Sometimes all the stars align on your Twitter feed and something awesome appears. And, even rarer than that, you take a screenshot of it as it happens.
Let’s all thank David Annandale for having the presence of mind to take that screenshot when @shaunduke, Stephen Blackmoore, and I inadvertently converged to create something magical:
Good news on the writing front! Tainted Blood copy edits came back, and I went through them line by line. If you happen to follow my Twitter feed, believe me, that involved a whole lot of profanity. Plus some appeals to the Twitter hive mind, and the ever-popular “too gross?” checks. (those have left me with the following conclusion: there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who find poop jokes hilarious, and those who lack all sense of humor. Just a warning – there are poop jokes in Tainted Blood. AWESOME poop jokes.) Now the manuscript passes to the typesetter, and the next time I see it will be when I get the page proofs. So it’s making steady progress toward that November release date!
I’m in the process of re-organizing my office space. I’ve finally decided that I have outgrown the Walmart special desk (that is actually not a joke – I bought it when I was in grad school, and the budget was TIGHT back then) that I wrote the first three Fort Scott books on, and I’m upgrading to an L-desk that will offer about 2/3rds more room. Best of all, there will be room to not only type at the keyboard, but also slide my chair over and work longhand. While I’m at it, I’m also painting the office and finally putting up some pictures. Once this is done, I’ll start breaking ground on Fort Scott #4, which I am now officially contracted for. (the contract arrived yesterday with all the signatures! There is now no escape possible for Roc! Mwa ha ha ha!)
On to actual content.
According to my Goodreads account (which, can I just say how much I love that thing? Statistics make me happy – it’s why when I’m working on a book, I keep track of my daily wordcount), I’ve read 47 books so far this year. Let me tell you – it’s been a lot of fun. But as I stand here (or, rather, sit here) at the midpoint of the year, I have to admit – some of those books stunk, a lot were fantastic, but a few were ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD READ THEM NOW.
1. The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler
This comes out July 1, but I got an ARC from Django. You might be asking yourself – wait, she got an ARC from the author, who she is also referring to by first name? Is this a case of that rampant authorial nepotism that I hear about?
I will neither confirm nor deny this.
BUT, seriously, I love this series to death. The first book was one of my favorites last year, and I was really looking forward to the sequel. It’s pretty fabulous – imagine a Victor Hugo novel (yes, THAT one – with the musical), but flintlock-fantasy style. Oh, and for those of you who are looking for a fantasy book with a great range of female characters – look no further. It’s here.
2. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
I was at VeriCon this year with Max Gladstone, and here’s the thing about being on multiple panels with other authors – you hear the elevator pitch for their novel about 50,000 times. (Max could probably mention all the bullet-point selling items for Generation V from memory) Now, if you’re highly susceptible to advertising, like I am, this usually means that you have to buy the damn thing. However, I’m really glad that I did this, because this book is INCREDIBLE. It’s actually as good as the cover – how often does that happen?
I also read the sequel, which equally rocked my world (book moral: bros before hos, fathers, bosses, and gods), but I made the executive decision that there would be no double entries.
3. Dust by Elizabeth Bear
Angels, a generation ship, a basilisk named Gavin who is also a laser-cutter, medievalism meeting high tech, and copious incest. Very, very cool.
4. Vicious by V. E. Schwab
Every superhero/supervillain trope ever is beautifully and mind-blowingly subverted in this book. Great characterization and a great out-of-order construction that gives this a great puzzle feeling. Fabulous payoff, too. I picked this up because everyone on my Twitter feed was going crazy over it, and THEY WERE RIGHT.
5. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
The textbook I was using for one of my classes in the spring semester had a really neat section on the graphic novel, and while I didn’t quite figure out a way to shoe-horn it into the official syllabus I did read an excerpt from FUN HOME, and I had to immediately order the whole book. It’s a fascinating and beautifully presented memoir of the author’s childhood and family, really considering the ideas of identity and sexuality. So worth checking out if you haven’t read it yet.
6. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Sequels are tough when you really loved the original. Hopes get really high, and it’s unlikely for the sequel to live up to it. I’m really enjoying Anne Bishop’s foray into alternate-world urban fantasy, and the sequel really worked for me. I’ve had a pretty good six months with sequels, actually. Obviously, there’s my own sequel (REQUISITE PLUG AND SELF-BRAG), but I read a bunch that I really liked. I think the only one that just didn’t really do much for me was Sharon Shinn’s Royal Airs – though I still think that the first in that series, Troubled Waters, was utterly perfect.
7. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
I’ve done my time in the English Department gulag, so I thought that I’d really had my fill of Brontes. I mean, not that I don’t like them. Wuthering Heights is pretty delightfully fucked up, and Jane Eyre is basically requisite reading given how often writers feel compelled to either rip it off or give it an homage (fact: best Jane Eyre homage EVER is Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn – it’s not just a copy & paste of basic story elements, but actually pays attention to the goddamn themes). But I didn’t really feel the need to complete my Bronte trifecta, feeling that I’d pretty much gotten the idea.
I was wrong. Anne is the badass Bronte sister. She’s all gritty realism! Feminism! Belief in redemption! I mean, her sister Charlotte outright refused to let Tenant of Wildfell Hall be republished during her lifetime because of how controversial her sister’s book is. Yes, the book is told in epistolary form, which normally makes me shudder, but it’s worth it.
Okay, and I also watched the BBC film version before I read it, which got my interest going. But – worth it!
