Christmas and Stuff

So now is the time of year when a lot of people's thoughts turn to that old (and cherished) chestnut, A Christmas Carol.

I've seen the original American film version (done in 1938), with Reginald Owen as Scrooge (it was supposed to go to Lionel Barrymore, who used to do an annual radio version of the book, but he was scratched because of an injury), the classic British film version (about 1951 or so), with Alastair Sim as Scrooge, and an American TV version with George C. Scott as Scrooge. All are excellent.

I'm embarassed to admit that I haven't actually read the Dickens' novel, but I hope to be rectifying that some time soon.

The Radio Broadcast

However, a friend of my husband and I has a radio show (it's an all-volunteer station in the area), and he invited us to be part of his annual Christmas deliverance of A Christmas Carol (like Lionel Barrymore's)...and, yes, your not-so-humble, er, writer here did indeed partake of it, playing three roles, that of a girl in mourning, Fred's wife (Fred is the nephew of Scrooge), and a servant girl.

Our friend took the part of Scrooge, since it's his show...and he did a marvelous job of it.

Who, Me Nervous?

We're not talking a national broadcasting station, but our friend's show is heard in the northwestern counties of NJ and some eastern counties of PA (think: Easton). Anyhoo, I read through the script (which changes every year), thinking about the people whom I had to portray...their stations in life...and the fact that I had to do all three with a British accent.

The first one was a little hard, as the young girl is in mourning, and gives a sort of intense speech. I had the most verbiage with this role. The next one, I decided to give a sort of dour but sprightliness to my accent, while the last one, I was trying to give a sort of Cockney ring to it (this is right after Scrooge changes).


All eight or so of us were standing around the mics, as the studio is pretty small, and fitting all those chairs in made our friend feel a bit claustrophobic. One of our friend's friends, who typed up the script, gave me a big thumb's up after reading through the first role.

And then everyone was complimenting me on my readings! :-) Let me tell you: IT WAS A BLAST!! I had so much fun, I talked about it for a long time afterwards. Of course, my husband complimented me as well, and as he always fancied himself the actor type, it took my breath away.

Oh, it was fun, fun, FUN!! I wanna do it again! I don't know if I'll be able to next year, depending on the work situation, but I hope I'll be able to take off that Friday before Christmas.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


What Am I Reading Now?

I wanted to get away a bit from the reviews with a post about my current reading habits. I did finish one book which I originally purchased earlier in the year, but I'll leave that (obviously!) for another post.

I also have the Amazon Associates/Blogger thingie (don't you just love all these technical terms? ;-)) turned on, so please excuse any unabashed shilling that comes along.

Book Number One Being Read

I started and stopped with The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) by David Farland. The reason I stopped was his writing style, which is quite strange. (I'm quite strange, so I know what I'm talking about. ;-)) It's a bit choppy and hard to get used to. I might get back to it some day, just so I can write a review of it.

And the Second Book?

I was surprised when I put this one down: Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, Book 1) by Lois McMaster Bujold. For some reason, it just wasn't grabbing me; no problems with the writing style or anything. I'm going to go back to it after the holidays.

What?!! A Third One?

Yeah, yeah, so sue me. (You won't get much of anything, but if you want to pay off all the credit card debt, be my guest.) This one I received as part of a promotion (thank you, Pocket Books), as I asked to be included on a list of people who were willing to review books on blogs. Bitter Night: A Horngate Witches Book, by Diana Pharaoh Francis should have been a natural for me, as I've enjoyed her other series (still have one more to read in the Crosspointe series). But this one is a departure for her. It's an urban fantasy, complete with bitchin' females, in leather, a soulmate, yadda, yadda, yadda. It sounds like the now-standard cliche of urban fantasy, but I still want to see what Ms. Francis brings to that subgenre. I'm going to be getting back to that after the one I'm currently reading full tilt.

Ah, Finally! So What's This One?

This is one I've been wanting to read for a while. I've had it on my Wish List for years, and I finally ordered it: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. Bizarre, interesting, gross in parts...hard to put down, though. ("Unputdownable," according to the Patterson commercial for his latest book.) This is something like I'm coming around to doing in my next idea for a novel (which I hope to turn into a series)...plus it's a time travel story! Oh, me like time travel stories mucho!

That's all for now (and isn't that enough?). I'll be posting more reviews sometime soon, including ones for the further books in the Temeraire series, and other books.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Harlequin Pulling a Big One

This is almost too much to believe, but Harlequin has a new "imprint" out there. So why the quotes around the word "imprint" (there I go again!)? There's a good reason, a very good reason...


According to Fangs, Fur, & Fey, the new imprint, Harlequin Horizons, is pure and simple vanity publishing. Period. Don't get sucked in, because you'll be paying for it. Literally. With plenty of your hard-earned dough.

If you want to get away from the major and smaller commercial publishers, you'd be better off going with Lulu. At least there, they won't be gauging you to print your novel (although self-publishing fiction is almost always not a good idea).

Not only is there the up-front costs of getting your book "published" (in reality: printed), you'll pay for editing, you'll have to do all the marketing, yadda, yadda, yadda.

If all you want is to hold a nice book in your hands for you and maybe a few of your friends to read, by all means, go to Lulu or Cafe Press or some other printer. But if you want to be commercially published - that is, published so that plenty of other people plunk down their money - get an agent interested, who will then pursue the publishing contract for you. Or go directly to those (few) legitimate publishers who have national distribution and cross your fingers.

Again, don't get sucked in! Let's hope that Harlequin decides to rethink this!

Go to the Fangs, Fur, & Fey article for more info.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Book, Book, Who's Got the Book - Part 2

As promised, more book reviews, with the continuation of the Mistborn series, Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages.


Tor Fantasy, 816 pages

Tor Fantasy, 784 pages

Yup, two for one. ;-) Make sure you read Mistborn before starting in on Well and then Hero; it will make a lot more sense that way.

Well continues where Mistborn left off, although it's about a year later.

My Impressions of Both Books

In Well, Elend Venture is in charge of Luthadel, although his father is coming at him, wanting to take Luthadel for himself. That's not the only problem; the ancient evil called The Deepness is rising again, something that the previous occupant of the throne managed to keep at bay. Vin and Elend are that their wit's end trying to figure out how to defeat The Deepness. Then Vin comes upon something that she thinks points to defeating it - but is she right?

Exciting ending to the 2nd book, where it looks like The Deepness is about to end...but then it isn't, in a nice twist ending. **SPOILER ALERT** Elend almost dies, too, and is given some interesting new powers within the room where the Well is located.

Which brings us to Hero.

Elend and Vin are married now, and they must defeat that which Vin unwittingly released at the end of Well, that which is called Ruin. With his new powers, Elend can now do just about everything Vin can do, but is it too little, too late? After all, the Inquisitors are now going about the land, killing people wantonly. Of course, with black ash falling so hard now - snuffing out much of the population - people will either die by suffocation or at the hands of an Inquisitor. Not much of a choice.

Another twist ending to this one, and a bittersweet one. Sazed, the Terrisman (and my fave character), finds out a lot of things at the end of the book; I was so happy for him! There's also an interesting ending to the Kandra (including the one who betrayed Vin); I really got into the whole thing about how they can dissolve themselves then reanimate themselves...you'll have to read it to understand what I'm talking about.

Both are excellent reads, but make sure you read the first book in the Mistborn series before you attempt these two! You won't be sorry.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Lots More Reviews to Come

Since I've been officially fired by the company, I truly have more time to read (I can get books for free off Paperbackswap if I can't find one at the bookstore or online).

I'm going to register at a couple of different agencies to see if they can find me something (even though I've been sending resumes off for quite a while now).

Next up will be the rest of the Mistborn series, two books in the Temeraire series (Naomi Novik), and the 2nd book in the Crosspointe series (Diana Pharoah Francis). Speaking of Ms. Francis, I'll have to look, but her PR person or someone sent me a copy of the first book in the her urban fantasy series - talk about totally out of the blue, Batman! :-) I'm looking forward to reading that very soon.

Onward and forward!!!!!!!! :-)

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

Book, Book, Who's Got the Book? - Part 1

While I've been a slug sitting at home, I've had a chance to read some good fantasy fiction. Believe it or not, I've read most of these since the end of June since I have too much time on my hands.

