Thursday, January 12, 2017

Random Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle- Book Versus Film

I first came to the magic that is Howl through Miyazaki's animated film adaptation. Since I watched the movie before I read the book, I admit there might be some bias here, but these are my thoughts. Typically I'm a "the book was better than the movie" girl. BUT, in this case while I enjoy the book, the movie will always be one of my all time favorites.

Howl's Moving Castle, the book by Diana Wynne Jones:
This book is uniquely written. It has fantasy and magic and a unique main character who believes any adventure she engages on is doomed to failure because she is the eldest daughter and everyone knows the eldest always fails at adventure...
The book contains more magic, in a way, more worlds and covers more real estate, let's say. But I found the plot at times confusing, not very coherent, and a bit meandering. I felt there wasn't really a big "point." Mostly it was Sylvi rambling. Even the romance is more a faintly implied thing than an actual occurrence. You kind of think Sylvi and magician Howl might grow to like each other despite their constant bickering, but it doesn't really develop much. Until at the end they hold hands and grin at each other and so they must be in love? ... meh.

Howl's Moving Castle, the movie by Hayao Miyazaki:
There is more plot to this story, more purpose. Howl's character has more depth, as you see that what appears superficial in him is actually hiding many things--a curse, a missing heart, and his ongoing attempts to save the world from self-destructing in war. Sylvi's character is more fun in the movie somehow... perhaps because you see her as intrinsically kind and pragmatic, rather than intrinsically dull and lacking in redeeming qualities (which is how she sees herself). The romance between Sylvi and Howl is also much more well done in the film (like it actually exists-cough). The other pieces of the plot, including the witch of the waste, the missing prince, etc. are make much more sense in the film than in the book.

So, there you have it. The book is okay. The movie is magical. If I had to choose, I would choose the film every time. But I think the book is still worth the read simply for it's uniqueness.
Image result for howl's moving castle

Friday, January 6, 2017

Critique Site With Good Turnaround: Try You Write On

I have tried several on-line critique groups and forums over the years in the hopes of getting feedback to help me improve my craft. Some have been good fits, some have not.

One of the most frustrating things about getting feedback, in my opinion, is how LONG it can take. I have time frames and deadlines in my head, always. So when some forums have wait lists that are several weeks or a month long before your work gets reviewed, it gums things up for me. By that time I can have written most of a draft of a novel. I need to keep MOVING.

If you are a writer and have similar frustrations, or even if you aren't as impatient as I am, I suggest you try out You Write On. The rules are simple. You review some submissions, you get credits. You upload your submission and dole out your credits for an equal number of reviews. The best part is, there are time limits on how long you get to finish your reading assignment, which means that you get your feedback from your assigned credits within a few days. Yay!

There is also a nifty rating system where reviewers are asked to rate your characters, plot, voice, etc. on a numeric scale to give you a more objective measure of your performance. This is available after you get 3 reviews.

In addition, there is a process by which you can earn a professional review if your piece is rated high enough (I think you need 7 reviews?), and you can link a completed story to the submission to generate sales if it is available somewhere. Mostly though, I just use it to get speedy reviews and hone my own editing skills. Go write on!

Best of luck!

Random Book Review: Wolfsong

So, I am devouring books lately. This one was hard on me. Mostly because I couldn't STOP reading the thing and it cost me sleep. Books will be the death of me.

I reviewed one of my all time favorite books last year by TJ Klune, The Lightning Struck Heart here. This book is just as amazing, but in a completely different way. The tone is nothing like LSH, but the author's awesomeness remains.

Wolfsong has this tone about it, this submersion in the character's voice and in his head that is beautiful and perfect and  straight to the point. It is a werewolf book, but like no other I've ever read, infused with Klune's amazingly awkward and TRUE hilarity, but also with a depth of emotion that was staggering. Loved it beginning to end. I am still amazed how he packed this massive story, spanning 10-12 years into one book in a way that didn't drag on, but that makes you feel like you've been following these characters for years. I felt that same awful sense of "oh no, it's over and now what will I do?" that I feel when a really good 15 book series I've been reading for years ends. It was that good.

So, enough with the gushing. Go read Wolfsong now.
Wolfsong by [TJ Klune]

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Random Book Review: The Magpie Lord Series, by K.J. Charles

It's been a while since I shared what I've been reading--and it's been a really mixed bag lately! Currently I'm re-reading Howl's Moving Castle... but I digress.

This post is about a wonderful little trilogy (with some related books I haven't read yet) that I found and had to share with the uninitiated.

Romance, magic, men in dashing suits, and a bit of horror... what more could a girl want?

