Friday, December 20, 2013

The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

The Woodlands, by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, is a YA dystopian novel that I happened on just by chance and really enjoyed, though the ending demands the sequel:  The Wall.  See the author interview for a story description and more information.

First, my grammatical issue: The novel contains many sentence fragments with only the "–ing" form of the verb, as if the clause should have been attached to the previous sentence.  Example:  "I burst into the Class on the first day.  Bleary-eyed, wiping my nose with my sleeve, smearing snot across my face."  Fragments can be powerful and punchy, but these just aren't.  They leave the reader waiting for the rest of the sentence.  It gets distracting after a while.

There are also several points which the author beats into us, over and over.  They would have been stronger if they'd been more subtle.

Otherwise, the writing is very good and draws the reader into the story and the characters. The plot is creepy and exciting and feels fresh for a dystopian novel.  Joseph, the love interest, is a little too perfect, but he's what we all want, so it's fun to read.  The other characters are interesting and distinctive.  I like Rosa's inner struggles and her defiance, which is much of the time so realistically undirected.  The setting and the world building are also good.

What I LOVE about The Woodlands is the way the society in this book has taken something good like racial tolerance and intermixing, and turned it disturbingly on its head.  The leaders encourage people not to see "own kind" but "all kind."  Sounds good, right?  They manipulate things to get as much interracial marriage as possible.  But this has turned into the same thing they were supposedly trying to avoid.  Cultural uniqueness is squashed.  Pure races are seen as inferior.  There's still racial prejudice and oppression, just aimed differently than it used to be.  Very, very profound.

The Woodlands is a good read, and thought-provoking.  I recommend it.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Writing Comedy--Guest Post by Jillian Kleine Der Lowe

Hi all!  Here's a guest post from Jillian Kleine Der Löwe, who writes comedic fantasy.  Her book, Wicked, is free until December 19th on Amazon, so head on over there!

On Writing Comedy
by Jillian Kleine Der Löwe

I know that I cant get through reading a book if theres no comic relief whatsoever. Furthermore, I really cant get through a book if it doesnt have a decent blend between offbeat and quirky humor, sarcasm, satire and wit. Writing comedy comes just as naturally to me as breathing and I think that many authors can add another dimension into their writing if they too embrace comedy in all of its glory. Laughter truly is the best medicine Better even than an apple a day. A rapier-like wit can leave you giggling on the floor just as it can also implode the best laid plans of mice (and perhaps even some men too).

If youve never written comedy before, you dont need to go far for inspiration! Just watch some primetime television and youll be bombarded by the puns of the day on shows like Modern Family or 30 Rock. Why not turn to current events? The Daily Show and Colbert Report have got you covered! What about a blast from the past? Nothing beats a good ol Mel Brooks film Or an Airplane! Thats comedy at its finest.

The best part is that you can add comedy into any genre! RomZomCom Zombie gets girl. Zombie loves girl. Zombie loses girl. Zombie gets girl back again. Try adding comedy into a genre where it has never encroached before And lo and behold You have the newest IT thing Comedy + Whatever Genre You Choose ( Especially If Its Never Been Done Before ) = One Pie Of Awesomesauce Covered With Whipped Cream, Chocolate Ganache And Sprinkles!

Jillian Kleine Der Löwe originally dreamt of being a time traveler... Either that or the Supreme Empress of the whole entire bloody Universe. Since, those jobs are not yet available until she defies the laws of physics... She's settled with being an author

Amazon Sales Page

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Battle for Brisingamen, by Harmony Kent

The set-up of this book intrigued me:  Strange undersea artifacts, unexplained maritime phenomena, scientists and ship captains as main characters.  The book continued to be very imaginative, but it turned more Tolkienesque and lost a bit of its beginning uniqueness.

I found myself very distracted by the numerous comma splices, especially the ones where the punctuation made it hard to interpret.  Example:  "The dwarves and Irina were already running at full pelt, feeling useless he followed as fast as he could."  At first I thought "feeling useless" modified Irina and the dwarves running, so I had to stop and read it again.  This structure tripped me up over and over.

