Summer Reading, Twittering, and iPhone

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, let me sum up (probably in a lot more than 140 characters).  For my birthday, I bought a refurbished iPhone.  I’d been coveting one for a long time, but was too worried about what it’d do to our already extensive cellular bill.  (That Man lives on his cell for work.)  However, after a talk with the nice lady at the AT&T store, she explained that the only change in my bill would be the $30 data plan, and I already had $10 data that would come off.  So for $20 more a month, I could go with the iPhone (assuming we don’t go over our minutes, which we have to watch anyway).

Now, a few weeks later, I can’t imagine life without it.  Last night while That Man dragged us all out to Princess Monster’s karate practice, I sat and read the first draft of Arcana without lugging the laptop into the car, while blocking out the monsters’ incessant bickering because I had my earplugs and tunes playing.

I also bought two great Spice Briefs–The Wicked West by Holly Summers (Victoria Dahl) and Second Time Around by Portia Da Costa–and devoured them, effortlessly, while waiting in the parking lot to pick up the monsters from the first day of summer school.

I can check my e-mail, and yes, I can Twitter so much easier!  I never really “got” Twitter until I had the iPhone.  It’s so much easier to simply type a short update of 140 characters or less and post it, than to pull up the blog and think of something coherent and detailed to say.  Plus, I’ve found so many cool people on Twitter.  I already blogged about how much I enjoyed Portia’s In Too Deep, so of course I’m following her Twitter updates.  She posted about Victoria Dahl’s new Spice Brief, so I picked it up, too, and WHOA, I loved it!

Lily is a submissive who knows exactly what she wants, and she wants her next door neighbor, Sheriff Hale.  Hale, on the other hand, is appalled when the delicate Englishwoman sees the truth that he’s been hiding.  He’s a very reluctant Dom, and Lily is an incredible sub without coming across as being weak or whiny at all.  In fact, she’s the opposite.  She has the power in the relationship, because she knows the truth and she’s isn’t afraid of it.  A fabulous hot read with wonderful characters and story, so check it out!

Speaking of reading, did you notice the Summer Reading Trail over in the sidebar —> below “My Books?”  If you click on it, you’ll be taken to the head of the trail at Viorey Linger’s blog with a whole list of free reads for your summer enjoyment, including my own The Shadowed Blood.  New freebies will be offered throughout the summer, so check back each month.  I plan to finish the Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel short and offer it next month (but of course it’ll be available here on my Free Reads page as well).

So, what are you reading this summer?  Anything new and exciting that I can throw onto my iPhone?

Revision Xibalba

The project that never dies, even when I chop off its head!

Thanks to some incredibly insightful comments from May, I have a few more things I want to tweak in the Maya fantasy.  The opening still isn’t strong enough.  I need to make it more personal from the first line.  I think I have an idea for that.  She also thought Geoffrey was a useless character, and yeah, he is, sort of.  So I need to make him matter in a way that’s currently missing.  I have an idea, there, too — I just need to put the pieces together.  She made similar notes about One Death and Dr. Reyes.  They’re a little too shallow compared to the other more intricate characters.

This story is all about crossing lines.  Everyone is forced to cross a line they swore they never would.  I failed to do so for these three characters in particular.  They weren’t POV or major characters, so I got lazy.  *slaps self*

And the synopsis is still on my list, as well as a hook/blurb.  I really want these done this week — I can’t stand all these details hanging over my head.  I want to be DONE and moving with the next project.  I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of Xibalba!! 

In other news, I finished reading Clockwork Heart.  I don’t think I’ll write up a full review, but I’ll be happy to chat in comments or e-mail if anyone wants to.  It was a good story, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as New Blood by Gail Dayton.  I really liked some of the elements of the worldbuilding, but the characters….meh.  Just didn’t blaze on the page if you know what I mean.  I thought the archaic programming of the Great Engine with punch cards was very interesting (remember, I’m a computer programmer for the Evil Day Job), and I was intrigued by the social structure. A good read, especially if you like clockwork and engine elements of Steampunk.

Steampunk, Howl’s Moving Castle

I suppose it was inevitable that eventually I’d stumble into an interest in steampunk, especially with my recent sci-fi Regency spoof idea.  I’ve never gone out searching for steampunk before, but the more I learn, the more intrigued I am.  Part of my research involved picking up Howl’s Moving Castle — although I admit I got it for the kids, and at the time, I didn’t really know what it was about, just that it was highly recommended.

