Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shakespare's Money

I am interested in money. My father had a coin collection that wasn't really worth much but I loved looking through the old coins, many of them European.

I have a fantasy series in which I've worked out various systems of money and the names and denominations of the coins. Working out your own monetary system really gives you insight into how things work. Why is one thing worth a dollar while another thing is worth five dollars, or fifty dollars?

One of the oldest "stories"' there is concerns the thirty pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus. I've always wanted to write a story about those coins.

This book caught my eye and it is just so annoying that the Kindle price is ore than you'd usually pay for a trade paperback. (There's a REASON why there are no customer reviews yet.) There are only five left in stock, and I suppose if I were the TRUE Shakespeare geek I claim to be, I'd snap one of them up. Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas wish list.

Shakespeare + President = Meme

Here's the only Shakespeare presidential meme I could find that's nonpartisan. I suppose as the general election approaches we'll see more, butfor right now, there's not much.

Summer of Shakespeare #3 Begins!

Shakespeare and politics...when the bard got political, people died. He would have appreciated our current election cycle, I think.

And so, the third annual Summer of Shakespeare begins!

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler --a review

Like The Devil Wears Prada and Debt and other books about coming of age in New York, this debut novel introduces us to Tess, who is a fish out of water in her sundress and cardigan, trying to bluff her way through an interview when she’s way over her head. We like her, and we enjoy being educated along with her, introduced to the nuances of taste—you will develop a palate—and the intricacies of food service where meals are works of art and presentations like little pieces of theater. We also love the vision she has of her New York self—a sophisticated, better-dressed, better paid version of herself who lives a life filled with art openings and concerts and love and excitement. We KNOW that vision because we’ve all had a version of it. 

Tess is an “Everywoman” who is relatable, not just to Millennials, but also to anyone who ever followed a dream from a dusty town where the residents were obsessed with football and church to New York or Los Angeles, or any other glittering metropolis where the possibilities seem limitless and even the reality is better than the reality left behind. When she first arrives in town, it seems like she’s always being wrong-footed and judged, and her thoughts about the people she meets are bemused and sensible and endearing. She is an OUTSIDER who wants to be an INSIDER in the worst way and if there are few readers alive who can’t remember that feeling, even if they won’t admit it. When she literally “earns her stripes” (the servers all wear striped shirts while the back waiters wear white button-downs), we’re pleased for her.

A Fairytale retelling

The Twelve Dancing Princesses is one of my favorite fairytales and you don't really see it retold. I love that this version, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold, went the old fashioned route with the cover. I had books that looked like this when I was a child; they'd been my mother's and they were frayed on the bindings, the fabric worn away at the corners and showing the boards beneath.the author, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, has rewritten other fairytales. She has a story in Five Enchanted Roses (a collection of Beauty and the Beast stories) and another in Five Golden Slippers (five Cinderella stories.)

She has also created her own fanciful world, Goldstone Woods," and there are a number of books in that series with "please read me" titles like Moonblood and Dragonwitch. I can't wait to explore that landscape, which she describes as "an ever-growing world of knights and dragons, mystical forests and hidden demesnes, unspeakable evil and boundless grace."You can read more about the series on her website.

Cover Reveal...Beauty Sleep

Yet another entry into my "Modern Magic" series of fairytale retellings. I saw this pre-made cover by Sarah Beard on the Book Cover Designer and snatched it up over the weekend. It is, as you might be able to tell from the cover, a retelling of the classic story "Sleeping Beauty." This one is longer than the other entries in the series, which are mostly novelettes. I really love this cover and have not seen the model on a bazillion other covers.  I also love the color palette.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Aixa and the Shark

Part two of my three-part La Bruja Roja series is free for the next five days. Check it out here.  It's urban fantasy about a witch who lives in a border town that's not just on the border between Texas and Mexico, it's on the border between life and death. The final story, Aixa and the Spider, will be out next month. I'm fond of the Aixa stories.  Maybe you'll like them too.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson

This smart book about a young protagonist taking on dark forces owes a lot to the Harry Potter series.  She’s an orphan whose father and mother perished under peculiar circumstances and she now lives with a woman who may or may not be her aunt, but who is certainly rather abusive.  Mrs. Rokaby is bad enough but her evil rabbit Bigamist is a real villain! 

The characters are rooted in the real world, which makes the time tornados and time traps really work.  They’re more magical fantastical than science fiction, and we are very interested in how things are going to play out.  (That opening is really tasty and very visual.)

In some ways, we can see the derivation of a lot of the ideas here.  In particular, the story reminds us of John Bellairs’ trilogy of books that begins with The House with the Clock in its Walls.  The young protagonist of that book (a chubby ten year old) has to track down the clock by solving a mystery, and saves the world thereby.  This book is just as complex and just as satisfying, and young Silver (named after her father’s favorite pirate, Long John Silver) is a kid we can really sympathize with and really like.  She is just little (sort of like a hobbit) but she has to do a brave thing because it’s the thing to do. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Devil in the White City

If you love true crime, you've probably read this by now; if you haven't read it, you should. Erik Larson is a terrific writer and from the first book of his I read, Isaac's Storm, about the devastating Galveston hurricane at the turn of the last century, I was hooked. I haven't read his most recent book, Dead Wake, about the crossing of the Lusitania, but ... it's on my TBR list.

