Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Price (and Importance) of Fun in This Crappy Economy

There are those of us who read, and then there are those of us who read.

The list price for A Dance With Dragons, the new George RR Martin novel? $35.00. Less on Kindle and Nook. But if you read, and you're hooked on this series, then getting it is a foregone conclusion. I'm not really into the series, but Daniel is, and I totally know and respect the lemming-like drive that is Book Fever. It happened to me when the last Shadowfever book came out. A die hard Kindle girl, I went out and bought the hardcover because I had to have that jacket/cover combo featuring Mac's tattoo. If that's not a stupid reason to spend $28, I don't know what is. 

The price of feeding my family of four today: $32.00. The day before? $28.00.

I'm not here to preach about the evils of hardback book prices and moustache-twirling villains who price books beyond our means to bring about the zombie apocalypse. Ok, I will say scream "ouch" to some of these prices. I will curse creatively in the check out line for something I will die without. Like a picture of Mackayla Lane's fictional tattoo. Or the entire set of Wicked Lovely books because Melissa Marr was wonderful enough to come to Mississippi and sign all of them. When I already owned them all on a Kindle.

But sometimes I get introspective when I think about my main form of, entertainment... in this economy. I can't really help it. I was raised by an economics professor, for one thing. My earliest Christmas memories involve Santa Claus and Reaganomics debates. More importantly, though, I think that we MUST have fun in an economy like ours. It's important to me to have as much fun as possible and spread it around. Otherwise things like books that cost more than my food budget will really start to piss me off. 

And oh, what fun there is for the price of the hardcover A Dance With Dragons:
New summer dress: $15   plus   Tickets to see this band: $15  

(Resist the urge to join the horde of girls screaming at the lead singer that he looks like Johnny Depp. Trust me, he already knows.)

Plus my latest hot weather addiction, a frozen strawberry lemonade: $1.59 

And two or three of these picks from my .99 cent Bookshelf of Wonders, or I could skip the brain freeze and have all five:

I'm not counting that last one since I know the author kinda well. ;)  
Of course, my house will have DWD the second it's released. I know this and it's cool. I just like to keep things in perspective sometimes. Plus dollars-to-fun math is the only kind I enjoy doing. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mixed Tapes and Thunderstorms

I have this feature on my website called "My Mixed Tape Took Your Lunch Money." Remember mixed tapes? I do... barely. Making them was an exercise in love. You had to collect physical copies of everything, figure out a theme, manually make sure it all flowed and fit together within the allotted time, and most importantly of all, make the cover art. By hand, of course.

I know it's no surprise that a lot of work goes into creating "platforms,"or whatever, when you're an Indie. I just really love my website because it's fun. The weather here really sucks, which ruined any outdoor plans, so I've been updating the central music databases while the thunder rolls. These are just a few of songs going up soon. Not a terrible way to spend a Sunday, so I thought I'd share:

Middle Brother, "Blue Eyes:"

Futurebirds, "Red Top Girl:"

The Civil Wars, "Poison & Wine:"

Horse to Water, "Florida:"

Patti Smith, "Gimme Shelter:"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Round 2 Finale

Sometimes I wonder about my brain. I don't entirely trust it. It seems to work better backwards, sideways... anyway but straightforward. At least, when I'm writing that seems to be the case. I set myself an interim writing goal (short story) while I was doing planning and outlining for the third book. So then Monday I sit down to write said short story and poof! Book 3 starts coming out. I wish that would work with housework. "Vicki, you are so not going to do housework. You are going to sit here and play The Sims." And then poof! I'd get up and do the housework. But no, The Sims would win that round, no question.

Round 2 is (sniff) over! Here's my word count since Sunday. (Since I'm actually drafting Book 3 I have actually hard numbers). Monday: 1399, and then I did some handwriting on the next series. Tuesday: 1725. Yes, I blogged, and put in a good hour every day on the business end of writerly/ bookish things.

I also read:
Vulnerable (Little Goddess, #1)
Amy Lane's Vulnerable: I stumbled across this in one of the strangest of places- a used bookstore that I haven't visited much since I got my Kindle. So thank you Amy Lane for getting me back to the neighborhood bookstore! Fans of Laurel K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series would like this one. 

Currently reading:
Myra McEntire's Hourglass: About halfway through, it reminds me of Stacey Wallace Benefiel's Glimpse trilogy. Hourglass deals with a girl who catches glimpses, or in the parlance of McEntire's book, "riffs" of the past. Fans of this should definitely check out Glimpse.

