Is Ilona Andrews Punking Us?

So I am a huge Ilona Andrews fan.

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team, and their books are amazing. Seriously. The Kate Daniels series has some of the best worldbuilding and characters in the urban fantasy genre. It took me a couple of books to get into it initially, but now its one of my auto-buy series. In fact, Andrews is one of my auto-buy authors, and when they release something–whether it’s the more romance-centric Burn for Me or their kooky, unclassifiable Innkeeper serials, I’m there.

Well anyway, last April, Ilona (the wife half of the team) played a prank on her readers, giving us a book blurb with Hugh D’Ambray as the protagonist. In the Kate books, Hugh is very much, unapologetically the bad guy–but a sexy one. Ilona has implied that he’s a sociopath. But their characters are so complex and interesting that I’m not sure it matters. I think they can plausibly redeem Hugh and turn him into a romantic figure. Or maybe not. Maybe he’ll just stay the mostly bad guy. Or all bad guy.

Look at Kresley Cole’s Lothaire. Lothaire had been the ambiguous villain in that series since the beginning. He’s still the villain after it’s over. Yet it’s one of Cole’s highest-rated books. We like our bad guys. Maybe it’s a little bit of wish fulfillment.

So anyway, today Ilona wrote a blog post, and I caught this in the comments:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 19.37.17

Ummm….does that say what I think it says?

Anytime the possibility of a Hugh book has come up in the past, Ilona has denied the possibility.

It’s not April 1 again, is it? *Checks the calendar.*

It’ll be a tough sell, convincing readers that Hugh is still “good” enough to be a hero, in any way, shape, or form. (Like I said, basically a sociopath.) But I think if any authors can do it, it’s the Ilona Andrews team. Count me as one fan hoping this one is true.

 

Just One of Those Weeks

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I’ve been pretty busy over the last week or so, and I’ve been exhausted. Some quick updates:

–“Doctor Who” series 9 is amazing, and I’m glad that many of my pre-season wishes have already started to come true. This looks like it’s going to be Capaldi’s season, and Michelle Gomez has, in the first two episodes, stolen every scene she’s in. With news of Jenna Coleman’s upcoming departure, I’m starting to read a lot more into her interactions with the Doctor. So Clara died, again. Foreshadowing, or just coincidence?

–Part of my hectic week was dealing with kitty illnesses. Our elder cat, Annabel, has had kidney disease for the last 2 1/2 years. Last week, she stopped eating, became lethargic, and was hiding under the bed. We took her to the vet and they found out her kidney values had spiked to double what they were a few months ago. After two days at the emergency vet/vet hospital, a day of fluids, and some appetite stimulant, she’s gotten back to normal. They discovered her blood pressure was high, and we have her on meds now, which has also seemed to help. But otherwise, they don’t know why her values spiked, or what caused her illness, whether it’s just a part of her disease or if something else triggered it. That’s the bitch of kidney disease: it’s degenerative, so you’re always just waiting for that other shoe to drop. But Annabel is doing much better now, so we’re just taking things day by day.

–Speaking of, one of the things that makes me happy is that my fiancé feels the same way about animals–and specifically, about our animals–as I do, that they are part of our family. Volunteering at the animal shelter teaches you very quickly that not everyone feels that way. But J. does, and I don’t think I could marry anyone who treated them otherwise.

–Had a very lively discussion on my Facebook author page the other day about what movies/TV shows/books should be “required viewing” to have more of a cultural consciousness/awareness. One I forgot to mention on the page: the Harry Potter series. Certainly they’re not my favorite books, but you’re really living in another universe if you don’t get all the Muggle references that you hear nowadays.

–Speaking of required viewing, I am very much looking forward to the “Jessica Jones” television series that will be debuting on Netflix in November. The premise reminds me of my beloved “Veronica Mars,” but it looks like it’ll be even more badass than that. And hey, I do know a thing or two about violent, eff-ed up heroines. Plus, David Tennant. Need I say more?

