Fantasy Book Recommendations

I'll get to how-to books in another post.

Lately, I've been buying books like they're going out of style. It's like I can't resist picking up something where a) the cover looks cool and b) the first page or two has me hooked. Although that didn't happen this past Saturday; absolutely nothing grabbed me.

Here, then, are the really good books I've read this year and can heartily recommend (in no particular order).

Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder (full review is here)

You might think that a story about a food taster in a military-type kingdom (for want of a better word) wouldn't make for a good, fast-paced story. And you'd be wrong. Written in first person, this is the account of Yelena, who murdered a higher-up's son. She doesn't attempt to say she didn't do it, only that she had a good reason to do it. She's taken from the dungeons and passes the test to become a food taster. She's kept there because she needs to take an antidote for the daily poison she's given (one of the stipulations for her life being spared).

She becomes part of the castle and government intrigue--and is somebody trying to murder her? First in a series (this is typical for fantasy, BTW).

Magic Lost, Trouble Found, by Lisa Shearin (full review is here)

This is my favorite book of this year, and it's a debut, to boot. Rather than get more gushy over this story (heh), just read the full review for why I liked it so much and why I think you will, too. First in a series.

And it's not just the fact that two of the goblins are sexy. But that just adds more fun and complications to the story (a good thing, for sure :-)).

The Princes of the Golden Cage, by Nathalie Mallett (full review is here)

Despite question mark problems that irked (Daffy Duck: "Hmm, pronoun trouble!"), this is still a good read. Another one in first person and yet another debut, this has a Middle-Eastern flavor that takes it out of the usual European-type world of fantasy. I especially liked that the MC was a bookhound (kinda like me, heh), but didn't have a jelly spine. First in a series, although the main problem is wrapped up by the end.

Okay, there aren't many here, and I hesitate to recommend Throne of Jade only because you have to read the first in that series (His Majesty's Dragon, although I like better its title in Britain, Temeraire, which is the name given to the dragon). Read the first one before deciding if you'd like to continue with the series.

~Nancy Beck


Where the Hell Have I Been?

I know I said I'd leave a post on Black Friday with recommendations for good how-to books and fantasy books, too.

::har de har har::

Well, that came to pass, didn't it? ;-) There's been plenty o'happenin' around my neck of the woods. There was Thanksgiving, which we spent at my brother's house. He and the kids looked great, everything was fun - including their new dogs. Both are very sweet, although Emma (a golden retriever) loves to jump; but she'll also lick you within one inch of your life! :-) The other one, Jesse, is equally sweet, and kind of shy. She reminded me a lot of our own Frodo (a Husky/Malamute/Ingredient X mix), especially when we first got him; he was shy and nervous about everything around him.

The other significant thing over these past few days: I've revised the first 3 chapters of my WIP. Yay me! :-) I'll admit that I was a bit down about the opening (first chapter, actually). So I decided to try a couple of different ways of looking at it, including a complete overhaul of the opening scene.

Didn't work.

I decided to get out an old version of StoryCraft software. This is software based on the Jarvis Method (which is based on Joseph Campbell's ideas on the Hero's Journey). I think it helped me nail down exactly what I wanted to accomplish in this novel.

I also dug out an old electronic version (close to the original draft) of the complete WIP.

Before doing any revisions, I went online to kind of ease my mind as what I'd originally written. I found something that did just that; we have to get invested in the MC and her world before the inciting incident occurs. Mine occurs in Chapter 2. But I have foreshadowed a few things so it's not all "WTF?" moments. In fact, one thing foreshadowed isn't seen again until the end of the story. (That's like in a mystery story where you might describe a cane in intricate detail, and then have that cane used later on in the story for whatever reason. In fact, you better use that cane somewhere along the line, or why else go into such detail?)

Anyway, something clicked for me yesterday. I worked on those first 3 chapters throughout the day. Everything just flowed, until I got to the 3rd chapter. I had a few scenes with a minor character that were funny, and I tried to get rid of that character's insights and meanderings and think about what my MC would see and hear instead.

