February 28, 2011

Poetry Sci fi and Fantasy

When I read an email saying "would you like to read and review some Sci fi and Fantasy Poetry" I thought the person was going crazy. I admit it - I'm no big fan of poetry and I thought the concept was odd. So I requested a small sample to show you all how interesting that is, don't you think I rock? :)

I think it's interesting - it's reinventing a genre that's been used and abused. But I want you to read it and tell me what do YOU think!

Spectral Woods
(reprinted from Echoed Voices)

The cold white light
Of the moon at night
Reveals a secret passageway
Through black-kneed trees
Manzanita keys
And barn-owls shrieking Not Today!

The creek's mice dice
With the Breaking ice
Beneath the forest canopy;
A witch chants cants
For pagan plants
And bobcats play watch-and-see.

And ghost-rise nighs
When Orion dies:
A phantom castle's palisade
Of cold, black stacks
Where the moonlight lacks
And armies formed from shards of shade.

The Wedding of Beorwine
(reprinted from Mythic Circle)

The bride of Beorwine bells wore
On kinsman's kerchief and kerseymere dress.
She would fain have furs but father gave none,
Nor glitter nor gold in gay-painted chest.

Coarse were her clothes but clear her eye,
Fair her face as fairy's wife,
Long her limbs and lithe as sprite,
And gossips gabbed she was get of fay.

Beaming Beorwine he boat made fast,
To land leaping from serpent's lair.
From horse he helped her; hair-tosser blew;
To ship he shouldered the sharing-chest.

O old always was Beorwine armored
And girt with greatsword and glee of battle,
But kelp-green cloth now under carved box went;
Hence nought he needed but knives for table.

His lands were large and learned was he
In matters of money and the means of court;
Only love he lacked in his long-held halls;
Foward few what he found would know.

The wind-farer wove through knotted waves
And bride and bridegroom bent to watch
The moonwright's maiden melting in the brine;
Hand met hand on hurrying oak.

When at last to land the longship sailed
And anchored at inlet to eddying stream,
Grass all green and golden dew
Saw Alfrun of Egil of old the kin.

"It is beautiful" said the bride of Beorwine glad.
"I care for comelier: for thee." To clay they stepped,
And from hill and heath the people hailed them.
Over fallow fields fast they rode.

Man and maiden to merry hall
At long last laughing came.
The roof with runes of right was carved,
Bread was baking, boar cooked within.

Famous, and fairly, the feast became,
In days long dead, for deep cook-pots.
Skill of skalds was scored that night,
Til dawn dim dripped through windows.

Blue-caped bridemakers bellowed to the sky
Their chants and charms for chieftan's luck.
Came man and maiden to morning-glory field,
Sun's eye was open, omens were good.

Soft and simply spoke Beorwine:
"Alfrun of Isernmark of Egil's house,
Fair as when first fleeting I saw thee,
On hilltop high above windy heath,

When young was I, untested in battle,
My heart thou heldst by hope of love.
Now chieftan I am chosen, change touched thee not;
Wilt marry me, my lovely maid?"

A small smile smote him dumb.
"Beorwine brave, thy bride am I.
The kin, thy castle, thy care, thy land,
From shore to shale-hill, all will I share."

To wed them well, the wish-provers
Sang their songs and seared the air
With told tokens and torches six.
Shadown shortened, Sunna shone.

Joined hands and jumped over jolly broom
Did Beorwine bold and his bride comely.
Home to hall and hearth went they,
Nor rested nor rose til the veil was rent.

February 25, 2011

Review: Soulless - Gail Carriger

LO-VED. What other way of starting a review like this one? I won this at a giveaway on The Book Lovers INC blog, with a US$ 10 credit on the Book Depository. A Steampunk-ish romance, with a strong heroine, vampires, werewolves and lots of humor it was all I wanted! It took around 45 days to get here and when it got here, I had other books I had to read and review before, so it was here for like 2 months before I got to it, but I finally managed to read it during my short one week vacation... And went crazy! Why didn't I read it before? I could've asked both sequels for Christmas! Now I have to wait until #4 is out, in June, or I'll finish #'s 2 and 3 and then # 4 is out and I'll want that one too... You know how it is.