The rest of my time...I'm rewriting and rewriting, lol.

Here then are brief reviews of some of the books I've read. To be continued in Part 2 (and there probably will be a Part 3).


Tor Fantasy, 656 pages

Any praise or hype you've heard about this book is legit: I could hardly wait to get through it! It's pretty dark, especially as we come in on the story when the city of Elantris has already withered and died. Prince Raoden of Arelon, a city which sits right next to the decayed Elantris, comes down with a dread disease that has afflicated certain people of Arelon. Although the Prince's father hides the fact by officially pronouncing him dead, he's anything but; instead, he's sent off to Elantris to die along with all the other poor souls who've been likewise afflicted. (Think of zombies, the walking dead, etc., and you'll have an idea of the disease.)

The King hasn't had to deal with the Prince's betrothed, who has decided to come to Arelon anyway, despite not being married to him in body; however, she signed a contract, and she is legally his widow.

So, do the two meet up? Or are we to tune in to see what Sarene, Raoden's widow, can uncover about the King, about Elantris, about certain factions within and without Arelon?

My Take On It

The characters felt real to me. I cared what happened to Raoden and what happened to Sarene. There is a villian to the story, but Mr. Sanderson wrote something within the character that makes him somewhat sympathetic; he's even somewhat heroic near the end of the story. This might be a dark-ish story, but it's also about surviving and trying to do the right thing in the face of darkness and evil.

You won't want to put it down until the very end, and you might actually feel a little sorry, or at least have some pity, for the villain at the end.

DAW Trade, 672 pages

FYI, the version I picked up is different in the number of pages; it's actually a bit longer than the version noted above. No idea why, but thought I'd throw this out there.

I read this before I started Elantris. Although this is what I think most writing teachers would call a frame story (Kvothe, the main character, recounts what has happened to him - and it's quite a lot! - to a scribe in the inn Kvothe is now running).

My Take On It

This starts out slow, but after the first chapter or so, I got into it. Mr. Rothfuss has drawn an interesting character in Kvothe, in that he's worth listening to; he's had quite an eventful life, to this point (including getting involved with strange creatures, having to deal with bullies, and falling in love, although his love interest keeps flitting in and out of his life).

I actually started to cry when Kvothe told of a somewhat old man who helped the street urchins of a particular town; he especially helped those who physically could not do much, and as such, slipped through the cracks and onto the hard streets, left to die, no doubt. I also shed some tears later on, after he'd grown up a bit and went his own way, where he felt very much alone. I can't tell you how often I've felt like that, especially lately, with all the personal stuff bogging me (and my husband) down.

There's some violence in this, but nothing near what's in the latest Tarantino offering, or any Tarantino offering, for that matter. ;-)

I read this before reading Elantris. Definitely worth reading, although, as is typical for fantasy, it's in three installments, so you have to wait until the 2nd one (Day 2) comes out.

Tor Fantasy, 672 pages

I loved Elantris so much, I went out and got this book; I hesitated on buying the 2nd and 3rd books, because I've been burned before.

The characters, which are different from those in Elantris, are what make this book, and the entire series, such a great read. (What else is new, right? :-)) There's a Prologue, and although I know some do not read Prologues, make sure you read this one, as it sets up what happens after. It doesn't seem so at the time you're reading it, but trust me, you'll have "Aha!" moments later on...

This mostly in Vin's POV, a poor teenage girl who makes a living on the streets of the capital, Luthadel. Most of the world is ruled by a tyrant who just seems to kill people at will. There's a method to his horrible madness, which only becomes clear in Book 2.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Vin has some sort of power in which she can soothe people, so even when the head of the particular band of thieves she's fallen in with screws up with those in power, she can soothe away any unpleasantness. Except that she does it inside a building where those inside notice such things. She gets away with it, for the time being, helped out by Kelsier and his group, a group that intends to shake the very foundations of the world by eventually killing the tyrant (the Lord Ruler).

My Take On It

There's magic up the ying-yang in this one, with people swallowing all sorts of stuff that helps them bound around (literally). It gets tedious from time to time in these sections when Vin comes into her own, but I understood it was necessary, else, why bother having it in the story? :-) The character of Vin is intriguing, as are all the characters, major and minor, in this book. What I also liked about Mr. Sanderson's words is how he describes things; he goes into just the right amount of detail before outstaying his welcome (or throwing in every last little twitch or pulls on a braid).

Naturally, I bought both of the next books in the series, confident I wouldn't be bored or pissed off midway through the 2nd one.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Could It Be?


I can't believe it...but it's true.

Bouncin' Bobby Fletcher and his pseudopublishing empire are going down for the count. (He calls his "publishing company/agenting business" AEG, now, as opposed to Writer's Literary, etc., or whatever the hell else he was calling those entities.)

May the Florida Attorney General remove as much money from his wallet as possible! (Maybe in time for Thanksgiving! We could all give thanks that Bouncin' Bobby's businesses were truly laid to rest and not scamming anyone anymore.)

The mind boggles.

Read about it here and here and here.

Rock on! :-)

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Hmm...What Am I Reading Now?

I just finished up Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (another great read, but I'll save that for a separate post).

I'm still reading Kushiel's Dart, which is a very thick book, so a review won't soon be forthcoming.

I'm also going to read the second book in the Crosspointe series by Diana Pharoah Francis, called The Black Ship.

After all the reading I've done this summer, these are the two books left on my plate (I'm sure I'll get around to picking up others, heh).

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Been A Long Time

"...been a long, lonely, lonely time..."

I was reminded of the Led Zeppelin lyrics when I sat to write this post, the first in a very long time.

I have been through a lot of crap recently, the latest being a "holding pattern" in my current job. I haven't been at work since the end of June, although I continue to be paid.

Before you say, "Hey, where do I sign up?" let me tell you, it's no fun, especially with hubby at home on disability pay.

Still, you say, that sounds like a great set up.

Again I say, it's not.

I have begun to rewrite my WIP, lol, for the billionth or so time. I just recently picked up a couple of how-to books that have spurred me on, including one about creating better characters (which I think was one of the problems with this WIP). I'm going to write more in depth about the writing books in other posts, but suffice to say, I feel like one in particular has given the WIP a new freshness.

Yeah, I'm excited about writing again! :-)

I'm also going to do one or two catch-up posts on the fiction I've read recently, including a fantasy series that I've been curious about a little while, and another which I've been curious about for quite a long while (just started that one a few days ago).

Plus, I've joined Facebook and today, Twitter (names at both: ncbeck). With Facebook, I can keep in touch with friends, and even managed to find a couple of cousins who use it (although I haven't yet corresponded with them beyond the initial friending). As for Twitter...not sure yet what I'm going to do with it, but I can always delete it if I feel I don't use it enough or find it useful.

Before I sign off, I want to thank Theadra and others out there who have given me a boost, a sort of, "Keep at it!" Much, much thanks and love to you all! :-)

That's about it for today. Look for the fiction catch-all(s) and my take on some good writing how-tos.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Sorry For Not Posting Anything For A While...

My personal life is kind of in a shambles right now.

It's got nothing to do with hubby not having a job for 2 years now.

Or that he's waiting for Social Security Disability to give him the thumb's up for getting disability pay.


It's about me.

I am on the precipice, looking into the abyss (almost, sorta, kinda rhymes) known as getting fired.



Me, who has 20-some years experience doing this sort of stuff. Me, who suffered a brain aneurysm last year, but survived. (No, this is not a ghost or a clone typing this, heh.) Me, who's had trouble getting all this at my new job to click in my head.

And maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe certain brain functions are screwed up or something, because a lot of what I'm being taught and trained just isn't staying in my brain; I've had some faux paus lately that I knew were wrong, but it's as if I couldn't help myself.


Anyhoo, I actually brought home a manual I've been told to work on in the hopes that I can get all of it banged out and to my boss on Monday. She's wanted to see it from time to time to edit, and I've tried to give that to her, but it's not good enough. I've always tried to finish things first before handing them over, but that's not what she wants, apparently.

Again, this might be more of my fried brain, but who the hell knows?

