Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan, now in paper!

Today is release day for the paperback edition of A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan, which I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing as an ARC earlier this year. I gave it five stars:

"It's cliched to say 'I couldn't put it down!', but that's how I felt about A Dangerous Fiction. Rogan brings an insider's keen view, pulling the reader into the New York publishing milieu with all of its jealousies, intrigue, excitement and larger-than-life personalities. At the heart of the story is a woman's need to uncover the truths about her own life, even as she's the target of malevolent foes she can't identify. Danger, suspense, romance and the deep bonds of friendship--A Dangerous Fiction has it all.
(Disclaimer--I received an advance review copy of this novel from the publisher)"

I also had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with Barbara in advance of today's release:

Q: Why does the New York literary scene make a good setting for a murder mystery?
A: It’s a natural fit, because publishing really is murder. Passions run high, rejection is rampant, and some people just can’t handle it. The incident that opens A DANGEROUS FICTION shows a literary agent, Jo Donovan, being stalked by an aggrieved writer. That’s a scenario that can happen and has happened in real life.

I also think the novel provides a useful portrayal of publishing from the inside, which is very different from the way it looks on the outside. I was a literary agent myself for many years, so I know that world from many angles, and I enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in it again. It’s a fun world to write about, because the characters need to be sharp, witty people who love to talk and do it well.

Q: Your heroine is a woman of a certain age, not an ingenue. Is the market ripe for protagonists who are past their 20's and have some life experience?
A: That may very well be true, since you are certainly describing the largest reader demographic for fiction. But Jo’s age, 35, was determined by the needs of the story. I wanted a heroine who was young for her position, but old enough to have been married ten years and widowed three.

Q: The ending of A Dangerous Fiction left the door open for further developments. What's next for Jo? 
 A: I’m not close to finished with Jo Donovan yet. She has a lot of secrets, not all of which were revealed in the first book. I’m discovering more of them now in the sequel, in which Jo’s friend and client Gordon Hayes gets into terrible trouble when one of his trained attack dogs kills a man. A lot of my favorite characters from A DANGEROUS FICTION return in the sequel, and Jo has an intense new relationship, so it’s a continuation of her story as well as a brand-new mystery.

Want more info? From the publisher:

In A DANGEROUS FICTION (Penguin Books; $15.00; ISBN: 978-0-143-12565-5; on sale July 29, 2014), Barbara Rogan delivers a nail-biting and deeply entertaining mystery—set in the heart of the New York City publishing world. Thirty-five-year-old Jo Donovan always manages to come out on top. Originally from the backwoods of Appalachia, she worked hard to achieve her dream of living amongst the literati of Manhattan as the wife of renowned author (and notorious playboy) Hugo Donovan. Upon Hugo’s untimely death, Jo becomes the owner of one of the most prestigious literary agencies in town, wheeling and dealing with charm, a biting wit, and a backbone of steel.

When a would-be client turns stalker, accosting Jo on the street one evening during a torrential rainstorm, she initially writes it off as just another occupational hazard. Since he was wearing a trench coat and fedora, Jo nicknames him “Sam Spade.” But when her agency is sabotaged and her authors fall prey to sadistic attacks, Jo senses something far more sinister is at work.

As her web of suspicion grows wider her circle of friends draws nearer; yet all signs point to an inside job. Then harassment escalates to murder and Jo turns to the authorities, supported by her client and friend, Max Messinger, a former FBI profiler turned bestselling thriller writer. At the police station she finds herself face-to-face with a handsome old flame—who is now an NYPD detective. He may still carry a torch for Jo…or a grudge. With little evidence to work with, everyone is a suspect, even Jo herself.

A DANGEROUS FICTION is a white-knuckle thriller, but it’s also a remarkable insider’s view of the book publishing world. Fast-paced, urgently suspenseful, and sparkling with wicked wit, Barbara Rogan’s superb storytelling will keep readers on their toes until the very last page.

About the Author:

Barbara Rogan is a former literary agent and the author of eight novels and coauthor of two
nonfiction books. Her fiction has been translated into six languages. She has taught fiction writing at Hofstra University and currently teaches for Writers Digest University and in her own online school, Next Level Workshops. She lives on Long Island and blogs at www.barbararogan.com/blog. Visit her atwwww.barbararogan.com and www.nextlevelworkshop.com.

A DANGEROUS FICTIONBy Barbara RoganPenguin Books; $15.00; ISBN: 978-0-143-12565-5On-Sale: July 29, 2014

www.us.penguingroup.com or http://www.barbararogan.com/


Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Schedule for Loncon3--World Science Fiction Convention in London

I have my final schedule for Loncon3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, UK. You can read my con bio here, and I'm looking forward to jetting across the pond and seeing old friends, as well as meeting new ones. There's a nifty app to help you schedule your time at Loncon, and you can download it in iPhone or Android formats. 

