One of the reasons I started writing was to write the kinds of books I wanted to read and had a hard time finding. So it makes sense that I would want to go back and re-read my older books, and I've been wanting to do so for a while. It isn't quite that simple, though. A lot of authors, including me, have a fear of reading their own books. We tend to read our own work in highly critical mode, and we're terrified of finding mistakes, or that our older writing style will make us cringe, or that we'll end up wanting to just rewrite the whole darn thing. Finally, though, I decided I wanted to read my books and revisit those stories and characters I love enough to brave the dangers. So I decided to start at the beginning and read Urdaisunia.
And it was actually a lot of fun. It's been so long since I looked at Urdaisunia that I had forgotten a lot of what happens and a lot of the neat details in it that I love. Once I got over my initial terror of finding mistakes and sucky writing in every paragraph, I even got lost in the story, reading it like a reader would. That's a rare and fun thing when it happens for an author, to be able to read their book from a reader mindset. Would I do some things differently now, 2 1/2 years and many books later? Yes. As with most authors, my writing style has evolved and maybe improved with practice. And I did find two minor proofreading errors that I have corrected in the uploaded books. But I didn't find myself cringing or wanting to rewrite the whole thing; I thought it stands very well as it is. And I was reminded of some story threads to bring into planning the sequel (which is in the development stage, though it isn't at the top of my list of projects to work on).
I hope it doesn't sound like bragging to say I enjoyed revisiting Urdaisunia and I'm proud of it. My books might never burn up the bestseller charts, but I can say that every book I write is a book I want to read, and I put my very best efforts and all my heart into each book. If I touch even one or two readers for whom that book is exactly what they wanted to read, and they feel the emotions and enjoyment that I put into writing the book, then I've done my job, and knowing I've touched readers this way is the best validation I could ask for.
It's been a while since I did a Friday 5, so here's one: Where the magic happens, or, pictures from my writing room.
1. My writing room is a spare bedroom in our house. I share the space with storage bins full of Legos, the elliptical trainer, boxes of Christmas decorations, and other assorted stuff that we don't really have anywhere else to put. (With one kid married and permanently out of the house, we could put some of it in his room, which we intend to repurpose as a guest room.) Anyway, I have two walls of this room staked out for my own stuff. I have an 8-foot-long folding table that serves as my main writing table. It also serves as my scrapbook table, so from these pictures you can see that my laptop and manuscripts have to share with all my scrapbook junk. It's kind of good because that way I have to put away one project before I can work on the other thing instead of just having all my stuff out all the time.
2. I do have a sewing machine, though I don't actually use it very much, mostly just mending and decorative stitching on scrapbook pages. I did make my younger son a Homestuck costume for Halloween last year (in one day!) that I guess turned out pretty good. Thank goodness for cosplayers who post their patterns online. I also have four paper trimmers (you can see three of them in this picture). I don't know why I have four paper trimmers, I just do.
3. This desk was used by both of my boys when they were in grade school. It's too small for an adult to sit at, but it has lots of shelf space and drawers (one of those drawers is full of nothing but unopened packages of index cards) and I can fit my file drawers into the chair space. When we got the younger one a new desk I glommed on to this old one before my husband could even suggest we get rid of it. Oh, and there's my Kuroneko plushie from Trigun up on top, keeping an eye on me to make sure I stay on task.
4. Of course, since the desk belonged to grade-school boys, it has stickers all over it. Mostly Pokemon, and something called Duel Masters that was kind of a Yu-Gi-Oh ripoff but mostly what they did was send out junk mail with lots of stickers in it. It gives me kind of a happy nostalgic feeling to look at these.
5. My laptop, the first one I've ever owned, which made it possible for me to move all of my writing operations into this room instead of typing on my desktop in a room at the other end of the house which serves as the family computer room and doing manuscript revision in this room and then hauling the pages back to the other end of the house to type in the changes. Now I just use my desktop for formatting and uploading. And you can see my lucky rainbow unicorn Pusheen patch. My (then-future) daughter-in-law sent it to me for Mother's Day last year. It makes me happy :-D
Recently I got a new phone, my first smartphone. Which brought up the question, Am I smart enough for a smartphone? One of the first things I did with it was accidentally set a password without realizing what I was doing, so of course I didn't know the password to unlock the phone, which led to having to do a complete factory re-set less than an hour after I opened the box. And it took me a month to figure out how to answer calls on it :-P What can I say; no one ever calls me. Actually, the number is for family and emergencies only, and most of my family members text or IM me. Anyway, once I figured out how the thing works, I put the Kindle reading app on it, so now I can read books on my phone. No matter where I am, I'm never without a book - a lifelong bookworm's dream!
