See you on October 28th!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
What's better than an author with a contest? A whole bunch of authors with a whole bunch of contests! To that end I welcome you to the Bewitching Trick or Treat Blog Hop!
See you on October 28th!
The rules of my particular contest are simple - all you have to do is follow my blog and comment on any post between October 28th - October 31st. A winner chosen at random will receive a copy of my new release with S.L. Danielson - My Fair Vampire.
See you on October 28th!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Happy Wednesday and welcome to another Silver Flash, brought to you by some of the authors of Silver Publishing! This week's flash was thoughtfully provided by our very own Ryssa Edwards: "I was expecting you to kiss me weeks ago." As I could not fit that into either existing series, I did a new story, a standalone. I hope you like it. Don't forget to check out the other flashers, whose links are listed at the end of my tale. Without further ado, I give you
Best Musical Ever
Best Musical Ever
“That was the best fucking musical ever!”
Randy was so excited he grabbed one of the light posts along their route, actually swinging himself about it, before ending up in a crouch at Danny’s feet. Leaping up, Randy snapped his fingers in imitation of the dancers they’d just watched, and began to sing. “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way…”
Danny followed his lead, snapping and singing for several feet, until Randy twirled, and then they were in perfect sync, singing about Jets and what it meant to be one.
The evening had been perfect. Danny had comped two tickets to West Side Story through someone at work, and whom else would he even consider taking but his best friend, Randy? Randy loved musicals as much as Danny did. They both knew all the words to such classics as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and Jesus Christ Superstar. How often had they taken different parts and acted them out, usually on the roof of the Chicago apartment building which they called home. It was flat and it was generally unoccupied—the perfect venue for two fledgling divas with more aspiration than voice.
“Oh, oh, ohmygod, the part where they see each other for the first time in the gym, and the lights dim down so that all you see is them as they walk toward each other,” Randy gushed. He suddenly stopped several feet ahead of Danny, poised in his invisible spotlight as he slowly walked toward him. “The most beautiful sound I ever heard,” he warbled, coming closer and closer to Danny. So close that Danny couldn’t help but stare helplessly into his gorgeous green eyes, the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen.
He wanted to kiss Randy so bad he could taste it. But he didn’t dare.
Randy switched gears again, frenetically tearing at his dirty blond hair in his excitement. “Did you cry? I mean, seriously, dude, I did. The end. I mean, it’s so fucking sad. Why’s it have to be that way? Seriously?”
Danny smiled indulgently. “Because it’s Romeo and Juliet, that’s why, and that’s a tragedy. Can’t be helped.”
“Really? Ohhhhhh. I didn’t know. Guess that makes sense.”
They were passing by a bench which the city had installed for the benefit of bus riders; none were there at this moment. Danny leapt upon it, clasping his hands to his heart, as he began to recite. “Romeo, o Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, and if thou wilt not….”
“Be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Lamb…” Danny finished the line for him, and then blushed at his faux pas.
“Lamb? Silly, I think she said Capulet. You’re the Lamb.” Randy laughed.
“Yeah, right. My bad.” Except he’d envisioned this same scene too many times before, played out with himself and Randy. The difference was that it never ended in their deaths. And they didn’t have such horrible families. But those were minor points in comparison to the main one, which was that Randy had no idea how Danny felt about him. And Danny didn’t intend for him to find out.
Why ruin the perfect friendship with a little thing like love?
Randy held out his hand, almost imperiously. “Help me down, good sir,” he said, and Danny obeyed, although touching Randy was always perilous to his soul, and not only raised his blood pressure, but made his cock hard. Luckily, Randy’d never noticed, and probably never would.
“Ooh, ooh, ooh, do you remember the wedding scene?” Randy gushed, alighting on the pavement, never relinquishing Danny’s hand.
“Romeo and Juliet?” Danny asked, confused.
“No, no, West Side Story. The pretend one. Where they talked about hands and hearts.” He stepped closer to Danny, so close that Danny could inhale the faint scent of his cologne, and he tried not to concentrate on how very desirable Randy was, and how very much he desired him.
