Saturday, May 29, 2010

Five Reasons to Read Gini Koch's "Touched By an Alien"

Thanks to another win from a generous Galaxy Express promo giveaway, I got to read Gini Koch's Touched By an Alien. TBaA is full of action, humor, and hot aliens. And nasty aliens too. Care to guess which one our heroine, Katherine Katt, touches? If you answer "both" you're right, though she doesn't touch them for the same reasons : )

But I digress.

Five Reasons to Read TBaA:

1) A smart, funny, take-action heroine. When we first meet Kitty Katt (Yeah, yeah. I know. But Koch does a good job making you forget there are an abundance of "Kitty"s in SFR and UF these days.) she is standing on a street corner when some dude turns into a monster and starts killing people. Kitty doesn't run, which sort of surprises her. Instead, she attacks the monster. With her pen. At first, you think this woman is insane, but you come to see Kitty as someone who doesn't run from a fight. Her sense of humor is right up my alley, too. Snark and sarcasm? Oh yeah. But never in a cutting way. Well, mostly : )

2) Hot alien hero. Actually, all the good guy aliens are hot, males and females alike. But one is the obvious hero here. Jeff Martini is gorgeous (of course) and funny, a man on a mission who also knows how to bring out the best in people. He "gets" Kitty from their first meeting and tells her and her parents (more about them later) that he's going to marry her. She takes it as a player's line, but finds herself falling for him. Who wouldn't?

3) Nasty aliens. I won't go into an explanation here because the story about them, what they are doing on Earth, and why they need to be stopped, is better told by Koch : ) Suffice it to say, these baddies are at the head of the class when it comes to making your skin crawl.

4) The worldbuilding in this story is top notch. The combination of the familiar world to give the reader a solid base and the otherworldliness of the aliens is deftly explained and seamlessly carried throughout the book. Once I accepted the idea of Koch's world (aliens among us) never did I think "Oh, that couldn't happen." Within the context of the story, all the fantastic elements worked well.

5) Kitty's parents. Angela and Sol Katt play important roles in TBaA. They aren't just there to give Kitty a hard time about her choice of men, wistfully long for grandchildren, or become pawns in the villains plans. Oh no no no. Who they are and what they do is integral not only to Kitty's character, but to the story. I love both of them, especially Angela who has a few surprises for her daughter : )

One of the things that I was asked to address about TBaA was the first person POV. I have no problem with first person, and often write in it. Does it limit the reader's access to information and emotion? Maybe, and I think Koch is a tad guilty of having Kitty figure out complex issues involving the aliens faster than most of us would. But she is the heroine : ) First person is effective by giving you a more visceral connection to the POV character. Plus, by only seeing one side of events, when critical information is revealed we can see if the MC (and therefore we the reader) was right in how they perceived things. First person isn't for every reader or for every story, but it works well here.

Overall, Touched By an Alien is a well-paced, fun read. Go out and get it. The sequel, Alien Tango, comes out in December. I know what's going on my Christmas list.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Girding the Summer Loins

Tomorrow is the last day of school. The last day to appreciate the mid afternoon quiet of my house. The last day to sit at the computer and pound out thousands--okay, hundreds...tens?--of uninterrupted words. As much as I love not having to get up and get kids off to school, or get ready for work myself, this free-for-all time of year challenges my self discipline and my organizational skills.

I want to stick to a writing regiment and accomplish my one big goal: Get my SFR WIP done before July 11. Yes, specifically that date, because I will be gone for the month following it. I want to get the first draft done, out to my lovely crit partners, and also allow the story to marinate for that time, unseen and untouched. When I return in August, I will be looking at it with fresher eyes. Well, after I get over the jet lag they'll be fresher.

I can do this. My kids are old enough that I don't have to monitor their every move. When I was a kid, we left the house after breakfast, returned for lunch, maybe, went back out, came in for dinner, unless we called to say we were eating at a friend's, then wandered home when the streetlights came on. Daily adventures and evening exhaustion were normal parts of our summers. I may have my kids follow that plan more than a few times. Except for coming home when the streetlights go on. It doesn't get dark here until 11pm in the summer, a wee bit too late for the under 16 set.

Between that, camps, and trips, I should be able to keep them busy enough not to hear the dreaded "B" word: Bored. They know what it means if they utter it in my presence. The "C" word: Chores. Husband will be cutting wood for the coming winter, so there will be LOTS of stacking necessary.

That means, the only one I'll have to closely monitor is myself. I predict more than one mental kick in the butt in my future, but if I can work like a demon until July 11 and get to "The End," it will be worth it. And yes, dear reader, feel free to kick. Accountability to someone other than yourself is a wonderful source of inspiration. The muse does not like having a sore bottom.

What are your plans/goals for the summer?

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Agent Provocateur--Delayed Pimping, Part II

Here's another installment of a woefully late plug for a story won during a Galaxy Express give away/promo event months and months and months ago. Please don't hate me, Ms. Gray.

Nathalie Gray's Agent Provocateur (Red Sage, Sept. 2009) is a fast-paced novella set in 24th century, dystopian Montreal. There has been some kind of Gene War fifty years before, giving rise to much animosity between folks that have been genetically tweaked somewhere in their family line (Misborns) and those who have not (Integers).

The hero, Troy, is a former agent for the State who is serving a sentence in the aftermath of an undercover operation that resulted in the death of a lot of people. Basically, his agency set him up as the fall guy. He's told he can receive a full pardon if he captures the leader of the Misborns and brings him in. Mercury is to be his partner, but she has other things in mind for our hero. Troy and Mercury start off with rapid-fire banter and sexual attraction that escalates into, well, let's just say the erotic label is not misleading : ) Troy has no love for anything regarding his former employer. Except for the chance to stay out of prison. And maybe a certain blonde. Mercury is a kick-ass gal who takes no one's crap, and at the same time is vulnerable and unsure of her growing feelings for Troy.

Twenty-fourth century Montreal is dark and gritty. Your senses are completely engaged through the descriptions of the setting, and it should come as no surprise that the author is also an artist. With that amazing sense of place and time, you might expect info dumps to reveal the world she has created, but no. There is enough detail to set the scenes and keep a reader's interest without overdoing it. That is a fine balance few writers can claim. Well done, Ms. Gray.

I felt the idea of the relationship going beyond HFN was a little premature, but I could certainly see these two duking it out verbally and physically as they navigate the path to longer-term happiness. Though I'd suggest they keep the first aid kit handy.

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