious. I should be kind and show a clip of EJ with his shirt off. Y'all would need a drool towel. LOL. Don't you think they're delicious together? *sigh*

ETA: Just a lil recap of their highs as a couple for those that are unfamiliar with them: He bargained with her, sex and he'd save her then husband's life. They married to end a decades long vendetta. She tried to light him on fire. They had a son together. Her ex-husband shot him at their wedding. He lied about being deported so she'd stay married to him. They had hot hot sex b/c she was jealous. She got pregnant, again, and lied about it. He saved her from an assassin. She didn't tell him about their daughter til it was almost too late. He kidnapped their daughter and lied to her about it and he flooded her appartment so she'd move in with him. For all their sins they are devoted parents, he's great with her kids that aren't even his. He'd lie, cheat and steal to be with her and he brings out her inner bad girl, and she makes him want to be a better man....when he's not lying, cheating and stealing to win her over ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Winner! and Apologies

So, we had a family loss this last week and I haven't been around the internet that much lately. Consequently, I completely forgot to announce the winner for the Custom Business Card Contest!! Yes, yes, sucky Queen B is sucky.

Now, I don't want to hold up the proceedings any longer so, the winner is....... heidenkind!! Woot! I'm so happy for you, girl!

I am sending the email you provided over to Robin and congrats to you!

Sorry for the delay and I hope that all of you are having a good week so far.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The 3 P's to Writing Success by Gini Koch, Part 3

Alright folks, today we bring you the exciting conclusion to the 3 P's to Writing Success by Gini Koch, author of the fun and fabulous Touched By An Alien which is out now and Alien Tango which releases Dec of this year.

Check out the first and second P's, Professionalism and Patience, here and here.

Now, let's dive into the last and my favorite, Perseverance.

Part Three

Okey dokey, you’re acting all professional and you’re now just letting the wait time fly by because you’re so focused on writing. So, what happens now, when, well, nothing happens? You do what every author you’ve ever read or heard of does -- you keep on keeping on.

There is nothing -- not talent, no luck, no skill, no fortune -- that can win out over perseverance. Water patiently wears down rock, and as long as you persevere, you can achieve anything.

Perseverance is what keeps you going when your beta readers say your book is a complete mess. It’s what enables you to take the latest rejection, sigh, turn around and sub to the next market or agent. It’s what separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, the successful from the wannabes and never weres.

Perseverance is also what helps you go to one more writer’s conference. Try one more market. Give yet another story idea a go. It’s what you need to finish a book or short story, get a short story published, find an agent for that book, get a publisher, and then hit the shelves.

Want to know what the definition of a published author is? Someone who never gave up.

Perseverance is necessary once you have an agent and publisher, too. Because you need to continue on. Harper Lee did indeed write a Great American Novel. But it’s all she ever wrote. Truman Capote wrote great works, but none compare to “To Kill a Mockingbird”…however, Capote was published over and over again. Why? They were contemporaries and BFFs. But Capote persevered and continued on and Lee didn’t.

Are you Harper Lee or Truman Capote? Probably not. But they both persevered; Capote just persevered more, and so, was published more.

Louis L’Amour is the King of Perseverance. The man was rejected over 350 times (close to 400) before he sold one thing. He’d send a short out, get whatever his number of rejections was for when he decided it wasn’t going to sell, turn the story over and put it into a box, and then send the next story out. He wrote and wrote and subbed and subbed. And how he’s Louis L’Amour -- you know the name even if you’ve never read a single thing he’s written. Because he persevered and became the name in Western fiction.

Oh, and that box he put all those rejected stories into? When he passed away, his family found it, turned the stories over…and they’ve all, all, been published now. Most of his South Seas stories were in that box, along with many others. His family and estate thank him for that box.

Let’s look at more recent examples. J.K. Rowling was rejected all over the place before she finally landed an agent. And her first three books were middling successes in the U.K. It took Scholastic coming to the Frankfurt book fair, and her publisher putting “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (the title was changed to Sorcerer’s Stone for American audiences) out at that book fair, and the Scholastic editor recognizing that this was a book that could be huge in the U.S., for her to become, by the time Book 4 hit the shelves, a huge success. That was years of work and perseverance to become the bestselling author of our age and the richest woman in England.

Personally, I had well over 100 rejections before I sold a single humorous short. I had over 100 more before I landed my agent. I still get rejected. Ray Bradbury still gets rejected, so, really, it’s hard to complain. I get rejected just like the Grand Masters do. So, you got rejected? So what? Cry me a river and let me know when you pass up Louis L’Amour’s rejection level…I might have sympathy for you then. But I doubt it.