I was reading on my phone in bed one night (I also use the alarm on it to wake up, and this way I only have one device on the nightstand), and remarked to my husband that back in the old days, when we were in high school (in the mid-late 70s), if someone had talked about "reading on your phone" we wouldn't have had a clue what that meant. What, you call a phone number and someone reads out loud from a book to you? It reminded us of the old info lines they used to have (maybe still do, though it seems awfully archaic now) where you call a number (a 900 number that you have to pay to call?) and put in one extension number to get your horoscope, and another one for the latest celebrity news, and another one for health tips. So maybe reading on your phone would have been you dial the number and put in the extension for the book you want to hear, a new chapter every week.
Reading an ebook on Kindle (or whatever your reading device of choice) is so much cooler than that. As is this whole Interwebs thing we have now :-) But back then, we never would have believed this was possible.
Another thing I like to think about is how the music from a whole cardboard carton's worth of LPs will now fit on something the size of my fingernail. If you're old enough, you remember hauling cardboard cartons from the grocery store filled with LPs every time you moved in or out of your dorm room or apartment. Those things were HEAVY. I met my husband in college, and every semester when he moved in and out, I would help him carry the cartons filled with LPs, and also his speakers, each of which was about the size of a kindergartner. But now we've gone from this:
(Yes, that's my real hand, with a 16 GB micro SD card.)
That would have completely blown my mind way back when.
And another thing: back in the old days, if you liked a song, you could buy the single (with a bonus song on the back, the B side, which would never get played on the radio except on the very coolest stations) or you could buy the whole album, maybe paying a lot of money for only a few songs you ended up liking. If you wanted to hear your favorite song over and over again, you had to lift the needle or rewind the tape (if you were really high-tech and listening to cassette tapes), and each time you risked dropping the needle and scratching the record, or tangling up the tape, and over time that favorite song would get worn out. Plus you were also stuck listening to the songs you didn't like, unless you wanted to lift the needle and move it or skip ahead on the tape. If you had a cassette recorder, you could put it by the radio speaker and record your favorite songs off the radio :-D You had to be fast, to push the record button as soon as the song came on, and half the time the DJ kept talking over the start of the song. >:( The really cool people had a stereo with a tape deck built in so they could make mix tapes of their favorite songs from their albums, but then you were still stuck with always hearing the songs in the same order.
This is why I love MP3s. I can buy a whole album or just a few songs, and if there's a song I don't like I can delete it, never to have to hear it again. I can make playlists (I almost always make playlists for my writing projects) and add to them whenever I want, and listen to the songs in different orders, or listen to my favorite song over and over and over and over again (I'm like a 2-year-old that way, I'll obsessively listen to my favorite song or album a zillion times in a row), or just put all 10 gigabytes of music on my MP3 player on a massive random shuffle. Like having my own personal radio station except without commercials, songs I don't like, and inane chatter. Like I've always been a bookworm, I've also always been a music lover, and this would have been absolute heaven back in the old days.
To a lot of people a lot younger than me, this is all just how things are. It's hugely different from the world I knew when I was younger. But in a way it's cool that I remember when things were different, because I have so much more appreciation for how amazing all this stuff is.
The first half of September has completely blown right by, and I never did the monthly wrap-up/look ahead. In this case it's pretty simple; To The Gap, book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings, was released on August 1, and revisions/edits on book 5, City of Mages, are well underway. I'm into the fine-tuning stages now, and it's going pretty well (it helps that life has pretty much settled down for now, and I hope I didn't just jinx myself by saying that). I'm pretty confident the book will be ready for release the first half of October. Hopefully on the earlier side of that time frame, but I don't like to over-promise.
There are a lot of other projects I want to get to sometime, but right now, being so deeply immersed in Daughter of the Wildings, I don't have a lot of mental energy left over for anything else. so any serious work on anything else will probably have to wait till after book 6 is out, which will also give me time to decide which projects on the long list of them to work on next!
This weekend, Sept. 12-13, check out the Science Fiction and Fantasy September Promo! Lots of great science fiction and fantasy books are on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents! Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, dystopian fiction, YA or adult, there's something for everyone. The Lost Book of Anggird is part of the sale, so if you haven't yet read this epic tale of adventure, romance, forbidden books, and lost magic, now's your chance to get it for cheap! The Fire Mages, by Pauline M. Ross, which I just read and really enjoyed, is also on sale! There's also a section of free first books in series. Don't miss out on this chance to load up your ereader with some great new books for only 99 cents each!
And while we're at it, here are a couple of authors who aren't part of the sale but are helping promote it, so go check them out too!