Looking back, I accomplished pretty much what I set out to do at the start of Round 2 with the notable exception of having another novella out by now. I can blame part of that on the horrific tornado. More importantly, though, it's been a lesson in pacing. As so many writers I admire keep saying: writing is a long term game. So I suppose the most profound lessons of Round 2 were about discipline and quality. And that's a really valuable thing for me to begin to realize about myself. So... see you in Round 3, I hope?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Update (w/ pics) & ROW80

D. Rocks Secret Stages, '11
First of all, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, as well as the moms who've done double duty. I also want to give a shout out to the granddads and uncles who've filled the dad role when necessary, or just because being a dad is hard and sometimes a pinch hitter is appreciated. 

More specific shout-outs: Thanks to my own mom, who had to be both mom and dad, but did a spectacular job at both. Daniel (pictured right,) the bestest dad, partner in crime, and preternaturally perfect song picker EVER; the coolest uncles in the world: Tony, Cass, Stan and Tommy. And of course RT. Grandkids really are a parent's best revenge. If any parents deserve revenge, it's ours. Come on, LOOK at the fun we put them through:
Vic & D: Parents? Us? Hahahahaha... 

And now, the writerly ROW80 stuff:
I've hit my writing goals, but it's a little hard to report the exact word count. I know I've done my four intensive days and hit roughly 1500 words each. See, these days I'm writing by hand. It's not a computer issue, although I'm still missing my Mac. I just write by hand when my books are in their infancies. Like hand-feeding baby birds, maybe?  Based on the size of my handwritten letters and the type of paper I use, one handwritten page equals abut 250 words. I know that if I sit down and write six pages by hand, then I've hit about 1500. This almost always works best when I'm into the raw invention phase of a work. So for Gifts Book III, I've been working with an important new character and a fairly new landscape. For me, invention is the really exhausting part of creating. It really is nothing but you and the blank page, creating something out of nothing with no guidance. Studies have shown that humans have this little inner editor that wants them to go back over the sentence they've just finished writing and fix it before they can move on to the next one. This same study, which was forced upon me in grad school in some horrible manner and I therefore cannot recall the exact name, calls this discursive writing. (If you really want to know, I will make an effort to look it up for you.) When I'm in the invention phase, I can't let myself give in to that, and let me tell you, my inner editor weighs more than a sumo wrestler. Fighting her is hard work. So I find myself pretty exhausted after about 1,000 words, sometimes even 500 or 750.

I need to be clear here: another frustrating thing about invention is that most of these actual words will not make it into the final draft. I know this, and I fight my inner editor for them anyway. So after three or four handwritten pages of getting to know a character or whatever I'm banging my head against, I do let myself play a little. I'm doing concrete writing on my sci fi series, which finally has a name: Glass, because the main action takes place on the embattled Glass Isles, which have been fighting the evil colonizing forces of The Continent for a generation. Excitement! Battles! Intelligent sexy people! (I just squealed like a little girl with a skinned knee. Good thing you couldn't see/hear it.) It's also vital to be working on something linear, so I have set myself an in-between ROW80 goal: I'd like to have a Caspia/ Ethan short story finished by the time the next round starts. It deals with the gap between Book I and II; it's in third person, and told entirely from Ethan's point of view. I'm really excited about it. Gifts was the first time in my life I ever attempted writing in first person. I've always been a third person kind of girl. To this day, I don't know what possessed me to start writing Caspia in her own voice. I suppose she did that. Lord knows she's headstrong enough. ("Look, lady, you can tell my story, but you're going to do it my way...") Yeah, that's probably what happened. But I digress! Without giving too much away, I will say that this short story involves some intense but sweet romance (I am trying to remember my target age here)(but let's see how far we can push it, hmm?), Asheroth, a trip out of Whitfield to someplace fun, and bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This is a real dessert, by the way, served in a wonderful restaurant to be revealed in the story.

Since my last post, I read: 
An interesting premise- a girl who can't feel emotions of any kind for most of her life, and then suddenly, boom! She not only starts to feel them, she's literally electric in the presence of the new, kind-of-a-jerk boy. Sorensen proceeds to unveil a supernatural world and heritage that will feel familiar to readers, but she had enough original touches and a unique narrative voice to keep me turning pages. Pushing the button, I mean. With details like The Crystal City and characters like Laylen, I will definitely be reading the sequel. I know in advance how shallow this sounds, but I have to say this: I loved the cover. I admit, it was part of the book's appeal. Another note: I have a really early copy of this ebook, so I don't know if that's why, but I did catch an unusual number of typos. I am not the type of reader to be bothered by this; some readers might, though.

