Friday, September 29, 2006

If you really want to make me happy for Christmas...

All I want for Christmas is to build my own castles.

This is a dream because it requires time, space and cooperation. But when those kids get just a bit older, watch out. I'm totally going to go mad with this. Our house will look like it has been overrun by a fantasy author in the making instead of a fantasy author wanna-be.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Writing Lessons

Two years ago, I learned that if I wrote every day, I could finish a novel. It was insane, took place in November, and I wrote 50,051 words for my first novel in thirty days. I loved it. I overcame the obstacle that always stood in my way before: sticking to a writing schedule and not giving up half way through.

Along the way I've ran into some great advice, forums and fellow writers, but this post by The Writing Life re-energized that same feeling.

Writing comes first. It's based on an article by Lazette Gifford entitled "The Writing Comes First Campaign". The bare bones idea is set a goal and stick to it. Just like I learned I could do with NaNo.

Word counts, page quotas, tracking in Excel all work for me. But to make it sweeter, I found someone else willing to do the same, motivated by a monthly meeting involving chocolate cake. This year, each of us completed a first draft of a novel and are on to the editing stage of said novels. I want to have something to query by the start of next year. I've found a couple of markets to submit short stories to and earn some publishing credits.

But it all started with a daily writing goal.

What's your life's passion and goal for achieving it?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bill Cosby's View

I got this in my email box the other day.

Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around.

The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.

It seemed like an urban legend, so I hoped on and found this.

I'm really tired of the Teflon society. It's never anyone's fault, unless of course, someone can be sued. Then fault is assigned.

I wish more people would speak out like this.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh, how I wish I had this when I was a Teacher

Writer Unboxed posted an excellent check list for Judging Your Internet Catch.

My personal favorite tidbit was about sites like Snopes:

Beware false authority. No site, no matter how wonderful, is guaranteed to be perfect; people run them, after all!, a terrific website dedicated to debunking the urban legends that propagate on the ‘net, is often considered by many to be a “primary source” of information—a trustworthy, take-it-to-the-bank kind of source. But some time ago they posted false information about the origin of the nursery rhyme, “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” stating it was a coded message used to recruit new pirates while on land. The thing is, Snopes knew the information was false when it posted it on its site, and it did it to prove a point: No site is inherently trustworthy.

If you didn't do thorough research and click on the "More Information" link, you got suckered.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Chill Factor by Sandra Brown

Title: Chill Factor

Author: Sandra Brown

Genre: Mystery

Summary: After a final argument with her soon-to-be ex-husband, Lilly Burton is trapped in her cabin with the FBI's prime suspect for the area's serial killer.

The Take-Away: Brown tries to build tension through point of view changes. It didn't work for me, for a couple of reasons. A few of the characters ran together and it was difficult to keep track of them as the novel progressed.

My biggest gripe, however, was that the killer was supposedly in the cabin with Lilly. Get real. She's the main character; she's attracted to Tierney, who only goes by his last name. It's a novel. I can't say that I've read any that put the killer and the MC in close proximity, when the resolution is obviously their rescue and solving the case. I didn't buy it.

The POV changes were supposed to make me wonder who the real killer was, except that when it was revealed, I still didn't buy it. No build up or hints. It felt like he was convenient, not a bad guy.

Recommendation: I'd skip it; I've read better romantic suspense lately from other authors.

August Titles

Technorati tag:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Enchanted, Inc by Shanna Swendson

Title: Enchanted, Inc

Author: Shanna Swendson

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Being normal snares extra ordinary Katie Chandler a new job at an extraordinary company.

The Take-Away: I loved so many things about this title, but mostly that there's a sequel. And two more after that.

Katie is ordinary with a capital O. She has a crappy job, a bad boss, and a desire to succeed in New York. But the small town Texas girl notices things that no one seems to. Like the woman with wings. A gargoyle who moves around the city.

The explanation astounds her, especially since it comes as part of a job offer that will move her up the corporate ladder.

Recommendation: Buy it, read it, and convince your friends to do the same. Oh, and get the sequel too. You're going to want it.

Bonus Review: Kristen Nelson, the agent

August Titles

Technorati tag:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Title: Voyager

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Fantasy

WARNING: This is part of a series. If you haven't read the previous books, I'm probably going to spoil something for you.

