30 August 2009

Musings on Shadowlight - A Novel of the Kyndred

As promised, I’ve got a book review. I know, I know — this is supposed to be a place about my writing. Well, many authors will tell other writers to read, and read lots, to help in your writing. Part of writing is reading. So, from time to time I’ll also include musings about what I’m reading.

Lynn Viehl announced on her blog she was trying an experiment: giving away eARC’s for a new book release. In order to get my hands on this eARC, I had to promise not to share it (easy enough) and to give my thoughts about it after I finished reading it. So here goes ...

The book is Shadowlight - A Novel of the Kryndred, which is part of a series that she categorizes as Dark Fantasy. Most characters are either vampires (the Darkyn), those bent on destroying them (the Brethren), or the Kyndred (created by the Brethren). And of course, there are humans too.

Shadowlight is mostly about Jessa, someone that guards her special talent from everyone except for a select few Kyndred that only know each other through an internet group, keeping their daily lives and real identities secret even from each other in order to protect themselves. However GenHance, a genetic enhancement corporation, has learned of her unique skill and wants to exploit said talent. A secret group of Kyndred, led by Matthias, has been working to save those in the target sights of GenHance and has learned of their latest plan: to harvest Jessa’s talent at the expense of her life. This sets them in motion to save her, and ultimately themselves, from the very determined folks from GenHance.

I received the eARC last Sunday. I read it, then read it again, finishing last night. Why twice? I wasn’t paying enough attention the first time and got a little confused about the story lines. The second time around I caught little hints and connections, like Easter Eggs, that I hadn’t noticed the first time. Does it require two reads to enjoy it? No, but it’s so much more enjoyable the second time. Even knowing the ending, which I won’t spoil, I got caught up and had to slow myself down on the reread.

Suspense, intrigue, romance, sex and danger can be found throughout the book. I can't really think of anything that I didn't like, things that didn't work for me. She maintained a good level of tension and mystery to keep me turning the pages.

Not all of the questions regarding the world were answered in the book. I wanted to learn more about some of the supporting characters. So I looked on Amazon for other books in the series, where I learned most of the supporting characters will have or have had their own stories. Also, what the head of GenHance plans to do with all the harvested talents is only hinted at. What kind of evil is he going to unleash? Will have to follow the series to find out.

What I liked most — how the characters are real and relatable. Even though these beings have super-human talents and problems, they also have the same hang-ups and issues that regular people have. Because of Jessa's talent, she is able see which people to trust but at a cost. So, she keeps to herself, not allowing anyone in, leaving her lonely and unable to trust. Those that she does let in, her internet Kyndred, are only available via internet or phone calls. But she must maintain a healthy distance from these friends, if not for her safety, but theirs.

And Lynn has built a world that I wouldn’t mind living in - of course as one of the Kyndred or the Darkyn. Really, who wouldn’t want to have near-immortality and special skills, like summoning rain storms?

I’ve read only one other story from this series, the novella Master of Shadows - A Novel of the Darkyn. After reading Shadowlight last night, I looked for other novels in the series to put on the ol’ Kindle.

I’ll definitely be adding more of this series to my library.

Edited on 31 August - to correct title spelling, augment opinion

28 August 2009

A Writing Course and Smiles for my Loved Ones

Two weeks ago I signed up for an online novel-writing course, How to Think Sideways. My first course since I’ve been writing my novel. The last writing class I took, Technical Writing, was when I was an engineering undergraduate, way back when. A handy course for writing scientific papers and non-fiction, and mandatory since I had failed the undergraduate writing exam. (Yes, for those of you who know me well, I failed an exam.)

But back to this course ...

A few months ago I learned about the course when Holly Lisle, the creator, was still developing it. I was very tempted to enroll, but we were getting ready to put the old house market. I didn't want to have too much on my plate, so I put it off until two weeks ago when I read another writer's take on the course and what she was getting out of it.

I wish I had signed up back then. Sure, the course is interesting. So far the material has focused on getting to know yourself -- what stops you, mapping your likes/dislikes, finding your muse. And I’m looking forward to working on the future assignments.

But what got me was how things have shifted for me, almost like a lightness of being. Before the course, I've been irritable and quick to anger, not wanting to write.

Signing up for this course, besides helping me to develop my writing skills and career, was something I did for myself. As opposed to always doing things for the kids, the husband, the house. Other authors write/advise that you feed your muse and take care of your body. Sounds good. After all, it's just common sense to take care of yourself. But how many of us, writer or not, really do that? I know I’m guilty, it's too easy to let taking care of yourself become a luxury and not a must-do item on the to-do list.

These past two weeks, I'm recharged. Actually itching to do some writing -- hence this blog, thinking about new story ideas, looking forward to NaNoWriMo, revising my WIP. But there's more: I'm not so quick to anger, having fun. And I’m smiling more at my family.

Just for signing up for a course, who'd a thunk it?

22 August 2009

Another Blog?

Another blog out on the ether. Really, do we need another one? Good question. Need, definitely not. But here it is anyway. So why am I doing this?

Possible answers ...
* Maybe it's time to set up a platform (see Getting Known Before the Book Deal)
* I'm a narcissist (I'm sure my sister would agree)
* Need an outlet to air my writing ups and downs
* Work on my writing skills
* Develop a network - make writing friends
* Share my influences

All true, to some extent or another. And there are probably others, if I really thought about it.

Like can you expect my husband to have to listen to me all the time about this new and exciting realm of my life? Don't get me wrong, he's very supportive and is delighted I've found a creative outlet. (Maybe even one that may result in some income.) But sometimes he's on travel, on the telephone and isn't always be available at the moment when I'm ready to go on about a story kink, the new lesson in my writing course, or any other issues that influence by writing.

So, I've created this blog to act as my sounding board. Hopefully it's interesting to you, maybe even entertaining from time to time. Speaking of which ...

I've got a review of a new L. Viehl book coming up very soon. Just got the eARC today. So stay tuned.

21 August 2009

First Post - Sad news for Rosina Lippi Fans

Tonight I was adding the URL for one of my favorite authors, Rosina Lippi, to my Blog Roll when I encountered an error from Blogger saying there was no feed for her blog. Nah-uh! Determined to prove that Rosina did in fact have a feed, I clicked to her website and got a text page. Without reading it, I retyped the address a few more times, getting the same page, before finally reading the message. In which I learned Rosina, aka Sara Donati, has left the blog-0-sphere. Wow.

A few years ago a friend introduced me to the The Wilderness Series, written as Sara, and I fell in love with Nathaniel and so wanted to be Elizabeth. I bought all the books in the series, and am in the process of getting all the audiobooks. I have all her books she wrote as Rosina too. Loved the The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square. Yeah, you could say I'm a fan.

Truth be told, she was one of the authors that inspired me to start writing fiction.

I'm sorry to see her go, I'm sure I won't be the only one that will miss her presence out here on the tubes. Maybe one day she'll be back. Regardless, I send her best wishes from across the internets.