The Demon Within: A Small Snippet

Now that were inching closer and closer to the release date, I thought it was about time I started posting some (non-spoilery) snippets.

One of the biggest things that I’m still working on is the middle section. I hate, hate middles with a passion. I’m good at beginnings and endings, but I often get lost somewhere in the middle, and the story starts to meander with no urgency. This is something I’ve been working on with my editor, and I believe the middle is in better shape than when I started. But I’m still working.

Here’s a little snippet of something I worked on tonight. Caveats: it’s unedited, so it may not look exactly as it looks now in the final version of the book. (Honestly, there’s a chance it might not make it to the book, so I can’t discount that, either.) If it’s got typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, etc., it’s all on me. Like I said: this is not the final version. But I’m kind of proud of it, so I wanted to share.

Okay, here’s what you need to know. Dale (our heroine) and John (our…something, heh) are at an amusement park. It’s nighttime, and the park is closed. The brackets indicate where I edited spoilery bits out. And that…I think is all I’m going to tell you right now 😛

The metal fence around the carousel was taller than I was, tapering to sharp points on the top, and the slats didn’t provide much in the way of footholds. I struggled to climb over, the sound of John chasing me getting closer and closer all the time. Finally, I made it over, and I ran across the carousel to the other side of the fence. This time around I knew what to do, and I made it more easily—though the sharp points did catch the fabric of my shirt and tear a hole into it. I ignored it and jumped to the ground.

About five seconds after I jumped the fence I heard it rattle behind me as John arrived at the carousel. Damn. How was he so close? […] “I’m impressed, Little Demon,” I heard him call. “You used the geography around you to your advantage. But it’s not enough. Not when I’m your opponent.”

I couldn’t help it. I turned around and looked at him. John had backed up until he was about 50 feet away from the fence. Then, he sprinted back toward the carousel. When he got near the fence line, he leapt into the air, sailing easily over the pointy spikes and landing in a crouch. For a second, all I could do was stare. “Holy shit.”

He rose and gave me a cocky grin.

I ran.

Romance Writers of America 2015 Conference Wrap-Up

The best part of going to a conference with 90% female attendees. Oddly enough, lines were always shorter at the converted restrooms. Do I smell a patriarchal conspiracy?

The best part of going to a conference with 90% female attendees. Oddly enough, lines were always shorter at the converted restrooms. Do I smell a patriarchal conspiracy?

So I got back the other day from the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York. To be honest, I felt a little trepidation about going. Romance is not my primary genre (although all my works have romantic subplots in them, and I am considering writing something more romance-centric). Furthermore, going to the conference meant I had to miss going to the beach with my boyfriend and his family, which was great fun last year, so I was kind of bummed about that. To be honest, the main reason I decided to go to this—as opposed to another writing conference—was because Nalini Singh, who is one of my favorite authors, was going to be a keynote speaker.

I’m so glad I went.

I already live Tweeted many of the workshops, so I think, for this blog post, I’m going to keep to the highlights, for me.

I got to meet Carolyn Crane! I became “online friends” with Carolyn years ago after I interviewed her for CC2Konline.com. But I was a fan of Carolyn’s long before I was her friend. I had read the first two books in her Disillusionist urban fantasy trilogy, and I was so blown away by them that I sucked up my courage, wrote her an e-mail, and said, “Can I pretty please interview you please?”

Carolyn Crane

Anyway, after I stopped tripping all over myself, we actually became pretty good virtual friends, and she’s been incredibly supportive of my writing career. We got to spend several hours talking about writing, books, the romance community, and our cats. It was so cool spending time with someone I’m not only a huge fan of, but someone whose career I’ve come to admire and respect. I love that Carolyn has managed to jump seamlessly into a new genre. Her latest book, the RITA-nominated romantic suspense novel Behind the Mask, is awesome. Romantic suspense isn’t a genre that I read often, but I love that Carolyn can make her books both sexy and action-packed, and that her heroines are just as intelligent and badass as her heroes. No damsels in distress here! This book is a perfect example of that.

