Monday, July 25, 2011

Review of "A Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss

"A Wise Man's Fear" is book 2 in the Kingkiller Chronicles, which so far involves a middle-aged innkeeper Kvothe retelling the unbelievable story of his youth- his early years as a traveling performer, his studies in the Arcanist University, where he learns how to control sympathy, a type of magic where the bonds between objects are are strong as their similarities and the belief that the arcanist can muster. I keep wondering when he's going to get to the part where he kills a king, but the story moves fast enough that it took a while for me to realize he's got to kill a king somewhere...

The innkeeper, Qvothe, polishes the bar, makes apple pie, and talks about the weather. A lot. He's grown tired of being famous, and of the reputation that he carefully built up. It's all true enough, but I suspect Qvothe has discovered that there is something to be said about anonymity. About being able to live one's life instead of being the vehicle that other people use to experience the lives they wish they could have. That it's not always comfortable to be the hero that they turn to when things go bad...and things are going bad. Strange creatures have strayed from the mountains and the woods, and hapless farmers are dying.

The writing is brilliant, the humor is actually funny, and I enjoyed following Kvothe's adventures, and especially the older Kvothe's commentary on his youthful foibles. This book sucked me in, overriding all common sense and awareness of time. Yes, Nathan found me on the couch at 2 in the morning, wondering how it got so late. I got up at 8 the next morning and finished it.

So, these books are long. They are involved. You are warned. Also, know that Rothfuss published Day 1 in 2007, book 2 in 2011, so be prepared for a bit of a wait for Day 3. They are, in my humble opinion, worth it. See: Quill award, Tor accolades, NYT Bestsellerdom, etc.

Content- Not a series for kids, imo. Day 2 has a rather lengthy encouter with a fae whose purpose in life is to drive men to their deaths with her enthusiastic and mind-blowing sexual encounters. Also he studies martial arts with the Ademe, who view sex as being as natural and expected as breathing, but it was integrated enough into the culture that it didn't seem *too* gratuitous.

Rothfuss masks details behind names of poses, much like yoga or martial arts do. Day 1 had him yearning to have close encounters with women, and in Day 2, nearly all those yearnings are accomplished. I found the scenes vague enough that I wasn't offended- I don't like books to intrude into the bedroom, I can do that in real life, thank you very much. Other content- Kvothe and his buddies drink a lot. Sometimes they even regret drinking so much;) There is fighting and people die. That's about it.

Let me know if you read it!
Glutton for Punishment?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review of Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

I'd never read a mermaid (excuse me, siren, not mermaid!) book before, so I can't say much about how this book stands out from the others, but I really enjoyed it. Fun book, very entertaining and well-written.

Lexi used to have it all: a million friends, a boyfriend, and a life. But since an accident that claimed her boyfriend's life, her ex-best friend leads the anti-Lexi brigade, and Lexi retreats into a shell to protect herself and the people who used to be her friends. Since the night of her birthday party, she has to swim each night and sings an irresistable song, drawing all who hear it into the water with her. She couldn't bear it if she killed again.

The only one who seems to care about her is Cole, the best friend of Lexi's dead boyfriend. He's sweet and persistent as he tries to draw Lexi back into the life she used to have. And it's starting to work. Maybe she can be careful enough to reclaim part of her life. Cole is definately worth trying to be normal for.

Enter Erik, hot new guy at school who has answers to the questions Lexi's been asking about her, um, condition. And he has a curse of his own. He's sure that together they can break both their curses. All Lexi has to do is drop Cole and try to love him. Easy, right? Um, not so much.

I really liked this book. The ending was very fulfilling and I recommend it to folks who like YA paranormal. The cover didn't quite do it for me, something about the model's shoulders, but the book was great.

Content-wise, there are parties where teens are drinking and an insinuation of sex, though that is a matter of interpretation and reading between the lines.

Thanks to Around the World ARC tours for letting me read it!
Glutton for Punishment?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Teresa Frohock, An Expose`

So, some history. Teresa and I met on the Online Writer's Workshop for Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror way back on March of 2009, or thereabouts. She was working on this really cool story that featured a kind of medieval fantasy world, yet also contained cell phones. And it worked. Teresa really took me under her wing as I learned to critique, even sticking with me when I overused the word "gel" as in "that scene where the horse lives doesn't gel for me," or "Wow, when the cross flips upside down in that exorcism scene, it really gels." Ad nauseum. Here we go!

Teresa and I at StellarCon. Good times:)
Kelly- Your characters range across gender and age lines- who was your hardest character to write and why? What helped you to break through? (answer- awesome crit partner, right?)

I've answered Lindsay (teenage girl from earth) on several blogs and she was very difficult to write. And it was my super awesome crit partners who finally helped me get her personality down (I knew it! I just knew it!) , but the one I'd like to talk about here is Catarina.

Catarina was incredibly difficult to write, believe it or not. I didn't want to give her an excuse for being evil, but I didn't want her so murky that the reader couldn't connect to her. I probably went over her scenes more in the beginning than any other character.

I needed her darkness to contrast Lucian's better nature. In the end, I finally managed to achieve that subtle twist to her nature that I wanted, but getting her there was a lot of hard work.

Catarina is sooo evil! I kept wanting her to be more like Lucian, to feel bad about what she was doing. Truly wicked!

You mention learning so much about religions and Christianity in particular while writing Miserere. How many books did you read? Was there anything that you read that blew you away?

I lost count of the number of books. I would guess around eight to ten that I read cover to cover and that's not including many that I skimmed for background information. I've got three Latin dictionaries and phrase books, one of which is specifically about Church Latin. I read numerous journal articles too.

