Monday, November 30, 2009

The Kitty Softness Smackdown RUMBLE!

It started innocently enough: Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos and I were out for dinner and drinks at a local Thai restaurant and the talk turned to our cats (a shocker, I know). One of us--we can't quite decide who--boasted that her cat was the softest cat EVER. The other insisted that HERS was the softest cat ever. The argument turned heated. (Okay, not exactly heated). But we did know one thing: The kitties needed to settle this thing once and for all!

TIME: Sunday December 6th, in the afternoon
PLACE: Our neighborhood in Minneapolis
MAIN EVENT: Chris and I will walk the six blocks back and forth between our homes petting the cats to decide which is softest.

After that, we will go shopping at Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction bookstore, as that is a thing we like to do.

Place your bets - you could win a book!
Who is the softest kitty? May or Oblio? Or will it be a draw? We will take the winning bets and draw one name, and buy that person a book of their choice from Uncle Hugo's during our outing.

How to play:
1. Leave a comment here or at Stumbling Over Chaos by 10 am CST, December 6 and choose May, Oblio, or Draw.
2. Give the name of a mass market paperback you want us to lovingly buy for you (mystery, scifi, fantasy, urban fantasy, or paranormal romance) that's available at Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore or Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore. (They have pretty much everything current, and a huge used section, so odds are good they'll have what you want. You can poke around their site to check. If there's a title you've been desperately seeking but don't see on their site, list it first and then list a second title, just in case.)
3. Leave your email address if it's not gettable from your profile.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, dudes.

I woke up today feeling very thankful for a lot of things in my life right now, and a big one is this online community of people.

I feel like my life has been so much richer over the past few years because of the warmth and friendship here, and the camaraderie as well as the disagreements. The whole damn thing!

I'm also thankful for all the excellent, exciting, enchanting books I always get to read. It's such a great gift that there is this endless supply of them, and that my fave writers keep writing them. And, of course, there's also Richard Armitage...

Anyway, I hope all my American and worldwide friends have a great day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Trailer Tuesday!

Hey, look! It's Book Trailer Tuesday! This one is dedicated to Orannia, who will be firing up her new computer any day now so she can watch things like trailers.

Okay, check it out, a new trailer, this one for the debut paranormal romance by Skylar White entitled and Falling, Fly.

I thought this was engaging and intriguing. Sometimes I don't like photos of models in trailers, but this one tempers it with interesting art and graphics that have a kind of vintage sensibility. Also, the model shot seems to be the book's cover, magnified a great deal, so hey! Makes sense to use the cover!

A quick trip to the author's website turned up this description for and falling, fly:
...a dark fable of desire between a fallen angel and a self-medicating neuroscientist in a steampunk hell.

Sold! Seriously, is that a wildly enticing description, or is it just me? Anyway, details on the book here.

Book Trailer Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Anastasia of Birdbrain(ed) blog, and anybody can play. Her offering this week is the exciting trailer for Stephen King's latest!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Please Stand By

Have you ever looked at your blog and been like, OMG! Has it been THAT long since I've posted?

Needless to say, things have gotten a bit crazy around here: day job deadlines, novels that won't write themselves and where the heck is that author website I'm lovingly creating? And is that a laundry basket hidden under the pile of clothes? Plants: don't droop. I swear I will water you today.

Just to let you know...I'm still here. In spirit. And blogging will start back up this coming week. Because I have high hopes that I catch up with everything this weekend. I have a grand dream that everything urgent will be crossed off my list.

Happy Saturday, everyone! Do you have special weekend dreams that you hope will come true?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The conclusion of the sleeper series discussion: the Grave edition

Hey! Happy Saturday and welcome to the thrilling conclusion of Renee (Renee's Book Addiction!) and my fawning discussion of An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris, and the Harper Connelly/Grave series in general, with cameo contrasts with other faves: Kat Richardson’s Greywalker/Harper Blaine books and Harris's Southern Vampire (SV) series.
First off, I’ve taken the liberty of blending the synopsis from Barnes and Noble with the PW synopsis to give you a general synopsis of the Harper Connelly/Grave series:

Ever since Harper Connelly survived a zap from a lightning bolt, she's been able to find dead people, a skill that makes the protagonist in the first installment of Harris's new series a tad more bizarre than the mind-reading heroine of the author's Sookie Stackhouse books. She can sense the final location of a person who's passed, and share their very last moment.
The way Harper sees it, she's providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living-but she's used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. She travels with her step-brother Tolliver, who acts as her manager and bodyguard and with whom she shares a thinly disguised physical attraction that they manage to keep at bay by engaging in casual sex with various partners. She's become an expert at getting in, getting paid, and getting out fast. Because for the living it's always urgent-even if the dead can wait forever.

