Monday, February 13, 2012

Life, the Universe, and Everything 2012

So had a great time at the fantastic Utah speculative fiction/arts conference Life, the Universe, and Everything this past weekend. The new venue, Utah Valley University, was superb, and I hope it becomes the new home. It was great seeing good friends and making new ones and occasionally eating really awesome food with them (three cheers for sushi and Thai, especially the geisha roll and beef waterfall!).

Among the highlights were James Owen's keynote address and meeting him: one of the best people you'll ever meet. Also enjoyed teaching a class on speculative fiction elements that was well attended (which shocked me, since I was up against some strong heavy hitters in the same hour [bow to Dr. Carlisle]). One of the most unique offerings of the conference, though, was a class one of my best friends, Donna Milakovic (Mill-ack-O-vitch), taught on networking professionally. Also, I'm glad Mette Ivie Harrison knows who Guy Gavriel Kay is (and raised her hand when I asked in my workshop).

It was a blast. I love this conference and the people it brings together: authors, artists, gamers, professional costumers, ex-Navy Seals, former bearded ladies, hobbits, and the occasional jabberwocky.

See ya'll at Storymakers in May! And Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers in June!

(P.S. Who is that woman with the awesome boots and the zebra print every year!?)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I've Been Appendixed

I just showed up on a podcast called The Appendix. Check it out if you dare:

We talk about my trip to Worldcon and about speculative fantasy. Plus, we recorded this on Rob Wells's book launch party day, so go check out his national debut: Variant. He couldn't be there for the podcast, because he is now famous.

The Appendix crew includes Sarah Eden and Marion Jensen--two of my favorite people--and so it was a blast. Sarah Eden writes excellent Regency romance novels and Marion writes superhero, go-West dystopia, and comedic books (thus far, but nothing is stopping him from writing swashbuckling pirate adventures . . . wink, wink).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Under Heaven

I started listening to Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven audiobook, and I'm liking it so far. It's read by Simon Vance, one of my favorite audiobook narrators (since the Temeraire series, among many others). It's set in a similar time and place as Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series (medieval Japan/China or a place like it but not it). The mourning second son of a late general is living up near a mountain pass where great battles have been fought and is burying the dead as a way of mourning his father and, well, finding himself. One day a messenger brings word that he is being gifted 250 "Heavenly Horses"--a rare gift from a king. However, this gift will be the envy of all, and he must immediately determine how he can keep his gift and his life.

I'm excited to see where it goes, and it seems to be the breath-of-fresh-air read I've been looking for.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New read for the weekend

Started reading this book last night: Dhampir, by Barb and J. C. Hendee, the first in the Noble Dead series (now many books into the series: 8 or 9?). I've heard lots of good things about this series and am getting on the train a little late; but better late than never. It gets off to a great start and feels very much like a Van Helsing story: a vampire huntress comes to town, receiving a fat fee from the villagers if she puts down a roaming vampire. Looking forward to how it turns out. Plus, there's a wolf on the cover and a guy with a mullet. Good indications, right?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Orbital Drop

So one of the highlights at the Worldcon in Reno last month was meeting the Orbit Publishing team. While listening to their presentation, I could tell that they're delving into ebooks and ebook marketing in a new and refreshing way. One of the features I especially liked is the program they have called the Orbital Drop, in which each month they give away certain ebooks for $3.00 a pop in any format you want. It's one of my new favorite places to get ebooks. Check it out:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nibbling the Apocalypse

I've been nibbling on this book for about a year. It enticed me to pick it up off the shelf because it had one of my favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine stories in it: a story written in only a handful of sentences, told through parenthetical info in between the "main" sentences of the story. And I've been reading stories from it since. It's the book I go to in my library when I have a few minutes in between work and other such distractions.

For those of you who enjoy a touch of postapocalyptic realism to help you appreciate what you have, this is quite a good read.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dark Jenny, by Alex Bledsoe

So I've always liked Alex Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse series: essentially gumshoe detective meets epic fantasy. The humor is very tongue in cheek, and Bledsoe always plays with cliches and tropes in fantasy. Dark Jenny is no different. The thing that is noticeably different, though, is the new cover style: no illustrated fantasy art, now replaced with models in a similar fashion to what urban fantasy has been doing for a while (and which perhaps they're going for: the mystery noir look). I thought about buying this in e-book but finally decided to get the print edition, since I do really admire the cover, the lighting, the shadowed colors . . .

The story is told by Eddie to a group of his friends in a tavern, sparked by the arrival of a mysterious coffin with unknown contents. Eddie talks about a time when he was younger, when he had taken a "spy-on-the-cheating-husband" PI job on Grand Bruan, and island kingdom ruled by the famous, Arthurian King Marcus Drake. And sure enough, that's exactly what the story becomes: a realism-based retelling of the Arthurian tale, including all the elements of the original adventure epic: a mentoring wizard, a sword pulled out of a tree, a morally suspect queen, a Lancelot archetype, and the enemy that tries to undermine the "Camelot" and all it supposedly stands for.

And in this story, there's something rotten in Camelot. And it's no bright and shiny tale. It's, well, dark.

The third book in the Eddie LaCrosse series, Dark Jenny is much more like George R. R. Martin, with gritty and merciless things happening to many or most of the characters; no one is spared heartache or even their own level of "gray" morality, and you come out of it wondering where Camelot can exist . . . if it is ever something we can truly attain in a story or life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just ordered Patricia Wrede's A Matter of Magic. Looks fantastic--isn't that cover just something else? Also, I like the idea of omnibuses, and this happens to have two books in one. Looking forward to reading it as soon as I finish Alex Bledsoe's latest: Dark Jenny. If you haven't read Alex, he's taken on new territory with his three epic-fantasy-meets-gumshoe-detective novels, starring the famous (often infamous) Eddie Lacrosse, swashbuckling detective extraordinaire. Also looking forward to trying a newly gifted Warhammer book.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will Be Missing Brian Jacques

Sadly, this past weekend brought with it the passing of one of my all-time favorite authors. Not only was Brian Jacques the amazing author of the Redwall series, which I ate up as a fourth-grade student, but he was also the inspiration and spark that contributed to a pursuit of literature and the arts and eventually my profession in publishing.

I owe this man a debt of gratitude and a bon voyage. May you have many grand journeys ahead, you creator of worlds.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Two of My Favorite Epics

So in follow-up to my post two weeks ago on the Inker Blog, I've been thinking about all of the epics I've read in the past and what would be one of my all-time favorites. Finally I decided that there's really two that deserve that honor. It's a tie: Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series and Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. Very different concepts, one is a fantasy set in an Asian-like realm (leaning toward Japanese heavily), and the other is about a heroic necromancer who must keep the minions of the dead in the underworld in a divided world not unlike in Neil Gaiman's Stardust: cross "the Wall" and you're not in England anymore.