Here's my review of The Devil in the White City, still Larson's most famous work:

The true story of two great events that occurred simultaneously in Chicago—the extravagant World’s Fair honoring the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America; and a series of heinous murders.

This is a tremendously entertaining book for fans of 19th century architecture, the city of Chicago, and true crime.  Larson has taken on a couple of interesting stories and interwoven them in a way that’s not quite totally successful, but which always engages us. His non-fiction prose style is so graceful that it’s a pure pleasure to read.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Giveaway

Who doesn't like the opportunity to win some goodies? Books. Gift cards. And the opportunity to encounter new writers and new books. I'll be interested in reading the Dragon  Born Awakening series from Ella Summers that's part of the package. You can enter here.

Where have all the women gone?

One of the things I hear a lot is that women don't write epic fantasy.  Kameron Hurley (a double Hugo Award-winner) talks about that and many other topics in this new book, due out next week. has posted an excerpt. you can read it here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

All Involved by Ryan Gattis...a review

This novel, inspired by the events of the L.A. Riots in 1992,  interweaves stories and points of view in a cinematic way (think CRASH or SYRIANA) with the authenticity of actual events told the lens of Gattis’ multi-cultural cast. It makes a wonderful copansion piece to Anna Deavere Smith’s TWILIGHT, her one-woman, multi-character theater piece about the L.A. riots that erupted in the wake of the verdict in the Rodney King case.

 And while much of the L.A. riot coverage focused on the clashes between the African-American and Korean communities, this novel also gives us a snapshot of one complicated extended Hispanic family (both blood family and gang affiliations). Gattis has done a terrific job of getting inside the heads of his characters, particularly Lupe (aka Payasa). .

The characters here are complex and mostly sympathetic, and the adage “Live by the gun, die by the gun” has never seemed so apt.

There’s not a whole lot of story here, but what there is, is absorbing. The plot has a lot of different threads that are woven together, with unexpected connections every step of the way. This is a lot like CRASH, and it’s visceral.  No one group is singled out as the good or bad guys and Gattis does a terrific job giving us viewpoints from all different directions.

For the TBR Pile--THE GENE

I love popular science as a genre and this book caught my eye in a newsletter from Simon & Schuster. Muhkherjee also wrote the amazing The Emperor of All Maladies (subtitled: A Biography of Cancer), so I have high hopes for this book about what it means to be human when we can write and overwrite our own genetic code.

I like the cover too--it's clean and graphic and stands out in a thumbnail. (When you're an indie writer, you tend to notice things like that.What I didn't realize is that this cover is actually the cover of the audio book. The book has a slightly different cover. It's got much the same feel but it's not, at least in my opinion, as eye-catching or appealing.

The Beast Prince

This retelling of Beauty and the Beast popped up this morning when I went to Amazon to see if anyone had left a new review for The Summer Garden. I'm always interested in what other writers have done with the story since I'm so fond of the story myself. (And while the Disney version of the story looks pretty, I Cannoot. Wait to see the Guillermo del Toro version with Emma Watson. It was a really smart script and it will look fantastic.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cover Reveal Dark Dream

This is the cover for the first book in my new series The Dreamer's Daughters, which will publish this fall. It focuses on a trio of sisters, all who have the ability to work dream magic because I've been fascinated by dreams my whole life. Mostly because I rarely remember mine. I do dream in color, and I did once have that anxiety dream about being in college and having an exam in a class you never attended. (For me, the class was advanced calculus and even in my dream I knew it was a dream because I am math-challeged.)

The designer is Veronica R of IndieElaborates and I purchased it from The Book Cover Designer.

Once Upon a Curse--17 Fairy Tale Retellings

I just bought Once Upon a Curse (it's a boxed set selling for 99 cents on Amazon) that's chock full of fairy tale retellings. The only story I've read before is Christine Pope's "The Queen of Frost and Darkness," a Snow Queen retelling that originally ran in Dark Valentine Magazine. 

It's a fantastic collection. Here's the review I just posted on Amazon:

 Witches and warriors, demons and darkness, brave women and true love, and a vampiric take on a classic fairy tale—it’s all here in this boxed set, and more besides. Because many of the stories have layers to them that remind us of other stories and folk tales and ballads, like the silver dagger Yarrow carries in the collection’s opening story, “Yarrow Sturdy and Bright,” by Devon Monk. This is a fierce, feminist take on “The Pied Piper,” and it sets the tone for the stories that follow.

