MJ Duncan - Atramentum

For our January meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed MJ Duncan's novel, Atramentum. If you weren't able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://tinyurl.com/lesficlove (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we're reading next).Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you'll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc

Reader 1 Book club time! So we normally have the author pop in to answer questions during book club, but MJ had a prior obligation today and couldn't make it - that means this time around we'll run it more like a traditional book club and just talk amongst ourselves What did everyone think of Atramentum?

Reader 3 I loved it. MJ Duncan is fantastic at developing her characters beyond the 2 dimensional her stories have deep, meaningful plot points.

Reader 2 And I loved it!! Never cried so much in my life

Reader 4 Loved it, so cute and wonderful

Reader 2 Lol I agree with you Reader 3 for sure I hate when authors are horrible about expanding their characters beyond 2 dimensional which is why i think i love lesfic so much

Reader 4 I was seriously worried it would be super angsty for some reason and was just super sweet

Reader 1 Just a random feeling or were you expecting the angst based on something in particular?

Reader 2 Why the super angsty?

Reader 3 I worry about super angsty in most lesfic. I'm a little high strung, if you don't know. lol

Reader 2 The moment George knocked over Joss I was like that dog is amazing at matchmaking lol

Reader 3 we all deserve a dog like that

Reader 4 I don’t know. Something in the blurb pinged me as potentially angsty

Reader 2 Lol whats a story with out a little angst it keeps the readers engaged which is why I think I love Cara's books she has the perfect angst ratio

Reader 1 Okay so basic question that as an author I should already know the answer to lol... how are you guys defining angst? What makes a book super angsty?

Reader 4 Normal angst is necessary. But a constant back and forth is torture

Reader 1 Okay, so angst is basically the "will they, won't they" rollercoaster?

Reader 4 Where I am screaming “just talk to each other already”

Reader 3 To me, it's drama that is unnecessary. or, the fear of the unknown.

Reader 5 A bumpy road, misunderstandings............

Reader 4 Or “get some therapy” lol Yes, unnecessary is a good word

Reader 5 Or just "be honest with each other "!

Reader 2 Yes that leads to more angst then needed for me lol

Reader 4 And doing that well is hard. It’s done well when the writer shares with us why the character isn’t talking or getting therapy. So we can be frustrated but understand

Reader 2 The struggle of knowing what you want but turning around and running from it just because yur more scared then you need to be..

Reader 4 Yeah I love romance/contemporarys that deal with heavier, darker stuff... But the kind of angst that's just drama for dramas sake is not welcome.

Reader 4 The reason for the drama shouldn’t be “because romancing the beat says I need a conflict 33% of the way in”

Reader 6 Angst for me is when I feel like I want to cry or shake the MC but have to trust in the HEA

Reader 2 Thats how most of it is though Reader 4 lol

Reader 4 And that’s when you read story genius so you know how to find the real drama instead of artificially creating it ;-) Also a good explanation

Reader 6 So it's the tension of knowing they are being knuckleheads but it will work out

Reader 2 Exactly and not many have concured that as well as others

Reader 4 In this book it felt natural

Reader 4 And a bear attack is completely realistic for the mountains of colorado

Reader 3 for me, angst is unnecessary pain. Characters need to grow and live and such. But, I dont feel it needs to be to the detriment of the reader's emotions.

Reader 2 Defiently is specially where they live by the lake

Reader 4 And I always love stories set in Colorado:-)

Reader 5 But it's great to see how differently you all write the 'tension'. Great description @Reader 6. Not knowing the US the bear attack was a total shock to me.

Reader 1 I live in Ohio and I was not expecting a bear either haha

Reader 4 I constantly forget bears are a problem. We are so screwed when we move to the mountains eventually bc we will forget food in the car and a bear will get in. I already know.

Reader 2 Its more common in Colorado shockingly then you would think i live in Wyoming and it could happen here.

