I've had this in my TBR pile for quite a while, and finally got around to reading it. It's the start of one of those high fantasy-type novels, but rest assured: There are no elves or orcs within its pages. Patricia Bray's Sword of Change trilogy starts with this book, and I've already ordered the other two.
Devlin Stonehand is a farmer and metalworker from the country of Duncaer. He arrives during a festival in Jorsk, seeking to become Chosen One. The Chosen One, basically, is defender of the crown, although it's more of a ceremonial position than anything else, because the past several Chosen Ones have not lived longer than a few months.
Despite Devlin being a bit surly, he is befriended by a minstrel, Stephen, and by the head of the Guards, Captain Drakken (a woman :-)). He does have reasons for his surliness and for wanting to distance himself from most people.
Let's just say that what happened in his past caused him much pain and shame.
To test the new Chosen One, Captain Drakken decides to send Devlin to hunt down and take out some bandits who have murdered lesser nobles on one of the king's roads. He goes alone, figuring that, with any luck, he'll be killed. But it doesn't quite work out at that way, and he figures out who the murderer is by almost being murdered himself.
Then - after being given the okay by the council - Devlin is sent to the town of Esker to take care of what the local people call a skrimsal - a huge water serpent (think Loch Ness Monster).
But he has to contend with more than just the skrimsal): A populace who would rather hide than fight, and a darkly magical being that seems interested in the Chosen One and his special ring...
At least it's not in a subgenre that I feel like writing in, lol.
I understood Devlin from the get-go. This is a man, late 30s or in his 40s, who felt he let down his family. That he had a family only comes out in drips and drabs; his shame - or his pride - won't let him say much about them.
I liked how Devlin struggled with opening up to people, especially to the minstrel, Stephen.
Stephen is also a well-fleshed-out character. His rose-colored glasses are firmly on until he tags along with Devlin to Esker; as the story continued, his transition from a wide-eyed innocent to a cautious, thinking young man made sense. That he became one of Devlin's only friends in Jorsk was also believable.
From the looks of it, you'd think that this was the usual "guy finds out he has powers," but it's nothing as shallow as that. First, Devlin seeks out this particular position. Second, the powers (known as the Geas) are bestowed on him in a special rite.
Third, and probably the thing I liked most, was that Devlin is not an outgoing guy; he's downright surly, growling and grunting at most people. (Some people would say the same about me, heh.) He's a hardened man, and he doesn't take crap from people, and doesn't expect anything but the same in return. And yet, we get a few tender moments, like when he goes off by himself to perform a Duncaer ritual for his dead family.
Me like. Which is why I've already ordered the other two books in this series. :-)
I'll be posting a review of it within the next few days (depending on my mood, lol).
After that, I hope to get the second and third books of the series within the next week or two, so I can continue the story.
- Write a book.
- Edit the crap out of it.
- Research agents to make sure they're legit.
- Send out your queries either by email or snail mail.
It seems that most who want to be commercially published neglect number 3.
There are plenty of well-meaning agents out there; but being well meaning won't get you a publishing contract. Contacts are the way agents know who is buying what, and if your agent doesn't have those contacts (either by working as a junior agent at a legit agency or working as an editor at a legit publisher), guess what? Your book is going to languish.
The Worst Are The Scammers, But...
Although I'll be a bit lenient on those who are clueless, I'm not about to absolve them of everything. If you don't have contact within the publishing business, don't bother becoming an agent. Period. If you want to become an agent, then start as other legitimate ones have, by working at a legitimate agency (those that get book contracts for their authors) or by working at a legitimate publisher. Learn your trade.
I mean, good intentions aside, would you really be doing an author a favor? No. Put in your dues, and then hang out your shingle.
Writers Have to Do Their Bit, Too
But writers can't just sit and blindly send out emails to every agent they come across.
Do. Your. Research.
I can't emphasize this enough. I've read on one writers' board I frequent where a poster will say something like, "I got a request for a partial. Anybody know if this person is legitimate?"
The time to ask this is before you put in your time and energy sending out query letters. You've spent time on your novel, so why wouldn't you spend time making sure 1) Agents are on the up-and-up and 2) Rep your genre?
