Tag Archives: Katherine Locke

Whatcha Reading? February 2016

I’m sure I’ll think of a better name for these posts at some point, but I thought it would be interesting to talk a bit about the books I’ve read each month. I know people are always looking for things to read (I know I am), and while reviews are great and incredibly important to authors, I’d be here forever if I did an in-depth review on everything. Instead, here’s a brief tour of February’s books!

Finding Center by Katherine Locke

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I’ve never really been one for romance, but I absolutely adore Katherine Locke’s District Ballet Company series. I read Turning Pointe and Finding Center when they first released, and though I’d pre-ordered Finding Center, I didn’t get around to reading it until now. Sometimes I forget I have an eReader and even more books to go through.

The romance is flavoring on top of book devoted to portraying mental illness, therapy, and recovery in a positive light. It’s an incredibly accurate depiction, and the writing is gorgeous.

Zed and ballet are my two greatest loves

It took all of Aly’s strength to get them back after a tragic accident ripped them from her six years ago. A long road to recovery led to her return, dancing full-time for the District Ballet Company and carrying Zed’s child. But Aly is slipping. Each day becomes a fight to keep her career from crumbling under the weight of younger talent, the scrutiny of the public eye and the limitations of her ever-changing body. A fight she fears she’s losing.

I’m scared Aly is broken to her core

Zed recognizes the signs, but he doesn’t know how to fix her. The accident left him with his own demons, and while he wants nothing more than to take care of the woman he loves, it’s getting harder the farther downward she spirals. When Aly’s life is threatened and Zed’s injuries prevent him from saving her, he’s never felt so useless, so afraid he’s not capable of being the man Aly and their child needs.

With new life comes new hope. And with their fractured lives already hanging by a thread, Aly and Zed must discover if they have what it takes—both together and apart—to rebuild and carry on.

The prequel novella, Turning Pointe, is free if you want to check it out, which you do.

Second Line and Chasing Ghosts by Kira Butler

These two short stories are part of Kira’s Short Fictions and Curiosities series. I enjoy serialized fiction, and there’s a new story posted every month, for FREE.

Chasing Ghosts was essentially a dash through a time-capsual manor, where everything was left in media res. Second Line was a beautiful ghost story set against Katrina-ravenged New Orleans. I enjoyed both very much, and I can’t wait to read what’s up next.

The Damsel and the Daggerman by Delilah S. Dawson

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Remember when I said I sometimes forget I have an eReader? It’s always a nice surprise to find a Blud book I haven’t read.

Bad boy knife-thrower Marco Taresque is the hottest and most dangerous performer in the caravan. He keeps to himself until a pesky female journalist arrives, anxious to interview him about his checkered past—his last assistant disappeared under mysterious and bloody circumstances, earning him the nickname “The Deadly Daggerman.”

Unsinkable journalist and adventurer Jacinda Harville doesn’t take no for an answer, and she’s determined to wear down Marco no matter how threatening—or incredibly desirable—he might appear. He agrees to an interview—but only if she’ll let him strap her to a spinning table and throw knives at her body. How can she say no? And how can she resist him when he leans close for a kiss that strikes her more sharply than any blade? It’s the first time she’s let a man get the better of her, and she’s determined it will be the last…

Like all of Delilah’s Blud books, Damsel doesn’t disappoint. There’s a nice subversion of tropes, more caravan adventures, and some infuriating and sexy banter. Bonus: you don’t have to read any of the novellas in order.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

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This one I wasn’t sure about. Weird West, much like romance, isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse. When I found I was on the Diversity in Weird West panel, I pulled Wake from my shelf so I wouldn’t feel like a total poser. Touted as Lonesome Dove meets Buffy, I was sure what to expect.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound ability is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

I should have expected an insanely intense ride. Nettie, a biracial, genderqueer bronc wrangler turned monster hunter, has an incredibly strong voice, and the pacing is phenominal. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book so quickly. Just go read it, okay? The sequel, Horde of Crows, comes out later this year, and I can’t wait.

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude (ARC)

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If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I was commissioned to design eight character cards for this book. Though I spoke with Sarah about design, inspiration, and the personalities of her characters, I wasn’t going to get the chance to read it until May.

Until an ARC fell into my outstreched claws.

