Monday, June 28, 2010

Coming Soon...A Trip to the Dark Side

July 9th is the release date for a charity anthology that I'm thrilled to be a part of. From the Dark Side will benefit the Office of Letters and Light. You may not recognize the name, but most writers will recognize the events hosted by this non-profit organization.

The Office of Letters and Light sponsors National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Script Frenzy, along with the adult and youth writing programs that go with them. The Young Writer's Program encourages writing for teens and children by providing support to educators, home school families and youth librarians with lesson plans, curriculum materials and exciting community activities to promote writing. Many writers have completed their first novels as a result of the support and encouragement of NaNoWriMo.

The anthology includes short fiction and poetry by twenty contributing writers each taking a look at life on the dark side. The ebook will go on sale July 9th through Amazon and SmashWords.

The anthology includes one of my short fiction pieces entitled Shadow's Embrace.

Life is often painful and unkind, but just when she feels she can't go on, he is always there. He is perfect in every way and he adores her as no one else has ever done. If only his world were the real world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Historical tabloid?

(Let me just say I know current style uses "a" before "h" but I just can't do it. Too many years of drilling into me that "an" comes before "h".)

I love historical novels, and especially those set in the age of the Tudors and have for many years. I love stories of highland heroes and English noblemen. Historical or Regency, I adore them whether they are based on completely fictional characters or real, historical, ones.

It's interesting to image the lives of those who lived before us and especially those whose actions changed the world around us as many of the royals and royal hangers-on did during the Tudor time period. The varied points of view on individuals is interesting to see as well. Sometimes we see Anne Boleyn as the evil seductress out to ruin everything to get what she wanted. Sometimes she's an innocent girl who is manipulated by her father, uncle and brother to earn the king's favor and then betrayed by the same family. Or sometimes, and probably closer to the truth, we see her as a clever young woman whose family gave her all the encouragement and rope she needed to see to it that she finally hung herself.

But I do wonder at the fairness of taking real historical figures, people who actually lived and taking them too far. For example, Sir Thomas Seymour, Uncle to Edward VI. Now Tom Seymour has been portrayed as a light-hearted everyman and as a calculating scoundrel. He's gone from the long suffering man, in love with Catherine Parr and denied her love by King Henry VIII who took her as his sixth and final wife. He's been portrayed as the roque who, when he couldn't get close enough to Edward VI, being held back by his brother; sought to seduce his way into a better position first with Princess Mary, then the Princess Elizabeth and finally the Dowager Queen Catherine with whom he was successful, and back to Princess Elizabeth. Again the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

But a novel I recently read portrayed Sir Thomas Seymour as more than a grasping climber. It portrayed him as the lowest of men, as a rapist. It's my opinion that goes too far. As writers we can play with motives, play with intentions and even play with actions and words of those who are long dead. But I think we do have a responsibility to remember these are real people we are talking about. Now if history has concluded that Richard III was responsible for the deaths of his nephews, and we write a story including that, it's one thing. But to take a real person from history and make that person guilty of an act they have never been accused of committing, let alone seem in history responsible for, is simply wrong.

I wonder if it's the distance between the years that makes us feel better about this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Zombies. I just don't get zombies.

From the myriad of zombie movies to the increasing number of zombie themed books it seems as if Zombies are the next vampires. Classics like Pride and Prejudice have been reworked to include zombie themes. Young Adult books with zombie themes are exploding including a series by Daniel Waters called Generation Dead. Suddenly teens who die start coming back as zombies. No one knows why, but the politically correct police are on the case. The living-impaired go to school, play football on the team and even date the cool Goth chick.

I've read one at the recommendation of one of my students and I still don't get it. Zombies are reanimated dead bodies. They are decaying, smelly and gooey. They eat you alive. Ewww.

I just don't get it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old standbys can grow stale.

We all have our go-to authors, the ones whose books we wait for and pick up regularly because we've come to love the characters in their series or just the writing style that makes opening the book feel like falling into a comfortable old chair with a warm cuppa. But when does that familiarity start to breed disconent if not contempt? I recently picked up books by two of my go-tos with mixed results. I'd been avoiding them recently because I was starting become a bit impatient with them.

Rita Mae Brown:

While this is the same Rita Mae Brown who wrote Rubyfruit Jungle and caused a good deal of gasping and fainting among the old Southern elite, I've always been drawn to the mysteries that are "co-authored" by her tabby cat, SneakyPie. The first several books were awesome. I enjoyed reading every moment of them even if she sometimes left me rolling my eyes over her handling of gay men. (Yes, I am aware of her sexual orientation.) In the early years they were generally the villains, though she did back away from this later.

