I mentioned I made this soup and folks have asked for the recipe, so here it is:
(This makes a lot of soup. It does freeze pretty well).
Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup
I’ll give the original recipe followed by my modifications. This originally came out of Penzey’s catalog I think.
3 bratwurst sausages, cooked and sliced
3 TB olive oil
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup celery, minced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 lb potatoes peeled and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 12 oz can of beer
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
I like hickory smoked kielbasa and other meats, so put in whatever you like. I like them diced up smaller than slices so you get some meat and other things on your spoon at the same time. Also, the family likes more meat than less, so I double or more the meat.
I use Avocado oil because you can heat it higher without burning
All the measurements for the vegetables and the potatoes are off. At least if you want a thick soup, which I do. I used a big onion, usually 10-12 stalks of celery, 10-15 carrots, depending on size, and usually 10-15 or so large russet potatoes.
I don’t mince. I chop the celery and onion, but I don’t mince.
The recipe calls for garlic granules. I use fresh cloves. Usually two or three minced.
I use a bottle of beer which is sometimes more than 12 oz but I don’t care. I’m already adding tons more to the soup so it’s okay.
I use 1/2 and 1/2 and I use a full little carton–2 cups I think.
The sharper the cheese the better, but I’ve sometimes added parmesan cheese also, and it gives a lovely flavor
Keep in mind that the meat is added LAST. This is important.
Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat (use a big pot. Really. Big).
Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring every so often to keep from sticking
Stir in flour. Cook about a minute
Add potatoes, stock and beer. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Add spices (I don’t wait until things are tender as the recipe says. I add them as soon as I add the potatoes, stock and beer and just stir them in).
Remove from heat.
Combine 1/2 and 1/2 in a bowl with Worcestershire sauce. Pour slowly into the soup while stirring.
Add the cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and smooth.
Remove 2 cups of vegetables and some liquid and put it in a blender or a food processor, or do like me and use a submersion blender. (I remove more like five cups or more, but I like the creaminess along with the chunkiness of this soup). If you add meat before this step, you puree the meat, and you don’t really want to, though I’ve been known to add the meat early on accident and the soup is perfectly yummy.
Stir the puree back into the soup.
Return to low heat and add the meat. Cook until the meat is warm, around 5 minutes.
I made it through today without caffeine. Well, I had a chai, but I mean the diet soda caffeine. I wasn’t groggy today, so that was both surprising and really nice. Not that I got a ton of things accomplished, mind you, but I was awake for my laziness.
We made soup tonight. It’s got potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, beer, cheddar cheese, half and half, sour cream, chicken broth, hickory smoked sausage, with some spices. Some of it gets blended up to make it creamy. It’s the family’s favorite soup. I’ve been meaning to make it awhile, and finally did. Perfect for cold rainy days. Even though it really isn’t that cold.
The dogs were entirely beggy for the entire process, for which they were richly rewarded with some dropped carrots, I think. Which they liked. Because they are corgis and corgis like to eat.
I’m craving pancakes and sausage and bacon and eggs. I’m going to have to make some this week.
It’s raining. Pouring and windy. We’re already almost three inches above normal for the season and the season started October 1. The river looks swollen and it’s beautiful. Muscular and lovely. I did get the last of the peppers out of the garden. Plus I also got the potatoes out. Making a vat of potato beer soup tomorrow. It’s a family favorite and the fam has been bugging me to make it. Given that it’s sort of a family project to make it, so we’ll have a good time and it will be delicious and it will be perfect for the weather. Today was oddly sunny giving the big storms that are moving through the state.
We also bought a car. It’s a used Prius and it’s got higher mileage than it should for its year, but we got a pretty good deal for it and it runs well. We will hopefully save a lot of money in gas. Plus it means we have a second reliable car, which we needed. Getting used to driving a hybrid will be a little bit entertaining. Plus figuring out some of the tech, and it’s not all that high tech, but higher than we’re used to. It’s a pretty blue, too, and since beggars can’t be choosers, I figured we’d take what we could get.
Writing-wise, I’ve been making good progress on Diamond City Magic #4. It’s definitely going to be longer than the other books. The difficulty is that it’s complicated and weaving it all together is taking me some time. But if it comes together the way I’m hoping, then it may be the best one so far. One day I’ll have to give it a title. Hmmm.
I just have to mention that I watched this mystery movie on the Hallmark Channel that I taped a week ago and they are showing tons of Christmas commercials. This is unsettling at best. Plus it makes me panic because I’m already late on everything for Christmas. Don’t ask. It’s a mental thing.
I gave up diet soda a long time ago and then a few months ago went back to drinking it. As of today, I stopped again. I don’t have a good caffeine substitute. I drink tea, so hopefully that will do, but I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be feeling sort of hungover for a few days. Or a week.
I’ve also screwed up my knitting and I have to figure out how to fix it. Gah.
I kind of want to drive over to the coast and see the storm, but I also want to stay wrapped up here with a book. Anybody got big plans for the weekend? Oh, forgot to mention that last weekend we went out to the river and found a bunch of rocks. Mostly red, green, and yellow jasper, some petrified wood, and a couple pieces of carnelian. Looking forward to seeing them polished up.
This is a really cool anthology that I wanted to share with you. I asked Cynthia, one of the contributors and one of the people who came up with the idea of the anthology, to come and talk to you about Sirens, her story, and the anthology in general. So without further ado, please welcome Cynthia:
My name is Cynthia Porter. I’m here today to tell you that writing a blog post about Queens & Courtesans: A Sirens Benefit Anthology, is only slightly easier than writing my short story, Affairs of State, that is included in its pages.
Sirens is a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The conference describes itself as “part scholarly conference, part enthusiastic convention, part networking weekend, and part personal retreat.” Attendees include readers, authors, librarians, booksellers, educators, scholars, and publishing professionals. Queens & Courtesans is a labor of love created to benefit the conference where we all met.
This is the first time I have ever written a story to a writing prompt. When we created the idea of the anthology, the request was for stories with a Queen and a Courtesan. None of my current projects had characters like these. I had to almost start from scratch. The almost part was because the world I chose to set the story in was one I’d created years ago. I shifted south of where my other stories have taken place and found myself in a royal court.
I knew I wanted my queen to be a mature woman, not a teen/young woman who has no idea of the trials ahead of her. I wanted my characters to know who they were, to be confident in their abilities and their lives.
I think I wrote three drafts before my queen character finally got her name. This is very unusual for me. My stories are character driven. Typically I know nothing about a story until I have a name. That name brings the character’s personality, their back story, their hopes and dreams, and the plot! With a normal story I’m stuck without a name. Except for this queen. She was more than happy to share her story, she just didn’t see the need to share her name with me. It drove me crazy. I would talk to her while staring at the story on my computer screen. “Name, name, name– you need a name!” She’s one of the rare ones who knew who she was without a name. I had to work to find a name that fit her temperament. Not my most difficult character ever, but absolutely one of the most quietly stubborn. She was the Queen. What more did anyone need to know? Her name, as it turns out, is Arcalys. True to form, it took about four drafts of this post to realize she’d done it to me again!
