Reading Friday: The Power of Voice

Today’s guest blogger is Mikaela Lind. Mikaela lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden. She lives in an one room apartment with too many books. When she isn’t working on one of her books, she can be found reading books that others wrote. Or at Twitter as @mikaela_l. If you are curious about her upcoming releases, you can visit her webpage.


shifting-shadowsWhen I was a kid, I loved to read. In fact, I loved it so much that I had mastered the skill of reading while walking. Before you think I am insane, I lived in a calm suburb, and I only did it away from streets. As I grew up, I dropped the habit. In fact, until last week I was certain that I had lost the skill. And then I read Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs. I read it on the bus, I read it while walking from the bus. To say that I loved it is an understatement. But the most important thing it did was that it renewed my faith in her as an author.
Which in turn made think about the Power of Voice. I read a lot of genres, the only thing I don’t read is horror. It doesn’t matter what genre I am reading, when I pick up a book I want to be swept away.

Mikaela Lind's short story, Exile, is available from Kobo as a free download.

Mikaela Lind’s short story, Exile, is available from Kobo.

For me, a really good story is a Mix of character, Voice and plot. I have been reading for 25 years, and I have learned that I can ignore a weak plot and setting if I like the characters. Whether or not I like or love a book is the author’s Voice. Voice is something personal and what makes me trust the author, even if I didn’t like the previous book, because I want to feel the magic that made me love the author’s books. I am the first to admit that the magic wanes. Most of the time, the magic returns, but sometimes it doesn’t. I have no idea why that is the case. I do know that I am happy when the magic is renewed, and sad when it isn’t.

Tell me, which books have renewed your faith in an author recently?

If you would like to write a guest post for Reading Friday, contact me at planetpooks  @ gmail and let me know.


Saturday a Dream Came True

I donated a hardcover copy of This Crumbling Pageant to a The Colony Public Library. This is the second time I’ve gotten to do donate one of my books to a library.

Is there a library near you having an event, or wanting a speaker, within driving distance of DFW? I love doing this!

Handing the book to Nancy Boykin at The Colony Public Library.

Handing the book to Nancy Boykin at The Colony Public Library.

Read more about the event here!

WWW Wednesday 9-10-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading, and is cross-posted at the Book View Café blog.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

kiss of deceptionI’m reading a library ebook–The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson, and I’m really enjoying it. This is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy. Yes, it’s yet another love triangle and I know that sends a lot of people screaming, people who are over-triangled-out since Twilight started the craze. That part isn’t bothering me yet, though I’m only about 25% in. I find the world-building fascinating and the main character, the First Daughter of the land [which translates loosely as princess, only moreso] is strong and crafty. I had forgotten everything I’d read about the book when I first stumbled across it, and so when I started reading I didn’t know what to expect. I’m glad it worked out that way, because I wasn’t prepared for the unexpected turn of events that started the ball rolling.

Beautiful cover, too.

For My Lady's HeartI’m also listening to a different book, oddly enough, another book about a princess in a somewhat similar situation, though she’s on the run for a different reason–For My Lady’s Heart. Laura Kinsale is a fabulous writer, and Nicholas Boulton is a fabulous actor/narrator, and they are a match made in heaven.  I am so loving the story of Ruck and Melanthe, a medieval tale with a wonderful gyrfalcon as a character. I’d never heard of them prior to reading this book when it first was published years ago, and ever since have longed to see one. Instead I’ll share a picture.

gyr_whiteThe characterizations, as always with a Kinsale book, are complex and  rich, and the world she describes is formed by the religious interpretations of the day as well as political intrigues, all twisting and twining their way around two hearts in the best romantic fashion.