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. 

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

The May Queen Murders, much like Wake of Vultures, blew me away. The setting echoes M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, with plenty of twists and surprises along the way. I’m kinda of mad at myself for failing to puzzle out the mystery. Okay, I’m really mad at myself. It was great read, full of suspense and superstition, and it was so refreshing to see a Mexican-American main character. There’s plenty of diversity, and of course, my favorite–murder.

It’s available for pre-order, so get on it.

Follow @SarahEJude on Twitter to check out the character cards, and stay tuned to find out how you can get a set of your own.

And that’s it! That’s everything I’ve read in February. I think. This month is starting off with Cecilia Dominic’s The Mountain’s Shadow, and hopefully many more.

What did you read this month?

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There is No Such Thing as Moral Piracy

We lived in a world now where there’s little to no divide between authors/artists and the audience. It’s easy to Tweet a message to your favorite author or musician, comment on their Instagram, interact with them. With the fall of that barrier as comes a decline in morality. Accessibility also means everything is available, from people putting audiobooks on YouTube to copies of books being available for download through sites like Pirate Bay.

This week, one of my friends, Katherine Locke, had her debut pirated two weeks before released. The day before, another friend–a teacher–made a post praising her “resourcefulness” (I’m quoting here) regarding finding audio versions and PDF downloads of a very popular three-book series. She was relieved she wouldn’t have to pay $30 for each audio file and linked the PDFs to her webpage.

Authors like Neil Gaiman have spoken about downloading their work for free and how they support it. But he’s Neil Gaiman. You’ve heard of him, whether it’s through his own work, or through Amanda Palmer, or you happened to go see Coraline when it came out. For Neil, illegal downloads of his book RAISED his sales. But he’s Neil Gaiman, with decades of writing under his belt.

Maybe the author my friend downloaded isn’t as popular as Neil (but you have heard of her,) doesn’t have as many books, but maybe wouldn’t be hurt by the loss. It still doesn’t make it right. There are dozen of resources available to educators. I know some children can’t afford the material, but we have libraries, and yes, they have audiobooks too. There are classroom discounts. In the age of accessibility, why not just ask the author? It’s an email to her or the publishing house.

If I can hunt down the rights to reprint a Cindy Sherman portrait in my college lit mag, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a solution to getting books without stealing.

Because you’re stealing.

Katherine, the one who had her debut stolen, is hurt by the person who pirated her novel. Piracy might help Neil, but it can kill a debut’s career. Sales are what get her additional contracts. Sales are what get you more of her work if you like it. Your inability or unwillingness to pay $2.99 won’t make her starve, but it might deny her a career as an author. She’s a brilliant writer with great ideas, but that doesn’t matter if publishing houses think she’s a poor investment because you bought a cake pop at Starbucks instead of buying her book.

When all you had to do was send her an email or tweet if you truly couldn’t afford it. Maybe she’d have given you the file or encouraged you to read the prequel novella, Turning Pointe, which is currently free on CarinaPress. You can read in its entirety before the launch of her debut, Second Position, which you can still preorder. If you’d like to preorder through Barnes and Noble, click here.

Contrary to popular belief, authors rarely make a living off their work. Making a living means you earn enough to not have a day job. That you can pay your bills. I know authors with more than 5 books out who STILL work full-time and write full-time, many who have multiple jobs outside of writing. Katherine has a day job, an editing business, rescues and rehabilitates cats, and writes full-time. I have day job, a freelance job, a potential second freelance job, and I write full-time.

“But J.K. Rowling….”

is an exception. She was lucky. Like Neil, piracy won’t hurt her sales.

A few years ago, Susan Dennard had her debut downloaded, and to add to the hurt of the theft, the person published a post complained about how long it took her download to finish. Susan’s response is reasonable, and she’s clearly angry.

Dear Person Pirating my Book,

I am sorry you can’t have your instant gratification. That book that I spent 3 years of my life working on full-time is now taking you a whopping ten minutes to download illegally. I mean, jeez. Talk about injustice.

I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that you’re waiting so many  minutes when I only spent 9 to 5 of every day since 2009 typing at my keyboard.

Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t always typing. Sometimes I was scouring the document for plot holes or hand-writing my characters into corners only to then hand-write them back out again. Sometimes I was on the internet researching Victorian fashion (the book is set in 1876, in case you aren’t aware of exactly WHAT you are illegally downloading), or I was online seeking out a critique partner. Other times I was honing my query letter to get an agent or working on my 1-page synopsis.

But most of my time was spent writing (weekends included). So comparing all that time I spent on my book to your 10 minutes is just inconceivable for me (and I do think that word means what I think it means).

Wow, 10 minutes is just SO huge.

Yes, she is passive-aggressive, but she’s not wrong. We spend years writing, editing, query agents, crying over rejections, frustrations, revelations. We put ourselves into our work. Maybe people don’t realize how difficult it is to write a book. It’s not sit down and type and eat macarons. It’s HOURS of every day sitting in front of a screen and building a world. It’s the hardest fucking thing you can do and some days, it feels so impossible you want to quit.

That’s what you’re saying is worthless every time you download a book illegally. You’re saying our effort, our time, our emotional investment, is nothing because reading is your right.

I do want to point out, though, that you wouldn’t have to wait on my book if you bought it for your kindle or iPad or computer. Why, you’d have the file in mere seconds! And, because you would’ve BOUGHT the book, then I would get paid. And the cool thing about me getting paid is that I can afford my bills and then continue to write more books. I mean, hey—sitting at the computer all day ain’t fun and it sure as hell ain’t easy. Making enough money to keep my electricity turned on (so my computer will also stay on) is kind of important if I’m going to finish this series…and maybe even start the next.

Susan did finish the Something Strange and Deadly series, which I loved, and is currently working on her second series. Books are a privilege, and if you want the privilege of reading more, support the authors you love. If you cannot afford a copy, or lost yours, or misplaced it, go to the library. Borrow it from a friend. Ask for it as a gift.

Erin Bowman, author of the Taken Trilogy, also has a post on piracy. Read it. It’s good. One of the comments is below:

um no. if i own the book but i cant find it im gonna read a pirated copy online. if i dont want to support the author (im looking at you orson scott card) but i still want to read the book i will pirate it.

And the response is brilliant:

Um, no. If I can’t locate the physical copy of a book I own and want to read it immediately, I am not entitled to STEAL a digital copy. I go find the physical book, or dig it out of storage, or wait for my friend who borrowed it to return it, etc, etc. There are books I own in print and ebook form for this very reason. Just because you paid for one copy of a book does not mean you get a second for free.

When you read a pirated book in any capacity, you are supporting piracy. You are telling the people running the site, “I support what you do, I think it’s okay to steal from authors, keep running this site and others like it.” It’s simple supply and demand. If no one downloaded illegal copies, these sites would not exist. People say ‘vote with your dollar.’ Well in this case, vote by not clicking.

Lastly, it is 100% your right to not support any author (or artist) you choose. But doing so through illegal channels defeats the entire purpose of making a statement. Go to the library and read OSC if you don’t want him to get another royalty from you buying his book. That library copy was purchased by legal means and can be read over and over without him earning another dime. Better yet, don’t read him PERIOD. That’s real follow-through. And then when someone asks you what you thought of Ender’s Game, for example, you have a wonderful chance to stand on your soapbox and explain that the book sounded awesome but you didn’t read it because you’re not supporting the author for REASONS.

I understand your points and how you are trying to justify your situation, but that’s exactly what they are—your justifications to steal anyway. Authors get paid royalties only twice a year, and many work a second job to get by. Every sale counts, and if you want more books written in the future, buy and read legal copies.

Some people find the ethics of downloading books illegally questionable. With authors like Neil Gaiman supporting it, it’s hard to think that stealing a copy of Second Position will do any real damage. You’re wrong. Plain and simple. Especially for new authors. Especially for debuts. Especially for anyone. Don’t steal our paychecks. Don’t tell me my three years of writing and editing isn’t worth the $2.99 Amazon’s selling the ebook for. Don’t tell my time and energy is worthless. And don’t let other people tell you it’s okay to steal.

Most of all, don’t hurt my friends and their careers.

If one day you find a large box on your porch and open it to find a fuckton of glitter is now in ever carpet fiber, in your hair, on your skin, your clothes and everything you’ll touch for the next thirty years, know it was me.

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