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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Fun Meeting with Superwench- IRL!

Yesterday evening, I met our own Superwench–aka Katie Lovett–in person as she passed through town on her way to the RWA convention. I kept her kids up entirely too late as we chatted about such things as our favorite books, our favorite author bloggers (Jim Hines and Lisa Shearin), publishing in general, and just about everything except book reviewing. We reminisced about “meeting” on Rachel Vater’s blog, where we both participated in the same hook contest. (I’d point you to the post, but unfortunately her blog has not been active and LiveJournal suspended it.)

I gave Katie a ton of my business cards for her to pass out at RWA. If you see her, ask her for one!

Speaking of printing, I’m trying to decide whether to have bookmarks or postcards printed. I’m not printing very many–just 250 or so. I’ll give a hundred to my mom and pass out the rest. I’m leaning toward bookmarks because they’re bookish and they might be used indefinitely, thus reminding the reader every once in a while to check my site and see what else I’ve come up with. What do you think? Also, if you want me to send you some, please let me know.

Informal Posting Mode

You probably noticed that my posts have been a bit informal lately and that will likely continue for the next few weeks. I’m trying to finish my second novella for Accidental Enchantments, and I want to be able to submit it by the end of August. And I want it to be good so Carina Press will want it. So my reading is very light these days. And this blog is sort of all about my reading, after all.

However, I will continue to post informally like I have been doing. So I’m not on hiatus or anything. If you’re looking for a new debut, they are always in my sidebar, under Debut Calendar.

I’ve also been kind of busy getting ready for the Harlequin author party, which I am thrilled to be attending next weekend. To that end, I arranged for overnight babysitting, got a hotel room, got a haircut, got a dress, got a tie for my husband (to match my dress, of course) and I guess I’m done with the prep for that. Except I don’t have any kind of evening handbag, and I was DONE with shopping by the time I picked out the dress and tie this afternoon. (I’m not a shopping kind of girl. I’m more of a reading kind of girl.) I will blog all about the party next Sunday.

I’m also working on a new website photo, since the one on my site is about five years old. I tried having my husband take some pictures this morning and while I was reasonably happy with them, I was so squinty-eyed in the bright sunshine that you couldn’t see my eyes. I still have the makeup on (an unusual occurrence for me), so I might get ambitious enough to try again this evening.

So that’s what is coming up this week. Nothing exciting, but hopefully fun, anyway.

Giving Ebook Gifts: Impossible to do Legally?

My mother is a proud mother, and like any proud mother, she wants to get my novella into the hands of all her friends and family. Which is a considerable number of people. After we had a small lesson in ebook piracy, she asked if she could buy numerous copies of my book and send them to her friends. I told her that I was sure she could.

Apparently, I was wrong.

I decided to look into this right away, because she’s gonna want to do this. But every ebookstore I looked at–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, ebooks.com, MobiPocket, Kobo, Sony, iBooks–had either no possible way to buy an ebook gift, or you had buy a gift certificate. (Except WowIO, which uses its own proprietary format to support advertising). Check this out from Fictionwise’s FAQ:

Can I order multiple copies of an eBook?
Since you can download your eBooks as needed, there is no reason to buy multiple copies. If you wish to buy an eBook for a friend, check out our Gift Certificate and Gift Pack page.

Um, yes there is a reason to buy multiple ebooks. Because you want to legally distribute them to multiple persons.

This seems to me to be a grave oversight. It may have been done on purpose to protect the publisher or author, but from a consumer point-of-view, it makes no sense. I can understand DRM issues and the desire for companies like Amazon to know what is going into Kindles, but to have no support at all for giving ebooks as gifts seems to be simply asking for piracy to happen.

Why? Because well-meaning mothers of authors have no way to send the book to their friends except illegally. If my book had come out in print, my mother could have gone to the store, bought all the copies, and handed them out. She could have ordered twenty copies from Amazon. But there is simply NO WAY for her to do this with an ebook, at least legally.

I ask you, why? Book industry, you need to figure this out.

A Fun New Blog and a Free eBook!

I have a fun new blog to bring to your attention, the brand-new Smart Girls Love SciFi Blog. Charlie, the proprietress, is a member of my RWA chapter, so I actually know her in real life. (Or, I will at our next meeting, I’m sure.) Here’s her blog:

Smart Girls Love SciFi

What she has done so far is very fun and promising!

