Sunday, May 30, 2010

The gloomy freaky town in Aguirre's Hell Fire

Great Moments from Last Night's Reading
Book: Hell Fire by Ann Aguirre
Page: 20
Spoiler level: nil

I just started Ann Aguirre's Hell Fire, and I'm loving it, and especially the freakass town of Kilmer, Georgia. It's in the middle of nowhere, and there's this gloomy "tunnel of trees" that our heroes, Corrine and Chance, drive through to get there. The drive there was cool, because it added to my feeling of the place being walled in by nature, somehow. Isolated. Strange. And when you get there, things are decrepit. The library seemed not to have been updated since 1967; it didn't even have PC terminals.

I found that, oddly, creepiest of all. I guess that shows where my values are. So, I'm excited about the sense of menace from the town. I always like when place is a strong character. A snippet:
It was weird and eerie, how little this place had changed. In some way, Kilmer struck me as the town time forgot. There were no restaurant chains, no big stores, not even a single Micky D's. Common sense offered "no money to be made" as the reason, but I wondered if there was more to it. The lack of modern touches seemed unnatural, creepy, rather than comforting. This small town offered the feeling of "I know where you live" instead of the security of recognizing all your neighbors.
LOL. ...the feeling of 'I know where you live' instead of the security of recognizing all your neighbors.

Right around this page, they contact a pal on the outside and asked him to look a few things up about Kilmer, and they are shocked to learn that the town doesn't exist when you search for it on the Internet.

It says as much on the back cover of the book - that Kilmer doesn't seem to exist to the outside world - but I hadn't read the back stuff, so when I got to this part, I was like, Whoa!!! Chills! That, specifically, was my great moment in last night's reading.

Oh, you know what is weird that I just realized? Ann Aguirre also brings place to life hugely in her Sirantha Jax outer space series, with Grimspace being actually kind of like a place that is a living being. Or at least, that was how I related to it.

A lot of the authors I love bring place to life in a huge way. Jill Shalvis certainly does it in her Wilder series. And Jill Sorenson does it in her books, especially Set the Dark on Fire. I'm trying to think of other books that have such a strong sense of place, like where it's a character. Can anyone think of others?

Town Square photo is Gallitin, TN, by Ichabod, from wikimedia commons

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Copy edits done & Release Day Mayhem!

Well, yesterday afternoon I sent off one very dog-eared and marked-up hard copy of Double Cross to Random House. Woo hoo! As a treat, and this is how pathetic and workaholic I am, I had been planning on playing my favorite computer game I never have time to play, Super What Word! but instead, I spent like two hours trying to fix my broken email program, which eventually involved paying Apple $50 for help desk services. Then, my celebration continued with my husband and me ordering a pizza and watching an episode of my favorite new show, Breaking Bad. Yeah!

While I had my nose the the keyboard, all hell broke loose! Look at all these releases!!

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane. I’m into the anti-heroine in a big way, so of course I’m super psyched for the fabulously controversial Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane! I absolutely love the idea of an urban fantasy heroine wrestling a dangerous addiction in addition to paranormal baddies. It's this kind of risk-taking that makes urban fantasy the vibrant, healthy genre it is.

blurb: The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

Cheat the Grave by Vicki Pettersson. So many of my friends clutch these Zodiac books to their readerly hearts professing their undying love, and now that I've begun this awesome series, I totally get why! WTF was I waiting for? Because it's awesome!

I’m feeling super confident about my glom, too, because people freak out more over every installment, and this just-released #5 is apparently cranking things in a total OMG direction.

“WOW. Cheat the Grave was by far my favorite in the Signs of the Zodiac series by far! City of Souls was awesome, but Cheat the Grave goes far beyond that!” ~Jessica of A Great Read.

Las Vegas socialite and otherwordly avenger Joanna Archer gave up everything when she embraced mortality—abandoning her powers and altering her destiny to save a child . . . and a city. Now her former allies are her enemies—and her enemies have nothing to fear. Yet still she is bound to a prophecy that condemns her to roam a nightmare landscape that ordinary humans cannot see and dare not enter. And a beast is on her trail—an insane killer blinded by bloodlust, who's determined to rip much more from Joanna than merely her now-fragile life. Survival is no longer an option in this dark realm where good and evil have blurred into confusing shades of gray—unless she can gather together an army of onetime foes and destroy everything she once believed in.
Psst: right now, the first book of the series, Scent of Shadows, is a free download. More about that

His at Night by Sherry Thomas. I snagged an advanced copy of this baby at RT and ate it up and loved loved loved it! This thing is delicious, delightful fun, start to finish. Full write-up later, but for now, grab it!

