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My Five Literary BFFs

Cat from The Night Huntress series (Jeaniene Frost)

imageHmm Cat… what can I say about Cat except that she totally kicks ass? Cat would make a great BFF because she’s totally tough, not afraid to go after what she wants, yet still totally tender and caring. She had a hard upbringing, hunting vampires, and has slowly grown into her gaining powers with every book. I wouldn’t mind if she were to bring that Bones over to hang out, either.

Rose from the Vampire Academy series (Richelle Mead)

imageI have a deep, deep love for the Vampire Academy series. I think it is the most concise, well-written YA  novel I have ever read. I think Rose would make a great BFF because she’s totally devoted to the people she loves and risks her life over and over to save them. Rose has demonstrated time and again how she is there for her BFF, my namesake, Lissa. We could totally bond over late night movies and the fact that I have the same as her old best friend. Also, I would never make her choose between me and the love of her life, Siberian hottie Dimitri. She can totally keep him. We’ll all hang out together.

Rachel from the Animorphs series (K.A. Applegate)

imageThis is the book series that defined my growing up. It shaped my adolescence and my reading expectations. I know half of the books were ghost-written, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve had an Animorphs-related dream. Rachel was my first kick-ass girl heroine after Xena, but she was different: she was a teenager. She was so young and fearless and totally without mercy when she needed to be: she was also fiercely protective of those she deemed weaker than herself: her BFF Cassie and her boyfriend Tobias. I totally cried when she died. In MY reality, we’re eating pizza and talking about boys, because I’m totally not allowed to know about the Animorphs – but it was that very adventure that unlocked the Amazon warrior goddess inside the mall rat airhead, and allowed her to flourish into my number one guiding factor when it comes to my own heroines. (Brooke Nevin played a short vegetarian gymnast captain Rachel in the Canadian TV series, whereas the book version was tall, ate cheeseburgers, and sucked at gymnastics).

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)

Come on! How can I not have the cleverest witch of her generation as a BFF? She’s totally awesome! Even in the beginning, when she’s portrayed as a snotty know-it-all, she’s still totally awesome. Yes, she may require the occasional rescue, but she also stands for bloody magical torture and doesn’t break. She figures out almost every puzzle, always has a spell up her sleeve for every situation, and if she doesn’t know the answer to the question, she’s bound to know where to find said answer. She even falls in love with a ginger! What a woman! (Emma Watson portrayed Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series)

Jane from Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

imageJane is my favourite classic heroine. She doesn’t let anyone stop her from getting what she wants, even when she’s not entirely sure what she wants. To compliment that, she’s not afraid of walking away, either. It’s a very powerful dichotomy that we don’t see very often in modern heroines unless they are damsels in distress. Jane is no damsel – she’s not even pretty. And the man she falls in love with, Rochester, isn’t handsome, either. This isn’t an epic tale of the two most beautiful people in the world meeting and falling head over heels – this love takes time to develop, to see past physical appearance and blossom into a love that we know will stand the test of time. I always found it a lot more believable than Elizabeth and that stick-up-his-arse Darcy, anyway.

August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.

Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.

My Five Favourite Fictional Boys

Note – I can’t say ‘book crushes’ or ‘book boyfriends’ because it is near impossible for me to feel attraction to a character that’s purely in my head, let alone an underage one.

Tucker from the Unearthly series (Cynthia Hand)

Book Passion for Life casts this guy as their Tucker Book Boyfriend. Yeah, he looks vaguely how I imagine him. Hand managed to do something amazing when I read Unearthly. She managed to get me to change my mind. I very distinctly remember bitching about Tucker’s dickishness early in the novel, and I believed I claimed he was going to have to work very hard to get me to come around. Well, it worked! I think Tucker is gorgeous and sweet and attentive and patient – all good traits in the boy who’s meant for Clara! I’m not particularly into romances, and Unearthly is definitely a romance, but I enjoyed it immensely. Tucker’s a keeper. I’m dying to know what happens in Boundless, book 3. I’m pretty sure I refer to Tucker as a cowboy lumberjack.

Sam from The Wolves of Mercy Falls series (Maggie Stiefvater)

I have a very soft spot for Sam and Grace because I don’t see their relationship as bestiality, but as a very mysterious metaphor for a long-distance relationship. I can totally relate to that. Sam’s patient, caring, and wise. He’s mature way beyond his years. I don’t even mind the occasional fur and howling, if he must. He handles his… shall we say… ‘issues’ like a pro. I enjoyed their story in Shiver. The subsequent stories not so much. Even for a romance, I liked them. I guess I’m just a sucker for a teenager who thinks about marriage. That’s dedication for you.