I’ve also been asked to give a shout-out for Daniel Rabuzzi‘s The Choir Boats, which is available as a free download for the month of July. There’s still time! It’s WOWIO’s Book of the Month. Here’s a tidbit from the promo:

“Reviewers describe it as “Gulliver’s Travels crossed with The Golden Compass and a dollop of Pride and Prejudice,”  and “a muscular, Napoleonic-era fantasy that, like Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, will appeal to both adult and young adult readers.”  The Choir Boats was selected by January Magazine as a Top Ten YA Novel for 2009.”

I’ve already downloaded it; now I need to zap it into my nook.

As-I-Read-It Review-ettes

I present you with a blast from the past — some as-I-read-it reviews of the various novels I’m sampling.

Bewitched and Betrayed by Lisa Shearin

Wow; that Sarad Nukpana just doesn’t stop–not even when he’s dead. He’s turned up badder and more diabolical than before, and Raine, of course, is his target. He just loves to torture Raine. And he wants to torture her as much as he can before he absorbs her soul, her powers, and most important, her link with the Saghred.

Ugh! That’s a problem!

Bewitched and Betrayed is the fourth novel in the Raine Beneres series, which includes Magic Lost, Trouble Found, Armed and Magical and The Trouble with Demons.

What I admire about this series is Ms. Shearin’s ability to keep it fresh. Just when I think I’m getting a bit tired of a certain plotline, Ms Shearin throws a twist in there that snares my interest anew.

A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

I really haven’t gotten any further with this novel because I started reading Lisa Shearin’s. It’s a bit slow going for me. More on this one later.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

I’m done! Review in August, because that’s when it comes out.

Bloodgate Guardian by Joely Sue Burkhart

I read the first chapter and while it was exciting, it didn’t hook me as much as I wanted. It is all about this guardian who was awakened by this old man (an archaeologist) performing this ritual that he really shouldn’t have performed. With disasterous consequences. In the second chapter, cut to the old man’s daughter, who is breaking up with her boyfriend for stealing her archaeological research. Intellectual property theft–I can relate. But I really didn’t get totally hooked until the end of the second chapter, when it is revealed that the daughter doesn’t feel like her father ever really loved her–that he’s just using her for her research talents as well.

Ok, now I’m hooked. And then, Chapter three gets into where the daughter receives this secure video email from her father that shows him doing the ritual from Chapter One. So yeah, I’m still reading.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

What’s this doing here? I downloaded this onto my iPod touch back in December, and I’ve been reading it paragraph by paragraph ever since. It’s a fun novel, aimed squarely at the 12 to 14 set, but suitable for all ages. Who couldn’t love Anne? I did have a hard time with the ending, because I thought things were winding down, but then it just kept going on. Pacing seemed uneven. And once Anne went away to the Queen’s school, it became almost all Telling and not Showing. And the resolution with Gilbert could have been more satisfying. Still, this novel was just enchanting, and I can certainly see why it became a classic.

Now I want to watch a movie version, but they don’t seem to be readily available. I’ll probably try to see what Amazon has; I think my daughter would like it.

I’m not going to bother reviewing it, but I did enjoy it enough to download the next book to my touch (not my nook).

~*~

I kinda miss doing these as-I-read-it reviews. I don’t know why I stopped; I did this all the time with Fantasy Debut. I think I started getting All Serious about reviewing, which if course is Not As Fun. So, when I decide upon one of the above (or something else, entirely!), I’ll continue to review As I Read it.

Quick Novella Update

Yesterday, I got the final version of my blurb (below), my release date (September 27th), and approval for my series title, Accidental Enchantments! Here’s the blurb (with the cover for the full effect):

~*~


Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?


Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.


Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?

~*~

I also got entirely too absorbed with learning just how much I don’t know about design by browsing the website for the cover artist of The Sevenfold Spell, CrocoDesigns. Um, I think I need better software. And a few classes.

And finally, over at Goodreads, enterprising user Enna Isilee (love her name) made a Goodreads entry for The Sevenfold Spell! I didn’t know you could do that! So if you want a little reminder to read it (as if haunting this blog wouldn’t be enough), you could always put it on your Goodreads bookshelf.

Tia Nevitt’s books on Goodreads

The Sevenfold SpellThe Sevenfold Spell

ratings: 10 (avg rating 0.0)


Historical Series Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation 1-4


The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Volumes 1 – 4
by Lauren Willig
Signet and NAL

Historical Spy Romance

Reviewed by Superwench83.