Treat your book - and yourself - with respect!
Research the agents in your chosen genre. Ask questions, get feedback. Craft your query letter. Then, and only then, send out your query letters. If you groan and think it's going to take time to get that query shining, tough crap: Your novel did, too, didn't it?
Don't skimp on the research part.
What's the Worst That Can Happen?
Just ask PublishAmerica (PA) people who have their first rights sewn up for seven years.
Seven freakin' years.
During which PA won't do a damned thing for you. Because PA is geared to writers, not readers. PA doesn't give a damn about marketing or publicizing your book; you're expected to fork out dough for that stuff. (No matter that real publishers do marketing on your book, despite what some people might say; the only reason they don't do a lot of marketing for your book - a book from a newbie - is that you're an unknown quantity. Since you don't have a track record, guess what? They're going to spend less, but they will spend some money on your book. Commercial publishers are in it for the money, honey, because they're businesses.)
Sorry for the rant, but it really gets me when people start peddling that crap.
So, don't forget to do your research on agents before you send out your queries. Don't just click on that Google ad and expect instant bliss. Because most of those Google ads are for vanity presses and the like, and your wallet will be that much slimmer.
But, of course, being the doofus I am - I forgot!
So here's my word count for yesterday, May 23:
I'll be getting in my typing on my WIP later this morning.
Quite interesting. I'm not sure how this is going to turn out (it hasn't yet been certified by the courts), but kudos to Booklocker for trying this.
So What Am I Reading?
I'm now reading Devlin's Luck, by Patricia Bray. It's an older book, more in the epic fantasy vein. It's weird, but as much as I like to read epic fantasy, I have no interest in writing it.
No, not famous last words, as I'll qualify that: At least, not right now.
Right now, I'm more interested in historical fantasy. In fact, my next idea is a twenty-ish woman in 1929 storming Broadway. My thought is to make her into a werewolf, but with an interesting twist (I'm throwing some technology into the mix, although it shouldn't be too farfetched; and besides, it's historical FANTASY, so nonny, nonny, boo boo! I can do it if I want - as long as I write it convincingly.)
Um, Can You Get Back to the Book You're Reading?
Oh, right. Devlin's Luck is turning out to be a pretty good book. Yeah, there's the usual medieval European feel to it, and the MC has some powers he doesn't know he had. But it's not some slick-behind-the ears orphan; Devlin is a widower, in what I think is his late twenties. And that powers thing? It's not exactly powers he doesn't know he had; it's kind of hard to describe, except that he's accepted as the Chosen One (yeah, I know, yet another fantasy trope!), a guardian of the Jorskian kingdom, and...well, he heals pretty quickly.
That's all I'll say for right now, except that I find Devlin to be a grumpy but heroic character (but he puts down all of his heroism, all the time; I hope he doesn't do that throughout the series, because I fear it'll get tired after a while).
And yesterday was not an easy day for me to write, as my lower back was killing me. (Just ask the dogs. ;-)) Stayed home from work, it was so bad.
Today...twinges, but not too bad.
Of course, though, I've had a sinus headache for most of today. ::sigh:: Sometimes, it just don't pay to get out of bed, lol.
You'll have noticed that the dreaded tag game is in town... guess what? You're tagged. 8 little known facts about yourself to be posted on your blog.Sounds cool. (I think. ;-)) Here are 8 little known things about Nancy Beck:
- I stand 5 feet tall (yeah, I'm a munchkin, lol).
- I was born on the first day of summer (that's June 21, in case you don't know :-)).
- My mom was afraid I wouldn't be born because her mother died during the second month she was carrying me. (Note: I was born! ;-))
- My nutty, cynical attitude is based mostly on the character of Dee (Danielle Spencer) of the 1970s TV show, What's Happenin'! (God, I LURVE that show!) Dee spouted all sorts of cynical, from-the-hip stuff, that it's stuck to me to this day.