Floyd Looney (science fiction)
K.M. Carroll (paranormal romance)
If you want to get The Lost Book of Anggird from another retailer, it's also 99 cents through Monday, Sept. 14, at the following stores:
Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit ($1.00)
Smashwords | Google Play | DriveThruFiction
I've been reading some awesome books lately, so it's time for another Reading Roundup! (Links go to Goodreads.)
A Guardian Reborn (The Guardians #3), W.H. Cann
Like the previous two books in the Guardians series, in A Guardian Reborn, shiny spaceships, futuristic technology, and exciting space battles blend with magic (unsullied by pseudo-scientific explanations) and wizards good and evil in an engaging mix of high fantasy and space opera with a touch of romance. The formal, slightly old-fashioned narrative style and omniscient viewpoint might make this book a little difficult for some readers to get into at first, but the engaging characters, tensions between the evil Empire and the Republic battling to preserve freedom in the galaxy, and the exciting battles both magical and involving space ships and laser cannons kept me reading.
Fans of Star Wars will especially enjoy these books, as will fantasy fans looking for a setting very different from the usual low-tech fantasy and science fiction fans in the mood for a little magic. (Full review)
Savage Storm (Rys Rising #2)
New Religion (Rys Rising #3)
Love Lost (Rys Rising #4)
by Tracy Falbe
I'd read the first book in the Rys Rising series and liked it, though I struggled a little bit with it, not being familiar with the world which was previously introduced in the Rys Chronicles series (Rys Rising is the prequel series). In Savage Storm, though, the saga really takes shape and takes off. Exciting and adventurous, with memorable characters, high stakes, and a broad, epic sweep. The action continues to rise in New Religion, then Ms. Falbe brings it all back home in epic style in Love Lost, the intense, exciting, heart-wrenching conclusion to the series, filled with vivid characters, a colorfully-drawn landscape, awe-inspiring magic, intense battles, romance, heartbreak, ambition, and heroism.
The Fire Mages (Brightmoon Annals), Pauline M. Ross
The Fire Mages is another standalone novel set in Pauline Ross's Brightmoon World, the world of her first novel, The Plains of Kallanash. I enjoyed Plains very much, and Fire Mages even more. Though set in a different country and culture, with different characters, The Fire Mages has another original social structure and interesting magic system. If you enjoy high fantasy in a unique setting with cool magic and well-conceived, multi-dimensional characters, I highly recommend The Fire Mages. (Full review)
Monster Hunter International (Monster Hunter International #1), Larry Correia
Wow, this was awesome. A diverse cast of memorable characters, great monsters and fantasy creatures (these aren't Tolkein's Elves and Orcs!), a battle to save the world from evil creatures from beyond, lots of shooting stuff and blowing stuff up, courage and heroism and a touch of romance, all told in a fun narrative style that kept me up reading way too late four nights in a row. And one of the best opening paragraphs in fiction, EVAR! Lots of fun.
Our Husband, Stephanie Bond
Something light and fluffy as a change of pace from the more heavy-duty reading I've been doing lately. Three women discover they're married to the same man when they come to visit him in the hospital after he's in an accident. He dies, then it turns out he was murdered! Though they're naturally jealous and suspicious of each other, a shared sense of confusion, grief, and betrayal brings the women together and grows into friendship as they try to figure out who really killed their husband. No big surprises, but still fun.
I'm getting near the end of this major revision of City of Mages. Today I'll be working on the big climax and battle scene, which in this book seems to need a lot less work than in previous books, even though it's still quite complex. In the meantime, here's a little snippet from yesterday's work, in which Lainie meets her mother-in-law for the first time:
The servant stepped aside, then Lainie went into the room. This was a pretty room, about the size of the front parlor, kitchen, and dining room in her Pa's house, done up in blue and white and gold. To the right stood a group of three chairs of white and gilt-gold wood cushioned in light blue, placed to form three sides of a square. On the center chair, facing Lainie, sat a woman dressed in a flowing, deep blue gown made of a rich, shimmering fabric, trimmed with clouds of black lace. Her figure was matronly but firm and trim. Her rusty-black hair, the same color as Silas's, darker than brown but not true black, cascaded in thick curls down one shoulder nearly to her waist. A large white flower was tucked into her hair above her other ear. Her eyes and skin were also dark like Silas's, and she was wearing cosmetics -- not as much as the house ladies wore, that made their faces look painted on, but enough to make her natural beauty stand out even more. She hardly looked old enough to be Silas's mother, Lainie thought. Jewels glittered at her ears, throat, and fingers, including an enormous dark blue gem on her left forefinger.
