Book Review: Read My Mind

Read My Mind by [Haworth, Kelly]During NaNo, when I was reading but not reviewing, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Read My Mind by Kelly Haworth.  A little outside my usual genres, it’s a paranormal LGBTQ romance, the first in a series.  The characters and the world-building are wonderful.  Full disclosure, Kelly is a friend of mine, but that’s not why I liked the book!

Set in an alternate Earth, Kelly’s world features a pantheon of gods who have gifted humans (some of them) with a variety of magical abilities, like healing or telekinesis.  The story centers around Scott and Nick, incoming freshmen at the University of Frannesburg (think alternate San Francisco).  Scott is devoutly religious, while Nick, a telekinetic, is much more interested in the pop culture, comic book and action figure version of the gods.  The two begin sparking while negotiating exploring each other’s different experiences of the gods.  When Scott unexpectedly develops telepathy, it creates rifts in his family, while Nick struggles with grieving his mother and dealing with a distant relationship with his father–all problems that interfere with their growing romance.

I loved the world-building in here.  I’m fascinated by Kelly’s created religion, and I love the way it’s involved in the plot and the characters’ lives.  Although this is the first published in the series, Kelly actually wrote another volume first, but decided this was a better introduction and I think that was a great choice.  Because Scott and Nick are each learning from the other about different aspects of the gods, the reader gets to learn too in an organic way.  I also love the way they handle learning from each other–though it seems like an obvious conflict, they approach each other with mutual respect and openness which was just lovely. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Christmas Focus?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you celebrate Christmas, do you feel the need to stop reading anything but Christmas-themed romances as the holiday season starts?

I sometimes read a Christmas book or two in December, but I definitely don’t stop reading other books, and I wouldn’t say my Christmas choices tend particularly towards romances either.  Admittedly, my very favorite is The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig, which is a Christmas-set romance.  But my other two favorites are not romances, or much like each other: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

I actually do more Christmas movie-watching than reading, though.  Always The Charlie Brown Christmas, often It’s a Wonderful Life and recently whichever past Dr. Who Christmas Special strikes my fancy–and the new one, of course!

Do you read Christmas (or other holiday) books in December?  Does it become your main focus, or a kind of add-on?

 

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Book Review: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard

I have had quite good luck listening to comedians read their autobiographies (because, after all, they know how to be funny!) and Eddie Izzard’s Believe Me audiobook was particularly good.  Izzard is a British comedian who does stand-up tours and is also rather famously a transvestite (or transgender…more on that later).

As autobiographies do, Izzard’s goes through his life from childhood (actually, he discusses his parents’ lives before he was born too), how he got into acting, how he began expressing himself as a transvestite and how his career progressed on up to the present.  And because he’s a comedian, it’s funny–probably much more so in the audiobook even than the printed version, because he digresses.  At length.  Frequently.  And it’s delightful.

Izzard’s comedy style is very conversational monologues, often telling stories with frequent asides and remarks.  (See my favorite, the Death Star Canteen.  Mature language warning.)  He often gives the impression of ad libbing at length.  I have no idea if it’s true on stage, but it definitely is in the audiobook, as he’ll frequently seize on something, discuss at length, remark, “that wasn’t in the book.  Okay, back to the book!”  The book also has footnotes, and he uses these as opportunities to expound and digress, often closing them with “end of endless footnote.”

You can’t expect the book to be too linear.  It’s not even structured very linearly (roughly chronological, at least as far as childhood, young adult, early career, later career), with a lot of circling around within rough time periods.  But as long as you’re willing to ride along with him, it’s very funny throughout. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo Day 30+ and Crossing the 50,000 Line

I have been very remiss in posting on here the last few weeks!  I had every intention of posting about the NaNo process as it happened…but then it happened to take up every spare writing moment I had!  I spent the month doing a lot of writing sprints before work, on my lunch hour and at odd moments here and there.  I spent most of the month hovering near the goal amount, and crossed the 50,000 after work on November 30th.  Then went out to my writing group!

So much for stats.  As to content–as I was beginning to feel earlier in the month, this turned out more of an exploration than a proper novel draft.  I think I got, perhaps, halfway through what would eventually be the story, but I’m not sure the first half always went the right direction.  I did a lot of world-building in October but not much plot-planning, and struggled to find it in November.

On the other hand!  I discovered some new things about my characters, and about the world even, and the themes emerged pretty strongly too.  I’m not exactly sure how much of what I wrote will end up in a final version–possibly a lot of fragments, cut up and rearranged.

I don’t plan to finish this semi-draft during December, as I often do with NaNo novels.  This was a good exploration and got me back in the writing rhythm after losing my speed some last year (too much revision, and too much other life going on too).  So I’m going to put this one away to think about some more, and in the meantime I want to play with some short stories and work on plotting…because that seems to be the big issue on my last three novel drafts that still need revision.  So it seems like a good time to play with something shorter to hone some skills.

For now though, have an excerpt from my NaNo novel.

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We approached the Great Hall, an intimidating enough building without uneasy thoughts to accompany an approach.  I had only been inside twice, once each year for the opening ceremonies of the new term.  The effect was quite different when streams of students were covering the plaza and heading through the open doors.

The rest of the time—well, I had passed the Great Hall hundreds of times, but it had always felt more like a mountain than a building, a prominent feature of the landscape but not something to approach, let alone enter.

Gery marched up to it fearlessly enough, bypassing the main doors for a small side entrance quite confidently.

The door opened on a short hallway, leading to a second, interior door, this one with a gargoyle sitting beside it.  “Who goes there?” the gargoyle intoned.  It was an old gargoyle, judging by the depth of the voice.  Those were the best ones.

“Gerhardt Greerson,” Gery said promptly, “with an appointment with Minister Drehagan.  And guest.”

I didn’t altogether love that, but the gargoyle squinted at us both then boomed, “Enter,” and the door swung open on a flight of stairs. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo Day 12 and the Hunt for a Plot

We’re almost halfway through November–but not quite!  NaNoWriMo is rocking right along for me.  I passed 20,000 words today, which puts me right on target.  Next week is particularly busy though, so I’m expecting to slip behind somewhat.  We’ll see.

So much for quantity, as to quality…I’m having a mixed NaNo.  There are some parts I’m writing that I like a lot.  I still like the premise and the world, and I’m discovering more about the world as I go.  But this is starting to feel more like very intensive world-building than noveling!  I’m writing scenes I can probably use in a final version and probably more or less in this order–but it’s still not coming together as tightly as I would like.  I feel like there’s a lot more that should be here, and I don’t know quite what it is yet–like I may not have just the right angle, or have the right scenes to tell the story I want.

So!  More clarity may emerge, or I may end up with a rougher first draft than has happened in some previous years.  Although with a brand new world to explore, I suppose it’s not that surprising.

In the meantime, here’s a scene I do like reasonably well.

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The airlift opened on the seventh level and we stepped out.  Gil went to the edge of the balcony to lean over the slender carved railing and look down.  I did not join him.  I had tried that my first trip here and regretted it.  Depths are more dizzying than heights.

I walked purposefully over to the second archway on the left, this one unusual in its carved grating.  The silver key slid easily into the lock and the grating swung silently open.

This wasn’t the entire literata section, of course, just the most advanced, most obscure books.  Maybe a little part of me was pleased to have an excuse to go exploring here. Continue reading

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