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Archive for May, 2011

Publisher Weekly Reviews Honeyed Words

Honeyed Words
J.A. Pitts. Tor, $25.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2468-9; $14.99 trade paper ISBN 978-0-7653-2907-3
The straightforward sequel to 2010’s Black Blade Blues finds blacksmith Sarah Beauhall still processing the revelation that the world is filled with magic and dominated by secretive and powerful dragons. Sarah soon discovers she is being spied on by mysterious siblings Skella and Gletts, while her new smithing mentor, Anzeka, turns out to be deeply and destructively entangled with magic and plagued by a particularly malevolent ex-boyfriend. Skella and Gletts prove to be the sympathetic pawns of ambitious but foolishly greedy dwarves, and once again Sarah finds herself compelled to protect an unsuspecting world while allied with those who should by all rights be her enemies. Fans of the first novel will find this one equally enjoyable, as Pitts mixes familiar urban fantasy tropes with some new twists. Plenty of plot threads are left unresolved for future installments. (July)

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ARCs of Honeyed Words looking for a good home.

I just packed up three more ARCs of Honeyed Words, and one copy of Black Blade Blues to send out to reviewers.

It’s one of the coolest parts of being an author, being able to send out copies of my books to people who want to read and talk about my work.

Of course, I’m hoping for kind words, but more than anything, I hope for honest words. I know not everyone will like my books, just like I don’t like every book I’ve ever read. But, I’m a big fan of reviews. Like movie previews, I love hearing about a new book, something that makes me want to rush right out and snatch up the paper artifact that will eat my brain.

E-readers are cool, and becoming more and more prevalent, but my preference is to hold a book in my hands and fall into someone’s world for a little while.

Maybe, those folks who read these ARCs will give you an idea to find your way into my world.

I have a few more ARCS looking for a good home, if you know of anyone who is interested in reviewing Honeyed Words send them my way.

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The Princess Bride: Art and Craft

I just watched the Princess Bride again, with my wife and daughter. I love that movie. It has everything you need in a story: adventure, daring, true love, hope, despair, giants, swordplay, pirate, horses, Rats of Unusual Sizes.

Okay, maybe you don’t need all of those, but you need some of them, surely.

As I watch my daughter grow up and begin to write her own first novel, I can’t help but think about the craft and what it takes to put together something that is not only going to keep an audience’s attention, but keep them on the edge of their seats until the closing credits. (okay, that and the fact I just turned in my third Sarah Beauhall novel to New York).

Before the movie was over, my daughter was leaning against me — something she hasn’t done in a while, now that she’s a teenager. There is something about the romance of Buttercup and Wesley that tugs the heart strings, true (that’s what I think she likes best). But I think it’s Inigo Montoya’s story that carries the story. He’s spent his whole life trying to right a wrong. He’s dedicated every possible moment from the instance his father died until his adulthood, trying to not just kill the man who killed his father — that in itself is worthy of a story — but he what he wants more than anything is to have his father back.

That’s power, ladies and gentlemen. That gut-wrenching need he expresses just as he kills the six-fingered man is so visceral, so heart-stoppingly overwhelming, that the rest of the movie falls to window dressing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the romance. And the humor, my God. The writing is brilliant.

But that one character, that one dramatic through line that drags him through his life and through this story really is the most compelling aspect of the movie.

At least for me. I’m sure some of you will disagree. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I never got to know my own father. Losing him when I was only 2 years old has shaped my perspective when it comes to story, that’s for sure.

If you are struggling with your own stories, frustrated with craft and just ready to toss the keyboard aside and throw your hands into the air out of frustration, pop in this movie. Check out how utterly simple the plot threads are. How fairly shallow the characters and how derivative the plot.

Then you’ll see how a simple story, when approached with passion and empathy, can become a fine piece of art that touches the audience in ways you may have never dreamed.

And isn’t that why we tell stories?

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Norse Mythology, Thor (the movie) and Black Blade Blues

Woke this morning to a very nice review of Black Blade Blues wherein my book is referenced along with the new Thor movie. I encourage you to check it out.

It’s always nice to see when a peer likes your work. Lon is a super nice guy, and a fine writer in his own right.

Finding reviews like this are like waking up to little birthday presents. Gives a bit of a boost to the day.

I’ll go off to the YMCA today with a skip in my step.

Thanks Lon

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With Great Hope and Trepidation

I have this thing about meeting my deadlines. It’s an important aspect of who I am. I’m not perfect by any means, but I do strive to meet my obligations.

Last night, before midnight, I sent the next Sarah Beauhall book off to my editor in New York. My contract said deliver on May 1st and according to my computer, it was still May 1st.

I wish I’d gotten this one turned in earlier, but life has been much busier than I expected. All good stuff, mind you. While I consider writing a full-time career, I have a day job that fluctuates between busy and insane. Don’t get me wrong, I dearly love what I do for a living. There are just times where the the day job either eats up a lot of hours, or most of my brain space.

I have learned to participate in a sport we like to call “work/life balance”. Like many sports, some days you win, some days you lose. But in the end, you are better off for having played the game.

And now, with the third Sarah Beauhall book sitting on my editors desk, I’m in a bit of a jagged space. I’ve completed my contract. There are no more books that have to be written (today). Instead, I will read the two manuscripts I have on my desk (and excited to do so). I’ll do a little Girl Scout camping here soon and basically try to decompress from this last novel push.

I’m giving myself two weeks. Then I’m picking up a different project. I want to do some major surgery on the first novel I wrote and get it out to my agent to see if it can find a home in the world. I have some short stories I want to write and I have notes for the next book in the Sarah Beauhall series tickling the back of my brain.

No shortage of work in my life, that’s for sure.

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Uruz

The wild ox; strength and power.

Ansuz

Creativity; words, music, and art.

Othala

The troll cross; wealth and prosperity.

Sowilo

The sun; energy, honor, guidance.

Fehu

Personally earned or lucky wealth and prosperity.

Jera

The harvest; patience and promise.

Raidho

The chariot; journey and travel.

Note: This is not the real book cover.