A Favor & Some Fabulous Books

April is quite the month for our corner of the blogosphere! I’ve listed some great books and short stories below. Also, I’m guest-blogging at Smart Pop Books today, asking, “Do You Dare to be Different?” Will you go leave a comment, please? Make me look good?

And if you’re interested, my essay is available for free, for one week: The Domestication of a Vampire Executioner. You can comment on that, too, if you like. The comment form is waaayy on the bottom. I joked on Facebook that they clearly don’t know my commenters are smarter than I am.

In alphabetical order, here are some reads not to miss out on:

Chimes: Charles Gramlich

Chimes is a short horror story, available at Damnation Books. About the book: She should have brought her wind chimes in, she thought, when she heard them ringing in the first gusts of the approaching hurricane. She was sitting on the edge of the bed with her feet fishing for slippers when she remembered. She had brought the chimes in. They were hanging downstairs in her living room, where there was no wind to move them.

Charles’ blog, Razored Zen, is not to be missed, either, and I just ordered his book on writing, Write with Fire.

Eight for Eternity: Eric Mayer & Mary Reed

Eight for Eternity is an awesome read! The history is just fascinating.q I’m almost done with it, so I’ll probably give a more extensive review later. For now, here’s the blurb from Publisher’s Weekly:

Reed and Mayer’s excellent eighth John the Chamberlain mystery centers on the real-life Nika riots, which nearly destroyed Constantinople in A.D. 532. When two prisoners escape police custody, each a member of the two main factions who supported the opposing chariot teams at the races in the Hippodrome, Emperor Justinian sends John, his trusted chamberlain, to investigate. John soon finds the young men’s bodies in the chilly waters of a cistern. Meanwhile, two nephews of a former ruler may provide a rallying point for General Belisarius should he opt to stage a coup as rival political factions wreak havoc throughout the city. Subtle, well-drawn characters, from the ascetic John to the capricious and enigmatic Justinian; deft descriptive detail revealing life in the late Roman Empire; and sharp dialogue make this another winner in this outstanding historical series.

The Tavernier Stones: Stephen Parrish

I just ordered my copy of The Tavernier Stones, by Stephen Parrish. If you’ve read his blog, you know it has to be good! Here’s a shortened bit of what it’s about, but go here for a better overview. And go to tavernierstones.com to win a real diamond!

When the well-preserved body of 17th century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius floats to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, and a 57 carat ruby rolls out of his fist, treasure hunters from around the globe race to find the Lost Tavernier Stones of popular European folklore.

The race spans two continents. The finish line is in Idar-Oberstein, the gemstone capital of Germany. There, in chambers beneath an old church, where unspeakable events took place in centuries past, winners and losers alike find answers to age-old questions about the Lost Tavernier Stones.

Managing Maggie: Kate Sterling

I feel rather unjustifiably proud of this book, because I convinced Kate to submit it in more than one place, LOL. (I’m sure she would’ve gotten there on her own.) Managing Maggie was a bestseller at Cobblestone when it was released!

Maggie was devastated when her husband divorced her because she couldn’t have children, but she eventually moved on and started her own graphic design business. When her business partner Jason indicates he wants their relationship to be personal, Maggie is tempted by the sexy young designer, but she thinks she’s too old for him.

Yet an unexpected encounter featuring fuzzy handcuffs and a pink flogger leaves Maggie feeling he may just be “The One”. She’s riding a wave of happiness until a younger woman shows up claiming to be pregnant by Jason. Can Maggie and Jason’s relationship handle the strain?

The Fallen: Mark Terry

I read The Fallen in an earlier incarnation and loved it. Mark Terry has recently been on a blog tour that’s worth checking out. Some of his greatest blogs ever! From Booklist:

A summit of world leaders convenes at a beautiful Colorado resort just in time to encounter a former government agent gone rogue. Threatening to kill a world leader every hour unless his demands are met, the madman and his team seem impossible to stop. It falls on Derek Stillwater, an agent working undercover at the resort as a maintenance guy, to stop his former colleague. Unfortunately, because most of the people he used to work for believe he is dead and was a traitor, Stillwater must work alone and avoid being seen by both bad guys and good. Tense from the first page, The Fallen maintains its intensity up to the very end, and Stillwater is both a sympathetic and believable hero. Readers of previous Stillwater novels will eagerly wait to see him in action again, and those new to the series will seek out his earlier adventures (including The Serpent’s Kiss, 2009). –Jeff Ayers

Have you read any good books lately? Any favorites?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Books | Tags: ,

What’s Going On?

Glenn’s coming home! I’ve been sitting by the phone. I probably won’t know which day until he’s flown to Anchorage, given the difficulty of phoning from Dutch Harbor. It could be any day (or really, any hour) now.

Good news: Bernita has a new Lillie St. Claire story in Weirdly: Volume 3. Lillie rocks, I’m telling you, totally rocks.