Find part ONE of this discussion is at Renee's Book Addiction.

Part TWO now begins.

Carolyn: You mentioned Kat Richardson’s Greywalker/Harper Blaine books a while back, as a series comparison. I read the first in that series and really loved it and plan to get onto book #2, but you read, I think, all of them! Can you talk about that a little? Compare and contrast?

Renee: I love how the setting of An Ice Cold Grave (AICG) (a harsh winter in a small rural town) was as much an element of threat as was the serial killer.

Kat Richardson’s Harper Blaine series is similar in that she, too, is learning how to negotiate the “otherworld” that she’s aware of, while trying to solve crimes. Like Harris’ Harper Connelly, she’s gained her abilities through a life threatening experience. Both of them are no-nonsense types and loners. And neither of them are kick-ass heroines.

However, what is a really big difference between the 2 series is that Richardson’s Harper is set in a Seattle that is as much a character as any other in the series. Often, the story incorporates details of historic Seattle events or location. And, Richardson does a great job of really bringing Seattle to life. While in Harris’ Grave series, Harper and Tolliver are itinerants, moving from town to town in each book in the series. Setting is also important to each individual story in the Grave series, but that setting is constantly shifting.

Carolyn: That is so true about the settings in both books. I remember that about Richardson’s series so well. The old time Seattle was pervasive, and even claustrophobic. And that’s my experience of the settings in the Grave series. It’s a wonderful effect. I think part of it is that Harper and Tolliver are outsiders wherever they are, and Harper in Richardson’s Harper Blaine series is an outsider to old time Seattle. But I think it’s also a case of great place writing with both of these authors.

Renee: Now, while the Grave series isn’t filled with sexy shifters and vamps like the Southern Vampire series, there is definitely some sexual chemistry floating around. Yet, it’s much more angsty chemistry, imo. What do you think?

Carolyn: How did it take us this long to come around to the sex? LOL. Angsty is a really good way of putting it. Harper and Tolliver are angsty, and I think readers can get angsty about their relationship.

To recap for readers not in the know, Harper and Tolliver were thrown together into a blended family as teens, so there’s a sexual chemistry between them, but also a taboo at work, since they are technically siblings, even though they’re not related by blood, and met as teens. So they are attracted to one another, but one of the questions of the series is if they’ll act on it.

Renee: Yes, I had read somewhere that there was a bit of a squick factor when it came to the potential of their being siblings and possibly being together, but I don’t feel that way. In a lot of ways, they really don’t have anyone else that they could be with. This is partly because they are always moving around, but also I think it’s due the their shared history.

Carolyn: So true! It’s those two against the whole world.

Renee: However, when it came to their relationship, there was such a awkwardness to their emotional and personal dynamics, and IDK if that’s was a deliberate decision on the part of the author or not.

Carolyn: I had zero problem with the potential of them getting together, since they aren’t siblings in any real way. As for physical romance, Charlaine Harris is definitely a “less is more” writer here. Even in the SV series, it’s sexually charged, but there is little sex. I remember feeling like there was a really powerful sex scene in the Sookie/SV books (her and Eric in the shower, then bed) but it was super short. Yet it seemed long because it was so dizzily built up to.

There’s a “less is more” thing in operation here, too. I’m always focused on what will happen between these two, but it’s different from the Sookie-Eric thing because Harper and Tolliver are both more beta than alpha. So, that creates something of a different dynamic. They work so well as characters being oppressed by townspeople, and you root for them, but….ooh, we’ll stop there!

This was so fun, Renee! Another great sleeper series. I’m excited to get the next book, but so sad that it will be the last—we are both mourning that. But, oh well. It’s a quartet, then. A lovely quartet.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Another sleeper series Renee and I love: Harris' Harper Connelly!

Did you ever wonder about that other Charlaine Harris series, the Harper Connelly series? Do you wonder what it's all about? If people like it? If you should try it?

