Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: The Thorn of Dentonhill

So my friend Marshall's debut, The Thorn of Dentonhill, came out last week. I pre-ordered it, but I had no idea what to expect since I'd never read any of his writing.

It's a really fun book, guys. And I'm not just saying that because he's my friend and I'm supposed to be nice. I absolutely enjoyed this story.

Here's what it's about:

So there's this mage named Veranix Calbert (I know, crazy name, but don't let that dissuade you!) who spends his nights trying to bring down the crime boss who killed his father.

One of his nightly excursions pays off, and he comes across the time and place for a "delivery" that he assumes is a drug shipment. Only when he goes to bust the delivery, he finds that the goods are a lot more magical in nature. Now he has an enchanted rope and cloak to help him in his quest. Awesome!

Of course he also has one ticked off crime boss on his trail who is making life difficult for the local street gangs as he assumes they can lead him to this "thorn in his side." And that's a bit of a problem, because Veranix's cousin, a gang captain, is half tempted to give him up just to stop the man from harassing his crew.

Tension! Dun dun dun.

As it turns out, the amount of tension in this book is just right. I was hooked from the first scene, and at the end of every chapter I was always eager to start the next one. Some days that's all I'm really looking for in a book.

But this one has a lot more to offer. It's got adventure! excitement! heroic deeds! The magic is interesting and worked smoothly within the plot. The fight scenes were choreographed well. I'm a big fan of action stories, and this one delivered.

Marshall does a really good job of writing atypical good guys. A street gang isn't usually the place you'd look for goodness and heroism, but his characters are convincing in their roles as heroes and are even a little bit charming. As for the main character, Veranix is fun to follow. He's got his heart in the right place, and he's easy to root for. I grinned with every victory and cringed at every defeat. (And there were plenty of each.)

One of the ways the book really shines is in its world-building. If you're ever curious about ways to come up with a believable world, check out Marshall's blog. He has a lot to say about getting the details right, and it's clear from this book that he knows what he's talking about. There were some excellent tidbits sprinkled throughout the book that really added flavor to the story. While the entire book takes place between two sectors of a single city, you come away from the story feeling like you have a sense of the whole world.

My one complaint was the lack of female characters. There is one female lead who is a great character and whose friendship with Veranix is a highlight of the book. Unfortunately, all other male characters besides Veranix treat her as a sex object. And this isn't an isolated occurrence: most of the women mentioned in the book are either prostitutes or are assessed based on their desirability.

Given Veranix's behavior and attitudes, I think Marshall may have been trying to create a forward-thinking main character living in a sexist place and time. However, despite the decency of the hero, I still found the sexism to be a negative mark on an otherwise very positive and fun story.

Nevertheless, it wasn't so rampant that it spoiled the book for me. I had a wonderful time reading it, and I think anyone who enjoys a good adventure story would say the same.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Another Little Monster on the Way

The news is now Facebook official, so I'm ready to announce that my husband and I are expecting Baby #2 in August!

We're really happy with the timing as the kids will be about two years apart and able to grow up together. Of course that also means I'm going to be doing all those baby things again, but now with a two-year-old in tow. But hey, people do this all the time right? Deep breaths...

So last pregnancy I spent about half my time glued to the Alpha Mom Pregnancy Calendar. This time around I'm too preoccupied to worry much about how big the Little Monster is or whether it has all its toes yet.

But one thing I remember really enjoying about the Alpha Mom Calendar was the "oh yeah, this" and "new this time around" sections. So here are my equivalents:

Oh Yeah, This

The weird dreams. Every night is a new adventure! Also, the crazy hormones. We watched Cars for the first time with the boy while we were all sick, and I almost started crying at the end when Lightning helps out the old car. I was frantically trying to GET A GRIP before my husband noticed and laughed at me.

Fortunately the dreams and hormones have not conspired against me to make me cry in my sleep. (Do your dreams ever make you cry? Mine do sometimes. But not the ones you'd expect, where people die or awful things happen. Those just wake me up cold and shaking. No, I only cry in dreams when someone is mad at me...)

And then there's the complete exhaustion striking at inconvenient times. Especially mid-afternoon on a sunny day when the boy's asleep and I'm in the middle of reading my research books and I hit one of the more soporific sections... zzzzzzzzzzz.

New This Time Around

The nausea. Oh, the nausea. I mean, I had it last time, but it was not like this. ("Morning sickness" is a completely inaccurate term, by the way. Morning is about the only time I feel fine.) I had to resort to taking nausea pills. But only the absolute lowest dose I could stand, because wow are they expensive! I'm even wearing sea bands just trying to take the edge off. Remember when I said I was eating ice cream every day? Yeah, that's because at the end of the day the only thing that makes me feel better is my little cup of heaven.

And then there's illness on top of that. See, I've been sick while pregnant. Went through two bad colds the first time around. And I've been sick with a toddler before. But only now have I finally experienced being sick with a toddler while pregnant. Anybody who can come up with a pregnancy-safe decongestant in the next couple weeks will have my eternal gratitude, because given the rate of illness in our house over the past few months, I'm sure we'll be in for another cold very soon.