All I know is that I've been playing the lottery like you wouldn't believe. Not that I'm spending hundreds of dollars a week on that; that's nuts. I have spent $10 or $20 a week, and have managed to get 2 numbers on 2 or 3 different tickets, but that's been it so far. I got some books that take a more mathematical approach to this (lowering the odds to win by looking at different trends or patterns), but I still haven't done better than 2 numbers on a ticket.

Once I get to 3 numbers, I know I'll have gotten this thing down. Until then, I keep looking for certain trends and have actually caught a couple, but nothing won as yet.

It's all a matter of time, all around, ya know?

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Kunati Book Publishers

What a shame.

I'd read early on over at the Watercooler on Absolute Write about this "publisher" out of Canada, and it sounded good.

Almost too good to be true, as it's turned out. ::sigh::

What is it that the sages on writers' boards say about new epublishers? "Wait a year." Wait a year - to see if they're still around. Wait a year - to see if any bad stuff comes to light.

In this case, the fecal matter has hit the fan. It seems that this place was set up to publish one of the founders' books. Which is all and fine; if that's all you want to do. I have nothing against people trying to sell their own books online; it's a tough go, especially if you write fiction, but if you're determined to do it - more power to you. (No. Really. If you really want to do that, go and do it!)

My take is if that's what this guy wanted to do, why did he corral others into it? Let's face it: Editors don't have enough time as it is to help their own stable of authors, so how much time would editor give to those authors if he/she had his/her own book, hmm? And that pubbed book came out with his own publishing company, hmm? (In this case, it looks like one of the principals has come out with something like 6 or 7 books since they started up operations.)

Do you think he's going to spend more energy on his own books or his authors books, hmm?

Methinks...his own? (Human nature, as far as I'm concerned.)

Still convinced this might be the place for your book? (They've stopped taking fiction mss., BTW.) Then look at this Water Cooler thread and look at this post by an editor at a publishing house.

But, my gawd, you say...the woman at the publishing house will have her own book out. BUT, I would say, it's not coming out from the same publishing house where she works. No conflict of interest, no putting herself and her books ahead of her clients.

Totally on the up-and-up.

Form your own opinions, but it's a shame that this has happened. It's especially a shame for the authors they ensnared.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Author Solutions Adds Another Company to Its Suite

Hunh? So who/what is Author Solutions? (For the really big scoop, go to the Writer Beware post here.)

What the Heck is Author Solutions?

Author Solutions owns a suite or stable of self-publishing venues: iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, and, its most recent acquisition, Trafford.

Complaints On the Way--Or Not?

According to the Writer Beware post, iUniverse and Xlibris had minimal complaints until being acquired. Is Trafford headed for the same level of complaints as AuthorHouse has had?

As Victoria noted when Xlibris was bought out, this lessens the self publishing field, and that's not a good thing. Competition is good for business because it helps to keep prices down, or at least at a reasonable dollar amount. (You don't like the prices at one car detailing place, you go to another and another, etc.)

Only time will tell if Trafford will suffer the same fate.

And, of course, the writer will be the one suffering the brunt of this.

Oy vey.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


New magazine

Holly Lisle's going to be starting up a Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) magazine called Rebel Tales (thanks to Angie for the head's up).

The guidelines are here.

As I write this, she hasn't yet started accepting submissions, but it sounds to me like you better follow her guidelines exactly as she has them written (which only makes sense; but I guess some submitters might try to skirt that). As she said, the magazine's going to have her name on it, so she wants everything to be her way (or it's the highway for you, Jack).

I'll probably post again once I see that she's accepting submissions. (Or you can just bookmark that page, like I'm about to do, and see for yourself. :-))

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Devlin's Justice - A Review

Devlin's Justice

Publisher: Spectra
400 pages

The third book in the Sword of Change series.


Devlin manages to overcome the magic spell that has left him weak in both body and mind; he finds that the Sword of Light is indeed in Duncaer, and he finally grips the prize, so called, in his hand. That the sword feels as if it was custom made for him gives him pause - but only for a moment.

Because now he must return to Jorsk, having completed his mission. He and his band - Stephen, the minstral, among others - have been gone longer than any of them anticipated. How has Jorsk fared? Will they be returning to ruins, desolation?

In the meantime, Devlin must get through the lines of Jorsk's enemy. He's convinced the only way is through rebellion, with him at the head. He's shaken and dismayed at this turn of events, but feels it's the only way to get back to Jorsk - which may be overrun, for all he knows.


As they get nearer to Jorsk, it looks as if it's intact; but what of the people? What of the political mechinations that were already in place when Devlin left?

And will Devlin get to see the king, giving the heave-ho to those political mechinations?

So, What's Your Take?

This third book in the series is very brutal; scenes of torture abound (magical and physical). The magical torture affects Devlin's mind, and is even worse than the physical torture (which is bad enough). At one point, he despairs so much, that his anger and hurt overwhelm him so that he can escape; such is the case when his emotions are strong.

A well-done ending to what came before, if maybe a tad overdone on the torture scenes. Again, Devlin comes off not as the avenging hero coming to save the kingdom in a blaze of glory; in fact, he's a bit pissed that he can't rake the coals over the king. Not that he wanted to kill him or anything...

Devlin's humanity still shines through, despite all the tortures and murder attempts hurled his way. Devlin's Justice ends on a bittersweet note, at least to me, which kind of reminds me of the ending of The Lord of the Rings.

No, it's not like LOTR in any way, shape, or form; it's just the way it ended wasn't exactly happy and wasn't exactly sad. But it did feel just right.

Grade A: Worth a read, unless torture scenes turn you off completely (they don't take up the entire book, but they linger in the mind).

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Devlin's Honor - A Review

Devlin's Honor

Publisher: Spectra
416 pages

This is the second book in the Sword of Change series. To read my take on the first book, Devlin's Luck, go here.


Devlin is now a very much alive Chosen One, the Kingdom of Jorsk's champion, which means he will defend the city to the death, if necessary.

Many people in Jorsk now believe that if he were truly annointed by the gods, the gods would have given him a sword out of legend: the Sword of Light.

The irony of it all is that now Devlin must go back to Duncaer. Not only is it his home, but it was also conquered by the very people he's now sworn to protect.

Why go back? Because that's where the Sword of Light is - and Devlin knows where in Duncaer it's located.

The sword was found on the battlefield after the Caerfolk's defeat, kept as a souvenir. And because he's been bound, by magic (the Geas) and by the King to retrieve the sword, he has no choice but to return to the people who cast him out.

He has no doubt that he'll face their wrath and indifference - if he gets that far. For Devlin has no doubts that there are people who will try to keep him from getting that sword, for their own nefarious reasons...

So, What Did You Think?

Many times, the middle book of a series can be a bit of a letdown. Not so here. I felt that this was even better than the first book.

We get taken more into Devlin's mind, his feelings, in this book. After all, he's returning home, and he's not going to feel too welcome there. Plus, he comes down with some sort of sickness that zaps not only his physical strength but his mental strength, which was already suspect.

Thus we're drawn into some of his dark dreams...and this was almost too much for me to take. Almost. Because, dear friends, I was reminded of some personal stuff (related to a loved one), and it seemed as if I were reliving a lot of that hell.

Thank goodness it's a book.

**spoiler** He does make it to Duncaer, although there is an attempt on his life. Two swordsmen go after him, but they kill themselves before they can be questioned as to whom they work for, etc.

Now, whom do they work for? Devlin and his little band find out not long after getting to Duncaer.

The ending was pretty good, and leads right into the third book of the series, Devlin's Justice. Yes, loose ends are wrapped up, but the locale has to shift elsewhere...

Mwahaha! (Sorry for the melodrama. ;-))

Grade A - worth reading. The darkness in this book felt just right, if a bit over and beyond what I'm used to (but that's because of my personal stuff, so take that with a grain of salt).

I'll have that review up in a couple of days.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


A Contest - Yippee!

The Knight Agency is having a contest.

You can find all the details here. It's called Book in a Nutshell, and you have until April 20, 2009 (hubby's bday) to condense your book into three sentences, max of 150 words.

And, yes, spec fic will be looked at (that's fantasy, SF, and horror to those who don't know what speculative fiction encompasses), as well as other genres. But check out the website to see if they rep what you write.

If your novel is complete, why not go for it? If I can manage to finish up the last few chapters (I'm on 18 and chugging along!) and re-do the opening chapter by then...I'll give it a shot.