Brigan from Fire (Kristen Cashore)

What I like best about Brigan is that he falls in love with Fire despite her beauty. It’s a reverse Beauty and the Beast. I loved the developing romance – two broken, vulnerable characters discovering a tenderness for each other where hatred and enmity are supposed to reign. I wouldn’t exactly call him abusive in the beginning, but he hates Fire with a passion and treats her a such. I love his turnaround – it creeps up on you unexpected. He’s not even handsome! Oh, Brigan! You’re one of my favourites.

Eddie from the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series (Richelle Mead)

Eddie rocks my socks. I like him a heel of a lot more than Dimitri and Adrian. Which is funny, because the others have so much more screen time. Eddie is like a big brother figure, which is why I like him so much. He’s loyal and doesn’t hesitate to jump into a fight. He’s capable of holding his own, and he’d make the perfect Guardian. I didn’t even mind that he got transferred over to Bloodlines, although I did have an issue with his romantic pursuit in that book.

Bones from the Night Huntress series (Jeanienne Frost)

Do I even have to list the reasons? I mean, Spike from Buffy when he has a soul? How could anyone refuse?
I think Bones is one of the sexiest literary heroes there is. Not because he’s ‘hot’ or possessive, but because he’s unfailingly loyal, utterly fearless, and a little territorial. Don’t get me wrong: a guy who emotionally and physically manipulates or abuses a girl is so not cool. Bones doesn’t manipulate, but he radiates powerful sexuality that feeds off one and only one woman: his Cat, or ‘Kitten’, as he likes to call her. If you even so much as looked at Cat the wrong way he’d rip your heart out. There’s something immensely attractive knowing that a guy has your back no matter what – not because he needs to protect you or that he condescendingly thinks you’re fragile or vulnerable, but because he genuinely loves you. I love this book series.

August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.
Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.

My Top 5 Favourite Fantasy Books

Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder

Touch of Power (Healer, #1)

I think my review went something along the lines of: OMG *flail* FANGIRL *flail* some more.

Avry steps into leadership positions when she needs to, kicks ass when she needs to, and comforts and mothers when she needs to. She’s got a great balance of feminine and masculine traits, and she’s neither an uber-warrior nor a damsel in distress. She grows throughout the novel as well. She’s like… my perfect heroine that I never wrote.

Draykon by Charlotte E English

Draykon (Draykon, #1)

My review of Draykon was roughly the same as my review for Touch of Power.

Charlotte has an obvious gift for beautiful prose and many a time I caught myself drooling over her wonderfully constructed sentences.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined

I’m pretty sure this was more of the same.

Once I opened the book, I was blown away. Just blown away. I did not expect this calibre, wit, and execution. The characters were simply gorgeous. The writing was incredible. And the humour! I have never laughed out loud so many damn times in a novel that wasn’t 1) a comedy or 2) written by a comedian. It’s just… the humour! The fluff! The witty comebacks and fantastic situations!

Fire by Kristen Cashore

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

This novel broke my heart.

Fire’s character development was really awesome. I’m so sad that people put this book down half way through. She grows magnificently both in personality, character, and power. She makes her own choices, and even when her choice is taken away from her, she manages to gain control of the situation.

Talyn by Holly Lisle

Talyn (Korre, #1)

Holly Lisle taught me everything I know about writing. Literally.

August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.
Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.

Review: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Publisher: Pocket Books/MTV Books
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 245 (paperback)
Release Date: 17 March 2009
Source: Library.
Rating:4 out of 5 stars.

Blurb (from Goodreads.com)

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over….

Review (full review posted on Goodreads.com)

I can’t for the life of me come up with any good reason for why this book is 4 stars and not 5 stars. Normally five stars for me are rated for books that have a huge emotional impact or connection, or challenge me (or are just plain and simply awesome, or I read in my childhood and I’m totally nostalgic for). I didn’t really have an emotional connection but this book did have an emotional impact on me, because I cried in one particular part near the climax. Still, if you ask me what you could change about this book to make it 5 stars, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I really liked it, to me it just wasn’t amazing. However, I would recommend it to romance readers and people who love contemporary YA.