Elissande Edgerton is a desperate woman, a virtual prisoner in the home of her tyrannical uncle. Only through marriage can she claim the freedom she craves. But how to catch the perfect man?

Lord Vere is used to baiting irresistible traps. As a secret agent for the government, he’s tracked down some of the most devious criminals in London, all the while maintaining his cover as one of Society’s most harmless—and idiotic—bachelors. But nothing can prepare him for the scandal of being ensnared by Elissande.

Forced into a marriage of convenience, Elissande and Vere are each about to discover that they’re not the only one with a hidden agenda. With seduction their only weapon—and a dark secret from the past endangering both their lives—can they learn to trust each other even as they surrender to a passion that won’t be denied?

Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur. Another awesome series and a Crane fave is the Riley Jensen series - dark, sexy, yummy, and thrilling. My pal and hugely discriminating UF and PNR conneisseur Nicola, who is a book ahead of me in it, calls this one her “MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK in more than a year.” Check out her letter to Arthur.

This is the last book about Riley Jenson, paranormal crime investigator who is part-werewolf and part vampire. Will Riley’s dreams come true? Keri? Please??!!

blurb: Shape-shifting werewolf and vampire Riley Jenson is through with death—causing it, solving it, surviving it. Her soul mate, Kye Murphy, is dead—and at Riley’s own hands. Not even the seductive embrace of her vampire lover, Quinn, can fully ease her mind, for she has begun questioning everything that makes her Riley—including her job at the Directorate.

Now, the ritualistically slain bodies of ex-cons have started turning up. Reluctantly, Riley takes the case, but something even worse is waiting in the wings. A vicious enemy from her past is determined to strip Riley of everything that gives her life any meaning: her lover, her brother—and even her own identity. Can Riley survive this ultimate assault? All she knows is, she must fight one last time to find answers, before everything goes dark forever.

Demon Princess: Reign Check by Michelle Rowen. The second book in the fabulous Demon Princess series came out, too! Watch out, fairy king!

“Sassy and smart, engrossing and exhilarating! Rowen’s tale of forbidden love and staying true to one’s self (even if you have horns) will have readers screaming for more.”
—Heather Brewer, author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Blurb: Enter the world of Nikki Donovan, a demon princess hell-bent on living a normal teenage life! Nikki Donovan has had a lot to deal with since learning she was half human, half demon. But things take a darker turn when Rhys, a gorgeous — but potentially dangerous — faery king enrolls at her high school to investigate Nikki’s potential for fulfilling an apocalyptic prophesy. Nikki knows she’d never turn violent, and she certainly couldn’t destroy the world…could she?

Of course, all Nikki really wants is to be reunited with Michael, a Shadow creature whose status as her personal servant is further complicated by their undeniable attraction to each other. Even though the rules of the Shadowlands strictly forbid their romance, Nikki is determined not to let Michael go. But when she is summoned to the Underworld to appear before a demon council, it will take all her courage — and perhaps a bit of demon-level strength — to get herself out again.

A Bad Day For Sorry by Sophie Littlefield. Can I love this title any more? How about the plot? A small town woman/sewing shop owner who metes out justice on behalf of battered women. And then a mystery catches her up. I met Sophie at RT, and she is friendly and smart, and wow, I am so excited to read her award winning debut. For sure a name to watch!

Stella Hardesty dispatched her abusive husband with a wrench shortly before her fiftieth birthday. A few years later, she’s so busy delivering home-style justice on her days off, helping other women deal with their own abusive husbands and boyfriends, that she barely has time to run her sewing shop in her rural Missouri hometown. Some men need more convincing than others, but it’s usually nothing a little light bondage or old-fashioned whuppin' can’t fix.

Since Stella works outside of the law, she’s free to do whatever it takes to get the job done---as long as she keeps her distance from the handsome devil of a local sheriff, Goat Jones. When young mother Chrissy Shaw asks Stella for help with her no-good husband, Roy Dean, it looks like an easy case. Until Roy Dean disappears with Chrissy’s two-year-old son, Tucker. Stella quickly learns that Roy Dean was involved with some very scary men, as she tries to sort out who’s hiding information and who’s merely trying to kill her. It’s going to take a hell of a fight to get the little boy back home to his mama, but if anyone can do it, it’s Stella Hardesty.

Author Sophie Littlefield possesses all the verve and confidence of a seasoned pro. This debut novel rings true at every heart-stopping turn, utterly bewitching us with its gutsy, compassionate voice and boasting some of the most captivating, complex characters in crime fiction today.