At the signing on Wednesday night, I got to meet Jeaniene Frost, who was nice enough to take a picture with her phone and Tweet it to me because mine had died. I also got signed books from Kristen Callihan, whose Darkest London steampunk books are completely amazing, and Thea Harrison, whose Elder Races novels made me fall in love with a dragon. Literally. I didn’t think it was possible to lust after a reptile, but it is.

And to top it all off, I got an autographed book from Nalini Singh at the signing! And a picture! She was so nice and gracious, and asked me about my own writing. I’m afraid I pretty much fangirl vomited all over her.

Me: OMG OMG OMFG I LOVE YOU YOU'RE SO AMAZING SQUEEEE!!! NALINI SINGH: Who is this crazy woman? Please get her away from me.

Me: OMG OMG OMFG I LOVE YOU YOU’RE SO AMAZING SQUEEEE!!!
NALINI SINGH: Who is this crazy woman? Please get her away from me.

That was all amazing. But here’s the main thing I took away from this conference.

This was the first conference where I’ve spent more time at the career- and marketing-oriented workshops than the craft- and getting published-oriented workshops. The authors who spoke were successful in their genres—not runaway successes necessarily, but steady, hardworking authors who had been writing and publishing for a long time, weathering the changes in the publishing world, and still making a living at it.

And after hearing them speak, I thought: I can do this.

This is the first time I’ve felt like success in the publishing world isn’t some magical, alchemical formula, or random luck. Yes, there probably is an element of luck associated with J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer-type success. But for other authors, it’s just a lot of hard work, flexibility, and devotion to your craft.

Here are some of the main points I took away.

*The publishing world, for better or worse, is changing very quickly right now. Be flexible, be willing to try different things, and be prepared to misstep sometimes. When all else fails, come back to the writing. That’s why you’re in this business in the first place.

Also, authors and publishers give away a crazy amount of free stuff at RWA. This was just the bag I got when I checked in!

Also, authors and publishers give away a crazy amount of free stuff at RWA. This was just the bag I got when I checked in!

*Figure out where your priorities are, where and how to best spend your time. You can’t do everything. Once you have some success as a writer, consider hiring someone to assist you on things like marketing and publicity. Your main focus should be on the writing.

*One thing you should not hire someone else to do is fan interaction. Fans in 2015 expect a genuine connection with the authors they love.

*As far as social media goes…some of the authors/bloggers there liked Facebook, some liked Twitter, some liked Instagram, and some liked Pinterest (which I still have no idea what to do with). Use what works for you, and leave the rest alone. Set aside time to spend on publicity/fan interaction on social media, because it tends to be a giant time suck.

*Put together a newsletter, but don’t abuse it. Make sure your subscribers know when they’re going to get a newsletter (e.g. once a month, only when a new book is released, etc.)

*For slower writers (i.e. me), you can use your website to promote other authors and books you like, or post excerpts or blurbs from upcoming books. That way, you don’t fade out of readers’ memories.

*Find good critique partners! (This is a big one. I’m still working on it.)

*Writing is a very solitary profession. Build a community of people who can cheer you on, stay positive, help you, and give advice.

Overall, it was a great conference, and a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. Next year’s conference will be in San Diego. I’m already planning to be there.

Game of Thrones Rant, Part 2: The Dance of Dragons edition

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“Game of Thrones,” what am I going to do with you?

SPOILERS!!!!!!

The last two episodes have had some of the best scenes in the show’s history. In last week’s “Hardhome,” Jon Snow and the Wildlings battle the White Walkers. It had some of the show’s coolest imagery—the four White Walker horsemen on the mountain, mirroring the four horsemen of the apocalypse, not to mention the Night’s King’s badass ‘bring it’ gesture when he resurrects the dead Wildlings as White Walkers.

And then there was Dany’s battle with the Sons of the Harpy in the fighting pits. Pretty much everything that happened from the point the Harpies showed up onward was perfect, but I didn’t think it would equal or potentially top last week’s Hardhome battle…until Drogon, Dany’s long-missing dragon, showed up. The final shot of Dany climbing onto Drogon’s back and taking off, with Tyrion and the others staring in awe, is going to go down as one of the most memorable images in the show’s history.