“Make of our hands, one hand. Make of our hearts, one heart,” Randy sang, as they fell into a rhythmic step together step, performing an imaginary wedding march.
Give me strength, Danny intoned. It was even harder not to give in to his desires when Randy was parading around in the apartment they shared in his very skimpy briefs, twirling and dancing to this or that musical number. The boy seemed to live to dance, but it was very true too that Danny encouraged him, as he watched him gracefully move from room to room, gyrating, and leaping from one piece of furniture to another. Miraculously never falling or injuring himself.
At night, Danny pictured those dances, in the solitude of his room, while he masturbated to Randy’s face. Not that he’d ever admit to it, but it was true, God help him.
They were coming to the end of the block, then they’d be turning right and heading down to the station where they’d pick up the EL, take it back to their place. But Randy surprised him by turning them about, continuing the pseudo wedding march, as if he felt it was not complete and he needed more time with it.
Dammit Randy, why do I want you so badly?
The tortured Danny played along, humoring his best friend, listening to him sing, and joining in where he could remember the words. They reached the end of the song. Either it was time for another, or time to move on. Danny wondered which it would be.
It was neither.
Suddenly he found himself in the most intense liplock he’d ever experienced in his life. Unable to think, he melted into that touch, into those arms, lost in those green eyes.
What just happened?
"I was expecting you to kiss me weeks ago." Randy grinned at him when they drew back to breathe. “I couldn’t wait. You can go first next time.”
“I’ll remember that,” Randy promised, as he reached for those lips again.
Don't forget to visit the other intrepid Silver Flashers:
Sui Lynn m/m
Ryssa Edwards m/m
Lily Sawyer m/m
Lindsay Klug m/f
Victoria Blisse m/f
West Thornhill m/m
L.M. Brown m/m
Pender Mackie m/m
Elyzabeth LaVey m/f
Freddie McKay m/f
Thanks for stopping by, come back next week for more fun with the Silver Flashers!
Until next time, take care!
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
So, what's the first ingredient in a show such as this? A great host! They've certainly found that in celebrated cake designer Ron Ben Israel. I confess to being unaware of him before I saw the first commercial for Sweet Genius, but in my own defense, I haven't exactly been in the market for a wedding cake either.
If it's not obvious by now (and I'm sure it is) I'm quite taken with the host. Er, I mean the show. No, I said it right the first time, it's the host. I do like the show, yes, but he makes it for me. I also watch Just Desserts on Wednesday nights, but I have to say that Ron is a better host than Gail is. I like her fine, but I don't think she has the strength or charisma that Ron possesses. I'm intrigued with his accent, but I haven't placed it yet. I just hope he talks more and more in coming episodes.
Okay, moving on.
Chopped Champions has its grand finale tonight, more about that later. Just Desserts is interesting, but I can't say it's the best Top Chef I've seen. I'm interested in seeing Top Chef Texas when it starts, and also the Next Iron Chef. I notice Sarah recorded The Chew, so I'm sure I'll be seeing that too - Carla (think Top Chef and hooty hoo and you'll remember her) and Mario Batale are the only names I recognized in their line up. But those are two good names.
The new governor - former lieutenant governor - reinstated 5-0 after evidence came to light that McGarrett did not shoot the governor, although it was not conclusive enough to pin it on Wo Fat either. But the governor made it clear that things have changed, and that Hawaii 5-0 will have accountability. Today he proved he meant it by assigning a new member to the team, a former Homeland Security agent. Steve isn't thrilled and tries to keep her at a distance. But she grows on him. Which might be a good thing, since Kono's review before IA doesn't go well, and she's stripped of everything. I'm sure in future episodes we'll see more of the late governor/Wo Fat/McGarrett's dad connection. The greatest thing about the second episode is a scene in which Steve, Danno and the new girl are riding horses into a cult compound, and the boys start their typical bickering and she turns to them and asks "HOW LONG YOU BEEN MARRIED" Best line ever. Again.