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead was actually released last week, and it shot up to #1 on the USA Today Bestseller chart. Yay! This book is #5 in the famed and fabulous Vampire Academy series. Richelle Rocks!

Blurb: After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin.

But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere. She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him . . . forever.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Somebody's got mysterious mail

Everybody's favorite 4,000-year-old succubus, a. k.a. Jezebel, got something mysterious in the mail! What what what could it be?

Jackie Kessler is serializing Book 4 of the fabulous Hell on Earth series, entitled Hell to Pay, and the prologue is up now. OMG, Helles Belles was one of the first urban fantasies I read, and it remains one of my favorite. The whole series rocks. I'm so psyched Miss Prolific is doing this #4 online.

So okay, what is Jezebel's first EVER piece of mail as a flesh-and-blood mortal? What is the deal? Why is it so mysterious?

I'm not telling. Go see for yourself.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I am sorry.

Here, for your inspection, a scan of my calendar.

Yes, I keep track of stuff on an actual wall calendar, though I don't actually keep it on my wall. Because you know, that would be unwieldy.

This is Saturday the 15th showing here, which is tomorrow. It seems that tomorrow is Armed Forces Day. It also seems that there is something else going on. If only I had written it legibly.

OMG, YOU CAN'T IMAGINE HOW BADLY I want to know what that says right now!!!

I remember looking at this entry on my calendar back on Tuesday and thinking, what the hell does that say? I couldn't figure it out at the time, but I thought that, as the days marched on, it would come to me. Because sometimes that happens.

Last night it was sort of starting to haunt me, because I'm actually a responsible person, though my promo activities on top of my day job and novel writing life has degraded that a bit.

Now it is Friday night, and I still don't know what it says. I did an email search to try to uncover a clue. Nothing. Can you read it? I suspect that first word is write. Part of me wonders if it's a guest post that I'm unknowingly blowing off. Though it might be a poorly scribbled "meet." Should I be showing up somewhere? Uh! Whatever it is, it's likely not happening.

If you are the person I'm letting down: I really was sincere when I agreed to do this thing! I wrote it on my calendar so that I wouldn't forget. The deadline or agreed-upon time is coming up here, or maybe it's passed, and here you are at my blog totally thinking I blew you off. I didn't mean to!! You don't know how long I have staring at this entry, but I can't decipher it. I feel really bad, because you were probably counting on me. I'm not the kind of person to blow things off! Can we reschedule? Is this reschedulable? Please email me. Let me make it up to you!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Should a prequel be the new #1 of a series?

I believe in reading series in order more than ever now that I'm writing a trilogy. I'm on book three, and of course it needs to stand on its own--most writers try to make it so you don't have to read their books in order--but OMG for the love of all things holy, don't read mine out of order! ahem. Actually, that's not what this post is about.

This post is about prequels. Do you consider a prequel the new book #1 of a series? How about a movie?

Movies. Should a new watcher go prequel first?
There are now a whole lot of Star Wars movies out. Should a new viewer watch them in chronological story order, starting with prequels? Or is it still more fun to watch them in the order they came out, with the prequel adding dimension to the main story?

I was thinking about the Terminator movies here, too, trying to decide which technically goes first, until I remember mindf&%$ing myself years ago on that same subject. John Conner sends his friend back in time to protect his mother from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and then his friend and his mom sleep together and his friend becomes his father...then blood starts dripping out my ears. Terminator has no beginning!

But there is a definite chronological prequel to Star Trek--namely, the fabulous movie that came out last summer. It would be weird to watch that Star Trek movie before you watched the classic episodes. But that's more an eras thing. (sorry about the Chris Pine pic. It's from my Amanda guest post yesterday. I guess I'm too lazy to get a new one.)

The second Godfather movie went into the Godfather's childhood, and actually, my mother in law actually edited her own version (in the VHS days!) so that she had a Godfather saga in total chronological order, starting with young Vito Corleone on the rooftops. I think that's totally funny of her, but sort of cool. But how would that change a first-time viewer's experience of the story?

Why I was thinking about this in the first place.
I was wondering the other day if anybody read Men of the Otherworld before Bitten. These are two of my fave-ever books, both by Kelley Armstrong. Werewolves. So amazing.

came out in 2004 or something. It's sort of werewolf Elena's story, and Men trickled in as shorts on Armstrong's site before being compiled into a book in 2009. The shorts are all what happened way before Bitten. A lot of Men centers around Clay, who, I'll just say, is linked to Elena, and the stories about Clay really add a lot of richness to Bitten, but is it richness in hindsight? Would you get more good richness by reading Men first? Or is it best to read them in the order that Kelley Armstrong released them?

