Myths and Legends: My next project(s)

I let you know a couple of weeks ago that I finished Bombshell.  And let me tell you, getting through that final proofread was HARD.  I just wanted to be done so I could work on my next project that’s been stewing in my brain for a long time.  (It was also hard because my computer crashed in the middle of it, and while I had everything backed up, I was still without a computer for a few days while Apple fixed the problem.)

Friends, I am QUITE excited to announce what I’ll be working on for the foreseeable future: The Legend of Elliot Major.

If you’ve creeped around my site (I love you for that!) then you know that Elliot Major has been a work-in-progress of mine for a while.  Here’s the deal.

I wrote most of The Legend of Elliot Major during NaNoWriMo 2015.  I used it to take a break from Bombshell while my writer’s group looked at that.  But during November I got their feedback, so as soon as NaNo was over, I went right back to Bombshell and haven’t looked at Elliot since.

Now that Bombshell is done, I’m excited to finish the first draft of Elliot Major.  I have some big things I’d like to add to it, and I still need to write the last few scenes – which is funny because those scenes were the first thoughts I had about this story years and years ago.  They’ve stuck with me for a long time, and I’m excited to finally get them down on paper.

During NaNo, I also realized that – for the first time in my novel-writing life – THERE’S A SEQUEL.  That’s right, folks.  Elliot Major is the first book in a series, and that absolutely scares me to death.

Maybe when I’m done writing and revising and re-writing Elliot, I’ll decide that there aren’t actually sequels to it.  But for now, in my mind, The Legend of Elliot Major will be followed by a myth… that’s all I’m going to say for now.

I’ll keep you updated on both of these projects as I can.  Promise.

Review: the Double Helix series

**Summer Reading, books 2, 6, 10, and 13**

I love Star Trek.

I feel like I gotta start there first and foremost.  I love, love, love it.  The Star Trek universe is definitely my nerd-dom of choice.  It’s not even a contest.

Ok, now that you know, let me tell you about Double Helix.

I was introduced to Star Trek by my older brother probably shortly after I was born.  And I have a vivid memory being probably 6 or 7 at a book store, picking out a Christmas gift to give to my brother.  This was probably one of the first times I picked a gift out myself rather than my mom doing it and just slapping my name on it.  I saw the Double Helix series and was instantly drawn to it, so we got him 2 of those.

Fast forward… what, like 18 years?… to being at Half Price Books looking through the Star Trek books, and what do I see?  ALL SIX BOOKS FROM THE DOUBLE HELIX SERIES.  At first, I couldn’t remember where I’d seen them before, but once it came back to me, I had to buy them.  Partially for nostalgic reasons and mostly because I wanted to read them.

I read the first 2 books right away, but the others were just sitting on my shelf until this summer.  I finally finished the series a couple of days ago!  And here is what I thought.

Overall, I was actually disappointed with the series.  The premise was really cool: at different times throughout Federation history, different forms of an engineered virus appear, and lots of characters from different series come together to try to find a cure and find the culprit.  Super cool!

Execution-wise, I wasn’t crazy about it, though.  For the most part, the books seemed disjointed, and because each one was written by a different author, they all had very different quality and feels.  I also think that the order of the books should have been switched.  The sixth book is actually a prequel to the other five, giving the backstory to the villain (SPOILER: he was caught in the fifth book…).  It definitely shouldn’t have been the first book – maybe the fifth?  I just wasn’t that interested in him by that time.

Here’s my rundown of each of the six books (though I read the first two a couple of years ago):

  • Infection by John Gregory Betancourt
    • I liked this one.  It was a pretty classic Star Trek pocket book.
  • Vectors by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rusch
    • I also liked this one – Bajorans, Cardassians, and some great science.
  • Red Sector by Diane Carey
    • I really didn’t like this one at all.  The prologue was way too long, and even though it had Romulans in it, it just wasn’t for me.  It was kind of boring.
  • Quarantine by John Vornholt
    • I liked this one!  I thought it was well written, and I’m a big fan of the Maquis.  The story was a good one.
  • Double or Nothing by Peter David
    • This one was… okay?  It felt kind of disjointed and weirdly paced, and it didn’t seem to really fit in with the other books.
  • The First Virtue by Michael Jan Friedman and Christie Golden
    • While the book itself was pretty good, I don’t think this should’ve been the sixth book.  It seemed really tangential to the series, only giving backstory to the villain.  It just didn’t seem to fit.

Overall, I felt like each of these books could have been shorter and the series could have been put together more cleanly.  But there were some definite highlights, so I don’t regret walking down memory lanes with these.

Review: Speaker for the Dead

**Summer Reading, book 11**

This book has been a long time coming.  For real.  Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card which I first read in Junior High.  I LOVED Ender’s Game, but when I read the back cover of Speaker for the Dead, I wasn’t that excited about it.

Fast forward 13 or so years to Summer Reading 2016, where I’m only reading books that I own that I’ve never read.  My husband (who has some awesome books – just gonna brag a second) owns Speaker, so I decided it would go on my list.  It’s also a Hugo Award winner, so 2 birds, ya know?  You might remember that I listened to the Ender’s Game audiobook in May to prep for reading Speaker this summer; it was pretty fresh in my mind, and I was excited to see what the sequel had to offer.

