I don’t usually do Top Ten Lists, because everyone does Top Ten Lists at the end of the year, and I’m not exactly a follower. That being said, it occurred to me today that I do have something I could do a Top Ten List about after all – ranking my favorite non-JCU books that I’ve written (because now I have ten of them published, see?). So here we go, from least favorite to most favorite:
My Top Ten Favorite Non-JCU Novels I’ve Written
What it’s about: An intrepid reporter and a sword-swinging milkman uncover an alien plot to take over the world, and enlist an army of eccentric bikers to try to halt the invasion before it begins.
What I love about it: It’s so damn wacky. I couldn’t tell you what was going through my mind when I blasted this one out in my very first NaNoWriMo, back in 2004. Two words: Sentient farts.
What I don’t love about it: It’s pretty clearly a novice effort when it comes to writing, and the cracks show through even though I went through and edited and revised it a few years back. Even though it has been shown definitively that you can polish a turd, at the end of the day, all you have is a shiny turd.
What it’s about:A professional assassin and her ragtag band of partners become embroiled in a plot to start an interstellar war.
What I love about it: It’s the first book I wrote, and you always have fond memories of your first time. There’s some real Star Wars-y kind of fun in this one, which also has to do with why I don’t love it.
What I don’t love about it: It’s Star Wars fanfiction, plain and simple. It was originally intended as a canon Star Wars book, before I knew that you can’t just write them and get them published. I went through it awhile back and removed all Lucasian references and turned it into something else. I don’t think it’s quite as good as when it was fanfiction, but it’s still a damn sight better than the Star Wars prequels.
What it’s about: Food. Two recent high school graduates compete in a televised cooking competition with a huge prize at stake, but only one can win, and it will test their friendship to the very limits.
What I love about it: Food. Who doesn’t love food? It’s been shown conclusively that people who don’t eat food die. And this book will make you hungry. I guarantee it. It’s got some great cooking in it (that’s better than I can cook!), and it is a lot of fun to read.
What I don’t love about it: It’s just kind of . . . meh. My former agent couldn’t sell this one, and although I think it’s a decent story with interesting characters, writing YA fare is just not my forte (with one notable exception to be mentioned later in this list).
What it’s about: Despite being mortal enemies, a werewolf vigilante and a vampire superhero must join forces to prevent the opening of a portal to the realm of demons, unleashing Hell on Earth.
What I love about it: It’s Batman if I was writing Batman. White Fang is everything awesome about being a dark avenger of the night, and Nightfall is the perfect foil for him.
What I don’t love about it: It’s fun, and I enjoyed writing it, but it’s definitely in the bottom half of the works of which I am most proud, probably because I was trying to do a serious take on vampires, and I just can’t take vampires seriously, as will be shown later in this list.
What it’s about: Three mercenaries are hired to retrieve a rare collectible for the owner of a powerful megacorp, but to do so they’ll have to travel into some of the most dangerous places on Earth, with only their wits and a few choice pieces of high-tech hardware to help them along the way.
What I love about it: The action, bar none. This is by far my penultimate big-budget action movie of a book. It’s nonstop chases, gunfights, chases, battles, hacking, and more chases. More than one reader has told me they couldn’t put it down because of the pacing and at times they had to catch their breath. What better compliment could any writer get?
What I don’t love about it: It still shows a lot of the novice-writer foibles to which all authors are prone (It was written in 2007).
What it’s about: A pregnant stripper and her companion, Undead Elvis, travel across a post-apocalyptic Earth in search of the last safe place: Graceland.
What I love about it: This was such a surprise to me when I wrote it. The religious subject material is way outside of my normal fare or comfort zone, and yet it somehow all came together in the end. It’s a damn good story, no matter what kind of dogma you’re coming from.
What I don’t love about it: It’s so far out of the box for me that people who know me wouldn’t believe I wrote it. Fans of my other work wouldn’t know what to make of it, and people who truly love this one will be astonished that I could also write something like Starf*cker.
What it’s about: (These are sort of cheating, because they’re two books, but they belong to the same series and I’m lumping them together because I don’t want to pick a favorite) An exiled Elf veteran travels to the frontier of the New World and finds that despite crossing half the world to escape his troubles, being a marked man means troubles have a way of finding him regardless.
What I love about it:
I have a real weakness for Westerns, and these books tell a tale I’ve been longing to bring to light for some time. My idea was simple: take a fantasy setting with Elves and Dwarves and such and advance it to the era of steam power and gunpowder. This is the story that came from it. I love the setting, and the Horkish character of Ullu may very well be my favorite character of all time. Faw!
What I don’t love about it: Sadly, I may never write the third book in this planned trilogy. It’s my personal pet project, and consequently not very popular amongst readers. Someday I may find the time to sit down and write Pariah’s Nation, but I fear it may be many years away yet.
What it’s about: Aging, out-of-work porn actor John Irish finds a new lease on life when he’s recruited by a beautiful alien to help her save her dying race, but what she has in mind goes beyond even his wildest movie action.
What I love about it: OMG, you guys, this book was SO much fun to write! I pitched it in my brain as “What if John Carter of Mars was actually a male porn star?” and it just snowballed from there. There are some great action sequences, some ridiculous character moments, and some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever written (hint: there’s a starship whose name translates as the Buttery Nipple).
What I don’t love about it: Nothing. I really like this book. It’s one of my better sellers. I wish more people would read it.
What it’s about:
When vampirism starts infesting a perennially-losing minor league hockey team in small-town British Columbia, it’s up to one player to keep the infection from spreading further. But when the team starts winning, sometimes it’s tough to justify the struggle against the creatures of darkness.
What I love about it:
Up until I wrote the number one book on this list, this was my favorite non-superhero book. It’s so much fun. It’s cinematic. It’s funny. It’s got Jewish heroes, it spoofs the Twilight craze, and it has–no shit–a vampire hunter named Doogie Van Halen. I’ve had non-hockey fans comment on how much they loved this one.
What I don’t love about it: It’s just not that popular, and that’s a loss for everyone who hasn’t read it.
What it’s about:
When a new guitar player transfers to Jericho High, she finds herself between two bands vying for her skills for an upcoming competition. Along with her new friend the school journalist, the guitarist must play both bands against each other to get what she really wants, even though things eventually escalate to violence and more.
What I love about it: This one surprised me at how easily it flowed. It got me an agent, even though she couldn’t sell it. It has some great characters and some real moments. It’s one of the best romances I’ve ever written, and it’s an unflinching look at how dark things can be in high school.
What I don’t love about it: It didn’t get picked up by any big publishers. Or any small ones. They really missed out.