Review: ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times by Andrew MacLean

ApocalyptiGirlA post-apocalyptic story starring a strong female character and her adorable pet cat? This should have been right up my alley. But despite the art being streamlined and stunning, the story never quite grabbed me.

Though the internal narration conceit was very cool, it seems the author erred on the side of “less is more” when it came to world-building. Unfortunately, that “less” led to a world that didn’t make much sense. I also did not figure out Aria’s place in it soon enough to care, and only finished the story because it was so short.  Continue reading

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Review: The Deep of the Sound (Bluewater Bay #8) by Amy Lane

Deep of the SoundI was thrilled to see that the next book in this series was by the same author (and featured the same characters) as my favorite story in the Valentine’s Day anthology, “Nascha.” In fact, that story takes place over the same time period as this novel, and it was fun to see what was going on in Cal’s life “for real” rather than from the unreliable narration perspective of his great-uncle.

The downside to this, of course, was that the short story essentially spoils the ending of the novel. Getting there was still an amazing journey, and obviously you know that you’re getting a “happily ever after” no matter what, but I’d have liked to be a bit more surprised regarding the details.  Continue reading

Con Report: Farpoint 2018

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Last weekend, I attended my first Farpoint convention! You could say that I got my start in speculative fiction as a Star Trek fan, so it was nice to get back to my roots, as it were.

FRIDAY

Since this is a “local” convention for me, I commuted from home rather than staying at the hotel. After working half a day in the morning, I headed north of Baltimore by mid-afternoon to get the lay of the land. My first panel was at 4 PM, which involved a fantastic discussion with other authors and readers about creating immersive worlds in speculative fiction (and writing in general). We discussed how to incorporate just enough detail (but not too much detail!) to allow a reader to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride in any genre.

My second panel was immediately after, where I switched gears into fan mode and discussed “All Things Winchester.” Supernatural is currently in season 13, and not everyone was caught up, so we kept it general in our discussion of how the show is successful thematically, various character issues, favorite episodes, and theories regarding the upcoming spin-off, Wayward Sisters.

I didn’t have any of my usual writing tribe at this convention, so I steeled myself and asked if I could join one of my fellow Supernatural panelists, cosplayer Jessica Crouse, if I could join her group for dinner. I’m so glad that I did, because I made some amazing new friends over the course of the weekend through that one act of courage! We had a great dinner and evening of hanging out, then it was back to the hotel for the evening book fair.  Continue reading

Review: Lights, Camera, Cupid! (Bluewater Bay #6)

Lights Camera Cupid“Just Another Day” by L.A. Witt: I loved this quick check-in with our first Bluewater Bay couple, actors Carter and Levi. Levi is his usual cantankerous and loveable self, Carter is still too perfect for words, and I’d be jealous of those cats if I didn’t own three ridiculous Siamese of my own. Also, those guys have to stop breaking social media in the best ways possible. 4 stars

“Nascha” by Amy Lane: I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed AND cried this much during a short story before. Continue reading

Review: Intraterrestrial by Nicholas Conley

IntraterrestrialDisclaimer: I received a free electronic version of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.


This is one of those speculative fiction books whose actually genre is hard to pin down. Though the medical issues lend a realistic air to the story, the adventure Adam embarks on feels more like science-fantasy than traditional science-fiction. At times, I even considered whether I’d misinterpreted the back cover description and that I was actually enjoying magical realism instead. But when one of the major story point of views is an unreliable narrator due to his traumatic brain injury (TBI), you’re forced to sit back and enjoy the epic ride rather than analyzing the story’s structural supports.  Continue reading

Farpoint 2018 Schedule

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This weekend, I’m excited to make my debut appearance at Farpoint 2018 in Hunt Valley, Maryland!

Here’s my schedule:

Friday

  • 4 PM: Creating Immersive Worlds
  • 5 PM: All Things Winchester
  • 10 PM: Book Fair

Saturday

Sunday

  • 10 AM: Superhero Film Overload?
  • 11 AM: Book signing
  • 12 PM: Balancing Writing with Business
  • 1 PM: Reading from…I’m not sure yet!

Will I see you there this weekend? If you come to my reading on Sunday, will you perhaps be one of the first hear an excerpt from book 4, Steel Time?

January Wrap-Up & February Goals

SS 1st draft word countWow, is the first month of 2018 done already? Seems like it flew by in a whirlwind of writing and reading and LEGO. Oh wait — because that’s basically all I did this month.

January Wrap-Up

  • First of all, the good news: The first draft of Steel Empires #5: Steel Shadows is DONE! Final word count clocked in at 85,836 words. You have no idea how happy I am that I don’t have to stress about cutting 15k+ words like last year.
  • While letting that first draft simmer a bit, I also finished major edits for book 4, Steel Time, and sent them back to my publisher. In addition, I wrote up my acknowledgements and the back cover text, and the book is on its way to layout!
  • Now it’s back to revising Steel Shadows, which I’m about 1/4 done with. I’m enjoying it, so that’s a good sign, right?
  • In the midst of all that, I also beta read a novel for a grad school friend. IT WAS SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. When it’s a bestseller, I’ll totally get to say that I got to read it first.

January Book Reviews

January Speculative Chic Contributions

February Goals

  1. Finish revisions on Steel Shadows and get it out to my beta readers!
  2. Note to self: Find beta readers…
  3. I’ve added another convention to my list! The weekend of Feb. 9-11 I’ll be attending Farpoint in Hunt Valley, MD (just north of Baltimore).
  4. And at some point, I need to start thinking about the presentation I’m giving in March for the Uniontown Public Library’s 2018 Author Series. I’ll be discussing how alternate history can be used to create amazing stories!

How’s 2018 working out for all of you? Have you accomplished any of your New Year’s resolutions? I did mine! (See my Speculative Chic post about reading A Wrinkle in Time.)

Now, time to get back to work on Steel Shadows. I have my biggest LEGO set to date to build once it’s off to the beta readers!

fireplace cats

Hard at work on their own New Year’s resolutions.