Monday, January 16, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: CRESS, by Marissa Meyer

The third book in the Lunar Chronicles weaves yet another faerie tale into the fascinating SF saga where the people living on the moon keep moving closer toward the inevitable conflict with Earth.

CRESS takes a new twist on Rapunzel, including lots of overgrown hair, Rapunzel landing in the desert, and the hero being blinded -- and yeah, the wicked witch. Lots of wicked witches.

In between Cress's struggle to escape her satellite "tower" that she's been trapped in since childhood, meeting the rascally Captain Thorne, the two of them crashing in and surviving in the desert, we have the further struggles of Cinder and her odd assortment of allies as they keep trying to find out evil Lunar Queen Levana is up to, the cause of the plague devastating Earth, and now the big challenge: stopping the wedding between Levana and Emperor Kai -- Cinder's handsome prince.

Wow. Did anyone hear me scream last week when I finished CRESS and realized there was another book to read before I could find out who survives the battle? Right now, Scarlet is a prisoner on the moon, Wolf is ready to die of despair, Thorne hasn't gotten his eyesight back yet, the Lunar guard who was helping them is ratting them out to Queen Levana, and Kai has just learned all of Cinder's world-shaking secrets. Can love grow in this environment -- and survive?

Thank goodness I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas. Guess what I'm spending it on? WINTER, the 4th Lunar Chronicles book.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Taste the Book: SU-MA

"I don't really have time for the whole ugly soap opera. I mean, the telenovela stuff has got nothing on this." A raspy laugh. "Okay, the short version is that she's a really distant cousin. She got hurt this winter, and someone who knows somebody else saw her name on the paperwork and they started asking questions, and my freakazoid relatives finally started talking, and somebody finally told me. I mean, come on, I find out I have a girl cousin my own age that nobody ever told me existed. Wouldn't you make contact? Us against the world kind of thing?"

Su-Ma's instinctive response was to say Sue-Marie no longer worked here, or she had found the phone or borrowed it, or a dozen other weak lies that might just work if this previously unknown, very distant cousin was as uncomfortable as she sounded. She could just say this was a wrong number. After all, chances were this alleged cousin was just as bad as the rest of the family and she had really only made contact because she thought she could profit from the connection. After all, so many people seemed to think the Arc Foundation was made out of money, and they all wanted a share.

Yet what if this girl felt just as unwanted, unwelcome, awkward and inconvenient as Su-Ma had been made to feel, growing up? She was quite ready to believe someone in her attenuated, easily offended family had known there was another girl she could have grown up with. They had denied the two of them a chance at a pleasant family situation.

"Everybody calls me Su-Ma," she said instead, and stopped with the toes of her sneakers against the edge of the long reflecting pool fountain one level down from the patio.

Silence.

Maybe this cousin had changed her mind.

"Uh -- hi, Su-Ma. I'm Nia. Short for Lavinia. They named me for Great-great-granny Cooper-Smythe." An awkward, raspy laugh. "Did they even tell you about her?"

Monday, January 9, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: CHRISTIAN HORROR, by Mike Duran

The basic question posed by the author, a rising name in the Christian horror genre is: Can Christians write books with horror elements? A more insightful question might be: Should they? What purpose can be served for the kingdom of God by writing horror?

The conclusions and the caveats might surprise you.

Duran discusses the horror genre in general, the psychological and spiritual elements, aspects, and effects, the history, notable names, and just what makes something "horror." You might be surprised to hear -- and please do stop to consider -- that with all the gruesome, violent and gory aspects of the Bible, it could fit the definition.

That makes you stop and think, doesn't it? So maybe you have to rework your definition of horror?

The book is thought-provoking and sometimes generates some uncomfortable moments, as the author holds up the mirror to make us face our self-righteous, judgmental tendencies. The race to condemn and give ourselves a pat on the back for not being "like those people." Even if you don't particularly like any aspects of horror, whether in writing or film or other art ... you might want to check this out, just to get a slightly different perspective and some food for thought.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Taste the Book: SU-MA

From my newest release, SU-MA, Quarry Hall Book 10, from Desert Breeze Publishing.

Su-Ma had an awful suspicion that she didn't want to follow up on. Her phone rang, startling a squeak out of her. Her new ringtone, Petra's song, "Not of This World," earned grins and chuckles from the other three. She stuck her tongue out at Sophie and tapped the screen to answer the call, expecting it to simply be another telemarketer. The song was specifically chosen as the general ringtone, for numbers and contacts she didn't know or hadn't classified or blocked.

"Yeah, who is this?" a scratchy-young female voice demanded as soon as she said hello.

"This is the owner of this phone. Who are you calling for?"

From the corner of her eye, Su-Ma saw Vincent open his eyes and raise his head, and her stomach felt like it dropped another five inches. She had hoped he was asleep. That meant she wasn't going to be able to put off reporting to him about George any longer.

"Listen, smart--" The caller sighed. "Sorry, kind of nervous."