Several years ago while doing research on Ireland, I stumbled upon a historical romance about spies on a mission in Ireland. At the time, I still suffered from the misconception that historical romances were nothing but sappy dialogue and purple prose—a misconception based on one bad experience. (Yes, I should have known better.) But I figured this book might help with my research, and that the spy angle might make it interesting, so I read it. And promptly put the rest of the series on my to-read list.

Lauren Willig’s popular series about Napoleonic-era spies begins with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and continues with The Masque of the Black Tulip, The Deception of the Emerald Ring (that’s the Ireland one), and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. It features Eloise Kelly, an American grad student working on her dissertation. That work has brought her to England, where she hopes to uncover the identity of the Pink Carnation, an English spy who thwarted Napoleon and his men in their attempts to bring England to its knees. Standing in Eloise’s her way is Colin Selwick, the handsome but overprotective guardian of the papers she needs to uncover the Pink Carnation’s identity. Interweaving Eloise’s story through the narratives, each novel is a two-for-one: a daring adventure of spies and romance, plus another chapter in Eloise and Colin’s struggle…and their own chance at love.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation features Colin’s ancestor, Richard Selwick, a notorious English spy known as the Purple Genitian. He is good at what he does, and he doesn’t like when people get in the way of him doing his work…which means Amy Balcourt and her cousin Jane aren’t his favorite people on the earth. Intent on becoming a spy herself, the very un-spy-like Amy causes no end of trouble for the Purple Genitian. Which is why Richard is quite surprised to discover that he’s falling for her.

The Masque of the Black Tulip brings Richard’s best friend and sister center-stage. Miles Dorrington and Henrietta Selwick love Richard dearly, but are tired of living in his shadow. They want to do their part to keep England safe from Napoleon’s minions. So when Miles’ employer finally sets him on the trail of the notorious French spy known as the Black Tulip, he eagerly sets to work. What Miles doesn’t know is that the Black Tulip has set his sights on Henrietta, for she has taken it upon herself to deliver correspondence from the Pink Carnation to a London contact. This sends Miles on a perilous threefold quest: unmask the Black Tulip, keep Henrietta safe, and figure out what to do when you fall in love with your best friend’s sister.

The Deception of the Emerald Ring features Richard and Miles’ friend and fellow spy Geoffrey Pinchingdale, who has long been captivated by the charms of Letty Alsworthy’s older sister. But when Geoff and Mary’s elopement plans go awry, Letty finds herself married to a very bitter Geoff and whisked away on an Irish honeymoon which is more than it seems. With the Black Tulip loose in Ireland, Geoff can’t afford to take time off to celebrate his unwelcome marriage. Still, as much as he might wish otherwise, Geoff finds himself in Letty’s company for long enough that he begins to see things about her which he overlooked while distracted by her high-maintenance sister.

In The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, Letty’s scorned sister Mary Alsworthy finds herself in a bit of a bind. Letty has stolen her would-be husband and is now the only person in the family with the necessary funds to find Mary another. Damned if she’ll rely on Letty for support, Mary accepts a risky but much-preferable offer from the rakish Lord Vaughn: become a double agent and help the Pink Carnation stop the Black Tulip from his latest attempt to deliver England into Napoleon’s hands. Apparently, there’s a lot of money in espionage. And a lot of risk, of course, but as time goes by, Mary begins to wonder which is more dangerous: failing to stop the Black Tulip, or falling into the disreputable Vaughn’s arms.

Both as a whole as well as in regard to the individual books, I highly recommend this series. Spies and romance. It worked for Bond, and it works for Willig’s characters. Though the protagonists change in each book, the series feels unified both because of the relationships each set of protagonists have with each other and because of Eloise, whose story is just as riveting as those of the spies she uncovers. I love the contrast between the modern scenes and the historic ones. It’s a great literary device, jumping out of one place and into another at just the right moment. A great technique for creating suspense. I also love how the author creates a vivid historical setting without bogging things down with paragraphs full of nothing but description. That’s no easy task.

And the characters. The characters are so convincing and sympathetic, even the ones you might find annoying or just plain don’t like. One mark of a good author is building a character your readers will dislike, then turning everything on its head and showing what makes the character that way, forcing readers to change their minds. Mary Alsworthy was that way for me. I liked Letty so much that I just hated Mary for being so snide, but after reading Mary’s story, I had a change of heart. And let’s not forget the humor. Witty comments and snide remarks on nearly every page are one of the highlights of these books.