Another confusion arose from the lack of commas before the names of people addressed directly.  "We must leave Dirck" is entirely different than "We must leave, Dirck."  Or, in the more famous example:

Other than the comma issues, the work was well edited and nearly free of errors, with some very nicely written passages.

I really cared about Gemma, Dirck, Aarte, and Irina, whose personalities and desires were very clear to me, and whose happiness I wanted to see, but some of the many other characters blurred together.

I enjoyed the creative descriptions and explanations of vampires and rangers.

The ending was very well structured and satisfying.  If you like action scenes and epic fantasy, try this book.  


Buy The Battle for Brisingamen now on Amazon:

Warning:  explicit adult situations

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My story to appear in Spark Anthology

I just sold my story, "Sand and Fire," to Spark Anthology!

When most of the colonists die in space on the long trip to New Eden, the remaining few carry on--some more enthusiastically than others.  But by-the-book optimism may not solve every problem they face in their new home.    

If you like "Sand and Fire," watch for other connected stories about the twenty-five colonists on New Eden.

"Sand and Fire" is scheduled to appear in Volume IV, the Jan 2014 speculative fiction issue..

If you want to check it out or pre-order (the e-book version is only $1.50 if you order now), go to Spark Anthology.    

Monday, December 9, 2013

Trust Your Readers

I blog over at Writers on the Move, and today's post is the first in a series about the importance of trusting your readers.  Part one:  the danger of showing and then telling. 

He was angry.

He slammed his fist against the table, stood up, and threw the telephone at the wall so hard the paint chipped.  

Showing and then telling:
He slammed his fist against the table, stood up, and threw the telephone at the wall so hard the paint chipped.  He was angry.  .
Give your reader some credit for figuring it out.  For more examples and advice, check out my post.  

If you're a writer, Writers on the Move has a lot of great information on writing, publishing, and marketing.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mini Blog Tour--Far-Knowing

I'm doing a mini blog tour next week for Far-Knowing, my YA fantasy.  Check out these links on the appropriate dates (or any time afterwards) to see my guest posts, author interviews, and book excerpts, and to support the generous bloggers who are hosting stops.

December 8—  Gothic Ballerina—Guest Post
December 10—TheBook Drifter—Excerpt
December 11Inkand Paper—Author Interview and Review
December 12Forceof Nature—Author Interview

by Melinda Brasher

After the Chaos Mage traps their mentor within a deadly spell, two apprentice mages set off to find and defeat this menace to the kingdom. But how can these inexperienced young women possibly track down and battle the sort of man who destroys villages with summoned wind or fire just for fun? They've learned no aggressive magic and never tested themselves against a real enemy.

Kallinesha, still an apprentice after seven years, struggles against her lack of raw magical power, compensating instead with discipline and study. Daughter of the High Commander, driven relentlessly by the duty in her blood, she knows they can defeat the Chaos Mage and safeguard the kingdom.

Ista, a commoner and daughter of a city baker, harbors no such delusions. But after only three years of study, her power burns much brighter than Kallinesha's. The task before them terrifies her, but she loves her mentor too much to let her waste away under the Chaos Mage's spell. Not if there's the slimmest chance of saving her.

The two have never been able to get along while studying magic. Will they be able to work together now when so much is at stake?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Slated, by Terri Terry

Slated is a YA dystopian novel, taking place in England.  I love the premise.  Juvenile delinquents have their memories erased so that they can become good citizens again.  Kyla, the main character, thus doesn't remember who she is or what she did or how things work in this world that's new to her.  Lots of creepiness ensues. 

Quibbles:  It could have been a bit more subtle, and no one ever uses contractions in dialogue, which makes it sometime sound stilted.  The ending left me a little unsatisfied, without enough mysteries answered, and with a big cliffhanger.  However, since it's the first of a series, the cliffhanger works if you can wait for the next installment.  

Point of honor:  I loved watching Kyla re-discover things about the world and learn to fool her mood monitor.  The relationships within her new family are intriguing..  The story brims with suspense without resorting to lots of violence—something that's getting more and more rare in our car-chase-bloody-murder world.  And, as I said, the premise rocks.  I'm still thinking about it, and I read it months ago.