Monday, March 26, 2012

Teaser Trailer

I have a minute of awesomeness to share with you. The lovely, talented, super amazing Rachel Firasek has agreed to do a book trailer for the Set in Stone series. Everybody happy dance with me! While I anxiously await my new covers (hooray!), she surprised me with this teaser trailer:

Have I mentioned she's amazing? Oh, and she's also a writer. Her phoenix series is a must read. A word of caution--your e-reader will definitely start smoking because her books are steamy hot. *winks* Learn more about Rachel and her books here.

Life has been crazy for me lately, and I apologize for my infrequent posts. My lovely mother-in-law lost a long, valiant battle with cancer, and I've been spending much needed time with family. It's amazing how life's transitions cause you to re-evaluate your life and get your priorities straight. At the time, the speed bumps in life are unwelcome. Horrible even. They can also be bittersweet blessings in disguise. My mother-in-law had a creative outlet in quilting. Her talent with color was unique and surprising. She wasn't shy about using color, and the results worked beautifully time and again. I hope to find and harness that kind of talent with my writing this year, with her quilts hanging around me for inspiration.

Rachel's creative talent was one of the first things I found waiting in my in-box when I rejoined the real world. What a gift! I hope you enjoyed it, and I can hardly wait to share the series trailer soon.

I highly recommend you go and enjoy something creative today (including the trailer!) :-)


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Villain Love

I love bad boys. Not the leather-wearing, chain-smoking kind of bad guys, but rather true villains. I think they deserve a little reader love. They bring much-needed tension to a story, and they're fascinating characters. But it's more than that. They bring stories to life in a way a hunky hero or sassy heroine never could. Their nefarious deeds and unpredictable actions make for great reading, but I want to know why they do what they do.

As a writer, I want to crawl into their heads. It's not always a comfortable place to be, but everyone--and I mean everyone--has a story. It gives us an idea of what motivates them, or what made them nasty in the first place. And every character's story shapes the story you find in the pages of your favorite book, for better or worse. I feel sympathy for some of the villains in my favorite stories. I don't excuse their terrible behavior, but without it, the story wouldn't necessarily have resonated with me.

Take Stryker from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. The guy has done some heinous things. But when you read his story, you can't help but soften toward him (at least I did). Ms. Kenyon always does a masterful job balancing the good and evil in a character. Stryker chooses to go the evil route more often than not, but his intentions are validated through his story.

Or what about V'Lane from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series? I can't totally hate him, and not because he's gorgeous (in case you haven't read the series, I won't give away any spoilers).

Then you have a character like Voldemort. It's hard to drum up any sympathy for someone who orchestrated so many terrible acts of evil. Yet without him, Harry Potter would have gone nowhere. His potential may have been unrealized. Dumbledore would have died an inglorious death, and we would have never known Snape--who was almost easier to hate--was a good guy all along.

I don't believe any character, real or imagined, is 100% good or evil. Granted, we don't all have homicidal tendencies. But I call BS on the people who claim to have the best of intentions all day, every day. We're flawed. Villains are more flawed, sometimes terribly so. Those flaws are what give our heroes and heroines an opportunity to grow. Not unlike the nasty characters we encounter in our everyday lives.

Villains play an important role in fiction. They're an essential half of the all-important good vs. evil equation. They give us a reason to root for the good guy. When they're defeated, they give us hope that maybe, just maybe, we can defeat the negativity in our own lives. For that reason alone, I have to give them credit. I'll always root for the good guy, but a small part of me will do the same for the bad guy. Because hey, that's what makes for a great book. ;-)

Who's your favorite villain?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Lure of YA

It's official. I'm hooked on YA books. This is a big deal because a) my book budget is already stretched to the max, and b) I made the mistake of thinking about my brutal teenage years and believed reading about more teen angst would irritate me. May I say I've been happily proven wrong on that erroroneous assumption. As for the other, well, like any good book addict, I make it work. *grins*

I finally (yes, FINALLY) started The Hunger Games. I can't remember the last time I was sucked into a story so fast. I devoured the first book in a few hours and rushed out to get the second. I love the message Suzanne Collins is conveying, and the authenticity of her characters and world-building. Pure awesomeness.
I also recently read Fateful by Claudia Gray and Supernaturally by Kiersten White--both awesome paranormal reads with very different tones, but equally engaging. I enjoyed them for the same reason I've avoided them for so long--the teen perspective. It's so different from what I'm used to reading. The problems aren't less dramatic or painful, but teen characters approach these issues differently. Apparently I'm old enough to now appreciate the youthful ideals and melodrama in a way I couldn't when I was experiencing it as a teen. (feel free to insert an old joke here)

The best part is knowing I can share these books with my oldest daughter in a couple of years. We already read middle grade books and discuss them. Being able to talk to her about the issues YA writers present in their books is a golden opportunity to introduce difficult topics in a way I might have struggled to otherwise (thank you YA writers!) Ah, the power of books...

So here's my dilemma. I need recommendations so I can delve deeper into the world of YA. I have no idea what to try next, but I know that die hard YA fans can point me in the right direction. I'd love to know--what is the best YA book or series you've read and why?