Friday, December 31, 2010

Year's End: Hopes

So, reading back, Wednesday's post was kind of awful, wasn't it? Rambling and slightly depressing. I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking. Though it is true that I'm not looking forward to next year more than any other year, and that I'm not holding out hope for awesome things. This is largely, I think, because I prefer awesome things to happen on their own because my hopes get dashed otherwise. I've been burned a few times with the WIP, for instance, going "okay, now it's done!" and then it isn't. At all.

That said, here are the things I want to happen next year:
  • Finish the WIP. 
  • Start on the Gnostic Urban Fantasy in earnest.
  • Query agents.
  • Get an agent.
I'd also like to say "get a book deal", but think that might be pushing it. I'm probably pushing it as it is. 

I have no goals for reality. Reality is marvelously stable and awesome and I want it to stay that way.

The other thing everyone in the writing community seems to be doing these days is a reading tally. I've been wanting to join in that, because for the first year in five years, I've kept a list of everything I've read and it's the longest it's every been. I attribute the higher rate to working in a bookstore and having a decently long commute.

So without further ado:
  • 55 books read for the first time
  • 2 re-read books (both in the Vorkosigan Saga)
  • 2 books started in 2009 and finished in 2010
  • 2 books started in 2010 and not yet finished
Out of the 55, because including the re-read novels would skew things:

  • Best Urban Fantasy: Poltergeist (Greywalker, book two)
  • Best Non-Urban Fantasy: Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, book one)
  • Best Science Fiction: Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, volume one)
  • Best Mystery: Grave Goods (Adelia Aguilar novels, book three)
  • Best Non-Genre Adult Fiction: Jane Eyre
  • Best YA Fiction: The Book Thief
  • Best Non-Fiction: The Years of Extermination
  • Most Original Urban Fantasy: Moonshine (because it wasn't quite as thrilling as Poltergeist, but I still couldn't stop reading, and it gets definite points for being set in the 1920s)
I've chosen these books because they either blew me away or made me not want to stop reading or both. Great hooks, solid writing, phenomenal research, emotional punch… These books have them all and I totally recommend them. Which is not to say that Seanan McGuire's novels aren't excellent, or Gail Carriger's, or Lois McMaster Bujold's, or any number of other books I read this year, because they are too. There were a few misses, a few books that could've been better or were quite good but I wasn't the right audience, but those are always going to crop up, I think. And the list is skewed a little in that I only read … six? non-fiction books this year, seven YAs, and three mysteries that weren't urban fantasy. The rest all falls under the speculative fiction heading.

I just realized I only read one non-genre adult novel this year. Eep. I shall try to do better in the new year. It's not like my TBR list is wanting in that department. I'm also going to try to read more than that, but I'm betting that's about where I top out.

What are your plans for the next year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Summary of My Year

The end of the year is fast approaching and I feel like I should say something to that effect. Something about what I've learned this year, what I've accomplished, what I plan to do next year. It's what all the other kids seem to be doing—that, or predictions for the future. I'm not even going there.

Thing is, I don't feel like I've accomplished much in the past year. I finished a draft of my WIP. I sent it to betas. It came back with red ink all over it, setting my querying plans back I don't know how long. It's frustrating, because I'd had hopes of emailing agents at the start of the new year, and now I don't know when this will happen. And because of the way my brain works, I can't really work on anything else while I'm revising my WIP, so in the writing department, I'm pretty much racking up a negative achievement.* I've got another year of non-publication ahead of me, I suspect.

On the Earth life front, I'm barely ahead of where I was at the start of the year. I'm in the same job and the same accommodations. In the last three months, I've met five more people I can go out and do things with, except that three of them are more friends-of-friends and I'd never contact them on my own. I haven't managed to get together with the other two yet. Maybe soon? Also there's more money in the bank and I continue to accumulate books faster than I can read them, so like I said, slight win, reality-wise.

I'm doing well in the cyber world. My blog's getting more hits. I've made good friends on Twitter. My Science in My Fiction articles keep ending up on io9. I've learned more about the publishing biz, about where my WIP fits into the subgenre puzzle, about what to do and what not to do. I've also learned that if I follow multiple agent blogs and multiple agent/editor Twitter feeds, that I'll get depressed and anxious and paralyzed because I Am Doing It Wrong By Existing And Dreaming. So I've stopped doing that, and things are better now. I've definitely come out ahead in this realm, though what does it say about me that my biggest achievements of the year have been on the internet?

