Spring Into Books!

If you live in Utah there is a great event going on today from 2-6 in West Jordan at the Viridian Center. It’s all about books! There will be authors there doing signings and selling books. Classes for up and coming writers. Food trucks. Carnival games! It’s a family friendly and fun way to spend the afternoon! It even looks like the weather is going to cooperate with us for a change. So bring the kids and come on by!


Book Review: You are Mine – Janeal Falor

You Are Mine (Mine, #1)You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

This is one of those books where my opinions are divided among themselves. The plot and setting feature some distinct cliches which ranged from interesting to eye rolling. I usually knew what was coming next several pages before it happened. However, I really enjoyed the characters and, in particular, the family relationship between the sisters and how that expanded to include the tarnished and the other women in the narrative.

The biggest thing that doesn’t make sense to me is given how valuable a highly blooded woman is why they continue to punish and threaten them with being tarnished. Some of this has to be just flat psychological manipulation because most of the men as described would be far too selfish to throw a magically blooded child away or risk hurting them beyond what can be easily fixed. If you kill a magically blooded daughter, whether you care about her or not, you’re out money and position and all kinds of things. So it’s just too much of a risk to casually break limbs and knock around your ‘possession’. I know this is being used to show how harsh the society is to women, but it doesn’t quite ring true.

This is a YA paranormal/fantasy, but I’d say upper YA to adult. There isn’t graphic content, but there is a lot of death, manipulation, physical and mental torture, etc. It’s dealing with very adult subjects which won’t appeal to everyone. And in the end things have changed for our heroine but not enough for me to be truly committed to find out what happens in the next books. Most of what she has she gained through Zade’s sacrifice not her own. So while I don’t regret the reading time, I’m not certain this is one I’ll be back to – But don’t quote me on that, stranger things have happened.🙂

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Book Review: Power of the Matchmaker – Various

Power of the MatchmakerPower of the Matchmaker by Karey White

I was initially drawn to this novella for the cover, which is beautiful, but I was quickly drawn into the story.

Mae loves Chen, but the matchmaker has other ideas which sends Mae away from the home and family she loves to find another destiny. This is a short story which introduces the idea of the matchmaker and Mae’s backstory. There are a few places which are a little brutal as she deals with having no food and no family to go to, but it leads to a very satisfying place.

The very last bit is obviously the lead in to the other novels which focus on Mae and her future and doesn’t necessarily go with the story which has been told before, but I was willing to accept that because in my mind the main story had concluded anyway.

A very nice little before bed read, took me maybe an hour to read. No explicit content.

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Book Review: The Frog Prince – Jenni James

The Frog Prince (Faerie Tale Collection, #8)The Frog Prince by Jenni James

This was a cute retelling of The Frog Prince. It’s a short piece, only took me around two hours to read, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the story fulfills all the promises it makes in that space. In this version of The Frog Prince author Jenni James takes the time to create a more satisfying reason for the Prince to be a frog and why he chose the princess he did to befriend. The princess is not as extreme in her reactions, she doesn’t fling the frog or break her promises on purpose, and the building romance is cute, including the families and the value of truly seeing someone for who they are.

I had some complaints about the language which is often stilted in the dialog and some of the themes are repeated to the point they start to grate, but over all a very cute little read appropriate for tweens and up.

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Book Review: No Ifs Ands or Bears About It

No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It (Grayslake, #1)No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia Kyle

I picked this book up because I was researching Kindle Worlds and wanted to do some research.

There were some fun and interesting bits here, and great potential for a complex plot and interesting romance. The problem is that once all those interesting things are set up they’re kinda tossed into an erotic blender and put on puree. I liked that the heroine was a curvy girl and wasn’t afraid to step up and defend a child in need. The werebear set up was unique as it focused on more bearlike qualities versus the more typical wolves we see in shifter books. So here there wasn’t an expectation for the forever mates or such, though to make it appeal to readers that then meant having to add a bizarre ‘fated mates’ thing which wasn’t well explained to assure us that Ty wouldn’t wander off on Mia when the next plump werebear came into town and that they could have shifting cubs even though she’s not full blooded. I think this could have been covered without the ‘fated’ bit by saying that the human capacity for love and staying with one mate could be just as strong.

So all in all it was okay for a lazy read, though very very high on my steamy scale. I didn’t read reviews first and found myself skipping a lot trying to get back to the parts of the plot I was interested in. I did want to know that Parker, the were bear cub, ended up safe and sound even if the way that happened left me wanting more.

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Book Review: The Hunger by Michael D Young

The HungerThe Hunger by Michael D. Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: I received an ARC from Future House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thanks FHP.

This is another book which is probably around a 3.5 rating for me. It’s good, but not amazing and it makes me kind of frustrated because it had the building blocks for amazing.

