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

REMINDER! Firebrand Literary

Don't forget to send your chapter in to Firebrand Literary.  The last day is this Thursday, 15 January.

The info is located here.

Good luck!

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Magic Study - A Review

Magic Study

Publisher: Mira
352 pages

You would think that a book put out by the Mira imprint would just have tons and tons of romantic this-and-that on just about every page. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;-)) After all, it's an imprint of Harlequin.

But you would be wrong.

Is there romance? Sure. But you're not conked over the head with it, and it's not just thrown in for the hell of it - especially as this is the second book in Ms. Snyder's Study series.

Here's my review of the first book, Magic Study. I'd suggest you read that one first before plunging into this one.

The Story - The Readers Digest Version

Twenty-year-old Yelana Zaltana returns to her family in Sitia along with the good magician (and friend), Irys.  She hasn't seen them in 14 years - kidnapped as a 6-year-old by the evil magician Mogkan.  Things are bad almost from the start, when she finds out her brother, Leif, has been spreading rumors that she's actually an Ixian spy.

Irys thinks its a good idea for Yelana to get a handle on her brand of magic, so she induces Yelana to "sign up" at the Citadel; she'll be taught how to further control her magic, and her teachers and she will learn exactly what she can and can't do with her magical talents.

Yelana finds out from Irys about a string of murdered girls, all about 14 to 16 years old.  This is seen as the time when those magically imbued are at their most vulnerable, despite their magical talents, and the magicians at the Citadel suspect that a rogue mage is taking the magic from these girls to increase his own strength.

As Yelena joins the hunt for the killer, a diplomatic mission arrives from Ixia.  Of course, it includes her lover, Valek, a well-known, notorious spy and assassin who can't be touched by magic.  How does he get through, and how does Yelana know?

It's something she feels, deep down, and when her eyes fix on a minor functionary - she knows it's Valek in disguise.

Will they find the killer before he kills again?  And will Valek escape the hangman's noose or firing squad?

My Impressions

I ripped through this book in about three days - that's how good the story and the writing are.  Plus, of course, the characters Ms. Snyder has thought up.  She gives them human qualities and frailities; no Mary Sues here.

What I also liked is that this is no standard, garden-variety Medieval Europe set up.  I don't mind reading books of that type, but it's nice to read about an environment that's a bit different; in this case, Yelana and Irys head into the jungle, where all the Zaltanas live.  They live in the trees, and have names that suggest flora and fauna (one woman is nicknamed Nutty, short for Hazelnut; yeah, that's her name).

You might think this made me roll my eyes, and it did, but not for very long.  After all, Yelana has to get to the Citadel before long, so it's goodbye houses in trees, hello sleeping on the ground.

Ms. Snyder brings us along on Yelana's ride with Leif to the Citadel.  Something happens which makes Yelana suspect Leif hasn't been truthful to her (and there's no reason why she should think that, as it's obvious Leif can't stand her), but they eventually make it to the Citadel.

And to Roze, one of the Master Magicians (Irys is one, too).  Roze doesn't like Yelana right off (no reason is given), and I found myself rooting for Yelana even harder whenever that broad showed up.  ;-)

There's plenty of action here, a little bit of romance, and some magic (of course); eventually, Irys comes to think that Yelana is what is called a Soulfinder, that she can almost (almost) wake the dead.  She does seem to be able to go into a person's mind and unravel and untwist the nightmares that are there - but she goes beyond that towards the end of the book (you'll have to read it to find out exactly what I'm talking about here, but it's quite interesting).

However, Soulfinders have gotten a bad rap over the years, especially as the last known one was a bad seed.  If it gets out that Yelana is a Soulfinder, what's going to become of her?

That's not answered in this book, but hoping it will be in the third and last book of the series.


The characters are what really make this story.  Yelana and Valek do get together, but it's not long and drawn out.  The new characters - like Yelana's mother, father, and brother, among others - are fun and interesting.  You can feel for Yelana's mother not wanting to let Yelana go to the Citadel; it's been 14 years, for heaven's sake.

As for her father - he has an interesting, shall we say, hobby?  ;-)

And Leif turns into an enigma.  He's full of hate and loathing for his sister, and yet, there's an incident where he shows another side to Yelana.

In Summary

Definitely put this on your To Buy list, but make sure you've read Poison Study first, so you'll have a basic understanding of Yelana and Valek, and where Yelana's come from.