At the end of each year, I always want to have big achievements to revel in. I've had some in the past: graduated from university, started writing, got an awesome job, moved away from The Roommate. But this year? Nope, not really. I want next year to have multiple big achievements (finished MS, dream agent, MS going to auction, fame, glory, etc.) but … yeah. I suspect I'll be posting this same thing next year, too.

And now that I've completely killed your mood (and mine), I'm going to go away now and hope the rest of my day cheers me up again. I wanted achievements, darn it… Where has the year gone?

* Yes, I know I'm actually one step closer to publication now, but try telling that to my brain and getting it to believe you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Things I Got For Christmas

It's traditional to do a loot post after Christmas, right? I got just about everything I asked for and some things I didn't. This made it difficult to get everything home even though I budgeted space when packing. And I swear I'm not spoiled, really. 

The "downside" of the loot is that my TBR pile just got higher and I'm going to be in candy for a month. 

How'd everyone else do? Anyone read the books I got and want to comment on them?

The Material Goods

  • Shine: An Anthology of Near-Future Optimistic Science Fiction, ed. Jetse de Vries — because I like SF and want to read more near-future works, but I don't like doom and gloom all the time
  • Unshapely Things, by Mark del Franco — because it sounds like a cool world
  • The Girl With Glass Feet, by Ali Shaw — totally hooked on the concept
  • The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey — because this has been recommended about a million times with words like "hooked", "like Supernatural", and "must-read"
  • Masked: An Awe-Inspiring Anthology of All-Original Superhero Fiction, ed. Lou Anders — research
  • Wild Cards I: The Book That Started It All, ed. George R. R. Martin — research, and from friends pre-Christmas
  • Unholy Ghosts, by Stacia Kane — because it sounds like a cool world and I'm intrigued by the take on magic
  • A duvet cover and sheet set — because I've had the old ones for years
  • A kettle, a tea pot, and two mugs — I think my parents got fed up with my water-in-pot setup
  • $150 split between two grandparents — they never know what to give me now that I'm an adult
  • Mozartkugeln because they're perfect
  • The original three Indiana Jones films on DVD — because I'm slowly collecting the seminal films from my childhood
  • A laptop bag
  • An enameled metal reindeer ornament from Germany — because I get an ornament in my stocking every year
  • A device to turn any bag into a pour spout
  • A cookie tin of homemade Christmas cookies and chocolate, plus a small ziplock bag of same, because they didn't all fit in the tin
  • Two lottery tickets that didn't win
  • Five flavoured honey sticks
  • Ten miniature gourmet chocolate bars 
  • Two milk chocolates covered in Christmas-themed foil
  • Three pouches of gourmet hot chocolate
  • A potato masher — because Dad got a new one and I didn't have one; technically not a Christmas present

The Non-Material Goods

  • Talking to my sister, which hasn't happened since … last Christmas? She's on another continent right now.
  • Hearing my maternal grandfather sound happy. 
  • Visiting with my paternal grandparents, which is a mixed blessing
  • Being praised for holding my own against my paternal grandfather
  • Not coming last in a board game, because I do for about 90% of all board games
  • Winning rummy
  • Seeing my parents
  • Getting decent photos of the family pets (see below)
  • Getting a chunk more editing done on the WIP
Charles, a shelter cat who's been with us for a year

Winston, the Akita-Newfoundland-German Shepherd, on square-foot tile

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone who celebrates it, and happy holidays to those who don't! I'm heading home to the family today. The family dinner and gift exchange is tonight, and I'm excited. Food! Festivities! Family! Pets! Loot! We'll hope I can haul everything I need to back with me, and in time for work too. Luckily, the parentals have wireless internet, so I won't be going into withdrawal or anything.

This post is short today, because I've got another post at Science in My Fiction. You know that Santa Vs. Physic e-mail that makes the rounds every December? Yeah. I deconstruct that. Check it out and leave comments if the content moves you. (It'd make a good Christmas present for me and my co-bloggers.)

