Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review--A Talent For Trickery (The Thief-takers, #1)

A Talent for Trickery (The Thief-takers, #1)A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable, new-to-me author. I liked the characters and will definitely buy more in this series about a family trying to overcome their larcenous past. The intricacy of the plotting kept me turning pages, and the secondary characters brought the story to life.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Why am I doing this again?

I left 73F Florida for 19F Boston. The skin on my face (the only exposed part of my anatomy) is whining, "Why do you hate me?" Ah well, it's worth slathering on the moisturizer to spend time with quality people at #Boskone, New England's premier science fiction and fantasy convention. 

It's sunny and tomorrow is supposed to get all the way up to 43F so it could be worse. If I can tough out July in North Central Florida, I can handle a few days of February in Boston at #Boskone53.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Off to Boskone!

I'm heading up to Boston, where the weather is supposed to be above freezing most of the weekend (thank heavens!) That picture was taken in front of our hotel in 2015. Not much could convince me to travel from Florida to Massachusetts in February, but #Boskone is worth it. It's the longest running science fiction and fantasy convention in New England, a weekend filled with books, film, art, music, gaming and bid parties. You can go to  to register, and follow the news at their Twitter feed or Facebook page. I'm confident if we get snowed in, again, there will be enough party supplies that we won't have to draw lots to see who goes in the cook-pot. Actually, the Westin Waterfront has done an excellent job in past years coping with the occasional blizzard and a hotel full of science fiction fans. Kudos to them, and thank you for keeping the bar and restaurants well stocked.

Here's my schedule. The (M) means I'm moderating that panel, and I look forward to seeing you at Boskone53:

Outlander: Something for Everyone

Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Harbor II (Westin)
If your heart's in the Scottish Highlands, come discuss Diana Gabaldon's Outlander in this, its 25th year. This series of novels and shorter works features elements of historical fiction, romance, mystery, adventure, and science fiction/fantasy. It has spawned a Starz TV series, a graphic novel, and a 14-part song cycle. If you loved the books, how do you think the series is faring? Maybe your introduction to Outlander was through the TV series. How do these two perspectives differ?

Heather Albano (M), C.S.E. Cooney, Flourish Klink, Darlene Marshall, Gillian Daniels

Dating 101 in Urban Fantasy

Saturday 11:00 - 11:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Magic is in the air! Dating comes with its own unique sets of rules when finding love within urban fantasy novels. You never know what secrets your special someone is hiding — or what's really so "special" about her. Our panelists share their best advice for how characters can find true love while fighting against the imminent destruction of everyone and everything they hold dear.
Darlene Marshall (M), Max Gladstone, E.J. Stevens, Charles Stross, Lauren Roy

Young Love and First Kiss Fiction

Saturday 12:00 - 12:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Much of young adult fiction deals with those early romantic impulses: First kisses. Jealousy. Romantic triangles. These are things we all ultimately have to navigate on our own, but reading about them gives us a safe place to imagine how things might happen, as well as how situations might unfold. Panelists discuss the pitfalls of young love, and why it is so compelling for boys and girls as well as for men and women readers. What does YA romance have to offer that we aren't getting on the adult shelves?
Django Wexler (M), Esther Friesner, James Patrick Kelly, Darlene Marshall, Michael Stearns

Romance Across Space and Time

Saturday 15:00 - 15:50, Marina 2 (Westin)
Romance shows up in the unlikeliest places: from prehistory to the far-flung future; from pole to pole; from fantasy and science fiction to horror. Must it be a guilty pleasure? Or should we proudly proclaim the heart of the matter: wherever they may find it, all the world loves a love story!
Darlene Marshall (M), D L Carter, Mary Kay Kare, Steve Miller, E.J. Stevens

It's a Pirate's Life for Me!

Saturday 16:00 - 16:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Hoist up the Jolly Roger, mates, and bend your ear to a lively discussion of the men and women who rule the sea. From Captain Hook to Blackbeard, Jack Sparrow, and the Dread Pirate Roberts, pirates have a long history in speculative fiction. Join our participants for lighthearted discussion about these literally scurvy scourges. Panelists and audience members are encouraged to bring their eye patches, hats, and garb, and of course to talk pirate to us.
Edie Stern (M), Leigh Perry, James D. Macdonald, Darlene Marshall

Dealing With Rejection

Sunday 10:00 - 10:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
Getting rejected is difficult. It can be hard to find the motivation to go on when you feel like you’re not gaining any headway. Our panelists share their own experiences with rejection, what kept them going, what hard truths they faced, and what changes they made to keep working.
James Patrick Kelly (M), Barry Goldblatt, Bob Kuhn, Kenneth Schneyer, Darlene Marshall

Reading: Darlene Marshall

Sunday 14:00 - 14:25, Griffin (Westin)

Darlene Marshall (

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day!

I did post a few items yesterday in honor of the day, but I didn't post any snippets about true love from my own novels. Here's one of my favorite romantic sentiments: 

"And if they didn’t live happily ever after for every single day of the rest of their lives, it must be acknowledged that at least she never shot him while he was sleeping."
 --The Bride and the Buccaneer
(winner, FCRW Beacon Award)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review--Black Wolves (Black Wolves, #1)

Black Wolves (Black Wolves, #1)Black Wolves by Kate Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent tale of cunning, court intrigue, warriors and love, using an "Asian" rather than "European" setting. Many lives are interwoven as disgraced Captain Kellas of the king's own Black Wolves begins to explore a mystery over 20 years in the making.

I loved the characters, especially the elderly women and men who demonstrated once again that age, patience and cunning will beat youth and dexterity. It was enjoyable at a very personal level.

What wasn't enjoyable at a personal level, and what kept me from giving it five stars, was the use of anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes in the portrayal of the Ri Amarah. I believe it was the intention of the author to show what can happen to an outcast people who worship and live differently than the majority population, but the focus on their lust for wealth and talent at trade, their lives in walled enclaves in the cities (ghettos), their being under the king's protection so they can loan him money, the belief that men hide horns under their head coverings, insistence on endogamous marriage, a protagonist named Sarai--all of it yanked me out of the story.

However, I do want to read the next novel to find out what happens, and I cannot fault the author's outstanding skills at world-building and story telling.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

More news from Florida--you can't make this stuff up.

"Assume everyone you meet is armed and itching for a fight. If you see an orange seller on the street in St. Augustine, she’s likely carrying a springback blade in her sleeve. Watch their hands! A shotgun’s easy to spot, but a bowie knife inside a pants leg could be a fatal surprise.”
“It sounds like a lawless place.”
“You have no idea.


In addition to the shotguns and springback blades, watch out for the other Florida WMDs: FLORIDA MAN HURLS GATOR THROUGH DRIVE-THROUGH WINDOW.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Finding Your Writing Niche

I enjoyed the monthly Writers Alliance of Gainesville meeting where the guest speaker, UF professor and author Dr. Kevin McCarthy, encouraged us to find our niche. I was leaning toward my next project being an American privateer/War of 1812 tale, and I'm going to delve further into this. In the meantime, I'm still editing What the Parrot Saw. As usual, it's a roller-coaster of moments ranging from "Ouch, I can't believe I wrote that!" to "Hmmm....not bad."

More on this as it develops. Also, my books are still available through Amber Quill Press until the end of March, at which time they'll be closing their doors forever. If you're interested in all the stories leading up to What the Parrot Saw, I encourage you to fill your ereader and bookshelves now.