In The Hunger readers are thrust immediately into a complex magical world. The magic is complex (And reminds me more than a bit of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn magic system). The politics are complex. The society is complex. The religion is complex. I don’t mind any of those things, and I don’t mind being dropped into the world and then having things explained. However, and this is a big however, if I’m dropped into the world that way I must have characters who I immediately latch onto, then I’m willing to take the ride with them even if there are problems with pacing or unanswered questions.

In this case while the characters, and there are at least 5 playing at main characters, are unique none of them really stepped up as someone whose story I just HAD to know. At least one was only on the quest until something better came along. One was a non believer who was going along on the word of his friend. One came along because she insisted and there had to be a sort of romantic angle. When I don’t have a character to really connect to then I find myself reading more analytically and under that all the things we didn’t know became annoying.

I did like the glimpses we got into the world and the magic. I liked the uniqueness of Sarhah’s knife work in particular and Evelet continually came up with surprises. Azil and his obsession with clothing and fashion was fun. I just needed MORE of all of it to come through and really carry me away.

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The Easiest Way to Stay IN the Slush Pile

red penIt’s a funny thing to think about wanting to stay in the slush pile, but really your goal is to stay in the slush pile long enough to be published. This means you don’t want to do anything which would get you kicked out of that pile before your desired agent or editor even looks at you!

So, here’s the secret. The easiest way to stay in the slush pile? Do your research and FOLLOW the submission guidelines. Every agent or editor or publishing house or anyone who wants to see your work (from flash fiction to epic series) will have submission guidelines. Most of them will be associated with the business webpage and will be very easy to find. If you can’t find the guidelines you can also look on Query Tracker or Absolute Write or Manuscript Wish List or one of the many publications which go out with agent and editor information in them (This isn’t even CLOSE to a full list, there are lots of ways to find the information). This really and truly isn’t hard and publishing professionals WANT you to be able to find them. They won’t hide their submissions or otherwise try to trick you.

Now, I’ve heard the argument from various writers that they shouldn’t have to follow the guidelines because they don’t agree with them. Another argument is that if you follow the guidelines you won’t stand out from the crowd. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you agree, it’s not your agency or publishing house, and you will stand out from the crowd, but not in a good way, in an auto reject way. Very very rarely do gimmicks and efforts to get around the rules to be special work, and for the once in a blue moon that an oddity does work there are thousands of similar attempts which didn’t.

Publishing folks have guidelines because they are busy and because they often hand over the first pass slush responsibilities to interns/juniors and to late nights. I know we all want to feel like a priority, but these folks have clients and businesses to run. Clients represent real money, a bird in hand. New authors represent only potential money, and may not even be a bird in a bush but an octopus. They must attend to the real money first, no matter how much they LOVE finding new talent. A lot of slush gets done on the weekends, vacations and late nights and they have to make the process as simple as possible for THEM, or they have to close to subs.

One of the other factors in submission guidelines is that publishing professionals aren’t only looking for an amazing story, but also amazing people to work with. The guidelines are also a test to see if you can follow instructions and are good to work with. If you can’t be bothered to create a double spaced format, or send in exactly what they ask for it’s a sign you may be a nightmare to work with and it’s better to boot you now.

Back in my college days I read slush as the Executive Secretary for The Leading Edge. One of my jobs was to open the mail, respond to non submission letters, log the submissions and break them into groups of thirty. Then myself and the Executive Editors would each take several piles and read every story looking for pieces which shouldn’t be passed on to the rest of the editorial team.

I had a stack of submission guidelines and form rejections at hand and in any stack  I would reject 10-15 submission out of hand because they were: the wrong genre (we only published SF/F), too long or too short for what we could print (when the whole magazine has to be under 100 pages we cannot print your 300 page novel), too badly formatted to be read (I got one written in what looked remarkably like eyebrow pencil. It smudged.), or broke our content rules on language and sexual content (seriously do not send your erotica to a magazine run by a religious school. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, not that shocking, and will not get published). Each of those subs got a form rejection letter and a copy of the guidelines, usually with a note or a highlight of the guideline which had been broken. We encouraged folks to resubmit within the guidelines. It rarely happened.

Is it possible that in those stacks of rejections there was golden material missed? Sure. It’s possible. However, we got hundreds of submissions every week and the material which was passing the guidelines was amazing. We really had no need to go digging after the hard stuff in order to fill our magazine with fantastic material, and we had a lot to do besides slush reading to put out two issues a year.

This same process still happens everywhere that submissions are accepted, though now most houses have moved to electronic subs and rejections. Increase your odds of staying in those submission piles by making life easy for publishing professionals. Make sure you know what their specific submission guidelines are and then follow them to the letter. No pictures, no phone calls, no food, no scents, no weird paper, just no… Play within the rules and you’ll have a better chance of winning the game.