- I've been diagnosed with endometriosis, which means that when I have my period, um, all the blood doesn't drain out of me. (Jeez, I hope the werewolves don't hit me up for any blood. ;-)) Because of that, and because I think I've had it my entire life, I could never get pregnant. ::sigh::
- When my sister-in-law was dating a commodities broker, he came to visit her at my mother-in-law's house (yeah, I was there); he pulled up in a stretch limo, which then took us over to the nearby liquor store. (Heh. Going to the liquor store in a limo was a fun, weird treat.) Since sis-in-law wasn't interested in being around him much anymore, he asked hubby and I to try to freak him out (we're both weird, so it wasn't a problem). We played Whip It, by Devo, on the stereo. Hubby put on a one of Devo's energy domes (looks like a plastic flower pot), took out a belt, smacked the floor with said belt (during one of the stanzas: Crack that whip!) Me? I think I was singing at the top of my lungs, twirling around, pointing at sis-in-law's boyfriend; generally, I was in-his-face obnoxious. Hubby and I found out later that we did, indeed, freak out the commodities dude (and she stopped seeing him soon thereafter).
- I came up with a name for all the trials and tribulations of my in-laws: Beck Lore. To this day, whenever hubby, his brothers, or his sister starts in on one of Ye Old Beck Stories, my term gets included in there. (Is that pride you hear? More likely, it's a shudder, because most of Beck Lore will make you laugh until you pee, want to leave the country, or simply scream in horror.)
- I have a slew of old movie books; basically they describe the studio (RKO, Universal, whatever), and then give short synopses of the films that particular studio put out. I only had three or four of them in the 1970s, when I was a teenager, but I read them religiously. I always wondered if I'd ever get to meet anyone in them - and I did! (Dear reader, how did you guess that? ;-)) Paramount had on its roster of actors one by the name of Eddie Bracken. Sis-in-law was (and still is) a friend of his daughter, Sue. (You think I'm a nut job. Hah!) Finally, about 10 years ago, hubby and I made a "date" to meet up with good old Eddie in his beautiful home.
"And that's me in, in..."
Eddie was stumped.
Of course, I jumped in. "Eddie, that's you and Bob Hope in Caught In the Draft."
I hate to admit it, but I said it in a kind of "Jeez, don't you remember your own movies?" This, to a man in his 80s. (What was I thinking?)
But he was ever gracious, just smiling at me, saying something like, "That's right, that's right." And then he looked at hubby. "I like her." Eee hee. :-) I guess he liked it that being a youngster (hah!), I sure knew my old movies. (He was right about that, heh.)
So I got a slew of autographs from him, including one he put in a book penned by Henny Youngman. (I'm still trying to figure out THAT one.)
Is it any wonder that I have a small scene in my current WIP that involves this funny man? (Ever seen Hail the Conquering Hero? Or maybe you remember Mr. Duncan, the old toy store dude, in one of the Home Alone movies?)
I could also tell you that sis-in-law was the toast of her hometown (acting wise), while hubby contributed his voice to the production of The Miracle Worker. Or that Jason Alexander (George on Seinfeld) sought her out in New York just before Seinfeld came out that particular year. (Yeah. Truth: Jason Alexander is just a few years younger than my sis-in-law. They went to the same high school.)
Hmm...now to find someone else to tag...
I got so into the Indiana Jones special on the History Channel, that I completely forgot to put in my word total for yesterday (I wrote before the special came on, lol):
5/18: 258 words
Analyzing the Words
Actually, it'll be more like analyzing my current draft. I'm uncomfortable with a lot of the words I've written in the past couple of weeks (yeah, I know; there were a number of days where I didn't write :-(), and I think it might have contributed to my not writing anything on some of those days (the rest can be attributed to out-and-out lazines on my part and some personal things that just made me blue).
I picked up a book early in the year called, First Draft In 30 Days. I'll probably do a more in-depth review on this book at some point, but I have to admit what initially intrigued me was a plan, a nuts-and-bolts plan (don't you love these cliches I'm throwing out here? :-)) to write that all important first draft.
