29 May 2013

June Bendiness

It's the 29th May. That means there are only two days left until June. And THAT means there are only two days left until...

*drum roll*

BuNoWriMo 2013!!!

Logo by Joris Ammerlaan Design

Say what?

I said, there are only two days left until BuNoWriMo 2013!

Now, for the uninitiated, I suppose I should explain...

This is a writers blog (well, for the most part, although you will find random posts of silliness sandwiched between the writerly stuff), and if you are a writer, then there is about a 99% chance that you know what NaNoWriMo is. Okay, NaNoWriMo isn't exactly the same thing as BuNoWriMo. Except that it is. Mostly. Well, apart from the cheating thing.

For that 1% of the writerly population that are scratching their heads (or have possibly hit the 'x' in the corner of their screen to get away from the rambling blog post), I'll briefly explain what it's all about.

1 - You write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
2 - Er, that's it.

The FAB part of this whole WriMo deal is that when you sign up for the madness, you are not only pledging your intent to write a novel in a month, you are automatically thrust into a community of like-minded (crazy) people, who will offer encouragement, virtual cookies, advice, and sometimes pictures of hot men. Okay, that last one is probably just my own wishful thinking, but honestly, cheer leading can take many forms, and if a hot guy wants to wave his pom-poms at me, I'm not going to lie, I'd be very encouraged.

Anyway. The main NaNoWriMo event happens every November, but not everyone has the time to commit during that very busy time of year. In June, however, there aren't any festive distractions, and with it coinciding with many end-of-academic years all over the world, it's just timing-friendlier.

But what was that you mentioned about cheating? Ah, yes... well, actually, it's not that we cheat. We're just bendy. Technically, if you were following the original NaNoWriMo rules, you would start writing your brand new bestseller (what? I can't be optimistic?) on the first day of the challenge. Then you would write at least 1,667 words every day of the month, and hey presto, you have a Jackie Collins on your hands (merely a reference, not a requirement. Not everyone can write a sex-filled soap opera. Not everyone would even want to write a sex-filled soap opera. But you know what I mean. Whoops. Totally digressed there).

But at BuNoWriMo, we are, as I said, bendy. (Actually, so are a lot of Jackie Collins' characters too, now that I think about it). ANYWHO! Bendy for us is nothing like JC Bendy - bendy for us just means that anything goes (EEK...which is kinda like JC bendy. Perhaps I should have used  another reference *shifty*).

You can sign up for half a month if you can't make the full thirty days. You may only need to write a 30k novella, not a full 50,000 words, but that's fine too! You may have ten thousand words buried in your files - now might be the time to add to it and turn it into a novel!

See how bendy we are? The main goal is to stop you procrastinating and get you to DO something. And you know, I just had my first WriMo novel published, so there is always a future book deal to add as enticement. *winks*

How do you take part?


Just go to our BuNoWriMo  page on Facebook, and request to join. And that's it. So what are you waiting for? Come join the bendies!

20 May 2013

Writers I Wish Would Hurry Up

So before all the writers reading this go yelling at me about lead times and copy edits and hard drive failures, I know, I know, I know, there are many factors that can delay the release of the next book in a series.  Really, I do know.  And I also know that even though I can read most books in a day or less, it's going to be a good year or so between regularly scheduled releases anyway.  But when I'm left hanging in the middle of a trilogy and there's not a peep about when Book 3 is coming out, AND Book 2 was released well over a year ago... I mean, I just wanna know what happens!  And and, we've had a few authors actually stop by here and comment when we mention their stuff, so who knows, maybe this'll pull one or two out of the woodwork for an update.  I can dream, right?  (And the reason there are no cover pictures is because... there are no covers! *grumble mutter*)

Kaza Kingsley - Erec Rex series

I've mentioned these on various posts before, but at the moment am dying to read Book 6.  Except there's not a peep about it that I could find, and Book 5 was released in February 2012.  Nothing at B&N, or Amazon, and nothing on the series site either - hell, that's still saying to pre-order #5.  Unless I'm completely screwy, this sucker is supposed to be an 8-book series.  I know it changed publishers or something between #2 and #3, and I really hope that didn't happen again, because I want to know how this ends.

Elizabeth C. Bunce

Her first novel, a standalone, was excellent (it's a Rumpelstiltskin retelling titled A Curse Dark as Gold).  Then she started a trilogy (I THINK it's a trilogy), and I adored the first two volumes.  But the second (Liar's Moon) was released in November 2011, and there's no sign of the conclusion.  Nothing on her website, and again not a peep at the major book hubs.  Digger (aka Celyn) is such a great character, and I love the worldbuilding going on with this series, so please pretty please I can haz book?

