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Melanie's Week in Review - August 3, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - August 3, 2014


Welcome to August. I can't believe July is over the year is more than halfway gone. I have been looking at my Goodreads reading challenge and I need to pick up the pace if I am going to read as many books as last year. So how did I do this week?

Melanie's Week in Review - August 3, 2014
Even though am still reading The Dark Defiles by Richard K. Morgan I was tempted by a book that Qwill sent me - Havoc by Ann Aguirre. This is the second installment of the Dred Chronicles and I couldn't resist to find out what happened to Dred and Jael on the prison ship. I will be writing a full review of this book so keep your eye out for it to find out more. I got halfway through and left it in my desk at work (I have desks in 2 different buildings miles apart) and had to make a special trip 3 days later to pick it up. I knew I shouldn't have been reading Havoc before I finished Morgan's book so I got in a big panic that I would have nothing to tell you about.  I was soon searching Amazon for a book I could read in a day or two and came across a short story from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar. I thought this tiny short story would be perfect to give me a feeling of accomplishment. When Carriger writes a short story she certainly makes it short. I feel like the story was finished before I even started it. I really enjoyed The Parasol Protectorate series but I think that Carriger could have left this series alone as The Curious Case... fell a bit flat for me. I am not a big fan of short stories as I always feel like that they stop too soon and this is definitely the case here.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 3, 2014Back I went to Amazon as I still needed a another book. I came across Copperhead by Tina Connolly which is the second novel in the Ironskin series. I had been waiting for the price of this book to drop a bit before I bought it and discovered it had so I was quick to download it. Copperhead tells the story of Helen who is the sister of the heroine, Jane, from book 1 and is set a few months after the events of that book. Helen is leading a cloistered life as the wife of her controlling, aristocratic husband Alistair. A sinister group called Copperhead are trying to rid the world of the fey and all the women with fey enhanced faces are at risk. Helen and her sister Jane are in the midst of helping these women when Jane goes missing. Despite her fears and feelings of inadequacies Helen risks herself and her new friends to find Jane.

Copperhead is a solid second instalment of a engaging series. I wish I had gone back and re-read the ending of Ironskin as there were a few re-caps that I couldn't remember. I also couldn't figure out why Jane and her fiance, Rochart, weren't together and it wasn't really explained either. I think that Connolly does a good job of creating empathy for the near perfect Helen. She isn't a character I especially like or perhaps you aren't supposed to like so I think that Connolly was especially clever to make Helen as engaging as she is. I do wonder where Connolly will take these characters in Silverblind (Ironskin 3), which is out in October.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 3, 2014
I finished my week by reading Unclean Spirits by Chuck Wendig. This is the first book of Gods and Monsters shared world series. It tells the story of Cason who has become embroiled with the gods and is on the run trying to rescue his wife and son. The story is told from a few different POVs including Cason, his wife Alison and the goddess Psyche. The gods are malevolent with a capital 'M' and Cason risks all to save his family.

This isn't an easy read as the gods aren't the only dis-likeable characters. Cason himself isn't the easiest character to empathize with. Cason reminded me a bit of a Mookie Pearl from Wendig's The Blue Blazes - a bit conflicted but trying to do the right thing for his family in the end. Nearly every religious and mythical god/goddess is mentioned in Unclean Spirits and it seems there was a competition who could be more horrid. I don't know who won but I think Aphrodite made a sterling effort! I am not planning to continue with this series as the first book is a relentlessly violent read without even a glimmer of something good happening. While the Miriam Black and Mookie Pearl books are equally violent there is more of a sense of good vs evil in those stories than there is in this first instalment of the Gods and Monsters series. If you like a story that is told at a frenetic pace, lots of violence and malevolent goddesses out for revenge then this is the book for you. Note that Wendig kicked off the series and that different authors will be writing books for this ongoing series. Next up is Mythbreakers by Stephen Blackmoore (December).

That's all for me this week. I am looking forward to some new releases I hope to buy so until next week Happy Reading.

Guest Blog by Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - Thoughts On My Book Tour

Please welcome Tina Connolly to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Ironskin, Tina's debut, was published on October 2, 2012. You may read an interview with Tina here.





Thoughts On My Book Tour

Thanks so much to The Qwillery for having me on the blog! When Sally asked me several months ago, I floated the idea of doing my blog post for the month *after* Ironskin came out. Why? Because October was dedicated to book tour, and I thought it would be fun to share thoughts on that.

So I got to go to a couple stops in my home state of Kansas (the Oak Park Barnes & Noble in KC, and The Raven in Lawrence), the Cedar Hills Powell's in Portland, the University Bookstore in Seattle, and Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach (L.A. area.)