It’s not often that a show can have two of its best endings in its run two weeks in a row.

But before we got to see Dany fly off into the sunset with her dragon, we had to watch Stannis Baratheon burn his own daughter at the stake. Shireen has always been a memorable supporting character, the one thing that humanized the stiff, uncompromising Stannis. (Also, she’s still alive in the books, though in fairness, as the show is beginning to pass the timeline of George R.R. Martin’s novels we’re probably going to be seeing more and more of that.)

I’m not sure how I feel about it. The scene is horrifying, and it’s meant to be horrifying. That horror is not mitigated or downplayed, with even Stannis’s crazy wife Selyse begging for mercy. It also highlights just how unsuitable Stannis would be for kingship, in a season where he’s actually started to look like a reasonable contender. King Tommen is too young, too green, and too bendable to everyone else’s will. Dany has spent the season imploding in Meereen. And every other contender is dead. I won’t say Stannis was starting to look good, exactly, because Stannis always struck me as a drip. But with his firm command of his people, he was starting to look like a more seasoned, capable leader than Dany or Tommen. But this episode proves that he’s too much under the thumb of Melisandre—not to mention too selfish and cruel—to be an effective ruler.

But the problem is, I just don’t buy it. Shireen is the one character on the show that he’s ever shown any affection toward. He’s continually protected her from his wife’s cruelty, and just a few weeks ago refused to allow Melisandre to sacrifice her. The loss of their supplies at the hands of Ramsay Bolton was a significant one, and Stannis’s rationale in sacrificing Shireen is that it will save all his men—and he’s obviously torn up about it. That said, if he would just give up his claim to the throne, he wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked by the Boltons in the night. Furthermore, does he really think that burning his own child at the stake is going to endear his men to him?

Stannis may be a drip, and he may be a zealot, but nothing up until this point has shown me that he’s far enough gone to sacrifice his own child.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this one yet. But at least I got a badass dragon flight as a consolation prize.

Why is “Game of Thrones” So Rapey?

Sansa

“Game of Thrones,” why do you have to be so rapey?

Way back in season 1, we had Daenerys and Khal Drogo. After Dany is forced into marriage with Drogo by her throne-seeking elder brother, Viserys, Dany and Drogo have a troubling first night together.

But hey, it’s okay, because those savages just don’t know any better. (Don’t even get me started on the racist implications of Dany’s plotlines throughout the series.) Once Dany and Drogo learn to communicate, and Dany shows Drogo the fine art of having sex face-to-face, they fall in love. Awww. Not. I thought we had gotten over this Luke and Laura-esque nonsense back in the 1980s, but I guess I was wrong.

Fast forward to season 4. Cersei Lannister has finally reunited with her lover/twin brother, Jaime, after years of separation. But Jaime has changed. The show had spent the previous two seasons doing something I thought impossible: redeeming him, a character who had been primarily been known as the man who pushed Bran Stark out a window back in episode 1. He had also been physically mutilated, his sword hand having been cut off by his captors. Cersei has been through a lot, too: war, battles, her daughter being sent to Dorne, and her eldest son’s death. When Jaime returns, we thought it would be all happy happy, joy joy reunion. But Cersei rejects him. Then this happens.

The worst of it is that afterwards, we’re still expected to root for Jaime. The very next episode, he gifts Brienne of Tarth his sword and armor and releases her to go find the now-missing Sansa Stark. She names the sword “Oathkeeper.” So much emotion in those final looks between the two of them. If only things were different. If only Jamie could have lived happily ever after with Brienne. It’s not his fault he was a Lannister, and Cersei is, as he said, a hateful woman. Nothing is his fault. Poor Jaime.

SPOILERS for the last several episodes.

Fast forward again, this time to last week. Sansa Stark has married Ramsay Bolton—the son of the man who killed her mother and brother. Viewers of the show already know Ramsay is a sadist; we’ve been shown this over and over again since season 3, when Ramsay castrates Theon Greyjoy and send his genitalia back to his family. So yeah, no redeeming qualities there.