Reader 4 There are so many videos of bears here. In cars. Wandering the streets.

Reader 3 What's a bear? Oh, those things at the zoo. gotcha. (I'm kidding...city life is spoiling me. i miss missouri and "wildlife")

Reader 4 I am glad she mentioned they didn’t find the bear. It didn’t deserve to die

Reader 2 As long as you know te precautions for if there bears you will be fine. Most of the time they aren't confertational really unless a cub is involved lr feel threatened like any animal

Reader 5 Worst we'd get is a fox here lol, but they don't generally attack.

Reader 4 Bears like to get i to cars for snacks. Not people snack but the food people eat lol

Reader 2 We've had a moosed loose in town before that was fun

Reader 4 There was a video last week of a moose charging skiers here

Reader 6 I think that's what I like about all her books, her sense of place is so clear and on point

Reader 6 Colorado, boat in Caribbean, it's always enough to sound true but not so much I feel I've stumbled into a history book

Reader 7 Bears aren't that unusual actually even for the city. I live in Los Angeles and although you hear about the bears on the outskirts our real problem is the mountain lions and seen coyotes very frequently here in the valley.

Reader 3 We have snakes and alligators. That's about all that happens where I am. outside of town...we don't discuss.

Reader 1 Alligators in town?!

Reader 4 I saw a mama and 2 cubs cross in front of the can on a field trip. Far enough away to be safe. In the waterways. Have you seen scorpions? That was the most shocking for us in Houston.

Reader 1 I once got between a mama bear and her cub in the Smokeys and it was terrifying. Kind of cool since I lived to tell the tale tho.

Reader 3 How did you live to tell the tale??!

Reader 1 We were on a hiking trail with a hill on one side and a cliff on the other. Mama came down the hill in front of us, then down the cliff. I had no idea baby bear was following behind her so we kept walking, then baby started to come down and I ended up in the middle of them. Mama came back up on the trail and backed us up slowly until we were out of her way, then baby came down and they left.View newer replies Meanwhile this hysterical woman on the other side of the trail was watching the whole thing and screaming, and I was pretty sure *she* was going to be the reason I got mauled by a bear.

Reader 2 Oh damn Reader 1! Some people just dont get it do they you can't t freak out with wildlife its what sets them off I can honestly say I've never come across a bear thankfully though coyotes are horrible

Reader 4 Same. This was my first of hers.

Reader 3 Spectrum was brilliant.

Reader 2 It definitely set the bar for her other books but ibve heard great things from all her books so im excited to read more

Reader 8 I really liked her newest one Heist. It was a little different.

Reader 3 That's the one I havent read. shows you how behind I am

Reader 2 I will start reading them all once I'm done will Cara's and Saxxons lol I should get to MJ's around maybe march... Layce Saxxon have a ton

Reader 4 Are her other books similar angst levels? Or are any super sad?

Reader 3 Her other books are pretty even. I haven't read her most recent (TBR list is huge), but the rest are the same. nothing as dramatic as the dog getting hurt, though. scary.

Reader 6 I don't consider them super sad

Reader 7 Similar level I would say but they are different. Different locations and still have the humor that gives it the character the realistic feel

Reader 4 Perfect

Reader 3 and the lovey gooey stuff that makes me happy.

Reader 6 I think angst also translates to reader worry for MC and huge win for writer if we're that invested in the character (edited)

Reader 2 I love the lovey gooey stuff

Reader 1 Oh, different locations - interesting. I assumed MJ was from Colorado because the setting was so vivid.

Reader 4 When angst is done well (casting lacey for example) it’s amazing.

Reader 3 Agreed. Or in Jea Hawkins’s novels.

Reader 4 Exactly

Reader 3 They never stress me out, but they keep me glued to the page. it's amazing and intimidating.

Reader 4 Oh i get stressed out. Lol

Reader 4 Which is why I do my best to make sure the conflict makes sense and is necessary. Not torture for torture’s sake. I am a wimp

Reader 5 Anyhow back to George. Great character canine or not. I have a big personality dog too. A great introduction.