Well, to the story! Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster, on Victorian England, she's a 26 (or 28? I forgot!) years old unmarried woman and, actually, her mom never tried to get her a husband, because she's Italian-like - strong will, high taste of food, dark-ish skin and a large nose - making her mom actually give up on finding her a husband, before she even started looking. But there's something her mom doesn't know: Alexia is a Preternatural, a Soulless person that, because of that, can anull a supernatural's powers. Vampires lose their fangs, strength, even their imortality when she touches them. Werewolves go back into being normal people, even during the Full Moon.

Oh, of course, on Victorian England (and there's the steampunk-ish factor of the book) vampires and werewolves are accepted in society and both "Hives" (vampire groups) as Werewolves Packs follow government rules. One of the very interesting factors is that it is very hard for them to turn people into vampires and werewolvers, specially women and only female vampires (Queens, like bees) can turn people into vampires.

The story starts with Alexia killing a vampire. It's something slightly accidental, he attacked her, without knows what she is - which is strange by itself, sinde the "BUR" Supernatural Things Unit (can't remember the proper name) keeps a registry about her and all supernatural beings on the region and inform hives and packs about her - and she defended, of course, with her umbrella (specially made, with a silver tip).

On the male side, we have Lord Maccon, a werewolf, chief of the Supernatural Bureau, pack of the London area Pack. Stubborn, manly (oh so manly), strong, sexy, stubborn... Did I mention stubborn? Strong, hot temper. He likes Alexia, of course, but they argue all the time, from the beggining to the very ending of the book. Actually, one of the reasons that he kisses her the first time is to make her shut up.

There's a misterious mistery (oohh) happening, loner vampires and werewolves (who have no hive or pack) are disappearing, while others, disoriented, uninstructed, hungry, are showing up. And, of course, that`s a major issue.

Oh, yes, Lord Akeldama, a gay vampire (yes!) is ALL GOOD. He's one of the best characters. He's Alexia's friend, against Lord Maccon's wishes - who, actually, doesn't approve much of anything Alexia does.

Alexia is, like I said, stubborn - as much as Lord Maccon -, witty, funny and loves her parasol (some sort of unbrella made for the sun, bsasically). Something you clearly notice on the book is the difference between the characters that are naturally from England and those from elsewhere. Maccon is Scotish, what makes him "less civilized" among the English and Alexia's blood is Italian, while Maccon's Beta (Lyall) is english and a perfect gentleman, delicate, polite, discreet, like Alexia's butler, who's always around but's very discreet.

Soulless is not a Young Adult novel, as the main characters are adults and there are pretty spicy scenes. Actually, all the way spicy, if you know what I mean... It touches some politics, prejudice, some history, and the language - at least the original book - is quite complex, I had a hard time with some words and expressions.

I hope it gets published in Brazil soon, I know lots of people who would LOVE this series and is missing on it, I'm dying to recommend it for everyone, but I understand how complicated it is for most people to read in English a book of this level - lots of strange expressions due to the time frame of the story and british English, which makes it a quite complex book.

Hearless, the fourth on the series comes out July 1st, 2011. Second and third are Changeless and Blameless, all with the most wonderful covers ever.

You can buy Soulless with free shipping worldwide at the Book Depository: Soulless

February 20, 2011

Review, Review, Wherefore Art Thou?

Guys, please welcome Mark Adair on his guest post.

Review, Review, Wherefore Art Thou?

In Shakespeare's classic, Juliet's impassioned plea floats out onto the air of indifference that surrounds her impossible plight – her family and the Montagues will never, ever join. In the life of an Indie writer, the passionate request for a review of their latest creation (by someone who's not a family member) often seems equally futile.

If I may back up for a second, let me set the record straight: Hi, my name is Mark Adair and I am an...Indie author. Fine, now you know. I have many stories to tell of the lonely journey of a independent writer - no agent, no editor, no publisher (in the traditional sense), no marketing department, no bookstore support, no private jet, no Caribbean island, no connections with media outlets...and no pipeline to the top reviewers' inbox.