Good luck! :-)

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Further News About Absolute Write

It's still down as of 3:15pm Eastern U.S. time. According to MacAllister (she runs it), the database was "hosed." (That's an exact quote, friends.)

If you're in AW withdrawal, you can try the AW Refugee Camp. You'll have to register first, but it's free. And be gracious, because Roger Carlson is running this refugee forum, to which I say, THANK YOU.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

Absolute Write Is Down

Don't know why, but the entire site is down, as I'm writing this.

There's a sister site, and even when I went onto that site, I couldn't register. I remembered my user name, and I thought I had the correct password, but get this: When I tried to get the password sent to my email addy, it didn't recognize the addy!

I've been on that site on a regular basis for about 4 years (yikes!).

What a mess.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

I Wonder If This Is Going to Hurt Amazon In Any Way...

Amazon is being sued over their E-reader, the Kindle.

Publishers Lunch has it summed up:

Discovery Communications filed a patent suit against Amazon.com in Federal court in Delaware, alleging that the Kindle and the ways in which Amazon sells and delivers documents to the device infringes a patent filed for in 1999 and awarded in November 2007 for an "Electronic Book Security and Copyright Protection System." Discovery general counsel Joseph A. LaSala, Jr. says in the announcement, "The Kindle and Kindle 2 are important and popular content delivery systems. We believe they infringe our intellectual property rights, and that we are entitled to fair compensation."

A Discovery spokesperson underscores that they do not want an injunction to stop sales of Kindle--they just want compensation. (It's not clear from accounts so far why they have not sued Sony and other vendors as well.) So far Amazon has not commented on the suit.

The release reminds readers that "Discovery Communications and [founder] John S. Hendricks were significant players in the development of digital content and delivery services in the 1990's. Hendricks' work included inventions of a secure, encrypted system for the selection, transmission, and sale of electronic books."

Cnet reports that "Hendricks is a bit of an inventor. In the 1990s, Hendricks tried his hand at coming up with systems to digitize content. He explored technologies involving the digitization of TV content as well as e-book systems. In 2004, he sold the TV patents but Discovery kept the e-reader patents."

I'd actually heard some good things about this latest version of the Kindle; I'd even considered putting up one of those ad thingies from Amazon (I am an associate, after all :-)), but now I wonder if it's worth it.

Not that I think anything's going to come from this soon; I've worked in a couple of legal departments now, and if anything, it's that time moves verrrry sloooowly in the legal realm. (I have other, personal experience in the courts system, too.)

I just wonder how (whether? if?) this is going to impact Amazon. Will they spend a ton of money defending themselves (lawyers ain't cheap, as I know all too well) so that they're operating on very thin margins? Or maybe they'll end up paring down their wares; goodbye books/ebooks? (Probably not. And this is all speculation.)

What do you think? Any thoughts as to what, if any, this will do to Amazon's bottom line?

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Pub News Roundup

Yeow - didn't realize how long it'd been since I last posted; hopefully, I'll be rectifying that starting this week (with this post, naturally).

All info is from Publishers Lunch.

On the Agent Front

Rebecca Gradinger has left Janklow & Nesbit Associates and launched Finchley Road Literary, a boutique agency specializing in literary fiction, up-market commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction, memoir, humor and pop culture. (She has also worked as a scout at Mary Anne Thompson Associates and a lawyer practicing media and intellectual property law at Frankfurt Garbus Kurnit Klein & Selz).

I couldn't find a website, but since this is pretty new, I didn't think I would. However, there is a Publishers Marketplace (PM) listing here (which of course I can't gain access to at work; as if it's porn or something ;-)).

Agent Eric Simonoff is leaving Janklow & Nesbit after 18 years to join William Morris. He will take all of his clients with him.

Hmm. This one was reported before Ms. Gradinger's decision to leave. Don't know if that means anything, but interesting nonetheless.

Paul Rodeen has left Sterling Lord Literistic to establish Rodeen Literary Management, still based in Chicago and continuing to focus on children's book authors and illustrators.

Pubbed Authors

Audrey Niffenegger's HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, "a delicious and deadly twenty-first-century ghost story about her familiar themes of love, loss and identity," to Nan Graham at Scribner, at auction, for publication on September 29, 2009, by Joe Regal at Regal Literary (US).

What's interesting to me is that although this is a ghost story, PL put this under the heading of "General/Other." Hunh? What, is "fantasy" a dirty word right now? Or is PL or the people reporting this confused? (FYI, Niffenegger wrote "The Time Traveler's Wife" a few years ago, which I still haven't read as yet. Maybe I will; it's in my Wish List, and, no, that's not a hint. :-))

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Goblin War - A Review

Goblin War

Publisher: DAW
352 pages

This is a long time in coming, but let me tell you, this installment of the Jig series is just as much fun as the other two were.

All is fine for Jig Dragonslayer for a little while, until he and over-the-top follower of Tymolous Shadowstar, Relka, are pressed into service when the humans (yet again) attack the mountain. Seems they want to get the Rod of Creation back, but first Princess Genevieve, sister of the two jerk adventurers from his first adventure, must bring the goblins to a little town away from the mountain, to mount a stand against the evil elves and who-knows-what-else in the area.

A goblin warrior, Trok, and other warriors come along for what they consider a fun time; Jig wants no part of it, but has no choice; Relka willingly comes along, because she believes Shadowstar wants her to do this.
My Impressions

There are a couple of races that should be familiar to Tolkien fans - elves and orcs - but what Mr. Hines does with them will make you snort or giggle (or, if you're of the snooty type, maybe a soft "haw-haw"). The leader of the orcs is Billa the Bloody, and because of Jig's tightness with Shadowstar, he's in on the scoop as to why Billa and her ragtag but fierce bunch of warriors are having it out with the humans...

...and she doesn't care who they kill, to the point where she wants all of her troops killed.

But you'll have to read the story to find out just exactly why.

Nice touches are the reminisces of Shadowstar, from when he was hiding from his son and his wife, and the lengths he went to to keep hidden. Even in these little vignettes, which last no longer than a page or a page and a half, there's plenty of humor, and it nicely fills in some questions I had about Shadowstar, one of the Forgotten Gods.

Darnak the Dwarf reappears here (no longer a bird), and Braf makes a brief appearance, too.

At the End

There's more magic and mayhem and foolishness to be had, and the ending, although a bittersweet one for Shadowstar (just like Return of the King), is just right and makes perfect sense; it wraps up everything before it.

But it's not all sadness at the end: There's a nice little twist of sorts as to how Jig and the humans come to peace. Not one that I saw coming, but goofy just the same (and again, it makes sense, considering the goblins are dealing with humans, for goodness sake!).

Definitely worth reading when you're ready to get away from some of that really dark stuff you've been reading.

But make sure you start with the first two installments before you get to this one, or you'll be wondering what the heck is going on. The review for Goblin Quest is here; the review for Goblin Hero is here.


Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Self Publishing - Part 1

There's a recent post on the Fidra blog that made me crack up.

But although Vanessa uses a lot of humor (she has Ms. Bookshop Owner say, "...after I’d noticed that you’d managed to work elements of The Three Little Pigs, Harry Potter and Hollywood Wives into the plot.” ::snerk::), what she has to say about how not to get your self published book into a bookstore is serious, good reading.

She does have a follow up here, but I'll digress on that for now, until I read it.

I'm No Expert...

...but I am damned opinionated at times. (Did you like my sorrowful, woebegone rant of the other day? As heartfelt as that was, those types of rants are few and far between.)

Vanessa talks about the old model of vanity presses, where you had to buy a thousand or so hardbacks and store them in a garage or a closet or in a dungeon. I personally know my sister-in-law's one friend, Amy, who went that route (although she opted for paperbacks), and heaven knows where she stored 'em all (I mean, living in New York City, in her "opium den," as she called it, I didn't see a heck of a lot of space to store oodles and oodles of books.

Heading For the Chains

The "oops" moment is calling up one of the local bookstores. Now, to be fair, I've heard that at some of them, a manager has a few local interest books; books about the area's history, its flora/fauna, spooky/weird stuff, that sort of thing. But, for the most part - it ain't happenin'. You can kiss most of that goodbye.

