And a rule worth breaking is a rule worth jumping up and down on repeatedly.
Advance Reader's Copies make me generally happy, because they are books, and they come to me early, and I love them. But then I find myself getting edgy, because - what did I do to deserve lovely, lovely early free books? Should I not support authors by buying them?
Therefore, I came up with a solution! Give away Advance Readers' Copies, therefore both forcing myself to buy my own copies and doing a Good Deed.
So this lying liar who lies is giving away Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Ice by Sarah Beth Durst, two chilly treats upon a summer's day.
The fact I have an ARC of Shiver is almost miraculous.
Maggie Stiefvater asked me if I'd like an advance copy of her first book Lament, I said 'OHMIGOSH yes' and the copy arrived: it was before bound ARCs had been made, and so super special. I was delighted to get it! I decided to take an afternoon off and go to the park.
Oh, SELF. How many years have you lived in Ireland?
There I was, lying on my stomach in the grass happily falling for a minor character, when of course the heavens opened and wind and rain pelted down in my direction. The pages went flying and I shrieked my head off and grabbed at them wildly.
A PARK: weather stormy
A GIRL (shrieking and running around searching for papers): LAMENT! LAMENT!
SPECTATORS: We realise that this is unfortunate, but we were not actually expecting her to scream in mourning.
I went home and wept into half a soggy manuscript, both saddened not to have more of James the Beloved Minor Character and because I was now convinced Maggie Stiefvater would hate me.
MY FRIENDS: Just tell her what happened.
SARAH: TELL HER THAT THE BOOK BLEW AWAY? Nobody will believe that!
SARAH: So... uh... Maggie... not sure how to tell you this but uh... the book blew away?
MAGGIE: Huh. I would not normally believe this, but it is a totally ridiculous thing to happen, and since it's you, your story does check out.
SARAH: Ridiculous things happen to me daily, it's true.
MAGGIE: Hey, you want an ARC of Shiver?
SARAH: Ohmigosh yes.
MAGGIE: And you won't let it...
SARAH: I SWEAR TO GUARD IT WITH MY LIFE.
MAGGIE: Just read it indoors, that's all I'm sayin'.
Mostly with books I'm giving away, they're already out, and I figure, well, I'll put spoilers under a cut, and people who click instead of going out and buying the book want to be spoiled! But it is not actually possible to buy these books, so I thought I would go with a different method of talking about them: focusing on the details about them I found cool and unusual! And thus saving people who cannot wait from themselves. And also dwelling fondly on the things that don't get much attention in reviews.
So all right, Shiver in overview: A Girl. A Werewolf. It is Fate!
I may have already mentioned Minor Character James in Lament, because he was my favourite! Now I have Strong Views on minor characters. I like them. I want to like them: I want them to have full lives outside the protagonists, to have all sorts of things going on besides the protagonists, I want them to be believable and often I want them to be awesome.
In some most excellent books, the supporting characters are my favourites: Felicity Worthington from Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty (the aristocratic blonde in a feisty redhead's novel), Stefan from Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series (the Scooby Doo van-driving vampire in a werewolf-filled world) and Valefor from Ysabeau Wilce's Flora Segunda books (soul-stealing gender-bending butler in a feisty redhead's novel).
My favourite from Shiver is Isabel 'Did That Werewolf Just Eat My Chihuahua OH HELL NO' Culpepper. You may have seen such blondes as Isabel as Regina in Mean Girls and Sharpay in High School Musical.
... Or you may currently be judging me for my movie-watching habits, and that's fair.
I have always liked mean blond people myself. I'm not sure why: probably Colin from The Secret Garden ruined me at an early age. So I approved of Isabel from the get-go. But like all minor characters should, Isabel has a lot going on besides being that girl you didn't like at school: she's smart, she's brave, she's sensible, she's the planner, and she has lots of sisterly devotion. I'm such a sucker for familial relationships. It may be an even bigger weakness than the mean blond people.
The mystery of how I got Ice is less mysterious.
SARAH: Gosh I hear you're editing Ice gosh I sure do love fairytales gosh I sure do love Beauty and the Beast gosh I sure do love-
EDITOR: If I send you Ice, will you be quiet?
SARAH: ... I make no promises.
Ice in overview: A Girl. A Giant Magical Polar Bear. It is Fate!
Something I have Views on besides minor characters is the heroine's life. Namely, she has to have one besides the hero. (And obviously, you know, vice versa, fair's fair. I do not personally demand that my boyfriends spend their time crafting shrines to me in all my glory as I read, rock out to country music and construct elaborate theories about long-past historical events.)
Cassie lives on a research station in the Arctic. She tracks polar bears all by herself, she wants to do undergrad science courses remotely so she doesn't have to leave the station, and she has a T-shirt that says 'ALASKA - WHERE MEN ARE MEN AND WOMEN WIN THE IDITAROD.'
I believed in Cassie's passions and hobbies, and that made me invest in her as a person and in her romance. Another writer who does this marvellously is Robin McKinley: she did baking in her vampire novel Sunshine and beekeeping in her high fantasy Chalice, and I looove it. Though it does mean that there exists in this world a vampire novel which makes me totally ravenous.
There is naturally a lot more to both Shiver and Ice than Isabel and the Arctic, but you will have to read them to find out! Hands up who wants one of them - two winners will be picked randomly, and announced later this week, possibly when I put up a short story in accordance with My Big Idea, if that works out!
And of course, I would love it if you talked in the comments about minor characters you have loved, and heroes and heroines with fascinating hobbies.