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Recent Reads

Friday, October 27, 2006
Before I left SC, I made one last stop, which was also a first stop. I'd encountered Aliens and Alibis during the South Carolina Book Festival, but never made the time to get to the shop. I finally did and I could just kick myself for missing it before! The store specializes in mystery, fantasy and science fiction and they are great supporters of local authors.

One of the owners, Deb Andolino, as well as her book cats, Serena and Bertie, were a great help to me in finding books by authors I'd heard of, but never read before.

For instance, I've already blogged about Storm Front, the Harry Dresden book by Jim Butcher, as well as a couple of others, but yesterday I finally finished the pile.

Let's see. I'd recently begun hearing about steampunk, for which I refer you to Eva Gale's blog. Deb was unfamiliar with it, but she directed me to a Victorian mystery time-travel called Sojourn from Dragon Moon Press by Jana Oliver. It was the most fun I've ever had with the Jack the Ripper mystery! The time travel aspect was especially well done, there was a hint of romance, and I'm considering it as an addition to my keeper shelf.

Then I read my first ever Terry Pratchett novel, Carpe Jugulum. I know, I know! Don't throw things. She didn't have Guards!Guards! on hand, so I started with CJ. O. M. G. I was practically crying with laughter. Igor was far and away my favorite character. I want one of him. I also want to read more Terry Pratchett.

The next was a mystery in a very new-to-me setting -- Laos in 1976! I'm a fan of Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe and I was looking for something similar. Found it! Kind of. The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill. Interesting tidbit: Cotterill has lived in SE Asia for the last several years. It certainly explains how he was able to bring the landscape to life so well. I enjoyed the mystery, and the connection to the setting was bone deep. It was an eye opener for me, not so much politically, but socially. My favorite aspect was the main character, a 72 year old doctor, Dr. Siri, who has become the national coroner, though he has neither the experience nor the proper facilities. The only issue I had was that a paranormal element was introduced that didn't feel right. Unfortunately, it was so tied in to the climax that I felt the book ended on a somewhat silly note. Too bad, although I'd still like to read more about this character.

Finally, last night I finished a truly odd book. The Tenor Wore Tapshoes: A Liturgical Mystery by Mark Schweizer. The books are published -- and this is unusual -- by a music publisher. No kidding. St James Music Press. It's the third in a series, after The Alto Wore Tweed and The Baritone Wore Chiffon. According to Amazon, they don't have to be read in order and it certainly didn't seem so. Funny, quirky, self-aware and mocking. The mystery was terrible. I still haven't figured out how the characters figured out who-dun-it, but don't read it for the mystery. Read it for the characters. Borrowing *heavily* from Lilian Jackson Braun's Jim Qwilleran, the main character is a man who came into a heap of cash and now spends his time as the full-time police chief in tiny St Germaine, NC, the part-time choirmaster at the Episcopal church (shades of Mitford), and an aspiring (and stunningly awful) noir crime novelist. It was a fun read, just for the spoof factor. Raymond Chandler makes token appearances as the ghost haunting the typewriter the chief uses.

So that's been my reading lately. I still have a few books in the pile.
10/27/2006 10:34:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments

Fond memories

Saturday, October 21, 2006
I was slowly getting back to my bloghopping today and noticed that my buddy Vanessa Jaye had written a post about Critique Partners. Her opening graphic was the Wicked Witch of the West.

She listed several of her cp's and then I found this:

And there's a reason why Sela is known as the Snarkalicious Diva over on Romance Divas. The lady pulls no punches with her crits. You'll get work back and be cruising along reading her comments/corrections, then suddenly there's this big blotch of red on your page, no, it's not the color of the font she used. It's your blood. She's just gutted you, and your flimsy assed, not-buying-it-for-a-minute-characterization, with her rapier wit/tongue. Don't even bother trying to backspace at this point to find out where you went wrong, your hands will be too slippery from gathering your intestines back into your body. ;-)

I'm so proud! Seriously. This is a badge of honor. I was in a great crit group a year or so ago and whenever it was my turn to crit, the victim of the week stocked up on bandages, pillows and suits of armor.