It was awkward, to say the least. The scene after that (which is the start of the next chapter) is in the MC's POV, and partially talks about what happened with her interacting with the minor character. I know, I know, I should've just done it in one or the other POV, but for whatever weird reason, I wrote it from opposing viewpoints. What I'll do is I'll go through what I wrote in the 3rd chapter and compare it to the 4th chapter, keeping what I think is good, trashing what I think is bad.

Oy. I want to get through the rest of the story by next February, do maybe one last revision or run through, then start crafting the query letter. ::gak:: I'd rather go to the dentist than do a query letter.

I'll do the recommendations thing tomorrow.

~Nancy Beck


You May Have Noticed Something...

...then again, you may have not.

WTF are you talking about, you say?

Well, I've been reading up on a pretty good fantasy review blog, one that does only fantasy debuts - Fantasy Debut Blog. It's quite good, and I notice Tia, the blog owner, picked up on the same debuts that I did (or maybe it's the other way around ;-)).

Anyway, that made me think (which isn't always easy to do, let me tell you). I'd changed the reviewing portion of what my blog is about to include mystery and romance reviews. I was starting to get into mysteries again, and I'd only just begun getting into romance (and I don't mean paranormal stuff, which I'd normally read anyway, because of the fantasy element).

Tia said something on her blog that struck a chord with me: She wanted to limit what she reviewed because she didn't have the time. So she chose to review only debut fantasy.

So...I've decided to only review fantasy. I'll still read mysteries and romances, but I won't do any reviews of them. I'll do all the other writerly-type stuff, too, but I'll just stick with fantasy reviews because it's what I keep turning to to read, it's what I write, and I understand most (if not all) of the tropes of fantasy.

Those reviews that were not fantasy I've already deleted. Since I have mucho books to go through, there'll be more reviews coming along, have no fear. ;-) (Or maybe you do fear it, thinking, OMG, more of those crap reviews about books I don't even care about? My hope is that you'll just click on the book cover, buy the book through Amazon, and throw a few pennies my way. Shameless plug, yes. Heh.)

I don't know if I'll be posting tomorrow, as I have to drive to my brother's house in south Jersey for Thanksgiving. I will post on Black Friday, with some recommendations on good books to buy (yessss, more Amazon book covers coming your way, mwahaha! ;-)).


~Nancy Beck


What I'm Currently Reading #5

After finally figuring out how to upload book pictures with my Amazon Associates link embedded within (yay!), I figured I'd post about what I'm reading.

It's a book I picked up several months ago. It's called Stolen Magic, by M. J. Putney. Apparently, it's the 2nd in a series, but it's not one of those books (at least so far) where the author expects you to remember what came in a prior book. (Methinks this is because the stories may be standalones, with nary a cliffhanger ending in sight.)

It's an historical fantasy, and it's set in 1748, just before the Industrial Revolution. Simon Malmain, Earl of Falconer, is a Guardian, a family of mages who try to keep rogue mages contained. Well, right off the bat, something goes wrong to the Earl: He's changed into a unicorn. (Cool.) He manages to get away from Lord Drayton, the rogue he's supposed to bring in. Instead, he barely manages to get away.

But Lord Drayton wants the unicorn back, for its magic. So one of his underlings takes Drayton's ward, a simpleton lass named Meg, and leaves her tied up in the forest, to bring the unicorn back...

I'm a bit further along now, and it's quite a nice read to this point. I enjoy combinations like this (that is, combining the historical with fantasy; SF is also enjoyable, as you will note in my post on Time and Again).

After that? Sheesh, my reading pile is, um, piled in a corner of this one room of the house. Plus, I've also got a few books at work, hidden away. (Mwahahaha!!) Anyway, I'm unsure where I'll go after this; I might go for one of the books at work, because I've given them short shrift lately.