But silly me, I thought, maybe—maybe—we could expect something different. Since season 1, Sansa has been a largely passive character. But in the latter half of season 4 and the beginning of season 5, we got to see a different side to Sansa. She’s finally beginning to realize the power she has, and how she can use that to manipulate people. Her decision to marry into the family of her worst enemy was a calculated one. She wanted to avenge her mother and brother, and she thought that being back at Winterfell would help her do it. She didn’t know Ramsay was a complete nutjob. To be honest, I was kind of hoping she would kill him before it got to that point.

Not so much.

The worst of it is that Sansa’s rape scene isn’t even about Sansa. No, it’s about Theon—because apparently, he needs to see a girl he grew up with be brutally raped right in front of him in order to break Ramsay’s thrall over him. But even that doesn’t work correctly: in this week’s episode, when Sansa—now back to being the damsel in distress—asks Theon to help her get a message to her family’s supporters, Theon betrays her to Ramsay.

Awesome.

As if that wasn’t enough, we have enough near-rape scene this week, when Gilly is attacked at the Wall by two men of the Night’s Watch, and she’s rescued by Sam. Weren’t the Night’s Watchmen supposed to take vows of celibacy? Is there any man in the universe of “Game of Thrones” who doesn’t think he should have free, unrestricted access to women’s bodies?

Well…there is Sam, the chubby Night’s Watchman who’s been protecting Gilly and her baby for the last couple of seasons. So what does Gilly do after Sam rescues her again? She has sex with him for the first time. Naturally. Because that’s totally what I would do right after I was almost raped. Right.

Science fiction and fantasy have a bad habit of raping its female characters. It’s often used either to help a character “power up,” as in Dany’s story: her marriage to Drogo is the first step in becoming the Mother of Dragons and fighting for the Iron Throne. It can also be used, as sci-fi/fantasy author Seanan McGuire puts it, to “put cocky heroines in their place,” which we see in Cersei’s story. But the worst is Sansa. In less than one episode, Sansa goes from being a character with her own distinct point of view to a Woman in a Refrigerator, her trauma being used primarily to serve another, male, character’s storyline.

“Game of Thrones” appeals to me because it has some of the most interesting, complex female characters on television. Although the world is distinctly patriarchal, each of the female characters subverts and manipulates that power structure in some way to gain more agency for herself, and it’s awesome.

But this is also the series for which the term “sexposition” was coined. Violence is a mainstay of the “Game of Thrones” world, but it is only the female characters who are subjected to sexual violence again and again and again—even when these scenes were written as consensual in the books (as Dany’s and Cersei’s both were).

And I have to say, I’m tired. I’m getting to the point where I don’t know if I can, or should, follow this series any longer. I’m invested in these characters and the story, and I want to find out who wins the Iron Throne as much as the next person. But I’m so sick of tuning in week after week just to see yet another female character being raped, and yet another rapist we’re supposed to sympathize with.

Outlander, Sexuality, and the “Character” of Black Jack Randall

BlackJack

First of all, I’m going to say SPOILERS if you haven’t read the book or watched the last episode of the television series.

I came across an interesting post on Facebook from Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander book series.

She says:

Well, we seem to be getting a lot of interesting reviews on Episode 12–which is All Good, to be sure. I just want to make _one_ thing clear, before drawing your attention to a couple of interesting ones: To wit, Black Jack Randall is _not_ a homosexual.

He’s a pervert. He’s a sadist. He derives sexual pleasure from hurting people, but he’s not particular about the gender of a victim. (Personality, yes–gender, no.)

I see reviewers assuming that he told Jenny repeatedly to turn around, during their encounter in a flashback–and they assume it was because he’s gay. Actually (and obviously, I would have thought…), it’s because she’s looking at him and laughing, and he finds this unnerving.