But I think sometimes people wonder why I don't crit more. This is why. More than once I've been paired up with fairly new writers. Never again. I made one of them cry. It was horrible. She said my crit came at the end of an already bad day, but I still feel guilty.

I don't intend to be mean. Ever. I'm really not a mean person. I just seem to have been born without the tact gene. I calls 'em as I sees 'em and other than those poor newbies who are probably still licking their wounds, it takes a fairly experienced writer -- a very secure writer -- to be able to hack my crits. I'm not saying I'm the end-all, be-all of critters, either. It's just difficult sometimes to make people understand that I am not the cp a lot of people want.

I'm part of a crit group now and I've been really hesitant to do crits, not to mention wicked lazy. I haven't submitted anything in months and I sure as heck haven't done any crits, which is pathetic of me. But from what I've seen, I should be able to be useful whenever I get around to critting. I just really need to participate more. Shame on me.

Anyway, I was just so tickled to see Jaye's post. Made my day.

And now we're off to explore St Louis some more!
10/21/2006 09:42:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 19 Comments

Meet Me in St Louis!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Good grief. Could I be more cliched, do you think?

Anyway, we're here! Still doing the long stay hotel thing, but we should close on the house in a couple of weeks. God willing. A couple of repairs have to be made according to the home inspection, so we'll see what the seller is willing to do to make that happen.

The kids are in school. Yesterday was their first day and when I picked them up, they were full of good news and new friends. I'm so happy for them! Ds is the kind of kid who could make friends in Timbuktu. The kindergarten class had been told on Monday that he was coming, so when he arrived, they kind of mobbed him. He was fine. When he was hanging up his jacket and backpack, I heard another little boy tell him, "Ok, I'll be your friend." LOL!

Dd's class seems really great, too. She was so excited to get there and learn how they did things. And everyone seemed to be looking forward to meeting her, so it feels like they were predisposed to be really nice. The entire class has computers! This is new for us. Her previous school had a computer room that everyone used once a week for computer class. Here, there's one desktop computer for every two students! I'm totally impressed.

I've been spending time driving around and getting lost and finding my way again. I found a Borders bookstore near the new house and wandered in yesterday to see what they had. There were only one or two Borders stores in SC. Why am I so interested in Borders? They carry Samhain titles! I was so excited to see so many of my fellow Samhellions in print!! Really cool stuff.

So today is really the first day that I'll be able to sit down and do any writing. In between laundry, that is. I'm making a new resolution (I'm bad at resolutions, but I keep making them) to spend less time online and more time writing. I'll still bloghop, but maybe not quite as much as before. But I've spent my limit online today just catching up here and there, so I'll be poking my head in again tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post! I read them all and it was so sweet to read all your messages. Y'all are great friends. And to Immi, who finally read Not Quite Dead -- thank you! Your comment made my week!!
10/18/2006 11:01:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 13 Comments

Today's The Day!

Saturday, October 14, 2006
Moving to Missouri, so I'll be back when I can.

Wish us luck!!
10/14/2006 07:22:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 12 Comments

I can't see over my shoulder...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Is there a bullseye painted on my ass?

I wasn't going to blog again today, but then I found a whole new reason to rant.

First there was this: An advertisement from the Greater Washington advertising organization that, simply by virtue of juxtaposition, paints romance readers as Not Too Bright.

First, I'm sure Ms O'Connor thanks you for the boost to her sales.

Second, you better watch your butts because she may have a libel case for you for portraying her in a false and malicious light.

I did my research and discovered that it's the ad agency that's really Not Too Bright. According to RWA's 2005 Market Research survey (bottom of p 3), 42% of all romance readers have a bachelor's degree or higher. The ad says that 45% of greater DC residents have a bachelor's degree or higher.

