A Happy Saturday afternoon to all of you! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday time and are looking forward to a great New Year. I certainly am.
I will own up that last year was not my friend. Packed with drama and train wrecks, including a busted furnace, fried out oven, broken down washing machine, and my first ever major surgery among other 'delightful' experiences, 2013 just left me feeling considerably discouraged.
Of course, there were a few nice things that happened, too, including a full request of 'The Mage Sister' from one of the agents I queried in August, and feeling considerably better after that first ever surgery. And now we have before us a brand new year, and anything can happen. Let's hope it's a great one.
So... where are we now:
- The manuscript, ever on its journey in searching for a home, is sitting in slush piles on both an agent's and a publisher's desk. The agent was a nice surprise, I have to say, and I was extremely pleased to get that full request from her. We'll just have to see if either of them wants to bite.
- I'm working on a new book in a new series for now. Mage Sister II is not yet done, but sometimes it's good to work on something new and get a fresh perspective on things.
This whole project has been such an education for me. Publishing is NOT easy. Even if you decide to self-publish, it's a very big task to take on. Blogging is NOT easy, especially if you decide to do it every day. Unless you are blogging about something that is constantly giving you new things to talk about, it's hard to come up with something interesting to say every day. I'll be honest, I can't do it. There's just not that much to say about publishing and writing, as I've said before.
Another thing I learned this year came unexpectedly from my Nook. My Nook was a Christmas present from the doctors with whom I work. I was new to ebooks and it didn't take long to discover that I like them a lot, especially their ready availability - a big plus since the closest bookstore to my home is a good 50 miles away. I also learned what a lot of books there are out there that really were not ready for market, but were readily available and cheap for the getting.
Now if I wanted to rant about bad books, I could easily do that every day, but that isn't what I want to do. First of all, ranting makes me grouchy, and nobody likes me when I'm grouchy. Also, Mom always said if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Jonathan Maberry said the same thing during his presentation to the Nebraska Writer's Guild at the last Spring Conference. Trashing other writers just makes you look unprofessional.
More than that, nothing delights me more than finding a wonderful, fresh read, especially among the self-pubs and indies. I want to help build my fellow authors up, not tear them down. Thus, in addition to reporting any news on 'The Mage Sister', my focus this year will be talking about any wonderful new books I come across, be they traditionally, indie or self-pubbed. The goal is to do one a week, but sometimes reading time is a bit spare. I do try to get in as much as possible, because it is a strictly necessary tool in writing, but sometimes life has other ideas. And some weeks, I may do more than one, if I have another I'm excited about. Also, since I will only discuss books I loved, it will also depend on me finding such books.
Obviously, the merits of the books will be based strictly on my opinion, on which we may not agree. I am an exceptionally picky reader - a real grammar tyrant. I can overlook a few typos, maybe an odd grammatical oopsy - because, really, I am certainly not perfect and I'm a perfectly awful proofreader - but mistakes on every page, poor grammar and sentence structure, poor premise, poor plot, lack of development in the plot, environment and characters, and crass prose or narrative - I just can't get into it.
So enough jibber-jabber! To start off the New Year with something fun, I present to you 'Clean Sweep' by Ilona Andrews. I absolutely loved this book. 'Clean Sweep' is a 60,000 word novella, available in print and ebook, by writing team, Ilona and Gordon Andrews. According to their website, www.ilona-andrews.com, this began as a sort of serial on their blog. Never having run across these New York Times Best-sellers prior to reading this book, it came to my attention as a B&N recommendation based on my reading habits.
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.
And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
The book was well-written, well-plotted and kept me turning pages. More importantly, it was fun! I was hooked when the heroine, Dina, brings in morning tea for her only permanent guest, a previously genocidal, alien aristocrat, and announces "Your Funyuns and Mello Yello, Your Grace."
'Clean Sweep' is available at Amazon (Kindle and paperback) and Barnes & Noble (Nook), and you can read an excerpt on the author's website. According to the website, there will be a sequel in 2014, which I am really looking forward to and plan to plunk down my hard won dinero on sight - and that's saying a lot.
Check it out! I highly recommend it for a nice, entertaining time-out. Till next time, kids - and I promise, I won't always make you wade through a ton of jibber-jabber before I get to the good stuff.
Mostly loony, generally harmless. Writer & professional smarty pants. Owned by an exasperated spaniel.