First? It was awesome. I know authors sometimes say that touring isn't all it's cracked up to be, and I'm sure that this can be totally true. I was lucky enough to not have any disasters befall me. So I had an incredibly wonderful time.

What did I learn?

1. Invite your friends!

I posted about the events everywhere I could think of, including Facebook, Goodreads, my blog, Twitter, etc, etc. I additionally invited many of my friends directly. So the majority of folks that
came were friends and acquaintances. In Lawrence I got to see my third grade teacher, in Seattle I saw several former Clarion West classmates, and in L.A. I saw a couple friends from high school! It
was like a traveling reunion! I was thrilled that everyone came out to support me. And then additionally, every stop had people I did not know, and I was so very happy to meet the potential-fans and already-fans that came out for my reading. The tour turned out to be really great, but it would have been smaller crowds if I hadn't done the legwork.

2. Think like an actor.

I'm different than many writers in that I happen to love getting up in front of a crowd and reading from my book and answering questions. My mom said that probably my (extensive) theatre (geek) background was helpful. And that is totally true! I've got a handle on basic speaking skills. So, here's a couple tips for those reading your work in public for the first time:

- Your main goal is to make the audience comfortable. (Your story selection can make them uncomfortable, but you and your delivery should not!) So avoid self-denigrating remarks ("this isn't very good, but..." "this is the first time I've read this, so...") and always choose a selection you feel comfortable reading. You don't have to read the section with the histrionic fight, or the hardcore intimacy. Play to your strengths. Let the audience know they're in good hands.

- Make sure your story is printed out and easy to read. If you read off of a laptop, we'll be more concerned that you're about to drop it (see: making the audience comfortable). Additionally you'll have to worry about power issues. Peter Honigstock at Powell's told me that they lost power during a YA event a few months ago, and had to finish it up in the dark.

I actually have a flash fiction podcast called Toasted Cake (toastedcake.com) and starting with episode 41, I've been sharing little story narration tips after every story. So if you want some more thoughts on pacing, funny voices, and not looking nervous, check out those recent episodes!

3. Think like a carnie.

I also work as a face painter. Which means that companies will hire me - say for a corporate picnic – to do free face painting for the kids. Which also means, subtextually – help us make our picnic a fun and comfortable place to be. So I found while at these book tour events I actually had an "event background" to draw on – that I had more experience than I expected making sure people were having fun. I would never have thought of myself as a party host type person (which can be a good model to follow) but then, I did have experience to draw from after all. YMMV here, but I like saying Hi to everyone before the event starts, and meeting as many of the folks I don't know as I can, and introducing people to each other, so we're starting to have a good time even before the reading begins. (Imagine here what your best friend would do—you know, the one that's so good at throwing parties. Pretend to be her.) Sometimes you might start to feel shy, but this is when the event planner mentality should kick in. If you feel overwhelmed because it's an event that's focused on you...stop
thinking of it that way. Think of it as a event all about the bookstore, and you're hired to help them have a fun time tonight. It's a funny mental trick, but it can be helpful!

Thanks so much to The Qwillery for having me today to talk about my book tour for Ironskin. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful to you, whether you're going on book tour, reading at open mic night, or even gearing up to do a presentation at work!

Oh, and PS - this didn't occur to me till my very last stop, but here's the other bonus about being a face painter – you can ask me to draw something random in your book, and I will totally do it. (A girl
in LA asked for a kitten with tentacles.) So come see me next time I'm in your town, and I will draw in your book, too!




About Ironskin
Ironskin
Tor, October 2, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It's the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain -- the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation" -- a child born during the Great War -- Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn't expect to fall for the girl's father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life -- and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.






About Tina

Photo by Caroline M. Yoachim
Tina Connolly lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Her debut fantasy novel IRONSKIN is forthcoming from Tor in October 2012, with a sequel in 2013. She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and is narrating a 2012 flash podcasting venture called Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Her website is tinaconnolly.com.


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Interview with Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - October 3, 2012

Please welcome Tina Connolly to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Ironskin, Tina's debut, was published on October 2, 2012!


Interview with Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - October 3, 2012


TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Tina:  Thanks so much for having me!


TQ:  Writing quirks! What are some of yours?

Tina:  For novels, I like to write a sort of book pitchy thing before I write the book (or at least, before I've written most of the book.) It keeps me focused, and it also lets me see if there are major structure problems. I started doing this after I wrote my 3rd novel (a quirky MG) and then tried to write up a query letter for it. I had the hardest time making the pitch sound logical...because the character who drove the plot was not the main character. Whoops!


TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Tina:  Oh, this is a long list. My favorite all time fantasy writer is Diana Wynne Jones. In the kickass fantasy heroines department, I also love Robin McKinley and Kristin Cashore. I also recently read Rae Carson's first book and tore through that. On the adult fantasy side, I love Dave Duncan for his detailed worldbuilding and complex magic systems. And Sharon Shinn for worldbuilding plus a good romance. And then, classics - my favorite all time writer ever is Jane Austen. But I obviously also love Charlotte Bronte (my favorite is actually Villette, which is amazing), Edith Wharton... Margaret Atwood for her deeply feminist (if sometimes depressing) books. Saki for his incisively funny short stories.... Take bits of all that and stir, I guess!


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Tina:  I'm not sure if I'm really either! I come from short fiction, where I have a ridiculous process of jumping all around an idea, writing down random things and scenes I know. Eventually a story starts to emerge. This turned out to be fairly unworkable for novels (though I did, painfully, write one book this way (my possibly unfixable Great Experimental Lawrence Kansas Novel). So nowadays I'm more to the plotter side - I start with a very loose overarching idea, and then start going back and forth between writing and outlining.


TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Tina:  Before Ironskin, I'd written, I dunno, 6 novels and 70 short stories? During those years I had a full-time job, or a part-time job, or multiple part-time jobs... And then, a month after I sold Ironskin, I had a baby. And it turns out that finding time around a baby is a whole different kettle of fish. An adorable kettle of fish, but still. Writing the sequel to Ironskin while having a baby around was...challenging. (Not to mention that I still work seasonally as a face painter!)


TQ:  Describe Ironskin in 140 characters or less.

Tina:  Steampunk Jane Eyre with fairies! Of course it's not exactly steampunk, doesn't precisely follow the JE plot, and the fey aren't particularly tinkerbelly. But it's a good jumping off point.


TQ:  What inspired you to write Ironskin?

TinaIronskin actually started in 2007 as a novella written for a gothic anthology call. They didn't take it, but it was a finalist at Writers of the Future, which encouraged me to go back to it and develop it into a novel. That's the genesis of the plot, but as far as the driving impetus behind actually writing it, I'd say I tend to write a lot about beauty and feminism and power and the intersection of all those. The story structure I had gave me a lot of room to explore those themes.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Ironskin?

TinaIronskin is not meant to be historical fantasy, but at the same time I wanted to give my world a good grounding. One of the more important worldbuilding points is that the book is set five years after a devasting human-fey war. So I ended up reading a lot of books about England post-WWI. My technology (among other things!) has gone at a different rate in Ironskin, but it was a good jumping-off point. One book I particularly liked was called "The Great War and Modern Memory", by Paul Fussell.


TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Tina:  Jane was tricky at the beginning, because in the original story, Jane's curse was closer to depression. I realized pretty quickly that was not going to give me a character who could drive an entire book. Once I got a handle on how rage would fit for Jane, she went much more smoothly. Easiest was perhaps Nina, who says the most awful things and is completely sure of herself. She was fun to write.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Ironskin?

Tina:  Oh, a bunch, of course! But a non-spoilery one is I had fun writing the first ball sequence at Helen's house, particularly the point where the three old women (Pince-Nez, Shoes, and Handkerchief, as Jane internally dubs them), reminisce about the old days. There are also some fantastical books that pop up in the story and I always love making up those.


TQ:  What's next? /this is where you share anything you'd like/

Tina:  I'm currently working on the sequel, which is due out in October 2013! I've also had a couple stories appear recently - the SF generation ship story "Flash Bang Remember" in Lightspeed (with Caroline M. Yoachim), and a loose retelling of the Icelandic folk tale Kisa the Cat, "One Ear Back", in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (also podcast there by me!)


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Tina:  Thank you for having me!




About Ironskin

Ironskin
Tor, October 2, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - October 3, 2012
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It's the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain -- the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation" -- a child born during the Great War -- Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn't expect to fall for the girl's father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life -- and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.




About Tina

Interview with Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - October 3, 2012
Tina Connolly lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Her debut fantasy novel IRONSKIN is forthcoming from Tor in October 2012, with a sequel in 2013. She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and is narrating a 2012 flash podcasting venture called Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Her website is tinaconnolly.com.


Twitter : Google+ : Goodreads
Melanie's Week in Review - August 3, 2014Guest Blog by Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - Thoughts On My Book TourInterview with Tina Connolly, author of Ironskin - October 3, 2012

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