~Nancy Beck

Time and Again - A Review

Time and Again
Touchstone, 400 pages

Back in the 1970s, my mother would get Reader's Digest Condensed Books delivered every month. (She still does.) And every month I would look through that fat book to see which of the abridged books I wanted to read. Sometimes there weren't any that interested me, but there usually was at least one.

This book was one of them.

I guess I've always been fascinated with the idea of time travel. Who wouldn't want to go back in time and check out historical figures or just observe a culture and its everyday life, something totally different from your own?

Simon Morley works as an illustrator/artist for an advertising agency in New York, a job he snagged after attending college and the army before that. His job pays decently but it's boring. A man comes to his office and tells him that he's with the army; the army/U.S. Government is working on a secret project. Would Simon be interested in taking part in the project? Si would have to leave his job and all of his friends behind - including his girlfriend, Kate, who owns a small antique shop - but as Si's parents are dead and he was an only child, the army guy tries to convince him that it shouldn't be too hard to make the break.

Si agrees to join, naturally. But he asks those who are heading up the project if he can pick the time period and the place. He chooses 1882 New York. The reason? Someone in Kate's family lived during that time, and she's always been curious about a half-burned letter and envelope (both colored blue, of all things); what exactly happened to her ancestor?

He goes back in time not by using any sort of machine, but by dressing in period clothes, living in an apartment that was around at the time he's going back to (1882), and by using some sort of hypnotic state.

It works, and he's transported to 1882 New York.

Kate manages to sneak in on one of his transports back, and they have an uneasy but interesting time of it. They find out that Times Square is every bit as noisy in 1882 and in 1970 (when the book was originally published), that certain landmarks aren't where they are in 1970, and that the Statue of Liberty's arm - the one with the torch - is on display!

Those in the project decide to push Si further within 1882 society by having him live among people; there, he falls in love with Julia, the niece of the owner of a brownstone. He meets up with Kate's ancestor...with not so good results.

He's then given an ultimatum by those running the project, something the original "owner" of the project refuses to be in on. But Si goes back one more time, deciding to take things into his own hands...

Mr. Finney gives some sort of claptrap about Eistein and his theory relativity to explain how Si and others can go back in time; it's quite lame, but I could go along with it.

Where this book truly shines is in its evocation of a time long past. You can actually feel the joy of being in a sleigh singing "Jingle Bells" and understanding what that meant; the aforementioned Statue of Liberty's torch arm being on display is a wonder, especially as it towers above the trees; and there are still farms in Manhattan at that time. And that's what Mr. Finney has imbued this illustrated novel with: a sense of joy, a sense of wonderment. And, yes, you read that right: There are black-and-white illustrations as well woodcut-type sketches of scenes around New York at that time (including a couple of photos of the torch arm). Be warned, though: Mr. Finney goes on and on with descriptions of the people he meets and the sights he sees, and they are quite wordy. For me, this worked, because I have a deep fascination with history. But I could see this being quite tedious for some.

Where I felt there was a let down were at various points in the plot. The beginning is quite slow until the army/government guy shows up. There is one scene later in the book where Mr. Finney is describing a fire in such detail; I felt some of that could have been cut. Si also lets loose with a whole big deal about pollution destroying the planet and all (this is 1970, and there were a lot of serious environmental problems at the time) which I felt was too preachy; where did that come from? There wasn't much foreshadowing - just a sentence or two - so that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Also, there are some terms that I found curious, even for 1970. Calling the women in the office "girls" was merely irksome (and I got over that pretty fast). But calling black people Negroes? Huh? WTF? I grew up at that time, and I can't for the life of me remember my parents or anyone in my family calling black people Negroes (or the disgusting other "N" word). Also, some of the clothing terms just sounded weird, like referring to men's dress pants as "wash pants" or something equally as strange.

So...I found the MC, Si, engaging, and the evocation of a time past fascinating. If you can get past the few downer things I've mentioned, you'll get to a most satisfying and understandable ending.