See you on Monday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eight Things Writers Can Learn From Tron Legacy

I went to Tron Legacy with friends last night, for the yearly Do Something Before Christmas event. It was an enjoyable film. Not the worst I've ever seen, but definitely not the best either. Pretty standard Hollywood action movie fare. That said, three things really made the film for me: the peanut gallery of young men behind us; the fact that it was shot locally and I could ID a number of buildings; and the fact that the plot was so average it allowed me to notice the writing and storytelling. So here's what I think we can all take away from Tron Legacy, along with a pseudo-review and some possible vague spoilers.
  1. Predictable stories aren't really a good thing. When your audience can identify the ending (or love interest, or number of fight scenes) within the first five minutes, you can do better.
  2. You can (mostly) get away with a really predictable story if you have lots of shiny. For instance, neon lights on everything, and explosions.
  3. Women are not just sex symbols. Dressing them in skintight outfits and giving them monosyllabic lines does not characterization make. Plus you'll get a lot of feminists angry.
  4. It's possible for a minor character to steal the show. Try not to let this happen. Minor characters should be awesome, but no more so than your main characters.
  5. Setting is important and can make or break the story. Setting should have mood and a specific kind of look, both of which play into the plot and the action of the scene. Neon lights in darkness is good, because it's iconic and shows good vs. evil well, but generic street scenes add nothing to anything. Especially when the audience is left wondering which city those streets are meant to be in.
  6. Try not to be obvious or over the top about your religious metaphors. It's fine to have them, but when a character is portrayed as peaceful and kind, resist the desire to have him raise his arms as if crucified or to shine white light on him.
  7. Exposition should not be obvious. The main purpose of a scene should not be to give the main characters information they need (or if it is, you need to have other things going on to distract the audience).
  8. Resist the trend. Just because everyone else is writing a vampire novel (or has zombies, or 3D graphics), doesn't mean you also have to. There's a good chance it'll cheapen your story.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Superstitions and Plot Bunnies

Last weekend's #UFChat on Twitter was, understandably, Christmas themed. There was discussion of the Yule Lads, the Yuletide Cat, Krampus, ghosts, the reasons for light festivals, and a link to this interesting article about Christmas superstitions. It's a wealth of cool trivia and story ideas, and I suggest reading it before continuing with this post.

The superstition in that list that really grabbed me?
Some also believe that those who are born on Christmas Eve turn into ghosts on that day every year while they sleep.
 This sparked the following ideas:

  • A protagonist who is thrown into the paranormal world every Christmas, against their will. (Good paranormal YA idea?)
  • An antagonist who gleefully accepts their temporary ghosthood, becoming a thief or spy, or terrorizing families.
  • Someone who's thrown into the paranormal world, and then one year slips up and stays there (and/or requires rescue from the protagonist).
I'd say any of these have potential. You're welcome to them, because I'd rather write stories about Santa facing off with Krampus, Krampus kidnapping children, a world where the Yule Lads truly exist, and a world where the various winter light festivals have actual importance.* 

Anyone have story ideas they want to put up for grabs? Anyone know of other cool Christmas/winter traditions? … Anyone want to take my bunnies?

* And then there are the non-Christmas plot bunnies, at least three of which will require insane levels of research and probably won't happen. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Hodgepodge of Things

A big, hearty thank you to everyone who commented on Wednesday's post! I've got some ideas now about how to fix the problem, thanks to you. And I promise I will respond to your comments, because I feel I owe you that much. Sometime this weekend, maybe?

 In other news, I have now seen The King's Speech and will be rooting for Firth and Rush and Best Adapted Screenplay come Oscar season. Excellent film. Also, a friend made me a Castiel ornament, which is naturally sitting on the top of my tree, and I have cookies! Which are nearly gone, but still.

I've been at work for three Christmases now and am still enjoying it. No retail grinch me! I am delighting in getting people to buy my favourite books for people.

Brooke Johnson has been doing a series of posts on the Hero's Journey recently. She's nearly done and I highly recommend checking them out as someone who's trying to fit her WIP into the Journey more. I'm finding them helpful and informative, and clearer than the more academic explanations (like Campbell, who I couldn't get through). Plus she uses Harry Potter and Star Wars as examples!

I am possibly having too much fun with Google's ngrams. Here's one for historical terms for Canada. Here's Star Wars vs. Star Trek.

I have another Science In My Fiction post due next week. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trying Something New - #UFChat Recap

Saturdays on Twitter there's a writer/reader chat, #UFChat, that's all about urban fantasy. The latest chat was about death, dying, and resurrection. Because there was also a guest author, the chat didn't go into as much depth as it normally does, but some good discussion came out of it all the same.

It seems like there are only three kinds of death in urban fantasy: undeath, violent death, and natural death. Very few instances of natural death came up, and some of the ones that did I'd have actually called violent, just not murder. A car accident, for instance.