Lenzienne, or Lenzi, my courtesan, knew exactly what her name was from the very beginning. She walked into a room, completely furious, and snarled her opening lines. Her name flowed onto the page and the story followed.
The really difficult characters in Affairs of State were the secondary characters. Three of them hung on to significant roles in the story. A couple more exist as, well, names and nothing more. The others all got cut from various drafts of the story. Why? Because they thought they were populating a novel. I prefer the longer forms of storytelling because invariable my characters bring big ideas, themes, plots trailing behind them—none of which fit into a short story. Borders, Barriers, Refugees, Magic, all this exploded into larger and larger arcs. I shoved most of them aside, telling them “later”. My editor, Jessica, jumped on several more. She helped me focus what was more of a prologue for a novel down into a short story.
While my queen and my courtesan are happy with their “little” story, I’ve acknowledged that their novel needs exploration. Once Queens & Courtesans is well and truly launched into the world, I’ll be letting all those characters, all that world-building, all those themes and plots to swirl out from the door where they’ve been lurking.
My Father In Law has been visiting, which makes getting work done a little bit tricky, but I’ve managed some. I’m hopefully all finished with a short story that I owed. I’ve made some progress on DCM4. It’s coming along.
I decided I want to make socks again. I need to work on learning some techniques. Youtube here I come. I just hope that my wrist cooperates.
I’m reading a good book by R.J. Blaine. It’s an ARC, so you can’t get it yet, but when Water Viper comes out, you’re going to want to read it if the first bit is anything to go by.
I’m being snuggled by corgis. This is good.
Watched the Saturday Night Live parody debate. It was so funny. Love it. Alec Baldwin did a fabulous Trump and Kate McKinnon killed me with her Hillary.
Finished revisions on a short story set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world. I’m pretty happy with it. At least until I find out if Faith likes it. Been doing more writing on Diamond City Magic 4. You know, it really needs a title. I should think of one of those. It progresses, but it will be much much much longer than the previous books. I’m also working on plotting a Horngate story for an upcoming anthology. It will star Giselle and Shoftiel.
Here’s an anthology I wish I’d written story for. I couldn’t come up with a good idea to submit. I’d still like to write a story though. I really like the idea.
I’m trying to come up with a good knitting project. I think I want to do socks, though I’d like to do another shawl. I also want to get some purple into my hair. I got my Orycon schedule today. It looks fun. I’ll also be doing the big Powell’s author signing that weekend.
Bought my husband a Keurig coffee maker, but he wanted one that could be programmed to brew into his travel cup. We don’t think we can with this one. It also may not take fill-your-own pods, even though one came with it. We’re still trying to figure it out.
I like to go to estate sales. They sell all sorts of things that either I want and didn’t know it, wanted and didn’t want to pay full price, or stuff that’s interesting but I don’t want. My favorite thing is to find really old stuff that I have no idea what it’s used for. I usually take pictures and then go find out, or sometimes people at the sale know (usually customers). I’m just tickled when I find that stuff.
This weekend I ended up going to three different sales. Two were normal–fairly recent ranch houses with your usual kinds of stuff. I got cheap knitting books (six of them!), some cds, a really cool iron rose trellis (I’ve so wanted one of those but didn’t want to pay the retail price for them), and a kitchen spoon. I seem to melt those or toss those out with alarming frequency. Anyhow, they just disappear.
At another sale, I coveted a metal plant stand. It had six round pot holders and they all folded up under each other. You could position it in a circle or a line or a zig-zag. But it was more than I want to spend. But I did get a black marble rolling pin. I waffled on it, then decided it could work well for me. It’s freaking heavy. I got home, washed it, and then used it to roll out some bread dough before rolling it back up and putting it in the pans to rise (sourdough buttermilk bread!). It worked like a dream. So much easier for my daughter, too. She wanted to help. This will be really nice for making cutout cookies, too. And a couple weeks ago we got a gingerbread house form so it will probably help us make that.
The other sale was in a really old house. It was in not so great shape, but the woman who owned it had been a spinner and a sewer. There were at least 5 spinning wheels. So cool. And at least as many sewing machines, some antique. The owners hadn’t thrown anything away for a long time. I went because of rumors of a yarn stash, but it was mostly gone before I got there. But! I mentioned they had the wheels to a friend. She told me her sister wanted to try spinning. I took pictures of all the wheels and emailed them to her. Her sister ended up buying one.
I think spinning is so very cool. They even had this handcranked carder machine. I didn’t even know those existed.
We also took stuff over to donate. This is stuff that’s been in the garage waiting for us to want to use it. Since I didn’t anticipate it happening any time soon, I decided it would do better helping other people.
One house I went to this summer had really cool lights. They’d made them out of salvaged materials and were so cool. Wish I’d taken pictures. I sometimes find really cool rocks at sales. It’s one of the main reasons I go. I’ve found some really cool desert rose, giant pieces of obsidian, a lot of petrified wood, and
Now I’m doing some writing.
And for you–a snippet from the next Diamond City Magic novel! I hope you like.
“These shoes are Louboutins,” she seethed, gracefully hopping over a slushy puddle.
“How does an FBI agent afford those?” Patti asked.
“You’re on the take,” I corrected.
She shrugged. “And I’m frugal.”
“I thought that word meant cutting coupons, eating peanut butter and ramen every night, buying generic, using one-ply toilet paper, and shopping at dollar stores,” Patti said. “I can’t picture you doing any of those.”
“Your lack of imagination doesn’t interest me,” Arnow said loftily. “How much longer must this idiotic adventure go on?” she asked me.
Yep, that’s my title for today’s post. I’ve been doing lots of stuff and yet I can’t seem to recall much of it all. Writing–check. Cleaning–check. Gardening–yep. Baking bread–yum. Errands like shopping and such–done. Dog walking–check. Feeding the family–done. Playing Pokemon Go. Yes to that, too. There’s a slew of other stuff, too.
I’ve been getting some reading in. Started reading The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is about the genesis of toxicology in forensics. I haven’t got very far in, but am enjoying it quite a bit.
I need to do some planting. Oh, and I’m going to can some enchilada sauce and hopefully some roasted peppers. And jelly some fruit and peppers up. I also need to winterize the garden and dig potatoes.
Boy, I wanted to have something more useful or interesting to say, but I seem to be running out of words for now.
I just heard there was a bombing in New York. Pressure cooker bomb. God, why can’t this stop?
I am over the moon to say that Eloisa James likes my books! In an interview, she says so. I’m so very excited!!!!
In other news, Path of Fate is on sale this month on Amazon for $1.99. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time!
Theodora Goss has posted a lovely poem about being a witch. I adore it.
Ilona Andrews made a post about Russian history and dress with a link to some stunning pictures. Visit her post first because the explanation is really cool, then go look at the pics.
BookPushers posted a very nice review of The Incubus Job.
This has been my go-to fast chocolate cake recipe for birthday cakes. It’s incredibly chocolatey and moist and delicious and not a lot of work.
I’ve just read through all of Lexi George’s Demon Hunting in the Deep South series. It’s over-the-top romance in some ways, but doesn’t take itself all that seriously in that regard. Really funny stuff, though. And all the side characters are just too much fun. They are total candy/popcorn reads, and totally worth it.