"Who are you calling to talk to? Chances are pretty good this is a wrong number, since it's--"

No, the worst thing she could do would be to admit to someone who might turn out to be trouble, that this was an unlisted number. Her leg ached enough to make it twitch. Maybe moving would help. Offering an embarrassed smile to Elizabeth, Carter, and Sophie, she got up and went down the far side of the patio, off the end where Vincent wasn't lying.

"I really think this is a wrong number," she said.

"Sorry. I started off wrong. Look, I'm trying to catch up with Sue-Marie Stankiwiecz."

"Why?" escaped her nearly in a yelp. Su-Ma stumbled on the last step. She glanced over her shoulder, but no one seemed to be watching her. "How did you get this number?"

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The War Room

Happy New Year!

We're off to a good start, with projects picked out for the year and some attempt at keeping records of what's been accomplished and what still needs to be done.

I've written about 15K words in MUSIC IN THE NIGHT, the final book in the Guardians of the Time Stream series -- steampunk from Desert Breeze Publishing.

The next book, SANCTUARY, is due to be released in April.

I entered 3 books in the Realm Makers competition yesterday. Winners will be announced this July at the 5th Realm Makers convention, to be held in Reno. Should be lots of fun! Cross your fingers and say some prayers for me.

Right now it's rainy and windy and cold. I have to wonder -- we've had it easy so far this winter, so when is the really bad weather going to hit? Kind of scary, if you think about it.

I hope you all have had a great start to the new year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: SCARLET, by Marissa Meyer

The second book of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, SCARLET is a roller coaster ride and an adaptation of the basic elements of the faerie tale of Red Riding Hood into a science fiction setting, so cleverly done I just have to sit and shake my head and say "wow" enough times to get really irritating.

Scarlet is a redhead, French, a farm girl delivering produce from her grandmother's farm. Her "hood" is a red hoodie, and it gets pretty beat up and shredded by the end of the story. The wolf is a guy named Wolf and yeah, at a couple points in the story, he's "this close" to eating Red -- err -- Scarlet.

Grandma has vanished and Scarlet becomes convinced that Wolf is involved. As she digs into things, she puts enough clues together to realize Grandma knows a lot of dangerous things. See, Grandma was a spaceship pilot, and she was involved with some residents of the moon, and Grandma knows what happened to the missing Lunar princess.

How does this tie into Cinder, who was in prison, waiting to be handed over to the evil Lunar queen at the end of book one? Now, Cinder has broken out of prison and she's on the run and learning a lot of things about her past. In a stolen spaceship, she and her fellow fugitive manage to stay one step ahead of the  military forces hunting her. Just in time, she meets up with Scarlet, and a few more pieces come together.

War has come to Earth, and in some ways, it's Cinder's fault -- or perhaps more accurately, her responsibility. Time for her to accept her destiny, her heritage, find supporters and get a revolution going in time to rescue the handsome prince/newly crowned Emperor, before he's forced to marry the evil queen in what is sure to be the shortest marriage on record.

Read these books!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Taste the Book: SU-MA

"Face it," Su-Ma muttered to herself, as she reached the three steps down to the next level of the third floor, leaving that wing of the house. "You're still a screw-up. Can't even handle the switchboard. No way anybody's giving you any road assignments further away than the garage." Taking deep breaths, she focused on willing away the throbbing in her leg. In her nightmares, a bullet drilled straight through the bone, leaving fractures like a windshield hit with a cinderblock.

In reality, the bullet had only chipped her leg bone and hadn't damaged tendons or ligaments. Her doctor and physical therapists had all told her just how lucky she had been, avoiding long months of rehabilitation. When her leg ached like this, Su-Ma wondered just how anyone could call it "luck." She had the choice of walking it off or giving in and taking a pain pill. A third option would be to go to the kitchen for an ice pack and one of Brooklyn's herbal tea miracles.

Neither the tea nor the ice pack would do much good without Brooklyn to give her some sympathy and a little humor-laced advice. Or even a lecture to help her straighten out her thinking. Brooklyn was still in Harper's Point, cleaning up the mess with the mayor, a drug operation, and her brother, the sheriff. It had gotten tangled enough to involve the DEA, FBI, Joan, and Nikki. Su-Ma still couldn't get over the concept that Brooklyn had a brother, and they had worked for MI6 together, when they were younger. That was much cooler than the hints of the dark past that Vincent and George shared with McAllistair, the man she had met in Greenleaf just before Mike McCoy shot her and killed BooBoo.

"Don't go there," she snarled, and stomped the last dozen steps to the stairs.

Su-Ma focused on the phone call. She needed to report to Elizabeth right now. Maybe she should call Xander, since their lawyer friend had the unpleasant task of dealing with this problem.


Her foot slipped at the top of the stairs. She clutched at the bannister as her heart hit overdrive for a few seconds, and scolded herself to slow down. That was the key to avoiding mistakes -- slow down. Look ahead. Think. Make lists. Listen. Pay attention. Keep quiet.