You might be lucky. You might get a manager who's sympathetic to your plight, and might - might - take a look at the first few pages of your tome (although maybe not at this point in time, with the economy, yadda, yadda, yadda).

But if grammar and spelling aren't big on your Hit Parade, you've got trouble coming your way. (Today seems to be Cliche Day for me, lol.) Seriously.

Go ahead. I dare you to purchase a self-published book. Some of them are pretty good. The grammar isn't too bad, the typos are kept to an absolute minimum, and the plot is fun/interesting/worthwhile. I purchased one such book last year, and although I haven't gotten back to reading it, it was obvious to me the author took the time to make sure the basics were taken care of, plus she had a fairly interesting plot.

But, Then Again...

I also just recently purchased another self-published book. Yuck. Mistake. First of all, the title was misleading. Instead of talking about what I thought the dude was going to talk about (this was non fiction, BTW), he talked about something related but different. Only in the very last chapter did he talk about what I thought he would; talk about barely scratching the surface.

What irritated me just as much was this guy's insistence on using "your" for "you are." Come on. Throughout the entire book, this guy used it this way. Plus there were plenty of run-on sentences.

Note that I don't have anything against run-on sentences in certain instances (especially if it's a character who talks that way), but to use such "techniques" throughout a non-fiction book? Give me a break.

Amateurish all around. And I'll get an Amazon review up on there at some point, too.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Publishing Business

It's about money. The stores aren't going to stay in business if no one buys books. Period. So the owner is going to look for certain things to make sure she has a fighting chance of hanging around for a while.

This, no doubt, goes doubly for the independent bookstores; the chain stores have some deeper pockets to grab for (although even that's drying up). But if an independent is going to hang around, don't you think the owner is going to want a professionally-produced book, one that has everything in place as noted above?


But there must be more to it than that, right?

Step up to Self Publishing - Part 2. Coming soon to a Writerly Stuff blog near you!

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Review Coming Up Soon

I'll be reviewing Goblin's War, by Jim C. Hines very soon.

Thank God for this book. I really think it's saving me right now from being super depressed (as opposed to be just plain ol' depressed).

More soon.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


I'm In a Funk

I've had the flu or a stomach bug the past few days, although I felt much better earlier today.

Went over to my mother's house on Saturday; no problems, even though she'd told me she hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days. She did feel okay Saturday morning.

No problems for most of Sunday.

Then, Sunday night - I threw up a few times, had to run to toilet a few times, too (I won't get into specifics, heh).

I stayed home on Monday and Tuesday. I started to go to work on Tuesday, but felt all weirded out driving, so I went right back home.

Came home, and hubby almost immediately took any fun out of me (trying to set up a radiology appointment at the hospital and having to contact the neurosurgeon's assistant - a non-responder if there ever was one - kind of set me edge for a little while), and I actually cried a bit before.

I could pull the whiny, "Why me?" bit, but it's old and cliched, so I won't go there. But I really wish the past two years hadn't happened; why couldn't just be like that stupid Dallas episode, where Bobby finds out the past year was nothing but a dream.

(Newhart did it much better - funnier, naturally - a few years later.)

Heck, I'm not even talking about the aneurysm I had or having one of my kidneys ripped out (which will come some time this year). That, I can handle.

I can't get into anything more than that except to say that...life at home just isn't the same anymore. Which is probably why I actually look forward to getting out of the house super early in the morning...except for the fact I have to adorable, sweet doggies.

Sorry for rambling on like this, but I just had to get this out, and I don't know who to talk to.

Thanks for listening, whoever you people are.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


What I'm Reading Now

You probably guessed it - Goblin War, by Jim C. Hines (and it's got a wolf on the cover - yay!). I expect to put up a review on this book sometime next week.

I've also been thinking of pulling up Cherie Priest's Four & Twenty Blackbirds (as mentioned in my post of yesterday). I started to read it, then put it away, figuring to open it at some later point.

Which I'll probably do after Goblin War.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Mercedes Lackey's Four & Twenty Blackbirds - A Review

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

423 pages

Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's more recent Four & Twenty Blackbirds, which is described as a southern (as in southern U.S.) gothic novel (which I also have, heh).

A few years after the paperback first came out (1998), I happened to see an excerpt online (in 2000 or so), and was immediately taken with it. For many years, I asked for this book as a Christmas present, but I finally bought it myself in about 2003 or so, and I read it every now and then to enjoy it all over again.

This is part of Ms. Lackey's Bardic Voices series, but you don't have to read any of the other books to understand what's going on; that's a good thing, especially if you pick up a middle or an end book and the publisher doesn't bother you tell you those things. (In this case, Baen plainly shows that this is Book IV of the Bardic Voices series.)

What initially drew me to this particular story?


The Story

It's hard to say what initially drew me to this story and why it continues to do so, but let me give you first things first.

Tal Rufen is a constable, walking the beat in the city of Haldene. Haldene is a bit of a backwater, with its share of down-on-their-luck people, those trying to eke out a living as best they can.

It's an icy night as Rufen is on the scene of a grisly murder of a street singer. She's been practically disemboweled with a knife, and the murderer...well, he jumped into the nearby river, drowning himself.

As Rufen begins to dig into this case, another two cases, with similar victims and murderer who always commit suicide after their deed, are practically thrown into his lap. He suspects that the similarities - lower-class women and a three-sided stiletto - point to a serial killer. But his superior doesn't believe it, and doesn't want Rufen to pursue his hunch.

That a three-sided stiletto is used in certain Church rituals might have something to do with it.

Rufen is one of only a handful of constables in their area who actually cares about his job, and when one of the killings happens on his beat, he decides to pursue it despite what his superior tells him.

So he quits his job and goes to the capital of Kingsford, where he hopes to impress a Justiciar-Mage into helping him find the killer, as the killer seems to be headed toward Kingsford...

My Take On It

As always with Ms. Lackey's tales, the characters are quite interesting. Tal Rufen is a caring constable as is typical of these types of stories. But what's more interesting is his obsession with finding the killer; he doesn't bemoan his superior, he takes action, action he's not sure will amount to anything.

He's surprised when he goes to Kingsford and is brought to High Bishop Ardis, whose cousin is the king of this kingdom. Ardis has a very strong personality and is a fairly strong mage; maybe this is why I like this so much - because I connected with Ardis.

When Ardis was younger, her father wanted her betrothed to one of his cronies - for political or trade reasons. Ardis was 16 at the time, and even then was headstrong. She suggested going into the church, and her father acquiesced. As her betrothed was about five times her age, she didn't care.

Here's another part I liked; she has doubts, when Rufen comes on the scene, about why she became "betrothed" to the Church (think of priests and nuns) and whether she should give it up. That she's unsure of herself adds to the complexity of the character.

Now, if you're the type who doesn't want to know who the killer is, don't bother picking up this book. If you'd like to see what might drive a killer - who maybe was a hedonist before this but certainly not a killer - then you might want to give this try. We get into the head of the killer not directly, but through a helpmate of his. That the killer would trust someone else...well, let's just say the helpmate kind of walked into the middle of things...and talked with calm and coolness to keep from being killed himself.

There's also a richness of detail of the environs without Ms. Lackey cramming every last little detail down your throat. The contrast between what Rufen had to deal with Haldene and what he deals with in Kingsford is like night and day, and he's rightly befuddled by it all for a little while.

It ends as I thought it would, but it makes sense. The ending is foreshadowed a chapter or two before, although there's some heart-stopping moments near the end. I won't go into it, but to see and feel what happened to the victims...tune in tomorrow for...

Sorry. I just had to do that.


Ms. Lackey gets a tad wordy here and there, and she sometimes has a character get up on a soapbox, but it's not overly done. This is a very readable tale with some not-too-deep psychological insights, so have at it, if that's what you're looking for.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Goblin Hero - A Review

Goblin Hero

Publisher: DAW
352 pages

If you haven't read Goblin Quest, you really should do so before reading this review.

I'll wait.......good, glad you're back! ;-)

The Story

Goblin Hero starts off about a year after Straum the dragon is killed. Jig is now known as Jig the Dragonslayer - there's even a song of the same name - even though he knows very well that he wasn't the one who killed Straum.