Bitten: the entrance of Clay
Sometimes a character's entrance is so powerful for me, and this wasn't an exception with Clay. One of the most enduring images in Bitten, for me, is that of Clay waiting by the gate when Elena arrives at Stonehaven (werewolf pack-leader Jeremy's mansion). When you read it, you don't even know who Clay is. He's this guy waiting for her.

In this passage, Elena's cab approaches the gates.
A figure sat on the grass, ankles crossed as he leaned against the stone wall. Clayton.
The driver squinted, trying to make out the house in the dark, as blind to the brass nameplate as to the man waiting by the gate. The moon had gone behind a cloud and the coach lamps at the end of the drive were unlit.
"I'll get out here," I said.
"Uh-uh. No can do, miss. It's not safe. There's something out there."
I thought he was referring to Clay. "Something" was an apt description.
Clay seems so menacing in this first view. I really, really didn't like him. Then, a paragraph or so later:
The driver's eyes went to the side window and he jumped in his seat. "Jesus!"
Clay had left his post at the gate and materialized at my window. He stood there, watching me, a slow grin lighting his eyes. He reached for the door handle. The driver put the car in gear.
"It's okay," I say with deep regret. "He's with me."
I remember so badly wanting her to get away from him! I trusted and liked Elena by this point in the book, and definitely did not like Clay. Anyway, Elena then gets out of the cab (before Clay can "make a scene") and starts walking up the lane to the house.
I didn't dare ask Clay what was going on. That would mean engaging him in conversation, which would imply that I wanted to talk to him. With Clay, even the simplest overtures were dangerous. As much as I wanted to know what was happening, I'd have to hear it from Jeremy.
What's interesting is that if you read Men of the Otherworld first, you get this whole saga of Clay as a feral, abandoned, but intelligent child werewolf, struggling in the wild, and later, through all kinds of pack and family trouble. A good-hearted underdog. You'd be on Clay's side.

But here in Bitten, when Elena treats Clay so harshly, if I'd read it after Men, I might be like, WTF does Elena have against Clay? I wonder if it would put me off of Elena, until I got their whole story. Or would it?

I'm rambling. Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe when a writer builds a huge world of books, as Armstrong has, she loses a bit of control over how people experience it. You don't experience people chronologically, outside of family, usually. In fact, I think in life, people experience stories that aren't their own out of chronological meet somebody, become friends, then learn about their history.

Anyway, prequels. What do you think?
When a prequel comes into being, covering the time before an established series, should that be book #1 to a new reader? Is it smart to read it first? Or not? Oh, and if you haven't read either of these two books? Oh, do! In whatever order.

WIN! You can win lots of nifty prizes, including a copy of Mind Games if you so choose, at Amanda's. Stop by and enter and wish her a happy b-day!
You can also win a copy of In and Out at Chris' place, Stumbling over Chaos!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

bash, book release, breaking bad and bookmarks

Hey, I'm over at Amanda's (aka Not-really-Southern-Vamp-Chick) for her big birthday bash! For her birthday gift, I consulted a psychic to see what would happen to her in the upcoming year. The results may surprise you. I'm also giving away great RT swag and a signed FERAL WARRIORS book I got there. (I was going to give away my book, too, but I'm all out, except for a totally wrecked copy.) Anyway, go say hi. Also, you can enter a ton of celebratory giveaways!!!

Release on Friday!
Check check check it out! My pal LB Gregg's fourth installment of the Men of Smithfield series releases on Friday! LB Sez: "This is a different book for me. A little slower. A little longer. A little deeper. More sex." More here. Or go see why it's Jenre's favorite here!!

My new fave TV series
Is anybody else watching Breaking Bad? I can't believe how good this show is. It's a about a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with lung cancer and he starts a meth lab with one of his former students, and turns into this criminal. OMG. But don't say anything about what's coming - I'm only starting the second season through Netflix.

Bookmarks and stickers
Hey, anybody who wants Mind Games/Double Cross bookmarks, or Little CJ stickers, or Miss Doreen stickers, email me your address (carolyn at and say which items you want. Woo hoo! Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Post about nothing!

Okay, I had to get that picture of me off the top of my blog. Do you ever have that where you're like, I have to get rid of that post, but you have nothing to say?

This is a post replacing the post below. Most people actually wait until the have something to say, but not me! No sir!

It's sort of weird, because I was looking forward to getting back to normal blogging. My intense month of blog hopping after the publication of Mind Games was really fun and furious, but very like any great vacation - so exciting to go on, lots of memorable moments and new people I enjoyed connecting with, but it's nice to get back to what's familiar. And to me, that's blogging here. Weirdly, I feel tongue tied. Maybe this is me, easing into it.

