Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical Conference
March 17, 2012
The Liberty States Fiction Writers (LSFW) held their annual Create Something Magical Conference this past Saturday (St. Patrick’s Day) in New Jersey. I had heard about it at the beginning of February at Lady Jane’s Salon, but I was thinking of it as a “next year” kind of thing. I didn’t think I was ready to go to a writers conference, it was a Saturday, and it was in New Jersey. Basically, I was full of excuses for not going.
Then I came up with a reason for why it would be a good idea to go, and it was as simple as that. I want to be a writer. If you want something, hang out with the people who have it. Surround yourself with those who are successful at what you want to be successful at, and learn from them. So I read up on the workshops, contacted the LSFW vice president, and paid immediately.
5/5 stars – loved it!
Sometimes a book is written so enchantingly that it draws you in and fully immerses you in the story from the very first page. The act of reading a book like this becomes an experience in itself. I feel this way about Chris Wooding, Jeff VanderMeer, and Francesca Lia Block. There’s some kind of magical quality to the prose, and it doesn’t matter if what’s going on makes perfect sense, or is explained in perfect details. The details that exist paint a perfect enough picture. It’s enough to believe in the magic of the story, of the world being set up, and like a fairy tale, you just go with it and let it sweep you away.
Reading The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff was like that. The description is lovely and visual, evoking imagery that is by turns bright and dark, sharp and dull, creepy and beautiful. The novel is mostly told through the eyes of Daphne, the half-demon and half-fallen angel daughter of Lilith and Lucifer. She lives in Pandemonium, a city in Hell marked by metal, heat and permanence. Daphne is bored, lonely, and, most of all, terrified that she will turn out like her succubus sisters who prey on the lost young men of Earth. Sitting in her apartment, she watches old movies and surrounds herself with colorful artifacts leftover from others’ past lives, wishing for something more.
5/5 stars – loved it!
Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Within the village, the Sisterhood takes care of everything and the Guardians maintain the fence that encloses them. No one has ever been outside the village because the forest is full of the Unconsecrated, and the Unconsecrated are always hungry for living human flesh.
Raised on fairy tales of the outside world, Mary has a hard time keeping the faith the Sisterhood preaches. She knows there is something beyond the forest, that there is the ocean. After all, she’s seen a photograph of her many times great-grandmother on the beach, before the Return. Before the Unconsecrated rose.
When tragedy strikes her family, Mary’s life undergoes many changes. It tears her up inside, living a life that was given to her, not the one she has chosen. She begins to learn that the Sisterhood is keeping secrets, and curiosity consumes her, even though it might also destroy her. She is also consumed with desire for the one guy who is completely off-limits to her.
And then the fence is breached. And Mary, who has struggled with her beliefs, must allow her faith to lead her along the only path left.
I really enjoy reading Chris Wooding’s novels. (I also recommend Poison.) There’s something very dark and weird to the worlds he creates, and it makes the stories edgy and exciting. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is no exception.
Set in an alternate universe of Victorian London, there are more than just famous serial killers (in this case, it’s Stitch-face) to worry about. Ever since the city was bombed, wych-kin have been appearing in the Old Quarter. They kill, possess, steal babies, and just generally do bad stuff. They’re the things of nightmares, of fairy tales, the things that go bump in the night. And they just keep coming.
(This review is by guest blogger Erin!)
I like a lot of angst in my romance. Not in a gratuitous way—not angst for angst’s sake—but I want a really juicy conflict. I want to feel all the turmoil going on between the characters. I want the conflict to be substantial, too, not just “Oh, does he like me?” but “he likes me and I like him but there are fifteen reasons this can’t possibly work.”
Dance with Me certainly delivers on that level. It’s an opposites-attract story between two people with a lot of baggage. Ed is a former semipro football player whose career was derailed by a neck injury. He has a desk job he doesn’t like and suffers from chronic pain related to the injury. Laurie is a former professional dancer who gave up his career after a humiliating incident at a competition (more on that later). They meet because they both volunteer as teachers at a local community center. They argue, mostly over the music Laurie keeps pumping over the sound system, and things come to a head when Ed begs Laurie to turn off the thumping beats, offering to do anything, and Laurie stops the music (ha) on the condition that Ed be his assistant in a ballroom dance class he teaches. Ed agrees.
(This review is by guest blogger Erin!)
(Note: there are some mild spoilers in this review.)
The set up is basically every Regency romance you’ve ever read: the hero is a rake with daddy issues who beds lots of women and reacts to any dare as if he were Marty McFly being called a chicken. His father, a duke, informs him early in the novel that he is required to produce an heir and thus will be marrying an on-the-shelf spinster with a well-respected father, and he’s to get right on that heir producing if he doesn’t want to get cut off. Luckily, said spinster turns out to be kind of a spitfire, albeit a plain-looking one, and when the hero meets her, he basically thinks, Well, okay, I don’t want to get married, but if I have to, she’s all right. Maybe this is not a sweeping declaration of love, but we’re not quite a third of the way into the book.
The story picks up again two years later, at which time our plucky former spinster has produced the required heir and has a spare on the way. While fireworks don’t exactly go off when our hero and heroine are in a room together, they have forged an easy friendship and the hero very clearly adores his young son. Things proceed, perhaps a little on the boring side, until the heroine’s brother comes back from the war. And then things get interesting.