Why am I not sympathetic about this? Because, whining about rejections doesn’t get you published. Perseverance gets you published.

Gini’s Motto: For every setback, every disappointment, every roadblock, every hurdle, every painful experience on the way to publishing success, I have a simple response -- write another book.

So…what are you waiting for? Go on…and write another book. And another. And another. Follow the Three P’s and you’ll find that at least one of those books will be where you want it to be -- on the shelves of the bookstore, and in readers’ hands.

Gini Koch speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. The first book in her Alien series, “Touched by an Alien”, released April 6, 2010 from DAW Books, receiving a starred review from Booklist as well as other excellent reviews. “Touched by an Alien” has also been named by Booklist as one of the Top 10 adult SF/F novels of 2010. “Alien Tango” releases December 7, 2010, and “Alien in the Family” releases April 5, 2011, with “Alien Proliferation” following later in 2011. You can reach Gini at her website, http://www.ginikoch.com, or via email, gini@ginikoch.com.

Many thanks to the incomparable Gini Koch for this awesome series. I know I've learned a lot and I hope you all have too. As always, feel free to ask Gini any questions you may have in the comments. :D

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The 3 P's To Writing Success by Gini Koch, Part 2

Time for the second part of our 3 part series on The 3 P's to Writing Success as given us by the lovely Gini Koch. In our first section we tackled the first P: Professionalism, in which we learn the importance of acting like a professional for the aspiring writer. In this second post we will tackle the next P: Patience.

If you need to catch up with the class, check out part one.
Without further ado, here's what Gini has to say about the importance of patience when wanting to become a published author:

Part Two
Okay, you’ve made the commitment to become a professional, or at least play one on TV. Now what? Now you have to face the biggest hurdle any aspiring author will -- learning how to chill your jets.

This is, apparently, the hardest thing for any aspiring author to accommodate. But publishing is a very slow business. And the more impatient you are, the slower it goes.

Most newer authors are impatient with everything, and they make the mistake of giving themselves unrealistic deadlines, and then send their stuff out well before it’s ready for prime time.

What’s an unrealistic deadline? Saying, “I want to be published by X date or age”, “I want to win this contest and that’ll prove I’m good”, “I’m going to finish my first book by X date”, and so on.

What’s wrong with those statements? They put a limit you, personally, have no control over, and put another limit onto what others will do. You can’t know when you’ll be ready to publish. If you’re 25 now, it may sound realistic to say you want to be published by the time you’re 30, but what do you mean by published? If you have a blog, guess what? You’re already published. It’s not paying you anything nor landing you an agent, but hey, it’s published.

I firmly believe that you get what you ask for…but only what you ask for and only if it’s in the realm of reality. So, if you give yourself an age limit, you’re assuming that your writing will be ready…and you’re likely to be wrong.

Focus on contests is also a waste of most of your creative energy. Contests aren’t necessarily a judge of whether or not you’re good -- they’re a judge of how your particular piece stacked up against the other entries. Can contests work for you? Of course they can. But most cost money and it’s the rare author who sees a return for that money.

So, better to say, “I want to be a successful, published author” and let the rest of the whys and wherefores take care of themselves. You’ve still put out the ultimate goal, you just haven’t put limitations on it -- limitations that are likely to slow you down, not speed you up.

But there are other forms of impatience in this business. Thinking your book is ready before it is, and/or ignoring when someone says your book isn’t ready, is one form. Watching the incoming mails and emails when you send out a submission or a query is another. Fretting over how long a reply from an agent or editor takes is another. And so on. Any time you’re fretting, worrying or complaining about how long something is taking, or how you want X so you can do Y, you’re being impatient.

And impatience is a killer. It kills drive, morale, creativity, and karma. Impatience is the single worst flaw you can have in a business that moves at a glacial pace.

So what to do? The best way to handle impatience is to write another book or short story. Keep yourself focused on writing, on creating more and better product to sell, as opposed to focusing on what’s already out on submission or that things are taking a long time. The more you write, the better your writing gets. The better your writing gets, and the more product you have to sell, the more likely that you will sell.

Another way to fight impatience, and the despair and frustration that goes along with it, is to have your markets identified. If you’re subbing short stories, have your markets for each story on a list. Send your story to Market A; if they reject, heave a sigh and then immediately sub it out to Market B; repeat until it sells…whether that means it sells as is or you have to revise it in order to sell.