If you look at his behavior throughout the book (and I emphasize book, though it’s almost the same in the show), he’s shown as attacking four people: Jenny, Jamie, Claire, and another prisoner at Fort William (who we don’t hear about in the show) named Alex.

Two men, two women–he’s an equal-opportunity sadist. However, given his position (garrison commander) and the structure of the culture he’s in, he has much easier access to male prisoners, whom he can torture at leisure. But he’ll take women when he can get them–_vide_ his reaction to finding Claire wandering around by herself.

At the risk of angering Outlander fans–though it wouldn’t be the first time–I’m going to have to disagree.

I wrote about the “Outlander” TV series back in 2013, shortly after Starz announced it would be producing a television series based on the books, and one of the things I cited as a potential obstacle for adapting the books to screen was the depictions of homosexuality.

There are only two characters in the first book who demonstrate same-gendered sexual attraction: Black Jack Randall, and Lord Sandringham. Sandringham’s sexuality has been downplayed in the show (although I’m a few episodes behind), but in the book, one of the “amusing” anecdotes is about how a teenaged Jamie barely escapes being raped by Sandringham by inducing a bout of diarrhea. So funny! Ha, ha…er…*cough.* Guess I don’t have that 18th century Highlander humor down.

Black Jack Randall is another kettle of fish altogether. Gabaldon calls him a “sadist,” and he is certainly that. But the book itself belies the idea that he’s an “equal opportunity sadist.” When he attempts to rape Claire, and in Jenny’s recollection of her attempted rape, both women state that Randall did not/could not become erect. Meanwhile, he doesn’t have this problem later when his sadism is turned against a male character. If there’s confusion about Black Jack’s sexuality, it’s a confusion rooted in the text.

For what it’s worth, I think “Outlander” is an amazing show, and an amazing book. Watching a show with a strong, well-developed female lead, told from the female perspective, has been great. But just because you enjoy a show, or a book, doesn’t mean it’s beyond criticism. I’m glad that the show is generating this conversation about sexuality, because it shows that we’re seeing things that would have flown largely under the radar in 1991 when the book was first published.

A Farewell to Jonathan Crombie, a.k.a. Gilbert Blythe

Gilbert

I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time when I was 11.

I was the same age as the titular heroine, and I identified with her quite a bit: imaginative, stubborn, temperamental, with a tendency to use a lot of big words. In fact, it’s fair to say that Anne is probably the main reason I have red hair today.

So when Anne met her nemesis, Gilbert Blythe and broke a slate over his head, I hated him too. And when Anne—finally!—fell in love with him, I fell in love with him, too.

It was probably a year or so after I first read the book that I watched the Kevin Sullivan film adaptations. I never liked the liberties Sullivan took with the books, and I never felt like Megan Follows was my Anne. (Probably because, not so deep down, I wanted to be Anne.) But Jonathan Crombie…Jonathan Crombie was always my Gilbert.

Those curls, those twinkly eyes, that chivalrous streak that never went away, even in the face of Anne’s disdain…if ever there was an actor who, in my mind, so perfectly captured the character he played, it was him.

And so, when I heard Jonathan Crombie had died, it felt like a small part of my childhood had died. It felt like Gilbert had died, even though I know Gilbert was a fictional character who, if he had lived at all, would have passed decades ago.

Jonathan Crombie-as-Gilbert Blythe was one of my first character-crushes, the embodiment of the kind of guy I would daydream about as a 12-year-old girl. And let’s just face it: Gilbert Blythe is the kind of guy you should dream about as an adult. Someone who would do anything for you. Someone who loves you despite your faults, or maybe because of them. Someone who can make you smile even when you’re angry. Someone you love as much as he loves you.

I knew it at 12, but somehow I forgot it for a long time as an adult: everyone deserves their Gilbert.

I’ve found my Gilbert, and he’s all those things and more. Still, I can’t help but mourn a little for Jonathan Crombie, the man-who-would-be-Gilbert.

We’ve got DVDs, online streaming, those never-ending pledge drives on PBS. Still, the world feels like a little bit less without my first Gilbert Blythe.

