Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My June Round-Up!

So, what happened to me in June?
  • I entered the first seven pages of The Duke of Snow and Apples in the Emerald City Openers contest.
  • I bit the bullet and signed up for an agent appointment at the RWA National Conference in Orlando. I'll get to pitch my novel to a REAL agent! I'm terrified/ecstatic/despairing/excited!
  • I got a LOT more involved in my RWA chapters - I've been critiquing a lot, and getting critiqued in return. General consensus for Duke's first five chapters: strong!
Oh, and I also read a bit.

For Heroines, we got:
  • 1 Fake Fake Aristocrat
  • 1 Almost-Widow
  • 1 Actual Widow
  • 1 Sexy Mechanic
  • 1 Wounded Divorcee
  • 1 Maimed Translator
For Heroes, we got:
  • 1 Fake Rake
  • 1 Chimera
  • 1 French Exile
  • 1 Bastard Home Renovator
  • 1 Geeky Architect
  • 1 Widower Single Dad
For Obstacles, we got:
  • "I can't love him! I have car oil under my nails!"
  • "I can't love him! I'm still mourning the loss of my perfect, athletic, straight-A fiance to cancer!"
  • "I can't love him! I've just been widowed, and the marriage wasn't that great!"
  • "I can't love her! She's in league with shapeshifters!"
  • "I can't love him! I'm an unloved, unwanted orphan with ridiculously ugly Angelina-Jolie-esque lips!"
  • "I can't love him! He's a sexy Brit just like my mean ol' ex!"
For Miscellaneous, we got:
  • 1 Missing Arm
  • 2 Counts of Fear-Vomit
  • 1 Slutty Backhoe
  • 1 Slutty Ghost
  • 4 Precocious Children
  • 1 Really Good Footrub
  • Several Sequel-Baiting Siblings
*June Pick* The Fire King, by Marjorie Liu. A
Winner of the Best Reason To Learn a Foreign Language Award
Awesome shifter hero. Awesomer translator heroine. Cool magic. Great story. Angst, angst, everywhere.
Cons: Pacing gets a wee bit slow near the middle.

Start Me Up, by Victoria Dahl. A-
Winner of the Nerdy Hero Award
Adorable hero. Well-drawn heroine. Relevant sex scenes. Good story.
Cons: Annoying BFF. Suspense subplot a little too pat. Romance a little abrupt.

A Rake's Guide to Seduction, by Caroline Linden. B+
Winner of the Fake Rake Medal
Well-characterized and intelligent heroine. Sweet romantic development. Refreshing lack of Big Misunderstandings.
Cons: Conflicts are a little too low-key. Silly 11th-hour villain and climax.

Crush On You, by Christie Ridgway. B-
Winner of the Too Angsty To Live Medal of Honour
Pros: Well-developed angst. Interesting townsfolk. Nice initial set-up.
Cons: Heroine who refuses to get over herself. Lame secondary romance. Vigorous sequel-baiting.

A Cottage By the Sea, by Ciji Ware. B-
Winner of the Ho For Sho' Award
Interesting time-travel element. Yummy hero. Well-drawn and empathetic heroine.
Cons: Amateurish writing. Bitchy Ho ancestor. Historical infodumps galore.

*June Dud* The Making of a Duchess, by Shana Galen. C+
Winner of the TSTL Medal of Honour
Straightforward hero who refreshingly doesn't use his tragic past as an angsty obstacle to his relationship with heroine.
Cons: Unbelievable plot that hinges on stupidity of villains. Cowardly, self-pitying heroine who pukes when she's spooked.

Other Books I Read:

Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher - reviewed at The Green Man Review.

Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Lyndall Gordon.
This giant tome is pretty much the reason behind why I only managed to read six romance novels this month. I was interested in the story of Mary Wollstonecraft because for my second novel, I wanted to base the character of my heroine's mother on a radical proto-feminist, and thought reading this biography would be a great way to start research - on both the mother as a character, and how the heroine might turn out as a result. How did one express feminism in the 1700s-1800s? Pretty gripping stuff, for the most part, and who knew Wollstonecraft's daughter Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstein) would be scandalous enough to elope with a married man?

Basically, however, nearly everything Mary Wollstonecraft preached about then is regarded as common sense now (raise your own kids, breastfeed your own kids if you can, learning should be about engaging the mind instead of strict memorization, etc.). So yay, Mary!

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