Looking for an agent? Make sure your query letter sparkles (oh yes, it matters because, let me say it again, nothing you’re writing is all that different and special, and your idea is neither new nor so intriguing that an agent’s going to wade through a crappy query letter to read your literary genius), and ensure that your entire manuscript is perfect and ready to go. Then identify the right agents for your book, query 6-12 of them and then…work on another book. When one rejection comes in, go to the next agent on your list, send them a query, and go back to writing.

You got an agent! Whoo hoo! The waiting is over, right? Wrong, oh so very wrong. Now you get to wait, and be rejected, at a higher level.

Editors read new stuff slowly, as in, you’re at the bottom of their pile. The better your agent, the faster you’re read (my agent got “Touched by an Alien” read by the Sr. Editor at DAW in less than 6 months…this is very fast), but the fact remains that you will wait much more than you will not wait. And then hear a no, and wait some more, as your agent sends your book to the next editor in line.

If you publish with a major, it’s going to be 18 months to 2 years, easy, after you sign your contract to when you see your book on the shelves. Spend that time writing. Create more product for your agent to sell. The more product you have out there, the better your odds.

But remember -- it’ll happen when it’s time for it to happen. You can demand all you want out of the universe, but the only thing that really works is the last P on the list.

Gini’s Motto: The moment you stop asking ‘when’ and demanding ‘now’, the moment you say ‘whenever I’m really ready’, is the moment everything truly starts to work for you.

Gini Koch speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. The first book in her Alien series, “Touched by an Alien”, released April 6, 2010 from DAW Books, receiving a starred review from Booklist as well as other excellent reviews. “Touched by an Alien” has also been named by Booklist as one of the Top 10 adult SF/F novels of 2010. “Alien Tango” releases December 7, 2010, and “Alien in the Family” releases April 5, 2011, with “Alien Proliferation” following later in 2011. You can reach Gini at her website, http://www.ginikoch.com, or via email, gini@ginikoch.com.

Gini will be stopping by to answer any questions in the comments, so if you want to ask her anything, fire away! LOL.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The 3 P's to Writing Success by Gini Koch, Part 1

As you all probably know by now, I have mad love for author Gini Koch. Not only does she write a fun and fast paced series, starting with Touched By An Alien, but she is one of the funniest and most generous people I've met recently. She has given me some really great writing advice and she's master of the motivational/kick in the butt speech and I love it. So, because I'm demanding, I asked her to write up something for the blog and because she's nice, she agreed.

This is going to be a 3 part series of posts on Gini's advice if you are an aspiring author that wants to be published one day. Enjoy and bring your notebook to class, they'll be a quiz after.....just kidding, but I bet I got the 'ol heart rate up a bit, eh? LOL.

The 3 P’s to Writing Success
By Gini Koch

There are many things aspiring writers can do to achieve publishing success, but there are three things that will ensure a more successful, pleasant, and profitable road. And, because I’m a nice girl, I’m going to tell you what they are.

They’re the 3 P’s to Writing Success: Professionalism, Patience and Perseverance.

Part One
Aspiring authors are many things -- creative, excited, confident, scared, eager, etc. -- but unless they learn how to act like great big boys and girls, what they all manage to consistently be is annoying. Why? Because they act like spoiled, petulant, demanding know-it-alls who expect the world and the business of publishing to change for them. Therefore, the first step to becoming a successful, published author is to act like one.

Most writers aren’t professionals. Oh, many may work in professional jobs, but when it comes to their writing career, they act like rank amateurs. And, truly, no one wants to work with an amateur. Because amateurs are, quite frankly, big, huge PIAs.*

Professionals understand that agents and publishers have requirements for manuscript submissions for a variety of reasons, most of them related to how said agent or publisher does business. Amateurs decide that the rules aren’t for them, because their book is special.

Professionals understand that anything they do or say will come back to haunt them, particularly if they’re saying it about people working in a very small, insular industry. Amateurs decide that they can trash anyone who doesn’t think their work is staggering genius, because their book is different.

Professionals understand that they need to work at their craft, try different approaches and styles in their writing, and slog on through the “apprentice” years, in order to become good enough to be published. Amateurs toss their first finished MS out, regardless of worth, usually without real editing, simply because it’s done and, well, their writing talent is exceptional.

Professionals understand that they can learn from others and do their best to attend as many writing conferences as they can, join good online writer’s forums, join and become active members in the writing associations that most relate to what they write, and so on. Amateurs don’t listen to anyone, especially published authors, editors, and agents because their book is so amazing and those professionals are just jealous of their genius.