But such is the cost of fame, he figures. Because of his noteriety/heroism, Jig can afford things he couldn't before. I'm not talking Rolls Royces here, but he came up with metal frames for glasses, to combat his poor eyesight. He also heals various goblin wounds - with the help of his god, Tymolous Shadowstar.

In that year, the former chief of the goblins was killed, and another goblin has taken his place. But she feels threatened by Jig Dragonslayer; so she sends him on a journey to help out the ogres, and journey which Jig knows - just knows - is her way of getting rid of her threat (not that she doesn't have to worry about the other goblins sinking a knife into her back).

Jig dare not say no, so he goes off with Walland, an ogre who's asking for help. It seems that a lot of ogres are not only disappearing, a lot of them are ending up dead.

Along with Jig and Walland are Grell, an ancient goblin with two canes that she's not afraid to use; and Braf, a big and beefy goblin who has more brawn than brains (after all, he got one of his fangs stuck up his nose, and Jig unstuck it ::eeuw::).

Unknown to Jig, there's yet another goblin coming along for the ride, Veka. Plump and feeling full of herself, she's determined to become a Hero. Why, she even has a book (penned by someone named Josca) called The Hero's Path, which describes what a Hero should look like, what he or she can do to better attain Hero status, that sort of thing.

Think of it as a how-to book for Heroes. :-)

Veka can do her own little bits of magic; so far she's managed to do a binding spell, but her levitation spell needs work. Using a tiny bit of magic, some goblin trickery, and the blunt end of her staff, she "encourages" a hobgoblin, which she nicknames Slash, to come along with her - as her sidekick (I don't remember what page number that's on in Josca's book).

All head down to Straum's lair, where it's snowing. And pixies have taken over this part of the mountain.

How did the pixies get there? And why are they hanging around?

My Take On It

Yet another fun romp with Jig and friends. Especially fun is Veka and her obsession with becoming a hero (complete with how-to book!). What's interesting in this book is not only how Mr. Hines is upending the entire hero-myth-thing, but he makes the pixies his own, describing them as asty and only concerned for their queen.

And their queen - whoa! I won't say anything more than - she's anything but what you might be expecting.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Query Letter Links

Building on yesterday's post about me throwing my query letter up on the Water Cooler (when the time comes), I thought I'd list some links to query letters that I've found interesting and possibly useful.

And, yes, I'll probably use some of these myself. Why not? :-)

An Old Water Cooler Thread

This is a thread that got quite a few people excited for a while, in that it's unconventional. If you've been getting nothing but rejects, this might be a ticket to consider.

A Query to Rachel Vater, Fantasy Agent

This post is something Rachel posted on her livejournal blog back in 2006. It's from a writer named Caitlin Kitteridge...and, yes, Rachel took her on as a client.

Since this is one that got an agent to take on a client, I feel it's a definite look-see (especially if you write urban fantasy).

Lynn Flewelling Query

Another query letter that got a writer an agent. Let's face it: Ms. Flewelling is well known within fantasy circles. This query letter was for her first book, Luck in the Shadows (an excellent book). For some strange reason, I haven't reviewed it as yet, but I'll fix that soon :-). She gives her reasons for including (or not including) certain things, and it might just be useful enough to get your juices flowing.

Agent Noah Lukeman

This page has a link to an ebook by this agent, How to Write a Great Query Letter. There's a separate link if you're outside of the U.S. (it's to an Amazon short, but it is free).

Feel free to leave links to query letter how-to's.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Pub News - Twenty-First Century Solutions

It's about time, you say, that publishers get it together as far as technology and publishing are concerned.

Then this might be right up your alley, if you're an American publisher, big or small.

According to Publishers Lunch, the Association of American Publishers' annual meeting on March 11, 2009 will focus on Twenty-First Century Solutions. Panels will look at "copyright convergence, new and old media convergence, publishing and politics convergence, and public and private partnership convergence, and their related impacts professional, trade and academic publishing."

I guess you could say they're going to talk up the wazoo about convergence.

Guest speakers will include Google's senior vice president for corporate development and chief legal officer, David Drummond, and Dow Jones & Company CEO, Les Hinton.

For more info on this, go here.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

My Writing - and the Dreaded Query Letter

After writing a lot last week (about 3,000 new words, while deleting about 2,000 old ones that had stayed out their welcome), I wasn't sure if I was going to manage any this week, as I didn't have any time on Monday to get to the WIP.

But I did yesterday! :-) And I'm up to Chapter 13 now. The story has only slightly changed, but then, even though I tend to outline, it's never set in granite.

Why should it be?

So far this week: About 500 new words, slashing about 100. I'll be doing more today, for sure.

My idea is still the same; wrap up this by the end of February and start sending out the dreaded query letter. ::insert freaky horror music here::

Can you tell I'm not looking forward to writing the query letter? LOL! But I'll probably put it up at the Water Cooler and have those fine folks take a whack at it (it'll probably dwindle down to nothing, but that's how you learn).

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

Review Coming Up Soon

It's snowing and sleeting as I write this (just lovely), so I'm stuck at home (yay!) and should be finishing up Goblin Hero sometime today.

I'll post the review either today or tomorrow, depending on how I feel. ;-)

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Pub News - Pocket Books and Juno Books Hooking Up

According to Publishers Lunch, Juno Books will become an imprint of Pocket Books in June 2009. The first book to be co-published (that's what this venture is being touted as) is Lori Devoti's Amazon Ink.

Juno Books came onto my radar last year (thanks to the blog Fantasy Debut) because of Wind Follower, by Carole McDonnell. I've seen reviews all over the spectrum on this one, but I have to say I'm intrigued by it (which is why it's on my Amazon Wish List) because it's not set in the typical medivel Europe of most fantasies (not that there's anything wrong with that ;-)).


According to Pocket publisher Louise Burke,

We've seen great growth in this category, are delighted to now have a dedicated line, and look forward to helping to cultivate a wider audience for Juno's terrific roster of authors.

Both Juno and fantasy readers in general will gain immensely by [the] sales and marketing reach of Pocket Books and Simon & Schuster, while still getting the best of our editorial sensibility."

Good news indeed for Juno Books. And kudo to Juno's authors, as they'll now have a bigger marketing push.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


I'm Really Enjoying This

Really enjoying Goblin Hero, that is.

The fun continues on from Goblin Quest, and I think I know where the third book might be going.

Maybe. Not that it really matters, as long as the humor is still there (and I know it will be).

Anyway, a review of Goblin Hero will be coming along by the end of this week.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

Harper Signs Three Authonomy Writers Out of 2,000 Submissions

This is quite interesting.

It's one of those

YADS = Yet Another Display Site

These are places where you upload your novel's chapters - or maybe just one chapter - on the off chance that an editor or agent will "stroll by" that particular site, go nuts at your masterpiece, and sign you up.

Nice dream, anyway.

Most of them are pipe dreams or wish fulfillments (welcome to the Cliche Express ;-)), and the only publishers and agents that show up are the bottom feeders.

They've popped up on the Internet in many different shapes and shades before, usually never to be seen again.

But this is being run by Harper Collins, so maybe it is different because of the tie-in to a well-known publisher.

This, essentially, is an online slush pile for Harper Collins.

More Information

Alan Baxter, a self-published author from Australia, has this to say about Authonomy:

“Beat the slush” is the tagline and that’s something that will appeal to all writers. In a nutshell, it’s a website where people can upload full or partial manuscripts and have them read and voted on by other members of the site. People can back a book and subsequently raise it up the ranks, comment on it, recommend it to friends and so on.

He also says that the idea is that "every month [have] five books that have floated to the top...put before relevant editors at Harper Collins and considered for traditional publication." Not a bad deal, except it looks as if, from the news I've just seen, that Harper Collins has signed only three (I guess the other two must've been really, really bad). Just remember that that's 3 writers out of 2,000 submissions.

Yeah, that's a slush pile, all right.

Here's the blog entry wherein HC tells us a little bit about those they've signed - no fantasy novels among them :-(.

I just don't know what to make of this, but my gut is telling me to shy away. After all, if only the critting part of it is good, I'll just stick to the Water Cooler's Share Your Work forum.

What do you think?

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Will We Recognize the Publishing Industry in the Next Few Years?

According to Lev Grossman of Time Magazine Online, the public in general will be in for some wild times (so to speak) when it comes to the publishing world, and the novel in particular.