And I think it’s a really beautiful novel about two damaged people learning to love and overcome their fears. The romance developed nicely and despite Meg’s age (17) it was totally believable.

And I totally love Meg’s attitude. She’s not a bitch, just a rebel with no cause and no fear. John was a giant sweetheart and a total hottie (I don’t often find literary characters hot but Echols’ descriptions were really great, and I got sucked in to Meg’s head to see the attraction) but there was something about him that made me feel that he was a tiny bit manipulative. Maybe it was his protectiveness and his need to CONTROL ALL THE SITUATIONS but he seemed to manipulate Meg a bit, especially physically which is so NOT okay especially as he’s this huge cop and she’s this tiny teenager.

Well sure, the entire plot revolves around John’s decision to make Meg ride along with him. And I secretly have a thing for Gothic novels, which abhors the feminist side of me, because the I’d hate to be in the same position myself but there’s a reason Belle from Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney princess for many years. I like reading about strong girls trapped in an environment with an older dude who has a position of power over her. Don’t do that to me in real life, but I kind of like it in my entertainment. It’s my guilty pleasure. That’s why I liked The Castle of OtrantoNorthanger Abbey, and Jane Eyre.

Going Too Far isn’t a Gothic novel, but it does have the basics of one. Meg often wonders if she’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome because she’s being forced to spend time with Officer Hottie.

The novel was written okay. I had some issues with the text, mostly because I think they might have been speaking in slang sometimes and I’m not from America, and sometimes the dialogue was ambiguous and vague so it took me a few pages to realise what they were talking about. But I’m clever enough to work it out in the end, and maybe that’s what matters.

Pretty much the only problem I had with the book was at the end when Meg decided to dye her blue hair back to brunette. I understand why she did it – because the blue dye represented her fight with cancer, and accepting that it was over meant going back to a normal colour. But to me it looks like the shrew has been tamed – that the wild child has settled down. I know characters have to change over the course of novels but I would have liked it if she dyed it a colour that wasn’t her natural colour: blonde, or auburn, or even green. The dye represents a change in her attitude but the colour delivers the message to the reader.

If you like contemporary YA romances you’ll probably love this.

So Little Time!!

In response to yesterday’s post where I quote myself (with full hipster douche regalia)

“I have more book ideas than I have time to write them”

the Viking bought me this today:

My new writing time mug!

It looks like red text but it’s actually hot pink.

Thanks, babe!

They Googled WHAT?! (2)

On Twitter I regularly tweet the spam I get here on my blog. Sometimes I do a post about some of the weird search terms that have led people here as well. Sometimes I just think to myself, ‘They Google WHAT?!’

Perverted Disney – I wish I was making this crap up

deadly & sexy disney princess
megara breasts
“beauty and the beast” “sexy feather duster”
disney princess having sex
disney nala zombie
gaston’s stinky feet

Feminism – I’m so proud these people came to my blog

girl toughness – yeah, baby! More search terms like this.

Storytelling – Because it’s a writing blog, duh!

who is on the cover of bloodlines by richelle mead – that would be Sydney Sage, the protagonist.

Random – I… just…. I have no words.

pedantic prick – why do people keep coming back to this?!

ass bending – some new Avatar: The Last Airbender power?

afraid to kiss a girl – well, you should know that girls bite.

lord help me be the person my dog thinks i am – I suppose this is supposed to be some kind of inspiration, but really, how the heck did you reach my blog?

They Googled WHAT?!

On Twitter I regularly tweet the spam I get here on my blog. I’ve decided to do a post about some of the weird search terms that have led people here as well. Sometimes I just think to myself, ‘They Google WHAT?!’

Perverted Disney – I wish I was making this crap up

snow white necrofilia
f word in little mermaid cover
princess fucking with seven dwarfs
disney princess gone bad
beast fucking beauty fantasy
trashy disney princesses

Feminism – I’m so proud these people came to my blog

dude in distress in tv series – When you figure out what it is, let me know!

woman rescues man – This is my sort of thing!

Storytelling – Because it’s a writing blog, duh!

a story where a character writes something – Can’t help you there, mate.

princess diaries queen clarisse fanfiction – Oh my gosh, I should totally take part in this!

Random – I… just…. I have no words.

sims parents on fire/sims on fire – Dude. Sadistic much? Set fire to your own Sims, don’t go looking for someone else’s pictures.

happy unicorn farts – I hope you found what you were looking for.

throwing babies – GET OUT OF MY BLOG. OUT. NOW.

i feel like am fighting a losing battle – Me too mate, me too.

