Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Received: Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong

Led Astray: The Best of Kelley ArmstrongOne of the best aspects of my job is receiving the finished product -- the published book -- after having worked so hard on the project, either as the editor, copy editor, proofreader, or all of the above.

This is how I began my June 30, 2015, blog post when I first wrote about my work on this collection:

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So, what does 148,000 words of short fiction physically look like? A stack of manuscript pages 2¼ inches high; or 530 pages, to be exact!

That's the size of the manuscript for "the best of" short story collection Led Astray by Kelley Armstrong, forthcoming in September from Tachyon Publications.
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Well, September is now -- Tachyon Publications, unlike the majority of independent presses, always ships ahead of schedule -- my comp copies of Led Astray arrived this past week. And those original 2¼ inches of manuscript pages? They became 535 layout pages in the published trade paperback edition.

For those not acquainted with Ms. Armstrong's work, her novels have made her a #1 New York Times bestselling author -- and the stories in Led Astray are a great starting point for new readers, since you get a taste of her many worlds. And as for seasoned readers, these stories will add depth to those worlds you are already familiar with.

Here's an excerpt from one review, courtesy of Net Galley:
...This is how fairy tales used to be ― grim and harsh. In this collection of over 20 short stories, Ms. Armstrong demonstrates over and over again how she is a master of her craft... Many of the stories have no happily ever afters or even a happily for now. Instead, it seems the warning is clear ― be careful of what you wish for. For those who have never read a Ms. Armstrong book, this collection can be read as a standalone. A few of the stories do tie in to her different series. The tie-ins enhance the world-building for those hooked on the various series. For those new to Ms. Armstrong, it will cause the new reader to salivate and rush to read all her series. This first-rate [collection] could be devoured in one sitting. It's best to savour each story by itself. The deferred gratification by slowly consuming each story...makes this painfully pleasurable book last longer... It's tightly focused with nary a wasted word. The constant haunting gloomy feel keeps a reader on edge. The expressive descriptions of the places set the somber mood. The intriguing situations lure a reader into a bit of complacency before the trap is sprung. The endings to several of the pieces are gruesome and I reveled in it. Many times, it seems the villain wins the day. This is very different than most books and for this refreshing take, I applaud Ms. Armstrong. I particularly enjoyed the twists and turns in the stories... It makes the stories unpredictable...being off balance is exhilarating. There is a certain horror aspect to several of these stories... This book is highly recommended to those who enjoy darkness and things that go bump in the night.
~ La Crimson F

Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong can now be ordered from Amazon, or from your favorite bookseller.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Annie Proulx on Writing and Reading

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.

(via Goodreads)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Received: The King's Justice: Two Novellas by Stephen R. Donaldson

The King's JusticeMy presence online has been quiet of late as I have been working on a 219,000-word novel -- Courtney Schafer's The Labyrinth of Flame, book three in her Shattered Sigil trilogy. This is the largest book I've worked on in a few years, and it's been quite the major project. I'll be talking about my work on this novel shortly.

When I wasn't working on Labyrinth, I was catching up on TV shows (Mr. Robot, Humans, Halt and Catch Fire, Defiance, Proof, and probably a few others. And, I've also been creating a database listing of all my vinyl albums using I haven't played an actual LP in probably ten-plus years and, unfortunately, my turntable (a classic Concept 2QD) remained idle during all that time as well. The tone arm was frozen and thus the turntable had to be serviced: so, a huge shout-out to SerTech Electronics in San Jose, one of only three such service and repair centers in all the Bay Area. Their work queue is at least three weeks long, but by the end of the fourth week they had completed work on my turntable. Now all is right with the world.

Recently I received Stephen R. Donaldson's The King's Justice: Two Novellas. I actually won this book in a giveaway courtesy of and the publisher, G. P. Putnam's Sons. If you are reading this blog, then I assume you are also a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and other genres, which also means you are probably familiar with SFSignal. (If not, then get ye mouse to that site immediately!) JP Frantz and John DeNardo have been running SFSignal since as far back as I can remember. The site is one of the best for news and reviews, cover reveals, interviews, mind melds, TOC listings, and more. And they do a lot of print and ebook giveaways as well.

I had quite the time reading the first six volumes in Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series, which I wrote about in my October 27, 2013, blog post. In that post I had received The Last Dark hardcover, the fourth and final volume in Donaldson's The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I still haven't read those final four books yet (I'm currently reading the equivalent of HBO's season 5 of George R. R. Martin's The Game of Thrones), but as you can see I'm a fan of Stephen R. Donaldson's work.

So go support SFSignal with your page views and Likes; and go read some Stephen R. Donaldson, too.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Received: Nalo Hopkinson's Falling in Love with Hominids

Falling in Love with Hominids Whenever a package arrives on my doorstep -- most often by the US mail delivery person, but occasionally after one hears the sounds of the UPS truck pull to a stop or, rarely, another delivery truck (FedEx, typically) -- there's a little hint of the feelings of childhood, the memories of Christmas -- and presents. Yes, even if I paid for it, a package arriving on the doorstep, for whatever reason, always feels like a gift!

The other day a USPS package arrived bearing my comp copies of Nalo Hopkinson's Falling in Love with Hominids, recently published by Tachyon Publications. And, indeed, it was a gift -- and in so many ways.

Here's an excerpt from Abigail Ortlieb's review for RT Book Reviews:
There is something especially exhilarating about Hopkinson's short stories. Her voice is fluid and always adds to the type of story she is telling, bringing to mind writers like Ray Bradbury ("The Easthound") or Toni Morrison ("A Young Candy Daughter"). Her Caribbean heritage is reflected beautifully in the prose, and each story is entirely distinctive. She prefaces each one with a dedication or tidbit about how or why that story was written, adding extra depth. If you haven't read any of her other works, you will be scrambling to after you read Falling in Love with Hominids. It’s a treasure trove of short gems by an immensely popular and talented writer.
~RT Book Reviews
You can also read my April 14 blog post in which I write about my work on Hopkinson's Falling in Love with Hominids; the post includes a list of the 18 stories (one original to the collection) included in the book.

Here's one final excerpt from the Publishers Weekly review:
The stories all share a common thread of magic, which is often woven, whether subtly or blatantly, into the fabric of everyday reality, allowing characters to react to the strange or the impossible as it crosses into their world. Hopkinson also draws frequently on her Caribbean upbringing and heritage, and her characters' voices are distinct and authentic, both in their speech patterns and in their ways of looking at their surroundings. Hopkinson's fans will be delighted by these examples of her wide-ranging imagination.
~Publishers Weekly

Falling in Love with Hominids can now be ordered from Amazon, or from your favorite bookseller.