March 31, 2015

Blog Blitz ~ Grit of Berth and Stone by Lisa Dunn

Grit of Berth and Stone
by Lisa Dunn 
Release Date: 03/17/15
Anaiah Press
256 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Banished for a foolish mistake, sixteen-year-old Grit of Berth and Stone scorns the loss of her home, her honor, and her only ally. Only the weak worry about such things.

But war is brewing all across Chasmaria, and as a group of rebels pull Grit into their ranks, she begins to question what strength, courage, and honor really look like. When faced with a horrible truth about herself, Grit must either fight her way back to Thresh or live with the blood of the innocent on her hands.

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One bright, moonlit night, dreams of a golden-haired sireling disturbed Grit’s slumber. He was 
chasing her to the sea. She dove into the water, but it was warm, not cold.

She woke in a sweat. Throwing aside her blanket, she walked into the clear air outside the cave. 
She sat on a log before the fire, stoking the flames till they rose and crackled in the quiet night. 
As she watched the dancing flames, Grit forced her mind to empty of all her past experiences. 
She willed her memories into the middle of the fire and imagined the flames consuming them, 
one by one, until every last memory of Thresh wafted away in the fire’s smoke. There went 
Turf and his taunting sneer, Dame Dara with her unjustified disdain, Sage Brakken, Sires Pierce 
and Swot. Sire Stone struggled to remain in her memory, circling her with an approving eye 
during her last training session. Slate, Seal, Oath, Talon... All of them into the fire and gone. Grit 
clenched her teeth and drew her dagger.

There was Dame Berth, easing her dagger from its sheath and placing it in Grit’s hands after her 
Twelfth Branding. “Use it honorably. This weapon wasn’t meant for spineless babes.”

Grit twirled the dagger between her fingers and aimed for the fire. Her arm swung to rid herself 
of Dame Berth, but at the last moment, her hand wrapped tightly around the dagger. It’s my 
dagger, not hers. I won’t throw away what’s rightfully mine. She sheathed her dagger and willed 
Dame Berth into the fire.

Yet there were some memories that refused her attempts to cast them into the flames, and no 
amount of screaming, “To Grit!” would compel them into the fire. Coil would not abdicate his 
place in her memory, and all Grit’s efforts to dethrone him served only to reinforce his position.

Coil waited in the meetinghouse, among the throng gathered for her Sixth Branding. He scowled 
over Dame Berth’s fence, telling Grit she’d planted the potatoes all wrong. He laughed on the 
training field, raising a sword too large for his thirteen-year-old frame and daring her to nick him 
with the dagger she’d just inherited. He lingered in every corner of Thresh, challenging her to 
race him to the Western Sea. And he was in the Western Sea, his jubilant face turned toward the 
sun, his arms stretched out, his body unguarded.

“To Grit! To Grit! To Grit!” Her throat burned from the refrain, but still Coil was in her tree, his 
hands inches from her feet.

In a rage, Grit threw her stick against a tree, dumped the contents of her pack, and ran to the 
creek that passed near her cave. Her knuckles scraped against the rocky creek bed as she pulled 
the pack through the water.

“To Grit, to Grit, to Grit...” she muttered as she doused her fire.

Her fingers bleeding, she crammed her blanket into the still dripping bag and stomped into the 
moonlit night.

About the Author
As a child, Lisa Dunn fell asleep to her father’s fanciful bedtime tales and played with her own story ideas during the daylight hours. She now resides in a small southern town with her husband, four children, and an ever-changing assortment of pets. Local librarians habitually thank her for their job security.

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March 30, 2015

Book Review ~ Medicine for the Dead by Arianne "Tex" Thompson

Medicine for the Dead is book two in Tex's Children of the Drought series. You can catch up with my review of One Night in Sixes, or sit back and enjoy this review right here. I can't give the disclaimer that I got a free copy, because I paid for this sucker freely and gratefully, but I must disclose that I've literally taken lessons from Tex on how to craft a sentence. I bow to her linguistic prowess, and on that note, let's begin.

Poor Elim, you can see him there all sunburned and sad.
Medicine for the Dead is, in short, a series of separate journeys where the excrement hits the fan for everyone all in the last part of the book. It continues where Sixes left off to tell us what happens to Elim, Weisei, and Vuchak, as well as several other of the inhabitants of Sixes. Although, thankfully, none of this happens in Sixes so we're not burdened by all the tertiary characters.

To be honest, Sixes had me lost at parts because things were not clear (to me). While Tex's beautiful wordsmithing is mesmerizing, it takes effort to unpack the true meaning sometimes. Heck, she speaks in metaphor in real life, so I shouldn't expect differently in text. BUT, listen to the but guys, Medicine doesn't suffer from that little bit of confusion. In fact, it cleared up all the confusion I had at the end of Sixes. Part of me wishes I had understood all that was going down with Sil and the natives back then, but the revelations now made me go "whoah." Medicine streamlines all the great stuff about Sixes into a few different character POVs and packs a mean punch. I had a great deal of feels toward the end, and the revelations in the last few pages made me want book three like yesterday.