~Nancy Beck


This is Fun - Sort of

I was wandering about the blogoscape this morning, landing on agent Nathan Bransford's blog. A prior posted pointed to this post on Paperback Writer's blog.

Fun stuff - unless you fall into one of those categories.

My current WIP? Well, let's see. I'll go down the list:

"1. Amazing McTechno Thing. Your novel features a fantastic gadget, method of transportation or scientifical process..."

Well...kinda sorta. ;-) It's sort of a fantastic method of transportation, in that I have a Roman goddess (not one of the well-known ones) transport the MC back in time. She opens a door, and, amazingly(!!!), the doorway no longer is there. It's the front part of a movie studio administration building (made-up studio, of course), complete with bushes and path leading up to the front door. Heh. If you like that kind of fantastical stuff - and the way I describe it is, I think, a lot of fun (think of an old movie that opens in black-and-white but changes over to glorious Technicolor).

"2. Brother McVampires."

Not in this one. Although I have an idea germinating that includes some vampires in a weird, off-the-wall way, although neither (they're brothers) would be the MC. They would help out the MC (who's a werewolf, BTW), as they've already staked their claim (ha!! Get it, get it? Nudge, nudge, nudge...) Oops, sorry. But, yeah, it'll take place on Broadway and environs in an alternate New York (although some might say NYC is already there, heh ;-)).

3, 4, and 5 don't pertain to this WIP or my idea (or even another idea I have).

"6. Happily Ever McAfter."

This is a staple of most romances, of which I'm not writing one. My story has a bittersweet ending to it, which I think makes sense (at least, to me it does).

7, 8, and 9 don't pertain to anything I've written.

"10. Whodun McIt. Your novel has a murder mystery solved by an ex-cop, ex-therapist or ex-Fed detective with a dangerous but heart-of-gold sidekick who is beaten up or killed; the villain will either be a beautiful dame, a fat man or a good friend of the detective."

In my prior WIP (which I hoping will morph into something else), it was a murder mystery or sorts (paranormal division), but it was going to be solved by a woman about to lose her job, had just recently gone through a divorce, was fiercely protective of her dog, and worked out to exercise videos (not necessarily in that order). The villian was a beautiful dame, but she wasn't of this world, and was having a hard time getting used to a human body.

I suppose I could've done something with that, but it just wasn't working for me. Meh. I'm stealing some stuff from that and will be using it in something else.

A fun little exercise, nonetheless.

~Nancy Beck


Poetry.com Is a Scam

This is probably old news to those who've been writing a while or to those who've researched the crap out of stuff (like me, heh).

Poetry.com and all of its iterations are SCAMS. Period.

This organization is as bad as PublishAmerica (PA) because they take everything. Want to see your poem with your byline? Buy one of their over-priced books (about $50).

Stay as far away from this one as possible.

Still unconvinced? That's okay; you should always do some research before sending off your babies. Try these:

Literary Scams

Absolute Write - Bewares and Background Checks

Ink For Blood LiveJournal - Poetry.com

If you want ideas as to where to send your poems as well as some nice support, the Absolute Write forums has a Writing Poetry section under Writing Studios. People there will give you the straight poop as to where to send your poems, payment, etc. (And by no means look for a literary agent; agents don't rep poems because there's not enough money in it for them, unless you happen to be well known, like Maya Angelou. If someone does offer to rep your poems, tell them to get lost: They're a scammer, only intereseted in separating you from your money.)

~Nancy Beck


Support the Writers' Strike!

I usually live in a day-to-day haze, but even I've heard about the writers' strike going on in Hollywood.

The gist I originally got was that "writers are asking for too much" and "your favorite shows are going into reruns" and "your favorite shows might be canceled." Well, that might be the case, but so what? Writers are way down on the food chain, especially in Hollywood. They're expected to come up with brilliant scripts for very little pay.