Tears.  Heartache.  Grief.  Sorrow.  And a new alien species with totally fascinating biology.  That’s what it had to offer me.  AND I LOVED IT.

Speaker for the Dead follows Ender Wiggin as he speaks for the dead (you’re just gonna have to read it to know what that means) 3000 years after the events in Ender’s Game.  Thanks to lots of near light speed space flight, Ender is only 35 years old.  In Speaker, Ender is forced to deal with saying goodbye to family in more ways that one, being truly on his own for the first time since the Bugger Wars ended, having the possibility of redemption, and so much more.

Orson Scott Card does a fabulous job of melding together so many great themes: grief, guilt, family, what it means to be “other”, what is means to be “same”, life, cultural differences, forgiveness, disabilities, and faith, all while writing a very consistent universe and a plot that makes you want to keep reading.

I can sometimes be an overly expressive person, but believe me when I say that this might be my new favorite book.  As in favorite book of all time (I really don’t have that hard of a time picking favorites, though I know a lot of people do).  As in: “Move over, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Count of Monte Cristo.  You’ve been replaced.”  The jury’s still out on a final decision for this, but I’m thinking that yes, Speaker for the Dead may be my new favorite book.

As I was reading the last 40 pages or so, I ugly cried.  Not the normal book-cry of having a few tears flowing down my cheeks while I read.  I had to put the book aside, put my face in my hands, and sob.  My chest literally ached from what I was reading.  But just like when Ender has to share hard truths about those who have passed away, it was cleansing and redeeming.

So, if you like science fiction, if you like not-your-typical-humans-vs-aliens story, if you like biology (especially evolutionary biology), if you’ve ever grieved, if you’ve ever felt imprisoned by guilt, if you’re seeking to know what it means to be human, or if you’re striving to better understand cultural differences, I HIGHLY suggest reading Speaker for the Dead.  It’s not too much to say that it can be life changing.

Camp NaNo Wrap-Up and Exciting News!

Hey all.

So between book reviews, Camp NaNoWriMo, and crazy life events, I haven’t done a great job of keeping you all informed on exactly where I am in the whole writing process.  Well, consider that remedied.

As you may know, I finished my first draft of Bombshell nearly a year ago – crazy!  I made some small changes, sent it off to my writer’s group and got feedback.  Then I worked on revising.  Then the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo happened, so I did more revising.  Then I got some more feedback.  Then did some revising.  Then the July session of Camp NaNoWrimo happened, and while I didn’t technically win (I was about 3 hours short of my revising goal – I was also out of town for a funeral for the last 5 days of the month), I think I actually won BIG TIME.

Friends and people who may just be joining us for the first time (I consider you potential friends): BOMBSHELL IS DONE*.

I want that to sink in deeply – not just for you but for me too.  I made some huge strides during July, fixing some plot issues, adding depth and dimension to characters, changing the narration to make better sense.  Then I read draft 4, then I re-read it, then I re-read it once more for a final proofread.  So as of 8/8/2016, I’m calling it done*.

(Why the *?  Because I could just keep working and working and working.  But at some point, I gotta say enough’s enough and decide on next steps.)

So what’s next?  Two things:

  1.  On August 10, 2016 – it was a Wednesday – I sent my very first query letters to literary agents.  WHAT?  I know, right.  Between each draft of Bombshell, I wanted to give myself time to digest a bit, and I spent a lot of that time researching agents, writing my synopsis (UGH), and writing a query letter (I’ll give you details on some of that in a future post).  So now, I’m just waiting.
  2.  I’m writing again!  I’ve been revising and editing Bombshell pretty consistently since September – minus November when I did NaNoWriMo again (that’s when my writer’s group had it the first time) – and I’m very much craving writing new stuff.  I may take a few days off to rest my brain, but I some new material that I’m excited to get down on paper soon.

Obviously, I’ll keep posted about both of these things as they unfold.  Thanks for being along for the ride 🙂

Review: Peritoneum

Oh, what a tangled, horrific web L. Andrew Cooper weaves.  Ick.

I haven’t read any horror for a LONG time.  Not because I don’t like it.  But because for a while, I only read horror.  I had a literary love affair with Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King.  That was a dark – and awesome – time for me.  And I still often drink my coffee out of my Poe mug.  Except for when my husband does.. because it’s the biggest mug we have…

When I heard about L. Andrew Cooper’s blog tour for Peritoneum and Leaping at Thorns (which I have yet to read – but I will soon!), I jumped on board right way.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in outer space lately with Ender Wiggin and Miles Vorkosigan, so I was excited to get a breath of fresh, dead air.

PeritoneumCover1200X800
17-year-old, anatomy student me would have been in love with this cover. 26-year-old me loves it, too.

And believe me: I did.  Peritoneum is a collection of short stories that each bothered me, chilled me, and made me squirm in different ways.  While many stories had certain details in common, such as setting, theme, or characters, each story was unique and fascinating in it’s own way.  Cooper explores hallucinations, psychological experiments, monsters, abuse, and more while leaving you will a lot of questions (Wait, what just happened?  Who did what?  Was that real?  That CAN’T be how it ends, right?).