At the beginning, Reese (Jim C) looks like a homeless person when he's attacked by young thugs on the subway. They picked the wrong person and he smacks them down handily, drawing the attention of the police. One female cop in particular is a recurring character, and she seems to be onto Reese. Finch (Michael E) is a billionaire with a lot of time and money on his hands. They have one thing in common - people think they're both dead. In a nutshell, Finch recruits Reese to his cause. He has a computer which was programmed to look for areas of trouble after 9-11. Every night it produces a list of non-essential data which it dumps, but these are actually people. So Finch retrieves them, one at a time. All he has is a social security number, but no knowledge of what will happen. Is this the victim, or the perp? Or the catalyst? Reese's job is to watch and prevent something from happening.
I think that's it for now. I can't imagine what I've really forgotten. Whatever it is, I'll pick it up later.
Until next time, take care!
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
My daughter Sarah wrote a review of Gail Carriger's novel Soulless, first in her Parasol Protectorate series. It's the first modern Steampunk I'd read, and I can directly attribute my reading it to my daughter's review, so here it is, and enjoy!
Soulless: Parasol Protectorate book 1
Author: Gail Carriger
American release date: October 1st 2009
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/Supernatural/357 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: Older Teen
Overall Personal Rating: C+
Similar series/titles to check out: Leviathan; Discworld; the Sookie Stackhouse novels
In an alternative Victorian-era England where werewolves and vampires are accepted occurrences and steampunk reigns supreme, it takes a young woman from high society who has no soul to cut through the nonsense and get to the important matters - like when the treacle tart is to be served.
Alexia Tarabotti, half-Italian spinster with no soul who loves food, is greatly offended when she is attacked by a half-starved vampire during a social outing, a terrible breach of etiquette not to mention not very good for her health. She manages to kill the vampire with her parasol and a wooden stake/hair pin, thus bringing the attention of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) on her as well as the queen of a nearby vampire hive. Luckily one of BUR's top officials arrives in the form of the dashing upper crust rogue/werewolf Lord Maccon, who is ordered by the Queen herself to investigate the matter; he is already an acquaintance of Miss Tarabotti and swears to protect her from those who wish harm on her - well, if they could stop squabbling at each other and work together in peace. Accompanying him is Professor Lyall, second in command and the arguable voice of reason among BUR, who honestly thinks Alexia and His Lordship could be very close friends if they gave their silly games a break for just one minute.
It soon becomes evident that the problem facing London's supernatural society is bigger than imagined as vampires unregistered and unrecognized start appearing around town, while registered vampires who are associated with known hives are disappearing without a trace. And it isn't just the vampires in a frenzy, as BUR's werewolves are finding out the hard way. Even Lord Akeldama, the foppish gossip king of London, doesn't know what's going on. As a soulless - someone who can drain the paranormal abilities of a vampire or werewolf with just a touch - Alexia becomes an unwilling target for all the blame, and she's not terribly pleased about it. As danger looms nearer, it's up to Alexia Tarabotti to unravel the mystery of these disappearances before her reputation is ruined forever and her status as a soulless is revealed - or worse, a painful and unbecoming death.
I must confess: I have not read much steampunk. I am also not the biggest fan of either werewolves or vampires. I also do not read a lot of Victorian lit, either from the era or inspired by it. Having said that, you would think I'd avoid a novel like Soulless by author Gail Carriger, which combines all of the above into one work. I picked the title up in the name of morbid curiosity, and found myself drawn into a solid story with some bumps in the road that kept it from being excellent. Not terrible, but not golden. Having said that, fans of the genre of fiction that centers around characters of the paranormal persuasion will love this book. Each race of fantastic creatures each have their own mythos that is slightly different than the ones paraded around in Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. Not to mention, they are all terribly polite to the point that it plagues the rules of their species - an amusing side-effect from being born in times of Victorian niceties. In an era of novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it's nice to see someone play the bloody tropes straight and have their world of petticoats and hansom cabs accept the presence of werewolves and vampires without having to outright wage war on them.