Anyway, I hope all the mothers out there have a wonderful Mother's day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RT 2010 Roundup

Oh, wow, okay, I'm back from the RT book lovers' convention in Columbus, which is a giant gathering of romance, fantasy, mystery, urban fantasy, thriller, erotica, and a few sci fi authors, plus readers and industry!
One of my favorite parts of the convention was rooming with Lisabea (aka LB Gregg) We loved rooming together, or at least I loved it, and we agreed on almost everything except she wouldn't let me dental floss in bed.

I was so happy to meet friends I've known forever online, and make some new ones. Here's Mary, Nath, Jill D., and Kristie J.! We all met for lunch the day this was taken, and rendezvoused here and there throughout the convention. I also got to meet Angela of Dark Fairie Tales and Jackie of Literary Escapism. We huddled on some stairs for a while and chilled out and ate party food.

I shared a cab from the airport with the lovely Diana Rowland, author of everybody's favorite demon police procedurals. Diana brought along creepy doll, a scary, zombie-esque doll who freaked everybody out, and even showed up in Jackie Kessler's bed.

Here are Dakota Cassidy and Mark Henry being a zombie family! Don't buy the scary act: they are two of the funniest and warmest people I ever met. And Dakota won a Reviewers' Choice award for her wonderful Kiss & Hell. Yay Dakota! Another fellow leaguer, Michelle Rowen, won for Tall, Dark & Fangsome.

Ellora's Cave had a ball the first night, and the stage show was super racy, though I understand it was toned down from last year, and the party favors went right along with that. Exhibit one: the calendar that Jaye Wells is displaying here; I brought home mine as a gift for Chris. Also pictured: Kat Richardson and Mark Henry. Everybody in the League of Reluctant Adults really welcomed me and helped make the convention fun - those pictured on this post, as well as Nicole Peeler, Mario Acevedo, Jeanne Stein, Caitlin Kittridge, Michele Bardsley, Michele Rowen, and Jackie Kessler. As well as Heather Osborn.

Me signing a book! Okay, this is one I didn't take. Lisabea, did you send this to me? The signing was SO fun. I got to meet all kinds of new people, and people who'd read Mind Games (xxoo!!) or who'd been waiting for this con to pick up a copy (xxoo) You can't know what all that meant to me! Also, Keri Arthur stopped by and bought one of my books! I signed it for her. With a shaking and fawning hand.

At the fairy ball. Poor Mr. Romance 2009 thinks he's alone...little does he know,
five lovely and evil fairies have snuck up behind him.

Here is Lisabea/LB Gregg and me before the Fairy Ball. You wouldn't know we worked pretty hard on these costumes. We were sewing for like 30 minutes before the ball. My dress didn't quite work out, but I was the element of fire, and she was water. (That was the theme.) Somebody in the elevator called my dress a rag dress. Also, note that LB looks pregnant, whereas in real life, she is quite svelte. Get a good look at this picture; she'll make me take it down as soon as she sees it. Too late: cropped the picture. Sorry LB. Why didn't I do that in the first place? Will you still be my friend?

Oh, here we are in the elevator where my dress was impugned.

Miss author at her signing. Yay LB Gregg!

The lovely, talented, fun and RT award-winning Kate Davies sat across from me at the signing. She won a Reviewer's choice award for best contemporary for her fabulous book, Lessons Learned, two stories about royals and the Americans they fall in love with. I met so many authors, it would be hard to name them all. People were just so generous with their time, and welcoming me to do stuff, even though I'm a newbie and a stranger, and answering my questions, sharing their potato chips and on and on.

Oh, what is this? A book that I got that I am currently reading that is the BEST BOOK EVER and is also not available until May 25th, but I got this advanced copy in the goody room. OMG! So into it. HIS AT NIGHT by Sherry Thomas. Preorder now. You won't be sorry.

Here is Stacia Kane, author of the fabulous Megan Chase/Demon books reading something saucy to a hotel room of drunk and/or chocolate-fueled authors and others. Richelle Mead in the foreground with the excellent purse. Gah! Spacing on the name of the woman with the camera, dammit, and she was really nice. Update: mysterious and elusive camera woman is Renee George! Thanks for the tip, fellow leaguer STACIA KANE!

Here is Limecello and Ali at the fairy ball. Oh, wait, it's not them at the fairy ball! Limecello would not allow cameras near her, so you'll have to settle for these shots, that may look familiar to some of you. These two were fun.