The few gripes I have are very small, and related to individual books, not the whole series. I just finished The Masque of the Black Tulip and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose this month, so they’re fresh in my mind. In The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, I found the technique Vaughn used to get Mary into the Black Tulip’s service unconvincing. Entering the Black Tulip’s service just seemed too easy. As cynical as Vaughn is, I would have thought he’d find this suspicious. I know I did. As for The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Deception of the Emerald Ring, it’s been long enough that I can’t recall much in the way of specific qualms I had. I figure that if I can’t remember what those qualms were, they must not be any reason not to read the books.

Lauren Willig’s series is a fun and fast-paced ride through the world of Napoleonic espionage. They’re like crack for English history lovers. And best of all, there are more of them. The series continues with The Temptation of the Night Jasmine and The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, and The Mischief of the Mistletoe comes out in October. I’ll be reviewing these in the near future…but I’ll give you enough time to read these books first!

About the reviewer:

Katie Lovett, better known around these parts as Superwench83, is an aspiring novelist and published short fiction author. She blogs about writing, books, and the fantasy genre at her website, www.katie-lovett.com.

Blog Buddy, Kimber An, to be ePublished!

Long ago, when I was new to the blogosphere, author Linnea Sinclair introduced me to another blogging writer, Kimber An. Little did Kimber know that I’d been lurking on her popular Star Captain’s Daughter blog for some time. Kimber and I have been following each other’s blogs ever since, and we’ve also witnessed each other’s publishing endeavors.

Well, now Kimber is to be epublished as well, by Decadent Publishing, a very impressive looking startup epublisher. Kimber has an announcement over at her book review blog, Enduring Romance–plus you can see her awesome cover! Go over, check it out, and be sure to leave your congratulations! Kimber has certainly earned this.

A NOOK Review!


Yes, I finally have an ereading gadget to review–the nook!

The nook really wasn’t on my ereader radar until they came out with the less-expensive wifi version a few weeks ago. At that point, I was eyeing the Borders Kobo. But Borders made a critical error–they failed to install Kobo kiosks in their stores so would-be customers could try it out. Or rather, the kiosks were there–but only with Sony Readers and flyers for the Kobo. I know lots of people bought the Kobo over the internet, but I’m just not that trusting. I wanted to try the device for myself before buying.

Barnes & Noble did not make this mistake.

Armed with a recommendation by Liz Fichera, I went in the B&N store and there it was–a lovely kiosk with an entire row of actual nooks to play with, along with a friendly and enthusiastic salesperson. I left the store that day with my nook along with a lovely green protective folder. To my delighted surprise, the wifi version was much lighter than the 3g samples they had on display, which for me, is quite the perk.

The Display

We buy ereaders for their paper-like display, and I must say I love the display. The first time I saw e-ink, I actually mistook it for a cardboard covering over the screen–right up until I  saw something blink. Words cannot do it justice. It looks like paper–right until the page turns. Then, you have this ugly chaos of black flashes–if black can ever be said to flash–until the next page resolves on the screen. I’m told that this is a limitation of e-ink and we’re just going to have to live with it until they improve the technology.

The text is very easy on the eyes, and each line is nicely spaced apart. You can have the text anywhere from absurdly huge to absurdly small. And the resolution on the absurdly small font is absurdly good–no sign of pixellation unless I take off my glasses, hold the nook in front of my eyes, and peer at the top of an e or an o. And even then, I can only see an extremely faint hint of fuzz if I strain my eyes. And since I can see microprint on a five-dollar bill without my glasses (one of the few benefits of being extremely nearsighted), then it’s safe to say that you won’t see any pixellation whatsoever.

There are only six buttons. Four identical buttons on either side turn the pages back and forth. A button on the top of the nook turns the display on and off (where you get a screensaver that displays continuously). The sixth button isn’t really a button–it’s a touch zone to fire up the touchpad.

The Touchpad

One of the features of the nook is there is a separate color touchscreen display. And here is where I have my harshest critique. The color touchscreen display is rather shoddy. The resolution isn’t great and the screen’s reaction to your touch has a noticeable delay. Seriously, my ancient Palm Treo 755p has a better touchpad. It’s obviously an area where the manufacturers decided to save a little money. Had I spent the original price for the 3g nook, I might have been a bit more miffed about this than I am. It’s servicable, but not much else can be said about the quality of the touchpad. Let’s hope it’s durable.

