Monday, March 31, 2014

New Releases I'm Dying to Read: March/April edition

On the authorial front, it's the same song, same verse: Still revising The Labyrinth of Flame (just passed the 60K mark). Still no news yet on an official release date.  (Sorry, everyone! Publishing is sloooooow.)  I'm going to make a big push on the revision during April, which means I'll be around even less than usual.  I'll still respond to emails and @-replies on twitter, but other than that, it's gonna be all crickets all the time.

But before I vanish into the wilds of revision, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the books releasing this year that I'm really excited about.  Mostly because half the novels I'm dying to read never seem to show up on the lists I see at high-traffic sites (like this Buzzfeed one, which covers a disappointingly narrow slice of fantasy).  In my small way, I want to give the books I'm anticipating some more love.  Originally I thought I'd do my own version of a full "books of 2014" list.  Then I started writing down all the novels I'm looking forward to, and realized the list was so long it'd take me days to write the post - days I'd much rather be spending on revision right now.  Instead, I decided to only post about novels releasing in the next month (or in this case, novels from both March and April), and just make it a recurring monthly feature.

So! What books releasing in March and April had I already pre-ordered and am using as rewards when I meet revision goals? 

1. Catherine Fisher's The Slanted Worlds (Chronoptika #2), release date March 18

The first in the series, Obsidian Mirror, was one of my favorite reads last year. Wildly imaginative YA that mixes tropes from science fiction (time travel! dystopian futures!) with fantasy (faeries and changelings!), and includes a whole range of characters who distrust each other yet are forced to make alliances - yeah, sign me up.  I pretty much devoured Slanted Worlds the moment it released (see my Goodreads review here). 

2. Elspeth Cooper's The Raven's Shadow (Wild Hunt #3), US release date March 11


I love epic fantasy, so Cooper's Wild Hunt series sits firmly in my sweet spot as a reader.  Lovely prose, diverse characters, plenty of magic - bring it on, I say.  First book is Songs of the Earth. 

3. Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor, release date April 1

Addison is a pen name for fantasy author Sarah Monette.  I've enjoyed what I've read of Monette's work, so I was already interested upon hearing she had a new novel coming out - and my interest has only grown after seeing several glowing reviews for the book.  I'm looking forward to seeing if I am as enraptured by it as others have been.

4. Elizabeth Bear's Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3), release date April 8

The first two books in this epic fantasy series - Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars - were right up at the top of my favorite reads of the last two years, so it's no surpise I'm salivating for the conclusion to the trilogy.  Love the characters, love the Mongolian-inspired setting, and Bear has a deft hand with plot that keeps me guessing every time.  It kills me that this series hasn't gotten the massive level of attention it deserves.  Read it!  Read it now!     

That's it for my March/April pre-orders, though a few other books have also caught my eye: Glenda Larke's The Lascar's Dagger, Mark Smylie's The Barrow, and Jon Sprunk's Blood and Iron.  They've gone on the TBR list for the day I finish my revision and can indulge in a month-long reading binge. May that day come soon!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Holding Pattern

Yeah, it's been quiet around here.  Very, very quiet.  Revising Labyrinth of Flame remains my top priority, which doesn't leave much chance for blogging.  In case anyone wonders why the heck revision takes me so long, here's an sample of my process:

1) Take messy first-draft version of chapter and rewrite it to the point I'm willing to let my critique group read it.  This means cleaning up prose, but also rethinking action, character reactions, dialogue flow, sometimes even a blank-page rewrite if something's changed significantly in the story after rewrites of previous chapters.

2) Hand out chapter to critique group.  Get feedback pointing out issues (often relating to tension, pacing, or depth of emotional interaction).

3) Tear hair and gnash teeth trying to figure out a way to address problems.  Think of an idea, get halfway through rewriting scene, realize it still doesn't help.  Think more.  Despair.  Eat cupcake, or (preferably) do something outdoors.  A-ha!  Sugar or adrenaline rush leads to way better idea, one I can see immediately will address issues and make story 100% better.

4) Realize brilliant new idea means rewriting entire chapter from scratch (and maybe the one before it, too).  Weep copiously.  Save old scenes to "deleted scenes" file and go back to step 1.

Outdoor exercise and plenty of sleep do much to speed up steps 1 and 3.  Sadly, as a parent I don't get the chance for nearly as much as I'd like of either.  But: good news!  This weekend, I'll be enjoying both.  My awesome boss invited me and some other friends up to her house in ski country for a little "ladies ski weekend," and my equally awesome husband agreed to take off work and wrangle our son solo so I can spend Thurs-Sat in mountain heaven.  I don't know what's more exciting: the idea of skiing hard all day long in chutes and trees, or the idea of sleeping an entire night through without a little voice going "Mommy, I'm scared..." at 3am.  And yes, I'm bringing the ol' laptop and plan on getting some quality revising time in addition to the other fun.

The best aid to revision ever.  As long as you ski wearing a helmet (which I do). 
So wish me much powder and much progress, and may your weekend be as fun as mine promises to be!