Undeath definitely prevails in UF, of course. There are vampires, werewolves, zombies, and ghosts in spades, as well as revenants and dhampirs and what have you. Violent death is also unsurprisingly high, given that so many UF plots revolve around murders and dead bodies, and given that so many UF protagonists have dead family members that fuel the plot on various levels. And while I know I said "three kinds of death"right now, but that's only partially true. There's a fourth kind that bridges "undeath" and "violent death", and that's the case with protagonists like Harper Blaine, Charlie Madigan, and Evangeline Stone, who die violently and are brought back to life as humans, often with supernatural powers.

An interesting point came up during the discussion. When vampires, werewolves, and the other undead monsters first appeared back in the days of folk tales, they were representations of our fear of death and were meant to be scary. Now they're almost the opposite, being generally used to extend life and give people immortality. They're a good thing, though not often a great thing. Bloodlust and decay will do that to a body.

I think in a way the classic monsters still represent our fear of death, though that fear's been transmuted from "fear of Other, fear of disease, fear of being forgotten" into "fear of Other, fear of decay, fear of life ending". We (or American culture) are terrified of getting old and getting weak, so much so that plastic surgeons and makers of skin cream make a killing. Yes, that's largely because the beauty industry has convinced us that getting old and weak is a bad thing, so there's kind of a circular argument here. I get that. But I do see parallels between "our cream takes twenty years off" and "vampires make you young forever", between "getting old means getting weak" and "undead people are strong", and between "wrinkles are ugly" and "zombies are gross". If zombies are now cool, will wrinkles be? I hope so.

I'd like to see more natural deaths (or, frankly, more stories where there weren't dead people), since they're the underdogs of the genre and I have a Thing about under-represented plot elements.* I think there isn't all the much difference, motivation-wise, between a Beloved Family Member making a request on their natural death bed, and a Beloved Family Member making a request on violent death bed. And natural deaths (disease, old age, heart attacks) open up a whole line of stories based on wills and emptying attics and family secrets. Also, there's the idea I had while responding to the chat questions, that there could be parallels between epic heros like Odysseus and Beowulf, whose cultures dictated warriors die in battle, and the various kinds of monster slayers that pop up in urban fantasy. What if those slayers also had a culture of having to die in battle? What if one of them was so good that they died of old age surrounded by family? Would their ghost manifest as a result? Would a relation take up the sword (or gun) and go fight the fight in the Beloved Family Member's memory?

All kinds of cool stuff could happen. Why doesn't it? Or does it, but the books haven't been published yet (or I haven't seen them)?

* You may have noticed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Repetitive Character Names

I used to have a character named Cathy. She was Cathy for two drafts, and then I changed her name. I don't like using clichés if I can avoid them, and variations of "Catherine" for a strong woman are certainly cliché.

Don't believe me?

  • Kitty Norville (Carrie Vaughn's novels)
  • Kate Beckett (Castle)
  • Ekaterin Vorkosigan (the Vorkosigan saga)
  • Katnis Everdeen (Hunger Games)
  • Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights)
  • Catherine Willows (CSI)
  • Kate Austen (Lost)
  • Kate Lockley (Angel)
  • Kate (Taming of the Shrew)
  • Kat Stratford (10 Things I Hate About You)
I'm sure there are many, many more but that's all I can think of right now. It's nearly as bad as leading women with red hair.

Of course, male characters don't escape the naming convention thing either. Remember than Jack is a diminutive of John, and…
  • Jack O'Neill (Stargate SG-1 and other)
  • John Sheppard (Stargate Atlantis)
  • Jack Harkness (Torchwood)
  • John Winchester (Supernatural)
  • Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • John Locke (Lost)
  • Jack Spratt (Jasper Fforde's novels, though he's alluding to nursery rhymes and probably doesn't count)
  • Ianto Jones (Torchwood)
  • Ivan Vorpatril (the Vorkosigan saga)
  • Johnny Mnemonic (movie of the same name) 
And again, I'm sure I'm forgetting people. Anyone want to weigh in with more characters? Other names this happens with? Or an explanation of why we get so many repeated names?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Contest winners!

The contest is over! I've tallied the points, and have come up with the following:

First place, with 18 points, is NerdyGirl, who not only loved Mistress of the Art of Death, which is a great book, but also loves the dragons in the Pern novels. I'm more a firelizard girl myself, but like the dragons too.

Second place, with 16 points, is NRWick, who loved The Summoning and loves mermaids. I haven't read many mermaid books. Maybe I should?

Third place, with 14 points, is Shannon, who enjoyed Towers of Midnight and likes pegasus(-es? -i?). I wonder if she's read Robin McKinley's latest.