The one book that absolutely blew me away was Armando Maggi's Satan's Rhetoric: A Study of Renaissance Demonology. Maggi's analyses of Renaissance treatises on demonology and his correlation between language and possession astounded me. He writes that in a possession, the "'virus' assaulting the mind is the mind itself. In a demonic possession, the mind listens to its own annihilation."

From that point forward, I changed the way I thought about Rachael's possession. I didn't want spinning heads and weird behavior. I wanted my Fallen to be more seductive; they would approach their goals through devious rhetoric, not head-banging violence.

So, yes, Satan's Rhetoric just knocked me for a loop. I'm still studying Maggi's theories. Fabulous work.

Sometimes writers fear losing control of their books when agents and editors get involved. Any words of wisdom regarding your experience?

I had a very positive experience with editors and that includes my agent Weronika Janczuk, who is absolutely marvelous at editing. Before we started submitting Miserere, Weronika made several suggestions to the manuscript. We talked about two or three approaches to Miserere's story, and when I explained the bastions and how they worked, she told me to make it clearer in the manuscript and beef up my world-building.

I added another 10,000 words based on her recommendations and Jeremy Lassen (at Night Shade) recommended that I add more words and clearly explain how Woerld worked. He made some very specific suggestions in some places, and not once did I feel like I was losing control over my story. No one ever asked me to change the main premise; they all wanted more detail in some areas.

No one ever made any unreasonable demands, and both Weronika and Jeremy wanted to see the book sell. So I trusted their judgment and I sincerely believe that their guidance made Miserere stronger.

Talk to me about marketing. I haven't seen you dressed up as your characters or getting your fans to wear chain mail and cuirasses. Did you put any thought into this or what?

Fans?!? There are fans!?! WHERE? *looks around wildly*

Sorry, Kelly. I've had some very positive reviews and some kind words from people, but no fans yet, so we don't have to worry about them dressing up as anything but themselves. I don't do dress up either, I'm afraid.

Meanwhile, good old-fashioned marketing is going on. I am working through the blog tour and that has taken an amazing amount of time, but I really believe it has been worth the effort. And I do want to stop here and thank everyone again for letting me a part of your various blogs for a day. Every stop has brought Miserere before new people and it's been a blast to meet all the gracious hosts out there.

What I do have are bookmarks and some swag in the form of some awesome oversized postcards, which are available when I travel. I'm working on setting up some book signings in my home state; I've got an interview and a review for Miserere coming up in the next issue of Bull Spec magazine; and I've got other nefarious plans boiling beneath the surface.

I hang out on Goodreads and Twitter and Facebook; although, I am going to be pulling back some soon so I work more on my next novel, The Garden. So far, people really seem to be enjoying Miserere, so I’m going forward with the next book in the series, Dolorosa.

I think the thing that surprises me is the amount of work involved in getting my name out there online and in person. It's taken an incredible amount of time to set up blogs and web sites and work all these things into an already hectic schedule.

Every ounce of work has been worth it, though, and I’m looking forward to meeting more people. Maybe someday, I’ll even have some fans.

Oh, you already do! And it's not just me. Jen McFadden has a question for you: Do you have a word count you try to hit every day?

No. I don't stress myself like that. I do try to write something, even if I do nothing more than edit the previous night's work.

Alright, that's it! Thanks For taking the time to come see us, Teresa. You can catch up with Teresa on her blog, on Twitter, and her author page on Facebook.

Click here to read the first four chapters of Miserere for FREE! I loved this story from the first chapter. Let me know if you enjoy it too!

Glutton for Punishment?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ask Teresa and Additional Nuggets from Dave Farland

I'm having a chat with my very good friend and crit partner Teresa Frohock on for an interview late next week. Teresa is the author of "Miserere" by Nightshade Books, which was released July 1st. You may have seen a review of Miserere on Tor!I'll be happy to ask her your questions if there's anything you'd like to know. She's a smart lady and so is her agent, Weronika Janczuk of Lynn Franklin Associates, so ask away.

Now, a few more nuggets from Dave Farland, as promised. You guys are all getting his Daily Kick, right? And you know about, where Dave hosts author interviews via conference call (Elana Johnson, Gail Carringer and Lisa Mangum, an editor at Deseret Books, are recent guests. The archived calls are available as MP3s)

And at, you can join a writer's group based on genre and experience.

Dave looks at things a little differently. He really didn't talk much about the mechanics of writing, instead focusing on how the story incites emotion and audience analysis. Good stuff.

From my notes-

• Think about story as an exercise in stress induction/reduction. Put the reader thru hell then pull them back out safely. Writer is the sadist, reader is masochist. Reader has to feel it’s safe stress. You can’t touch the reader too deeply. (ie- He had a friend who read a book about a broken romance, but woman had real life situation, and couldn’t finish reading it.)

• All of us have some things that we can’t handle/too close to home. Conflict too big.

• Some conflicts are too small. Ie- poor little rich kid doesn’t interest him.

• Female writers will sometimes have hero get in an argument and feel bad. Not enough conflict for him. "Feelings hurt" may not be enough conflict.

• You can’t write a story that everyone will like.

• You HAVE TO take your story to a successful conclusion. Slice of life isn’t satisfying. No ambiguous ending! Ie- Inception. He hated it!

• Writing about evil is not the same thing as being a proponent of evil.

• Don’t critique the author, crit the work.

• Ask yourself- How am I different from the other writers in my genre, how am I similar?

• Often a reader will find experiences read in a book more important than real life. Stories are that important.
Okay, that's a cut and paste from my notes, all things Dave talked about in a half hour or so of class.The last point there really made me think- Dave said there were many times in his life that he ONLY remembers in relation to what book he was reading. True for me- I remember reading "Fire" and "Dragonfly" last year at the beach, but not what we ate or if the kids got sunburnt. Is it true for you?  Don't forget to leave a question for Teresa. Let's make her work!
Glutton for Punishment?