Saturday, February 06, 2016

Hodge Podge

Library Thing just sent me a heads-up that the first book I'll be getting from their Early Reviewers program for 2016 is The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde, which made me give a sniffly cheer. I love all things Theodore Roosevelt, and the author has impressive credentials. Darrin Lunde currently works as "a Supervisory Museum Specialist in the Division of Mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History." Before that he worked at the American Museum of Natural History, where "he led field expeditions throughout the world." He also "named more than a dozen new species of mammals and provided valuable scientific insights on hundreds of others." From his bio the guy sounds like a total Indiana Jones, so I expect he'll write a terrific book, too.

I haven't gotten much of anything done this week writing-wise, but being under the weather gave me lots of time to sew and think. I probably needed the break, too (I never think I do until I'm forced to take one.) Once I do get all the fever/congestion/aches behind me I'd like to do a workshop on the blog. It's been ages since I have, and I always have fun with those. I was thinking I might do one that details some ways on how to take an idea and turn it into a novel, soup-to-nuts fashion. If there's any other topic in particular you'd like to see me cover, throw me some suggestions.

What's up with you guys? How is the writing going in your corner of NetPubLand? Anyone read a fabulous book lately and want to share a rec? Let us know in comments.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Nailed It

200 hours + 13,000 nails + 14.9 miles of thread = art (background music):

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Sub Op

I'm still sick. Yeah, I know, but when was the last time I called in sick at the blog? Honestly I am getting better; just still a bit sniffly and wrung out.

While I'm going through tissues like crazy, here's an open antho call for supernatural horror short fiction set in New York's Hudson Valley: "We want original, supernatural horror stories set within the Hudson Valley Region within the State of New York (please note that New York City is NOT considered a part of the Hudson Valley). The time period for your story is up to you–past, present, future, alternate history–but it must take place whole or in part within the Hudson Valley. Hudson Valley is a real place, with a real history, so please respect the reality of the setting. Scare us, creep us out, give us the shivers, make us laugh. Be Gothic, modern, Lovecraftian, Victorian, Steampunk, whatever. Just set your story in the Hudson Valley.


Any & all submissions must be set in & around New York’s Hudson Valley.
No gratuitous sex, violence, or profanity
No pornography of any kind. If there is sex in your story, it must be important to the story– and must abide by rule #2.
No stories centered on rape, torture or child molestation. We’re not interested.
No fan fiction.
Your story must be a complete story– we’re not interested in excerpts.
It must be your ORIGINAL work.
Do NOT include any artwork"

Length: 2-8K; Payment: $25.00 + contributor copy, query on reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: June 1st, 2016.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

While I'm Achooing

I'm still feeling pretty under the weather, although I think I'm over the worst of the sniffles. While I'm recovering I thought I'd recommend a movie I watched yesterday for any of you who are P.D. James and/or Jane Austen lovers.

Masterpiece Mystery! adapted Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, which was the late author's murder-mystery continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I did read the book when it was published, and I think this production is pretty faithful to it. Among its many charms it is very suspenseful, features ordinary-looking actors versus the usual beautiful people, and offers a satisfying look at Darcy and Elizabeth's relationship six years after they marry.

It's a clever whodunit, but it's also a window to a fascinating time period. The way criminal cases were handled back then in particular is a real eye-opener. It's 180 minutes long, and split into three episodes, so I really should call it a mini-series.

I'm going back to bed (sniff!). See you all tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Off to Achoo

My guy brought home an upper respiratory virus he picked up at work, and promptly infected me. I must stop kissing this man before I spray him down with Lysol. Anyway, I'm going to take a sick day to sip chicken soup, read and be miserable. See you tomorrow.

Monday, February 01, 2016

PBW's Book of the Month

My first 2016 pick for book of the month is Silent Melody by Mary Balogh, which was originally released in 1997 and again in August last year in a repackaged trade format. I'd never read the original book, and when I read the cover copy I was a bit leery. Emily Marlowe, the female protagonist, has been a deaf mute since childhood. Profoundly handicapped heroines are incredibly difficult to write, particularly when they can't hear or speak dialogue. Also (for obvious reasons) it's often painful for me personally to read this sort of story.

Mary Balogh doesn't use deafness as an element of entertainment in this novel. It's something that defines Emily's character physically, and certainly creates obstacles for her in every day life. But this isn't the deaf girl love story you might think. Emily herself isn't emotionally crippled by her inability to hear or (at least at the beginning of the book) speak. Much like the blind hero Mary wrote in her Survivor's Club series, Emily copes with her handicap, tries to keep it from ruining her life, and ultimately boots it off center stage by sheer force of personality. This isn't the poor little deaf girl trotted out to make everyone instantly sympathetic. Actually there were a couple of times I wanted to shake Emily until her teeth rattled.

As a writer I know what a technical challenge this book had to be to write, but what I loved about the story was that it didn't focus on Emily's deafness as the hub of all conflict. That was nicely handled by the male protagonist, Emily's brother-in-law, Lord Ashley Kendrick. Probably one of the most screwed up romantic heroes I've read in a long time. Ashley's life seriously and repeatedly derails as he and Emily are brought together, and it doesn't end there. The guy is a walking train wreck. I felt so sorry for Ashley that when he behaved like a complete ass with Emily I really wasn't surprised. From there I was hooked, and as the twists and turns of the story swept me along I kept thinking, Okay, I got this now -- and then in the next chapter I found out I didn't. What should have been a simple love story turned out to be a very twisted, suspenseful read that evolves so beautifully that by the time I finished it I was pretty much speechless.

Bottom line: beautiful story, terrific read, and the kind of quality writing we just don't see anymore out there in historical romance land. I highly recommend Mary Balogh's Silent Melody, and predict it will be one of the best romances you'll read in 2016.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Twenty-One (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 50.

For more details on Just Write, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: My kid. :)