Today I found out that they use liquid nitrogen at my husband’s worksite. He’s a machinist and they use the liquid nitrogen to shrink the metal enough to slide it inside a hole and when it heats back up, it expands and is a press fit. I had no idea that it could be available at places like this. I don’t know what I might use that bit of information for in books, but I like it.
For no particular reason, I started looking at poisons today. I figure it’s something I’ll stash in the back of my head for future writing use.
The one I discovered today is Thallium Nitrate, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It’s a heavy metal. It cause hair to fall out, vomiting, organ failure, and general system failure, plus causes a burning/prickling sensation in the limbs. It will kill you in a high dose, but in low doses, it’s a slow road to death. There’s no antidote for it, and if caught soon enough, you can survive. It can be found by blood, urine, and hair. It leaves the blood pretty quickly, though, so if the blood test is all there is, then it might not get discovered.
I thought it could be a pretty good poison for a poisoner. Especially if it can be put into food. Be good for someone who wanted to cause a slow, diminishing death.
The stuff was used in the 50s in rat poison.
I’ll probably talk about more poisons in general. I find them interesting. I’m working on some murder/suspense stuff that could benefit from this sort of info.
In the meantime, I’ve a bunch of roses to plant and the weather is fine and the puppy boys are happy. Been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunters books and they are frequently very fun. Just like candy, and funny urban fantasy romance.
How cliche is that question? It’s summertime and therefore the kids are home, the folks are up here (they are snowbirds), friends have visited, events have needed attending, and then all the kid fun stuff that has to be done, along with errands and appointments and it’s been a whirlwind it seems. I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of August.
I’ve been trying to get in some reading this summer, with some success. Just been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunting in the South series and it’s quite fun. Enjoying them. In other news, my left wrist has not healed up particularly well from my fall. Am wearing a brace on it 24/7, but it still will pop painfully even so. I fear that I will need to get further doc evaluation and possibly treatment. Makes typing a little bit of an adventure.
I’ve been playing Pokemon Go. It’s horribly addictive and I started it to help make the kids want to walk with me and then I got hooked. I’m now just 30K xp away from level 25. In other news, the dogs caught kennel cough somehow and so I couldn’t take them out walking for about 2 or 3 weeks. Basically, I didn’t want to risk spreading it to other dogs and it can remain contagious for awhile after symptoms disappear. I figured I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Also been doing estate planning. Not planning on dropping off the planet anytime soon, but we’ve been neglectful about having any sort of will that takes care of the kids. So that’s the impetus on getting this done. It’s way overdue.
We went to an iris festival earlier this summer and ordered some gorgeous irises. Received them a couple weeks ago and got them planted. Hopefully not too deep, and hopefully they bloom next year. I don’t even remember all the colors but at least one was a velvety purple/black.
The kids start back to school in a couple of weeks. As much as I’ll miss them, I’m looking forward to getting more things done. We didn’t get much rock hunting done this summer since I fell and hurt the wrists, and then the boy had a minor toe surgery that made him really gimpy. Shoes were uncomfortable for him on the one foot. He was wearing one regular shoe and one birkenstock (don’t ask).
The summer here has mostly been lovely and cool. Only a few days in the 100s and 90s. Been getting out with the man and doing some walking in the park along the river. Just beautiful.
I’ve made some wonderful blackberry pies of late. Yum. A friend brought us these amazing plums. They are red and the insides are so dark red it’s almost black. And delicious. Wow. And the peaches! I’m summer fruit heaven.
I’m sure there’s more updatery to do, but probably next time.
Received from Netgalley.
I enjoyed Follow Me by Tiffany Snow. It’s romantic suspense with a fair bit of geekery, which made me happy. Here’s the back of the book description.
Brilliant, quirky twenty-three-year-old China Mack is totally satisfied with her carefully ordered, data-driven life. A computer prodigy who landed a coveted programming job at the cutting-edge tech company Cysnet before even graduating from MIT, China is happiest when following her routine: shower before coffee, pizza only on Mondays, bedtime at ten thirty sharp.
But then things start to get a little…unpredictable.
First Jackson Cooper—Cysnet’s rich, gorgeous, genius CEO—assigns China to a dangerous and highly classified project for a government defense contractor. Her sixteen-year-old runaway niece suddenly arrives in town, begging to move in with China. And then there’s her sexy but oddly unsettling new neighbor, Clark…
Quickly the Cysnet assignment becomes disconcerting—and then downright scary—as key staffers turn up dead. China suspects she’s being followed and isn’t sure whom she can trust. For the first time ever, she’ll have to follow her instincts, rather than logic, if she’s going to survive.
China Mack is a fabulous character. Snow made her feel not only real and interesting, but made her believable as a genius. I also liked and disliked Jackson and Clark and thought the ending was about perfect. The plot of the suspense made sense and didn’t have big holes in the logic. The only major issue that I have, and it’s my own issue, is I’m not a fan of love triangles and I have no doubt like it’s coming. Snow has planned at least one sequel with these characters and there’s no doubt that she’s set up the triangle.
As an additional note, I’m really glad that Clark wasn’t a dick (as he said). Or at least so much of one that he went through with what he was up to. That would have squicked me beyond redemption.
Received from NetGalley.
Sins That Haunt by Lucy Farago is a romantic suspense novel. Here’s the back of the book blurb:
Civil attorney Shannon Joyce walks the line of law and order, but she learned from day one how to put up a good front—thanks to her con man father. Thirteen years ago, she left the east coast and her life of crime behind. Her high school sweetheart, Noah, was collateral damage, but some things can’t be helped. But now there’s no escape when her past comes roaring down the Strip—in the oh-so-tempting form of the man she left behind…
Special Agent Noah Monroe has Shannon exactly where he wants her—in the back of his car in handcuffs. Her grifter father has been murdered, and the FBI needs Shannon to keep one of his scams in play to bag the big bad guy who was financing him. Once again a pawn in someone’s else game, Shannon will have to trust her instincts to survive both the peril threatening her—and the passion Noah reignites…
I liked this book with some minor qualms. There’s a history between the characters and the initial meet made me wary. It seemed a little bit contrived. But then things quickly moved ahead and I was immersed. I thought the overall suspense arc was quite good and their history and backstory made a lot of sense and powerfully impacted the here and now. I do wish that Shannon, who is very smart, would move forward a little quicker in terms of Noah. The things that hold them apart otherwise are important and work well. I liked the twist at the ending–really, both twists. I did doubt her mother could drive the backhoe, but maybe that’s because I’m a ranch kid and driving a tractor isn’t that easy. Or didn’t used to be. Maybe it’s all very automated and simple now.
The way the end built up with multiple climaxes to various arcs was powerful and compelling.
Here’s a snippet from Diamond City Magic #4:
Questions bubbled in his mind. Pointless and useless. He had no idea who’d taken him, how, or why, or where they were taking him. Had they harmed Christina? By God, but the question irritated him. He shouldn’t even care. The girl had been nothing but trouble. First, dragging Clay, him, and Riley into the middle of a turf war, and now this. He should have dumped her at the hospital or fire station. Why the hell hadn’t he? Riley. She’d want to know the girl was on her way home. When had he gone so soft that he cared what his brother’s girlfriend thought of him?