Taking into account a standard 3% deviation for statistical analysis, that would make the average DC citizen almost as smart as an average romance reader!

There are others who are willing to get into the arena with these people and for that, I refer you to this article. The Express is a free paper given out at Metro stops, published by the Washington Post. Follow the links to Smart Bitches and to the Post article.

After you're plenty steamed, head over to Michelle Pillow's blog. She links to an article about Fred Head, who apparently has substituted his ass for his brains. He's trying to get votes based on the fact that his opponent wrote a romance novel 16 years ago and he's calling it "pornography."

I swear. A lot.
10/11/2006 11:02:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 16 Comments

Does Missouri have a state song?

Y'know, not something totally humiliating like South Carolina's? Which is essentially a dirge. Hideous and funereal.

Something fun like "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or "Back Home Again in Indiana." Well, I only like the last one because 1) Jim Nabors is still singing it. The one year he couldn't, Florence Henderson sang it instead. And 2) I'm compelled by certain members of my family to watch the Indy 500 each year. I don't mind. I actually enjoy it now. Not sure why. I can't even drive a stick.

And boy, I'm completely off track now.

Anyway, we're headin' west this weekend. The House has been found, duly offered for and accepted. The inspection is on Friday -- cross your fingers.

The school terms will mesh beautifully. The term both here and there end this week, so when my kids begin, it'll be at the start of a new term. They also use some of the same curriculum, so it won't be totally unfamiliar.

So if I'm not paying attention as much over the next several days, please be patient with me! I'll be back.
10/11/2006 09:13:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

Monday Meandering: Meme!

Monday, October 09, 2006
If you read my blog, consider yourself tagged!

Tell me the last FIVE books you read and what you're reading right now.

You can either write it in the comments or on your blog, but comment here that you posted it.

My list is in yesterday's post.
10/09/2006 11:30:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 11 Comments

Whatcha Readin'?

Sunday, October 08, 2006
Time for a new, updated list of books in the TBR pile and an overview of my most recent reads.

Recent Reads:

Jim Butcher's Storm Front, the first in the Harry Dresden Chronicles. Loved it! I'm definitely going to be searching out the rest of these funny, quirky books about the only openly practicing wizard in Chicago.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. It's supposed to be "a comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love and time travel." I'm on page 63 and I ain't laughin' yet. Not sure how much more time I'm going to waste on this one before I chuck it into the resale bin.

The Bounty by Beth Williamson. So sweet! Big tough bounty hunter gets sent after innocent woman who is posing as a man. He catches her after a long, hard chase and proceeds to fall in love with her, showing wit and warmth along with his protective side. A great hero.

Tanith Lee's Metallic Love, sequel to Silver Metal Lover, which I have not read. It was good. Futuristic, first person, an engaging heroine. The first lines of the book say "You're not going to like me. I apologize for that." And yet, I did. I never read Jane's story, but from what I learned about her, I like Loren better. She's proactive when she can be, but guards her reactions carefully. The final twist is only so-so, frankly. It was worth reading, but it's not a keeper.

And finally, Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. Wow. I had to wait a while to get this book, then I teased myself with it for a few days before I finally read it. Soooooo worth the wait!! In fact, I mean to read it again, but my heart ached so badly for Zsadist that I've had to let it rest for a while. Absolutely wrenching. I think everyone knows about my slightly twisted obsession with heroes who don't have a real tight grip on sanity. Zsadist is one of the most moving heroes I've read and the battles he fights to keep himself safe from love, and his lover safe from him are incredibly touching.

Currently reading:

Miles, Mystery and Mayhem by Lois McMaster Bujold. I'm not sure yet.

The TBR pile is at 15 books. I'll update you on my progress as I can.
10/08/2006 07:48:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 6 Comments

My First 5 Angel...Star...Whatever Review!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006
It gets hard to keep track of what the review sites use. Kisses, coffee cups, angels, moons, thumbs, stars. I'm waiting for someone to start using bars of chocolate. And some of them don't use a "quickie" grading system. You just have to read the review to find out how much -- or how little -- they liked it.