I won't say much about this series other than to say I loved it. This author builds a wonderful world and some really interesting characters who's flaws make them even more endearing than their good points. I love flawed characters :)

Check  the books out here

Friday, October 21, 2016

E-book Bargains (Free or Greatly discounted)

I've got several steals going on right now that I'd like to share with you. There is something for everyone who loves romance and magic- from edgy erotic urban, to sweet steampunk, to  sexy fairytales. If you enjoy vampires and werewolves, fallen angels and shape-shifters, or mythical woodland creatures you'll find it here. Enjoy!

My Paranormal romance/Urban Fantasy with erotic elements, Moonlight Calls is FREE on Smashwords (pretty much every format but Kindle) or 99 cents on Amazon (Kindle format). 

My Fantasy Romance/Steampunk Novel, Earth and Sky, is FREE on Smashwords (pretty much every format but Kindle) and 99 cents on Amazon (Kindle format) . 

And My Short Romantic Fairytale,Crow, is FREE on Smashwords

Friday, September 16, 2016

Random Book Review- The Lightning-Struck Heart

I cannot even begin to tell you how in love I am with this book I just finished, The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune.

The main character (a 20 year old gay male wizard who quite often sounds like a 16 year old girl) spoke my language (yeah, I'm a 30-something mundane female... I might have issues).

I laughed out loud until tears streamed down my face EVERY SINGLE TIME I picked up this book, starting in the opening chapter when the main character and his gay unicorn argue over the top of the villain's monologue and completely ruin his triumphant gloating, an onward into the main character's reminiscing about the day his mentor found him in the slums, a scene involving pink boots made from succubus tears and the threat of exploding nipples.

The blub for the book sounds kind of confusing and doesn't, in my opinion, do the book justice. BUT: The humor is amazing (if you are into bad puns, sex jokes, and sarcasm--spoiler, I am.). And under all the humor is some really good writing and an awesome love story, even though I sometimes had to cover my face while roaring with laughter because...I just couldn't meet the main character's eyes anymore. Essentially it is this:

- a young wizard apprentice who is as awkward and embarrassing as he is powerful
- his two best friends- a gay unicorn without a horn and a half-human, half-giant who doesn't understand sarcasm
- his amazingly awkward crush on a certain dashing Knight Commander (who just got engaged to the crown prince...oops)
- General rollicking hilarity
- Heart-strings and feels.

I can't tell you how much I think you need to read this book right now. 
I will be patiently waiting for the next installment, which has been promised for 2017... and by patiently I mean: is it there yet, is it there yet? ISITTHEREYET?!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rise and Fall Flash Fiction- The Argument

The Argument
Kaye Draper

This material is copyrighted. Please feel free to share it, but know that re-distributing it  for profit, or without attributing it to the author is illegal.



