Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Monday, August 8, 2016

Paris! Crime! A book with my name on it

I don't really enjoy contemporary true crime, but I very much enjoy the books of Ben Macintyre and Erik Larson. This new book about the first police chief of Paris sounds like it deserves a place at the top of my TBR pile. Alas, it will not be available until next year.

I love the cover line--Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris--who isn't going to read a book that offers all that?  Holly Tucker is a professor at Vanderbilt University (not to be confused with the singer of the same name), and has written several other historical true crime books. I can't wait to dig into them.

Another Great Cover from Laura Gordon of Book Cover Machine

I have been on a writing binge lately, mostly turning out short stories and novelettes. I find it's a great distraction from the political landscape and it's also nice to be crossing items off my "to do" list.

One of the projects I've just finished is a reworking of the story "Tiger Bone Wine" I originally wrote for John Donald Carlucci's Astonishing Adventures Magazine back in 2007 when I was first starting out as a fictionista.

I've always been fascinated/appalled by the trade in tiger parts, and every time I see that sobering statistic--less than 3,200 tigers remain in the wild--I want to weep. Three thousand two hundred was the size of my graduating class at Duke. We could all fit into the Duke Chapel. Granted, tigers are bigger than people, but factor in the parents and friends who were also squeezed in and I think that's a pretty good spatial representation of how many tigers are left. One large auditorium's worth if packed nose to tail. Sigh.

At any rate, the new version of the story is called "Tiger Bones" and I found this great cover from Laura Gordon of the Book Cover Machine. Check out her pre-made covers (which are very affordable) or hire her for custom work. Because as you know, people judge books by thier covers.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Romeo & Juliet--Vampire Style

Shakespeare's plays are durable. They can withstand any number of modern adaptations, permutations, and mutations. The whole Underworld movie mythos is based on the vampire/werewolf love story. so I was not surprised to see this book in one of the daily "book dump" newsletters I get.

Author H.T. Night has more than half a million books in print and several are vampire-centric. He has multiple series out there, along with half a dozen standalone novels. He definitely seems like a writer to check out if you like paranormal romance.

This version of the oft-told tale is set in 2099 in a New York now renamed Verona. It has an overall 3.8 star rating in reviews, which is not awesome, but more than half of those who reviewed it gave it five stars and really loved it. I've seen myself how a couple of low-star reviews can REALLY mess up a rating, so I'll definitely see for myself.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Participatory Democracy: Fiction by Katherine Tomlinson


I don't write much political fiction, and this story, strictly speaking, is more of a noir-ish kind of tale. But after binge-watching the RNC and the DNC, I re-read the story (which I wrote several yaers ago) and felt like it suited the times a little too perfectly. And sums up why I'm With Her.
Nora had been working on the Congressman’s campaign for eighteen months. His neighborhood office was within walking distance of her apartment and going there every day gave her something to do with her unemployed hours; injected purpose into her otherwise

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Heartblaze 2: Vampire Rising by Shay Roberts

This is the second book in Shay Roberts' Heartblaze Trilogy, and unlike some series that seem to go through a "sophomore slump"  with sequels, this second outing with heroine Emma Rue is bigger and better and takes the story to a place where the stakes are monumental. (Yes, in this book, we face TEOTWAWKI,)

I read a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and books with vampires and werewolves and witches seems to fall into two categories. There are those that simply mimic what's come before, and give us the same old/same old tropes that make readers want to roll their eyes at the very thought o reading another vampire book. And then there are the paranormal stories that give us something new. The Heartblaze series is in the latter category.

In this story Emma Rue comes to realize that she has a purpose and a destiny far beyond anything that she could have imagined. (Yes, I know, all heroines of paranormal romances are supposed to be special, but here, she really is special.) Just as the Heartblaze world is special. This is a dark fairy tale of a story, and when you learn what the dagger in Emma's hand (see cover) can do, you'll be stunned. Roberts teased it in Heartblaze 1, and he paid it off BIG TIME in this sequel.

Friday, July 22, 2016

New Orleans, Prohibition, and a mystical speakeasy. I'm there!

I've only visited New Orleans once and it was before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. But it really is one of those places that isn't like any other. I'm a sucker for stories set in the big easy, and this one, V.R. McCoy's The Merchant, looks like it's right up my alley. The author cites Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Stephen King, and Tom Clancy as his inspirations, and just reading the blurbs of the other two books he's published, I believe his work has "commercial" encoded in its bookly DNA.

This is how The Merchant begins:  It was the year 1187 after his death. It had been raining fire for most of the night ..."  I don't know about you, but there's no way I'm going to stop reading after that. Kindle "look inside" tool--you just made a sale!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Oldest Sense: Vetiver Quinn #2, a preview

Last year, at the urging of a friend of  mine who is a best-selling novelist, I dipped my toes in the "paranormal romance" genre. I didn't want to use one of the typical paranormal creatures--honestly, I'll be fine if I never see another shifter story--and I wanted my heroine to have the power, not just be "the girl" who gets dragged along on the adventure. (And I did want there to be an adventure. Straight-out romances don't really work for me.) I started thinking about the powers my heroine might have and I thought of Anton Strout's great books about Simon Canderous and Rachel Caine's "Weather Warden" series. They aren't cookie-cutter books and I didn't want mine to be a cookie-cutter story either.

I was writing an aromatherapy book for a client at the time and I started thinking about what it would be like if someone could "see" things in a person's olfactory aura. I know that sounds weird, but there are all those studies about memory being linked to scent and I decided to try. The result was a woman I called Vetiver Quinn, an aromatherapist who can read people that way. And then I came up with a story that involved a government agent named Peter Eliades who needs her help foiling a terrorist incident.  And then I found a group of pictures of the couple on the left and a couple of covers came together. The first book was The Fourth Sense (smell being the fourth sense in the sequence of five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste). 

The sequel is called The Oldest Sense. (Smell is the first sense we develop while hearing is said to be the lasst sense to leave us as we're dying.)  The storyline for the new book is a straight up mystery, and it's been fun to write. These books are just novelettes, and the idea is to eventually put them together in a boxed set.  Yes, I know, I really need to finish that novel. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying writing the shorter stuff.  Here's the prologue of The Oldest Sense written under the name Delia Fontana.

The Oldest Sense

“I want it to smell like an NFL locker room at half-time during the Super Bowl when the other team is winning,” my client said.
Yikes, I thought, but what I said was, “Okay. Man tang and musk. Notes of camphor and mentholatum.”
“And leather,” she added. “Sweaty socks and leather.”
“Leather?” I asked, because I wasn’t following her. “I don’t think they really make footballs out of pig skin any more.”
She gave me a pitying look. “The players are wearing underwear.”
Of course, I thought. The players’ leather underwear.
“And a hint of chlorine.”
“From the showers?”
Again I got the look, this time tinged with a bit of impatience. “The smell of fresh spunk,” she said. “It smells like chlorine.”