Reviews Published

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Informationist

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens is a good thriller, full of quirky characters and exciting plot turns. The heroine has been described as a cross between Lisbeth Salander and Jason Bourne, and I really can't do better than that, except to add that she's less vulnerable and more lovable than Lisbeth.

For me, what made the book was the setting. There's just something about Africa that won't let go of my heart.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

GenreCon Sydney 2012 - Part 4 - Smart Bitches

So, roll on Sunday 4 November 2012 (you see I'm doing a bit of time travelling here using my trusted time machine). The place is still Sydney, GenreCon 2012. Honestly, the place is like a black home, sucking you in every time you think about it....

So. Smart Bitches Trashy Books. For those who don't know, it's one of the funniest, smartest blogs devoted to romance fiction. We were fortunate enough to have SB Sarah Wendell as one of the international guests in Sydney. Despite her Smart Bitch title, there is nothing bitchy about Sarah. In fact, she epitomises the girl everybody would want as their BFF. Sarah rocks!

Sarah gave a super-useful talk about what Internet presence means for authors. She was also kind enough to analyse my website and give me a few pointers, which, I swear, I'm going to get around implementing one of these days. Soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GenreCon Sydney 2012 - Part 3 - Villains, Monsters and Cads

Pretend it's still Saturday 3rd November 2012, at the GenreCon in Sydney. The after-lunch sessions I attended featured:
  • three experts telling us what TV programs get wrong when it comes to the crime scene and the hospital,
  • three different kinds of bad boys in fiction.
What I learnt:
  • even very experienced doctors would hesitate to perform tracheostomy with a ball point pen, and the procedure thus depicted on TV is usually laparoscopy, not tracheostomy, anyway;
  • members of the press are not nearly as obnoxious as TV writers create them to be - in real life, they wait politely in line to receive the press statement and they ask what they can do to help catch the perp;
  • police departments don't fight over jurisdiction: they are so overworked, that if an FBI agent arrives on the scene to say "this is my case", the police will grin and hand the paperwork right over, before he changes his mind;
  • Vikings were a trading nation, not a warring nation, and their helmets didn't have horns.

Monday, November 12, 2012

GenreCon Sydney 2012 - Part 2 - Fight Scenes

Picture this: GenreCon Sydney 2012, Saturday 3 November. The session is Writing Effective Fight Scenes. The speaker, Simon Higgins. His favourite weapon: the katana. Let me quote the GenreCon website: "A former police officer and homicide investigator, Simon came fifth in Iaido’s World Titles in Japan in 2008."

That in itself would have been good enough for me. But Simon's also a writer and a highly entertaining speaker. What I got out of the session would take pages and pages to report (I took pages and pages of notes, and actually wish I'd recorded the session, copyright laws be damned). So, here are a few memorable pointers:
  • When you're in a fight, time slows down.
  • Mention the above fact in your writing, but don't go overboard reporting every excruciating detail in slow motion.
  • Like in a sex scene, Tag A Into Slot B gets boring pretty fast, unless you include emotions, senses, stakes. So:
  • When writing, less is more.
  • Do your research.
  • Mr Spock was so wrong about the pressure point. Human Nature Interesting Fact 1: everybody in the audience wanted to know where the correct pressure point was. When I got back to my hotel, the 8-year old and the 44-year old both wanted to know where the correct pressure point was. Human Nature Interesting Fact 2: The 10-year old's female, and all she wanted to know was what Simon's fighting clothes looked like. :-)
Have a look at Simon's books and at the photos from the session (yes, I volunteered for the pressure point demonstration):

Simon Higgins and Yvonne Walus - this is one of the pressure points

Simon Higgins and Yvonne Walus - this is _not_ one of the pressure points ;-)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

GenreCon Sydney 2012 - Part 1 - Adult Themes

GenreCon Sydney 2012 - where do I start? Chronologically, or with the highlights?

My writer's soul tells me to go with the highlights, the trouble is, everything was a highlight. From meeting new people and seeing new places, to learning about Windsor "Win" Horne Lockwood The Third's fighting secrets and having my website reviewed by a Smart Bitch (thank you, Sarah).

And so, chronologically it will have to be.

Picture this, Sydney, Australia. The day is Friday, 2 November 2012. Actually, it's night already. We've all had a few glasses of bubbly at the GenreCon cocktail party. The scene has been set for the inaugural panel of the conference: Adult Themes. Participants: Yvonne Walus aka Eve Summers, Martin Livings and Denise Rossetti. Expertly chaired by the gorgeous Rosie Courtney of Fangtastic Fiction, who reminded us to set our phones to vibrate, the panel tackled questions ranging from what's acceptable in modern fiction as a theme and what words are too offensive to put in print.

We touched on the responsibility of the author towards our readers. We drew fine lines between titillation and shock. We side-tracked onto a certain female-flavoured four-letter word that starts with a C.

Best of all, we laughed.

From your left: Denise Rossetti, Rosie Courtney, Yvonne Walus, Martin Livings.  

And afterwards I went home to this view:

View from my room at the Shangri-La hotel in Sydney. Magnificent!