Fans of steampunk, I'm sorry to say, should find their cogs and gears fix somewhere else. The most steampunk elements of the book are the interest in science running rampant through academia, an apparent interest in the steampunk aesthetic demonstrated by both vampires and werewolves, the dirigibles in the skies over London (which just remind this reviewer of the zeppelins in the alternate universe on Doctor Who), and Alexia's parasol, which is designed to protect her against unwholesome beasties. Aside from that, there are no grandiose steampunk-esque machines or experiments until the tail end of the book. Alexia, although an avid bookworm and thinker, never rolls up her sleeves and tinkers with machinery. Nothing about average Victorian society apart from the dirigibles suggest a steampunk atmosphere - and it confounds me that they would use it as a selling point when I can't really see it in the text. The bloody cover is more steampunk than the book itself.
(And as for the cover itself? Alexia Tarabotti looks slim and pale skinned, not the lightly tanned and curvy Rubenesque young woman described in the novel. Plus, she is wearing a stereotypically steampunk hat that isn't even hers. This isn't the kind of whitewashed cover that Justine Larbalestier's Liar got, not by a long shot, but it pretty much wipes out the fact that Alexia is half-Italian with a complexion to match and is not a 'perfect hourglass' figure.)
Having said all that, Soulless is not without its merits, despite it sounding like there are none. For example, it is obvious that Derriger did a metric ton's worth of research on the intricate details of Victorian era living, from the foods and clothing to the dining etiquette and social manners that were so prevalent during that period. Like any good English Victorian novel, it is packed with dry wit (which, as I hear from self-declared Brit John Oliver, is something the English invented themselves) and manages to make even the most simple social slip-ups remarkably hilarious. I love that when Alexia is in the face of mortal danger from a vampire her biggest worry is on the lines of how scandalous her untied hair must seem or that she really picked a bad day to wear her best evening gown.
Alexia Tarabotti herself is the perfect kind of main protagonist you want narrating a tale of supernatural going-ons in prim and proper London. She is a spinster with a dark complexion and curves to spare, a woman who loves to read and is far too intelligent for her own good - aka the kind of woman their mother despairs over because she'll never marry, and society pretty much dismisses her as a never-do-anything because of it. Does it bring her down? Of course not. She does what she wants, is capable of protecting herself thank you very much Lord Maccon, and once she sets her mind on something that something usually gets done no matter what. Alexia is stubborn and clever in a pinch and her constant snarky Victorian-era point of view as she straddles upholding social standards in all situations and navigating the waters of the vampire/werewolf realm brings a clarity to some of the more convoluted aspects of the time. Even the golden age of scientific discovery, it seems, can't stop society from upholding ridiculous moral and social attitudes that make things overly complicated, even for someone who was used to it. It's a shame that, in ostracizing Alexia from society and thus making her a candidate for BUR's meddling, that they over-emphasize her Italian features and body shape. I understand that it is a Victorian viewpoint and it is Alexia herself telling the story, but there must be more subtle and better ways of separating one from the pack without resorting to overly describing her physical characteristics. (There's also the fact that the prose seems confused on whether she is barely tan or very much tan, but that could be another thing chalked up to the narrator's own self-perceived flaws.)
Alexia's foil presents itself in the form of Lord Maccon, and the back blurb of the novel describes him perfectly: loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf. I often find that when a writer tries to integrate the wolf-aspects into the human form's personality, it doesn't end well and seems painfully forced, but for Lord Maccon his werewolfish tendencies while still looking very much a human are a delight to read. He is just as stubborn and snarky as Alexia, and every time they butt heads over BUR policy or a social disaster you can practically smell the romantic tension building up between them. I found myself cheering for their very dysfunctional romance, and I'm not the type to cheer for the main characters to become couples straight out of the gate. When Alexia learns via Professor Lyall that Lord Maccon has actually begun courting her werewolf-fashion, her responses to his advances from then on are some of the most amusing and titillating scenes in the book. Yes, things get very steamy between our Victorian heroine and her dashing rogue friend, but never does it become embarrassingly explicit or unnecessarily detailed. After all, it's not a smut book, it's a mostly-general supernatural fantasy set in steampunkish Victorian England, dang it! This is the era of the Brontë sisters and Wilkie Collins; fade to black or be gone with you!