Summary: Jamie and Claire are reunited after twenty years. Time has changed each of them; before they can re-discover each other, they must save Jamie from the collapse of his various identies.

The Take-Away: I'm continually blown away by the writing of this series. Jamie and Claire's relationship makes me jealous. Their unconditional love and trust, even when everything else is against them, astounds me.

Although twenty years were lost to each other, life did go on for both. Now that they are together, they must decide if their love is strong enough to withstand Jamie's continually running from the law, a family that doesn't understand where Claire has been, and a sea voyage that takes them to a new world.

Honestly, I thought that there was no way for the author to continue this story for another book, perserving the integrity of the characters, without a series of randomn events connected by Jamie and Claire. Instead, I'm drawn in, frantic for them to find one another and, once they do, fight their way out of the sticky situation that they were forced into.

I'm anxious for the next title, Drums of Autumn. Now that Claire is firmly entrenched in the past, I wonder what has happened to her daughter, Brianna. Or if Claire will try to leave notes for Brianna to discover during her lifetime. Yet, a tiny piece of me thinks, is it possible for the next one to be as enthralling as the last one?

So far the answer has been yes.

Recommendation: The beginning is always an excellent place to start, but Gabaldon expertly handles the backstory required, if this is your first foray between her covers.

August Titles

Technorati tag:

The Outlander Series

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer

Title: The Millionaires

Author: Brad Meltzer

Genre: Fiction

Summary: If you could steal $3 million and not get caught, would you? Two brother did and now they are running for their lives.

The Take-Away: I would steal it, if I had all of the knowledge required, as the Caruso brothers did. The set-up for the plot was fantastic. Only two pieces stretched beyond credibility. One was their willingness to trust almost everyone they encountered. But if it had been real life, I most likely would have done the same. My skeptical sensor is quite a bit more sensitive when I'm reading.

I can't tell you the other one without blowing the whole plot. But trust me, you'll recognize it.

Recommendation: Great entertainment.

August Titles

Technorati tag:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Short Story Fix

Fictional Musings is a great place to check in and discover new shorts by published and unpublished authors. Two Peas is the sort of story that makes it doubly hard for me to write a new submission; it's just so damn good.

Soccer practice was over. One by one, parents came by, picked up their kids and drove away. Eventually only two boys were left waiting for their rides.

Troy sat on the bench, his new uniform only slightly grass stained, his expensive tennis shoes still shiny. Jack huddled on the curb, his uniform a collection of stains, rips and clumsy sewing repairs. His shoelaces had several knots in them where the breaks had been tied back together.

Great hook. I want to know what's going to happen between these two very obviously mismatched kids. Will they fight? Ignore each other? Solve the problem of world peace?

The story development is tight and enlightening. I hadn't thought about the point the author makes and I'm grateful that he brought it up so I could think about it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Banned Books

I'm a fan. What better way to get kids to read something than by telling them that they can't? It worked for me, when I was told I couldn't read the Little House on the Prairie books until I was 8. Or was it 9? I don't remember, but I do know that by the time I was allowed to, I had read them once already.

This might be the attraction Ollie has for my Harry Potter books. Hmm...

Anyway, I was thrilled when Elaine Viets posted about banned books at The Lipstick Chronicles.

When I was growing up, I carried the Bible in my book bag. I kept it by my bed at night. My mother was delighted to find her quiet A-student in religious study.

Good thing Mom didn’t look any closer. I wasn’t reading the Bible. I was deep into a banned book, which I’d hidden behind a Bible cover.

I'm officially changing my goal list. Someday I want to be a book tart too, because they are so damn funny that it will by default mean that I am as well.

But she has some excellent reasons for loving banned books that are quite thought provoking and well-worth reading, which of course you will immediately do.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Before I Wake by Anne Frasier

Title: Before I Wake

Author: Anne Frasier

Genre: Fiction

Summary: A Profiler is haunted by the murders of a killer who she helped to convict. Even though he is dead, his MO continues.

The Take-Away: Chilling. Throughout the whole book, the tension is built through either point of view changes or assumptions made by the characters. I never quite knew who to trust and who to run from. Even the main character, usually a safe person, was under question in this title.