I seriously read this 450 page book in two days, and I have a three-year-old. Let that sink in. Medicine moves fast, the pacing is spot on, and there's a lot of action/fear/danger/tension keeping the pages turning. Each separate journey has stuff going for it, and when they converge together, you read faster and faster. I still want an audio revision with Nathan Fillion doing Mal Reynolds and reading in his westerny awesomeness.

Now, the best thing about this book. Fishmen. Yes, the fishmen. Tex creates this interesting and unique race and I just want to read more scenes with them in it. They're alien enough to be different, but similar enough to empathize with. They change skin color like squids, talk with their hands, speak a quasi-French language, and eat meals in massive feeding frenzy competitions. Who wouldn't like that?

I'm beginning to ramble because I loved the book so much. So, long story short. If you're having a little difficulty with Sixes, stick through it. The payoff is worth it. I asked for more magic and weird, and I got a LOT more magic and an unparalleled amount of weird. I'd say to be careful what you ask for, except that I'm happy with what I got.

Stop reading this, go read the book.

**Edited to add**
Little bit more rambling. I forgot to mention one of the things that really struck me about the book. Tex handles the intricacies of a language barrier with finesse and tremendous balance. She also delves into themes surrounding assumptions of a people as a whole versus the mystery of an individual. How can these strangers break barriers of racism and language to attempt to understand one another? It has the weight of the cross-species barriers presented in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead series. Okay, ramble over now for reals.

March 27, 2015

I've Been Watching Far Too Much K-Drama

Is there a such thing as too much Korean Drama? No, the answer is no. Thanks to Hulu, I have an almost endless (not literally) supply of K-Drama to go through one after another. Here's just a few of my recent samplings. I'll stop at four so I don't scare you.

Faith (The Great Doctor)
This story is about a time-traveling plastic surgeon. Okay interesting? Let's amp that up with the fact that the doctor got kidnapped by a royal guard from ancient China and forced back in time through a portal so she could save the queen's life. Of course, then she can't get back...well she could've, but our hero Choi Young (Lee Min Ho again, I LOVE HIM) prevents her from going back. It's a tale of political intrigue, drama, attempted assassinations, poisonings, love stories, and all that good stuff. I was so addicted to this show. It's great. GO WATCH IT NOW!

City Hunter
Another show staring Lee Min Ho, another winner. Man, this guy knows how to pick 'em doesn't he? Anyway, City Hunter is about a man after revenge for his country killing his special ops troops to cover up a scandal. He kidnaps Lee Yoon Sung (Min Ho) as a baby and raises him as his "father" to eventually help him in his revenge. It's got a love story (of course) and a LOT of drama, action, fighting, and bad guys getting their just deserts. I highly recommend.

To The Beautiful You
This one is another girl pretends to be a boy for some reason saga. In this case, Goo Jae Hee pretends to be a boy to attend an all boys school her high-jumping idol attends. He was injured and stopped jumping, so she wanted to see him get back into the sport because his words inspired her in a dark time in her life. Does this plot sound familiar? Well just like Hana Yori Dango, this is another remake of Hana-Kimi which was a manga, anime, and Japanese drama. All the versions are of course different, but I did enjoy this one a great deal.

Coffee Prince
Like "To the Beautiful You" our protagonist Gu Jae Hee is a girl pretending to be a boy. However, in this case it's accidental. She looks so androgynous, that the main guy thinks she's a boy and treats her as such. Then to get a job, she's caught in the lie. Because of the lack of compelling reason to lie to him, I'm not as much of a fan of this show. It was fun to watch, but the production quality, as well as plot, is a bit weaker.

March 18, 2015

Break the SCHISM ~ Contest Time

Okay folks, we're getting down to the wire! In two weeks it'll be April, the month SCHISM (Illirin Book One) releases. The early print copies are under production, and if you want to be one of the first to own one, enter the contest! The rules are easy and you can enter as many times as you want.

Break the SCHISM Contest

Though in the book, Gabe begins his story with his memory missing, that doesn't mean we can't guess a few things about what happened to him in the past. After all, he is from another dimension. How'd he get to Earth? Why?

In Illirin (Gabe's world), to cross over to earth is known as "Breaking the Schism," and is a big no-no in his society. One would need a pretty compelling reason to go against ingrained values and laws to cross to another world. Gabe's reason? I'll let you guess, but I'm more interested in YOUR reason.

What would it take for you to break the Schism?

How to Enter

To enter the contest, simply tweet the tag #BreakSCHISM with your reason for crossing worlds. You can also use Facebook, but you'll have to comment below with a link to your post for an entry to count. Enter as many times as you want! Tweet a ton, and tweet the link to the contest rules to get others to enter too (once counts as an entry).