The only other time that Soulless outright addresses sexuality is through Lord Akeldama, whom upon meeting him for the first time you'd be foolish not to notice that he is English, intelligent, and gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. It is never expressed in those words, but you'd have to be blind, living under a rock, and have never interacted with any sort of media to not realize Lord Akeldama prefers vampires his own gender - and probably those who share his extremely vibrant and garish taste in clothing. Reading Derriger's descriptions of his usual outfits, you can imagine how many times Alexia has to look away from the vastly technicolor nature of his design. But Lord Akeldama is also one of the most intelligent and clever people in the entire novel, someone who has ears practically everywhere in England and is a very useful informant when Alexia or BUR needs some intel on what's what. This is why, when Akeldama admits to Alexia that he doesn't know what is going on with the disappearances, you can feel that it's not right. Akeldama, the man who knows too much, knows nothing? The fact that this happens only briefly after first meeting him and yet has the power to affect the reader's perception of the problem at hand should highlight some of the skill in which author Derriger wields her control over the ongoing drama than runs through the main narrative; under all the English humor and romantic situations there is always a hint of danger on the horizon, a clue that something more sinister and dangerous is approaching for the cast that will test the lot of them in unthinkable ways. This is what kept me reading page after page despite its flaws: Derriger made me want to know what would happen next. An author who can effectively grab a reader's attention and then slowly pull them in like a sinkhole until the very end is one to be remembered with great respect.
The second book in the series, Changeless, is on my list of books to read. I think that as a second book, it will be more satisfying that the first as it will be a story with an already establish universe and therefore will not suffer from the growing pains that are evident in the world-building process that goes on throughout Soulless, at times reading more like mindless exposition than thoughtful background information. It's clear that Derriger took great pains to set up this alternate universe of machines and manners and beasties all meshed together, but the effort getting there seems to have seeped through the actual prose too well. I can't help but think that if she had laid off on revealing some of the information introduced in the first chapter until it didn't seem like such a pile of info that the entire process would have read a lot more smoothly.
In all, Soulless is a solid read for fans of the biologically strange and socially astute, and is a fascinating look into a world hopefully expanded upon in the following books of the series. I can't help but be intrigued and attracted to the character of Alexia Tarabotti, and as long as she is headlining this steampunk world of high society and secret magics, I will continue to follow her continuing adventures until their conceivable end.
Overall Grade: C+
An intriguing tale of paranormal dilemmas in steampunk London, led by a fascinating main protag; not much steampunk to actually qualify the tag, descriptions of certain characters were jarring and at some points flat out unnecessary.
This review was just to whet your appetitite, there'll be more, I promise. Any questions? Any comments? I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time, take care! Don't forget to check out Sui Lynn's blog, 2 Cents, and our join blog, Backdoor Divas!
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Life After Math (sequel to Love By the Numbers)
Author: S.L. Danielson
Publisher: Silver Publishing
American release date: June 3, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/YA/190 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: 18+
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★
Scott and Jared have weathered high school, now it’s on to college! They’ve managed to sustain and nurture their relationship through some pretty serious ups and downs, and have vowed to stay together forever. But when reality comes crashing down on them, in the form of pressure from their conflicting schedules, and they discover that the college world is vastly different than what they’ve known before, they’re faced with some decisions that have the potential to tear them apart.
Life is good as Scott and Jared celebrate their six month anniversary together with roses and Italian food. Jared’s mother announces her impending divorce from his abusive father and all’s well. Freshman year ends, on to sophomore. Things change when they find themselves in different dorm rooms.
Scott is still tutoring in math, and not just forJared (although he’s the only one who gets the strip algebra advantage!). He joins a club for math tutors and there he meets Daniel, a young and handsome Asian man. They become fast friends, even though he questions Scott’s engagement, thinking it’s happened too fast, especially at his age. Scott feels more attracted to Daniel than he should, and the feeling seems to be mutual.