Jaclyn Dolamore

So technically she released a DIFFERENT book (Between the Sea and Sky) after Book 2 in this trilogy, but even that was last year.  It's been 15 months since Magic Under Stone came out, and after that ending, she leaves us hanging?  Not a peep about Erris and Nimira that I found, and as with the others on this list, I'm dying to find out how it all works out.

Lev Grossman

Now him I actually met, and I'd swear he said there was more to come, but here we are well over a year after the release of The Magician King, and... zip.  His blog says he's working on The Magician's Land, so I guess that's the third one, but I would really love to get my hands on it.  And I'm not the only one, I've got several coworkers lamenting the lack of Book 3 as well...

Laini Taylor

Generally speaking, I am not into the whole "angels and demons" thing (don't even go to Dan Brown, seriously), but I really got into Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and then waited and waited for Days of Blood and Starlight, and then it's been all wait wait wait wait BUT!  She updated her blog with, at least, a title for Book 3, and it's Dreams of Gods and Monsters.  And now I want to read it even more!  (And so does my roommate.  If that matters.)

And the two big ones, who do regularly update blogs and do tours and talk to fans and stuff so we know they're working on SOMETHING, and yet and yet and yet:

Patrick Rothfuss - The Kingkiller Chronicles

Kvothe, where art thou?  Seriously, I think at least half of my fantasy-loving geek crowd would sacrifice body parts to get their hands (if they didn't sacrifice THOSE) on Day 3.  And if there's anyone reading this who is not familiar with this series, go read it so you can join us in our angst.  I bang on about worldbuilding, but this one is amazing - completely immersive and believable and with staggering amounts of depth.  Must.  Have.  STORY!!!

George R. R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire

HBO, endless delays, blah blah blah blah WINDS OF WINTER NOW PLEASE.  Do I really need to say anything else?

So what are you dying to read?  And do you know more than I do about any of the above?  It's been a while since we got a good discussion going in the comments, so have at it!

16 April 2013

Marathon Monday... Massacre?!?!

Most years I go out on Patriot's Day to cheer on the runners.  I like the halfway point - 13.1 miles down, and oh-my-god-I-have-this-much-still-to-go? can be a rough place, so what the hell, I go out and hop up and down and cheer them on.  It's hard, running.

But with the earlier start time the past few years, and a later work time for me, and just getting over a fever, well, I went home after work today instead.  Figured I'd check for the results after I'd had some lunch. 

But around 3:00, a strange post popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.  "[Boyfriend] and I are fine," it said.  "Nowhere near the blast."  Blast? I thought.  What blast?  Then another one, from a friend who moved to NYC a few years ago but grew up here in Beantown.  "BOSTON, CHECK IN!" read this one.

So I did what any sensible TV-less person would do and popped up a couple of local news sites on my laptop.  Holy hell, did I regret that decision a few moments later.  Bombs, blood and Boylston may be euphonious in their alliteration but they are NOT a happy combination of words.  I quickly posted my own "I'm fine" message and started checking my own list of friends, especially runners.  No one I know was involved, to my knowledge, and yet this is MY CITY, damnit, you don't go BLOWING UP RUNNERS, or LITTLE KIDS, and you sure as hell don't do it in front of the BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY!!!

Angry much?  Oh yes, I'm angry.  This weird holiday that we celebrate here in Massachusetts, this whole Patriot's Day - Lexington and Concord, anyone?  The Boston Marathon is the oldest in the world - the first one was run in 1897, a year after the first modern marathon was held at the first Olympics in Athens - and you can't just sign up, you have to qualify for this thing.  Inasmuch as this young country HAS history, well, this is it. And to the scumbag(s) who thought they'd blow some stuff up today, I have devised a lovely punishment for you.

All those runners who were forced to abandon the race after the detonations?  The ones who'd been training for months and running for hours and didn't get to cross the finish line because of YOU?  Well, when you're caught, all those runners should be allowed to complete the distance they were denied.  Over your body.  Wearing cleats.

This is Boston.  We're not going to put up with this bullshit.

All was not gloom and horror today, though.  On a personal level, it was rather reassuring to receive numerous texts, calls and messages from people wanting to find out if I was okay.  And my 22-month-old nephew popped out his first sentence today (it was "Daddy, sit down" if you care - closely followed by "Auntie, get down" {yeah, all right, I was up a tree}).  The sheer number of people volunteering to put up runners and family members displaced or stuck here due to the chaos.  The outpouring of support from the rest of the world (even Yankees fans!  You know it's big if they're on board).