"Come closer, girl," Lady Venedias said in a cool, commanding tone.
Lainie walked forward. Though the chairs on either side of Lady Venedias were empty, Silas's mother did not invite her to sit. Closer in, Lainie could now see fine lines on the woman's face and a bit of slack skin beneath her chin. Maybe she was in her early fifties; old enough to be Silas's mother but not old enough to have another child several years older, the sister Silas had mentioned, unless she had started very young.
"I wanted to see this person who claims to be married to that son of mine," Lady Venedias said. She gave Lainie a slow, cool, assessing look up and down. Lainie's cheeks burned; she felt even shabbier under that look, her pretty dress poor and plain compared to Lady Venedias's elegance, but she forced herself not to look down or away.
"I find myself skeptical that Siyavas married you of his own free will," Lady Venedias finally said. "You don't look like the sort of girl for whom he would throw everything away."
After the awkward beginning, it really doesn't go all that badly. This is actually one of my favorite scenes in the book.
Back to work now :-)
Today I am happy to welcome author Shari Sakurai, interviewing her character Adam Larimore from her dystopian/sci fi novel, Perfect World:
1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
Adam: My full name's Adam Victor James Larimore. The Larimore family name is very well known due to the fact that my father, Victor James Larimore, was one of the wealthiest men in the country.
2. How old are you?
Adam: I'm 22 years old.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
Adam: Father was the only real family I had. My mother was a surrogate and was only interested in the money that father paid her once she had given birth to me. I've never met her and nor do I want to.
My father made all of his money in creating computer software mainly for the Government and L.S.A (London Security Agency). We never really got along to be honest. As he paid for my creation he saw me as an investment rather than his son. He was pretty cold towards me most of the time, unless I did something to anger him which I did rather frequently! He was obsessed with his work and we didn't spend that much time together outside of the office. After learning that I had been created to inherit his company and wealth we fought most of the time. I remember him making more of an effort with me when I was a child, but his business-like approaching to parenting meant that I never really knew him.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
Adam: My first kiss was with a guy I met in one of the illegal underground nightclubs that I used to go to. Seth I think his name was. We'd been talking for a while and I was sure he wanted to kiss me, but he was kind of nervous about it so I took the initiative and kissed him *laughs* it was kind of awkward as I don't think he'd kissed anyone before either! We kept bumping teeth and he didn't know what to do with his arms - at one point he just had them by his sides! It was quite cute but nothing special really!
5. What is your occupation?
Adam: Supervillain! *smirks*
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
Adam: My best qualities are my intellect - I've never met anyone smarter than me - and I'm very self-assured and have a good sense of humour.
I can be very arrogant and ruthless, but I would say my worst quality is not being able to deal with my emotions. I tend to hide behind my strong personality rather than talk honestly about my feelings.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Adam: Honesty and openness. Most of the people in my life whom I've been closest to have lied to me so I really value someone who can just be honest with me.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Adam: I love to visit places of historical importance that were left in ruin by the great tsunamis. I've spent quite a lot of time at the ruins of the Tower of London collecting artefacts that had been displaced by the waves and restoring them. I find the past fascinating and it's really sad that a lot of our history has been cast aside and forgotten in the wake of the disaster.
9. What is your greatest fear?
Adam: That Eric will discover the truth about me and what agreements I made in order to get revenge against Ivan and the L.S.A. I'm terrified of losing him and know that I will if he ever learns everything about my past.
10. What is your most treasured possession?
Adam: It's a photograph of me and my father. It was taken outside of Larimore Systems' headquarters when I was about eleven years old. There was a problem with a new program that the company was developing and I had been able to resolve it. He was so proud of me that day. It's one of the few occasions that I can recall us actually getting along.
Perfect World (Perfect World series, Book 1)
It is the year 2115 and the world is very different. With climate changes, natural disasters and war shaping the landscape, England has become a nation made up of several super cities and wasteland in between.
Eric Rawlins is a genetically engineered superhero created by the London Security Agency (L.S.A) to defend and protect the city against both national and international threats. With his superior abilities, celebrity status and beautiful girlfriend, Eric appears to have the perfect life. However, it is an illusion created by the L.S.A in order to control him.
Eric’s nemesis is the charismatic Adam Larimore. The only son of billionaire business tycoon Victor Larimore, Adam is gifted with a genius level IQ as well as the same longevity as Eric.
When the actions of the L.S.A throw the two of them together Eric finds himself questioning everything that he has ever known as well as discovering the true course of events that led to Adam turning to a life of crime. As they become closer Eric realises that the L.S.A may be the real threat to London. But can he trust Adam or is he part of Adam’s plan for revenge against those who have wronged him?
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