Before you write me off as a talentless hack or someone who couldn't get "real" published, let me just offer that I've had several publishing insiders (agents, editors, etc.) who were very impressed with the quality of writing in my suspense/thriller, the development of the characters, and the storyline. Actually, I've never received anything but positive feedback from the traditional publishing community...everything short of a publishing agreement. Even now I have an agent who is considering switching genres so she can represent me.

Patience, persistence, and many other words that begin with 'p' are the industry watchwords in these tough economic times, and I can certainly understand their predicament...the often unspoken predicament - foundational paradigm shift from traditional book to ebook and from traditional publishing world to indie publishing. But that's another discussion, or many other discussions. In any case, the floodgates have opened, never to be closed again. Amazon, one of the largest book retailers in the world, sold more ebooks than hardbacks or paperbacks in the past few months. As John Lennon once penned in a hotel room, “this bird has flown.”

So today, even as I write this, hundreds of thousands of writers have discovered a new way to move forward with their careers...at least try and move forward. As I mentioned at the beginning, we don't have the resources or the visibility or the connections to release a book in the traditional sense. All we have is a novel (some of them quite excellent, others very poor) and a desire to connect with readers who might enjoy and want to discuss what we've written. So we social network, we pimp our book to friends and family, we connect with each other, we publish it on every platform known to humanity, and we BEG for reviews...from someone reputable and from someone who isn’t charging a fee (which sort of questions the unbiased nature of the review in the first place).

Why do I want a review? I’ve had some success already – only a couple of months into this and The Father’s Child hit #34 on Amazon’s technothriller list. However, in the sea of new novels offered every day the reviews further filter down the list of choices, after genre, price, top seller lists, other books like it, etc...especially from relatively unknown writers. As a reader, when I consider spending my hard earned time and money on a book, I want to know that others think it worth the investment. I want someone to speak out and tell me, honestly, what they thought. In many cases reviews become the final piece in the shall-or-shall-I-not purchasing puzzle for a perspective reader.

Is it really that complicated to have someone reputable read and review your book? Again, the waves come in, bearing thousands upon thousands of surfing writers eager to showcase their stuff...desperate to stand out in the crowd of competitors. Although the number of book reviewers grows by the month, the number of potential books to review explodes every month.

So I visited Amazon's top reviewer discussion and felt the sting of disdain. Then I followed up with those who had read my book and solicited reviews – several posted on Amazon. Finally, I Googled (or Binged, depending on your techno preference) book reviewers and then sent out nice, professional emails to anyone who seemed like a decent fit – i.e., had a pulse and could read. Seriously, I was searching for someone with a real reviewer history who didn’t flip out at the sight of e-books or indie authors. I found a few links that seemed hopeful.

And in that searching-for-a-reviewer process I sent an email to May (a book blogger and reviewer, among many other fine qualities). I thought, “how cool, a Brazilian review.” I’d love to connect with the people down there…I mean who doesn’t think Brazil is amazing? A quick aside: last summer I attended the Healdsburg Jazz Fest and they featured several Brazilian musicians that really did amaze me. Back on point, May responded promptly and specifically with a very nice apology that included the words “I no longer review e-books.”  

At times I wondered if I should give up on having a reviewer wax philosophical about my novel. But I remained patient, persistent, and many other words that begin with ‘p’, believing that my fate and Juliet’s were not the same. Eventually I received some responses to my emails. Eventually, a few reviewers signed on to review my novel. Eventually, they will post those reviews for all the world to see. And eventually I will no longer wonder: Review, review, wherefore art thou?



Mark Adair spent over twenty-five years in the Information Technology world designing and developing complex software systems for clients such as the US Navy, Disney, and Lockheed Martin. One evening, after the latest 14 hour workday in a string of many, he struggled to wind down. Looking for a place to escape, he grabbed his trusty laptop and began writing a suspense story about a guy named John Truman. Several months later he had completed the first draft of his first novel, and realized that he would never be the same.

Recently, he debuted his suspense novel, "The Father's Child", on the Kindle platform - you can buy it here.