The stories run the gamut from reimagined Celtic folklore like Anthea Sharp’s “Fae Horse,” a wild ride on a NightMare to Christine Pope’s lyrical Russian take on “The Snow Queen.” C. Gockel’s urban fantastic version of Cinderella features a wildly sympathetic stepmother, a “stepsister” who’s a 15-year-old gay kid exploring his own fabulosity, and a whiny “princess” whose diva antics are consistently amusing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The teaser trailer for Beauty and the Beast

Disney has just released the teaser trailer for their live-action Beauty and the Beast. And it looks lush.

Bite-sized Beauty and the Beast

My retelling of Beauty and the Beast, The Summer Garden, is free this week on Amazon. Because we all need a free fairy tale every once in a while.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Summer of Shakespeare #3

Yes, it's that time of year again--Summer of Shakespeare time. This will be SoS number three, and there will be Shakespeare geekery coming out your ears by August 31. The festivities begin June 1, so "brush up your Shakespeare" as Cole Porter urged you to in his musical Kiss Me Kate, based on his play The Taming of the Shrew (one of my least favorites).

Freebie Fairytale Fiction

A Dream of Sun and Roses is still free on Amazon, so if you're looking for a short, futuristic fairy tale (based on Sleeping Beauty) you can get it here.  I like rewriting fairy tales, not so much because I don't have ideas of my own, but because I like telling the stories in my own way. But at a certain point I realized that everyone picks the same five fairy tales--Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and maybe...Red Riding Hood.  When I started my "Modern Magic Series," I knew I wanted ten stories in all, so I had to go beyond the obvious. (Plus, outside of doing a werewolf take on Red Riding Hood, I didn't really see much I could do with the story)

Here's what I came up with:

Fashionista (Cinderella)
While My City Dreams (Rapunzel)
Hunter's Kiss (Snow White)
Hero's Kiss (Beauty and the Beast)
Beauty Sleep (Sleeping Beauty)
Unknown Road (East of the Sun, West of the Moon)
Hideous (Ugly Duckling)
Midnight's Daughter (The Twelve Dancing Princesses)
Lady in the Water (The Little Mermaid)
Soul Kiss (The Snow Queen)

I have covers for almost all of the stories--some women buy shoes, I buy covers. The amazing Joy Sillesen of Indie Author Services created some, and I bought the others as premades from various sources. Hunter's Kiss was created by Ravven, whose work is exquisite. I bought two of her premades last year as a Christmas present to me. I also picked up a couple on The Book Cover Designer. I know people can be sniffy about pre-mades, but there's some gorgeous work there.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Time Traveler's Almanac

I am a fan of short stories. I'm a fan of time travel stories. So this collection of short stories (edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer) sounds like it's right up my alley. And I would never have known about it if I hadn't stumbled across the cover in a review. I love this cover. I love that the butterfly is a call out to one of my all-time favorite short stories, Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder." I remember reading that story for the first time and just being stunned by it. It was my introduction to Ray Bradbury and, most likely, the beginning of my life-long love of the short story form.

This is not the first cover this book has. When I went searching for it on Amazon--because to see it is to buy it--an older cover came up. And for me, the older cover was not as inviting. Maybe it's the background color. I used to work in print magazines and one of the things we were always doing is gathering data on which covers sold the best. (Covers with white backgrounds were not that popular.) For me this alternate cover looks like it might be a work of popular history or popular science. It doesn't say "fiction" to me the way the butterfly cover does. But either way, this book is on its way to me and I can't wait.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Freebie Fiction

I'm going to be running free promotions for various books all the rest of this month and into June. I'm staring with A Dream of Sun and Roses, a long short story which was originally written for an anthology of future fairy tales that never happened. It's a version of Sleeping Beauty. The other freebie availale right now is Unsanctified, a horror  story with spiders and other creepy stuff.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Flash Fiction

                       by Katherine Tomlinson                                 

The sun didn’t rise on Thursday.  The blogosphere, which never sleeps, outpaced the news channels in reporting the situation, but CNN had posted a graphic (Black Thursday!) by 11 a.m.  The parade of pundits began that afternoon, with self-styled experts throwing out phrases like “Little Ice Age” and “global hydrological cycle.”

Dr. Nicholas Solarz, whose theories on nuclear winter had been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, seemed to be everywhere at once, basking in his moment of geek glory. He talked a lot about the surface temperature of the earth being 300 Kelvin and predicted that without sunlight, the temperature would drop by a factor of two in weeks.

When these statements were met by puzzled looks from anchor-people who couldn’t do long division without a calculator, he explained that 275 Kelvin is the freezing temperature of water and that in a month; the planet’s surface temperature would be down to 150 Kelvin.  Then he had added, somewhat unhelpfully, “You do the math.”

But to do the math, people needed to know the difference between the Kelvin and the Celsius temperature scales and have a passing grasp of the concept of “absolute zero” and most everyone had enough problems just converting Celsius to Fahrenheit.  Also, a fair number of viewers thought Dr. Solarz was saying “Kevin” and wondered who he was and what he had to do with anything.