And that's that. Despite the nausea and exhaustion and inability to take real medicine I'm actually quite happy. I'm looking forward to being a "mom of two." It'll be nice to have a little person who can't run away when I snuggle them again. In the meantime, I'm just glad that this trimester is almost done.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Year, Time for Reminders

Hello! If you are here, that means one of four things:

1) You are a friend/follower and clicked the link.

2) You came here through a random search.

3) You arrived here by magic.

4) You've always been here. You're trapped in the blog. You can't escape.


If 1), then this post is mostly for you. Keep reading and I'll get to the point in a moment.

If 2), welcome! If you have no idea who I am, my name is Audrey Lockwood, I'm represented by Marlene Stringer, and I write young adult fantasy. Interested? Poke around a bit, and if you like what you see here, connect with me through one of the sites below.

If 3), please can you teach me some magic, please please pretty please!

If 4), my apologies. The prison blog wardens revolted and have been taking hostages. We're very sorry you got caught up in it all, and we're doing everything we can to fix the problem. In the meantime, why don't you go hang out at this post. It's one of the more entertaining ones.


So! To the point.

In addition to writing books, I do things online. Here are some of the main sites I upkeep:

This blog. Add me to your RSS reader of choice if you would like to keep up with all my posts.

Twitter: @write_lock - This is where I chat books and writing. Facebook friends--I usually post to Twitter most weekdays, so if you want more chatter from me, this is the place to be.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lockwood.audrey - This is my personal page. Twitter followers--want more silliness and photos? Friend me!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4833279-audrey - Want to stalk what I'm reading? Find me here.


There will hopefully be more connection opportunities coming this year. In the meantime, I look forward to connecting to new people on my current sites.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ObliviousGirl Strikes Again!

ObliviousGirl. That was one of my family's nicknames for me growing up. Every time I put a tub full of butter in the sink instead of the fridge or went up and down the toiletries aisle of the store looking for toothpaste and never seeing it right in front of my face the same phrase would ring out:

"ObliviousGirl strikes again!"

I simply don't notice things. The other day I put an empty roll of toilet paper next to my bathroom sink to remind me that I needed to pick up more. Several days later I realized I had been going through my morning and evening routine without even noticing the empty roll was there. Like everything else that isn't of immediate importance, it faded to the background.

I can look at a room in my house and not be able to tell if it's dirty or clean, even if I'm trying, because my brain automatically glosses over all the details.

That's me--ObliviousGirl.

Sometimes, though, I manage to notice things that apply to my son. I notice when he's been quiet for a second too long--the telltale second that informs me he's getting into something. I notice when he's got his little fist wrapped around something that he probably shouldn't have.

But other times I don't notice. Like this morning. He was playing in the kitchen where I was making breakfast, drawing with a pen on a little piece of paper we've given him. I let my ears tune out, and I didn't notice the scratch, scratch, scratch that would have told me he had taken to drawing on the chair instead.

ObliviousGirl struck again.

[One day he's going to be just like me. Sometimes he'll get this far-off look on his face, and I know where's he gone, because I go there too all the time. One day we'll be saying, "ObliviousBoy strikes again!"]

Often it's inconvenient being so absent from the details of the world. I hated learning to drive. Details are rather important when one gets behind the wheel of a car. Details like, for example, the red lights of the car ahead signalling it's about to slow down. I had to teach my brain that some details can't be tuned out, no matter how much it protested.

But then, if I weren't so oblivious, I don't think I'd ever have become a writer. If my brain wasn't so good at ignoring the world, it would never have space for imagination. I live right on the edge between the Land of Reality and the Sea of Dreams, and sometimes I wade out a little too far and begin to lose touch with the shore. The very best stories are deeper in the waves, after all.

So I'll keep my obliviousness. But if I leave your butter in the sink, please pardon me--I really don't do it on purpose.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Years Reso--Who Cares? Let's Eat Ice Cream

[Insert comment about resolutions rarely ever amounting to anything.]

[Insert comment about doing them anyway.]

Now that we've got all that out of the way...

Happy New Year!

This year I resolve to eat ice cream every day of the year.

Oh wait. Oops. I've already failed that one. But only by, like, a day. And only because I'd already brushed my teeth that night and didn't want to brush them again.

So I suppose I need a new resolution. Maybe I should resolve to dye my hair or paint the bathroom. Except that would mean actually doing something, and it's much easier to keep a resolution that one is already accomplishing quite handily.

Very well, then. Instead I will resolve not to use the word "edgy" in any sense other than to mean a) "nervous" or b) "sharp-edged."

This is mostly (fine, entirely) because "edgy" was my least favorite word of 2014. Everyone kept talking about wanting "edgy" books with "edgy" characters... which as far as I could tell meant either "dark" or "sardonic."

And why exactly can't rainbows and butterflies be edgy? I mean, aside from the obvious fact that they have no sharp edges at all...

Well, even if I don't have any good resolutions for this year, I do have some solid goals. I'm going to start a new book. I'll attend a conference (or two). And I'll hopefully be launching some new side projects if all goes well.

Anyone else have any goals or not-so-serious resolutions for the year?