There was no good answer to that.
I’ve been making an effort to walk. Basically, I’m trying to work up to 10K steps on my fitbit. I realize the number is fairly arbitrary, but given that I’m out of shape and given that I have a sedentary job, it’s a goal. On top of that, I want to get in enough shape to be able to go hiking more. I’m also dragging the kids out on the walks, too, as much as I can. The dogs usually want to quit before I do.
So anyhow, my son has been going to a summer “camp” this week–it does not involve anything resembling camping–doing underwater robotics. We have to drive about 45 minutes away, so while he’s in camp, I have been walking for awhile, and then going to Starbucks for some reading, then running a few errands, and reading some more. I’ve been walking on the OSU campus and it’s quite lovely. Lots and lots of trees, with amazing brick and stone buildings. The weather has been lovely, as well.
So far this week, I’ve hit my 10K three days in a row. Only today, I know I was stupid to do it. I have slight shin splints, and my feet hurt–my muscles need a rest. And yet . . . I don’t want to stop walking. Today I *meant* to go about 4K steps on the walk. I ended up going about 7K and then another 1K before I picked up the boy.
Tomorrow I know I shouldn’t walk much at all. Yet I don’t want to stop. I’m in the zone where I have to make myself get out and do it, and so the more days I hook together where I actually move, the more I develop the habit. So I have to convince myself to do only about 4K tomorrow. Or at least stop and sit for a bit every so often. This I also don’t want to do. I suppose it’s the better of the two choices, giving my fit and legs a chance to relax and to get some stretching in.
I’ve never been very much into exercise, except when I’m having fun. Hiking in the woods is fun. But I need to build some stamina and leg muscles to get there. I’ve begun to do so, and I don’t want to give up the ground I’ve gained.
I received this book from NetGalley
The book is Hard to Handle by Raven Scott. It will be published August 30th by Kensington Books. It’s romance with some suspense thrown in.
Here’s the description:
A covert ops specialist, a cyber-surveillance expert, and an unmatched international security and recovery pro. These are the men of Fortis. When money is no object, discretion is essential, and the police are not an option, the wealthy and powerful call on this trio of former government agents with elite military training—not to mention charm and good looks…
Samuel Mackenzie has his hands full with Fortis’ latest assignment. Their client is a European real estate investor who is trying to close a multi-million dollar acquisition. But a competitor is attempting to block the deal by any means necessary, including threats and vandalism that quickly escalate to life threatening assault. For Samuel it’s all in a day’s work—except for one unexpected twist…
The mission requires protective detail for the client and his mistress, who is also his personal assistant. But the mistress is Mikayla Stone-Clement—the only woman Samuel has ever loved, and who always seems out of his reach. Yet things aren’t what they seem. Because Mikayla has a hidden agenda of her own, one that puts her directly in the crossfire. Now Samuel will have one chance to save her life…and make her his forever.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it a really liked, parts of it annoyed the heck out of me, and parts of it made me feel a little uncomfortable in a weird way that I will delve into a little bit deeper here.
So first, the good: Overall, I thought the romance was pretty good, and the suspense plot well designed and laid out (except for the bad guy because he came out of nowhere.) I thought the security stuff was believable and I thought the development of all the actions really smart.
That leads me to the bad. One thing drove me seriously nuts. That was Scott’s inclination to use a lot of book saidisms–insisted, muttered, yelled, etc., when people talked. That was okay, but I felt like they were frequently off. Like when people yelled when they really didn’t. Maybe they raised their voices a little–but yelling jarred me because it was wrong for the scene. Likewise, using insisted when there’s nothing to insist on. Like saying, I’d like a yogurt, only writing it as: I’d like a yogurt, insisted the girl. When no one is protesting that she have a yogurt. And then when one character mumbled when he really was murmuring, because mumbling means unintelligibility of the words. It drove me batty and threw me out of the story.
The next thing that drove me up the wall were the over-the-top connection between the two leads. I loved that there was a time when they forced themselves to keep their hands off each other because of emotional tension, but it annoyed me early on when they couldn’t because it seemed too much for these very controlled people. I think that was the writer’s point–that their passion for one another overcame their usual control–but I had a hard time buying it.
I was really annoyed that the actual bad guy wasn’t even mentioned until they pegged him as the bad guy. I wanted him at least mentioned far earlier.
Finally, and this last one may just be me, but one of the things that threw me out of the story was something that seemed to be missing. Many of these characters were people of color. While I am glaringly white, I do know that POC face various kinds of discrimination based on their skin color on a daily basis. There was no hint of that in this book and it struck me as odd. Or maybe the word is artificial. I thought this particularly for Kaylee, who is not only a black woman, but she works in a field dominated by men. In fact, she’s worked in two fields dominated by men. So I kept waiting for someone to be obnoxious both because of her gender and color and there was nothing.
Now, this may be the fantasy of the book–that there’s a world where POC don’t have to worry about their skin color any more than white people do. And maybe it’s the Black Lives Matter movement that makes me extra-sensitive to those elements in society right now. I’m not judging the writer or the book on this one. I’m trying to figure out if this is a reasonable thing to expect in a book or not. I don’t know. In expecting it, am I doing making demands of a text that I have no right to? I’m interested on what anybody here might say because I think it’s important to discuss and frankly, I’m interested in being corrected if I’m way off base.
All things taken together, I’d give this book a 3/5 stars.
Went shopping up in Portland with my mom today. It was fabulous. I’m not into a lot of clothes shopping, so of course, we weren’t doing that. We went to Penzey‘s and got fabulous spices. I love that place. After that, went to a big mall and went into a shoe store for mom, then into Chico’s for mom, into Teavana, and then lunch and out. I did end up with a pair of Alegria clogs that actually fit (Dansko’s run way too small for my ginormous surfboards I like to call feet.) So I’m really happy about that. Teavana had a ‘tea’ called Beach Bellini, and there’s no tea in it. It’s all fruit. Can be mixed with tea, but I’m thinking it will make a great drink for the fam. Going to try it out and see.
But shopping is exhausting. And I have only got 4K steps in. I need to go out and do some walking this evening.
I’ve got a post up on Imposter Syndrome at Magical Words today. Check it out.
I went to Westercon last weekend and it was a lot of fun. Had some great panels with some terrific people and the audiences were attentive and smart and asked great questions. Pretty much a perfect storm of panels. And people came to my reading, which was on the first day and I wasn’t sure anybody would.
I got back on the fourth and zoomed out again on the fifth at 6 in the morning. Drove with my folks to CA for my mom to see a doctor. Amazingly, it’s been much cooler than normal–which is to say, I haven’t whined that much and I’ve been able to get out walking. The oaks here are amazing and the scents of the summertime dried grasses, certain weeds, dirt, and oaks just bring me back to childhood. I’ve so been enjoying that. I got to see an enormous vulture in a tree very close up. I didn’t impress him. Or her.
The only downer has been I seem to have had a bout with some food poisoning. Last night on the way home from dinner, I started getting an awful headache and nauseous, and then I got home and upchucked everything. It wasn’t long after that that I started feeling better. I’ve been able to see some people–my father-in-law, my brother and niece, and tonight I’ll get to see another niece and a nephew.