Or if you have read it, do you wonder why other people aren't crazy about it, too? (Or do you not like it? *gasp*)

Head on over to Renee's book addiction, where Renee and I carry on a fun, rambling, and completely spoiler-free discussion of the Harper Connelly series in general, and specifically the last book, An Ice Cold Grave. Plus we manage to bring a few other series into it for comparison.
Of course, as you may or may not know, the final book in this fine quartet, Grave Secret, was released last month. Yay! Neither of us have read it yet, but we're both quite excited.

It's another installment in our Sleeper Series Discussions, where we talk about series that don't quite get enough of the spotlight as far as we're concerned. (Other sleeper series we've embraced: Kelley Armstrong's Nadia Stafford series, and Marta Acosta's Casa Dracula series!)

Come join the fun! The first part is at Renee's today. Tomorrow, the exciting conclusion here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trailer Tuesday - Incarceron!

Wow, this trailer!
It's so simple. Beautiful. I really want to read this book! Of course, I want to read the book from a combo of the trailer and blurb. Which is huge, considering it's YA.

It's interesting, in a way, how this trailer doesn't try to tell all about the book. I think it has to have supporting explanation. But then, no advertising really lives in a vacuum. but this trailer takes that more seriously than others.

The extremely intriguing blurb:

Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.

And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know.

Misc Updates:

If you get a chance, wish my trailer partner, Anastasia, a happy Blogaversary. I don't know if she's putting up a trailer today, but that the prerogative of the blogaversary girl.

Lea: sproutwrangler extraordinaire

Lea of closetwriter has fixed the clock sprout she made, which went haywire over the weekend through some techie mystery. Here it is! Now I have two sprouts again: the clock here, and the other one and at left, what I call the 'sleek sprout.'

Dude poll results:

The results are in! I am officially going to allow myself to say dude and feel okay about it. "People may laugh at you, but who cares?" was the winner, closely followed by the stonewashed jeans-wearing lovers of the word. I love you, dudes!

Hostage Crisis update:

I still haven't found Instant Attraction, and it wasn't in the car, but Jill Shalvis is generously sending me a new one. I can't wait! If and when I find the old, it's contest time! Dust bunnies not included.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is there no limit to the vanity of Carolyn Crane?

So, one of the exciting yet strange things you do as an author is get a picture of yourself taken.

As luck would have it, my sister Deb is a fabulous professional photographer. So we had this whole photo session the last time I went down to the Milwaukee area that involved no less than three costume changes and many lighting options. And I was supposed to bring other author pictures I admire and we tried all these things. It was really fun.

Debbie's warning
One of the things she told me was that, a lot of her clients really want to go the whole Glamourshots route, wanting all sorts of photoshopping beyond sort of normal retouching and color correction, and trying to get themselves to look like models.

She warned me it was important to strike a balance, retouching and color correction and photoshopping is fine, but you want to look like yourself.

Carolyn Crane: Oh, you know me! I would never try to make you do all that stuff!!

Allow me to draw your attention to the top photo: a raw and untouched picture that those in the know felt was right mood for my book. It needed only color correction and maybe tiny retouching.

Carolyn: Deb, I don't have lines bracketing my mouth in real life! Do I? Okay, maybe in some lighting I do, but these seem more profound than normal. Can't I have this moody picture AND no lines?

Deb: Sure, Carolyn. Click click click. Photoshops out the lines.

Carolyn: Wait - what are those lines on my neck and chest? Yes, some of it may be from ill-advised sunbathing and just how a human neck is, and stray hairs, but OMG, can't you get rid of them?

Deb: Click click click. Photoshops out the lines.

And so on, and so forth. LOL. Hmm, will I regret this post?

I really love my photo I ended up with above! Debbie is amazing and brilliant. Her older sister the author, apparently, is TOTALLY vain!

Maybe this post is only funny to me.
I just think it's funny I made Debbie do all that--if you knew me in real life, you would be shocked , because I'm a slobby, sporty kind of person. Like, out of nowhere I suddenly got all fussy and focused on things like side-of-mouth lines. It's a book! Who cares!

Carolyn Crane does, that's who! *g* We took like 90 photos. The bossy older sister author and younger photographer sister is a pretty potent combo.

At left for comparison was the one I sort of most wanted, and I think it more looks like me, (yet better, through the magical lighting of Deb) but nobody liked it for a UF book. However, oh, look, I DO naturally have lines next to my mouth in that one, too. And neck lines. Whatever!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The 9 phases of my Jill Shalvis hostage crisis

Has this ever happened to you: You buy a book. You KNOW you bought it. But you can't find it!

