Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Writing Update, February

February's been . . . interesting. Every once in a while, I hit a wall creatively. I think it's because I don't like to take breaks. So, I finished the draft of book two in mid-December, and by the middle of January, I'd added 30,000 words to a romance manuscript to finish it. Even though I did a lot of reading at the beginning of February to help cleanse my palate, I tried to jump straight into other projects instead of giving myself a breather, and it didn't work out that well.

My main goal was to write four short stories to submit to anthologies before March 1st. I wrote and submitted two. 50% isn't bad, but I'm a little disappointed. I also had the goal of increasing my science-fiction manuscript from 9,000 words to 30,000. I increased it to 10,000 words. At least that's some forward momentum, even if it's slow.

One thing I'm going to try to do is outline the sci-fi novel more deeply. Right now, the outline is a page long and just major story beats. It'll help to flesh that out, figure out more about the characters, and do some world-building before I really dive into the manuscript.

I've also decided to indulge myself in my pet project, which is an epic fantasy with a cast that's almost entirely female just 'cause that's what I wanna write. From the outline, it's going to be a long, long book, so the number-one rule is that I can't get consumed in it. I'm only going to write a bit here and there when I need help getting into the flow. And I'm giving myself permission for the first draft to be terrible. Because it will be, and I don't want to scare myself away from writing it because I want it to come out perfectly the first time.

So, there are my new goals! Stay tuned for whatever progress I end up making. And an extra bit of good news: I sold a short story today. It's supposed to come out tomorrow, so I'll keep you updated!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen of Ieflaria, Effie Calvin

The Queen of Ieflaria, by Effie Calvin, is the first book in a fantasy series. Esofi, a princess of Rhodia, has been betrothed to Albion, the heir of Ieflaria, since they were young children. When Albion dies in an accident, Esofi travels to Ieflaria with the intention of marrying the new heir, who turns out to be Adale. Adale, as second child, had never intended on becoming queen and, as such, is found lacking, enough that her two cousins throw their hats into the ring for becoming heir and, consequently, Esofi's betrothed. There's also the small matter of dragons attacking Ieflara and the Ieflarian people not having strong enough magic to repel them. Esofi is a gifted mage and has brought Rhodian battlemages with her to help Ieflaria fight this threat.

Monday, February 5, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: It's Not a Date, Heather Blackmore

It's Not a Date is about Kade Davenport, a tech entrepreneur and investor who is a stickler for punctuality and doesn't let herself get close to anyone, and Jen Spencer, CEO of Creative Care, which aims to pair people who need to hire care for elderly or sick relatives with private-care workers. When one of Creative Care's board members falls ill, Kade is called in to substitute, and Kade and Jen find out they have very different management styles even while sparks fly.

Throughout the read, I was hovering between 4 and 5 stars, but by the end, I was completely charmed by this story. Honestly, I didn't understand some of the stuff about investments and venture capitalists, but it never took away from my enjoyment of the story. I could still very much understand where each woman was coming from and the stakes each was facing.

A lot of Jen's concerns about being a female CEO in the tech industry are real-life issues women face. Her colleague was pushed out of her CEO role for becoming pregnant. Jen thinks that Kade, who basically has no private life, has set an example for successful businesswomen that essentially advises women to value their job over their family. And Jen worries that having to leave work unexpectedly to care for her grandmother, who has dementia, will hurt her prospects in the field.

On Kade's end, she has some very real trauma from her youth that she's never gotten over. Because of this, she's never been in a relationship and only has one real friend. Jen, through her kindness, helps her grow as a person.

This is what I loved most about this book and what ultimately won me over--how Jen and Kade are written. There's always going to be miscommunication and angst in a romance, but it's very subtly done here. Their differences arise from them being completely different people, but I always understood both points of view. There were multiple points where their differences could've been used to amp up the angst. Instead, Blackmore often has the character or characters in the wrong take time to cool off and understand on their own why they were wrong. It's very refreshing.

I also want to say that the ending scene was one of the most satisfying romance ending scenes that I've read. It tied things together in a lovely way.

There were a few things that didn't quite work for me, however. I see from a lot of people's reviews that they loved the beginning set in Maui. While I enjoyed it, I found myself questioning the authorial choice to devote an entire 12% to it. I think it could've been pared down, but I realize I didn't enjoy it as much as some others because I don't care too much for instant attraction. I like when characters have a bit of a struggle getting there.

I also thought the points of view were a little imbalanced, especially toward the beginning. We spent a lot of time with Kade first then lots with Jen before it evened out. Perhaps I would've found the beginning 12% more interesting if there had been more of a balance. Along these same lines, sometimes it took a paragraph or two to figure out whose point of view we were in. These types of things definitely aren't deal-breakers for me, but they could be improved upon in the next book.

I'd definitely recommend this to romance readers, especially those who enjoy f/f romance, and I'll be looking forward to more stories from Blackmore.

Thanks to NetGalley, Bold Strokes Books, and Heather Blackmore for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.