But the woman who wrote it, Karen S. Wiesner - a romance novelist - also has a section on analyzing your current draft. It's for those of us who know - just know - parts of what they've written aren't quite right, but can't say why. (I think I know why, even though I feel some of what I've written lately needs to be in the story to foreshadow other stuff.) So I'm going to print out up to the point I'm at right now - that's about 150 pages!
Still, it's been bugging the hell out of me, and I want to see what things Ms. Wiesner suggests. (She has quite a few romance e-novels out there, so I figure she must be doing something right. :-))
With the demise of our watering hole, a couple of our friends suggested going to another nearby restaurant/whatever, a place we used to frequent a lot more often. The food was quite good, as we sat at the bar rather than at a table. What we weren't used to was the size of the bill; the Late Great Watering Hole was mucho cheaper.
And since our moolah is slowly slipping away, we'll have to be very careful the next time we go there (which isn't going to be every Saturday, you can be sure).
Yesterday, Sunday, was kind of a cruddy day, especially in the afternoon. Hubby begged off going to the supermarket on Saturday, and yesterday was the day. But he didn't feel well (probably because of his continued depression), so I went instead. I was a bit pissed off, but he made up for it by cooking a nice chicken dinner, with gravy and mashed potatoes.
I'm already looking forward to next weekend, when we have a BBQ to go to on Saturday, another one on Sunday, and the Indiana Jones movie on Monday! (I'm going no matter what the reviews say.)
Published by: Roc
Diana Pharoah Francis throws us right into the action - and into the attitude of Lucy Trenton - right at the start:
I'd enjoyed Ms. Francis' last trilogy (which started off with Path of Fate) and although I finished all three books, I felt a little let down by the time I finished the third book.
There were some days that deserved to be be drowned at birth and everyone sent back to bed with a hot brandy, a box of chocolates and a warm, energetic companion. Today was without question one of those days.
The cutter lurched over the chop, shimmying from side-to-side in a stomach-twisting quadrille. Rain pebbled the deck and sails, sounding like hail. Water sheeted across the bow in drenching wings and swirled around Lucy's feet, too great a flood for the scuttles to handle. Her socks were soaked and she could hardly feel her toes. She ought to have had her boots majicked against the weather like her cloak. But it was a bit more majick than she could take. Cold eeled deep inside Lucy. Her insides quaked with the penetrating chill and her muscles clenched against it. She tightened her arms around her stomach, wishing she'd eaten a better breakfast and thinking longingly of her forgotten flask of tea. A few minutes later she heard a shouted "heave to!" Sailers scrambled up the shrouds to reef the handful of bellied sails. The men at the poles dug sharply into the churning water as the cutter heeled to starboard. - pg 1, The Cipher
The Cipher is the first of her latest trilogy. It didn't have quite the same affect on me as did Path of Fate (I cried reading some sections of that book, seriously), it's a good read.
Lucy Trenton is a member of one of the founding families of Crosspointe, a maritime town. She's also a cargo inspector, so she's out and about ships and warehouses, even in horrid weather.
One of Lucy's problems is that she can sense magick; it overwhelms her to the point where she'll do things as if she's in a trance. The magick she senses at the beginning of this book leads her to a warehouse, and although she tries to stop herself from looking for the source of that magick, her willpower is too weak: A cipher - magically-cursed objects created centuries before by a magician named Errol Cipher - attaches itself to her arm. The weird thing is, Lucy can see this thing, but others cannot.
And, oh, the nasty magick this damned cipher can do!
She hasn't helped matters by actually collecting these things; let's just say law enforcement isn't too keen to have people collecting these things. Considering that this can be used against her by those who hate the royal family, Lucy has kept this quiet, a secret, for many years.
Until someone starts blackmailing her. This eventually sends events spiralling out of control, started by her friend and (sometime) lover, Marten. Having to deal with bad weather was one thing, but Lucy now has to contend with sylveth (enchanted "stuff" that can turn humans and animals into grotesque, murderous forms) on a huge scale by being sent to The Brambles...
But you'll have to read the book to figure out just exactly what The Brambles is.