February 13, 2011

Interview - Jessica Barksdale Inclán

Hi guys, today I bring you the first interview of this blog, with Jessica Barksdale Inclán.
Jessica's debut novel Her Daughter's Eyes was a final nominee for the YALSA Award, and many of her novels have been published in several languages. A recipient of the CAC Artist’s Fellowship in Literature, Jessica teaches literature, creative writing and mythology at colleges, universities, seminars and workshops throughout the U.S. A full-time writer, she lives in Oakland, California. For more information on Jessica, please visit www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com.

Also, read my review of her novel Being With Him, here.

- Why have you gone Indie - the short version? (long version here, on her guest post)

Bottom line for going indie is that I think I have stories to tell that are worthwhile to tell--and yet, they don't have a platform or a niche or a certain market demographic.  I feel that others might like them, and it's fun to be involved in formatting and finding a cover, things I don't usually get to have much say over in traditional publishing.

- Your books, in 140 characters? Something that's common to all or most of them.

In all my books, I have characters who have issues and who want to learn to get over the problems those issues cause them.  They are usually successful.

- How many of them are anyways? And how many are you writing/planning right now?

I have six indie books available from Amazon.com and Smashwords.com.  I am currently writing for traditional publishing right now, but I have potentially one additional book that might go indie by the end of 2011.

- Do you have a favorite among your own books?

My favorite is always the manuscript I am currently working on.  I have to be in love with it!  The others are like children who have left home for college.  I still  love them dearly, but I don't have to think about them 24/7.

- Do you trust your publishers in other languages? How is the "quality check" on those cases?

I am relatively literate in  Spanish, so I was able to read my Spanish translations.  The Dutch, Portuguese, and Czech translations, however, are impossible, so I just have to have faith in the translators.  I haven't had any quality control, though I did speak and email with the dutch translator of Her Daughter's Eyes and One Small Things.  She had a lot of questions to ask.  I suppose I should be worried that the Portuguese and Czech folks never checked in!

- What are your favorite scenes to write?

I don't think I have a favorite scene to write, but I can tell you that the scenes I don't like much are the scenes that transition, the summary scenes, moving characters from one place or time to another.  I try to make them short and effective.

- Do you read much? What kind of books do you usually read?

I've just finished books by Julia Glass, Bill Bryson, Anita Shreve, and Jasper Fforde.  I pretty much love fiction and engaging non-fiction, such as what Bill Bryson writes.  I think I read a bit more literary than genre, but a good romance is great now and again, too.

- Have you ever wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing "seriously"?

I have always written--little stories when I was in seventh grade and up--but I started taking classes and working hard on poetry and fiction in 1993.  I feel I've been working on my professional career for about that long.

- Do you outline your stories or they just flow and if you need, you go back and change stuff?

I do a little outlining, but then I just go forward, letting the story take it's course.  then I often go back to change, edit, revise.  I have a favorite outline that I teach all my students.  It's the "20 Things That Have to Happen" outline.  I think about my story and write 20 things I think have to happen.  I let this list change and evolve as the story does, but it's nice to formulate some ideas.

- Do you relate more to any of your characters? Why?

Most of my main characters have some relationship to me in terms of personality or character--or maybe job.  But I think I understand them all, even the "bad" ones.

- Which gender do you feel it would be a challenge to write?

I've had male main characters, and while I don't think it is harder to write male, I don't have as many males as females.  So I guess that I would have to say I find it harder to write male.

- What inspires you? And how's your writing environment - music, place, etc.?

Good writing inspires me.  And when I'm inspired and have a story to tell, I just sit down every morning and write.  It's the only way to tell a story:  tell it.

Thank you Jessica for being so nice and open with us, I'll have some insights about that portuguese translator for you soon enough ;)

February 11, 2011

Review: Halo - Alexandra Adornetto

Ok. I've been suffering and postponing this for as long as I could. But I can't anymore. Way too much time has passed, I read this in December, and I must comment. 

I got this book for review from the brazilian publisher, but I'm afraid I won't post about it on the brazilian blog, I'll let someone else on the staff to do it. Why? Well. My review would stop people from buying it and I'm afraid the book just wasn't done for me. I'm not the right audience. So it's not fair to the book.