I'm reminded of something I read in one of the many movie studio books I have lying around my house. I read about Fay Wray (yeah, she of King Kong fame) saying that she literally worked around the clock during The Depression, working on one movie during the day, taking a short break, then reporting for another movie at night. She said she was glad of the work at the time, but she was utterly spent, and I'll bet she wasn't well compensated.

Then the actors unionized, and producers could no longer do that sort of stuff.

This is along those lines. As an aspiring writer, I want the writers in Hollywood to get their due, whatever that is, be it more up-front money, more in the way of pensions, whatever. I know for a fact that most published fiction writers cannot write 10-12 hours per day; they have day jobs, just like the rest of us. (Stephen King and J. K. Rowling and other super successful writers are the exceptions.)

I really admire people like Tightrope Walker, who's a writer on House, my favorite TV show.

To get more insight into this, go to her post and read it through, as she's more up on this than I am. (It's a long post, BTW, but a worthwhile and enlightening read.)

I wish them all the luck in the world, and I truly hope this goes in the writers favor. (BTW, the support avatar on the upper right side of my blog I copied from here.)

~Nancy Beck


What I'm Currently Reading #4

Yeah, I didn't label one as #3 because I was in a foul mood (to put it simply).

I finished up The Gun Sellera few days ago; simply wonderful! I'm not going to offer up a review as it's outside the scope of this blog (it's a suspense/thriller novel), but suffice to say that although it's humorous, there's a definite plot. One of the things that got me about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was that while I found it funny (especially the thing with the towel), there was absolutely no plot. At least to me there wasn't a plot. (No doubt someone who reads SF/fantasy will beg to differ, and that's fine; whatever floats your boat, er, spaceship.)

If I'm going out of my way to read a book, I like to have some semblance of a plot. It doesn't haven't to be something "ripped from the headlines" or that will teach me something about the U.S. social fabric.

It's also possible that I just read HH at the wrong time; I may re-read it at some point. But with so many other books to read, it'll probably be a while.

Right now, I'm reading Time and Again by Jack Finney. This is one I read as a Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection back in the 1970s. Yes, it was actually printed then (1970, to be exact), and it's a lovely time travel novel. Si Morley, a NYC ad guy, travels back to NYC circa 1882. At first, he's merely curious about his surroundings, contrasting it with the "modern" NYC of 1969-70 (an almost-dying Hudson River, endless noise, lots of interesting old buildings replaced with ugly glass buildings), but then he becomes more and more involved with that society.

I hadn't read this since it originally came out (when I lived not too, too far from NYC), and I started to wonder if my tastes had changed: The beginning is quite slow. However, once Mr. Finney got into the specifics of 1882 NYC (imagine seeing the disembodied hand of the Statue of Liberty on display!), I raced through it. Quite evocative and totally mesmerizing.

And, of course, I understand why it's slow going at first. We have to see the Si in his dull ad job (he's into the sketching/drawing end of it), which is one part that motivates him to go back. Another is his current girlfriend, who would like to know what happened to one of her ancestors.

Anyway, I'm rolling along in this book, and should have a review up in a few days.

~Nancy Beck


The Princes of the Golden Cage - A Review

Princes of the Golden Cage
Night Shade Books, 320 pages

I saw a review on a writer's blog or website and was intrigued, especially as the general idea here - that of Arabic princes locked up in a cage - is based on historical fact.

The story, though, is pure fiction.

Prince Amir lives in luxury with the rest of his brothers, except that they can't leave the premises. Then, once his father decides on his heir, the rest are free to go - that is, the rest will be killed. After all, who needs the rest of them?

While Amir's father is off doing what sultans usually do, his sons are fighting it out among themselves, with their positions as favored to be the heir posted for all to see.

Amir, alas, is well down the line, and he doesn't mind it in the least. He can handle a sword pretty well, but he's decided to keep away from all but two of his brothers. He keeps himself entertained with books, especially with books on magic, and working on alchemical experiments.

Living the life of a monk, Amir's life is upset when one of his brothers is murdered in a strange way; it looks as if it has dark magic written over it, something which the Grand Vizier thinks Amir might be able to figure out.