The Edge of Darkness Launch and Giveaway Winner!

That’s right, loyal blog followers and random people who just happened to drop by: my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, is now available for purchase.

YAY!

*throws confetti, gives out balloons and cookies and fairy bread etc*

So far it’s available on

but as more options open up I’ll let you know.

Also, it’s time to announce the lucky winner of the paperback edition giveaway!

And the winner, selected from Random.org is:

Gayle!

Congratulations! Look out for an email from me to get your shipping address. Please respond in 48 hours or I’ll be forced to choose someone else.

Thanks to everyone who entered the (very small) giveaway. I’m so pleased that the book is now available.

But there’s no rest for the wicked. As an indie/self-publisher, I need to keep working on putting out new material. Now I’m working on two shorter manuscripts for release later this year: a collection of paranormal short stories, and a Christmas novella. I’m self-publishing them because I believe there is no traditional market for either type of book, but they could still be enjoyed at a lower indie price (I haven’t decided if they’re going to be in paperback yet, just ebook). I want to get the majority of that work out of the way before NaNoWriMo in November – I still haven’t decided which novel I’m going to write for that challenge.

I’m also querying Dadewalker again now that I’ve revamped the query letter, because I believe there is a traditional market for that story.

Publishing On A Budget: Lulu vs CreateSpace

If you haven’t yet been notified, I’m publishing my first book, a soft sci-fi dystopian about cyborg former prisoners of war and their mutiny aboard a transport ship (I love my elevator pitch SO MUCH! Ahem.) this September. Go here for the chance to win a paperback copy (Lulu version) of the book.

Speaking of paperback copies, now that I’m more experienced in using two self-printing services, I’m going to give my thoughts on both and reveal why I decided to go with one and not the other.

The two services are Lulu and CreateSpace. I’m comparing them in terms of service, quality, and value. Please excuse all the flashes with my photography – I live in England and it is a bit gloomy and overcast, and my camera believes the flash is needed!

CreateSpace and Lulu versions of my book.

PLEASE NOTE: this is purely from the point of view of someone who lives in the UK on a strict budget. There will be different opinions of self-printers living in the US, and clear pros and cons for each country. I am talking about what it is like to self-print with very little money while living in the UK. I’m also not comparing all the bells and whistles offered by either company, because I’m quite competent with manuscripts and didn’t use any of these extra (and expensive!) services.

Lulu

What I liked about Lulu:

  1. They have a printing house in the UK, so the book was delivered in one week.
  2. The cover is a higher quality than CreateSpace.
  3. Lulu’s Extendedreach program (free) covers both Amazon.co.uk AND Amazon.com.
  4. Lulu offers to automatically convert the paperback uploads to an ebook format. I don’t know how this turns out, because I would rather use Smashwords.com.
  5. If you are VERY confident of your ability, and you have all the documents ready, you can upload and order a Lulu book within the hour (they don’t make you wait while they check the files). As a bonus, they take payment in Great British Pounds, which appealed to me.
  6. When I ordered my book, they were doing a deal on free proof copies until the end of July where the creator just has to pay shipping. This is why I have a Lulu version of The Edge of Darkness.

What I didn’t like about Lulu:

  1. Lulu’s Globalreach program costs $75 – however, this puts the book in Barnes & Noble and other brick and mortar stores.
  2. There is no spine artwork on the book. The spine is black with basic white text. Disappointing.
  3. The best size recommendation is 6×9, which is bigger than I like. You can only choose this size or an even bigger size for the Globalreach package.
  4. Lulu.com do not check the files for printing consistency, so there is a lot of pressure on the creator to get everything right.
  5. Lulu claims it takes .doc documents, but when I tried to upload my manuscript as a .doc it went completely out of whack. I re-uploaded it as a PDF and it was fine.
  6. If you want them to give you an ISBN, Lulu wants to be the publisher, and wants exclusive publication rights. This is what turned me off about Lulu. This means that I couldn’t use both Lulu and Createspace to get my book into as many different channels as possible.

Price: £7.99
My Revenue: £2.95
My Price: £4.30
Shipping: £2.99
NOTE: What initially drew me to try Lulu was that they offer hardcover as well, but seeing as I’m broke, I can’t try that out just yet.

Size differences: CreateSpace book on top of Lulu book.