Alain pushed the sleep-rumpled hair out of his eyes and rolled over on his belly to regard Henrick. The gorgeous Risen lay on his back with arms tucked under his head and his raven wings folded beneath him. He turned to Alain and gave him a fond smile.
“Finally awake?” The redhead asked, reaching out to tousle Alain’s hair.
Alain captured his hand and pressed a kiss into the palm. “Who’s fault is that?”
Henrick turned that fascinating shade of red, his blush clashing with his flaming hair. “Mmm…”
Alain grinned up at him, continuing their conversation from the night before. “Just let me do it.”
Henrick stared at him for a moment, then sighed. “No. No way.”
Alain narrowed his eyes at the big man. “Chicken.”
“Is it really that important to you?” Henrick said, although Alain could tell he already knew the answer.
“Yes,” Alain said immediately. “I want to see how you look.” He gave Henrick a dreamy look.
The Risen frowned. “No.”
They were still arguing when they descended to breakfast, and Win and Reeve overheard them as they came down the stairs.
“It won’t hurt much, and then it will go numb right after anyway,” Alain said, insistent. Who knew his big, glorious preternatural warrior was such a coward. “Look, I’ll do it quick.”
Henrick threw up his hands. “No. It's not the pain I’m afraid of anyway.”
Alain paused at the bottom of the stairs to stare up at Henrick. “You’re embarrassed, aren’t you? Chicken.”
Henrick crossed his arms and glowered, his blue eyes murderous. “Stop calling me a chicken.”
Alain smirked. “Bah-gawk!”
Henrick glared at him for a moment more, and Alain began to wonder if he might actually be angry for real.
Then the redhead tilted his head and mischief came into his eyes. One moment he was a towering red-haired, black-winged Risen. The next moment, Alain was staring down at the red and black chicken that had taken his place.
The human blinked in surprise. Then he burst into laughter.
He joined his brother Reeve and Henrick's sister Win at the table, where the newlyweds sat sipping coffee and watching Alain and Henrick’s antics. Alain popped into the kitchen long enough to obtain a tray of steaming flapjacks and sausage. He sat down to dig in, and the chicken hopped up to perch on the end of his plank bench.
“You aren’t seriously going to stay like that,” Alain said around a mouthful of buttery heaven. “You are ridiculous. I’m telling you, just let me do it.”
The chicken merely ruffled its feathers and tucked its head under a wing as if settling in for a nap.
Alain finished his breakfast, laughing all the while.
He glanced up when he was done to find Reeve slightly red about the ears and studying his coffee cup. Win grinned at Alain. He must have missed an inside joke.
He stood and stretched. Taking his dishes back to the kitchen, he left them with the innkeeper with a nod of thanks. Then he returned to the common area. “Well,” he said to no one in particular. “I was going to ask Henrick if he wanted to come to the general store with me, thought he might like to go for a stroll…but apparently he’s too chicken.
Henrick fluttered down from his perch and strutted over to the door, where he regarded Alain with beady eyes. Alain rolled his eyes and went to stand over him. “You can’t go like that.”
His only answer was a firm bah-gawk from his featherbrained companion.
A couple of hours later, Alain returned to the inn, his spirits notably the worse for wear. He came through the door chastising the chicken, completely oblivious to the fact that Win and Reeve had been joined by their cousins Dal and Iris.
“I can’t believe you are being so childish,” he was saying as he held the door open for the chicken. “I told you, I just want to do it once. What’s the big deal? If you don’t like it, I’ll take it out. You can do it to me too, if you want.”
He strode by the others, oblivious to their round eyes. “Never mind,” he said to the chicken Henrick. “I’m tired of arguing with you. You can’t even give me this one little thing.”
A wave of energy rolled over him and Alain spun to find Henrick back in his real form. “Fine!” He said, grabbing Alain’s wrist and dragging him toward the stairs. “Fine, let’s do it right now and get it over with!”
Alain grinned as he was hauled up the stairs toward their shared room. Finally.
Win, Dal, Reeve, and Iris sat down to a game of cards. Win hummed as she dealt out the cards, but Reeve sat back and tapped his finger on the table, looking pissed. Every once in a while he glanced toward the stairs.
Dal couldn’t help but poke at him.
“They’re being awfully quiet up there,” he said, picking up his cards. “I wonder what in the world they could be doing?”
Iris raised an eyebrow. Win opened her mouth as if to say something, but there was a bang from upstairs and Alain came running down the stairs. “Hey, Win,” he said, a bit breathless. “Do you have an old handkerchief I could borrow. I’m pretty sure he’s going to bleed.”
Reeve made a choked noise and high-tailed it to the kitchen. Alain tilted his head and watched him go. “What’s wrong with him?”
Win laughed. “Indigestion.” Then she followed him back up the stairs. “I’ve got an old one you can use. I don’t mind if it gets stained. But are you really going to make him bleed? It shouldn’t be that bad, should it?”
Alain shrugged. “You never know. I’ve done it plenty of times back in Hurst. Sometimes you get a bleeder.”
A few moments later, Win returned to find Reeve sitting at the table with the others, clutching his cards and looking ill. She sat beside him with a smile.
“Are you really okay with that?” He demanded.
Win shrugged and gave him a placid look. “Of course. They can do what they want.”
They had barely made it through a hand of cards when Alain and Henrick came down the stairs. Alain was grinning. He patted Henrick on the shoulder. “You look dashing. I knew you would.”
Henrick lifted a big hand to tug at the new earring that graced his earlobe. “Hmph.”
Dal glanced from Reeve’s confused face to Win’s smirk and burst out laughing. “All that was about an earring?”
Henrick glared at Dal, then Alain. “See, people are staring at me. I knew they’d stare!”
Alain petted his red head affectionately. Then he noticed the others staring at them from the table. “What?” He asked, surprised. “What did you think we were arguing about?”
Win only smiled. “Me? An earring, of course. You borrowed it from me yesterday, after all.”
Reeve put his head in his hands and looked like he was about to fall over.
But Dal, ever the font of circumspect delicacy piped up, “Alain, we thought you were a beast!”
Alain frowned at him in feigned confusion. “You guys need a hobby.” He stood on tiptoes to whisper in Henrick’s ear, at a clearly audible stage whisper. “We’ll talk about that other thing later.”

Then he watched in complete satisfaction as Henrick’s confused face turned from white to that adorable lobster red in a flash while Reeve was suddenly overcome by a coughing fit. 

Rise and Fall, the second book in the Earth and Sky saga, is out now! Check it out here.