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I'm so excited that my lifelong dream of becoming a published author has come true. If you'd like to go straight to excerpts, descriptions, and buy links for my books, click on the covers below on the right.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Writing Goals for 2011

Having my own business has skewed my sense of time. For me, 2010 stuff didn't end on December 31. I still have tax things to gather for my accountant, and I'll also be doing some organizing and cleaning out since next week is somewhat quiet. Not snow days quiet, thank goodness, but still a little slow, as things tend to be this time of the year.

Whereas others have already done their examining and generating of writing goals for 2011, the best I've done is a hasty list put together while waiting for an appointment. I have, however, been reading some stuff and have realized that, in 2010, I made the following mistakes. It pains me to admit them, but I need to confess before I can move on to my goals. They fall under the general heading of missed opportunities:

1. I stopped posting as part of the #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial groups on Twitter. It happened after I read a blog post by a Twitter writer I greatly admire asking "who are you writing for?" The audiences of those groups are mostly other writers, and I wanted to reach readers. So, I bailed on both, and I stopped writing for everyone. I also cut myself off from a source of support and encouragement.

2. I didn't follow through on connections I made with other writers. Admittedly, most of these were associated with the Georgia Romance Writers conference and Village Writers Group meeting at the beginning of October, when I was moving my office. If you've never moved a business, it's a detail-frought organizational nightmare, and I'll admit it, I got overwhelmed. My natural anxious tendencies also took over, which didn't help.

So there you have it. I'm a writing dumbass. Oh, well, time to move on…

Here are my writing goals for 2011:

1. Write one new short story per month plus one #fridayflash per month.

2. Have at least five stories under submission at a time with less than one week turnaround in case of rejection.

3. Send out five queries a month for Wolf Vector novel. Same rule for rejections.

4. Have a total of at least ten submissions of any type out per month. This follows logically from adding the previous two. Yes, that math major in me creeps out occasionally.

5. Re-work Perchance to Dream as a YA novel. It's wanted to be from the beginning.

6. Revise A Perfect Man to be query-ready by summer.

7. One post per week on each blog. This includes the professional blog.

8. Online news site column (more about that later).

9. One self-published book review per month. A Bert the Catfish interview with an author if I have the time and Bert pays attention for once.

10. Continue with mystery novel collaboration.

There! I'm not ambitious or anything, am I? I've been beating myself up (see the theme?) about what I haven't accomplished. Don't get me wrong – I've been very happy for my Twitter friends who have gotten stories published and landed book deals – but I've skirted the edge of the "I haven't found the right luck" trap, and it's time to move on. That's my other theme. No one is going to do it but me. I'll keep you posted on the progress, at least once per week.

Ohyeah, I'm going to get started on these goals immediately, but I'm giving myself the week to get things out. I've already got a story under construction.

Oh, don't worry, I didn't forget your goodies. How about some brownies?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Book Review: Don't Fall Asleep: A Dream Assassin Novel by Laura Eno

It's hard to write, finish, and revise a book, and it takes courage and money to get it out there if the author wants to self-publish. Readers who are interested in self-published books but who don't want to waste their time on low-quality ones need a place to go for reviews. I'll post a review of a self-published book the first weekend of every month so that authors and readers can connect with each other. I'm also going to try and get author interviews so that readers can meet the people behind the books. At first, reviews and interviews will be posted separately due to time constraints.

A disclaimer: I'm going to start with books by authors I know through real-life connections and through Twitter. If you're interested in getting your book reviewed and are willing to be interviewed by an otherworldly catfish, please email my assistant at bert{at}ceciliadominic.com or follow Bert on Twitter and message him there.

Title: Don't Fall Aslep: A Dream Assassin Novel
Author: Laura Eno
Genre: Science Fiction (Character-Driven)

As the main character observes in the movie Shrek, ogres have layers. In Laura Eno's book Don't Fall Asleep: A Dream Assassin Novel, so do people and cities. Cassandra Dade lives in a mansion perched on a cliff and considers herself to be outside of society because of her rough upbringing and her unique talent: she can go into people's dreams and assassinate them. Nathan Wilder weaves dreams for others. Cassandra sees in him a potential partner, and he perceives her as an opportunity to escape from his past and finally solve the mystery closest to his heart.

At this point, Eno could have gone with a typical master/rookie scenario with romantic elements, but she demonstrates that this plot won't be so predictable: Nathan Wilder is gay, so any relationship between him and Cassandra will be platonic. She also warns him that vengeance is not the reason to become a Dream Assassin, and he agrees with her to a point, but he wants to find out who assassinated his lover Jeremy DuPree. Both characters have layers of personality and secrets that they gradually reveal to each other and the reader, and Cassandra finds she has to be uncomfortably vulnerable with Nathan to help her battle a foe from her past and keep her sanity.

One of the great pleasures of this story is the world that Eno has built. Altair IV sounds like a beautiful place, although it is far from idyllic, and it reflects one of the themes of the novel: appearances are deceiving. Although the genre is character-driven science fiction, the setting and its vagaries become a character in itself. The capital of Altair IV, simply known as The City to its residents, has developed into a stratified society with The Street at its base, The Halfs in the middle ("Because if you live in them, you're either halfway on your rise to the top, or halfway on your fall to the bottom…"), and Topside, which is where the rich and influential make their homes in climate-controlled domes.

The two Dream Assassins find unique challenges at every level as they search for answers as to who is hunting them. Being able to see past external features and to the heart of a person's "essence" is what sets Cassandra and Nathan apart from others, but also why they become targets of a powerful person, known only to them as "Dunbar." The plot becomes convoluted at times, particularly in the middle when two unfortunate residents of the Halfs are killed, and it seems that the author leaves threads dangling and forgets to tie them up at the end. For example, the murderer is killed, but it's never explained by whom or why, although I came up with a guess after reading the novel for the second time.

My other complaint is that the formatting is strange for a print book. The text is blocked as though it's from online content, with no indentation and a blank space between paragraphs (like this blog). I found it jarring at first, although the story quickly drew me in, and I forgot about it. Chapters always start on an odd page, which leaves even pages blank if the previous chapter ended on one. It's not traditional formatting and may turn off potential readers. On the other hand, it's really good for taking notes.

I enjoyed Don't Fall Asleep and look forward to Eno's follow-up, which should be out early this year. Meanwhile, I'll be reading her hysterical webserial starring Death and Chronos on The Penny Dreadful website.

Don't Fall Aslep: A Dream Assassin Novel is available at Amazon for $9.95 for the paperback and $1.99 for the Kindle.

Previous Reviews:
Donna Carrick's The First Excellence -- Fa-Ling's Map
Kenn Allen's The Golden Cockerel

Up Next in February: James Huskins' Silent Scream