Final ROW80 and Susan Bischoff's Talent Chronicles

Reading author = happy author.

Author reading good books = happy and relaxed author, which is infinitely helpful for both my creativity and willpower (when it comes to Butt in Chair editing. More on that at the end of this post).

I've been very lucky with all the reading I've done since returning from vacation – not a single book has disappointed. First there was Talli Roland's Watching Willow Watts (so sweet and funny!), then there was Joanna Bourne's The Black Hawk (romance! mystery! brilliant writing!) and now I'm in the middle of Kait Nolan's Red, which I'll review next week (but don't wait for me - go get it and read it now!).

I've just finished Susan Bischoff's Heroes 'Til Curfew, the second book in the Talent Chronicles, and I must talk about it.

"All Joss wants is to be left alone -- with Dylan.

But as more Talents are imprisoned by the government, everyone's looking for a leader. Some look to Joss, some to Marco whose new criminal plan threatens Joss's family and friends. Joss wants to stand up to Marco, but Dylan's protective instincts are putting him in harm's way.

Can Joss find a way to embrace both the boy and her hero within?"

Susan's series is another genre – paranormal YA romance – that I don't normally read (yes, really. Will explain below), but her writing just pulls me in and I can't put her books down. Action, me? And yet I don't even notice where once chapter ends and the other begins.

It's wonderful to read a story with such strong characters and consistent voices, to be pulled through the twists and turns of the plot along with the protagonists, to laugh at all the one-liners... and I haven't even mentioned the kissing... ooh!

Now, it does sound strange for me to say I don't read romance, doesn’t it? Especially as I’ve just reviewed two romance books within one week. As I said, though, I’ve been very lucky in that the books I’ve been reading have been good ones. The other day I skimmed through an old Harlequin from the late 70s/early 80s and it was awful. The fact that it was 30 years old had nothing to do with it – I can read books from two hundred years ago and enjoy them just fine, if they're written well (and it's perfectly possible that they might not be – have you ever come across After London by Richard Jeffries (1886)? Now that's a time waster!).

That said, let's see if I can list (because I love lists) all the things that are wrong with bad romance novels. Basically, it drives me up the wall whenever the hero and heroine:

1. each love the other but one or both won't admit to their feelings ("I don"t want to seem weak", "he/she can't possible care for me so I won't say anything", "I'll never stoop to being honest!");

2. have passionate affairs but refuse to commit/reveal their relationship/admit their feelings;

3. have passionate affairs that don't require speech because they pretend to hate each other until roughly 20 pages before the end of the story;

4. DON'T TALK, and pointless avoidable misunderstandings ensue;

5. are forced into marriage, swoon over each other, but still pretend to hate being married;

6. listen to negative words from other characters, to the detriment of their love; and

7. have ugly, badly-described, clinical affairs (this is obviously a writing style preference and not a story preference).

Did I miss any? Do you disagree with any?

Also, one last thing - we're on the final week of A Round of Words in 80 Days and this is my last check in!

I don't remember what my goals were at the start. I'm sure I said something vague like "edit the novel" - and I have! I printed the entire thing, got lots of great advice from Barbara Rogan and my fellow participants at the Revising Fiction Workshop, and edited the heck out of 176 pages/140,000 words.

As of last night, I'm down to 269 pages/127,000 words and I'm on page 74 of entering in all my handwritten edits.

Hope to begin querying at the end of the month!

Thanks to everyone who participated, it's been great seeing everyone's progress. Join us in the next round, starting soon!

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