Saturday we drive back. My poor mom’s face is terribly swollen–she had a bit of skin cancer removed–and it’s given her a black eye and half her mouth is swollen. Poor thing.
I’ve been reading some. One book by a popular romantic suspense author that I think must have been written in the eighties because the male lead is an alpha asshole and the woman is sort of a door mat. I read the whole thing, but I didn’t enjoy it the way I wanted to. Now I’m reading one by Iris and Roy Johansen. It’s not really romantic, but the lead character is a lot of fun and I am enjoying that. I’ll report back on it later.
Also, Lois Bujold has a new Penric novella out. If you haven’t read the first, do. I’ve not read the second, but I plan to.
I’m going to be at Westercon 69 this weekend. If anybody out there plans to be there, here’s where I’ll be:
Diana Pharaoh Francis Reading
Fri Jul 1 4:00:pm – 4:30:pm
Fri Jul 1 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Get your goodies signed!
Cat Rambo, Diana Pharaoh Francis, James Glass
Saturday 10am Kaffeeklatsch
Sat Jul 2 10:00:am – 11:00:am
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Anthony Pryor, Carol Berg, Curtis Chen, David D. Levine, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Morris Allen, Sonia Lyris
Sat Jul 2 3:00:pm – 4:00:pm
Is this science fiction, fantasy, or horror? Whatever it is, fans love it! Learn what makes paranormal romance unique from other genres and the inspiration for writing them.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Gwen Callahan, Janet Borkowski, S. A. Bolich
Physical Intuition and the Suspension of Disbelief
Sat Jul 2 4:00:pm – 5:00:pm
Readers want to suspend their disbelief in our improbable scenarios, but one violation of their physical intuition is all it takes to lose their trust forever. How do we keep it feeling real, even when the impossible is happening?
Blythe Ayne, Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lindsay Schopfer
Sat Jul 2 8:00:pm – 9:00:pm
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Fantasy In the City
Sun Jul 3 10:00:am – 11:00:am
With the rise of popularity in urban-based fantasies, so increases the complexity of storytelling. Sure, you know what’s happening in a modern world. But does including a fantastical element have its own challenges? Discuss the challenges of writing fantasy in a modern setting, and how the different choices made by authors influenced their stories.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Jennifer Willis, Mike Kabongo, Rhiannon Held
One Man’s Villian Is Another Man’s Hero
Sun Jul 3 1:00:pm – 2:00:pm
Swirling mustaches and obvious evil plans are a thing of the past. Today’s villains and heroes are as complicated as the world we live in. Discuss with our panelists what makes the difference between villain vs hero, and how thin that line can be.
Carol Berg, Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis
Sex Scenes in Writing
Sun Jul 3 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Sex is a part of life, and an aspect we can use to learn many things about a character. Are they chatty in bed, or kinky, or do they prefer the lights off? All are insights that help a reader relate to the characters. But does sex ‘need’ to be in your writing? Let’s discuss what sex in writing means and whether it needs to be in your novel.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Mike Moscoe, Rhiannon Held, Sienna Saint-Cyr
Publishing Coops: The BookView Cafe
Mon Jul 4 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
The BookView Cafe has grown from midlist writers wanting to increase their web presence to a publisher of new and back list fiction and non-fiction. With over 50 members like Ursula K. LeGuin and Vonda N. McIntrye, no one shoulders more work than they can handle.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Sara Stamey, Shannon Page
I’m trying to write a non-fantasy romantic suspense. Sort of a side thing for fun and relaxation. This is my current beginning. Very rough. All the same, I need to know: What do you think? Seriously, what do you think?
He was on his way home just after midnight on a Thursday night when the call came through. A disturbance at Utopia, Trinity’s new night club and restaurant. Injuries onsite, ambulances needed. Chase was only a couple miles away and tired as he was, he wasn’t in the mood to go home yet. It wasn’t as if anybody was waiting for him.
Troopers had beaten him there. Flashing emergency lights strobed across the parking lot. People stood in groups or perched on the hoods of cars, watching the action. Not that there was any action to see, as far as Chase could tell.
He parked, leaving his suit jacket in the car. He paused to avoid the ambulance that rolled through the parking lot and up to the front doors of the club side entrance. A second one turned in a few seconds later, blowing past him in a cloud of diesel.
Chase drew a tired breath and let it out. What was he doing here? He should go home and get some sleep. He had a meeting with Sloan and Rossitch at 8:30 in the morning. He grimaced at himself. Who was he kidding? Even if he went home, he’d be lucky to get three hours of sack time. He’d flip channels on the idiot box while he ate, then he’d spend an hour or two banging his head against the Shore murder. Four years and he still didn’t have the killer. Not that he was allowed to investigate it anymore, at least, not officially, anyway. He shook his head, putting his frustration aside. Things on the trafficking case were heating up. That’s what the meeting was about. Once that was cleared, he could get back to work on the murder.
Chase rubbed a hand over the stubble on his jaw, still wavering. He hadn’t been inside Utopia yet. Now was as good a time as any to check the place out. His stomach rumbled. That decided him. Maybe the kitchen was still open and he could get a burger. All his refrigerator held was beer and frozen dinners. He didn’t doubt both were better here.
“Hey, Lieutenant, what’s homicide doing here?” Jason Thomas stepped away from the woman he was interviewing and reached out a hand to Chase as he approached. He was young, maybe twenty four. He was sharp, though, and ambitious. He planned to make detective by the time he was twenty five. Probably would, too. Chase liked him, even though at thirty one he felt like the kid’s grandfather. The downfalls of working homicide. No innocence left.
“Was heading home. Heard the call and figured I’d have a look around, maybe see if they were still serving food. What’s the situation?”
Thomas shook his head. “Domestic disturbance. Husband’s drunk and shooting pool, the wife is a cocktail waitress. He decides she’s flirting with the customers and goes after her with a pool cue. The manager yanks her out of the way before he can crush his wife’s skull, though the manager took a hard hit to her shoulder. The husband gets hotter and starts throwing punches. Customers and the bouncers take him down. Hard. He’s got a busted nose and maybe a broken wing.
Chase nodded without any sympathy for the bastard. He got what he deserved, attacking his fucking wife. He was probably lucky to have her.
“Good work, Thomas. I’ll leave you to it,” he said. The Trooper grinned at the praise. God, had he ever been that young?
He left Thomas to get statements and wandered up toward the club entrance. Tall pillows held up a broad overhang. Beneath danced a fountain. Not too long ago, the place had been a car dealership. The guy who owned it decided to divorce his wife, probably trader her in a newer model. It had been ugly. Her father owned the land the dealership was on and had kicked the husband off the property. The building sat vacant for awhile before someone had bought it to turn into a restaurant and club. From the looks of it, they’d done a good job. Word was that the food was good, too.
The old showroom was now the restaurant, with the bar housed in the repair bays. The exterior had been covered in a rock façade, with lush trees and flowers sending up a sweet, rich fragrance. White firefly lights wrapped the front pillars, outlined the windows, and layered the roof in a pattern like fish scales. A six foot iron fence with spikes along the top surrounded the outside the rollup bay doors like a large, flagstone-paved corral. Within was a covered stage, picnic tables, a dance area, and a barbecue pit. The stage was dark and the pit was cold tonight. Maybe it was a weekend thing.