Her main character, Harry, lost interest for me when Brown stopped playing about with her sexual ambiguity and singleness. In the end Brown reunited Harry with her errant husband who had learned his lesson. Once Harry became the happy little homemaker again, the series went flat. She wrote out or minimized characters that added pizzaz and sparkle like Miranda and Boom-Boom.

I recently picked up Cat of the Century. I wouldn't say my love has returned, but I definitely would say that this book redeemed Harry a great deal in my eyes and I'm once again likely to pick up a Mrs. Murphy mystery.

Sherrilyn Kenyon:

I guess it might be surprising that the most awaited Kenyon book, Acheron, was responsible for making me back away. It was overblown and not pleasant to read. The first two thirds that told of Acheron's history were a stark abandonment of the style that made Kenyon, Kenyon. The final third, the Acheron gets his girl part, was the only part of this book that held any redemption and is the only part I will ever read again.

I picked up Bad Moon Rising simply because No Mercy is coming out soon and I had been avoiding the Fang-Aimee book. Just not interested in it, but I was looking forward to the story of Dev and Samia. The book wasn't as bad as I feared. It was exactly that comfortable Kenyon feeling that I'd missed in Acheron. I'm glad that's back and my passsion for her Dark-Hunter world has returned.

I also had a pleasant surprise when I picked up Kenyon's YA offering The Chronicles of Nick: Infinity. I'd been wary since Nick was the character I was most disappointed in through the series. He began as this indearing smart-ass kid and ended up in the adult version of the series as a whiny idiot who just needs to be b-slapped and told to man-up. But this series has brought the adult readers back to the Nick we loved and introduces YA readers to a a cast of very cool characters they will come to identify with and enjoy.
I've often credited Kenyon with reminding me that after years of required reading in school that reading was supposed to be fun. I really think the Chronicles of Nick will bring that home to a new generation of readers.
Up next for me is a little non-fiction. American Conspiracies by Jesse Ventura. I anticipate a few good giggles and eye rolls.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The World-Cup: Who knew?

During the last World-Cup a friend of mine who lives in England, but who would be the first to explain to you that he is not English but Irish, tutored me on the finer points of football. I actually followed lightly but didn't take it too seriously. Since then we have started a soccer program at our school and our girls have dominated the district since with a string of championships. I also have a sister-in-law who is rather enthusiastic about the sport and especially the Mexican team. (Since she was born in Mexico, I'm assuming that's part of her passion.)

Flipping through channels today I came upon the Argentina vs Nigeria game. I suddenly realized part of the appeal. I mean, have you seen these guys? The Argentine team looks like a collection of romance cover models. I know a lot of women discovered football/soccer with the arrival of David Beckham, but frankly, I never got it. He wasn't my cup of tea. He always seemed a bit crunchy-like someone needed to introduce him to soap and deodorant. Not that clean sweat of a man who's worked hard and played hard, but the icky dirty of a man who forgot to shower after the last game or two or three or four or... ewww.

But these guys? Very nice. Need proof? (Argentina is on the left.)
I think just became a lot more interesting. Of course, being an American I have to admit that the US team (below) isn't to be overlooked.

It looks like soccer/football just found a new spectator.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Reading

One of my favorite parts of summer vacation is more reading time. I’ve had the opportunity to finish two books over the weekend and today. My “to read” list had been getting very big. There are a lot of them I’ve been meaning to get to that I just haven’t had time to.

I’ve been enjoying the more and more books from Wild Rose Press. I just finished Nothing to Commend Her by Jo Barrett. "The Earl of Pensby lost his wife in a fire, one tht left him scarred in more ways than one. He's surly, brooding, and acoording to half the ton, a monster. Except to Agatha Trumwell, she sees so much more than his scars. But with a pitiful dowry, unfavorable looks, and a tendency to speak her mind, she h as nothing to commend her, or so she believes. Can these two lonely souls find love amid the gossiping beau monde while someone plots to tear their fragile world apart?"

The premise of the book isn't entirely original, the too old bluestocking who earns the love of the scarred nobleman, each thinking their looks prevent the other from loving them, isn't exactly untried in the Regency world. The "someone" trying to tear them apart is fairly obvious, but the why is definitely a new twist.

Yet, it's a good read because the characters are so wonderfully drawn.

Babies in the Bargain by Mona Risk: "With only one year left to complete her training in Neonatology, Dr. Holly Collier vows not to let anyone mess up her sacrosanct schedule. Especially not the drop-dead gorgeous Dr. Marc Suarez who broke her heart seven years ago. When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated novice father to his nephew, Holly gives in to her maternal instincts and turns her structured life upside down for the orphaned preemie. But can she learn to trust in Marc again and believe in true love?"

This was a delightful book. The characters were engaging and endearing, though at one point the reader does want to smack their heads together and tell them to stop. Risk does pull you into the world of her doctors and this is guaranteed to charm readers.