• What did you recently finish reading?

firebirdI recently read The Firebird by Susannah Kearsley, which happened to win a RITA from Romance Writers of America this year. I have puzzled over this and discussed it with a friend, another writer, and I have very mixed feelings about it. I found the two love stories interesting and even compelling, and yet the magic that binds them fell flat for me. The heroine is gifted with psychometry, meaning if she touches something, she can see images from its past–who held it, where they were, etc. The hero is also gifted with even stronger psychic gifts, and together they are tracking down the provenance of a carved piece of wood that takes them from London to Scotland, across Europe to St Petersburg. I loved the historical sequences, but they are also what left me unsatisfied.

Was it because I wasn’t reading, and was listening? Katherine Kellgren* is another amazing narrator, and I generally love her narration, but that doesn’t mean that perhaps a bit of the “woo-woo” factor didn’t quite come across the way it might have if I’d been reading. The problem? When we went back in time, we were in the point of view of the young girl [and as she aged, woman] who lived then. We are in her head, experiencing everything through her, including her thoughts–and this is NOT the way the psychic gifts are described. The hero and heroine should only be able to observe, not inhabit the mind and body.

Was I, the reader, supposed to read this the way I would any book that tells two stories, and just go back and forth between them, and not expect the pieces of the past to be written as they would have been experienced by our contemporary hero and heroine? Perhaps. But that feels like a cheat. Because everything about the flashes back in time, including when they are interrupted abruptly, is written as if we are really going back and forth WITH them, experiencing it WITH them. Which means, we should not be able to know what the character in the past is thinking and we should not be living those scenes through her.

However, I am in the minority. It won the RITA! Congrats to Kearsley, who wrote an awesome book. I did really enjoy it, for all my quibbles. I may have to pick up some more Kearsleys now. Yeah, I know, I’m late to the party. She’s been a best seller for years.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

gothgirlrisingAnother cool cover, huh? Remember a couple of years ago when I read Fanboy and Goth Girl  by Barry Lyga? I really loved it, and just figured out that a sequel came out, Goth Girl Rising. So I nabbed it. But reading the description, I am confused. I don’t remember much about the first book other than loving it a lot. I don’t remember how it ended. And the beginning of Goth Girl Rising talks about something that I don’t remember happening. Maybe it did.

So I am going to have to skim the end of the first book to remind myself what happened so that I’m set and read to read the new one. I really enjoy the YA I’ve read that is written by guys. They bring a different voice to it, and it’s a voice I enjoy. Earlier I mentioned reading My Girlfriend Bites by Doug Solter, which totally fits into the niche and is another book with a voice I loved a lot. Oh, the girlfriend in question is a werewolf, so yeah, she bites.


What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!


See You at the Library Saturday Afternoon!

Saturday afternoon, September 13, 1-5 pm, drop by The Colony Public Library for a ‘meet the authors and illustrators’ event.

Sales will partially benefit the library programs, and we–the authors and illustrators–will be there to chat, answer questions, and if you’re interested, sell and sign books.



I participated in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen last week and it was one of the most fabulous experiences ever.  What does this mean?

Well, it means we saved Scrappy.

Item #61  “Go to your local animal shelter/rescue and hold a photo shoot for one of its residents. Make an adoption flyer promoting the animal using the photos you’ve taken and post them on telephone poles. Prove that your campaign was successful. (It can be multiple images photoshopped into one submission).


And that’s just part of what Team Inevitable Innuendo did!

Just wait until next year!

And thanks to Tony who saw the poster and told Gordy who went and got Scrappy for his family!

And thanks to the Garland Animal Shelter that let him have Scrappy for $35 even though I got my information from the wrong place and he was supposed to $80.

The world is a wonderful place, and GISHWHES is an annual reminder of that.

More reports from Team Inevitable Innuendo:

Not Only Refilling the Well, but Digging a New One Entirely

Breaking the Comfort Zone, and GISHWHES

Remembering What it’s All About

Not Only Refilling the Well, but Digging a New One Entirely…

Tales of Survival (or: GISHWHES is over)

Go, read.  Contemplate.  Comment.  Especially if you participated – I’d love to hear from my fellow ‘hunters’!