Currently reading: 
About halfway through, I think. Fantastic opening, with some of the most vividly described scenes I've encountered all year. I am a bit surprised at my reaction to the content: I love dark YA, but readers should know that this book contains (so far) very vivid descriptions of cutting for sacrificial magic and even animal sacrifice. I know several readers who would find this problematic. I like the way Gratton creates characters who are a mix of good and evil. Also, the narrative weaves back and forth between the male and female protagonist's first person POV. This is difficult to do well. Perhaps the best example is Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series. Gratton does an exemplary job as well. 

On my to-be-read shelf:

As to the business of books, I am reserving an entire future post for this. I went out and did some actual feet on the ground research. I thought it would be a good idea to just get a sense of the vibe in bookstores right now. With the economy in the tank and dismal news from larger chains, I get concerned about how the ebook revolution is affecting the brick and mortar store. With Borders closing and Joe Konrath declaring jihad against some independent bookstores because they declared jihad against him first, or something like that, I was under the impression bookstores everywhere were choking and dying, soon to go the way of the Dodo bird. So I wore my thick teacher glasses and went undercover to several bookstores in my area. What I found was beyond surprising. So surprising that I'm looking forward to an entire "Bookstore Spies: Special Edition" series of blogs. Indie writers, readers, and bloggers, I am convinced more than ever that there is a place at the table for us with our local independent bookstores. I mean, literally already there. One bookstore in my hometown actually has cookies waiting. I'm not kidding. I'll try to get pics of me hiding behind a copy of Popular Mechanics in my fedora and trench coat as I continue to scope the scene.

Only one more check in in this round of ROW80. Wow. When I think back about all that's happened... tornadoes, book release, being able to quit my day job... it makes me a little bit scared of Round 3. But I'll be there, if not with bells then music, as a sponsor again. Hope to see you there, and no matter what, I hope this round has been a good one for you. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Update and a Dare

It is hot. Really hot. I've split my time between figuring out ways to walk around feeling naked without actually being naked, and fending off Sexy New Ideas (SNIs). I have only one solution for both dilemmas: Louis Armstrong's version of "La Vie en Rose," preferably played in the dark. Go ahead, try it. I dare you! I put it up there in the "What's Vicki Listening To?" bar. If you don't feel 3-5 degrees cooler (temperature wise, that is,) I'll buy you an ebook. Or give you a copy of mine. Or send you an album. Or something. For free. I'm serious here. I don't joke about the Louis.

Heat index today? 102 F. For my international friends, I know 101 F = 38.7 C, so somewhere north of that. Sexy New Ideas are especially appealing in the heat because my thoughts so often drift towards islands, port towns, and dimly lit smoky clubs. (SNIs, for the non-writing readers, are siren-like ideas that drag us away from our WIPs, or works-in-progress.) My current WIP isn't in too bad shape, though; I left my protagonist someplace rather cold. It's just kind of... well, it's not a beach, that's for sure. Can't say more without spoiling. Made word count progress: one writing intensive day out of the four, with the rest of the week to go.

Other ROW80 stuff? I'm thinking about summer reading festivals. Amazon really got me thinking with their Sunshine Deals. What if some Indies banded together for an all-out Indie summer assault? We could do it, I know we could. I'm thinking, too, of genre and subject specific book tours or events. The superheroes tour. An all-angels event. Blog stops, but maybe more. Like small bookstores with web presences? Just thinking out loud here. Feel free to chime in.

In other news, I've sold over a thousand books already this month. Thank you thank you to all my readers! You are the savviest, sexiest, most revolutionary readers to walk the earth. This is not hyperbole- you are the vanguard of a reading/writing/publishing revolution that hasn't been seen since the 18th C. One of these posts I'm going to prove it with really dry history and literary theory citations, but not today. Today I just want to bask in the reflected glow of your awesomeness.

This week I read: M. Leighton's Blood Like Poison (loved it,) and Melissa Marr's Graveminder (loved it slightly less but still loved it. I am a Melissa fangirlee. Sorry.) Reviews forthcoming. On my shelf? Too many to mention, really, but here's a taste:

And many more. Really, my current and TBR pile is going to kill me. So many great reads. Plus I think I just read over on Kait Nolan's blog that The Demon's Surrender is out? Let the record show I was finally done in by Sarah Rees Brennan.