The June night was warm and one of the bay doors had been rolled up. Inside, Chase could see pool tables and red-tile floors. Customers still shot balls, uninterested in the drama outside.
The scent of cooking meet wafted out to meet him as he drew close to the entrance. His gaze continued to rove over the spectacle outside, taking in the faces and other details.
Lightning thrust through the center of his chest. What the hell was she doing here?
Chase stopped dead, hard gaze locked on her. Four years since her mother’s murder, three and a half since he’d last seen her. Then she’d been pinched and washed out, her beauty hidden under the drab blanket of hard grief. Now–
She was a wet dream walking. Sunstreaked dark hair framed her face. Tanned skin smoothed over high cheekbones, a strong nose, and narrow chin. His gaze ran greedily over her. Her curves had firmed and her body was lithe and lean except for her breasts. They rode high and full beneath her vest and shirt. The last few years had turned tempered her. She held herself with assurance and confidence, like she didn’t take shit. His chest tightened as her wide, full mouth broke into a smile as she looked up at the paramedic. What the fuck? Was she hurt?
Chase didn’t think. His legs started moving before he knew what he wanted to do. He thrust through the rubberneckers, making a beeline for her.
Behind him, someone complained in protest, but Chase didn’t slow down. He couldn’t have stopped if he’d wanted to.
In the past day or so, I’ve researched sepsis, the symptoms, how you get it, and how long it takes to kill you. (Don’t get it, by the way, it really sucks hard.) I’ve also researched breaking out side windows in trucks using your feet. I’ve researched snub nosed .38 revolvers and whether or not someone can get to their feet with their feet and hands bound with duct tape. I’ve researched switchblades, spring-assisted knives, and butterfly knives. Oh, and gravity knives. I’ve discussed knives that are spring loaded and can open out the front and put an eye out. I’ve also looked into what law agencies do what and I’ve looked into human and sex trafficking.
Writers live interesting lives.
I am owned by dogs. I admit this. Corgi boys. They pretty much make me do whatever they want. Lately, they hear sirens and they want to howl. But it isn’t enough that they howl by themselves. Oh, no. They come running to me and no matter what I’m doing, I have to stop and howl with them. If I don’t, they bark at me until I do. So then I howl (I don’t even want to know what kind of crazy this makes me look like), and then when they decide they are done, they stop and I must pet them to soothe . . . I don’t even know what I’m soothing, but it’s needed.
And a snippet from the WIP, because it seems like a good time for it, from the current Diamond City Magic book:
I held out my hand. “Just give me my fucking phone.”
We played who-would-blink first game and he went down. I’m nothing if not stubborn. I was the champion in the family. Tiny dug in his back pocket and produced my burner phone.
I punched in Taylor’s number. She answered on the first ring.
“I need to talk to Touray.”
Silence met my announcement. But where Jamie and Leo would have badgered me for information, Taylor stuck to business. “He’s gone. I’ll text his number. Give me a second.”
The phone went dead. A few seconds later, the blue message light began blinking. I dialed the number. My mouth was oddly dry. For some reason, I was nervous.
He picked up just as fast as Taylor had. “Touray,” he growled.
“Riley,” I said.
His shock lasted about a split second. “Where the hell are you? Is Clay all right? What’s going on?”
“We’re with a potential . . . partner,” I said.
I could feel his attention sharpening, drilling through the phone. I resisted the urge to take a step back. Like that would help. “Partner?”
“He wants to take control of Calavera,” I said. “Clean it up, get rid of the bad eggs and restore the community.”
“What the fuck is going on, Riley? Because I don’t have time for this shit. The city is wrecked and your father–”
A chill ran up my spine and my stomach knotted. “Vernon? What’s he done?”
‘That is what I’m trying to figure out, which is why I don’t have time for this.”
“Would you have more time if I told you we’re sort of captives and Price has a broken leg? We’re negotiating help.”
Touray’s voice went molten and quiet. I’ll admit I cringed a little and was very glad he was not in the same room. I glanced around the dingy walls that had been white and now were gray with age and dirt. I half expected to see him appear out of nowhere. He was a traveler.
“You know about the trace job?”
“I am aware that you took one. I do not know the details beyond the fact that you’re looking for a teenage girl.” His words were carefully clipped and formal, and I could hear the taut wire of his patience stretching thinner with every second.”
“Story short: missing girl lured by a known rapist and and killer holed up in Calavera. We got jumped, captured, and Price’s leg broke. We need a tinker and some manpower, and Tiny here is willing if the trade is worth it. Maybe you should hear his terms,” I added and passed the phone over to Tiny before Touray could ask anything else.
“Hello?” Tiny said warily into the phone.
The room pulsed and crackled with sudden magic. Neither Price nor Tiny would be able feel it. “Shit,” I said and then a furious Gregg stepped out of nowhere and trained his gun on Tiny.
There’s something magic about the solstice and on top of that, a full moon, too. For me, it’s all stirred into the fact that today is my birthday. I don’t have big plans. Mostly to write and to catch up on stuff I’m behind on. And pet dogs, because yanno, dogs and cute. And read. I think I’d like to read. I’ve been on a romantic suspense kick. Laura Griffin is my current favorite, but have had recommendations of other writers I”m working on trying out. Oh! And another birthday!!!
Devon Monk’s new book, Death and Relaxation, hits the shelves today! You should check it out. I’m thinking it’s an excellent birthday present for me. Hey! That’s what I can read today! Yes, I’m a little slow on the uptake today.
I finished proofing all the Path books for their ebook reissue. I have to say that I was happily surprised. First, that they were really good. So I haven’t read these since I wrote them. I have always feared that they weren’t that strong. But I was really happy with them. I loved what I did with the characters and how they grew and changed. I really liked the narrative layering in the last book. It reminded me that that’s okay to do. I know, that’s weird. But I’ve been deliberately avoiding too many points of view. And by too many, I’ve been stopping at two. But if I do it well, I can get away with a lot more of them. And it makes the book a lot richer. This is what I needed to remember for the last Crosspointe book, and maybe for this Diamond City Magic book I’m working on right now.
The second thing that surprised me was how well they held up. It shouldn’t be that surprising, really. They are traditional fantasy, so the decade+ since their release hasn’t aged them in terms of cultural references. But I am proud of them. Really proud of them. I want to tell everybody to read them.
Did you think I fell off the face of the earth? Almost. I received proofs for all the Path books and have to read and proof in a little over a week. I’m done with Fate and Honor, and partly into Blood. Then the kids had their last couple weeks of school and we’ve been having some family issues that I won’t talk about here, but suffice it to say, the focus has been on those.
Then the Orlando massacre happened and I was lost at sea for a bit. What I know is this: hate is wrong. We need to care about each other. We need to be generous, charitable, and tolerant. We need to accept that no everyone will agree with us, but that doesn’t mean those who do deserve violence and death. We are a country built around tolerance and the urge to escape persecution. Let us live by our values. Let us talk to one another, accept each other, help each other, protect each other.
