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In which I am bereft…

So! I published the third book, at last! And now I feel… kind of… adrift. I’m supposed to be working on fifteen stories for an anthology, but I kind of feel like I just kicked one of my kids out of the nest and maybe I should give myself time to mourn.

Seems kind of silly, but that’s where I’m at right now.

I also have to take a deep breath and plunge into the promotional circus.

There’s a hopeful little fairy deep in my soul who wishes people would just come flocking to my books by themselves. You know, the overnight success thing? The small bit of rationality in me says that totally won’t happen. One can dream, though, right?

What I do want to is keep writing.

So, pity party over, onward and upward. Back to the keyboard I go!

In which I mourn yet another good idea marred by poor execution.

Vampire Origins – The Strigoi by Riley Banks started out strong, with an action-packed first chapter that arced beautifully and drew me right into the story. From there, however, it went rapidly downhill, twisting and turning back on itself, then came to an abrupt halt with an ending that left me feeling cheated and rather dizzy.

I liked the idea of a powerful vampire turned entrepreneur. Vladimir Roman has a grand plan: to enslave thousands of humans in his blood factory to provide himself and his extended “family” with a reliable source of sustenance. I also enjoyed the budding romance between Scarlett and Caleb complicated by Lachlan’s loveless rivalry for possession of her. And I was very intrigued by the evil Miss Angeline. Wicked children bring a delightfully skin-crawling factor to just about any horror story.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment was marred by a number of game-ending mistakes that jarred me out of the story and scrambled my brain. First and foremost, there are major formatting issues. The margins changed with just about every paragraph; sometimes there were first-line indents, sometimes there were not. The inconsistencies made my eyes skitter around.

There are no typographical breaks between scenes, so I was jerked from one character to another without warning and sometimes without an initial clue to who I was supposed to be following next. I had to fumble around for a bit, and sometimes back-track, to figure out where I was in the story. I found myself saying “Wait, what?” a lot.

The author made it clear that her vampires’ images cannot be reflected in mirrors. There are no mirrors in the castle (but then one conveniently appears when Scarlett has to gaze into it), and she mentions the lack of a reflection a number of times throughout the story. All the sudden, though, Lachlan’s reflection appears in a set of mirrored windows. What? No.

There are a couple of missteps that a little research could have corrected. One that sent me right out of the story was the bit about hockey. There are no three-minute penalties in the official rulebooks. There are two, five, ten, and hit-the-showers-dude. Also, how does one go from never being on skates to captain of the team overnight? I had an inkling that the Renee character might have charmed the two brothers into rapidly developing mad hockey skills, but this was not made clear enough to allow me to suspend my disbelief.

Finally, the sudden ending brought me up short with a final, and very indignant “Wait, what???” While I’m a fan of cliffhangers, this one felt more like I was slammed into a brick wall.

I think, with a major overhaul, this could be a brilliant addition to the genre. Formatting issues, typographical errors, missing words here and there, inconsistencies, and the abundance of repetition and passive voice: these all need to be corrected. Ms. Riley, please take the time and spend the money for a professional editing service. You’ll be glad you did.

On getting closure…

Last night, Husband and I attended Twelfth Night festivities (two nights early, but who’s counting?) at the home of an old friend. I was surprised to see my elementary school art teacher among the guests. Her hair, once jet black, is now snow-white and her face, while still familiar to me, has softened with wrinkles. But her eyes were exactly the same.
She remembered me as a talented young artist and was dismayed to hear I hadn’t kept up with it. Then she told me a story.

Back then, we had only two levels of school: elementary and high school. Elementary was Kindergarten through sixth grade and high school was seventh through twelfth grade. When the students moved from sixth to seventh grade, there was a “graduation” ceremony, complete with awards. My art teacher was tasked with choosing which of her students would receive the art award and she had narrowed it down to two students: myself and another young lady. While I had the greater talent, she said, the other student worked harder at improving herself and so she decided the award should go to the hard worker.

She said it’s always bothered her that she didn’t give me, the more talented student, the award.

I told her I completely understood that, while talent should be awarded, hard work should as well. I also told her that little has changed, as my long-suffering editors can attest. Yes, I have talent, but it has to be coaxed, cajoled, and bullied out of me.

The relief on her face was nice to see. After forty years — forty years! — she could finally put this little demon to rest. But, what struck me about her tale was how little value we place on those amazing teachers in our lives. That there are some who care so deeply about their students that they will fret over a small incident like that.

Teachers are extraordinary people and should be revered as such. I wish I understood that better forty years ago…

Getting some local media attention…

But, of course, all media is global now, right?

Interview With the Novelist