Sorry to the rest of you and thanks for playing! There were a lot more entries than I thought there would be, and everyone racked up a lot of points! I was worried there'd be ties. I'm sure I'll be doing more giveaways so if you didn't win, there's always next time.

I'll be contacting the winners today and tomorrow, in order. I think I've actually got all their emails on hand already, so no need to post them here where they'll be public. (I say tomorrow because today is Christmas Shopping Day and I'll be away from email until late.)

My answers, because it's not fair if I don't give them too:

Best book read this year: This is tough, because I've read a lot of good books. I'm split between my reread of Bujold's Memory, and the first-time read of Stephenson's Quicksilver.

Favourite creature: Dragons! Just like a lot of you, apparently. There are all kinds of dragons, in all kinds of cultures, and they're deadly beautiful, breathe fire (sometimes), and are highly intelligent (usually). What's not to like?

Favourite blog post: Copping out on this one. I like too many of them, and I'm biased. But if you click on the "mad science" or "writing" tags, you'll see some of what I consider my best.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Pathway to Writerhood

First of all: Giveaway! I'd originally put the cut-off as "Wednesday" which is not only vague and therefore cruel, but is also the day I'm going to be posting the results. I've now put the cut-off as "Tuesday the 7th, 11:59 pm PST" which should still, theoretically, give y'all plenty of time to enter. There are now six contestants. Go forth!

Second: I realized about half an hour ago that if fairies are repelled and/or damaged permanently by iron, then they can't have iron in their blood. If they don't have iron in their blood, their blood cannot be red. The way my mind works, the logical conclusion is that Spock is not Vulcan, he's fae. He's even got the pointed ears to prove it.

Third: My actual topic. If this feels rushed, that's because it is. I have to leave for work in half an hour.

As long-time readers may have figured out, my dad's a writer. I grew up in a house full of books, multiple drafts scribbled on in blue ink and left on flat surfaces, long phone calls with editors, and a parent who might be in the height of inspiration as easily as he might be in the depths of depression. Sometimes in the course of a week. But I never considered following in his footsteps, even though I was (apparently) really good at writing, even in elementary school. I was going to be anything but a writer, though that makes it sound like I made a conscious decision not to be like him, and I didn't.

Skip forward until just after Grade 10. I'm at jazz band camp for the second time, and hating every minute of it. I'm a small town girl in the big city with kids who've been studying with pro musicians for 10 years. I'm out of my league. It's all I can do to keep my head above the water. Also there are people who want to talk to me and I can't really cope with that, and then we're all forced to attend a dance because what teen doesn't like dancing? Fortunately, I brought a Penguin translation of The Canterbury Tales to camp (and the dance). I fell in love with the language, the cadences, the old words, the raunchy stories—and this coming from a girl who'd been reading Shakespeare for fun for three years.* The camp was a turning point. I had wanted to be a jazz musician. Now I wanted to study English. Words were awesome!

But when it came time for me to choose a university and start thinking about what programs I might like to be in, I realized that English was, in fact, boring. I'd spent years becoming less and less happy with English classes in school, because of the dry books and the prescription and the Only One Right Interpretation attitude, and as far as I could tell, university English classes were exactly the same as what I'd been doing. No way was I subjecting myself to another four years of that, especially not when nobody seemed to teach fantasy or science fiction. Victorian novels? Ergh.**

But then I found the perfect school. Not only could you major in English Language instead of Lit, but you could also study linguistics, which sounded cool and played into my sciency, analytical half. And, and, and! there was this first-year program that wasn't like those boring English classes but still gave you credit for English. I applied. I got in. I loved it, more or less. The first couple essays I got back were devastating, mostly because I'd gotten Bs.***

I majored in linguistics, minored in English Language because it turned out that most of the interesting electives in third and fourth year counted towards the minor. I learned a lot about how we understand language, how language is put together, and how style and rhetoric work. I became a better writer because of it.

Most importantly, though, one of my third-year roommates got me into fanfic. Yes, I know, I know. But I wrote it for a good year or so and got a massive confidence boost from the feedback. I realized I loved to tell stories. I loved to entertain people. And I knew how to put words together to achieve just about any effect I wanted, because I'd spent 3.5 years and counting learning how to do that.

And then came the end of fourth year, the time when all Arts degree holders have to figure out how they're actually going to get a job. I realized that I wasn't half-bad at editing either, so I'd do that, and I'd continue to tell stories (in my own worlds) in my spare time.