CreateSpace

What I liked about CreateSpace:

  1. CreateSpace checks the book for printing consistency, making sure pictures are minimum 300dpi (dots per inch) and all the text is in the proper place, not half cut off.
  2. Their cover creator is basic, but if you have your own cover you can upload it, and it includes artwork on the spine. This is only a big deal to me because the artwork on The Edge of Darkness wraps around the book.
  3. You can choose whether to print on white paper or cream (originally I chose white, but when I changed the cover I switched to cream) and whether or not to print the interior in colour. I think interior colour books are more expensive, though.
  4. When you publish on CreateSpace, it automatically gets put up on Amazon.com. However for $39 extra, you can buy bigger (and random) online distribution with the Pro Plan.
  5. If you buy the Pro Plan, ordering your own books is cheaper. I don’t plan on buying boxes of my books, but someone else might find that useful.
  6. I have heard that if you upload a new version of the book and it’s not too different (for example fixing typos etc) you don’t need to order a new proof copy of the book. I can’t confirm this yet.
  7. I finished NaNoWriMo in 2010, and CreateSpace offered a free proof copy code, so I haven’t had to pay for my CreateSpace publishing. Very generous!
  8. Unlike Lulu, CreateSpace refuses to be called the publisher of the book, only the printer. I discovered this when one of my files accidentally labelled CreateSpace as the publisher, and they asked me to remove that. No problems! I am the publisher, not CreateSpace.

What I didn’t like about CreateSpace:

  1. Because they only print in the US, it took FOREVER to get my copy of the book (six weeks).
  2. The cover quality is not as good as Lulu. It’s not bad, it’s just not quite as high. In fact, you’ll hardly even notice it.
  3. Prices to ship to the UK cost just as much as the actual book. It would be so much better if they had a printing house in the UK (and automatically put the book on Amazon.co.uk as well – a girl can dream!)
  4. The Pro plan, which costs $39, randomly assigns your book to other internet stores. You don’t get to choose.
  5. CreateSpace can take up to 48 hours to check the files, which can be good because it catches things you might not be aware of. But if you’re quite confident it can just be a waste of time, especially if you’ve already addressed previous issues and you’re just uploading a corrected copy.

Price: $12.95 (US)
My Revenue: $3.86/$6.51 (Pro) on CreateSpace
$1.27/$3.92 (Pro) on Amazon.com
My Price: $6.50/$3.85 Pro Plan
Shipping: $6.38

Spine artwork, or lack thereof.

CreateSpace spine art wraps around entire book.

The Lulu spine is basic: black with basic white text.

Lulu:

Service: 3/5 – No free service offered, but fast turnaround for the book.
Value: 3/5 – I wanted to make the book cheaper so it could compete with traditionally published books, but then I wouldn’t make a profit.
Quality: 4/5 – The book looks outstanding. I’m just disappointed about the spine.
Overall: 10/15

This is the Lulu edition. You can see the very slight difference in cover quality.

CreateSpace:

Service: 5/5 – The file checking won’t edit for you, but it does check quality.
Value: 4/5 – I wanted to make the book cheaper so it could compete with traditionally published books, but then I wouldn’t make a profit. However, I make a larger profit using the Pro Plan.
Quality: 4/5 – Slightly disappointed that Lulu’s cover is higher quality, but I much prefer my CreateSpace book, and I hope everyone else does as well.
Overall: 13/15

This is the CreateSpace edition. You can see the very slight difference in cover quality.

In my opinion, as a user of both print on demand services, Lulu is probably better if you’re very competent and want individual private copies for yourself. It’s fast, requires no turnaround, and you can have a book ready in an afternoon and delivered within a week. But for selling the book, I’m going with CreateSpace. Lulu’s exclusive publishing terms turned me off, and I’m willing to forgo CreateSpace’s slightly poorer quality cover and longer shipping times to get it on Amazon.com.

Why I Still Want To Be Traditionally Published

I’m self-publishing some books this year. The Edge of Darkness is coming out in September (go here to win a copy). I’m writing a novella for Christmas. The Tina Storm: Demon Hunter – Paranormal Short Story Collection should be out sometime between now and Christmas. But I’m holding back on releasing the Innocence Saga. Why? Because I want those books traditionally published. Why? Well… this is why:

Kiersten White, NYT bestselling author of Paranormalcy and Supernaturally.

PS – This is my 100th post! Yay!

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