 Smart Pop Books has released excerpts of Ardeur, an essay anthology about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. There are some great essays in there! Mine is “The Domestication of a Vampire Executioner.”

Laurell K. Hamilton guest-edited, and she wrote really awesome and heartfelt intros to each essay. Lots of times, editors write a paragraph, a couple sentences. She wrote a page or two. I have to say, her success is not surprising; the extra mile must be automatic with her.

Speaking of Smart Pop Books, if you’re a fan of Dollhouse, they’re having an essay contest for the Dollhouse anthology.

So I mentioned I’m learning Spanish. The Listen ‘n’ Learn Spanish with the Movies book assigned Eight Below first. Um, YEAH RIGHT. I sobbed the whole way through. And I’m not watching it again, no way no how. I don’t care if I haven’t learned the Spanish I’m supposed to learn from it.

I’m an emotional weakling. The whole time, I knew there was going to be a happy ending for the dogs, but that didn’t help. Nor did the actual happy ending: I sobbed through that, too.

I cry at everything in real life, too. I saw a mean sign a few days ago, and I came home and cried. I was depressed for three days. I felt like running home to a mommy and saying, “He hurt my feelings!”

I have the emotional strength of a five year old. *sigh*

*Addendum: He just called! He’s already to Anchorage; he’ll be here at 11:45 am, Friday morning!

What’s going on with you?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,My Adventures | Tags: , , ,

How I Do Edits

I have a strictly professional crush on my editor. I think she’s fantastic. Since my adventure has gotten blissfully boring to talk about (although I did lose a cat all day today), I thought I’d talk about the way I go through my edits. Not saying it’s interesting, but I’m supposed to be talking about writing once in awhile, no?

There was no letter this time, just a bunch of comments in the essay. Those are easier edits than the overall ones, anyway. I wrote and re-wrote this thing about three or four times. (There are a total of eleven documents to do with this one essay, if that gives you any indicator.) I wrestled with this one, let me tell you. I think if there had been fundamental issues, I would’ve screamed and cried and thrown in the towel.

When I get edits, I do them in passes:

The Easy-Peasy Pass: I tackle the easiest ones first. This is mostly going through, right-clicking, and accepting changes by my editor. Maybe changing a word or deleting a sentence. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it gets rid of a lot of red in one fell swoop.

Ahhh! Much better. Looks like I made a lot of progress.

The Sure! No Problem! Pass: Then there are the little changes, the ones that pretty much make no difference to me. Swap the order of this sentence? Sure! Delete this bit? Gone! Tweak this idea? Easy!

After that, finding the easy edits is hard.

The Procrastination Pass: Nothing actually gets done during this phase, and I keep looking at all the comments I’d rather procrastinate. These are the edits that are going to take some work. I might, um, actually have to write a WORD. Or maybe even a SENTENCE. In a few cases, it might even call for MULTIPLE SENTENCES. And worst of all, sometimes I have to go and LOOK SOMETHING UP. I go through at least once or twice and do nothing, in the hopes that another “easy-peasy” or “sure! no problem!” fix will appear.

After I’ve blogged about doing my edits, after I’ve played with my cats a bit, taken a walk, poured a glass of wine, vacuumed the carpet, fed the cats, and taken a nap, it’s on to…

The Grind Pass: These involve swapping the order of things, adding whole new paragraphs, fleshing out ideas, etc. Ugh. I mean, I have to THINK. I have to drink some coffee. In fact, these can wait until tomorrow morning, right? It’s ten p.m., and I can’t very well drink coffee now, right?

Besides, I had a traumatic day: I thought my cat had gone missing. The squirt was hiding all day. It’s ONLY a twenty-foot camper, and she still managed to curl up in a spot I couldn’t find. She didn’t come out for breakfast!!! I thought she’d escaped through a screen, so I was wandering the campground and crying, trying to find her.

It’s time for wine, not edits!

The Final Smooth: After all the work is done, I have to go through to smooth out the changes. Swapping the order of two sections means I’ll have to see what no longer makes sense. When you start changing words, you suddenly have the same word two times in a paragraph. Ick. Stuff like that. When you change one sentence, the rhythm tends not to fit in the whole paragraph. All has to be smoothed out.

And then it’ll be done!

It’s funny, as I was packing for this adventure, I came across a stack of my essays for my German lit minor. Wow! I was not a natural writer. You wouldn’t believe the stupid mistakes I made! (Of course, most of my essays were written the night before.) I’m astonished the professors gave me A’s. A few of the A’s were presented thus: “Nevertheless, A-”

After this, I have an endless bunch of fiction to write. Ahhh. Nothing like an essay to remind you how much you LOVE fiction.

So how do you do edits? You don’t go in ORDER, do you? LOL! ;-)

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Editing | Tags: , ,

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