8. The Radiant Seas by Catherine Asaro
Plus the other 12 books in this series that I read since January. I really love this series, and now I’m suffering withdrawal – the bummer of tearing through a series in three months that have taken the author just under twenty years to write. Plus side, according to Asaro’s website, she’s got Plans.
Most of the books in the series can be read individually – there is only one cliffhangered book, and that one is pretty overtly labeled Part One. If you read them in publication order there’s also this neat thing where Asaro skips all around in her own timeline. In some books they’ll refer to this big war that occurred years ago, and in later books the setting IS that war.
Now, I read the series in publication order, which begins with Primary Inversion. But if you’re interested in reading it in chronological order, start with Skyfall. What I’d love to be able to do is dump my memories of this series and try it in chronological order, then get my other memories back and compare.
9. Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore
LA noir with necromancy. It’s pretty awesome. The sequel comes out in August, too, so you won’t have to wait too long to find out what’s next for Eric Carter.
10. Beggars In Spain by Nancy Kress
This is one of those sci-fi books that utterly blows you away with the setup, the payout, and the insight into humanity. It’s also one of those books that will leave you completely depressed because of its insights – but it’s so good that you have to read more. Kress reminds me of Sherri S. Tepper in that way. Well worth checking out.
So that’s my Top Ten since January. What’s yours?
It’s the end of the year! I have to say, 2013 was a pretty landmark year for me, what with the publication of Generation V and everything. Next year will be starting off with a bang as well, since Iron Night is coming out only seven days into January, and Tainted Blood is slated for November. Lots to look forward to!
Back when I first got into contract on Generation V back in 2012, my agent told me that I would need to start working on social media. I admit that there was a bit of reluctance on my part (between my day job and my writing, I honestly felt pretty tapped out), but I set up the website, the Facebook, and the Twitter. (Twitter turned out to be an extremely pleasant surprise – it’s much more conducive to quick conversations and general silliness, which are both things that I enjoy, as everyone who has seen me in action on Twitter knows)
Goodreads, though, was something that I really lagged on. I set up the entry for Generation V early, but other than that I really didn’t make much use of it for a while. I did the usual setup thing, checking off the books I’d read from the classics list, but other than that I generally wasn’t doing anything. In retrospect this is kind of a head-slapper, since I’m the kind of person who will actually list “reading” as a legitimate hobby, and my husband is constantly finding my book collection encroaching on any reasonably shelf-like surface.
Fun side-story – my agent was the person who brought up the subject of my author bio, somewhere mid-way through my edits on Generation V. Now, at that point I was juggling some pretty extensive edits (all of which made the book MUCH better and taught me a whole lot, by the way), plus a full-time job, plus laying out the initial plot elements for Iron Night, so believe me when I say that I was kind of fried. She was talking about how this was a good opportunity to showcase my personality and activities outside of writing to make myself more appealing, and so forth. I think that this is the part of the process that the agent is kind of hoping that the author happens to be some kind of modern-day gentleman adventurer in their spare time (When I’m not base-jumping off of bridges, I’m hiking up Mount Everest or defeating the forces of evil with my kung-fu prowess! I also knit!) – well, let me tell you, I am none of those things. It’s possible that if I had to choose a power-animal, it would be the sloth, because I am basically THAT sedentary. Give me a book and a warm sunbeam, and I’m basically good for about ten hours. My response to my agent was, “Um…. I like to read?” (not what she was hoping for, alas) (though, really, it happened with Iron Night as well – at a certain point in the publication process, you kind of lose all your hobbies for a little while)
Tangent over. But can you see now how nuts it is that I didn’t completely embrace Goodreads from the start? I actually set up my account for the sole purpose of being able to upload a .jpg of the book cover, and possibly host giveaways. Nuts! So my list of books that I read this year is actually a little sparse, since I didn’t track my first book until March (Erin Morgenstern’s amazingly dreamlike Night Circus), and I didn’t start tracking my reading thoroughly until around May. I’ll be much more thorough next year, since I was having a huge amount of fun today playing with the stats feature, and I liked being able to see a neat little list of what I’d read (mostly) this year.
Right now a lot of people are posting their top lists of books for the year (some are even including Generation V and Iron Night!) , which I’m really enjoying. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to do a Top Ten or something like that, but I wanted in on the fun somehow. So here’s a list of the books that I thought were pretty amazing of the 63 that I listed on Goodreads this year (plus the date I finished it). There were three authors who were so awesome that I had to just sit down and devour their whole series, and I put them at the end.
Books I Loved
Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant (September 30)
The Borgias: The Hidden History by G. J. Meyer (October 27)
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (May 25)
The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough (July 7)
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler (August 15)
Gulp by Mary Roach (April 24)
Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh (June 5)
Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn (June 27)
La Santisima by Teresa Frohock *short story (December 22)
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh (July 9)
Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock (May 24)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (March 6)
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (September 21)
Parasite by Mira Grant (November 17)
Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes (August 6)
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro (December 17)
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (September 23)
Secrets of the Sands by Leona Wisoker (July 29)
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (September 28)
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler (April 9)\
Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (November 30)
The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo *short story (November 3)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (September 26)
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (November 2)
Idlewild by Nick Sagan (June 2)
Edenborn by Nick Sagan (June 5)
Everfree by Nick Sagan (June 11)
Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott (no date)
Blood Kin by M.J. Scott (no date)
Iron Kin by M.J. Scott (May 15)
So, what do you think? Have you read any of these yourself? See anything that you’re curious about yourself? Have suggestions for what I should be reading in 2014? Throw it all down in the comments!