Of course, as you can see, the cover is beautiful. It really is. But that's almost all that I can say as a positive point on the book. 

But since here this is my space and anyone here is probably going to respect my opinion because they know me and more likely got some similar tastes, well, I'll go ahead and say it: BO-RING. 
People, do you remember a Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns is mistaken for an alien? (I think it's a Halloween one, but not sure). And he goes all glowing and ethereal and into the woods and shows up saying "I bring you LOOOOOOVE"? Yeah. That's how the book is. Except it's not funny. At all.

Watch out, spoilers ahead.

Ok, so 3 angels come to Earth, to this small city somewhere in the USA, to fight evil forces there. Ivy, a healer, Gabriel, "the" Gabriel, a fighter, and Bethany... A teenager. Really, she is from the lowest angel "class" and has no talents whatsoever. She's also impredictable, has the same weaknesses as humans, since it's her first "trip" to Earth and just basically acts like a dumb teen all over the book. Hell, not even a dumb teen, I was WAY smarter than her at the age of 17 (which she's supposed to be), I was probably that silly and airheaded when I was 12-13 and that's IF I was that airheaded...

And then Bethany meets Xavier. And the story becomes "Bethany loves Xavier, how cool is Xavier!" because all challenges are dismissed VERY easily. Funny enough, it takes a couple of pages for Bethany to tell Xavier she is an angel, he accepts it quite easily and the "supreme powers" deliberate and say "oh well, what the heck, since they're already there anyways, let them be". Which is OH SO right considering the WHOLE angels mithology and nefilins and fallen angels and the stuff.

So ok, fine, they're "ok" with the bosses and everyone... But you know, they still have the mission of saving the world from the bad guys, in a small level, since they're in a small town, but still. And then some freak guy, hot, dark, who seems to control people really easy and creeps Bethany out shows up and .. well, creeps her out, goes after her, starts hitting on her... And all she can think is, oh well, he's just a nice guy, a bit aggressive.. But HEY MAYBE, just MAYBE, all those freakish accidents in school? YEAH, maybe since they started after he came there and only when he's around and cause he creeps you out, MAYBE you should mention it to Ivy or Gabriel who are, you know, far smarter than you. But noooo you're more worried about going to the prom with Xavier. And which dress you'll wear and if he's going to find you pretty in it.

And when he suffers a REALLY freaky accident playing some sport (I don't remember which one), you accept to go to the prom with Jake Thorn - the creepy, freaky guy. Who tries to forcefully kiss you and basically spells that he's not really human and that he knows you're an angel. What do you do? Ignore it. Don't tell your boyfriend - who obviously would hear about it, d'oh? - or your brother and sister angels - you know, the smart ones. Then when things get ugly you go and go nuts trying to stop him by yourself. Cause you're that smart.

And in the end, love solves everything in a blast - literally. Sure. Cause the author probably didn't know how to solve it... And since Gabriel the most awesomest (yes I know) warrior ever can't fight the guy, well, then I'm sure the only one who can is the un-fit, dumb, silly, teenager. Of course, that makes perfect sense.

I mean, an angel goes to Earth to fight bad guys. She ends up crying for a teenage guy. Who is, by the way, completelly boring. "Good Guy" kind of Prince Charming "I didn't like girls before you, but I have a major trauma before I met you". Right. Boring again. Jake, bad guy, MUCH more interesting. But he IS creepy, I'll give that, he really does pass the idea of a demon-like-creature-person in a school and the effect is pretty interesting, I mean, really, teenagers would be really easy to influence...

Maybe it's because I was never an airheaded teen or because I expect angels not to be airheaded teens. Sure she behaved like any teen girl and possibly a bit better... But it's not what you expect from an angel, she's not supposed to be "any teen girl" she's supposed to be smart - and that's why it's hard to have her as a main character - a main character must have flaws and a "real angel" can't.