One thing I do like about having a touchpad rather than a bunch of buttons is that it makes the nook greatly expandable. The interface is not limited by buttons. Barnes & Noble has already added features to the nook such as a web browser, which would never be your browser of choice, but gets the job done in an inventive way.

In-Store Features

B&N has tried very hard to make nook ownership quite clubby. If you go to the store with your nook, you can read books for free for up to an hour. And, you always have free access to AT&T wifi hotspots. I also currently have a coupon to bring my nook in and settle down in a corner of the coffee shop with some free coffee. Too bad I don’t drink coffee. There is also a free ebook featured every week. I guess they were worried that if you had ebooks, you would never feel the need to walk into the store. Even with all these club features, I think this is a valid concern.

The Experience

I read Liz Fichera’s Captive Spirit on my nook, and it was a very satisfactory reading experience. And not just because it was such a good book! I used medium sized text and was not having to turn the pages too often. It was cool to be able to close my book folder, leave it lying on a table somewhere, and to come back a few minutes later to find it waiting for me without having timed out. The default time-out before it goes to the screen saver is 10 minutes, which was quite reasonable.

One thing I have not found is free public domain books, except for three that come preinstalled (kind of–you still need a B&N account to open and read them). Kobo comes installed with 100 free classics, and you can download a bunch of them at the Stanza store with the Stanza iPhone software. I should think B&N would provide some free classics as well.

I was delighted with how it displayed pdfs. Jennifer Estep sent along her e-ARC for Venom, and I promptly loaded it into my nook. The text flows beautifully and the only way you know it is anything other than an epub is occasionally you have a page that is not filled all the way with text. Which considering how badly my iPod mangled pdfs, makes me happy.

I have only charged the batteries one time since I purchased it on Friday the 2nd. It wasn’t fully discharged when I bought it and I had to discharge it (through use) before I could charge it up to 100 percent.

I highly recommend getting a folder for it. I have a folder for my iPod touch as well, and such folders protect these devices very well. I have included a picture of the folder I selected.

I love my nook and I’m so glad I waited before getting it. If you’re looking for an ebook reader, I truly think it’s the best deal out there.

Debut Review – CAPTIVE SPIRIT by Liz Fichera


Captive Spirit
by Liz Fichera
Carina Press
eBook – $4.49

Historical Fiction

DISCLAIMER: My own novella is going to be published by this publisher.  I purchased my own copy.

(And aside – This was my nook inaugural read!)

Aiyana is having a hard time dealing with her impending womanhood. She has to do things like cook now, and dress up nice, and weave baskets. She’d much rather play ball in the ball court with the guys, and hang out with her friend, Honovi. She’d be just as happy to leave that whole marriage thing to her sister, who is happy to do it.

However, the chief’s son has eyed him as his wife, and he’s not about to be denied. So she runs. She doesn’t intend to run far, but there are Spaniards lurking nearby, and they don’t hesitate at the chance to grab her.

Captive Spirit was utterly gripping and engaging. It was loaded with escapes and recaptures, and well-balanced high and low points. It is based on an extinct American Indian tribe in present-day Phoenix valley, known today ad the Hohokam. They vanished for reasons unknown in the sixteenth century, and Ms. Fichera’s novel works on the theory that Spanish explorers were behind the disappearance.

No book is perfect, and I do have just a few critiques. Toward the end, I did wish some things had been better established in the beginning. Because much of this novel takes place away from Aiyana’s home, we didn’t get much of a chance to experience her dread of basket-weaving, which becomes a plot point late in the story. I can understand Ms. Fichera’s reasons for keeping that part of the novel short–it would have been a slow read if she had dragged it out. But the basket-weaving angle seemed to come out of the blue at the end. There was also a certain event at the end of the story that was a mite too convenient for the plot.

Aiyana was an extremely likable character, with a lot of grit and determination. She gives her captors a great deal of trouble, especially when she befriends their pet wolf well enough that he is no longer of much use in tracking her. She recognizes their strengths and takes advantage of their weaknesses. She leaves tokens for anyone who might have followed her to find.

The Apache make an appearance in this novel, and they of course are alive and well nowadays in Northern Arizona. Ms. Fichera gives them a balanced presentation, with characters both antagonistic and protagonistic.

Captive Spirit was a captivating and quick read. Lovers of historic fiction will enjoy it, especially those of you who, like me, enjoy reading about other cultures. It felt well-researched and real, and I recommend it highly.