Jared befriends a fellow psych student who introduces him to his study group—and his older brother Taylor, who’s in his thirties. Jared and Taylor become good friends, and he learns that that the big guy is gay too. Is Taylor crushing on Jared perhaps?
Junior year things only get worse, and when Jared demands Scott cut back on his tutoring, in order to get more personal attention, Daniel guilts him into keeping with his grueling schedule. Something’s gotta give—will it be the tutoring, or the relationship between Scott and Jared?
Let me start out by saying that this is a YA novel, not a romance novel, so don’t approach it thinking that it’s the latter. Maybe there’s romance in it, but that isn’t the same thing at all. I think the difference in the two has to do with the approach that the author takes. Ms. Danielson has a very bare bones, to the gut style of writing that is not flowery or romantic, and simply tells it like it is. Some of her descriptions during the sex scenes between the two boys are very graphic and not romantic at all—she is fond of comparing her characters to fountains when they orgasm, and spewing is not a romantic word at all. But she’s talking about teenage boys who just want to get off, so it works.
Where Ms. Danielson excels, rather than in the beauty of her language, is the depths of her characters, even if her situations border on or cross the soap opera line, which they do. She is fond of the dramatic and it shows. She creates characters that are more realistic than some romance novels. They have warts and blemishes and they need to use the bathrobe, and they have weight issues and self-esteem issues. And they’re far from perfect in the choices that they make. I would comment that she also builds a world where parents are accepting of their son’s sexuality without blinking and have frank sex talks with them. While that sounds nice, as the mother of five children now past those years, I know what I’d get if I’d tried to discuss their sex lives with them, and I can’t repeat it. But this is the world she creates, so suspend your disbelief when you enter it.
Frankly, I think the editor dropped the ball on this one, not in grammar or spelling, but in continuity and logic issues, but one can’t fault the writer for that. Perhaps as an editor, I tend to think that way, but I would think another editor would too.
If you enjoyed Love by the Numbers, you really should read the sequel, to see what happens with the boys, following their tumultuous lives. If you haven’t read the first one, then read it. They’re good enjoyable reads that will stick with you for some time afterwards.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Hello, hello, time for some more hopping and blogging, 'cause it's Friday!
Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?
A. I have some new series that I'm sure I'll re-read when I get the chance, including the Percy Jackson series, and the Dark Hunter series, but there are two series that come to mind that I've read a few times already, and love to death. Isaac Asimov's Foundation books, and Frank Herbert's Dune. There are other series I want to try, including the rest of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and the Lara Adrian Midnight books. But these two series are classics, and I love them to death.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
At this point, if you've not done them yet, you'll get pre-edit sheet to guide your through the correction of some common errors before your content editor begins her job - making your words the best they can be. Removing extraneous that's, or clarifying its, things like that. Once you get the pre-edit sheet for the first time, you should take advantage of it and utilize before you sub your work. Saves you and your editor a lot of time that can be devoted to your story. And it enhances its appearance as far as subbing it is concerned.
Back to the editor.
Too many people see the content editor, as well as the publisher, as gods. They aren't, I assure you. I say that being an editor myself. What I have to give is my knowledge and skill as far as the written word is concerned, but I don't claim to be omnipotent or perfect. So if you see something you disagree with in your edits, no need to roll over and play dead. Explain yourself to the editor, and either she'll see it your way, or she'll tell you why it doesn't work. Give and take. It's the basis of any good relationship.
So yeah, listen to your editor, but don't think she's perfect or that you can't disagree with her. Editors, like publishers, are not gods. They need us too. We're all reaching for the same goal - a successful novel. Working together is the only way to achieve that. But know your rights. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.
Have bad experiences with editors? Good ones? Questions or comments about editing and editors? I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time, take care!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Happy Wednesday everyone, and happy Hump Day!Thanks for coming back for another week of flash fiction with the authors of Silver Publishing! This week we have our very first Guest Prompt Diva - Reese Dante, our lovely cover artist, who has given us: