Friday, November 19, 2010


Sometimes a book comes along that you just love so much and you see people buzzing about it for awards and you get really excited and invested because OMG YOU LOVE THAT BOOK and then it doesn't get nominated for anything and now there are copies at Amazon for a penny and a sales rank over a million and you wish you could just buy three thousand copies yourself and send them to everyone you know or will ever know and tell to read it if they have ANY interest in a wonderful historical love story.

That book, for me, is A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant which came out in 2006 and now seems almost entirely forgotten. Let me tell you what I love about this book:

--Meg, the main character. She loves reading and writing, and her journey to becoming a writer is wonderful and rings very true. She's a strong girl that modern women can identify with, but at the same time she is most definitely a product of her age. Modern girls might like her, but she is NOT a modern girl plunked into the 17th century.
--Edward, the love interest, and his relationship with Meg. It's not simple. It's not quick. It keeps you guessing a bit. As a reader, I had time to fall in love with Edward myself. He's smart. He's a bit tortured (quite literally, he was physically tortured). But it's not too much. One of my favorite book love interests ever. If you like love stories between smart people, for goodness sake do yourself a favor and BUY THIS RIGHT NOW.
--There is a subplot about Muslims and Islam and the politics and relations of the time that are accurate to the past but also resonate to now, and they're very well thought out. Shades of grey on both sides. I love shades of grey.
--The language and historical feel. It feels like the time period, but it's not feels fresh, like you're really there, and besides that some of the lines in this book are very lyrical and wonderful but not pretentiously so.

Reviewing books has never been my forte, so I hardly know how to say how much I love this book, but really, read it. I don't reread books that often but I've reread this one, and I'll reread it again more than once.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ten Types of Reviews That Make Authors Sad

First, let me say that I love reviews in general. Some authors avoid reading their reviews ever. But I actually would not want to never read my reviews. I like knowing that some people loved my book, I love seeing thoughtful reactions, I like knowing what generally didn't go over well, and so while I might angst about those things, I enjoy them too. I praise those who are wise to avoid them to protect their sanity, but I will keep reading reviews. I've probably read 500 different opinions of Magic Under Glass already. After awhile, any one opinion means very little, but getting a feel for the collective opinion is nice.

So this is not a criticism against reviewers. This is just...a hopefully amusing list inspired by a Tenners/Elevensies chat the other day in which we Tenners warned the Elevensies what to expect and NOT TO STRESS over it. If possible. (Probably not possible.)

All book examples are made up and resemblance to real books is purely coincidental. In no particular order:

1. The Sloppy Slam. The reviewer didn't like your book. Or maybe they kind of liked it, but damned it with faint praise. More importantly, they called your fairy character a pixie and spelled Rutherford's name wrong, so clearly they weren't even PAYING ATTENTION REALLY so how dare they say the whole thing was just dumb? Also they added an apostrophe in an ungrammatical place.

2. The Turnaround. This reviewer was so excited to read your book. They drove 60 miles from their small town to the only bookstore in their entire county, pawning jewelry they inherited from their grandmother so they could buy your book in hardcover. And they are SOOO disappointed because this book SUCKS. I always feel so, so bad, so much so that when people tell me they just bought my book and can't wait to read it I'm just like, "I'M SORRY IF YOU HATE IT!!!"

3. The Unfair Criticism. This reviewer maybe even liked your book but they think the cover is sooo ugly, why did the author let them use that cover, or the font size is too big or too small and it's not available on Kindle and why did the sequel get pushed back a season?

4. The Mind-Reader. So, the other day you were thinking about some tiny little flaw in your book or work in general that luckily no one has never really commented on or noticed, and...the very next day, someone DOES notice.

5. The Reviewer With a Vengeance. All right. They didn't like your book. Fair enough. But did they have to go comment on every good review of it all over the web and point out how they didn't like it? Did they have to say something like "every other review of this on Amazon is so glowing but that just shows the dumbing down of the American taste" or "I can't BELIEVE Kirkus gave this a starred review"? It's a little much. Dear writer, have some chocolates.

6. The Assumption. Some reviewers see context in your work you never intended or realized, which is entirely fair and a part of literary criticism. Once it's published, interpretations are out of your hands. But it does get painful when readers assume you had an agenda that you didn't actually have, or when they seem to miss the point entirely, like say you make sure to handle teen sex in a sensitive, responsible way and show birth control and everything and the review makes it out like your characters are a bunch of irresponsible whores. Or they assume the characters' thoughts and beliefs are exactly like yours. Maybe they weren't reading carefully. Maybe you could have done better. You keep thinking about it. DID you put that in there? Ugh, maybe you did. Or maybe they're just stupid. Or maybe you did. Dude. Stop thinking about it, and whatever you do, do not comment on the review for goodness sake.

7. The Wrong Reader. So, say you adore writing about sensitive musician boys, maybe you are even married to a sensitive musician boy, and the reviewer is just like "OMG I HATE SENSITIVE MUSICIAN BOYS!" Well, they were not the reader for your book. The sensitive musician boy is what kept you going when you almost gave up on this book. There is no way you can please this reader and yourself at the same time. Why does it still hurt!?

8. The Reviewer That is Obviously Wrong. Obviously Wrong, Damnit! You've gotten fifty reviews that said your ideas were so original, and then you get the one who says that your book is the most typical unimaginative piece of tripe that they've ever read. What book were they reading? Maybe one of your books was somehow printed with a different book inside? Yes. Yes, that is it.

9. The Salt in the Wound. So, every book can always be better. From the moment your book leaves your hands, you will probably already be thinking about its weak points. This reviewer gives you a critical review that you totally agree with. And it makes you cringe. Augh, you could have pleased this person! If only you could take the book back and fix things! Please will they give your next book a chance? You have realized the error of your ways!

10. The Blog You Once Loved. So, you love a certain bloggers reviews. They have great taste! They like all the books you like! Their good reviews make you want to rush out and buy the book, and their bad reviews are so witty and astute and fun to read...oh. Until they hate yours. Oh. could they?

So, there you go. Collect them all! It's a rite of passage. Just like rejections.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Contest winner, etc.

I got back from my trip Saturday night and today I am finally sort of gathering myself and getting things done. It was an exhausting but wonderful voyage!

AND, I actually turned in Magic Under Stone before I departed. Yes! It has an ending! There are some parts of it, ending included, that I fear are still rather rough and I'm still cringing a bit...I wrote it so much faster than anything else I've ever written. But, still, for it being my first sequel and quite a bit longer than Magic Under Glass I am very happy with how it turned out. I can't wait to see what my editor will suggest for making it even better.

(Well, actually I can wait. I can totally wait. I don't want to see that thing again for a little bit.)

Between the Sea and Sky already has been added to over 600 to-read lists on Goodreads! Guys, that is a lot!! Thank you!! And the winner of the book package is Nicole (at Ink and Prose)! Nicole, I'll email you later today with a list of books to choose from.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Between the Sea and Sky cover!

The cover of my next book is live!

I got to see this cover back in May and I've had to wait all this time to share it with anyone. *writhes*

I LOVED writing this book so much. As I've described before, I envisioned like Jane Austen meets Miyazaki movie (and had soundtracks to both in heavy rotation while writing it). It's about a mermaid named Esmerine who runs into her old childhood friend winged dude Alan, while looking for her sister Dosinia who ran away with a human man. There is flying, and humor, and a brassy old woman, and a bookstore, and lots of love to literature (of the 18th century variety, at least), and kissing in a vineyard, and relationships between sisters, and Alan is somewhat of an intellectual snot, which I always enjoy, personally. Not so much of an intellectual snot that I wouldn't date him. You know.

It's set in the same world as Magic Under Glass but instead of being Victorian England/America-ish, it's based on Italy around 1800. (And man, I did way too much research on actual Italy for it being a made up Italy...)

So I'll have a wee contest for it. Add it to Goodreads (or if you've already added it, obviously, you're in, although I'd appreciate it if you could click the link and "change to this edition") for 1 entry:

Posting the cover on your blog will get you 5 entries.

You must comment back here with a link. Contest ends 11/14 midnight EST because I'm going on vacation.

Winner can choose three books from my stash of "already-read" books that I've either bought or picked up at ALA/BEA (I have very limited space to keep fiction so I cycle through them quickly!)...there are about thirty books to choose from, such as: The Eternal Ones, Plain Kate, Before I Fall, Hunger, Silver Phoenix, The Half-Life of Planets, Extraordinary... Lots more. I'll try to read some more before the contest ends too. Or you can opt for a signed UK copy of Magic Under Glass for one of your selections.

International entries allowed but you only get to choose one book cause I can't afford to ship too many overseas.