But Marathon Monday will never be the same.

20 March 2013

Never Give Up!

Original image

Hello! Remember me? You probably don't, seeing as I haven't contributed a post here for longer than I'd care to admit. But I am still alive, and I wanted to pop by and give you all a motivational message. *nods firmly*

I am a procrastinator, and therefore rarely manage to finish things that aren't important. I finish the stuff that needs to be done, but not so much the stuff that should be done. It's a lifelong habit, and one that I'm never likely to break.

So when I started writing back in - 2004? 2005? - I never really thought that I could ever produce more than a few short stories. Initially I wrote fan fiction. A really bad first one, followed by marginally better ones. I had a place where I posted a number of short stories - no more than a couple of thousand words long - and I had a few longer length stories, which I updated (in)frequently. Now, to understand the severity of my dithering, I will tell you that I only finished four of the longer length stories, and apart from the first one, they all took a couple of years to write. I unfortunately had an equal amount of unfinished works. So my record wasn't that great.

Now, back in 2009, I finally gave in a joined the NaNoWriMo event that everyone was urging me to sign up to. I also started my own blog - and to further demonstrate my procrastinating habit, it is worth noting that in three and a half years, I'm still a couple of posts away from my 300th blog entry. *shifty*


I did finish my NaNo adventure! Which is GOOD!! Though I proceeded to let it collect dust for two whole years, which is BAD. *shifty once more*

You see how my dithering is a problem? But this is supposed to be a motivational post, and this is the bit that I wanted to share with you.

After letting it sit for so long, I went back and tidied up my manuscript. True, I then waited another six months before doing anything with it, but I was on the right track. Back in September last year, I subbed it to a couple of publishers, not expecting anything groundbreaking to happen. I was, of course, correct, and duly heard back from both publishers in January, saying 'thanks, but no thanks'.

So where is this motivational message?? Well, I decided to send out to another four publishers, and if I had the same response, I decided I would overhaul the manuscript before subbing it further. But shock of shocks, I heard back within a couple of weeks, and it was a big fat 'YES'!! This was early in February, and on April 29th, just a few short weeks away, my NaNo baby will be released as an e-book!

Now, you'll notice that I haven't mentioned the title of my book, or any identifying details at all really, because this post isn't about me. Well, technically it is, as I've told you my story (which is, after all, all about me) but I needed to demonstrate the reasoning behind my motivational meanderings. *nods again*

You see, if I can do it, so can YOU!!

So... never give up, and just keep swimming!

11 March 2013

Asian-Inspired Fantasy

Okay, hands up - how many of you have read a fantasy set in some kind of quasi-European-medieval world?  Given the rampant popularity of series like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, probably nearly everyone who reads any fantasy at all, I'm guessing.  But an interesting new trend has been making its way into English-language fantasy in the past few years, and that's worldbuilding inspired by Asian cultures instead, and I for one find it quite refreshing.  Here are a few titles to whet your appetites - feel free to add more in the comments!

Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang - Kylie Chan

Two linked trilogies set in modern-day Hong Kong with more than a little overlay of mythic gods and demons - weekend escape, check!  Australian national Emma Donahoe is hired as the nanny for motherless 4-year-old Simone - and then all hell breaks loose (okay, okay, not ALL hell, just some of the lesser denizens - at least at first).  With ancient Chinese deities like the White Tiger popping over for tea, martial arts like they've never shown in the movies, and a host of very relatable characters populating the roles, these are highly enjoyable Australian imports that kept me flipping pages well past bedtime.

Vessel - Sarah Beth Durst

Durst is an extremely flexible writer (her previous YA title was Drink, Slay, Love - teen vampires AGAIN), and Vessel is set in what feels like a quasi-Mongolian desert society. Liyana is the Goat Clan's chosen representative to host their deity - basically meaning that her mind will die and the goddess possesses her body for the rest of its life.  Nevertheless, she follows all the rituals and preparations, yet when the day arrives, the goddess does not.  Abandoned by her tribe, she is found by a boy whose god DID arrive, who tells her that quite a few of the deities seem to have gone AWOL...  Well-written and highly enjoyable, with a side-plot that seems totally separate until they finally merge.

Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale

More Mongolian-inspired scenery here, with a side of the Brothers Grimm. Dashti, a maid from the lower (or "mucker") class, gets herself walled up in a tower with her mistress, Lady Saren, who has refused to marry - well, a jerk, basically.  Their sentence is for seven years, but after they are abandoned and forgotten, Dashti manages to get them out - and then it REALLY gets good.  This is my favourite of Hale's books (and I think I've read them all, save the graphic novels {I just don't do those}), despite it being one of the few standalones.  So very very lovely.  Go read it.

Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer

While we're on the fairy-tale thing, how about a Cinderella story set in post-WWIV New Beijing? Except Cinderella is a cyborg, and only one of the stepsisters is horrible, and there are androids and plague and oh yeah, there's a whole society on the moon, and boy are THEY scary...  Yeah.  Try to keep up.  This is projected to be a 4-book series, the first two of which are already out (Cinder and Scarlet), each one based on a different fairy tale but part of the same story arc (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White, if you're curious).  The worldbuilding is thorough and very believable, the pacing is fast, and even though you know how those fairy tales end, it's a brilliant ride getting there.

Prophecy - Ellen Oh

It's probably time for a side trip to Korea by now. Kira is niece to the king, bodyguard to her cousin the prince, and generally feared and loathed by the general public for her demon-slaying skills (which no one is really supposed to know about... but everyone knows about).  I really like the premise and the story (with three treasures to find, I'm pretty sure this is going to be a trilogy), but I have to say I wasn't too thrilled with the writing.  The voice was somehow too modern for the setting, and most of the obstacles they faced were overcome a bit too easily for a YA title (Young Reader, okay, but the girl is 17 here).  I'm hoping that gets fixed in the next one, because it's really quite promising, it just fell flat.

City of a Thousand Dolls - Miriam Forster

Here we have a bit of a mashup of Southern Asia and Eastern Asia, complete with a two-child limit per family and a rather novel solution to the dreaded extra-girls problem (note the sarcasm, please).  Orphaned or unwanted female children are dumped off at the City of a Thousand Dolls, and once assigned to one of six houses, they go about their lives learning what they'll need to know to be wives, apprentices, or what-have-you.  Except for Nisha - she's not a part of any house, but the Matron's assistant, who thinks she'll finally be "Redeemed" and get to leave... except wait, murder mystery time!  I do love it when my favourite genres get mixed, and this one has cats thrown in there too, so yep, right up my alley!

Eon - Allison Goodman

Yeah, I've mentioned this one before, whatever, I LOVE IT.  Here our main mythology is inspired by the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, each of which has an energy dragon associated with it.  It's also full of wonderful characters, a hell of a lot of gender-bending, quests and battles and DRAGONS, woo-hoo!  The cripple Eon presents himself as a candidate to be chosen by one of the dragons - except he's a she in disguise, and lo and behold, the Dragon Dragon (aka the Mirror Dragon, who hasn't been seen in centuries) turns up and chooses her.  Cue chaos.  Only two in this "series", but they're amazing.

Throne of the Crescent Moon - Saladin Ahmed

Hey, the Arabian peninsula is still part of Asia.  We've got ghuls (and the guys who hunt them), we've got thieves, we've got murder and mayhem and snotty royals and - okay, I admit it, I haven't finished this one yet (had to take my roommate out for dinner for her birthday, and I forgot to factor that in to my reading time.  Oops.).  So far, though, I'm really enjoying this tale, even if I do have the "Arabian Nights" song from Disney's Aladdin totally running on repeat through my head now.  The writing is very sensory - after I read the first chapter, I just had to go make myself a mug of chai, so be warned.  Warned is probably not the right word here - it's immersive though, which, when there's a foot of snow on the ground outside and a desert in the pages, is just fine with me!

Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff

Okay, I admit I haven't read this one yet, but I'm adding it on the strong recommendation of a trusted friend.  Besides, Japanese steampunk?  Yes please!  It starts off with a pretty polluted Japan (which is weird right off the bat), there appears to be some kind of griffin-like creature, and a kick-ass 16-year-old heroine.  Yep, sounds good to me, sign me up!  Erm, after I finish the previous one on this list.  So I got a little over-ambitious, what else is new?

06 March 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Weaving Dreams

So, I  don't feel comfortable giving writing advice to our readers who are already established authors. I am a fledgling writer and still need more development in organizing my thoughts into a cohesive, coherent and sophisticated fictional tale.  However, I decided to go the other route.  No descriptive paragraphs.  Just pictures.  Just dreams.  Weaving dreams.

Arlington Row, Bibury, UK

26 February 2013

Happy Birthday, Leanne!

DUDE!  Happy birthday!
Look, everybody knows!
even the hedgies...
erm... and him... hummina hummina...
Or the value pack...
All topped off with a viola cake...
Have a fantastic birthday. Leanne!!!