Professionals listen to advice, weigh it, and then, even if the advice isn’t something they like, follow the advice, particularly if it’s coming from people who are where they want to be (successful, published authors with agents and viable careers). Amateurs ignore anything they don’t like, because their book is so much better than anyone else’s.

Professionals find critique partners, beta readers, and others who can provide feedback and constructive criticism, and professionals take that criticism as professionals, without ruining relationships. Amateurs either get no feedback before sending their MS out, or they argue every single piece of feedback, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax errors, because their book is such staggering genius that agents won’t mind if it doesn’t look perfect, and besides, they only want to hear how great their writing is, because it is.

*Note: Your book isn’t special at all, kids. There are only three plotlines in the entire world, and a limited number of variations on those three themes (oh, and those themes are: good versus evil, boy meets girl, man against nature). You’re not doing anything new, and if you’re just starting out, you’re not doing it well, either. Move over to acting and then thinking like a professional ASAP, because the sooner you do, the faster you’ll become a professional…and professionals get published.

Gini’s Motto: If you can’t take constructive criticism, nay if you cannot take criticism at all, perhaps a career in the arts is not for you.

Gini Koch speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. The first book in her Alien series, “Touched by an Alien”, released April 6, 2010 from DAW Books, receiving a starred review from Booklist as well as other excellent reviews. “Touched by an Alien” has also been named by Booklist as one of the Top 10 adult SF/F novels of 2010. “Alien Tango” releases December 7, 2010, and “Alien in the Family” releases April 5, 2011, with “Alien Proliferation” following later in 2011. You can reach Gini at her website, http://www.ginikoch.com, or via email, gini@ginikoch.com.

I'd like to thank Gini for stopping by and giving us some great advice. Also, she will be checking in to answer any questions you may have in the comments, so feel free to ask away. ;)

Tune in later this week when we tackle the remaining P's: Patience and Perseverance.

Check out Gini's books, Touched By An Alien which is out now and Alien Tango which you can preorder:

 Touched by an Alien

 Alien Tango

Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

With signs and traditions pointing to an all-out war set to break out among the kingdoms, Rosamund, the king's daughter, is "playing dead" as two princes show up at the palace intent on waking her with a kiss. But, as the two of them start to fight it out, Rosa's godmother cuts them all short and takes charge. Now, with two princes competing for the hand of Sleeping Beauty-one of them, the one with roving hands (Prince Leopold) probably "should" be her prince, while the other (Prince Siegfried) doesn't seem to belong here at all-more complications occur. The king dies and the neighbors start looking at Rosa's kingdom. But with the palace filling with young and old princes intent on winning Rosamund's love, invading the kingdom and putting those young men in peril would mean incurring the wrath of thirty other countries!

Mercedes Lackey's The Sleeping Beauty is a lovely and fun fantasy romance. In some ways it's a very old school fantasy romance, but yet it felt more modern and fresh. I really enjoyed it. It almost reminded of Shrek (but without the crudeness) or Hoodwinked in a way because all the characters knew they lived in a fairy tale land and a force known as The Tradition is trying to force them down different paths to make a proper fairy tale happen. Unfortunately, The Tradition is not smart so it senses that you have all the ingredients for heroic dragon killing scene, except maybe the dragon's not actually bad and maybe the village didn't need to be destroyed so the hero could slay the dragon. So our characters are valiantly trying to outmaneuver The Tradtion and stay one step ahead of "destiny" before their lives and the whole kingdom goes to hell in a handbasket.

The whole cast of this book really was wonderful. The villains were properly villainous and the heroes were very heroic, but they also had a sense of humor and wisdom and their own back stories. The Godmother, Lily, was probably my favorite character. She is so not your typical Godmother. She's definitely good, but she'll do what it takes to get the job done. Oh, and she's hot. No grandmotherly looking Godmother for the Kingdom of Eltaria.

Rose, our heroine is a great character. She's smart, capable, has a good sense of humor and is by turns tough and vulnerable. She made a very likable heroine.

I won't say which suitor wins her hand, but I was very happy with the outcome.

The title of the book is a little misleading. This really isn't a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. It's a veritable mash up of fairy tales from Snow White to Cinderella to just about any fairy tale you can think of. There are dragons, dwarves, fae, unicorns, firebirds, heroes, princes and magic all over the place. The story was smart and fun and I kept wondering how it all would end.

I give The Sleeping Beauty a definite B+.

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