My Take On the Book
I loved the heroine of this book, because she's strong but has flaws. Also, she's not a rail-thin MC, as a lot of MCs tend to be. She had her moments where I wanted to smack her silly and say, "Are you nuts?" But, let's face it - we all do stupid things, sometimes one after the other - so I didn't have a problem with Lucy being that way from time to time. (You've had one of those days, haven't you, where everything you say and do is stupid/inane? I know I've had plenty.)
She also gets burned up a lot, which might make her wimpy and whiny to some. But after all my trials and tribulations of the past few months, I had a lot of sympathy for Lucy, because there were plenty of times when I cried or felt like crying, and it wasn't because of any physical pain. (Lucy also has some mental anguish, because of what the blackmailer does to a good portion of her family - all going back to her obsession with ciphers.)
There's one part near the end wherein Lucy (and Marten, to an extent) are given something magickal, something I won't describe here. I fully expected Lucy and Marten to struggle more as, let's say, the evil surrounded them. But this thing they're given...I don't know...it just seemed too easy. No, there's no, "it came from out of nowhere" moment; nothing like that. It's hard to put a finger on it, but that part just felt off to me.
Rating? Who's Got the Rating?
There were a couple of slow stretches here and there, but nothing that dragged on endlessly (or anything that had me pissed off). That, combined with the uneasiness mentioned above, lead me to give this a B. A good solid B, missing an A ::by that much::.
Good enough, in fact, for me to look forward to the second book, The Black Ship.
What Were They?
They purported to be a publisher. Or something. Oh, wait, that's right - they were like Groucho Marx, trying to come between you and your money.
Except it was no laughing matter for those who coughed up the money.
I went to the Airleaf Victims blog and saw stuff from people who gave this outfit $4,000 and $10,000; it's utterly heartwrenching.
Relief...and Maybe Some Sort of Payment (Hopefully)
On Thursday, May 8, the Indiana Attorney General filed suit against Airleaf
...for taking money without providing the promised services in return. The lawsuit is seeking consumer restitution for at least 120 customers.How the hell did these people sleep at night? (Obviously, they did sleep pretty well, as long as the money kept coming in.)
The AG continued:
"More than 120 people are named in the lawsuit, including many from Indiana who lost thousands of dollars,” said Carter. “In fact, hundreds more may have lost money. They paid for services. Airleaf did not deliver, and now, those consumers deserve refunds.”Damn right they do! Let's hope that the poor victims who put up wads of cash get some sort of restitution.
You can read this more in depth at the Airleaf Victims blog.
Orbit says they will expand their lists in the both the US--where title count will double over the next three years, to 70 to 80 books a year by 2011, and in the UK, where the list is targeted to grow about 10 percent annually over the next three years. (Orbit is already the biggest sci-fi/fantasy imprint in the UK.) Publisher Tim Holman says, "The support that we've received for our launch season in the US - and the success that we've achieved internationally - has given us great confidence in our publishing strategy. There is a clear and significant opportunity for any SFF publisher looking to expand the core readership, and we intend Orbit to be at the forefront of the effort to attract more readers to SF and Fantasy."Ooo, nice! :-) I have one Orbit book at the moment, although I haven't finished it as yet; the writing was a bit choppy to me, but it might just be me. ;-) I'll give it another go at some point.
But for those of us writing SFF, this is good news - another venue to which agents can sell our manuscripts. (Well, as soon as we can GET an agent, lol.)
Have a great weekend!
If you've written (and rewritten umpteen times) a fantasy/SF/horror novel and are embarking on that agent search, here's some agent info (from Publishers Lunch):
Agent Lucienne Diver has joined The Knight Agency after fifteen years at Spectrum Literary Agency, where she specialized in fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery and suspense.Time to update your bookmarks, gentle people.
If you write in the children's segment, here's some really good news (also from Publishers Lunch):
The strongest-performing division, according to ceo Jane Friedman, was the US children's division, which was "on fire" with sales up almost 50 percent and operating profit up almost 500 percent.So much for kids not reading, eh? ;-) Sounds to me like the young'uns is reading quite a bit.