I hope everyone is having a good week. As ROW80 draws to a close, please do consider joining us for next round. It's been so incredibly helpful to me. Just think- two rounds ago, I had just launched my first book. Hang with us, or just plain hang in there. It does happen if you do. All the best, and stay cool and comfortable. -VK

Monday, June 13, 2011

Goals, Sales Figures, and the Future

With only half a week left in this second round of ROW80, I find myself reflecting on the last three months. I'm not the type to mention hard sales numbers. People ask me sometimes and I'll guestimate or sidestep the question. Initially, I chalked this up to growing up in the South, where religion, politics, and money are not polite topics of conversation. But I realized that's just a mental dodge to keep me from facing facts and making decisions. It was a shock to realize as June rolled around that my book had been out for a little over six months, and I didn't know the exact number sold. I knew rankings, the daily average, the monthly average, and the financial picture, but not how many books I'd sold total.

So I sat down to tally everything up. It was terrifying, mostly because as an Indie writer and first time author, I have few metrics for comparison. What the heck is success supposed to look like? Feel like? Would someone please tell me, 'cause I've been a big bundle of "I don't know" for a while now. Gifts of the Blood is the first book I've ever written. Ever. Unlike most writers I know, whether traditional or Indie, I have never received a rejection letter. I've never sent a query letter, entered a contest, or sent a manuscript to a publishing house. The closest I've come is a writer's workshop where the Gifts series started as an exercise.

6, 617 books 
I'm officially out-earning my last two jobs 

As I'm finishing up the third Gifts book, I'm facing a lot of decisions. I'm finally making enough money at this Indie gig that I could conceivably do this for a living. I'm blessed that I work in education, which gives me a great degree of flexibility should I decide to go back to the classroom and write at the same time.

But more importantly than that, I circle back to the question of what to write next, and how? Should I write for an Indie release? Or try for a traditional agent/ publisher? It matters because I don't want to start plugging a series on my own and then try to pitch it to an agent/publisher.

It would be easier if I had strong Indie ideals. I do strongly believe in the value of an Indie movement, but I've said from day one that I think of "Indie" as an aesthetic ideal rather than strictly a financial one. To me, Indie simply means enhanced artistic and creative freedom, which ultimately leads to better art. It gives me the power to choose. I have no axe to grind. Maybe it's time I rack up some rejection letters of my own, or maybe I'll succeed in going traditional. Who knows? Maybe I'll stay right where I am and keep releasing books. That's a winning scenario: happy fans with reasonably priced books; a happy writer who keeps learning with each release.

Looking forward to Round 3, I'm thinking about tweaking the writing goal slightly: 5 days with fewer word counts instead of four days of massive 1500 word chunks. More blogging but shorter, more informal posts and as always, more accountability about "the business of books." I had hoped to have at least one more release by now. Some things were beyond my control, like the month of killer tornadoes or the single one that destroyed my house and injured my husband. Some other things were on me, like the fact that I just refused to release Darkness in the Blood before I felt it was ready. Readers wanted that book ASAP. It shocked me. Having fans was a pleasant surprise, but fans who want Darkness now now now? Downright shocking. But by waiting I have both a product I'm happy with and a much better sense of my writing pace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Super Fast Mid-Week Update

A really super fast post here:
Writing's going well- I've made at least two of my four ROW80 targets. I'm making good progress with the final Gifts book- have a good structure so far. I've decided on the next series and I'm so excited about it that it's hard to focus. A lot of it takes place on an island. I think since it's summer, islands and coastlines are just naturally more appealing than my land locked studio. I've been thinking about doing some field research, strictly for research purposes, of course. Naturally this would involve a trip to the actual island the fictitious island is based on. Oh, the sacrifice...

Reading, reviewing and blogging goals all met.

Other writing news of note: my application to the Apple Store was accepted, so I'm in the middle of all of that. Part of why I wanted to do this was to be able to post about it to hopefully make it easier for others who want to skip third parties and try the Apple Store directly. So far it's been a really involved, multi-step approval process and I'm not even to the part where I wrestle with uploading actual content. There are applications before applications. I'm buried pretty deep in Apple software and format conversions today, so I'm going to get back to that. I hope everyone is well.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday ROW80 Update: What to Write Next?