Reader 4 Perfect doggie character She was lovely

Reader 1 Yeah she really was a third MC and not just a token animal

Reader 4 And she kept things moving literally and figuratively

Reader 1 Absolute favorite line in the book - "Fuck the cheesecake, Joss needs help!"

Reader 2 She really was the best! I don't think I've read a dog so well written before it was very enticing

Reader 4 Hahahaha yes!

Reader 1 I feel like this could easily work its way into my regular vocabulary.

Reader 2 Haha mine too!! It was the perfect time to break the tension for a minute

Reader 4 Yes. And wtf animal control?! Priorities please

Reader 1 Although in general, that sentiment toward cheesecake... :scream: But in that moment, it was justifiable.

Reader 3 George was the most well developed canine character I've read. which is a weird thing to say, now that I think about it.

Reader 2 Animal control is a joke sometimes specially for emergencies if they are preoccupied as they were so yeah pretty straight on there

Reader 2 Yes cheesecake is amazing lol but I would've said the same thing

Reader 1 I have a friend who has Great Danes and they're really cool dogs, but I never thought about what you do if your dog isn't able to move on their own with a breed that large. :disappointed:

Reader 4 Yeah definitely a challenge

Reader 2 Its not something you want to think about honestly. So you tend not to

Reader 3 Max has a wheelbarrow-like dolly. and he is considerably smaller than George.

Reader 6 Neighbors had bull mastiffs, they needed like a gurney thing they slide into their back seat But no idea if single person

Reader 4 Doubtful one person could

Reader 3 holy cripes, those are *huge* dogs.

Reader 7 Not sure about all locations as truthfully I sometimes mix my authors but this was a reread for me but I had read previously one that took place I think in Hawaii but she is very good at describing locations and one of the things I enjoy about her writting

Reader 4 So I find this interesting. No one brought up the sizzling chemistry?

Reader 3 Their chemistry was so wonderfully written. That's just how much I love this book, that I first read it 2 years ago and am still obsessed.

Reader 6 I'd like to know if there was any order for the books because there are cross references to characters

Reader 3 Not officially. Unlike some other's series (achem), there is no need to read in order. I love the flirting and teasing. and the bookstore, obviously.

Reader 4 What characters?

Reader 2 From the moment George knocked Joss over it was on point! I was wanting to hit Joss in the head for not noticing it sooner who else would wake up so early just to let there dog run after a girl lol

Reader 6 The vineyard one has my fave chemistry

Reader 1 For those of you who have read other MJ Duncan books, which one would you recommend next for those of us who have only read Atramentum?

Reader 6 Toss up between symphony in blue and spectrum

Reader 2 Yes! I was thinking of reading Symphony in Blue next of hers

Reader 6 But I love them all, second chances felt lightest of her books so far, but still loved

Reader 3 I read spectrum first before Atramentum, so I agree that symphony should be next. Yeeesh, I love mj. only the teensiest bit happy she isnt on here cause i would be freaking out.

Reader 7 Read them all in a weeks time so not sure I would put in any particular order. But perhaps Second Chances

Reader 2 Do they all coincide with each other though which is what determines that for me lol

Reader 4 Yes what characters are cameos

Reader 2 Hmm it doesnt matter lol i read for the story im reading not thw background people lol

Reader 1 It sounds like the MJ books are the same, from what someone further up-thread said So I guess you're safest to just read them in chronological order?

Reader 2 Im gonna have to find from her very first book written then and go from there

Reader 3 They are more casually mentioned than in Lakeside (only because there is less cross-over). I believe the first is spectrum. Ugh. googling.

Reader 4 I’m already out of order on both then But i knew i was out of order on lakeside

Reader 3 Veritas.

Reader 4 I didn’t know this was connected to any others

Reader 3 Veritas was written..