Horns by Joe Hill

This book was brought to my attention by my good friends over at http://www.scifisaturdaynight.com/ in their recent podcast on March 21st 2011. Now I’ll admit I was listening while doing other stuff, so I didn’t hear what led up to their discussion of the book(sometimes I tune out when Shia LeBeouf is mentioned) I tuned in when I heard the book was as good as The Golden Compass which is one of my top ten books of ever. Of course I had to scramble to figure out what they were talking about, and then run out and get it from the library. Not disappointed, not even a little. While Horns is nothing like Golden Compass it is just as enthralling.

We join the main character, Ig, the morning after an alcoholic bender. The last thing he remembers is peeing on a statue of the Virgin Mary someone placed at the site of his ex-girlfriend Merrin’s murder. Sometime between then and the morning, he grew a pair of horns. After the usual worries that he is losing his mind, he figures out the horns have a way of making people tell him their darkest secrets and desires. If he touches someone, he knows even more.

The characters are well crafted, and within pages you are drawn into Ig’s story. The secrets he learns are at turns amusing, disgusting, and horrifying, but you want to hear more. Each secret reveals a little bit of the story that led up to Merrin’s murder. The book is part love story, part horror/thriller with a little bit of humor thrown in, but none of it ever feels out of place or forced. Each piece of the book clings to your mind, leaving you thinking about it days later, as all the best stories do.


Music in Audio books

So for years audio books have existed in their simplest forms, just people reading the words of the author as they were written, telling the story as it was meant to be. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I always thought that was enough.

I have a wonderful job that allows me to listen to audio books while I work, and I have noticed a recent trend to add a soundtrack or sound effects to a book. This seems completely unnecessary to me. That’s right James Patterson, I’m talking to you. The fight scenes in the Maximum Ride series are not enhanced by the strange hyper techno music played in the background, and the helicopter landing scene definitely doesn’t need background music.

To me the music in audio books just feels forced, it also is a bit insulting/ a cop out. It’ s like just because we like giant action movies with crazy special effects and emotional music cues they we can’t appreciate a well written work without adding those same things to it. A cop out because it feels like they didn’t think the author’s words were good enough on their own to create the excitement that music would make a reader feel. With a well written book there is no need for any such music. Take “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan, that book was terrifying to listen to without any sounds added and it would have been easy to add threatening music to it. Thankfully, no one decided to do that.

Books are words, let’s leave them that way.


Through the Loop

Finally decided what book to start posting on Textnovel. It’s actually the first book that I ever wrote called “Through the Loop”. This book follows seventeen-year-old Hailey, her fourteen-year-old brother Craig, and their friends as they fall through a portal into another region known as Rownomfer. The region is at once more and less developed than our own. Once there, they take up with a band of rebels made up of cyganics and splices. Cyganics are humans genetically altered so they have computer-like intelligence and sometimes mechanical parts, while splices are humans altered to have animal senses and strengths. This group of rebels know that a trollish war tribe from another region is trying to take over their region, but cannot convince the King because he is too busy trying to kill them simply for existing. Magic and technology move hand in hand through the story as Hailey and the others help fight to save the region and the new friends they have made there.

In posting the book on Textnovel the last few days, I can really see where my writing has improved over the years. I find myself deleting a lot of it and re-writing. At the heart of it I think it was a good story to start with, but I feel the need to change things like a paragraph where every sentence starts with ‘she’ as in the following:

She went to the cupboard and took out a glass. She looked over her shoulder at her brother, but he shook his head. She shrugged, and poured herself a glass of water. She went to sit beside the window, waiting for their father to come home. She wasn’t sure how she would explain what happened.

That’s not a real paragraph, but it is similar to one I deleted. So what started out as an easy, ‘Oh I’ll add this one’ has ended up a lot more work than I expected.

I am adding new chapters as often as possible so follow this link to read.



Starting a new book

Now that Prime is pretty much in Stan’s hands, it’s time to focus on a new book! Of course by ‘focus’ I mean sporadically write a new book while editing a few others and working on a query letter for Prime, but whatever. I actually started the new book a few weeks ago, but only now do I feel like I can focus on it, also by now I know I am past the hump of whether or not it will get finished (Sorry Demon Summer, you weren’t doing it for me).

So perhaps there will be a peek at the new book on Textnovel soon, but for right now I’m not ready to share it with the world. As for plot? Let’s say there is an evil queen, a brave young hero, and maybe just the hint of a love story.