There was only one thing I wanted to get for Christmas this year, and with a day to go, I made it. Sylvianna, my book, is online and available for purchase.
So, this is a, shall we say, less than objective book review, but I'll try.
This is the single most brilliant piece of writing you will ever read. As soon as you devour the first sentence of the first page you'll be hooked, and by the time you finish the last line of the last page, you'll be ready to build shrines to my brilliance and will have started to fill out the paperwork to change your children's names to the names of my characters.
Hmmm... that might be a tad hyperbolic.
It's good. I feel like I can say that honestly, not just as the person who wrote it, but as a person who reads a lot.
Sylvianna is the first book in a three book series. This one is a modern day set tale of magic, the search for redemption, tying up loose ends, and true love. It's a story of some basically good people who made some very bad decisions and how they deal with the fall out of those decisions. It took me eight months to write the basic story, and another eight months to edit, re-write, re-edit, re-re-write, and then edit one more time that first story into a book I'm proud I wrote.
I loved Harry Potter. I even loved (well, really liked) Deathly Hallows on the first read through. Then I started to think about it critically and disappointment crept in. It needed a real editor. It needed someone to explain to JKR that it's not okay to suddenly introduce all the pieces of the puzzle in the final installment, especially since a good two thirds of them really should have been introduced in earlier books. (Like, I don't know, when Harry is learning about wands for the first time, maybe that would be a good time to talk about how they work and wand mythos. Or just possibly in one of the early Christmas scenes Beedle the Bard's stories could have been mentioned as say, I don't know, a present for a little sibling not yet at school or something.) And most of all, someone needed to read that book, give it back to her, and say, "There is no purpose to the Deathly Hallows even being in this book."
I loved the first two books of His Dark Materials, and loathed the third book. Not only did the story suddenly go off the rails when Pullman decided he wasn't going to write the story he set up, but he also wrote the least romantic romance in the history of best selling novels. If romance was the temptation that was supposed to give Will and Lyra second thoughts about closing all the cuts, it would have been nice if that romance had actually developed more than ten minutes before they had to close the cuts. He spent two novels getting us ready for a massive battle of good and evil, God v. Man, and then pulled the rug out from under us by devoting less then ten pages to that battle. After the set up of the first two books, readers did not want to spend hours wading through an anthropology lesson about Mulefa. Once again, the idea of the Dust is pretty cool (just like the idea for how wands work in Harry Potter was cool) but diverting away from the climax of the story to tell that tale is not a good writing technique.
I didn't love Twilight. I tried. I can't get past page 115. There's not a single character in that book I had any desire to spend another minute with. I can deal with unsympathetic characters, as long as they have some redeeming qualities (House for example.) If the Twilight characters had redeeming qualities, I couldn't stick with the book long enough to learn about them.
So, why is that important? After all this is about Sylvianna, not those books. I had a story I wanted to tell, and quite a few ways to go about telling it. But as I went through I kept the things I learned from reading those series in mind. And I kept things in mind from reading books I adored. You probably have to be me to see what I learned from Lonesome Dove in Sylvianna, but it's there. You don't have to be me to see that Sylvianna has a romance that matters to not only the characters, but to the people reading it. You don't have to be me to notice that forays into the forest of useless plot are non-existent. (If you ever find yourself thinking, "Why on earth am I reading this?" just keep reading, it will be relevant sooner or later.) And you don't have to be me to like the characters.
As I said, I think the book is genuinely good. You can get it from Amazon at the above link. That's the 4.99 Kindle version. You can get it on Smashwords for 4.99 as well, and they offer basically any electronic format you could dream of. Or you can get it at CreateSpace in a physical book edition for 14.99.