Where there's an (M) next to my name, I'm the moderator for that item.  I'll also be doing a reading from either The Pirate's Secret Baby or the WIP [Mattie's Book]. Don't forget, The Pirate's Secret Baby, along with all my previous novels, can be purchased from Amazon Kindle UK, as well as at NOOK, Kobo and other ebook dealers. Paper editions are available in the US.

I'll be out and about at the con as a fan as well as a programme participant. If you see me, please come up to me and say "Hi!" Worldcon is no place to be shy, we're there to see friends and fans!

Teen Romance

Friday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

Romance is in the air! Authors discuss the trend of weaving romantic entanglements into young adult literature. From true love to pining for that special someone, authors tackle the thorny subject of love, sex, and the supernatural--not to mention the fateful first kiss. What is it about a supernatural love interest that leaves mere mortals a distant second? Is there a discernible difference in how teen romance is handled between SF/F and its peer genres? And how far is too far when writing teen romance?

Mary Anne Mohanraj (M), Amie Kaufman, Mary Turzillo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Darlene Marshall

Sex in SF&F: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Saturday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Genre fiction's relationship to sex can best be described as 'It's Complicated'. While a sub-genre such as paranormal romance is sometimes belittled for its libido, other fields play it overly coy or, worse still, deal with sex almost entirely within the context of sexual(ised) violence; moreover, space given to non-heteronormative sexualities is small and may even been dissipating. What has occasioned such divergent approaches? How can portrayals of sex in general be used to communicate more complex and positive ideas and responses? Whatever happened to fumbling foreplay, the intimacy of commitment, and the post-coital chat?

Darlene Marshall (M), Tiffani Angus, Terry Jackman, Stephanie Osborn, Jennifer Stevenson

Coming of Age in Game of Thrones

Saturday 18:00 - 19:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)

In a world were life and death hang in the balance for every character no matter how despised or loved, it is the children who pay the heaviest price. Their parents' plots and intrigues sit squarely upon the shoulders of the Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen children, snatching their childhoods away and forcing them to wield their own power to survive the game of thrones. But have the adults underestimated their children's value as players? Who will survive? Who will gain power? Will they have a chance to be children again? And who will be the biggest surprise? At what point do these children, despite their tender ages, take on the mantels of their parents and become adults themselves? Panelists will examine issues surrounding childhood and coming of age during a time of conflict where familial normalcy is gone and the rules of their world are in the process of being rewritten. *Spoiler Alert: Discussion will include all previously published books within the series.*

Darlene Marshall (M), Liz de Jager, John Hornor Jacobs, Django Wexler

Reading: Darlene Marshall

Sunday 14:30 - 15:00, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

Darlene Marshall(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

When Genres Collide: Does SF&F have its own form?

Monday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Science fiction and fantasy often borrows structures and forms from other genres like noir, western, romance, etc. What are the structures and forms that are native to science fiction and fantasy? Are these storytelling conventions that can be exported to mainstream fiction? What is it about science fiction and fantasy that makes it so flexible for folding in other genres?

Duncan Lawie (M), Peter Higgins, Darlene Marshall, Nick Harkaway

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review--Jaded

Jaded (Walkers Ford, #2)Jaded by Anne Calhoun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought I would like this novel, but I didn't think I would love it.

I loved it.

Jaded is set in a small town in the upper Midwest, and while I enjoyed the story about the quiet librarian and the hot police chief (even they acknowledge this is a cliche), what really made me love it was the library. It's no secret that I'm on my local public library foundation, that I've been involved in library renovations, and that I believe 100% that public libraries are needed in the 21st century as community centers, places where people of all ages and all backgrounds come together for a vast array of services.

I'm also a tutor in a literacy program, and I know how much it means to invest your time in a child from a home without access to books, bedtime stories and college dreams. While I can't guarantee a happy ending in life like I can in my books, it gave me a great deal of pleasure to read about the characters in Jaded earning their HEA.


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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review--Valour and Vanity

Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories, #4)Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story has it all! Pirates, nuns, puppeteers, romance of the married variety, intrigue, Lord Byron, and a caper straight out of The Sting.

Valour and Vanity is an excellent continuation of the story of Vincent and Jane, married English glamourists, working now on advancing their craft among glassmakers in Italy. The trouble begins when they're set upon by pirates and Vincent is injured, and it only gets worse from there. Robinette Kowal is skilled at maintaining the interest and tension in a couple after the initial courtship phrase reaches its conclusion. She shows that happily ever after is only for fairy tales, and true romance requires work and effort. The setting may be a fantasy Regency Europe, but the characters seem very real, as are their problems.

Sure to be enjoyed by fans of the series, and a treat for readers new to the Glamourist Histories (though I'd recommend any reader start with book 1 to get the full experience).


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Thursday, July 17, 2014

While I was away...

I've been mostly absent this week because my son came home for a few days. Having the adult offspring return to the nest doesn't happen often, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to spend time with him.

I'm also getting ready for Loncon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention in London in August. More on this as my schedule is finalized.

