At Authors After Dark 2012!

Greetings guys and gals... just a little hello from New Orleans, a place I've been looking forward to visiting almost my entire life. o.O

Why am I here? I'm attending the Authors After Dark Summer Camp event, a bookish event meant to gather readers, authors, and all manner of bookish people in a smaller, more intimate environment (sounds saucy, put that way ^_^) to hang out and share our love of the written word.

So far it's been lots of fun (and the official event only began last night!). It's been such a head trip to finally see people that I've followed and conversed with in various online venues. I can't wait to meet more people--though I am rediscovering just how much of a shy introvert I can be. (Bad Alisha--go play in the sandbox, already!) And New Orleans has already been such a trip. Beautiful and vibrant, the very air seems imbued with magic. Wonderful setting for Authors After Dark, I'd say.

I'll have more coverage on my time at AAD soon. Till then, have a lovely day!

Armchair BEA Day 5: Experts Say...



And so all good things must come to an end. 

Today is the last day of festivities for both Book Expo America 2012 and Armchair BEA (well, Saturday is going to bring a wrap-up feature at the ABEA Central website…bit still ^_^). Unsurprisingly, Armchair BEA has been an enlightening and enjoyable experience, with all sorts of personal stories shared and many new bits of information learned. The organizers did a wonderful job, and they deserve all possible thanks.

The last topic for ABEA centers around the future of book blogging, both at the macro- and micro level. In other words, what will keep book blogging lively and fun for us all? What kinds of things can we do as individuals to improve our own personal piece of cyberspace as well as the whole of the book blogging community? The link-up page has a wealth of responses to those thoughts, going into the nitty-gritty detail about book blogging.

So I'll leave the details to others. ^_^

At its core, everything done on a book blog has to come from the love for reading, the love for books. Sure, for some there is a legitimate need to focus on the business or organizational side of having a book blog. But in the end, there's need to worry about having ARCs and the latest, biggest releases on hand. Notoriety in the community...far from paramount. Is your content book-related? Are you about sharing your excitement (or perhaps even lack thereof) about that which you read? I definitely believe in not forcing things...if you love what you do, hopefully others will, too. And there's no need to push out half-baked content "just because." In a way, that's something bloggers have in common with authors. Content is king, and passion is...queen? ^_^

Regarding plans for my own blog, I actually don't have aspirations of grandeur and fame. I like having a place where I can just share my thoughts when and how I wish, and have that reciprocated by other bookish folks. The tandem blog that I am a part of, Book Lovers Inc, is a much larger outfit, and I hope for as much widespread success for the Book Lovers as possible. It really is a place where contributors have different tastes in genre fiction (and come from different parts of the world), and thus share varied thoughts and opinions while maintaining a distinct sense of community (I know that I love those gals ta defff! ^_^). I'm confident BLI will have continued success because its team tries to keep fresh, informative, substantive content (absolutely key!) coming down the pipeline.

But on a larger scale, I forsee the book blogging community continuing to be a mainstay in the world of books and publishing. With the current shifts in how we consume our media, there will most certainly be greater emphasis put on the more social, interactive, and grassroots forms of entertainment consumption. (Think YouTube and Twitter.) I just hope that the book blogging community remains one of cooperation, generosity, friendliness, open-mindedness, and innovation. I also hope the community's unifying core stays the same: a genuine love of books and reading.

As always, be sure to check back at Armchair BEA Central, where the organizers will be sharing some very interesting book stats. Tomorrow, they'll be wrapping up and recapping the last several days' worth of activities, both at BEA and ABEA.  (For me, the fun is definitely far from over. I'll still be reading ABEA posts on peoples' blogs for a few weeks. Four hundred participants sure is a lot to handle!)

Did you enjoy Armchair BEA? Learn anything new and exciting? Has it changed or reaffirmed anything about how you look at books or the book blogging community?

J.R. Ward's LOVER AT LAST Cover Reveal...At Last!


It's the cover reveal heard round the book world! ^_^ 

For many fans of J.R. Ward's paranormal romance series The Black Dagger Brotherhood, the news of a book focusing on the characters Qhuinn and Blay has been a long time coming. When the Warden announced just that earlier this year, she made a lot of ladies and gents happy.

