Winners and the book club post

Jane
Sara M
Flip
Booklover1335

You need to email me at ann dot aguirre at gmail dot com with your names and addresses. Once I have those, I can hook you up.

undoneSo today we are talking about Rachel Caine’s UNDONE. I don’t know if anyone else has actually read it, but here’s the post wherein we talk about it. I’m going to hold my comments until a few other people have noted their thoughts because I don’t want people to feel like they need to agree with me about the book. That doesn’t lend itself to much discussion.

Sin and Shadows

sins_shadows_cover Sylvie Lightner is no ordinary P.I. She specializes in cases involving the unusual, in a world where magic is real—and where death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you.

But when an employee is murdered in front of her, Sylvie has had enough. After years of confounding the dark forces of the Magicus Mundi, she’s closing up shop—until a man claiming to be the God of Justice wants Sylvie to find his lost lover.

And he won’t take no for an answer.

It’s so awesome when you fall in love with a book. I’ve had a great couple of weeks in terms of finding new-to-me-authors who rocked my world. First, I read Diana Pharaoh Francis for the first time when she asked me to blurb her upcoming urban fantasy BITTER NIGHT. That book was freakin’ amazing. Sadly for you folks, you can’t get your hot little hands on it until the autumn.

But I finished one that you can read right now.

I understand that Lyn Benedict is not a debut author. She has written political fantasy as Lane Robins. I haven’t read those. A couple of weeks ago, I placed an order from Amazon; they’ve actually reduced their int’l shipping a bit, so I don’t mind so much, and the books were for the kids. Two books on dogs for the girl; a book on dinosaurs and a book on sea creatures for the boy. I am congenitally unable to place an order from a book vendor without getting something for myself, so I got Ms. Benedict’s SIN AND SHADOWS. I also ordered Victoria Dahl’s historical backlist, after being unable to find them in any bookstore I visited in Florida or California. Those books haven’t arrived yet. The kid books and the Benedict book came in the mail yesterday.

I started reading it late last night. It kept me up until 1am and I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, but not for lack of interest in the book. Instead of working on proposals or partials today, I finished SIN AND SHADOWS, and holy crap is it good.

You know how some urban fantasy heroines talk about being badass, but it’s mostly a candy-coating of shellac toughness, and they’re really lipstick-applying, pleather-mini-wearing, tramp-stamp-having cocktail waitresses? Not so with Sylvie Lightner. She is totally a lean, mean bitch machine. I found it very refreshing.

The world-building is gorgeous, dark, and detailed. This is a shimmering black diamond of a book. Her supporting characters are intricate and intriguing, well-drawn, richly realized, and an exquisite blend of tough and tender. There are real relationships here with the requisite give and take. Ms. Benedict’s characters live and breathe, though their world is awful, fragile and fraught with peril.

Another point in the book’s favor? There were no vampires. Instead, the lore draws from old gods and Judaic legends: angels, demons, and sorcerers. This is my kind of urban fantasy. Like a strong margarita, it’s salty, bittersweet, and utterly refreshing.

When I love a book this much, you know it means free stuff for you. To get your copy, ask for it in comments. I’m giving away FOUR (4) of these, and I’ll wrap it up whenever I feel like it. That means you need to throw your name in the hat before my capricious nature gets the best of me.

I guess people don’t read comments or read other entries on my blog. As I said in comments: winners have been posted (they’re above this post). You can continue to comment but it won’t win you any books.

Winner

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The winner of the first ARC contest is: OCELOTT!

Congrats. Drop me a line with your full name and address and I will get this sent right out.

I also have two lovely cover flat, which I’m going to sign and send as consolation prizes. The winners of those are:

Leslee
Sadeeloree

Send me your addresses and I’ll use my special shiny silver pen to sign said cover flats and send them your way.

My Computer Conundrum

Four years ago, I bought an Ibook on Mercado Libre. It didn’t cost a lot, but I had always wanted one. I didn’t care about how fast it was. I only cared that it could do word processing and let me IM my friends and check email. I’ve never been one to want the newest and shiniest; I have to confess that I find the retro Macs irresistibly charming (which is why I have a 600 mhz Blueberry Imac in my office, and yes, it works for me just fine). I ordered a cute pink skin for the top of it, carefully applied it, and christened this Ibook Pinkie. pinkie

I wrote the first novel I sold on that Ibook and pretty much every one since then, or at least a portion of it. I can’t even count the number of words I’ve pounded out on it. The feel of the keys is somehow comforting when I use it. I love this machine. The ink has started to wear off the keys from so much use.