Or is Amir being looked at as the murderer precisely because of those experiments?

He meets up with one of his blonde brothers, Erik, after the first murder, but Amir cannot figure out what is going on or how to stop the murderer; his brothers are dropping like dead flies.

Romance comes into it when Amir picks up something of Erik's, a locket with a picture of a fair-haired maiden inside. Amir is almost instantly smitten with her, yet dismisses himself as a suitor because he is so far down the heir line; she is betrothed to the next Sultan.

Amir and his brothers have never been outside the palace, aka the cage. Will Amir die with the rest of them without tasting freedom?

I found this an enjoyable read. Parts were tedious, but the story moved along at a decent clip. I found Amir to be an interesting character - a bookworm with a bit of a temper (at times). What endeared me even more was how he cared for the two brothers nearest him, Mir and Jafer, both of whom seemed to be insane. Amir was afraid one of his other brothers would do them harm, so he usually would get food with them, and talk to them...when they would allow him to do so.

What brings this book down slightly might just be personal irritations, but they are irritations nonetheless. There were a lot of run-on sentences. While I don't mind run-ons from time to time, I just felt there were too many so that my eyes would glaze. (There must been quite a few for me to remember them, unfortunately.) Fortunately, this was not an ongoing problem, just one that seemed to crop up from time to time.

The other irritation were the obvious questions not ending in question marks. I'll admit that that's nitpicky. But it brought me out the story anyway, to the point where I'd say, "Question mark, question mark!" Either the author has something against using question marks (which I doubt) or maybe her editor just missed this. I can't imagine that most of those question were actually statements made by different characters. (Sure, I get that questions can be said in such a way that they sound more like statements, like when a character is pissed off at someone.) Again, that I noticed it means that maybe the editing was off.

That's not to take away from this story, however. I found the story and characters interesting, and look forward to the next in this trilogy (seems like most fantasies are trilogies now-a-days).

Anyway, worth a looksee.

~Nancy Beck



I've be doing some critting this week over on Absolute Write's Share Your Work forum. I've been doing some pretty extensive crits, and I guess I'm just curious as to how some of the writers are going to take what I've given them.

Not that they have to take anything of what I've said, of course. Everyone knows their own stories better than anyone else (at least, they SHOULD know).

So far, one writer agreed that his descriptions were overwhelming the story, although he didn't take too kindly to my not liking omniscient POV. (That, of course, is a personal thing which I didn't make clear in my original crit. My bad.) Another liked what I had to say about her prologue, and was going to keep it in mind. She's already posted a revision (which I haven't gotten to yet).

I critted another 2 stories (whew!) today. One was about dragons. I felt this writer started in the wrong place, opening with a last-of-its-species dragon. I mistakenly thought this was the MC until I read on, where he talks about people in a nearby village (and one person in particular). When he has this particular person look up at the mountain and see what he thinks is a dragon - yup, I think this is where your story starts, because something is going to happen.

Another one was an excerpt from further into a story. It was interesting, but I felt this author used too many run-on sentences - including the very first one! (This wasn't from the opening chapter, but somewhere in the middle of the book.) I just finished reading a book - which I should post a review for - where the author did pretty much the same through several portions of the story. Drove me crazy. And another odd thing was that a number of questions that were clearly questions didn't end in a question mark.

Crack that whip!

Meh. I know it's not something to get completely overwhelmed by, but I did find it irritating, thinking "Question mark! Question mark!" over and over.

I'll probably post that review tomorrow. It's a debut (I love finding new authors, don't you?), and I still found the story pretty good.

~Nancy Beck


Airleaf Victims, Unite!

Read up on this on the Absolute Write Water Cooler (see the sidebar for the link to the general site), and on the Writer Beware site. Apparently, Airleaf aka Bookman Marketing, has been spamming the hell out of people for a few years.

That would be bad enough.

What's worse is that Airleaf enticed enough poor souls to part with their money, to have their book, er, published.