And now, this morning on her Facebook page, she treats us to another awesome announcement on the 11th installment in the series! Sporting the title Lover At Last (so dang apropos, don't you think?), the book cover features the image of Qhuinn (known for his mismatched eye color), hooded and oozing deadliness.

Because I always have to parse things for meaning when I see new covers, I immediately wondered whether there was any particular significance to Qhuinn's actually weilding the sword, an item that has been portrayed on all previous covers as a floating image superimposed over the main image. ::ponders:: But the silver and gold tones to the cover are fabulous and fitting, putting to mind the opposing yet complementary forces both pulling the two characters apart and drawing them together.

I must admit that I myself am about three books behind in the series (Lover Avenged was the last I'd read)…but I've been soooo hoping for a Qhuay book release for a long time, so I'm going to have to read up (and perhaps reread) in order to prepare for the release, currently scheduled for Spring 2013.


What do you think about the cover and title? Have you been eagerly awaiting this particular installment of the DBD series?

Armchair BEA Day 3: Networking...In Real Life?!


Happy Midweek, everyone! Hope your work week (or week in general) is going fantabulous. For the people at Javits in New York, BEA is already almost halfway over...same for all of us participating in Armchair BEA.  Which is crazy, because it feels like it just started a minute ago! But so far, there's been a lot of blog hopping and interfacing with some very neat people.

Which brings me to today's ABEA topic: networking in real life! For a book blogger, the majority of the exposure we'll have with others is via electronic means; after all, that's the method by which the book blogging actually takes place. But on certain occasions, such as at events like BEA or RT Con or Authors After Dark and the like, bloggers are given the chance to cavort and get to know one another in the flesh... a wonderful treat that (for me, at least) is a high point about being a part of the book blogging community.

Of course, there are more ways to extend book blog networking than by attending conferences; most cities have book stores that hold author signings every so often. And what's to stop any of us from participating in book clubs or holding local meet and greets?

Author Seanan McGuire (photo from SeananMcGuire.com)
I myself have not (yet!) gotten involved extensively in the bookish scene in real life. But for the right bookstore, or the right event, I'm always up for a visit and participation. Such a bookstore is Borderlands Books in San Francisco, California (in my humble opinion, the best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Horror bookstore ever. Nay, the best bookstore ever ^_^)...and one such event was a book signing for UF author Seanan McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant, of Feed series fame). That particular experience was extremely memorable, and exemplified the awesomeness of the genre fiction bookish community.

The event was held in honor of the impending release of McQuire's (at the time) latest book release, Discount Armageddon. The event was ostensibly for a book talk and signing… but what actually ended up occurring was so much more. Friends, family, and admirers of the author (numbering about 50, I'd say) all gathered in the cafe half of Borderlands for an evening of book discussions, music, food, and lots of

By that point, I'd not yet read the book being celebrated, so I must say that I missed out on some of the context behind the general discussions and jokes. There were jocular crowd cries of "Hail!" after most every new announcement or proclamation (which totally became clear a few chapters into reading the book). ^_^ Since Discount Armageddon is all about cryptozoology, there was much talk about mythical creatures and the mythologies from which they come. Fascinating stuff.

Cupcake by Seanan!
Green Velvet w/ cream cheese frosting.
Seanan, a self-professed cupcake aficionado, forever endeared herself to my heart (as if she hadn't already by that point) by bringing a veritable feast of mini cupcakes for everyone at the signing to eat (check out the rainbow / pot o' gold cupcake she made…I hadn't the heart to eat it, for it was beautiful! But her baked goods were simply delish). During the food portion, attendees got to acquaint themselves with each other and chat. But as if that all weren't enough, Seanan brought a boatload of swag from her own personal coffers to offer up in raffle drawings that took place every half hour or so.

Most special was perhaps the least book related: it turns out that McGuire is an amazingly talented singer and songwriter. She performed some filk jams for us, including some from her own albums. All told, people left the event (several hours later) with new bookish buddies and a great respect for the amazing woman that is Seanan McGuire. It's now my favorite book signing (narrowly beating out an event I'd attended at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC,  featuring the fabulous Tim Gunn). It reminds me that there is so. much. fun. to be had when bookish-minded people get together for fun.