Which is why this is such a problem for me. You see, when I hurt my ankle, Pinkie also suffered an injury. Andres cut me out of the cast early, and the day after, I was tired of staying in bed, so I tried to hobble down the stairs on my own (i was alone) to work on the couch. The dog ambushed me near the living room, I stumbled into the wall, and Pinkie took a header on the marble floor. She hasn’t been the same since.

We took her to the Mac repair shop and they managed to replace some memory and get her going again, but she’s sluggish, which she wasn’t before, and the wireless has stopped working. Would a new airport card do it? If so, that’s an easy fix.

I keep looking at the Macbooks, which are a bit bigger than Pinkie. Is it dumb that I’m so attached to a piece of hardware? Would it be the same trying to write my books on a new one? Do any other writers have this problem? I feel weird weighing this decision like I am. It should be no big deal, right? And yet it is, and I get upset over the idea of replacing her.

I welcome your thoughts.

Totally Lickable

It’s official. Here’s the cover for my sexy romance-writing counterpart Ava Gray’s first novel.

skin game

A beautiful fugitive—wanted dead or alive.
Kyra is a con woman and a particular kind of thief. She steals with a touch, but she only takes one thing: her target’s strongest skill. Which means she can be a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wants… for a limited time. Heartbroken, she turns her gift toward avenging her father’s murder; with deadly patience, Kyra works her way into casino owner Gerard Serrano’s inner circle. After pulling off the ultimate con, she flees with his money and his pride.

A hit man who never misses the mark.
Reyes has nothing but his work. Pity for Kyra, he’s the best and mercy never sways him once he takes a job. He’s been hired to find out where Kyra hid the cash—and bring her back to face Serrano’s “justice.” Dead will do, if he can’t locate the loot. He’s never failed to complete a contract, but Kyra tempts him with her fierce heat and her outlaw heart. So Reyes has a hell of a choice: forsake his word or kill the woman he might love.

Excerpt here.

So tell me, how much do you want this book? I loooooove my cover!

At long last, RT

So I promised to give a recap, but until now I have been overwhelmed with homeshooling my kids, recovering from travel, a sore ankle, and finishing up / turning in a book. Now that equilibrium has more or less been restored, I am ready to recount my adventures, such as they are.

I set off early on Tuesday morning. My husband drove me to the airport and hd breakfast me with me there. At the security checkpoint, we had a lovely airport good-bye kiss. From there I went and waited for my plane.

I had good air karma. I sat alone in my row and the flight was quiet. I landed on time in Orlando, then had no trouble catching the shuttle to the rental car place. Once there, I didn’t wait long and then, upon hearing I was an author, the clerk upgraded me to a cherry red Mustang. Sweet!

Since I didn’t know the area, I got a GPS, which would prove invaluable. I did a fair amount of driving. I set off for Azteclady’s house, as I had plans to hang out with her that evening. Sadly, I forgot to get change for the toll booths and I only had larger bills. I was going along merrily following the GPS. It told me to get on the highway — and I did. Imagine my horror when I came to a toll booth with no cashier, exact change only, and a line of cars behind me. It was ONE lane. So I did what any rebel in a Mustang would do; I blew through that and continued on my way. I had to do it once more until I finally came to a booth where I could get change (thank goodness!) I don’t like the law-breaking.

I watched my rearview mirror for any signs the cops were after me but nobody seemed to care. I arrived at Azteclady’s house with no problems. Once there, we hugged, admired my swag, talked, and then I fixed some supper: homemade pasta sauce and spaghetti. It was pretty delicious.

By that point, it was getting dark and I didn’t want to be roaming around a strange city late, so we said farewell and I input the address of my hotel. That drive went smoother because I had change.

In about half an hour, I’d reached the Wyndham, which was holy-fuck big. The thing I liked least about it was that it didn’t have a bar in the lobby, which was the one thing I liked about Pittsburgh. But service was good; I got checked in swiftly, and the bellmen brought all my boxes to my room, no trouble.

Then I called Lauren to find out where the party was and headed over there. The place was packed when I arrived, I chatted briefly with a number of people, but spent the most time with Diana Rowland, Cynthia Eden, and Larissa Ione. Diana is awesome in person. So funny and easy to be around. Cindy is so gorgeous that it’s not fair she can write. Oh, and she’s fun, too.

Around midnight, I realized I had been going for about twenty hours and staggered off to my room.