~ Nancy Beck

Have You Sent Out Your First Chapter?

The deadline to send your first chapter to Firebrand Literary is fast approaching.

If you write YA or MG, best to shoot off an email this weekend or by this Monday.

My original post is here.

Good luck!

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Jones Harvest

If you've been scammed by Jones Harvest - a vanity press - go to this blog:


and see what Bonnie Kaye is doing to try to help those victims. (If nothing else, at least you can vent if you've been taken in by Jones Harvest.

And, hopefully, Brien Jones knows by now that Lee Goldberg is a guy, lol.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck

Light Sword Publishing and LSP Digital

I've been reading Victoria Strauss' and Ann Crispin's great blog, Writer Beware. (If you want to check up on scams and such, it's the blog to read, IMHO.)

So What About Light Sword?

The latest scam/whatever, is the title of this post. Light Sword Publishing is yet another start up to end up in bankruptcy court.

Except this looks like a dodge. Why? Because while the bankruptcy petition for Light Sword claims that it's had no income for the previous 12 months, the owner of Light Sword started up another publisher called LSP Digital (yeah, gee, what does LSP really stand for, eh?) just last June. In fact, Ms. Strauss goes on to say:

A bankruptcy petition has not been filed for Daly's other publishing company, LSP Digital, LLC, which to all appearances is still a going concern, publishing books and accepting submissions.

In a word: Disgusting.

LSP Digital Authors

According to Ms. Strauss, if the petition for LSP is granted, the trustee will probably not be fooled by this, um, workaround (or whatever you want to call), and the authors, unfortunately, will be caught up in a mess - a mess than might go on for years.

Horrible, nasty stuff.

And apparently authors' contracts are looked at by the courts as assets to be sold; after all, the idea is to try to generate some kind of money to pay off the debts.

Alas, Nothing New - Other Bankruptcies

This brings to mind the Triskelion bankruptcy, and other online-only publishers that have gone belly up in the past few years. (There was one that I followed on the Water Cooler that imploded almost before my eyes. It was a one-woman shop, being run by a woman out of her basement. Good intentions are paved with potholes, some with gigantic potholes, people!) Unless the people running the firm have been in the publishing business for a while (and I don't mean just a year or two), don't waste your time schlepping your baby to such start ups.

If your ms. bores you or you just don't care what happens to it, by all means, schlep it to such places.

The Writer Beware post is here, if you want to read it in its entirety.

Me? I'll try the agent route, then onto legit smaller publishers that take mss. directly from writers.

As always - do your homework before you send it out. You'll be able to sleep better at night if you do.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


What the F***?

I usually don't go on and on about cover art (or how cruddy it looks), but this has to be one of the ickiest, most blah covers I've seen in a long time.
(And this got a good review over at the Fantasy Debut blog - hi, Tia! - but the cover? Not so much.)

I mean, what the heck is that guy wielding? A couple of lillies. (Seriously. Those look like the petals of lillies on the ends of - whatever the heck he's supposed to be holding.)

And what the hell is shoved up his ass? Or maybe he's tired and is just leaning against some wooden post. (I first thought that was his left leg, but, no...it doesn't look that way.)
Look, I'm the last one to go on and on about drawings; I think the last time I drew anything that was half-way decent was back in sixth grade, so it's been a loooong while. ;-)

Forging ahead to the blonde falling out of the bustier (or whatever it is that she's wearing), according to Tia at Fantasy Debut (who has read the book), "The only scene likely to have featured such a blonde did not have armored thugs. And another fight that featured a girl had her doing most of the fighting."

Oh, wait. Those white things are actually armored helmets - I guess the sun is glinting off them. Or something.

Wow - it really makes you appreciate the truly beautiful covers even more - whether you like the story within or not.

Love and kisses,
~Nancy Beck


Okay, NOW I can say Happy New Year!

Hope your writing is getting on well.

Check this out - 10 months ago, I decided to answer someone on Yahoo Answers - and just recently got an email that my answer won out.

But I'm a bit embarassed. Either I didn't check my spelling (and I even advise the poster to do so), or somehow between emailing it off to the Answers people and those people posting it, but there are some typos, plus some words are missing.

However, what I said there I think is pretty good advice - even though I do plug this site (hey, why not?).

You can check it out here.

Update: Whoops, here's another Yahoo Answers that I answered, this time to a young writer, and, again, from 10 months ago. Weird, but cool.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck