Friday, June 30, 2006


My holiday celebrations are starting a bit early. Not really, because I'm at home only because I don't have a Friday sitter. Not that I don't love my children, but I know that I'm going to be subject to a number of cartoons and coloring pages before I go back to work on Wednesday.

I am so behind at work too. I sent someone an email yesterday and forgot the f*ing attachment. And since it is on my desktop, I can't send it from home.

So I'm going to pretend that I don't know that I did it wrong and "fix" it next week.

See you around and have a great holiday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris

Title: Gentlemen & Players

Author: Joanne Harris

Genre: Fiction

Summary: St. Oswald's is under attack by a former student and imposter. Roy Straitley has spent 33 years teaching and knows that the school is impervious to attack. It's reputation simply won't stand for it.

The Take-Away: Roy Straitley has seen it all. Nothing about teaching surprises him. But the latest trend of pranks seems to have a malicious bend that goes beyond the normal disgruntled student. He can't place it exactly, but suspects something more sinister than rambuctious students.

The story is told in first person by Roy Straitley and the attacker (I promise to not spoil the plot.) At times it was somewhat confusing as to who was telling the new section, but usually by the second paragraph, it was clear. As Roy Straightley bumbles his way through an unintentional investigation (really, he's just wants to stop the troublemaker so the term goes smoothly,) the reader is also fed information by the attacker. This "behind the scenes" look keeps the reader guessing as to who is behind the attacks as well as showing that Straightley has it wrong, even when his instincts are on track.

The characters are delightful. I really enjoyed seeing Straightley's personality developed from his own actions, told both by himself and the attacker.

Recommendation: Read it. And check out the back list.

Bonus Review: Review by Word Nerd

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Technorati tag:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quarterlife Crisis by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner

Title: Quarterlife Crisis : The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties

Author: Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner

Genre: Non-Fiction

Summary: Interviews and anecdotal stories about where college gets you and what life is like after high school, but before marriage and kids.

The Take-Away: I wish I had found this book when I was having difficulties deciding on a major career change. Not that it offered advice as far as what to do, but knowledge that others had the same story. The truth about where a college degree will get you, why experience matters and how college translates to a first job and apartment is told throught the voice of hundreds of twentysomethings. It's an honest review of what I now know.

It provides validation for the struggles that college grads experience.

The best part of this story was the last chapter when the authors spoke with a ninetysomething. His advice put the whole book in perspective. He believes that every decade experiences its own crisis.

The authors' goal with this title was awareness. Sequels have been written by each and can be found in the bonus section.

Recommendation: A good picture of what it's like to be twentysomething, but no guidelines or answers are presented. It's great research material for characters who fall into that "twentysomething" category.

Bonus: Quarterlifer's Companion by Abby Wilner

Bonus: Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis by Alexandra Robbins

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Technorati tag:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And the Winner is...

Last week I offered a copy of Sarah Strohmeyer's newest book, the Cinderella Pact, to anyone who left a comment.

Through the extremely scientific approach of throwing everyone's name in a bucket and asking my almost 3yo to pick one piece of paper, I now have a winner.

We really had to work on the concept of one piece of paper and not a handful.

The winner is Kelly Parra, of Words of a Writer. Kelly, if you email me your shipping address, I'll send you a copy.

Thanks, everyone!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Stiff and the Dead by Lori Avocato

Title: The Stiff and the Dead

Author: Lori Avocato

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: Medical fraud investigator, Pauline Sokol, needs to solve a prescription drug fraud case in order to make good on her car payment (for a car she doesn't possess) and her rent.

The Take-Away: Pauline has years of experience as a nurse, but burned out. As an investigator, she knows the clues to look for, but finding them is a challenge. She has two men helping her -- both in the field and in heating up her hormones. Her in-office help looks better in coral than Pauline ever will (and she totally envies it).

It's fast-paced book, and well-written, but with a familiar structure.

Recommendation: If you've read Janet Evanovich, you're likely to see the similarities.

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Technorati tag:

Saturday, June 24, 2006

WIP Update, w/e June 24, 2006

Word Count on 6-17-06

Word Count on 6-24-06

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pale Immortal by Anne Frasier

Title: Pale Immortal

Author: Anne Frasier

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: An old legend returns to Tuonela, WI, when the body of a high school student is found in the town square. Evan Stroud is the town's suspect, while the police are finding evidence that gives credence the rumors.

The Take-Away: Evan's problems are compound by an illness called porphyria. High school kids use Evan as the butt of jokes and dares. Evan uses his disease to see the side of Tuonela that few others do. He rooms the town at night, when it is safe for him.

Evan isn't the only haunted person in Tuonela. Rachel Burton has returned and fears the visions of a woman named Victoria. Graham has been threatened his entire life with "If you aren't good, I'll take you to Tuonela to live with your father." His mother made good on the promise and dropped him at Evan's door.

Evan, Rachel and Graham are thrown together in unusual circumstances and supported by a variety of minor characters. Each has vital role in the return of the Pale Immortal.

I read through the first 145 pages without even realizing I had finished more than a third of the book. I read the last half of the book slower, mostly because of my over-active imagination made the most of the terror and turned my shadowy bedroom into a part of Old Tuonela.

Even at the end of the book, I wanted more. The temporary problem of murder is solved, but not the personal struggles of Evan, Rachel and Graham. The characters are long-lasting. I hope that a sequel is planned.

Recommendation: Buy it in September.

Bonus: Behind the Scenes at the Pale Immortal Blog

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Technorati tag:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How Was Your Day Yesterday?

I'm traveling for work this week, which is always a hoot. One, because I love to see new places, meet new people, and plot ideas that both will fit into what I'm working on next. Two, because the co-worker I'm travelling with is a riot and so much fun in general that even though it's work, it's a vacation too.

But there is the inevitable downtime and the martini bar hadn't started yet, so I was catching up with blogs and emails (both the working kind and the non-working kind.) when I had a heart attack. Just on this side of an actual one.

Did I mention that I'm in Pittsburgh, PA?

If you been reading The Lipstick Chronicles as you should be (see this post,) you'd realize that Sarah Strohmeyer, of the Bubbles Fame, is IN Pittsburgh, at Joseph Beth.

What are the chances?

Not only was Sarah there, but Nancy Martin.

Pardon me while I gush. They were the nicest people. The reading was wonderful. Sarah was hysterical, so was Nancy and various others who were there and knew the two. I honestly could go on and go on about how much fun I had. Instead I'll recommend you pick up the Cinderella Pact, Sarah's newest book. Her publisher sprang for sparkles. Seriously, people what more do you want?

Oh, and get this. Thanks you, my readers, my blog sends enough traffic over there, that I could introduce myself as "Stacie Penney, from Raspberry-Latte" and they knew who I was. I get to tell them the crazy coincedental story of my travels and how I blew off dinner with a sales rep who will do good things for my company. (Thank god for great co-workers.)

How awesome is that? Seriously.

As a thank you, to you, the reader, I'm going to give a way a copy of Sarah's new book, the Cinderella Pact. Leave a comment and check back on Monday. I'll draw a name from the hat and post it then.

Yesterday was a great day.

And I still managed to make it to the business function afterwards that I blew off to go to the bookstore instead. (Sorry about that, Kevin. But you were fun too.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Myth of You & Me by Leah Stewart

Title: The Myth of You and Me

Author: Leah Stewart

Genre: Women's Lit

Summary: Cameron as one last task to complete for her now deased employer -- deliver a package to her estranged best friend.

The Take-Away: Powerful. This book charts the development of a friendship, the relationship of a girl and her mother, and what happens when words aren't enough to explain.

I love how Ms Stewart ended the book. It fits the theme, the ultimate goal that the protagonist is supposed to learn about herself, and the relationships she has developed on the way. Ms Stewart takes a look at the choices that are made in a lifetime and uses several characters to illustrate how history molds the person who develops.

The entire story is told through Cameron, in first person, but the words and actions of other characters round out her experience.

Recommendation: Read it and share it with your best girlfriend.

Bonus Review: Conversations with Famous Writers

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Technorati tag:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Favorite Author, Terrible Book

It happens to all of us. A favorite author writes a book that has to be a mistake. Or ghost written. Or has a serious deadline. Whatever the reason, faithful reader plug through, hoping it will get better. Praying that the next novel is.

Michelle Rowen, author of Bitten & Smitten, has just such a problem. And I love the way she handles it.

I am reading a book right now by a long-time fave author of mine. It has received rave reviews *everywhere*. From *everyone*. And I am having a bitch of a time getting through it. The author continues to be a fave.... and I love this series and the characters so, so much... but, sigh. The main character keeps doing things that are not like her. Not at all. And it's ripping me out of the story. For example, the world is essentially coming to an end. The character is sought after by various forces to be killed or worse. And she mentions that she has to work the next day. ??? Though, of course, her being at her job will probably move the plot forward. But, sigh.

Notice the lack of links? Michelle didn't have them either. I have no idea what author this is. I probably could find out with a little research, but I don't want to know.

What I want to know is why she didn't like the book. Evident, isn't it? She goes on to say that the problem might be herself, and not the author or the book, because her week has been stressful.

But I love how she expressed her thought while respecting the author.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

WIP Update, w/e June 17, 2006

Word Count on 6-9-06

Word Count on 6-17-06

Friday, June 16, 2006

Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block

Title: Telling Lies for Fun and Profit

Author: Lawrence Block

Genre: Non-Fiction

Summary: Through a series of columns originally published in the '70s for Writer's Digest, Lawrence Block dispenses advice about writing.

The Take-Away: The writing is humorous. Both know-how and how-it is worked into the book.

One of the things I liked best about the book was the variety of examples. Block uses works that are from others as well as his own. Often he assumes the reader has read the piece. Sometimes, a direct quote is provided. Either way, I felt like I learned quite a bit, even when I was having fun rather than learning.

Recommendation: Buy it.

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Diet Coke and Mentos

I'm easily amused and I freely admit it.

But this video about the effects of Diet Coke and Mentos had me laughing harder than anything else has made me laugh lately. You've got to watch it.

The original link is here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis by Jack Whyte

Title: The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis

Author: Jack Whyte

Genre: Historical

Summary: More of Merlyn's beliefs shape the world Arthur will some day rule, including Merlyn's role in the new world.

The Take-Away: Finally, Arthur is taking a more prominent role. My questions of Merlyn's transformation from soldier to wizard have been answered as well.

Recommendation: Definately worth waiting for.

The Camulod Series Series Titles

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is there such a thing as too much yummy goodness?

If so, The Lipstick Chronicles has it. I have several posts bookmarked to blog about, but I couldn't decide. Nor could I in good conscience steal their content for weeks at a time. (But Oh! the Temptation!)

Instead, here's a re-cap and teaser.

How to Kill Anybody with Anything and Never Get Caught -- Like you really need a blurb for that title.

DISCLAIMER: The information in the following piece is for mystery readers and mystery lovers who enjoy learning about poisons for the sole purpose of driving plot. It is not meant as a technical primer. And I'm so bad at science that it's probably useless anyway.

Geesh, What Ya Gotta Do to Get into Harvard These Days.

But what I really, really hope is that teenage girls stand up for themselves and refuse to be manipulated. I hope they find the great authors who are out there, whom they will think about and draw strength from for years to come. Like Betty Smith. Not a day goes by when I don't think about A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, about Francie and Sissy and Katie and, especially, Johnny. Smith didn't have a book packager. She had a voice. And a gripping story about ordinary people who tried their best and often failed and sometimes achieved a minute of happiness if they were lucky. She is Anna's favorite author, too. That says something about what the YA market should be publishing. We want stories about real people, not The O.C. knock offs.

TLC Customer Service

Do blogs sell books? Create communities? Distract or attract or repel readers? Or are blogs over already? This discussion has come up around our neck of the woods lately. So we here at The Lipstick Chronicles, in the never-ending effort to stay cutting edge, thought we'd ask you, our visitors, what you think.

Seriously, how can you resist giving your opinion?

The Secret to Writing a Book

I am writing this post at the end of a day in which I have written 9,000 words.

My 43-year-old hands are veined and arthritic from hovering over asdf - jkl;, ready for action. My world is no longer my reality. My reality is Lehigh, Pennsylvania, a fictitious town based on my hometown of Bethlehem where I am battling a murderer who kills with lethal hair extensions. The characters are named haphazardly after kids I knew in high school, thereby courting possible lawsuit. Stiletto and Bubbles are into heavy petting. They are having more sex than I feel I ever will. I am, in short, at the end of writing BUBBLES ALL THE WAY. The pub date? November.

That's right - this November. As in seven months. The manuscript was due today. My editor will get it Friday. This is what we call insanity.

How Do You Rate?

Last week, in an upscale suburban neighborhood of an average American mid-Atlantic city, it came to light that some rascally boys at the local high school had created a list of the Top 25 Girls, which rated their classmates according to their physcial attributes, plus useful info on their drug use and willingness to perform oral sex.

Needless to say, if your first thought was, "Gee, I wonder how I would have rated at that school?" you are hereby dismissed from the discussion. Take your copy of Marie Claire magazine and go back to getting your daily dose of Judge Judy.

The Fly-by-the-Seat-of-Your-Pants Club

It's something else, and it's hard to explain.

When I work on a book, I write everyday. Deadlines wait for no one, not even muses. Despite the whining you heard while NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB was in progress, I really like writing. It feeds me in some freaky way, a little like the chocolate-covered pretzels I've been craving. Maybe it's trite to say, but it's like breathing. I don't want to try to live without it, no matter how much I bitch and moan in the process. I also belong to the Fly-by-the-Seat-of-Your-Pants Club, which means I don't outline. I don't fill a binder with copious notes beforehand. I don't even scribble out a synopsis before I sit down at the computer and have at it.

I'm sure I made my point that I love these ladies and hope that you'll give them a read too.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman

Title: The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works - And How It's Transforming the American Economy

Author: Charles Fishman

Genre: Non-Fiction

Summary: Wal-Mart influences every shopping experience Americans have, even if they don't shop at Wal-Mart. Charles Fishman presents a compelling documentary of how they do business and what they should do to protect its supply chain.

The Take-Away: I loved this book. I've never been a fan of Wal-Mart and seldom shop there. (I can count on one hand the number of times we've been there in the last twelve months.) After reading the book, my opinion of Wal-Mart has changed.

Wal-Mart wants the best price always for its shoppers. The methods used to achieve that could be applauded and should in some cases. In other cases, Americans would be outraged if they knew the true cost of those low prices.

Fishman balances both the good and the bad in his review of Wal-Mart. His proposed solution for the power Wal-Mart weilds in the market place is one I support.

Recommendation: Read it, regardless of your views on Wal-Mart.

Bonus Review: A series of articles published in Fast Company by Fishman that form the backbone of the book.

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Friday, June 09, 2006

Balancing Act

Kelly Parra posted a while back about "The Balance" between life and writing. Her post was timely for me.

I recently joined RWA. I've made a personal commitment to the Oshkosh Area Writers and reviewing long manuscripts every other week. I have two off-line crit partners.

Oh, and I work full-time, have two kids, a husband, two dogs and a website that I like to update daily.

I've always been efficient. Organized is the one word I hear over and over again at performance reviews. I'm not a great housekeeper; if my husband had wanted the house cleaned every week, he should have married a maid.

I also decided that 10 pages a week will get me somewhere on my own book. After all, I'm in this for me and getting my writing polished. Helping others is a perk I really appreciate.

I guess I could cut back on sleep, except the last time I did that, my husband threatened to move out and my coworkers moved the coffee pot to my desk.

Scratch that idea.

The other things that happens as I write, I get other ideas. Characters, plots, storylines, good phrases or settings that I fall in love with. They want to lure me from my 1/3 of the way finished manuscript.

Dealing with life versus writing is becoming easier. Every so often a day or a week with throw me and I simply have to clean. Or write 5,000 words because if I don't, the characters are going to revolt.

Dealing with writing ideas is more difficult. I've been jotting those tempting words and ideas in a blank document for later. It sort of works. Every so often they'll escape in the form of a short story.

What challenge overwhelms you, my fellow writers? What obstacle continually rears its ugly head? Have you found a solution?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Posting at OAWC

The Oshkosh Area Writers' Club co-founder and supreme finder of all information has invited me to blog in that space. Tonight, it served as an opportunity to highlight some of the interesting-to-me stories around the blog-o-sphere this week.

I'm going to play with the content of what I do there, depending on the feedback I receive.

Thanks for the opportunity, Ruth!

The Fort at River's Bend

Title: The fort at River's Bend

Author: Jack Whyte

Genre: Historical

Summary: Arthur is growing up and Merlyn takes care of troubles in Camulod.

The Take-Away: While the history and battles are fantastic, I'm racing through them because I want to know what's goign to happen to Arthur. I understand that all of this is an illustration of why what's coming is important and how Merlyn really shapes much of Arthur's future, but I'm racing. I'm ready for Arthur's story, and less of Merlyn's.

I don't plan on reading Uther.

Recommendation: Depends on your point of view, I guess. The story telling is fantastic; I just want a different story.

The Camulod Series Series Titles

Everything else I read in May

The Master List

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Your Assignment #193

The results are in for the Writer's Digest -- Your Assignment #193

Mine wasn't a winner, but I've included it below so it merits compared to the winners can be debated.

“You stole my idea.”

I gulped. The accusation was true, but my long line of fans didn’t need to know this. “Ideas are every where. Any two authors might have come up with the same idea.”

“Are you saying it was a coincidence? Completely random?”

I released the breath I had been holding. “I knew you’d understand.”

“I hope you understand too.” She pulled the pistol from her pocket, aimed, and pulled the trigger.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Love the Sound of Deadlines, Part Two

I screwed around. Seriously, did you think I wouldn't?

But then my religious upbringing kicked in and guilt squeezed me until I wrote another 470 words, bringing the total to

I'm dangerously close. To what, however, I'm not sure.

I Love the Sound of Deadlines

Douglas Adams said it so much better than I did though. "I love deadlines. Especially the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

I heard one on Sunday. I missed, for the first time in a month, my weekly goal of 3,750. I made my monthly goal of 15,000 words a month early.

I'm keeping my weekly goal the same, but I'll need an extra 426.25 words a week to make up for the week I missed. Dammit though, that was a great sound the headline made as it flew over. I always wanted to know what it sounded like.

So, last week closed with:

At 6:30 tonight I was here:

or an increase of 1,426 words.

I missed yesterday's goal too, so I need 1,500 before I am back on track for this week.

Real life keeps interfering. Jo wants to know if she's going to get laid anytime soon. Jo, by the by, is the main character of "Choices" the word count of which is illustrated nicely in my side bar.

Okay. I'm going to stop yammering now. At 7:10 I'll give you another update.

At 7:10 tonight I was here:

or an increase of 841 words.

Why is the second half hour less productive than the first half hour? It's, like, so not fair! (foot stomping and various other childish behavior.)

I feel better now. Was that enough of a reward or should I check my email? I know I have some articles in there that I'd love to read. articles or get Jo out of this horrid meeting?

Oh, the possibilities.(clue evil laughter and maniacal rubbing of the hands.

I'll let you know tomorrow which won.

Blood Memory by Greg Isles

Title: Blood Memory

Author: Greg Isles

Genre: Fiction

Summary: During the investigations of a serial killer in New Orleans, Cat Ferry confronts memories that challenges the truth about her family.

The Take-Away: A co-worker recommended this book and I checked it out without knowing anything other than "it's really good." The first page hooked me with the second person point of view that actually was a dialogue between the narrator, Cat Ferry, and myself, the reader. By the time I realized that the book was actually about sexual abuse of children, I was too involved in the characters to give it up.

It's never graphic, but the horror of the adults who experienced it griped me. Isles lays the background so well, that I kept thinking that one of his other books must be about Cat Ferry and her lover and lead detective, Sean Regan. The history wasn't essential to this story, but surely would be worth a title of its own.

Isles writes extremely well from a woman's point of view, capturing both the momentary insecure and on the spot decisions that frame women's lives.

Recommendation: Read it and check out some other titles too.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Why it's good to know your genre

'Cos things like The Fantasy Exam have been created to poke fun of those who don't.

Test questions include:

  • Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  • Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  • Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?
  • Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  • Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  • How about one that will destroy it?
  • Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
  • Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?

And then I think, wait just a cotton picking moment. I write some form of Romance. I have this problem (that is, the last one in my short list)

Totally fun to read and stolen from Agent Kristin.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I'm a Guest!

Magical Musings invited me to be the guest poet for Poetry Friday. The poem is a Fib, a new format that I found through some of my mis-dealings on the web. The title, graciously provided by Edie Ramer, is Fibbing with Cigarettes and Sex. Enjoy!

Interesting Clippings

I've started another blog. Don't feel obligated to read it, however, unless you are interested in seeing what caught my fancy during my own blog reading.

See, I use Bloglines as a feeder. Then if someone has a new post, I know, instead of having to click through all the sites I like. One of the features that they have is to saving a clipping, or the post. Sort of like a bookmark. Instead of doing that, I'm posting it to my bloglines blog -- Interesting Readings.

These might show up as posts later on, or just be something interesting that might be helpful to my writing. I have a link on the sidebar too, and wanted to introduce that.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bookworm Report, May 2006

Finally, I'm able to share that I've met my goal of reading more non-fiction. Three titles appear on the list this time. One was a writing craft book that was more delightful than I anticipated it to be. Another resulted in some great research; an unintentional side effect that I quite like. The third change my opinion on a major business in a major way.

I'll leave it to my reviews for you to figure out which was what. In case you can't tell by the titles themselves.

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 4,659 20
2002 1,517 5
2003 3,803 8
2004 3,977 11
2005 3,417 7
2006 3,340 10

For the year, I've read 55 books, or 18,008 pages, which averages to 11 books a month, or 3,602 pages per month, and an average book length of 327 pages.

I still have some other non-fiction books to finish and review. I'm thinking of banning myself from the Oshkosh Public Library's online reserve system in order to clear out the TBR stack by my bedside. But then I read a great review of another title and it goes on the list. I need a job where I can read all day.

Let me qualify that. A job where I can read whatever I want all day.