Wednesday… I did a SF panel with CL Wilson, Jade Lee, Catherine Asaro, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Kade, and Linnea Sinclair. Leanna Renee Hieber moderated.

It was great, but long, and my ankle was really swollen by the time it was over, so I had some quiet time in my room afterward. I went to dinner with a bunch of the Bradford authors, along with our fab agent. I drank a huge margarita and ate grilled shrimp. I remember laughing a lot, as I was seated between Lauren Dane and Laura Bradford.

That took us late into Wednesday night. I went to the party thing that night and tried to dance. Megan made fun of me because I couldn’t do much footwork. Anya asked me if I would sit on a panel she was on; Patrice had a couple of people cancel and they thought I would be a good fit. I’m always happy to help, so I sat on a paranormal panel first thing Thursday morning. I stayed for the next panel because it had Jeri Smith-Ready on it, and I loooove her. I must admit, she didn’t talk as much as I’d hoped.

After that I geared up my GPS and hit every bookstore within a 50 mile radius. I signed so much stock that my hand was cramping. I also managed to find The Dust of 100 Dogs, which had become something of a vision quest for me. See, I asked about it at every bookstore Laura and I went in San Diego. I did the same thing in Florida. The Borders where I finally found it didn’t have many of my books, but I was glad I went because I was dying to read that freakin’ book. Glee! It is now mine. I ordered a meatball sub and went to bed early; all that driving wore me out.

Friday morning, I called the bellman to help me haul all my boxes to the party room, and wonder of wonders, he did! The party was much lower stress this time, due to Lauren, Cindy, and the great staff. I was remarkably chill about the whole thing. We had a huge turnout, people seemed to have a great time, and Jane reported that our line was longer than Disney. Cool!

I enjoyed a brief chat with Mark Henry and others. After that, I meandered into the lobby, where I ran into Larissa Ione. I am not quite sure how it happened (though I am thrilled by it), but we sort of fell in for the day. We went to the HQN thing together, talked, went to the pool party together and drank sangria. It was late afternoon by the time we parted company, and now I like her even better than I did before. She is a funny, smart, wonderful, charismatic person, and I have the biggest girl crush on her. Shhh, don’t tell. A number of cool people stopped to chat with us: Jenna Black and Diana Rowland, to name a few.

At that point, it was time to get ready for the big official Bradford gathering. Anya was sick and couldn’t make it, but the rest of us were there: Cindy, Nick, Vivi, Stacey, me, Lauren, Megan, Laura, Beth W. and Beth K (if I forgot anyone, I am v. sorry, it was a big table!) Lauren had picked a great place. It was a steakhouse but all the food was yummy. Our table was raucous and delightful. Cindy and Nick bailed earliest because they wanted to get ready for the vampire ball.

As for me, well, it was after ten. I’m not an exciting person. I had a new book in my room, purchased when I went to sign stock, and it was one I had been waiting for (It was the new Elizabeth Hoyt!), so I went to read it. Funny when you consider she sat and chatted with me at Club RT on Wednesday afternoon. Oh, did I forgot to mention that? I had club RT with Elizabeth Hoyt. Squee!

So I read her new book and went to bed.

The next day, I got up early and went to pick up Azteclady, who wanted to attend the book fair. We had a nice breakfast, and then it was time for me to take my place at the table. I signed a lot of books, and met a lot of readers. People took my picture. It’s always so weird for me when people want to do that. I’m like, really? OK. If you’re sure.

I bought a few books in there, waited my turn for checkout and then found Az. I also found my conference cronies: LB, LD, MH, and AB. Along with AB’s husband J, we went across the street to Perkins, where we had a long ass lunch.

After that, I absolutely could not face anymore conference stuff, so Az and I ran away with our books. She took me to a couple of bookstores I’d missed, where I signed stock and got an iced coffee. I had pie from Perkins for dinner, hung out with Az and watched a movie, and went to bed early. In the morning, we didn’t really do much of anything. We killed the day being lazy together, as only two friends can be.

In the afternoon, we set out for dinner with Lisa and Joe at the Polynesian. Joe was kind enough to give us directions once we got to Disney. After we found the place, it went without a hitch and we got seated super fast. The food was delish and the company even better. Joe and Lisa are hilarious people; I love their stories. Az and I headed back to her place after a nice meal; more chilling ensued.

I got up early the next day, knowing I had to leave, but I was sorry to go. She’s someone I miss very much, and I do, right now. Sniff. But I had to be brave. Into the Mustang I went, for Sharon Shinn awaited.