Anyway, YAY!! My first 5 Angel review is from -- you guessed it -- Fallen Angel Reviews! Elizabeth, the reviewer, said:

Not Quite Dead is a witty and original novella that kept me reading with a smile. Sela Carsen has woven a tale where all is not as it seems. There are a few plot twists that I did not see coming, as well as the potential for an unhappy ending. Not Quite Dead is a beautifully crafted story, with tender love scenes, betrayal, vengeance, a spot of suspense and a growing though seemingly impossible love. The plot itself appears well thought out, flowing well with no bumps to mar the way. The characters and storyline were rather well developed. Sabine and Willem are drawn to one another almost from the first, though they know that the chances for anything between them are near nil. Thoroughly enjoyable, charming and unique, Not Quite Dead is a fabulous read that gives much cause to watch for more works from Sela Carsen.

Did anyone else catch that "characters and storyline are rather well developed"? Hmmmm. Sounded a bit like faint praise. Wonder what tweaked her? Still, no point in turning myself inside out over 3 words in an otherwise excellent review!
10/06/2006 11:00:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments


Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I've recently read a few posts wherein people talk about how much time they spend writing their own blog posts. The hours it takes to craft a post.

I'm like, really? They must be awfully Type A. My blog is strictly WYSIWYG. (What You See Is What You Get.) Typos, misspellings, dangling modifiers and all. Unless I'm seriously concentrating on something, like the Monday Meanderings, or hunting down links (takes me forever), I'm usually done in about 15 minutes.

Which is about all the time I have today anyway.

Update on Daughter of Privilege: Had a friend, Eva Gale, look at it yesterday and while it needs heaps and heaps of work, there's apparently something there to salvage. Yay!! Also, I made her fan herself. This is a Very Good Thing.
10/04/2006 11:48:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 13 Comments

Monday Meandering: Interview

Monday, October 02, 2006
As I am only recently recovered from the whole move thing, AND as I am actually writing today, I'm going to direct y'all over to Lynda Hilburn's blog, Paranormality.

She's been interviewing paranormal authors about their First Sale stories and asked some good questions about writing as well as about publicity and marketing. Check out the rest of her blog for other authors.

(I still grin when I call myself an author. It's pretty cool.)
10/02/2006 12:41:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments

Coffeetime Romance

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Coffeetime Romance posts Free Reads on the first of every month and they very graciously accepted one of my old Woman's World submissions!

Dublin Dreaming is up today!

Just a short little read, but it's the first thing I submitted to WW and it made it all the way to the senior editor before it came back to me.

In other news, I took the kids to the Kennel Club Dog Show yesterday and we had a blast. Well, most of us did. It appears that Monkey Boy doesn't like getting knocked over by strange dogs. Not that the dogs were ill-mannered, it's just that when you're small and the dogs are large, these things happen. Not sure when he got so sensitive. Yukon used to knock him over regularly. Just goes to show that we've been without a dog for too long.

Your Ideal Pet is a Big Dog

You're both energetic, affectionate, and a bit goofy.
And neither of you seem to mind very slobbery kisses!

And since I'm on a roll now,

You are 73% Gemini

You Are a Liberal Republican

When you tell people that you're Republican, they rarely believe you.

That's because you're socially liberal - likely pro-choice and pro-gay rights.

You're also not so afraid of big goverment, as long as it benefits people and not politicians.

You are the most likely of any Republican type to swing over to the Democrat side sometimes.

You Are Expressionism

Moody, emotional, and even a bit angsty... you certainly know how to express your emotions.

At times, you tend to lack perspective on your life, probably as a result of looking inward too much.

This introspection does give you a flair for the dramatic. And it's even maybe made you cultivate some artistic talents!

You have a true artist's temperament... which is a blessing and a curse.

10/01/2006 08:38:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 1 Comments


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