The editing thing hasn't really panned out — yet, I still want to someday — but the writing thing has. I'm telling stories in my own worlds, and I'm having fun doing it. I haven't sold a story — yet — but that doesn't matter. I know I will.

What I'm saying with all this, I guess, is that I wasn't one of those kids who knew they were destined to be writers. I wasn't in writing clubs. I didn't write fiction except for assignments. I don't have a lit degree or a BFA. I've come at this my own way, on my own time, and I'm still a writer for all that.

* There is a reason I couldn't cope with people talking to me.
** I've recently read some for the first time. They're not nearly as bad as they were then.
*** This should tell you a lot about me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

O Christmas Tree

Because I am lazy and can't be bothered to write a long post, and because I'm getting in the Christmas spirit, you're getting photos of my Christmas decorations, such as they are.

This is my artificial Christmas tree. It is now a year old.

This is Candle Thief, one of Iceland's Yule Lads. He came all the way from Iceland to grace my tree this year.

This is … a Jayne Hat.

This is the first ornament I ever received. It's got "Baby's first Christmas" written on it.

And this the Advent calendar Mom sewed for me five years ago. So far I've gotten a noisemaker from Germany, a piece of chocolate, and an eraser that doubles as a clothespin. 

Sorry for the horrible quality of the photographs. Lighting in this apartment is not the best for photographers. 

Don't forget to enter my blogiversary/Christmas giveaway! Only three entrants so far, which isn't much of a contest if you ask me.

What are your Christmas decorations? Do you have any favourite ornaments?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blogiversary! (And Obligatory Giveaway)

I started this blog a year ago tomorrow, with this post on vat-grown meat. I can't believe it's been a year since that post. I can't believe how little we've heard about that story since, though I can kind of believe why it's not on the shelves yet.

I'd like to think I've come a long way since then. I've joined Twitter. I've finished another draft of my WIP. I've made friends, read books, seen movies. I'm more savvy about the publishing world, and more confident in my abilities as a writer.

To celebrate all that, and the beginning of December*, I'm giving away books! Four of them, to be exact, and three of which are pre-read but in good condition.

Vanished, by Kat Richardson - Fourth in the series. Harper Blaine, the Seattle P.I. who can see ghosts after a temporary death, is prompted by the ghost of a dead friend to delve into her family history, but is interrupted by Seattle's top vampire, who wants her to go to London for him. And the cases seem to be connected…. This is the unread book. Sorry for the dark photo. I tried, I really did.

The Better Part of Darkness, by Kelly Gay - First in the series. Charlie Madigan, divorced mom and cop in an Atlanta inhabited by angel-like and demon-like beings as well as humans, must find the distributors of ash before another teen overdoses. And if that wasn't hard enough, she's getting strange nightmares and showing signs of magic she never knew she had.

Dying Bites, by D.D. Barant - First in the series. FBI profiler Jace Valchek is taken to a world where humans are nearly extinct, and more of the population is pire, lycan, or golem. Reason? They've got a crazed human murderer on the loose and no experience with mental illness to help them track him down.  Oh, and he continent hops.

Magic to the Bone, by Devon Monk - First in the series. Allie Beckstom tracks down magical criminals for a living, so when she finds a boy dying from her estranged father's Offloaded magic, she only sees one option. Unfortunately, three things are against her: her father is a high-powered businessman, she loses memories whenever she performs magic, and somebody's trying to kill her.

First prize: Two books of your choice.
Second prize: One of the remaining books.
Third prize: The last book.

To enter, please leave a comment mentioning as much or little of the following as you want. Winners will be determined by the number of points accrued. (You can leave multiple comments, if you want, but they'll be counted together.)
  • Leave a comment(s) - +1
  • Current blog follower (Google FriendConnect, or a feed reader; honor system) - +2
  • Current Twitter follower (provide handle) - +2
  • New blog follower (see above) - +1
  • New Twitter follower (see above) - +1 
  • Tweet or retweet about the contest (be sure to include @AnassaRh so I can track them) - +1 each
  • Mention the contest on your blog (link me) - +2
  • Tell me about the best book you've read this year - +3
  • Tell me your favourite mythological creature - +2
  • Tell me which of my blog posts is your favourite - +4

Contest is open to US and Canada only, because 1) I'm cheap/broke and 2) there's a chance the books will arrive by Christmas this way. Contest closes Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 11:59 pm PST.

* which means I'm allowing myself to turn on carols and put up the tree