Which makes sense in a few cases.

But Airleaf bilked these people out of more than $1,000 in a lot of cases. Well, Bonnie Kaye, who coughed up $1,850(!!) to Airleaf, decided it was time for revenge against this sham marketer and/or publisher (or is it both? Sheesh!). She's started a website to get back at them. It's called Airleaf Victims Fightback, and on it, she gives her story and those of others who've been scammed.

Good for her and 90+ authors who've decided to take legal action against the company in the state of Indiana. Go to the website and read some of the stories - one poor man was taken for $10,000!

Airleaf must be completely shameless. I hope for the best for Bonnie and all authors who've been defrauded. Maybe the law, at the very least, shut down Airleaf!

~Nancy Beck


Anomalos - Yet Another Publish America?

Bah. I went over to the Writers Beware blog and saw the entry on yet another printer playing at being a publisher.

The one in question is called Anomalos Publishers, and you can read the post here.

In their FAQ is the same, tired old crap that makes you want to run away screaming. Stuff like:

"...nearly all traditional publishers have scaled back or eliminated altogether their willingness to publish new authors."

Anomalos authors often order as many as 10,000 to 20,000 copies in the first run, but 1,000 is the minimum we require."


Guess what? "Traditional" publishers (a term I think Publish America (PA) came up with) still publish new authors; they do it all the time. Because authors decide to stop writing. Because authors die. Because authors don't necessarily come out with a book every year (like Nora Roberts, who I think writes up more than one book a year - wow!!!).

Anyway, remember, all authors - yes, even the bestselling ones - were once newly published. (Fancy that!)

As to buying your own book...sorry, that's straight from crappy old PA's way of thinking (after all, they market to writers rather than readers, so from where do you think they get their money?). And a minimum of 1,000 books? Math isn't my strong suit, so you should look at one of the anonymous posters who made a hypothetical example.

The amount of dough you'd have to shell out in that poster's example? Something like $9,000!!

Uh, no.

That's not how it works. How it works is that the author never shells out any money upfront. What incentive is there for the "publisher" to market your book if you give them money right away? Right, zippo. Real, legitimate publishers give you money; a bigger publisher even gives you an advance. So the publisher is in the hole from the get-go (and you get to keep the advance, whether book does well or not).

Don't leave out the smaller publishers, especially if you have a book that you think is hard to place (too quirky or whatever). Although smaller publishers generally don't give out advances, you also (usually) don't have to worry about getting an agent; you can submit to them directly.

Always, always, always do your research before sending out your baby. You'll save all those extra dollar bills in your wallet.

As for Anomalos - meh, pass, of course. If all you want is a book in your hand, head on over to Lulu.com.

~Nancy Beck

Free Writing Courses

Say you haven't written at all or you haven't written in about a year, due to illness or life being especially cruel or busy.

Well the BBC has some nice mini-courses to give yourself a kickstart or a refresher. And, they're free, which can come in handy. :-)

They're split into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced courses (with exercises), and these might just be the thing to help you out when you're sitting scratching your head, wondering, What the hell do I do now?

You can find them here.

~Nancy Beck


What I Was Going to Do...

I was going to offer up a review of the latest book I finished, but as I'm fighting sinusitis ::sigh::, I'll instead just list here the next book I've started up.

(Yeah, I have an insatiable appetite to read books. Kinda takes my mind off my cruddy personal life.)

But I digress.

I'm a huge House fan, and I was surprised to find that Hugh Laurie actually wrote a novel back in the 1990s. (I also didn't realize he'd been in Blackadder, among other British series; I did know he was in the Stuart Little movie.) Since he has an extensive comedy background, it's no stretch to find out that his novel, The Gun Seller, is a humorous take on the suspense/thriller.

The opening chapter really made me laugh. Nice. :-)

Of course once I'm done I'll throw up (if you've read the book, you'll know that's a bad choice of words) a review of it.

~Nancy Beck