Friday’s Interesting Links for 1-1-2010

What I’ve Read:

This was a good reading week for me. I finished one book, and started and finished two others.

Dragonfly by Frederic S. Durbin is a modern fairytale adventure written by an author I met at World Fantasy. I picked up the book out of curiosity and in support. There are no regrets. If I had to classify this book, I’d say it’s a little like Nightmare Before Christmas crossed with Narnia, and a good dose of unique elements. A young girl is drawn into a world of vampires, werewolves, and monsters from other dimensions when she ignores the warning of her uncle and a mysterious character named Mothkin. Rather than condemning her for following Mothkin when he goes to prevent the break-in between the two worlds, Mothkin’s attitude is more that if she was there, she was supposed to be. Bridget Anne, or Dragonfly as her uncle dubbed her, is amazed to discover the end of the laundry chute in no way resembles her uncles basement, but that amazement turns to terror and then a quiet courage as she learns that this place is full of creatures whose only goal is to turn her world into a massive feeding ground, from emotional vampires who thrive on fear to creatures that use human bodies as hosts for their spirits, this is not a nice place. And whatever her purpose in being there, it does not prevent Dragonfly from capture or loss. She has to grow through the experiences, and move beyond both terror and despair, before she can find her way to the end of the story.

Written in an aware first person narrative, the question of this book is not if she will survive but rather if she will succeed, and who among her allies will make it through as well. The writing is evocative, description reminiscent of Tolkien with elaborate details that still manage to craft a sense of place that seeps into your bones. It’s not a pretty, everything’s perfect in the end, Disney tale, but for every grim moment, something comes from it. The novel was in no way an easy read, it wasn’t popcorn to be crunched in a few short bites, but the journey was worth every bit of the time it took.

Price of Passion by Susan Napier was a very interesting take on the series theme of pregnant mistresses. In true proof that you can take an old idea and make it new, this story has a twist I couldn’t see coming at all, but when I got there, it made sense and worked on multiple levels. Add that the male lead is a writer, and I was quite amused. Unlike Dragonfly, this was pure candy and perfect for that role. Besides, it has a three legged dog and a kitten. What else could you ask for? If that’s not enough, it also has wonderful personal conflicts, and the introduction of secondary characters who love to cause trouble for the male lead.

Truly, Madly by Heather Webber I received as an advanced reader copy through LibraryThing. The book will release in February 2010. I was in the middle of Dragonfly, so hadn’t read it yet when I went to visit my older sister. She gave a roaring review, at which point we discovered we had both received it, a bizarre coincidence, but we live in different states and have different names. When I got the chance, though, I read it straight through, ignoring all sorts of things that were going on. It’s a romantic comedy with a paranormal twist in the form of finding lost objects with dead bodies, murder, and true love tossed into the mix. This is the first of a series, or at least I’m assuming so, and I will be picking up the rest of them. Definitely a fun read.

Life

Cute redoing of 12 Days of Christmas with an Urban Fantasy theme:
http://www.orbitbooks.net/2009/12/18/an-urban-fantasy-holiday/

Promoting

Some tips for handling yourself at conventions:
http://www.sfwa.org/2009/12/conventions-and-writing-or-schmoozing-101/

A look at social networking’s impact on social mystique:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-pinter/does-social-networking-ki_b_392747.html

A couple blog posts looking at how to make a virtual book tour successful:
http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com/2009/12/being-gracious-virtual-host.html
http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com/2009/12/being-gracious-virtual-guest.html

Science

When not fascinated with dinosaurs, it’s dolphins that win me over, in part because they love to interact with their world. See them at work here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuVgXJ55G6Y

A little late for Xmas, but for my Tesla adoring sons, I give you Tesla Xmas trees (they come pre-decorated ;).):
http://www.switched.com/2009/12/23/tesla-tree-lights-up-with-500-000-volts-of-technicolor/

Sea urchins have been in many a nightmare since I was a kid and was told that after the spines break off in your foot, they keep moving through your body. That doesn’t mean they can’t also be very interesting, though images of a spine “exploring with vision” is…well…
http://www.livescience.com/animals/091228-sea-urchin-eye.html

Looks like snakes weren’t the first to use venom on their prey. Dinosaurs share teeth structure:
http://www.livescience.com/animals/091221-venomous-dinosaurs.html

Writing

A good breakdown of show vs. tell:
http://kidlit.com/2009/12/18/what-show-dont-tell-really-means/

I don’t think this tendency to reduce people to stereotypes is limited to writers, so I almost put this in the life section, but it is intended for writers, so here’s a piece on how we look at people:
http://thetravelersnotebook.com/notes-on-writing/8-ways-of-seeing-people-that-can-sabotage-your-writing/

C.E. Murphy talks about how she approaches revision:
http://mizkit.com/index.php/2009/12/23/a-writing-post/

Grammar and Spelling

This deserves a category all of its own. Fair warning that it is not for the soft-hearted, but may be just over the top enough to help with key spelling issues.
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

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