This has been the ongoing situation with me and Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis. Everybody raved about it when it came out and I felt I had to have it. I don't read many contemporaries, AND it was trade, so it was a big thing for me to buy it.

After I buy books, I have this little thing I do where I bring them to bed, which is where I do 90% of my reading, and set them out in front of me and look at the covers and read the back copy and stuff and admire them. So, I remember doing this. I remember the guy's jacket on the front, and that it was a trade edition. And then I put it in my little TBR area under my bedside table, super excited to read it after I finished whatever I was reading at the time. And that's the last I saw of it.

I still really really want to read it, and I think I may want to read other Jill Shalvis books, but I won't know until I read this one, and I can't find this one. And I'm not going to check it out of the library or borrow it from somebody when I own a copy, and I'm not going to buy another copy. It's like the Jill Shalvis portion of my reading life is totally held hostage in an ongoing crisis characterized by distinct and often painful phases:

Denial: That's funny, I thought it was here in my TBR area. Oh, well, it'll turn up. Read sexy vampires instead.

Vague effort: I finish sexy vampires and I'm ready for Instant Attraction. That's funny, I totally thought it was here. Slightly deeper search in TBR area next to bed. Ooh, interplantery travel with smutty interludes! Read sci fi instead.

Annoyance: Finish several books and really crave to read Instant Attraction. WTF? I know it was here. Seach full TBR area, then settle for a book I want to read way less.

Full Dust Bunny Safari: Weeks later, think fondly of plot of IA. Mousey accountant. Hunky snowboarder. Conduct anexhaustive search in sattelite TBR areas, all bookcases, and fully under bed, which has lots of dust. Emerge sneezy and crabby and in the mood for a historical.

Self doubt: How does a book disappear? Where could it be? Am I sure I bought it? Did I look at pictures of it online and it burned into my mind? But, I know I bought it.

Dashed hopes: Months later, while cleaning, spy a book BEHIND a book shelf. I become excited. Instant Attraction? Could it be? No, a C.E. Murphy I already read! Weeks later, light bulb goes off in head. Maybe it is in the suitcase from my trip to Mexico! In an inside pocket! Rush to suitcase. Empty. $#%&.

Bargaining: Maybe if I stop looking for it, it will turn up, or I will suddenly remember where I put it. Drown myself in the charms of all other books except Instant Attraction.

Forgetting: Start forgetting about it, thanks to the charms of the many other fabulous books I read. More new books come out, easing the pain of knowing that book has to be here somewhere.

Anger: I see a great review of Instant Attraction. Where the #&*$ is my copy? I know it's here somewhere! Renewed search of TBR area. Portions of cycle repeat.

Instant Attraction, where are you??????? Mousey accountant. Hunky snowboarder. Both wrestling with demons. The cabin. Sigh. Has this ever happened to you? What book? Where did the book turn up?

**UPDATE**: Jill Shalvis has kindly offered to send me another copy of IA!! (See comments). After some hesitation, I decided to take her up on her generous offer, and do Renee's suggestion and hold a contest for the lost copy when and if it turns hopefully readable condition. Yay!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Trailer Tuesday - zombies! And an unrelated poll

Here's the deal: most genre trailers have photos, often of attractive people, with words floating across, set to dramatic music. And on trailer Tuesday, I always ignore that kind of trailer, even though that's 95% of them. Am I wrong to ignore them? Maybe those are the kinds of trailers that people like. Let me know if you have an opinion on that!

Maybe those are the kind that work. Isn't it funny how everybody always says, well, nobody knows if book trailers really work. Nobody knows what to think of book trailers. With this Trailer Tuesday meme, which it seems only two people on the planet are doing - Anastasia of Bird Brained Blog and I - it's as if we are exploring uncharted territory! Dudes, we are like Star Trek.

This trailer, and bear with me, I know it's a zombie thing and not everybody likes zombies, but it's really cool. It has words and music and photos, but the photos move to the beat of the music in a way I really like. And the words are minimal. I found this trailer enjoyable to watch because of the way these three elements work together.

Did you notice how I said the word 'dudes' up there in the sentence, "Dudes, we are like Star Trek!" You don't know how many times lately I have written dude, and then deleted because, who says dude anymore? It's a 1990's thing. I wasn't saying dude back in the 1990's, but suddenly it's almost 2010, and I want to say it. All the time!

It's kind of weird. What has gotten into me? I have never been a dude person! Ooh, maybe this post will break me of it. Anyway, poll at left. Please advise.