Monthly Archives: April 2018

Reigniting dead habits

While I didn’t do as much creating as I wanted to this week, three days is better than no days.

I swear, every time I had time for myself, I got the inevitable text from my brother: “COD?” Video games have consumed my free time, because it’s just so easy to agree to one more match. Then, four hours later, it’s time for bed. The struggle is real.

I did do a couple exercises from my writing book, which we nice to get me back into the creative spirit. And I did pick a project to start editing, I even read the first four chapters! I’ve decided to revisit the children’s book I wrote last year. (Was it really only last year? Or two years ago? I’m not sure…)

If you’ll recall, it deals with childhood cancer and death, so some tough stuff, but also lots of imagination, so it’s a lot of fun, too. I think so, anyway. I think a big challenge, as I read through and work on it, will be reminding myself that it is aimed toward children, and the intrigue that I might use for an adult novel might be too much for a kid’s book. I don’t have to layer on the mystery in the same way. And yet, I want to make sure that I’m not writing something boring or underestimating kids’ abilities. It might be a fine line, but one I look forward to walking.

Lying in Wait

Liz Nugent picked an excellent first line for her second novel. “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.” With an opener like that, how can you not keep reading?

Lying in Wait is a different kind of thriller than the ones I’ve been reading.

It follows the Fitzsimon family, Lydia and her husband Andrew, a prominent judge, and their beloved son Laurence. Obviously we know from the get-go that Andrew kills Annie, it’s in the first sentence. Lydia helps her husband hide the body, and they attempt to go on with life as normal, because who would miss a drug-addicted prostitute? Naturally, her sister would. Karen won’t accept that her sister is dead, because there’s no evidence for it. When her path crosses with Laurence’s, it becomes hard for the Fitzsimon house to keep a lid on its dark secrets–and there’s more than just Annie lying in wait for discovery.

Instead of being engaged try to figure out what’s happened in the story or how it ends, this story engages you in considering motives, how far someone will go in the name of self-preservation, and what will happen when it all hits the fan.

The characters are compelling, and Nugent does an excellent job in giving insight into each character, letting readers see what makes them tick and giving valid reasons for their behaviors.

All in all, Lying in Wait was a good novel. Keep an eye out for it when it hits the shelves in June, you won’t be disappointed.

A motivating opportunity

I’ve really let this half of my blog go, since December. Naturally, I wanted a little time off after NaNo, but what I did was let myself get out of the habit of writing and let my motivation and my creativity fall by the wayside.

But, that changed last week when I received an unexpected email.

I was contacted by a gal who works for a small publishing company that’s putting together an anthology of up and coming writer’s (they are doing a volume for each state). She had seen my blog (part of me feels a little embarrassed by that), and invited me to be submit some work for consideration. This isn’t vanity press, I’m not paying for my work to be taken, but it’s not quite traditional either, as I’m not actually getting paid (unless my work is selected, then I can get commission sales from the book, but that’s down the road). But what it is, after doing some research, is a chance to get some of my work out there, seen by others, and a chance to maybe network and see what might come of it.

So I spent the weekend whipping up a few short stories to offer up, and we’ll see where it goes. It’s not like it will be a big break for me, but, it might be a foot in the door to start something. And, it’s always nice to have someone think your work would make money.

It felt good to get back into writing. It’s one of those things that you don’t miss til you come back to it. So, I think this opportunity may also just be what I needed to dip my toes back into creativity. I’m going to pick one of my drafts to start some editing on again, and start thinking maybe about something new.

I guess even with recreating habits, it’s better late than never. And maybe this will finally be the year I make it a solid habit that sticks. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Unbury Carol

When I read the synopsis of Josh Malerman’s latest book, I was excited. Unbury Carol sounded really interesting.

Carol is in a coma. It’s not the first time, she has a condition that makes her appear dead, but she’s really deep in a coma. Her husband, who knows this, decides to use this latest episode as his escape, announcing her death and moving quickly to have her buried.

The only other person who knows about Carol’s condition is a long-lost lover, who receives word and rides as fast as he can to save her.

The reality of this western tale is that the story moved incredibly slowly. More than anything, it was a story of several people fighting their inner demons on their own. Each character in this book is made out to be unreliable, one step away from a mental breakdown, it seems.

I suppose if you enjoy books with lots of description and individual thinking, you may enjoy it, but for me, it dragged on. It was like reading The Hateful Eight (and that was bad enough trying to watch).

While this story might appeal to a more artsy readership (if that’s the right word), I personally prefer a faster-paced novel. I think this story had potential, but it’s execution didn’t sell me on it.

Tangerine

I think the best books, and especially thrillers, are the ones that keep you actively trying to work out how it’s going to end.

In her debut book Tangerine, Christine Mangan nails that.

After a tragic accident at her college in Vermont, Alice Shipley quickly finds herself married and living in Tangier, Morocco. Then suddenly, her college roommate, Lucy, shows up, and Alice is both relieved to be coming out of her shell again, but also suspicious and on guard– after Vermont, Alice thought Lucy was gone from her life for good. As Alice tries to manage her anxiety and suspicion, Lucy is scheming away, trying to reclaim what was lost to them both in Vermont.

Throughout the book, I found myself coming up with all kinds of possible acts for the story to resolve itself. Alice is an unstable character, that much is clear from the beginning. But there is more to Lucy than we first are led to believe, too. And I quickly found myself questioning her as much as Alice.

For a debut novel, I think Tangerine is excellent. Heck, it’s excellent as a novel period. It’s got twists and turns and complex characters, and while the story keeps you guessing, everything leads to a logical conclusion.

If you’re look g for a good page turner, look no further than Tangerine.

King of Ashes

When I was a teenager, most of what I read was fantasy. It’s always had a special place in my book-loving heart. As I’ve gotten older, I gravitate a little more toward thrillers and fiction, simply, I think, because a lot of fantasy authors have so many books, it’s daunting to know where or how to start.

When an advanced reader of Raymond Feist’s upcoming book, the first in a new series, became available, I decided to give it a try.

King of Ashes follows the lives of two young men. Declan is an orphan who was raised by the local smith and has just received his master rank. Hatu, also an orphan, was sent away from his home as an infant and raised by a nation of spies and assassins. What Hatu doesn’t know if that he is the heir to a demolished throne and last remaining Firemane, a bloodline of fire mages who were betrayed and thought destroyed. Both young men find their worlds turned upside down and are drawn to the same town, but we discover that it isn’t fate that’s drawing them.

As many first books are, King of Ashes was all about establishing characters and history. However, I personally found it long and drawn out. There’s no intrigue about Hatu being the last Firemane, so it’s a whole book of him wondering about new abilities, when the reader knows where they come from and why.

All in all, I just wasn’t impressed. Maybe his other works, or the sequel, will be better, but King of Ashes felt like a long, cryptically obvious introduction.