Of Paper-Cuts and the Dangers Therein

Mary Robinette Kowal and Neil Gaiman

Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog today addresses authenticity in historical fiction, and digging deeper to find the right reference.

The term that concerned her was “paper cut.”  Making a humorous reference to a paper-cut as a safety issue works today, but not two hundred years ago when paper didn’t have sharp edges. She began to go through potential ‘safety issues’ involved in handling one’s correspondence, until she found one that worked–but even better, it was more interesting.

She says, “This is a better joke, and I got to it because I’m using language that
reflects the culture. Doing so also forces me to really think about what
is happening in the scene, and what the lives of people in the time
would be like.”

This is true, and it’s what I love about research, even though sometimes I drive myself mad googling and digging through my own references, and sometimes asking on facebook or twitter or emailing colleagues with vast knowledge in the area of my current projects.  What makes it worth it is that I inevitably end up with something, at the very least, more interesting than my original thought.

Often it opens up a new avenue to explore in the book itself, an ‘aha!’ moment that will brighten up my day, week, or longer, as a wonderful new ‘what if this happens?’ presents itself, because that small detour for research took me to new knowledge of the subject I hadn’t considered before. Sometimes it makes a scene ‘pop’ and work in a terrific way I hadn’t anticipated.

Sometimes–and this is more common than you might think–it presents a plot twist that makes me squee.

So, am I musing about research here, and authenticity, and if you don’t write historical fiction, you don’t need to care?

No. The idea of historical authenticity just got us into this idea.

The bigger idea is ‘digging deeper’ whenever the first thing that springs from your fingertips is so natural, so easy, so obvious–that it might even be a cliché.

While the paper-cut reference was satisfactory if the setting was contemporary, and nobody would have stopped cold and wondered about it, nor would any readers probably have thought, “How obvious, what a cliché,” it’s also worth highlighting or marking for later thought. (Never stop your writing process in the middle of a scene that is flowing over this kind of issue. Note that MRK was returning to this much later rather than during the writing process.)

Even if the setting is the year 2014 and paper-cuts are real, painful and can be funny if used properly in your story–if you dig deeper, can you think of something else to substitute? There are several options, and I’m sure you can come up with more.

1)  Some other easily-imagined minor office injury that is less generic and expected and thus–more interesting.

2)  A minor injury that reflects their specific location, business or interests, whether they are in a taxidermy shop, a morgue, or having a picnic in Central Park.

3)  A minor injury that refers back to something one of the characters did earlier, something meaningful. It can be a jab or tease, it can be an insult, or it can be a tender reassurance.

Have fun with it!

Oh, and sometimes, after much work and consideration, you will decide it really can be a paper-cut, after all.

Cross-posted at classofpooks, the place where I post links to helpful things for writers.

WWW Wednesday 7-09-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

equal ritesSeveral things, actually. Some for research for The Dead Shall Live, Volume Two of The Fury Triad. Some just for pleasure, but always with a British accent/voice.

Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl, Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire, The Anatomy of Story, for research and such. Mary Balogh’s A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau, Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites (which I somehow ended up buying on sale for Kindle and also the audiobook, which gives me choices on how to read/listen), and Carolyn Jewel’s Indiscreet for pleasure. 

As usual I wonder if I’m providing spoilers when I reveal what I’m reading for research. As usual, I decide if you figure it out, you deserve to know. Not that I’d confirm, mind you!



• What did you recently finish reading?

silkwormThe Silkworm, and it was a fabulous read. Just as I suspected it would be. Now I simply have to wait for the next to be written, sigh.

As I said on goodreads: Jo Rowling has knocked another one out of the park. Excellent plot and characterization. Points off for unnecessary use of author intrusion on a few points, but still, excellent book.


• What do you think you’ll read next?

Hopefully I’ll finish some of the ones I’ve started and mention them here, maybe, on goodreads for sure. Beyond that? I have no idea!


What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!