Sometimes the Joke’s On You

Warlords-Price-333x500

One of my favorite urban fantasy writers, Ilona Andrews, posted this yesterday, announcing a spinoff novel of the popular Kate Daniels series starring fan favorite villain, Hugh D’Ambray. Here’s the blurb, pulled directly from Andrews’ site:

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, bowed to only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master is gone and Hugh must carve a new place for himself and his people in the post-apocalyptic world where magic comes and goes in waves. With former allies ready to tear him apart, Hugh is forced to make alliances to preserve the Order of Iron Dogs, warriors who would follow him anywhere.

Serafina Price is the head witch of the Midwestern Covens. She is powerful, devious, and smart. Her people think she is a goddess, her enemies call her Snake. Tasked with protection of her people, she is trapped between the magical heavy weights about to collide and plunge the entire region into war that human authorities have no power to stop. Desperate to preserve the covens, she would accept help from the devil himself.

They detest each other, yet they need each other to survive. How can two people famous for betraying their former allies cement their agreement without a shadow of a doubt?

They marry.

It turned out to be an April Fool’s joke. Eagle-eyed fans noticed that one of the “blurbs” came from a fictional romance writer who had been mentioned within the series. How meta.

But maybe the joke’s on Andrews. Fan reaction to the fake book was largely positive, and largely disappointed when they realized it was a joke. The fans want this book. I want this book, because it sounds completely amazing.

Redemption stories are a common trope within the romance genre. One of my personal favorites is The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. At the end of the previous book in the series, the hero, Sebastian, is a womanizer and a kidnapper who threatens to rape the heroine. By the end of his own book, he’s a devoted husband head-over-heels in love with his wife. You can’t help but root for him. So yes: it can be done.

Let’s just ignore the fact that Hugh D’Ambray is probably a sociopath. That can all be cured with the love of a good woman, right? He’s probably just misunderstood.

(Who am I kidding? I still totally want this book.)

I’d probably be able to come up with more examples of romance redemption, except this:

I’ve been working my butt off, and I’m almost done. I’ve officially passed the point on my rewrites where my editor has said, “This is how long I want it to be.” And I’m still going. This was a challenging, and exhausting, process to me in so many ways. Because of changes I made to the plot, I have basically had to rewrite about 90% of the book.

I’m almost there. Just need one final push.

Seanan McGuire Quoted Me!!!

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About two and a half years ago, I wrote an advance review of Seanan McGuire’s Ashes of Honor for CC2Konline.com, a website dealing in all things pop culture.  McGuire is one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, and I had the privilege of being able to interview her as well.

All in all, it was a great experience, but also one I hadn’t thought about in a long time…until today.  I decided to re-read The Winter Long, the 8th book in McGuire’s October Daye series, and I saw this:

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It’s a little hard to see, but that’s my Kindle, opened up to the promotional quotes section of The Winter Long.  And that last quote…I wrote that!  Even if I hadn’t seen CC2K, I’d recognize my wholly unnecessary use of em-dashes anywhere!

Since it’s a little hard to read, it says:

I love this series.  I love that Toby is a strong, independent—yet still vulnerable—heroine.  I love that this is a world where people die, where consequences matter.  I love the complex world-building and mythology.  I love the almost film noir tone of the series.  I love that each book leaves me wanting more.

If you dig urban fantasy, this is one of the best out there.  If you’re looking to try the genre for the first time, this series could be the place to start.

And even now, that pretty much sums up my feelings about the October Daye series in a nutshell.  Seanan McGuire is one of the best urban fantasy writers out there.  I have never picked up a book of hers and been disappointed.

I don’t know whether McGuire herself chose the quote, or someone from the DAW promotional team.  Either way, I am completely flattered (even if I am six months late in noticing).

If you’re interested in the series, do yourself a favor and start with Rosemary and Rue, the first book.  The plot and worldbuilding are too complex to jump in the middle, and you’ll find that McGuire, as a writer, plays the long game: the books pay off more the longer you stick with them.  It’s worth it, too, because they just keep getting better and better.