I made the drive back to Disney, hooray for the test run the day before! And reached her hotel shortly before the appointed time. I parked and watched for her. When I saw her come out, I circled around to the entrance, she climbed in, and we were off.

I had scoped out a shopping center, just outside of Disney on the Buena Vista side, so I was confident we could find a restaurant that sounded good to both of us. She perked up at the mention of Pizzeria Uno, so we headed in there. At noon, there was no trouble getting a booth and it was quiet enough that we could talk easily.

Which left me going, OMG, I AM HAVING LUNCH WITH SHARON SHINN. (See this post if you are unclear what that means to me.) I am not sure how I managed to make coherent conversation in the beginning. I kept wondering does the waiter know he’s bringing pizza to a famous author?! Eventually I settled into this warm, I don’t believe this is happening, glow. We had a really wonderful conversation; she’s a lovely person. And by the time the lunch was over, I really felt like we were friends. I mean, not besties or anything, but we had talked about some things that I wouldn’t share with just anyone.

So that’s how my trip ended: I was still glowing when I got back to Mexico City later that day and even the swine flu couldn’t bring me down.

The First Doubleblind Contest

Listen up, people, for I am about to unleash some real goodness on you.

The winner of this contest will receive an ARC of DOUBLEBLIND, which will be FedExed to your door. Imagine the bragging rights! I won’t be doing my fangirl / fanboy contest for a couple of months yet.

What do you need to do?

Find a copy of Blue Diablo. Read it. Post a review on Amazon. If you have a blog, you can post it there as well, but it needs to be cross-posted. Once it shows up, post a comment to let me know it’s there and what name it’s under. You also need to leave me a valid email.

You have two weeks to get this done.

Yes, if you already reviewed it, you are automatically entered, but you DO need to comment here to let me know who you are (and give me a valid email address) so I can send your ARC, if you’re lucky enough to win.

Now go read and review Blue Diablo and you could win Doubleblind!

Big Winners and a small update

Lauren’s winners:
Sara Hurt
Katie
DeliteAlex
April

Angie Fox winner:
Jo

Beth Kery winner:
Katee Robert

You lucky ladies need to email me at ann.aguirre at gmail dot com with your names and addresses, so I can hook you up.

Dear World:

About this swine flu thing…

This is getting seriously out of hand. NOT the disease — the number of emails, twitters, and text messages I am getting about it. Andres thinks I need to dig up screenshots from 28 Days Later and tell people: Yes, it IS the end of the world. Folks are rioting, there’s looting, people are eating each other’s brains, and you are ALL NEXT.

I have heard about this until I am soooo tired of it; you cannot imagine. I was actually considering putting this on my FAQ, but decided to update everyone this way instead.

So here’s the deal. This “swine flu” is JUST ANOTHER STRAIN OF FLU. With proper medical care, people get over it. If it is misdiagnosed or people do NOT receive medical care, then it becomes serious to life-threatening. (The same could be said of other flu strains.)

Public venues are closed here as a preventive measure, not because there is some pandemic going on. There have been 200 deaths here out of a city of over 20 million. You crunch your own numbers on that, and remember that thousands die here of REGULAR flu.

Now I am going to tell you something that you will NOT hear on your local news stations. This was a manufactured emergency. Yep, you read that right.

How do I know this? Mi suegro (father in law) has many contacts in the government because he runs a pharmaceutical company. He is “in the know,” so to speak, and he relayed to me (through Andres) that this is the real scoop:

Apparently the Minister of Health wants to make a run for the presidency and his PR team advised him that if some “emergency” occurred, and he was seen to have handled it with authority, it would greatly boost his street cred in terms of establishing him as a viable candidate in the next election. So they began to spin this swine flu emergency for all they were worth. However, they did not count on the WHO getting wind of it, and jumping in with steel-toed boots. It ballooned from there with the media seizing gleefully on it, and turning it into the scariest plague since Bubonic. Once a story goes international, there is no controlling the interpretation / coverage, and all they could do here was start closing things down or admit they exaggerated the problem to make the MoH look good. Gosh, I wonder which they picked?

So let me repeat: it is JUST the flu. Be careful. Don’t kiss strangers. Wash your hands. Stay out of public areas if you can, and if you suspect you have it, SEE A DOCTOR. It is not the plague. There are no riots, nor any panic in Mexico.

Please stop asking me.

Sincerely,

Ann