I read people saying that it's a book about faith, about love. Maybe it's got to do with that - I'm not a religious person at all and well, love, I do love, but not that blind worshipping love, sorry, not for me, so, like I said earlier, probably the book just wasn't for me. And if you're anything like me, I'd advise you to drop it, turn around and not come back to that book.

PS: Anyone else gets the Halo SONG playing on their head everytime they read the word Halo? (yes, the Glee version, of course)

February 06, 2011

Blogger To-Do List

So, as a blogger, I kind of fail. No, really. I have issues keeping my blog updated, I have LAZYNESS issues frequently and I have major time issues. Eventually I decide "Ok, let's work on the blog" and realize I can't remember one single thing to do... So I figured that I need a to-do list with all the pending things so I can come and look at it and remember what I have to do! Here we go!!

  • Write the 3 4 5 4 pending reviews I have (Halo, Eras, and the "This will not..." and , Pink Noise and Intimate Beings - the brazilian version-)
  • Translate the reviews I wrote in Portuguese to English
  • Translate the reviews I wrote in English to Portuguese
  • Write interview questions for the "Haven't read" series
  • Finish interview posts for the ones I already sent
  • Copy/translate/adapt reviews for the major sites - Goodreads, BookDepository and Skoob (portuguese Goodreads-like) 
  • Create "Link to me" buttons
  • Create review/section headers
I guess that's it for now >.<

So, what do YOU do to avoid forgetting what you must do or how do you organize your blogging time?

EDIT: List not really working. Just keeps growing -.- 

February 04, 2011

Why you’d hate my weird little novel

Guest post by Graham Parker

Why you’d hate my weird little novel

I write this blog because my existence is in danger. My very essence as a hermit-writer-crab-thingy is being threatened. When my novel was first published, it was selling slowly and sporadically. Being a first time author, I was quite adept at going unnoticed, flying stealthily under even the most sensitive literary radars. I swooped and turned, dove and made somersaults, they could never catch me. Not even close. I was like smoke, like liquid lightening. (Only very Cool, not hot and prickly!)

But nothing lasts forever. Slowly sales started picking up. People stumbled upon my novel by accident and told their friends. Others found press releases and lists. This in turn caused Amazon Uk, Canada, and Germany to start linking my weird little novel to other weird little novels, and, to my horror, to actual works of slight-to-moderate literary significance! This had never been my intention. Things were getting out of hand!

I started getting requests for interviews, guest posts, and signed copies. Everybody with half a blog expected me to send them free copies of my novel through international mail, even though I was still more or less broke. My first reaction, of course, was one of denial.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ I told myself, as I clutched crucifixes of every major religion and several foam-rubber worshipping groups to my chest. ‘This will all blow over. A few more weeks and Amazon will start bothering other pretend-authors and leave me alone.’

Of course, things only got worse. There came the inevitable celebrity parties, with the drink and the drugs and, worst of all, the staying up past nine in the evenings! Who needs all that? Who can keep up? Of course, you can try to decline, but at what cost? Sooner or later celebrities will turn on you, hunt you down. I don’t want Oprah to TP my house, Ron Jeremy to brutalize my mailbox, Steve Buscemi to slightly crumple my morning newspaper. I’ve seen it happen to other authors and it isn’t pretty. Fair enough, I don’t actually have a newspaper subscription, or a mailbox for that matter, but you get the point.

I’m not going to take this lying down, though. I have just as much right as the next closet recluse to wallow in self-pity and enjoy the painful hardships of the struggling artist. That’s the only reason I got into this racket in the first place. So I’ve identified some of the misconceptions that may have lead to unintentional sales of my novel. Most of the hype about "No Hope for Gomez!" is not actually true:

  • Reading my novel will not make you more attractive to the opposite sex.
  • It will not cause brain damage. Not if you read it properly, keeping your head away from heavy objects at all times.
  • It will not reveal to you the meaning of life. (This is part of the prequel!)

Lastly, I’m starting a petition. Petitions always work incredibly well, often changing the world both overnight and for the better. So, sign in the comments below to help me get things back to the way they were, with just a few sales every week or so.

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

No Hope for Gomez! is his fiction debut:

Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.
Follow Graham's blog here