I’ll be at Westercon 69 in Portland over fourth of July weekend. Here’s my schedule. I’d love to have a chance to meet with you.
Other than that, things are going along well. And because you may have not noticed, up there on the Books Tab, you’ll see a Free Reads menu item. Go there for some short stories you might enjoy.
I’ve also got a post up today on Magical Words if you’re interested.
I’ve been wanting to try yoga. Only I’m not sure what the best place to start is. Considering I’m way out of shape. But the real problem right now is I can’t do anything that involves my wrists until the sprains heals. But I wondered if there was anything I could do now that might start me learning. Thoughts?
Both of these books came from Netgalley.
First, the good. I’ve read some Janet Evanovich before, but I’m not a regular reader. I have enjoyed her stuff, though, and I thought Curious Minds, by Evanovich and Phoef Sutton, sounded fun. This is the back cover copy:
Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.
What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.
Emerson Knight is a kick. He reminds me a little of the TV version of Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, except much more endearing. He’s rich and totally eccentric and so is his family and house. Emerson is determined to actually see the gold he’s invested his money in. He doesn’t really have a reason, he just wants it. But Riley is sent to convince him otherwise. Soon they discover her boss and family are carrying out a plot to take over the world.
Now, this book should have been ridiculous. The plot–well, come on. Take over the world? But it works. Mostly because Evonavich and Sutton don’t take themselves or the story too seriously. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek. The story is a bit silly and fun and hugely entertaining. Puts me a little bit in mind of the silliness of Psyche or Leverage. I really enjoyed Riley and Emerson, and I found the bad guys truly bad. I also enjoyed the way the plot played out. In the end, it all made sense, even though it was utterly fantastic. I recommend it.
Second is not quite so good. I enjoy Pamela Claire’s I-Team books. They are steamy romance thrillers and quite fun. Barely Breathing is a new romance in a new setting–Colorado with Search and Rescue instead of SEAL types. Here’s the back of the book blurb:
Lexi Jewell left Scarlet Springs twelve years ago, vowing never to return to the small Colorado mountain town where she grew up. Now, here she is—over thirty, out of a job and with little choice but to move back in with her eccentric father. Lexi knows it’s just a matter of time before she runs into Austin Taylor, her first boyfriend and her first heartbreak. She’s determined to show him she’s over him—until he steps out of a pickup truck and back into her life, looking sexy as hell in his mountain ranger uniform.
As far as Austin is concerned, Lexi can turn her snazzy little convertible around and drive back to Chicago. After all, she ripped his teenage heart to pieces and turned her back on the town he loves. But from the moment he sees her again, he can’t get her out of his mind. Even her smile messes with his head.
When an evening of conversation turns into something else, Lexi and Austin agree to be friends—with benefits. But as Lexi starts making plans to return to the big city, Austin realizes he’ll lose her a second time unless he can show her that what she’s searching for has been right here all along.
What works really well is the romance. Totally believable–the backstory, the current story, the friendships that surround the two lovers, and the progression of their love story. Lexi’s relationship with her father and step-mother also works really well. It’s difficult and painful and has no easy solution. So why don’t I like this better? I’ll tell you. It’s the sex. Don’t get me wrong, I like steamy romance. I like sex in books. But this book threw me. I know Claire was trying to capture the ‘modern male’ and the raunchy language, which I also don’t mind. But in my sex scenes, I really don’t want to read about pussies (the vagina variety) or plush lips or plump lips (of the kissing variety). Or saliva. It’s so . . . not romantic, I guess. I also really hate it when characters talk about their lovers as a good fuck. Or say something to the effect of, I’m going to fuck her later. It makes the romance tawdry and it feels like hooking-up, rather than not. At some point, they call each other fuck-buddies. Again, makes sense with the friends with benefits thing, but it just throws me out of the story.
What Claire does do well is wrap the raunchy elements up with romantic descriptions of the emotions and physical feelings, which redeems those scenes a bit for me.
Anyhow, much of the story I enjoyed, but there were a lot of sex scenes, a lot of pussy and plush and plump and possible some perky, and then the fucking. If you don’t mind any of that, then this is an excellent book. If you do, well, skip those scenes?
Just got back from Montana. Specifically, went to Miscon, the absolutely best con in the world. Well run, and fun people. Love it. I had to miss last year and was so sad about that. Justin Barba–the Con chair–runs a hell of a show.
But let’s begin with the black eye. Because that’s where the con begins. I’m a clutz. Clodzilla is my nickname. So we arrive in Missoula, Montana, after a pleasant drive wherein which we saw deer, elk, and bald eagles. We get checked in and into the hotel room, and we head to the lobby to get our badges. On the way back, the man and kids and dogs were horseplaying and I decided to fast-walk and then run a bit to get to the room before they did. Only just before I got there, my Birkenstock stubbed on the carpet and I went down. Hard. My face bounced off the floor, which seemed to be concrete covered in a thin layer of very thin carpet.
I iced, then we went to the emergency room where it was determined that I did not have any breaks or a concussion, and my wrists were not broken. But they hurt a whole lot. Still do. I posted a progression of pictures on FB. Here are two so you can see. What was cool was that all the swelling and color started on the top side of the eyelid and then slid down below it and low onto the cheek.
And then my friend from Montana thought it was so funny that she made me a hat to go with it. Here it is:
Isn’t it awesome? I’ve got good friends. And she whipped it up in about eight hours. I wore it all the time. Oh, and another thing about Miscon–everybody wanted to help me. Jim Butcher didn’t mind me blaming it on him. Justin Barba brought me arnica gel.
Anyhow, my panels at Miscon went really well. I got to hang out with wonderful friends and fans, meet new ones, and I passed out a lot of buttons for promo. Actually, I passed out a handful and the man and children passed out a ton of them. They were awesome. And this time they hung out at the con more and that was uber fun.
I attended a few panels, particularly those by Clay Cooper, who was doing panels on losing a tail and tracking and guns. I also ate a lot of good food with some fabulous people. The only bad thing was that I didn’t get to spend time with everyone I wanted to. Oh, and I had to skip out on a panel on Monday that was going to be too fun for words. I had to, though, because I couldn’t help drive and so we wanted to leave earlier to allow all the driving during the day and while the man was more awake. The Boy of Size did a bit of the driving, which helped.
Anyhow, I had a great time and tomorrow I have to drive and I’m hoping my wrists can handle it. Been slathering on arnica to help with the bruising. I think it’s helping quite a bit. Though let’s face it, it’s a pretty ugly eye. Oh! And at my reading, I read from the next Job book and even though it was drafty, it was a hit. Yay!
So how are all you doing?
I’m off to Miscon! It’s my favorite con. It’s in Missoula, MT, and it’s going to be lovely fun. I’ve decided. Plus they make my favorite beer around there–Coldsmoke Scotch Ale. I’m going to have swag, if anybody reading is going to be there. Find me and I shall give something to you.
My schedule is as follows, in case you want to know where to find me:
Books courtesy of NetGalley.
The first book I’m talking about is Mad About Max by Holly Jacobs. The basic story is that Grace is a romantic fantasy writer who writes fairy tale sorts of books involving three slightly inept fair godmothers. She’s driving home from New York, where she’s just signed a new three book deal, and suddenly the fairy godmothers start talking to her. Apparently they’ve become real. She thinks she’s going insane and decides to contact a psychiatrist. The two fall in love, of course, and face some challenges before a happy ever after.
