Friday, March 29, 2013

Editing Kelpie: a study in nuance

I'm breaking into several different types of posts these days, and today we're breaking into one for a happy occasion: the first book for which I did full co-editing passes is edging closer to release. Today, I hope to give you a view of what it's like to work with a manuscript from the editing end of things, particularly with my learning curve.

My work with Kelpie is mostly done, the author and I have had great conversations, and-- best of all-- I've finally seen the great cover art! Here's a teaser image of Heather, the main character. Trish's take (and maybe the prize you're seeking) are down below the cut.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Rating: 3 stars
Length: Snappily short (336 pages)
Publication: October 30, 2007 from Tor Science Fiction
Premise: Ahni Huang has been ordered to restore balance by killing her twin brother's murderer. The trail leads her to New York Up, one of Earth's enormous space stations, and people there seem uncannily able to predict her movements. She is soon caught up in a struggle where she can't see the sides or even all of the board, but the stakes for he future are dangerously high.
Warnings: murder of civilian children, onscreen suicide
Recommendation: If you're interested in space-to-earth sociopolitical relationships and tensions, this may be just the right thing. It can get a little confused in places, but it's tightly-paced, vivid, and often quite fun.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


This one was a joint recommendation from Smartypants, Misanthrope, and Cookie Monstress-- when enough of my friends tell me that I'll love something, what can I do but hurry up and read it?

Rating: 4 stars
Length: Light and snappy (304 pages)
Publication: December 3, 2011 from Del Rey
Premise: Atticus O'Sullivan is a Druid who has survived twenty-one centuries and is now running an occult bookshop in Arizona to avoid the Tuatha Dé Danann, who are highly dangerous to his continued survival. One of them has finally decided to track him down and try to take back the sword Fragarach, the Answerer....preferably over Atticus's dead body.
Warnings: impressive gore
Recommendation: Pick this one up, especially if you have an interest in Irish mythology. Hearne manages to get his research across while pulling in a broad cast of characters, magic, and several layers of plotting and manipulation...all in barely three hundred pages of tight pacing. I am delighted.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Opening lines: location and movement

At the suggestion of the commenters over on Captain Awkward, perhaps my favorite advice blog in existence, I'm starting a loose series of writing advice and commentary posts. Fun though it is for me to vent my spleen about whatever book has bothered me most recently in the book-by-book reviews, I tend to find myself drifting into "it could have been better if X" anyway. Feel free to drop in comments or suggestions about what you'd like to see me cover next-- most examples that I'll be using will come from reviews I've written, so these posts may grow over time as I find more examples.

This week, let's take a look at opening sentences-- these are important because of both the way they influence a reader's decision about whether to continue and the way readers are so often (though not always) right about the way the quality of a first sentence gauges the strengths of the whole book. There's not a wrong way to do this, per se, but a good opening line is simultaneously a gateway to the rest and a microcosm of the work as a whole, establishing early hints about tension or mood or style. You can accomplish that in any number of ways: building the setting, dropping the reader into the character's head directly, establishing a threat, opening with dialogue, using a short sentence that demands a follow-up, or grabbing for something altogether stranger. This time we open on some of the most reliable types: building the physical setting and focusing on a character's external movements.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Priestess of the White

Rating: 2.5 stars
Length: Hefty (598 pages)
Publication: December 27, 2005 from Harper Voyager
Premise: Auraya, who saved her village from a massacre when she was younger, is now one of the White, the five immortal priests and priestesses who use the power of the gods to protect the realm. The gods have declared that Hania must ally itself with surrounding lands, but that's all the more difficult when mysterious sorcerers in black are attacking the kingdom and Auraya is trying to maintain her childhood friendship with a heathen Dreamweaver.
Warnings: largely offscreen portrayal of violent death, implied offscreen incestuous sexual abuse (very brief)
Recommendation: If you're willing to be patient, there are some good thoughts and details here, but it moves a little slowly and tends to spend time rehashing old territory when it needs to be moving forward.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


One of my relatives recommended this to me a few years go, and I'm glad that I finally got around to it. I've read some of Dekker's work before and had mixed opinions, so it was interesting to go back to one of his best-known works.

Rating: 2 stars
Length: 408 pages in trade paperback
Publication: February 11, 2004 from Thomas Nelson
Premise: Thomas Hunter has been living a normal life as a coffee shop employee when his past catches up to him and he's chased by several gunmen. When a bullet nicks his head, he wakes from unconsciousness into a dark forest....but soon manages to leave it behind for the glowing and peaceful world across the bridge. Whenever he falls asleep in one reality, he wakes up in the other, and two worlds may be leaning on his actions.
Warnings: no-gore civilian deaths, quite a few people getting shot
Recommendation: If you love the Narnia series in part for its allegorical look at goodness and Christianity, you might enjoy this as well. If not, the unsubtle nature of the narrative may make it difficult to finish.