In the meantime, just read among yourselves. There are plenty of good books out there, including some piratecentric romances that will go well with your summer suntan lotion and beach lounging. Don't take my word for it! Check out the reviews at Amazon and Goodreads.




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review--Vixen in Velvet

Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers, #3)Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Best Loretta Chase novel I've read in ages, and that's saying something because she's _always_ good. I loved this book, the characters, the fabric porn, all of it. Every time I think of the line "I was busy!" it makes me smile.

Chase fans will love it, others new to her writing should check it out.


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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review--A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil WarA World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent history of a little known aspect of the US Civil War, the role played by Britain. Their cotton mills depended on shipments from the south, but the anti-slavery sentiment was strong and had powerful backers. Brits fought on both sides of the American conflict, and this is a valuable book for anyone writing novels with an Anglo-American setting during the 19th c.


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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Review--Sniper's Honor

Sniper's Honor (Bob Lee Swagger, #9)Sniper's Honor by Stephen Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was once in a conversation that went, "If Jack Reacher and John Rain were in a fight, who would you bet on?"

"I'd bet on Bob Lee Swagger to take them both out at a distance," I said.

Bob Lee is the man. That is all. If you haven't read the books, start with Point of Impact and take it from there.


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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Review--Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you're a science fiction fan, sometimes, if you're fortunate, you come across a novel that reminds you of the "sense of wonder" that first attracted you to SF, the worldbuilding and characterization that was different, and strange, and made you think.

Ancillary Justice gave me that "sense of wonder". Breq is a warrior, a soldier who once upon a time was a space ship and many bodied "ancillaries", animate, once human tools used by the spaceship to carry out tasks.

Now Breq is alone, and wants revenge and justice. Her (all the characters are female pronoun, including the men) quest brings her together with a drug addict she knew a thousand years ago--literally--and as Breq tries to dry her out, for whatever purpose, the question is raised: What does it mean to be human?

While the first third may confuse some readers, that's intentional and unavoidable, and the last two thirds pick up steam and carry you along to a fascinating conclusion, and the seeds of novel #2.


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Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!



“It is brave of you to uproot yourself and come to a new land, Mrs.
Stephenson,” Roberts said.
“My goodness.” Amanda looked at the captain and thought about it
for a moment. “I never considered myself a brave person, Captain
Roberts. I am excited about seeing a new country. And America is
wonderful, a land of freedom and great opportunities! Mr. Freneau’s
poetry says it so well! ‘Honor to those who first designed, this chain of
States to bless mankind.’”

The Fourth of July is just a date on the calendar in other countries, but in the United States of America it's Independence Day, a day celebrated with fireworks, music, patriotic speeches and, if you're in this part of the country, plenty of cool, refreshing watermelon (usually followed by a seed-spitting contest).

Do like Amanda Stephenson does in Captain Sinister's Lady, embrace the concepts that made our country great, while always working vigilantly to make out country even better.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Review--Skin Game

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)Skin Game by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm always impressed with an author who can bring his A game to a series after 15 books, but Butcher continues to satisfy with The Dresden Files.

Harry's still the Winter Knight, serving Queen Mab, and when she gives him a near possible assignment he has no choice but to follow orders, despite being teamed up with some extremely dangerous and evil associates.

The references to comic books, film, TV, and popular culture fly fast and furious in the snappy dialogue, and many of Harry's old friends and foes show up for the action.

The only issue I had was one that probably doesn't bother 95% of the readers,the theology of Harry's universe. If certain religious artifacts can only be wielded by people who believe in faith and free will, like Murphy, what happens if a good person is an atheist, or comes from a religious tradition that doesn't believe in faith and/or free will?

It is a puzzlement.

Be that as it may, the series is outstanding and should be on the must-read list of every urban fantasy enthusiast.


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Happy Canada Day!

“England’s a big place all right, but not as big as it would like to be.
Couple a years back they was all fired up over there ’bout Canada
rebellin’ and the U.S. givin’ them an assist. There was English ships
burned on the border lakes, and it looked like war all over again.”
....“But the threat of war with England is past! Why, even I know that
Sir Robert Peel has been working to maintain more cordial relations
between the two nations!”
“Well, now, if that’s so, darlin’,” said Washburn softly, “then why
is some English lord and ship owner bringin’ in counterfeit banknotes,
which are sure as hell goin’ to stir up a hornet’s nest of trouble if he’s
caught?”
She didn’t know the answer to that, but she knew there were some
hard-line politicians in England who still saw the United States, or parts
of it, as territory to be regained. Sir Edmund Whitehead was one of the
most vocal in this camp, insisting that a strong Canada and a British
presence on the American continent would help check the growth of a
potential economic and military rival.
--Smuggler's Bride

To all my friends and readers north of the border, enjoy your day, relax with a good book, and I hope that you're over all that War of 1812 invasion silliness (and the subsequent issues later in the 19th C.). Really, I don't know what we were thinking!