I wasn’t really a fan of this book. I wanted to be. It was light and breezy, which is what I wanted. The problem was that it was too pat. Everything was pretty predictable and the relationship just wasn’t believable to me. Neither was the big conflict (no spoilers), and the finale just didn’t satisfy. I guess this was a whole lot like cotton candy–a little too sweet and totally unfilling.
The next book is Murder Has Nine Lives by Laura Levine. In this book, Jaine Austen is a jingle writer and ad writer who meets an animal talent agent in her veterinarian’s office. The agent is wowed by Prozac, Jaine’s cat, and wants her to audition for a diet cat food commercial. Jaine takes prozac there, and one of the developers of the cat food is murdered. Later Jaine finds she is a suspect, and decides she must solve the murder so that she can leave town (cops said don’t) on her planned/booked vacation to Hawaii.
I wasn’t a fan of this one. It’s light, breezy and makes no real effort to develop any characters. Now this may be just what you’re looking for. The writing is really good and there’s a lot of humor and the mystery is pretty good. It’s just a little too shallow for me. I love light and breezy, but I want a little more meat to the characters.
I’ve been not writing lately. Or rather, I’ve been unwriting and replotting. I’m working on the fourth Diamond City Magic book and it’s got a LOT of stuff going on. We meet Tyrell. And we meet some other bad guys. And we see an explosion of events that the first three books have been building up to. Don’t be thinking that things are resolved, though. This is a longer story than that. I am excited about the way the plot is redeveloping. I had planned things that no longer are viable, or no longer are as interesting or worthy of the story.
I just wish I could make the process go faster. That part is driving me nucking futs.
In other news, strawberries are getting ripe, I’ve got the tomatoes and all the peppers in, the peas and broccoli and cabbage *might* produce before the heat ends it (we’ve been having little tiny heat waves). I also need to plant cucumbers. I’m waiting on the melons til I can turn over the pea/broccoli bed. The thornless logan berry is going nuts and so are the blueberries. Hopefully we get more than the birds do.
Finished our first round of rock polishing (took about 8 weeks). Pretty happy with the results. I’ll have to take some pictures. Heading off to read and work. Oh, and my father-in-law is coming for a longer than expected visit (about 10 days).
In honor of the release of Whisper of Shadows in two days (April 22), I want to give away 4 e-copies of The Incubus Job. All you’ve got to do is leave a comment in this post. And a way for me to contact you later. Or make sure you check back. You’ve got until Monday, April 25, noon, Pacific Standard Time.
If you feel like it, tell me something about yourself in your comment. I’d love to know you better. Good luck!
Black Irish by Stephan Talty. I saw this book on some website or other and it looked good, so I bought it. It’s a really excellent thriller. The basic premise is that Abbie Kearney, a police detective in Buffalo, NY, is looking for a serial killer. A nasty one (I love disturbed killers in books). The only trouble is, nobody in town wants to talk to her. The close-mouthed Irish community called the County doesn’t trust her, even though her father is a famous local Irish cop. As the number of killings ratchet up, she gets uncovers old secrets that more than one person thinks worth killing for.
First I want to talk about the mystery and portrayal of Abbie. Both are done really well. I love the twistiness at the end. There were several twists and all of them had well-laid foundation but were still surprises for the most part. The portrayal of characters was realistic and compelling. And there’s a lot of tension, a lot of history underneath everything that drives the various characters. Everybody has been hardened by economic collapse, by loss, by crushed hopes, by feeling of being trapped.
Buffalo has been decimated economically be the desertion of the big steel companies as well as general economic bust. There are few jobs and people are scraping by. Talty pains a poetic and compelling picture of this world, of its people, and of the atmosphere. There’s a richness to the prose, even as there’s a spareness to the writing.
I really enjoyed this book. The mystery was tangled and the world and development is dense and complex. It’s a terrific read.
I’m sick. But I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a virus or bacteria type thing, or hormonal, or just me being a freak. Mostly I’ve been feeling terrible, with a stupidly low temperature (under normal) in the a.m. and a fever over 100 in the evenings. And an awful pain in my knee/thigh. Plus dizziness, foggy brain, and some nausea. Oh, and chills.
I guess it’s time for me to call my doctor. Gah. I don’t wanna. *cue stomping feet and tantruming*.
However, despite feeling like crap, we (and that mostly is the rest of my family with me being in the support role) mowed lawns, rototilled garden beds with compost and such, planted some of the beds, sprayed some weeds, planted a couple of other plants, went to the Saturday market, went to an estate sale, took boy driving, fertilized the strawberries with worm castings, installed an electrical outlet on the patio, and some other stuff.
I also managed to update my website. Yay for me. I also have been working on getting the dogs not to bark so much. Not sure that’s working at all.
I apparently burned my tongue. I don’t remember when. Or how. But it hurts and I’m whining.
You’ll notice that the title is in passive voice so no one actually is implicated in the doing.
A couple of years ago, I contracted with Samhain to publish two more Horngate Witches books. Then my son got sick and I had to put many things aside in order to take care of him. Those books were two of the things I had to set aside. Just recently, as I was figuring out my schedule for this next year, I learned that Samhain is closing its doors. They have reverted the rights on those unwritten books, so I am free to do what I want with them.
What that means is that I may do some shorter novels or novellas in order to get them out to you in between my contracts book. I’m working on leveling up on my writing so that I can write better and faster. I’m trying some new techniques, which so far are working.
I can’t say with any level of certainty when I’ll get something Horngate out, but I am determined to do so, and will be working on it.
I’m curious though. What would you like me to explore in future Horngate books?
First, Trace of Magic is on sale for one more day. Only $1.99 for the ebook. If you haven’t read it, now’s your chance to get in cheap.
Second, Whisper of Shadows, the third in the Diamond City Magic series, is available for preorder. There will be a print version, but I don’t think that preorder is available. Below is the back of the book blurb:
War is coming . . .
When the FBI uses an anti-magic law to arrest and torture Riley’s boyfriend, they have no idea what hell they are about to unleash. If Riley can’t rescue Clay before he breaks, the result will be a disaster of epic proportions.
With time running out, Riley and her family must rely on two people more likely to stab them in the back than actually help. And, even if Riley manages the rescue, she’s still got to deal with two kidnappings and the return of her dad from the dead–the same dad who’d been willing to see her dead to protect his secrets.
What’s a girl to do? Kick ass, take names, and protect those she cares about at all costs.
I finished a short story today for an anthology set in Faith Hunters Rogue World. If you haven’t read those books, they are wonderful. You should.
I manage to nearly break myself today, but only came away bruise and battered. Who knew gardening was a contact sport?
I was part of an SF Signal Mind Meld where a bunch of authors were asked about good, recent “popcorn” books or TV. Here are the answers. Just in case your TBR pile/mountain was too small.
I put a bunch of colors in my hair and still have one more to go. Pictures later. But I’ve got blue, orchid, and pink in, and violet to follow.
In other news, the corgi boys are still spoiled rotten.