So that's my tale of one particularly memorable real life bookish experience. How about you; are you a big fan of book signings and author appearances? If so, how populated do you prefer the event be, on a scale from intimate gathering to DragonCon panel? ^_^

(Don't forget to check out ABEA Central; there's another Twitter party and more book talks going on throughout the day!)

Armchair BEA Day 2: Best of 2012

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Another day, another Armchair BEA post! I hope the folks in NYC are having a blast....it's certainly been a lot of fun connecting with people participating in ABEA (over 400; wowww!). As many mentioned in their interviews, it's just so amazing getting to be a part of such a warm, inclusive community. It's a rare, beautiful thing.

Today's festivities over at Armchair BEA Central involve Twitter party-age, a bevy of giveaways, and a new post topic for everyone to partake in! The post topic of the moment is "Best of 2012." As the name suggests, you'll be able to take a look at people's favorite books of the year thus far, as well as the most anticipated titles to come in the next six months. (Kinda makes June the perfect time to reflect on such things, dontcha think? Kind of like a midterm report card. ^_^)


The following list includes only those titles that were released (or will be released) during 2012.

My Top Three Faves of 2012 Thus Far:


Horizon (Aftertime Trilogy, #3) by Sophie Littlefield

I mentioned this one in yesterday's Armchair BEA post, but it bears repeating. This was such a wonderful trilogy closer. This book took me in a direction that I didn't expect but perfectly understood. That's a wonderful thing. ^_^


The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen, #2)
by Amanda Stevens

If you've read even one review of this or any other book in the Graveyard Queen series, you'll almost certainly see the following words mentioned: atmospheric, creepy, amazing. I'm a huge scaredy cat, but this series (this installment included) is undeniable in its appeal and magnetism. I was majorly creeped out yet kept turning the page for more. ^_^


The Prophet (The Graveyard Queen, #3) by Amanda Stevens

Thank heavens there was another release in this series only a month after its predecessor. I wasn't ready to let go of the characters just yet. Only downside is, even as certain arcs were resolved, some majorly crazy developments took their place. o.O The visuals and tone of this book, like the two books before it, just leaps right off of the page. I can't remember the last time the atmosphere of a book I've read was so easily accessible.


Bonus: Divinely Ruined (Divine Temptations Trilogy, #1) by Diane Alberts

(A bonus because I can't possibly omit this title. ^_^) A recently-completed read, this book was so charming and yet real and poignant…I gobbled it down in a day. Granted, it is of a shorter length, but Alberts manages to establish the reader's connection to the characters, build the emotional drama, and set the stage for a majorly satisfying, sigh-worthy resolution--all in the space it usually takes other books to just get started. I absolutely cannot wait to read more from this author, and I'd recommend this read to all my bookish buddies.



My Top Three Most Anticipated (and Likely Future-Faves) of 2012:



The Ripple Effect (Rhiannon's Law, #3) by J.A. Saare

Book one was great, and book two rocked my freakin' world. I know I'm totally keeping hopes inexcusably high for book three in the Rhiannon's Law series, but it's so hard not to; author J.A. Saare writes such a thrilling world with high stakes, unexpected twists, and a heroine that is extremely magnetic.


The Last Bastion of the Living: A Futuristic Zombie Novel by Rhiannon Frater

From one Rhiannon to another. ^_^ All one has to do is read this book description (or heck, even just the title) to understand how easily one would anticipate this book most highly. In a sea of zombie-themed series, a standalone is a bold, intriguing move. And a science fiction zombie tale? This one will be an autobuy, for sure...and because it comes out on June 12, the wait won't be long!


Endgame (Sirantha Jax, #6) by Ann Aguirre

What is there to say but "duh"? ^_^ I had to cease reading this series for a while because I knew the wait for the final installment was going to be painful if I'd read all the way to book five. Thank goodness there are only a few months left to wait. Sirantha Jax and her universe is thrilling, and Ann Aguirre seems to have been extremely deliberate about how details and story arc unfold. And don't even get me started on the gorgeous cover...



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....best of lists are so much fun. ^_^ I can't wait to see some of your own picks! Please do leave a link to your own Armchair BEA post, if you're participating. It'll be fun to see if any trends appear among everyone's "Best Of 2012" picks.

Til Tomorrow! And don't forget to visit Armchair BEA central to find out more info on the numerous giveaways and the Twitter parties!

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