This week in reading, writing, blogging, and more!
ROW80 goal: 4 times a week, 1500 words. May substitute a day of editing when needed.
Barely met this one. I am firmly in the "Invention" phase of the final Gifts book. In a lot of ways this is the most fun for me. It's certainly the most experimental. I did a lot of writing by hand, freewriting, character conversations- that kind of thing. I have a couple of outlines going and am working on the really detailed story  right now.
I keep returning to the question of what to write next. I just cannot get into my Whitfield ghost story novella. It's a shame because it's substantially complete. It's also just kind of lackluster, and if I can't get on board with polishing it or kicking it or whatever I need to do to it, then I really just need to shelve it. I have two other story lines that are almost literally consuming me, and I can't decide which to pursue: vampires, and space. I'm really excited about both of them, but I think the vampire storyline would be more in line with my current audience's tastes. Maybe? At any rate, I'll be adding fuller descriptions and graphics to my blog soon.
Darkness is doing really well. I got one of those glowing reviews on Amazon that just make it all worth it. I know we're not supposed to respond to individual reviews (I didn't!) but I so wanted to. Making a reader happy is an incredible rush. Sales are good, too. Amazing what a difference that 70% makes to your bottom line.

ROW80 Goal: Blog twice a week
Met. Besides ROW80 writing posts, decided to try a series of Free Friday posts. Lots of people do Free Friday finds, and if you have a book or something else you'd like me to shout out, by all means let me know. I'd like to add in music too, and whatever other quirkiness comes my way. We'll see how it goes. Still working on Better Know a Villain.
Speaking of blogs, I visited Kait Nolan's Pots and Plots looking for no-cook and crock pot recipes and discovered her Cake Batter Ice Cream. We're stuck in a serious heat wave, and I vowed not to turn on the oven until it passes. Ice cream could count as a meal in such serious heat. This recipe does not help the situation, as I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Must. Resist.

Read and review at least one book in my genre every week. Done, and then some.
Wake Unto MeWake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A YA ghost romance. I liked the protagonist; she never quite loses her melancholic edge. The author centered much of the novel around a strong female world- another plus. The bonds between girls at the school was one of the book's stronger points; I especially liked the character Naomi.
The logic was a little difficult to follow, though. The whole ghost rationale was more than a bit mystifying. How can someone be dead and alive at the same time? That really was the one hitch for me. Beyond that, a nice little read.

Compis Compis by Kate Copeseeley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Copeseeley's book fills a glaring void in today's YA- speculative fiction that does not center itself on sexy but dangerous mythical creatures. Instead, her Compis world is very layered. The Five Tribes have a long history with distinct traditions. Copeseeley weaves details about her complex world into the narrative without awkward narrative lumps. The pace is brisk as we switch between three main character's point of view. The characters themselves are well-developed, and nuanced enough to edge the book into the adult SF/F category as well as YA. I recommend this for any fan of SF/F, or for any YA paranormal fans looking for a change.

On the shelf: Melissa Marr's Graveminder, Amanda Hocking's Virtue, and Tessa Gratton's Blood Magic.

The Business of Books:
ROW80 Goal: spend @ least 30 min. 5 days a week
Met. It's almost automatic to blow past this. I suspect that's true for most Indie writers. The newest thing this week has been the fun adventure of uploading to the Apple store. I think that probably deserves its own post, but the short version is that its complicated. In typical hard headed fashion I decided to try it on my own, without going through a third party like Smashwords. We'll see how it goes. Am also in the process of setting up with Also compiling a spreadsheet of book bloggers, Indie authors who do interviews/spotlights. This requires learning Excel, so I'm taking baby steps here. Excel really is a skill I need. It will make it easier to track daily sales.

So that's it for this week's ROW80 report. As ROW80 II draws to a close, I'm going to have to look back at my overarching WIP goals. I really had planned to have at least my novella out by now. The delayed release of Book II made that impossible, though. So that's one goal I won't be meeting. I'm pretty happy with everything else, and I'm tweaking my goals for Round III. Hope to see you there. Have a great week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Feature: Free Stuff I Like

Maybe you will, too. 
I thought I would share a few of the things I found that made my life a little brighter this week. They also happen to be free. I plan to work this into a regular blog feature. Please bear with me as this new feature finds its pace.