L. Andrew Cooper offers a very balanced horror story: it’s mysterious and slightly confusing; gory but not too explicit; out there but uncomfortably believable; rare and well-done.  I also loved – LOVED – that there were recurring places and characters.  I was very in favor of seeing the same people (in different bodies of course) and places over time, spanning hundreds of years.  Very clever, and a great way to make the anthology more cohesive, which is just want I want in an anthology.

I also appreciated Peritoneum‘s touch on different social issues, too, even if they were brief at times: parenting, mental illness, abuse, abortion, etc.

L. Andrew Cooper, you have a new fan.

Favorite stories: “Blood and Feathers”, “Patrick’s Luck”, “David Langley and the Burglar”, “The Long Flight of Charlotte Radcliffe”, “The Road Thief”, “Rudy Haskill’s Plan”, and “Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion”.

So if you like horror, if you like unique imagination, if you like things that disturb you but (probably) won’t keep you up at night, if you’re looking for something to pique your interest and make you wonder what you just read – check out Peritoneum.

It’s not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.

 

 

If you want to know more about L. Andrew Cooper, check this out:

CooperPhotoAbout the author:    L. Andrew Cooper scribbles horror: novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines as well as anthologies of experimental shorts Leaping at Thorns (2014 /2016) and Peritoneum (2016). He also co-edited the anthology Imagination Reimagined (2014). His book Dario Argento (2012) examines the maestro’s movies from the 70s to the present. Cooper’s other works on horror include his non-fiction study Gothic Realities (2010), a co-edited textbook, Monsters (2012), and recent essays that discuss 2012’s Cabin in the Woods (2014) and 2010’s A Serbian Film (2015). His B.A. is from Harvard, Ph.D. from Princeton. Louisville locals might recognize him from his year-long stint as WDRB-TV’s “movie guy.” Find him at amazon.com/author/landrewcooper, facebook.com/landrewcooper, and landrewcooper.com.

Website: landrewcooper.com.

Twitter: @Landrew42

Facebook: facebook.com/landrewcooper

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/landrewcooper

 

You can buy Peritoneum from Amazon or Barnes and Noble by following the links.

 

Tour Schedule and Activities

8/8            MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape   Interview

8/8            SpecMusicMuse  Guest Post

8/8            Darkling Delights   Guest Post

8/8            Beauty in Ruins Guest Post

8/9            Jordan Hirsch Review (Hey, that’s me!)

8/10            The Seventh Star   Interview

8/10            Vampires, Witches, Me Oh My Top Ten List

8/10            The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn Guest Post

8/11            EricJude.com  Guest Post

8/12            Reviews Coming at YA Guest Post

8/13            I Smell Sheep   Top Ten List

8/13            Bee’s Knees Reviews  Review

8/14            Sheila’s Guests and Reviews Guest Post

 

**This eBook was provided to me in exchange for an honest review; no compensation was provided.

July Review Round-Up

Summer reading slowed down significantly in July – I blame trying to finish polishing Bombshell.  Here’s what I read in July:

Double or Nothing by Peter David

  • The Double Helix series continues in book 5 of 6 with Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and Captain Jean-Luc Picard going under cover to try to track down the person who engineered the deadly virus that has been popping up all over the Alpha Quadrant for years.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

  • The story follows Janie, an African-American woman in the early 20th century, from her teenage years to her 40’s as she tries to figure out love, life, and who she wants to be.

 

Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

**Summer reading, book 10**

2 months after Chris and I started dating, he gave me Their Eyes Were Watching God for Christmas.  I remember being incredibly impressed.  I’d mentioned wanting to read it (and about a thousand other books) in passing, and he’d remembered.  He’s so good at things like that.

I took that gift to Illinois when I visited my family for the holidays, then I left it there and didn’t get it back for 4 months.  I never finished reading it.  I’m good at things like that.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years, and it’s Summer Reading 2016.  Remember the theme: books I own that I’ve never read.  It’s the perfect time to re-visit that book!

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is a story about Janie Crawford, an African-American woman living in Florida in the early 20th century.  We get to see Janie as a teenager, getting married off to a man she barely knows; as a young woman, running off with a man who woos her; and as an adult woman, dealing with disappointment, unhappiness, death, and trying to find love again.  I don’t want to spoil it too much, so that’s all I’m going to say.

This gem is a shorter read and definitely more literary than what I’ve been reading lately.  There are parts that are hilarious, and most of the book is heartbreaking.  The story has so much soul.

Hurston does a great job of showing what life was like for an African-American woman in the early 1900’s, for better and for worse.  There were so many parts that I could relate to because I’m a woman, which I was so impressed with and so thankful for.  There were parts that I couldn’t relate to at all because I’m white and living 100 years later, which was humbling and eye opening.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a classic for a reason, and I highly recommend it, especially in this time where important discussions on race are thankfully happening.

If you’ve been thinking about race lately, if you’re looking for a different read, if you like classics, if you want something soulful, or if you’re a woman trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be: check out Their Eyes Were Watching God.  I’d definitely let you borrow my copy.