Oh.  I *loved* this movie!  We watched it today in bits and pieces (Princess Monster has been home sick all week and I snuck in some lunch time with her).  I guess it’s not strictly “Victorian” but perhaps closer to Edwardian or even WWI in feel, but I loved it just the same.  It’s definitely one of our Netflix tries that I’m going to add to our family collection.  I could watch it over and over.  Next in my queue is Steamboy, which I specifically added because of the steampunk themes.

I’ve also added Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti to my wishlist, and my current non-fiction read is Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders.

Do you have any other Victorian or Steampunk recommendations to share?

[Don’t forget to keep checking for the free reads at Drollerie Press in honor of E-Book Week — two new books are up each day for free download!]

In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa

It’s back to the Evil Day Job for me today.  Christmas is over, and so is my vacation, and since the book is done, I settled down with my first pleasure read last night, In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa.

Now I’ve “known” Portia online for years, but I think this is the first full-length book I’ve read of hers.  A mistake I will correct immediately.  This book was sooooo good.  I read it in one sitting last night.  Now THIS is what an erotic romance should be like for me.  It was spicy, absolutely, but the characters were so real and deep.  I just loved Professor Hottie and his Queen of the Library.  The mystery about who Nemesis might be, the man who began leaving naughty letters for Gwendolyne in the suggestion box, was wonderful.  There were just enough clues to make me doubt myself and keep me eagerly reading.

Gwendolyne might be willing to experiment with dominance/submission play, but she’s no fainting weakling.  She pushes and challenges, never backing down, but she understands the game and what it means to him.  I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the last scene between them right before Daniel is forced to leave nearly moved me to tears.

…I recognize that, even though I’m on fire for him, this interlude is about Daniel, about him being in control, about him losing himself in the game and forgetting what lies ahead of him.  My intense frustration, the torment of temporary denial – these are sweet gifts I can give him to distract him.

I hope the rest of my reward stack of books proves to be so good!

Little Did She Know

…that my head would implode!!!

I saw something yesterday in an online book excerpt (that shall remain nameless) that set my teeth on edge and it’s still bugging me, so I decided to blog about it and share my irritation with you.  Maybe I’ll feel better once I get it off my chest.

<rant>

As a reader, I despise being tricked or lied to. 

Don’t spring a suprise in the final pages that the protagonist supposedly knew all along but kept secret from the reader.  POV characters cannot keep secrets!  Not if the author is writing in deep POV.  It’s impossible.  That particular book was made even worse because the POV was first person, and I was still supposed to believe that little “secret?”  Nope.  Sorry.  It doesn’t work, and I refuse to read that author to this date.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sixth Sense.  I loved going back to watch the whole movie and seeing all the little clues.  If you do that as an author and give me those little clues to track and decipher, then I’m one happy camper.  I love tracking the trail of bread crumbs.  (Don’t ask me how many Robert Jordan books I read trying to figure out which sister in the Tower was actually one of the Forsaken.  Don’t even get me started about Jon Snow in George R.R. Martin’s series, because if he’s only yanking my chain, I’m going to be really pissed.)

I don’t want you to tell me the heroine is sooooo smart, only to watch her stumble around in the snowy woods with no coat in the middle of the night without so much as a flashlight even though she knows a serial killer is stalking her, all because she heard a noise.  Surely we’ve learned that lesson from Scary Movie 1, 2, …10…haven’t we?  At least in those movies it was FUNNY and not irritating.

My latest peeve:  I despise being treated like I’m stupid.  The biggest slam to a reader’s intelligence is the “little did she know” trick.  Like I’m too stupid to figure out delicate foreshadowing, so I must be clubbed over the head with “little did she know, but the man she was kissing would kill her before dawn.”  Or “she had absolutely no idea that he was a serial killer.”

If she doesn’t know, how can the reader know if the author is handling POV appropriately?  This is author intrusion and I can. not. stand it.  It absolutely drives me bat-shit crazy, even worse than blatant head hopping.

Give me the unease souring her stomach, the chill clawing down her spine, the hair crawling on her nape, something, but don’t give me “little did she know that danger approached.”

</rant>

Nope, I’m still irritated.  Needless to say, I won’t be buying that book.  (At least it was only an excerpt–think how furious I’d be if I had actually PAID to be irritated!)

What’s one of your reader peeves?