Today, Friday June 3, is FREE NATIONAL DOUGHNUT DAY!!!! 
That's right- free doughnuts from no less than three national chains! Two of the chains, Krispy Kreme and LaMar's, are offering free doughnuts with no purchase necessary. Krispy Kreme is an old favorite. I had never heard of LaMar's before, but now I think I'm a fan. Free is nice- especially edible, yummy free. Over at Dunkin' Doughnuts, you have to make a purchase. To me that's not really free, but I'm sticking them in anyway. 

Joey Knieser's acclaimed solo album The All-Night Bedroom Revival:  
"Like Faulkner, he saw in his own “little postage stamp of native soil” something worth writing about, and in The All-Night Bedroom Revival,Kneiser reveals another adept glimpse into that something." (TIAM)
The whole album is available for free on This is American Music's new e-commerce website. Styling themselves as "Home of the $5 Record," the website also has other free downloads.

Dracula! The Norton Critical Edition!

There are a lot of free e-copies of  Bram Stoker's Dracula floating around. What makes this one so wonderful is that it's a flawlessly edited version with forwards by Nina Auerbach, head of 19th C Lit. at Vanderbilt, and David J. Skaal, camp and horror film critic. Meticulously cross-referenced and indexed, it's a must-own for any vampire enthusiast or Dracula scholar. I have an autographed hard copy of this exact edition on my shelf. I kind of squealed when I realized I could get it free for my Kindle, because the hard copy wasn't cheap. 

Use it to settle arguments with your vamp hatin' friends, or merely the vampiricly confused: Vampires are day walkers! Animals/insects/etc are an alternative food source! They are rather fond of love triangles!
And many more! So what are you waiting for... snag your copy today.

I hope there's something interesting for you here. I'm off to grab a doughnut. -V

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

ROW80 Update: Deep Fried Cheese

It's time for: accountability! Thank god it's writing and not dieting.
Word count?
Er... Not yet. It's the cheese's fault. Four kinds, actually, rolled into a huge ball and then battered and deep fried. Cheese is bizarrely de-motivating. We went to the lake to celebrate selling the first 100 copies of my second book. I was pretty happy with that, considering it hasn't been out for five days and all kinds of things went wrong. It didn't have a cover for three of those days, B&N didn't start carrying it until yesterday, it didn't come up in Amazon searches for three days, etc. But! I have structured my ROW80 word count goal so that I measure it in weekly increments. I can still meet it. I just have to write every day from now until the next check in. Every day, 1500 words. I think I'm going to do some Twitter sprints if anyone's interested. I've noticed some sprint-dedicated hashtags: #1k1hr, or maybe that's backwards. Does anyone know others? 

I'm back on track with that. I've even started to hoard a few interesting snippets in the archives, like the wily squirrel.
FYI: I want to do a periodic blog feature called "Better Know a Villain," where I interview fictional villains from my favorite Indie authors. Kind of like Inside the Actor's Studio, but fake and evil. Please feel free to nominate your favorites. If you are a writer and think your villain might like to appear, please leave a comment or otherwise get in touch.

Reading/ reviews:
BrighterBrighter by V. J. Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm re-reading this because I live in a college town, and I need a reminder every now and then that no, I'm not literally stuck in a vortex. I can leave, unlike the characters in Chamber's excellent horror novel. Although there's plenty that's frightening- disappearances, murder, soul-stealing, monsters, and more- perhaps the most frightening of all is the way Chambers captures that moment when we leave college behind for the "real world," and how very ill-prepared so many of us are.

Torment (Fallen, #2)Torment by Lauren Kate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'll always love this series because it was one of the first YA paranormals I ever read. I like the way Kate builds tension; I'm still not sure who or what Luce is by the end of Book 2. I like the way Luce grew a little backbone and branched away from Daniel somewhat. Usually I'm a fan of the one true pairing, but in this case pushing Daniel away is also a way of challenging the idea that her fate is pre-determined.

Current and to-read: Amy Plum's Die for Me; Jessica Sorensen's The Fallen Star; Lisa Cach's Wake Unto Me.

This has been mind-numbing these past few days. I've done a lot of making sure things were right, fixing things, getting in touch with people, etc. Footwork, aka grunt work. I am ready to move on to the sexiness that is the interview, rather than just setting it up. I want to hold swag in my hand instead of getting quotes for it. I want that new bookmark smell! But behind-the-scenes is really important, too.

Incredible that this ROW80 round 2 is already drawing to a close, huh? Time to start thinking about goals for Round 3. Have a good week, everyone, and may your Round 2 goals go smoothly.