As quoted from Publishers Lunch(since my browser is endlessly thinking about opening up the link to the online article):

"A lot of headlines and blogs to the contrary, publishing isn't dying. But it is evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it's done. Literature interprets the world, but it's also shaped by that world, and we're living through one of the greatest economic and technological transformations since--well, since the early 18th century. The novel won't stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It's about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever...."

To which I say: So Mr. Grossman thinks this transformation will be like the English novel back in the 19th century. No, he talks about the 18th century, but this is my comment. ;-) Damn, I really do wish I could afford the Teaching Company's course on the English novel!

"...More books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture. Old Publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New Publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste. If Old Publishing is, say, a tidy, well-maintained orchard, New Publishing is a riotous jungle: vast and trackless and chaotic, full of exquisite orchids and undiscovered treasures and a hell of a lot of noxious weeds.

To which I say: Yeah, not to mention epubs going under, writers getting stiffed...riotous jungle, indeed. (Make sure you bring your own Tarzan. Or something.)

"Novels will get longer"

To which I say: This guy obviously has never read epic fantasy.

"--electronic books aren't bound by physical constraints--and they'll be patchable and updatable, like software. We'll see more novels doled out episodically, on the model of TV series or, for that matter, the serial novels of the 19th century."

To which I say: TV series? No, make it more like the serial novels. I could get into that. :-)

"We can expect a literary culture of pleasure and immediate gratification. Reading on a screen speeds you up: you don't linger on the language; you just click through. We'll see less modernist-style difficulty and more romance-novel-style sentiment and high-speed-narrative throughput. Novels will compete to hook you in the first paragraph and then hang on for dear life."

To which I say: Wait - novels don't try to hook you in the first paragraph NOW? Isn't that what we, as the great unpublished (or somewhat published), are told we have to do to sell our babies? Hmm? Unless literary fiction means you just have two people gazing at each other for three or four pages...

I get that he's saying ebooks will really take off (tell that to the romance writers out there who've been busy selling their stuff to legit, long-standing epubs for a number of years now), but maybe not in the form we're used to. Although it's kind of hard to imagine people, after staring at a computer screen at work for umpteen hours, will want to stare at another screen for their reading pleasure.

However, technology being what it is, ebook readers will (hopefully) become easier and easier on the eye. Maybe Amazon is on to something with the Kindle.

Who knows?

Hindsight is 20/20, so there's no way to know for sure if Mr. Grossman is correct. But what do you think of his overall assessment?

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Goblin Quest - A Review

Goblin Quest

Publisher: DAW
352 pages

Goblin Quest is a book I've wanted for a while, as I read an excerpt some time ago, and found it quite funny. If you remember one of the things I said about A Secret Atlas was that it didn't have enough humor, this has an abundance of humor, action, and pacing.
As Goblin Quest Starts Out...

We're in the viewpoint of Jig, a goblin, an ugly, blue creature with two fangs. He's cleaning out the muck pots (eeeuw), is laughed at by most of the other goblins because he's small and scrawny, and he's an older goblin (as far as goblins go) - and he's still cleaning out the muck at his age.

Fantasy has its own tropes, as does every other genre out there, and Goblin Quest is no exception. We're on a quest (duh), although Jig tries to avoid it as much as possible. See, he's taken prisoner by a bunch of adventurers who are after the Rod of Creation. ::smirk::

Barius is the eighth or so of the princes of his father's kingdom, and he has a slim-to-none chance of becoming king. Rather than wait around, he goes on an adventure to find this, um, Rod, bringing along with him his younger brother, Ryslind, who's a wizard, Darnak, a dwarf, and Riana, an elven thief who was induced by Barius (or, more likely, Ryslind) to come along and pick locks, if the need arose.

Which, it does.

Barius is the ultimate arrogant bastard royal type, tying up Jig to within an inch of Jig's life, even though Barius could easily take his sword and chop up Jig.

Jig is taken along for the ride, a ride he's not interested in (as he tells us in his own humorous way). But he ends up saving the lives of the others with the help of a certain god, a forgotten god...

Did I Like Goblin Quest?

Ah, yeah!

Jim Hines has turned the quest trope sideways, by giving us the point of view of how a goblin might react to certain things. And also by providing a lot of humor; not all of it is laugh-until-your-sides-hurt humor, but there are the sly remarks and the wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments.

One of the wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments comes on page 115 (of the paperback), which should be a real treat for Lord of the Rings fans: **spoiler alert, in case you don't want to read this**

Darnak, the dwarf (yes, he has an axe and a skin filled with beer, natch) is trying to console Riana, who has lost a finger, and I quote:

"Don't worry about a lost finger," Darnak said gently. "Many an adventurer has lost a finger, or worse, and still gone on to accomplish great things. Have you heard the song of...I forget his name. The little guy with nine fingers, from the middle continent. The one involved with that ring business a while back."


All right - it's probably a bit corny - but I laughed out loud; fortunately for me, I wasn't at work (not that I would care at this point in my life).

Do they eventually find the Rod of Creation? You'll have to read to find out.

In Summary

This was one of the most fun reads I've had in a long time - and a pretty clean one, to boot (especially as far as curse words go - not that I have a problem with that ;-)). You'll be rooting for Jig the entire time, as they encounter the deadly lizard fish, the weird bat-type things, and a dragon called Straum (yeah, I know; sounds close to Smaug, but I didn't care; it fits).

There was actually a part near the end of the story where I cried, something to do with Jig's pet fire-spider, Smudge, but I'm not going to give that away. Suffice to say that everything in this story - and I mean everything - is not as it seems.

For pure enjoyment and fun, with some good action and pacing thrown in, this is a wonderful book to pick up. In fact, I wanted to read the rest of the trilogy, so I've already picked up the other two books.

I can't wait - and neither should you! :-)

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Writing and Publishers - With All of the Consolidations...

Random House and other big publishers have been consolidating like crazy, downsizing, shuffling people around (those that are left, anyway). No doubt some of the mid-sized publishers are probably doing the same thing.


Uncle Jim has it right in this thread in the Bewares and Backgrounds forum at the Water Cooler.

What he says is:

"Do not pay to be published.

"Real publishers cost you nothing. They pay you. (And not just a measly dollar, in case you run into PublishAmerica.)

"Here's what to do:
"Go to a bookstore. Find books on the shelf that are similar to yours.

"Write down the publishers' names.

"Get those publishers' guidelines. Follow the guidelines to the letter.

"If the publisher says you need an agent:

"Find the names of agents who have sold books like yours. By "sold" I mean they have books on the shelves in bookstores that you've seen with your own eyes. Get their guidelines and follow them to the letter.

"While all this is happening, write a new, different, and better book."

It's not easy, but it's best to be prepared. Start with the agents, if they pass, get out your list (you do have a list of agents and publishers, right?) of all sizes of publishers that take unagented mss.

Before You Contact Publishers Directly

But it's not just good enough to list a bunch of publishers. Make sure those publishers take your genre (same goes for agents, naturally). Make sure those publishers are actual publishers (unlike PublishAmerica, which is a printer - and a pretty lousy one at that).

If they take and print everything that comes their way - they're a vanity press. Real publishers - big, small, and everything in between - are selective about which books they'll publish. They're not getting any dough from you, so they have to be picky - they want to make money as much as you do! :-)

Background Checks

This is the most important step. Before you send out your Novel of the Ages or your query letter, research publishers and agents. There are plenty of fly-by-nighters, willing to fleece you out of your life savings (or close to it), there are the clueless (who really do want to help writers, but haven't a clue as to how to market, get distribution, etc.), and then there are the legit ones.

Do your homework! If you eventually decide to go the POD technology route, at least do it with your eyes open. Know that your novel will hardly sell any copies, unless you're a complete marketing whiz (few writers are).

In Summary

So, after the steps Uncle Jim talked about above, do your research by:

1. Getting a list together of all the legit agents and publishers.

2. Making sure they take your genre.

3. Making sure they're not bottom feeders/clueless.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

Inauguration Day

Isn't it interesting and cool that Obama's inauguration is right after Martin Luther King Day? :-)

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


A Secret Atlas - A Review

I hesitated about posting this review of A Secret Atlas, as I haven't finished reading the book.