Now, I'm looking for creative reasons. Realistic, zany, weird, or just plain fun. Examples (do not copy, be original):

I'd #BreakSCHISM for a chance to be in a Broadway play.
#BreakSCHISM for the best nachos on the planet.
I #BreakSCHISM to eat my weight in chocolate pudding and go on the teacup ride.

Contest Ends April 1st.


Grand Prize - One Print Copy of SCHISM (Signed)

1 winner - Signed 8x10 print of Gabe
1 winner - Signed 8x10 print of Lea
You can also support my thunderclap!

March 9, 2015

Guest Post ~ Lisa Dunn - What Your Editor Will Ask You To Do, Why You Should Listen, and When You Should Talk Back

Hey guys! I'd like to welcome Lisa Dunn to the blog, author of the fabulous Grit of Berth and Stone which is available for pre-order now. And at last, here she is!

What Your Editor Will Ask You To Do, Why You Should Listen, and When You Should Talk Back

When Laura offered to host me on her blog, we immediately thought of writing about the author/editor relationship. A lot of authors send manuscripts to their editors and sit back, biting their nails, terrified of how their editor will tear their beloved manuscript to shreds.

Thankfully, I have a fantastic editor and I love being pushed to the limits in my writing.

Laura found me in a Twitter pitch contest and quickly requested the full manuscript. In another contest, not long after, she chimed in to tell me she was still looking at GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE, and wrote “I really love Grit.” We talked on the phone before I signed with Anaiah, and it was clear she got the story. When I asked what revisions she’d ask me to do (which you should do before signing with anyone!), she responded with, “No sweeping changes. Mainly amping up what’s already there.”

(I should note that on the advice of a few people who read the full manuscript prior to and during the query process, I had already made “sweeping changes” to GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE, so if an editor suggests sweeping changes, that should by no means be a deal breaker!)

My whole point here is you want an editor who loves your story and is upfront about the sort of changes she’ll ask for. Don’t settle for less.

But what sort of changes will she ask for, specifically? For GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE, Laura asked me to amp up the tension, speed up the pace, and add a few scenes to bring some subplots a little more into the light. She also told me to adjust the narrative voice to a YA audience by making it less florid, more straightforward, saving the more formal language for dialogue. We also did a bit of cutting and pasting to adjust chapter lengths. In our second book together, HEIR OF KORADIN, Laura asked me to flip two entire chapters. Laura also pointed out overused words and phrases.

Why should you listen to your editor? When your editor reads your manuscript, especially the first time through, she’s looking at it as a reader. She’s able to detect plot holes and inconsistencies better than you are. Knowing the story as intimately as an author must, you may fill in blanks with information that never actually made it onto the page. Your editor can point this out and tell you how to fix it. She can also tell you when things sound awkward. Reader’s eyes versus author’s eyes.

By the time you’ve been through a few edits together (and you will go through a few edits, no matter how shiny you think your manuscript is), your editor knows your story and your style well enough to suggest changes that honor your work in that her suggestions feel as natural and obvious as if you’d simply forgotten that was how it was supposed to be. Once, in GRIT, I copied and pasted a sentence Laura suggested, leaving a comment for her, “I couldn’t have said it better!”

Your editor also knows what sells and has a vested interest in making your book sell. It is, after all, her job to make your book marketable. And if she’s chosen your story, it’s because she loves it. That love should translate into a desire to put this book on everyone’s “favorite books” list. Your editor is on your side, and she won’t intentionally steer you wrong.

When should you talk back? While you have to loosen your hold on the pronoun “I” when you sign with a publisher, the editing process should remain a partnership with mutual respect between the author and editor. Some edits are easy to accept, but others are open for discussion. For me, I must have a good reason to object to an edit, and then I must object politely with clearly stated reasons. The two times I would object to an edit are when an editor asks me to cut something crucial to the story, but which may not be obviously crucial (e.g. when something alludes to events that will take place later in the story), or when a suggested edit goes against the heart of the story. In such cases, an editor should be able to hear your concerns and work with you to find a way to make it work, possibly by setting the material in question in a different context. Laura and I did this in HEIR OF KORADIN, actually. She asked me to cut a scene because we had too many conversations right on top of each other. I came back with, “What if we put it here instead?” We were able to rework it so the conversation, which I felt bolstered one of my characters, took place in a different chapter, and I think it worked quite well in the end, much better than it would have if we’d left it in its original place.

In short, you and your editor are a team, working together to turn your manuscript into the best book it can possibly be. If you think you can do that on your own and are determined to change nothing, you should probably self-publish. But if you want a champion at your side, find an editor who shares your vision and be willing to be pushed to the limit. When your editor says, “Go deeper,” be wiling to plunge to the ocean depths.

And of course, if you need an editor, I know a great one…