Magical Realism Author
At least I think that's what Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes. (Don't you just love that name? Has a nice beat to it...I'm a sucker for unusual names and long names that have a nice rhythm to them.)
Anyway, here's what Publishers Lunch reported:
A friend of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (and head of news at a Colombian radio station) says that the author "is putting the final touches to his new novel," after having said two years ago that he was finished with writing. Dario Arizmendi says, "He wrote a first draft which he didn't like, then another, then another; then, with the fifth draft, it was ready." Running about 250 pages, the book--described as "a novel of love"--should be publishable before the end of the year.For all you fangirls and fanboys of Garcia Marquez, this is awesome news. Of course, you'll still have to wait until sometime next year to actually read it.
I know that this sounds like a lot of griping - and it is - but it's very tough for me right now. I haven't told hubby a thing about the company I work for being bought out, and that Number One Boss' last day is October 31 this year.
Keeping it from him and a lot of other people isn't easy. And the reason I'm keeping it from people is because, well, I know they'll freak out. (Especially hubby and his siblings. Gawd, will they ever flip, and I really don't need that right now.)
So I continue to encourage hubby, to try to be happy and upbeat...but it's hard when you're staring at possible bankruptcy.
As for loans, forget it; already done that. At least Number One Boss has come up with an idea: He'll let me know when he's found something, so then I can put my ass in gear. I'll get some severance money, which I can put toward paying taxes on the loan I took out on my 401k. I do feel completely confident about finding another job, although I'll have to look far afield (NYC, I'm talking about, which ain't exactly close to home).
Looking in Pennsylvania, which is closer to home, isn't going to cut it. They pay poverty wages, when what I need is a champagne salary (which is what I can get in NYC).
And then I had to listen to hubby lose it (in a really sad way) after talking to his mother on the phone. Will she ever learn to get over spewing that Jehovah's Witness bullshit? My guess is, no, even though hubby has told her to cut it out, that he'd never be interested in joining that cult.
It is a cult - I don't care what anybody says.
Ack, sorry to go on like this. I'll take the flogging; I knew the deal when I signed up.
On the good end of things, I read some really good and funny writing exercises over on Evil Editor's blog. :-) And that includes mine - Number 2 (shameless plug, I know ;-)).
I loves a good, old-fashioned detective story; I did one thinking of movies like This Gun For Hire.
Rebecca, United Artists, 1940
"I dreamt I went to Manderley..."
Thus starts Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, which I believe she originally wrote as a parody of gothic novels that were out at the time. (I may not be correct about that, BTW.)
I'd never attempted to read the book, as I'd seen the movie several times; I did know that the ending had to be cleaned up for this movie version. This, because of the infamous Production Code; all I'll say is that it involved a murder and one of the characters.
When my sis-in-law gave me all of her classic, hardbound books a few years ago, I wondered if I'd actually read any of them. I started on Rebecca sometime last year. After all, that first line...it just had to be good.
The beginning dragged and dragged and dragged for me. I felt like my brain was going to fall out or something - it was that dreary.
Others may like it, though count me among those who wonder why. But always remember that the way I look at it, you like what you like, and their is no such thing as a guilty pleasure - just a pleasure, thank you. :-)
So here's some trivia for ya:
- Ronald Colman was originally pencilled in as Max de Winter. The part eventually went to Laurence Olivier, who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
- Naturally, Vivien Leigh tried out for the part of the second Mrs. de Winter; after all, she was in luuurve with Olivier (during filming of Gone With the Wind, too, although the studio kept Leigh and Olivier separated for most - if not all - of the filming).
- The role went to Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland's sister. She, too, was nominated for an Oscar, for Best Actress.
- The largest of the Manderley miniatures took up nearly an entire soundstage.
Thanks to writtenwyrdd for pointing to the article.
Yes, It's An Article
It's at the website of the Archeology Insitute of America, so methinks the real world has finally come around to thinking zombies were - are? - real.
How cool is that?
For you fantasy writers, doesn't it make you drool and want to write something? Or at least beat your chest (not too hard now) and proclaim, loud and clear, "I told you academics and literary types that there were zombies!"