But then I thought, "Wait a minute. That should be the review - as to why I didn't finish reading it."

I am such a genius. (Like Wile E. Coyote, heh.)

So, herewith is my review of A Secret Atlas.
The Story

From the back-of-the-book blurb:

In Nalenyr, the family of the Royal Cartographer not only draw the maps, they also explore uncharted territories, expanding the existing knowledge of the world. Their talent has yielded them enormous power - and dangerous enemies. Now a younger generation of the Anturasi clan embarks on an expedition that may cost them their lives.

Keles and Jorim have been sent on a mission to explore the darkest corners of the unknown...Meanwhile, back at home, their sister, Nirati, struggles to protect her brothers from the lethal plots of their rivals...

Yadda, yadda, yadda. There's a bit more, but I think you get the idea. There's court intrigue, there's a smattering of magic, there's map making (although the last is not done in too much detail).

Nalenyr is part of a collection of nine countries/principalities, all brought together; think of what the former Soviet Union became for a short period of time, after everything fell apart, in the earlier 1990s.

What Did I Think of It?

Confusion, lots and lots of confusion.

My perplexed looks started in the first chapter, when a character named Moraven Tolo is introduced. He's on his way to some festival along with some other travellers, he sports a heavy sword, and the travellers are abushed by a bunch of (what I think) are kids - think ninjas.

But Moraven doesn't kill anybody, not that that's a prerequisite for me, but he talks a lot, and talks some more, and unmasks the kids, especially the female leader. He pretty much just sends them on their way (there's two or three), telling the female to go seek out a teacher - his old teacher - to learn more than just the stances that go along with a sword and jumping about.

As the first chapter goes along, I couldn't quite follow who was who among the other travellers. There's a little boy, his grandfather, and a bunch of other people that sounded quite boring to me.


To tell you the truth, most of it ended up being an utter bore.

I think, for me, it was that I couldn't get very close to any of the characters. There's a woman, Nirati, whom I thought I would warm to, especially since she takes things into her own hands without waiting for a man to help her out; she's pretty self sufficient, although she doesn't have the knack for magic that her brothers, Keles and Jorim have.

Then, in another short chapter (they're all short chapters, about 4 pages each), we're introduced to a high-end government official, his lackey/slave, and a low-end government official. The high-end official tells his lackey/slave to get himself aboard the ship Keles is taking to map out some more of the world.

This is where the map making = money and prestige comes in. So the lackey manages to get hired on to take notes for someone in the government. Or something.

Ah, can you tell I was bored by all of this?

Is There Anything Salvageable Here?

Moraven Tolo seems like a cool guy, but he doesn't do much as to fights; he talks more than anything. I felt it was a waste to have him do more talking than teaching. (He eventually gets around to teaching a fledgling, but I just didn't care at that point.)

The world Mr. Stackpole creates is interesting. It's an Asian-influenced world, with a smattering of what I take is Indian (I'm talking about the country of India, here).

Also interesting is that there's been an ice age of sorts; uncontrolled magic has made the world almost impassable, although at the time of the story there's been some breakthroughs (which is why Keles and Jorim are both going on, in essence, fact-finding missions).

I guess I just found the action too slow, there's almost no humor (I don't need endless yuks, but an occasional joke or sly remark would help), and the characters just aren't doing enough. They talk and they watch a lot, but the action is usually too much of a blip for me to care.

What a shame.

In Summary

I finished around page 270, which is Chapter 28 or thereabouts, so it's not as if I didn't give this tome some time to make me want to read it.

If you're a fan of Mr. Stackpole's prior books, you'll probably like this one. However, if you've never read any of his stuff, you might want to pass on this one, or read one of his earlier books.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Remember the Rumor Mill/Speculations?

If you used to head over to the Rumor Mill, it apparently is no more. (Yeah, I used to go on there all the time, until I found the Absolute Write Water Cooler.)

In case you're wondering, Sue O2, or Sue Oxygen, I guess :-) has put together a little site on Geocities to kind of gather the troops, so to speak (sorry for the cliche, heh).
Website/Email - Former RMers

She's asked for former RMers to send their website/blog/whatever info to her, at the following email address:

ye_olde_rmers at yahoo.com

Except replace "at" with the @ sign in the address above.

Goblin Quest?

I got this off of one of Jim C. Hines' LJ posts (he has another great series going on right now; I'm still working on his first series, the "Jig" Series or whatever it's called). Lots of humor, and it moves at a good clip.

But I'll have a review on that at some point. In fact, I just picked up the rest of the books (there's three) in the series.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck



I am now reading a book I've wanted to read for a couple of years.  Yeah, it's another "old" one, lol.

It's called Goblin Quest, by Jim C. Hines.  He used to be a regular over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, but I'm sure he's been up to ears in writing, meeting deadlines, the whole nine yards (to use a well-worn cliche).

I'll do a review once I've finished, you can be sure!

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Ill Wind - A Review

Ill Wind

Publisher: Roc
352 pages

So What's This All About?

Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden, a person who controls the weather and keeps it from being more destructive than it can be.

But she's on the run from the other Wardens, accused of killing a senior warden (nicknamed Bad Bob), although she didn't really kill him (he died from a heart attack).  This, of course, happened after he put the Demon Mark on her (which means a demon is deep inside her, and, with time, can destroy her soul).  So she needs to find a djinn in order to get rid of the demon, even though it means that djinn will be imprisoned for the rest of its life.

She takes to the road for the strongest Warden of all time, Lewis.  She thinks that with his strength, he can either wrest the demon out of her, or she can use one of his djinns to "take over" the demon.  He stole three djinns, so she figures he can give up one to help her; they have a history, if you know what I mean. ;-)

As Joanne runs to where she thinks Lewis is hiding out, she picks up a hitchhiker, David, who seems to be more than he appears to be.

So...will Joanne get rid of the demon in time, before her soul is eaten away?

My Impressions - Might Be Some Spoilers!

I loved, loved, loved Joanne.  She drives a classic Mustang (I have a Mustang, but it's a much more recent model), and prefers muscle cars or any type of car that goes fast (I could see her behind the wheel of a Lamborgini).  Plus she can fix cars, too, which comes in handy from time to time.

David turns out to be a magical being...a djinn, and I thought the entire mythos of djinns that Ms. Caine puts into this book were quite interesting.  But besides being a djinn, David is a very sensual, sexual being, and this fits in with Joanne, who seems to need a lot of lovin'.  Even David's touch turns her on.

So, yes, there is some romance/sexual tension in this story, but it doesn't overwhelm the action.

And what action there is!  Violent weather up the wazoo, and it's explained in a sort of meterological way; but it somehow doesn't come off as boring as it sounds.  It's quite a lively telling (in first person).

I actually cried at one point in the book, when a friend of Joanne's turns out (like David) to be not who she seems to be.  I was actually shocked by that turn of events, as Joanne was.  I'm not going to say anymore than that; you'll just have to read the book.

The ending has an interesting twist that I didn't see coming.  But, it worked, it made sense...and there's a good chance I'll be reading more in this series to see what happens next.

In Summary

Definitely worth reading.  If you're into romance, you might be disappointed (even though there is definitely sexual tension).  But if you're into fantasy and action, with a kick-ass heroine who drives fast cars, this is your cup of tea.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


What Am I Reading Now?

After finishing the wonderful Magic Study, I decided to dive into one of the many books I ordered just after New Year's.

My choice:  Ill Wind, by Rachel Caine.  It involves the weather in a fun, weird, interesting way.  The MC, Joanne Baldwin, is sassy, drives a classic Mustang (yes!), and needs a roll in the hay desperately (which she eventually gets, but I'm not saying with whom).

Suffice to say, I ripping through this one just like I did through Magic Study.

Getting Back to a Prior Book?

Question:  Will I ever get back to A Secret Atlas?  Well, it's still downstairs next to where I normally read, so there's always I chance.  I decided a couple of years ago that if I didn't like a story I wouldn't push to the very end; as Adam West said on a Nick At Nite commercial, "Life's too short to watch crap."  (Imagine him as the TV Batman, using that same deadpan voice.  Totally unexpected, my hubby and I were hysterical the first time we saw it.)

I haven't completely given up on A Secret Atlas.  I think I just needed to read a couple of stories with women for MCs.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck
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