Recommendation: Read it with the lights on.

August Titles

Technorati tag:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I'm totally stealling the title of this post from Sharon Long of Writeminded because she had a fab post a few days ago.

So there’s a question that has been bugging me for quite some time. In recent weeks, I’ve seen the subject of my question being discussed on loops and blogs, and it still makes my comfort level plummet. So I want to ask you readers out there my question.

When you read a book, and we’ll use as an example, an erotic romance, maybe even one that is quite provocative. Maybe it pushes the envelope. Do you speculate as to whether or not the author is incorporating her own sexual fantasies into the book?

While I don't write erotica (yet, because the market is hot and I might want to try to jump on that ship), I have had the extremely uncomfortable experience of someone assuming the character was me.

Unfortunately for the person, they knew me and commented on their incorrect observation in what they assumed was a joking matter. It wasn't and I blew.

(The observation directly related to the contest I won (I WON! I WON) and the main character. It was probably an unfair sort of reaction, but frankly, it earned the person the right to not be on my reader's list and I chose to take the opportunity to say such. What can I say? I wasn't have a good day and that was the breaking point.)

But I know that I've read blogs of authors, read their books and said to myself, "Huh, that was the author speaking there, not the character."

I agree with Sharon. My life is so uninteresting that any sort of reality based story would bore most to tears. Unless the find the antics of potty training Pickle-Boy and the never ending litany of Star Wars facts from Ollie good entertainment.

To wrap up this long winded post when some sort of meaningful tag line, yes, I am offended when people assume that a character is me. Or didn't you read my poem?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Random Thoughts

A friend recently was reading an advice column. It's along the lines of "Dear Abby" but a touch more with it. I don't remember the problem, but the problem causer was describe as "Some people are so dense that light actually bends around them."

I think that should be the slogan at work now.

Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe had an extremely interesting article on August 30, 2006 that was quite enlightening. I'm hope for a rebuttal.

With elections around the corner, my television is flooded with ads that promise to do something about education, gas prices, spending in Washington, etc. But what I'd really like to see is a couple of statements as to the specific action they are going to take. I know that there are problems with those areas. I don't know what you're going to do differently than the other guy.

Ollie wants to read the Harry Potter books. He's six. Actually that doesn't bother me as much as the idea of sharing books.

What's your random thought of the day?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Title: Twelve Sharp

Author: Janet Evanovich

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: Stephanie Plum is back. This time she's bait for the killer who's gunning for Ranger.

The Take-Away: She still manages to blow-up a car (sorry, hope that wasn't too much of a spoiler for you) but it wasn't hers. The secondary characters aren't as overwhelming in this title as they have been in the past, but LuLu and Grandma Muzer still have some great moments. Surprisingly, they both take place at the funeral parlor, which has new owners. Grandma Muzer's involves a new occupation, and LuLu is directly responsible for it.

The Ranger / Morelli love triangle lives Stephanie as indecisive as ever, but new information is revealed that adds another layer and kept me hanging for more.

With twelve titles under her belt, I wonder how much longer Stephanie can spin along both men that are lusting after her.

Word Nerd interviewed Evanovich as part of her Author Answers. A great piece of writing advice came from that column -- "Never hold anything back for the next book." Makes one wonder whats coming up in the next books.

Recommendation: Hopefully you've been reading the series all along. Completely worth the wait.

August Titles

Technorati tag:

Friday, September 08, 2006


Paperback Writer posted recently on how she world builds. While the advice is fantastic for fantasy or sci-fi writers, there are plenty of striking points for any writer.

I. Define your world


II. Define your protagonist


III. Define your antagonist


IV. Define your support cast


V. Detailing

Of course, the snips include all sorts of wonderful bits that you should go read. That is, if you are naughty and not reading PBW every day already.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Writing Updates

I'm so excited to announce the biggest writing news I've ever had.

On Sunday, September 3rd, I received a phone call from Paula B of The Writing Show. I won 2nd place in their first contest. The criteria was posted on their website sometime earlier this summer.

We were looking for the best first chapter of an unpublished novel. We evaluated the entries on the following five criteria:

  • Is it a compelling read with a great hook?
  • Is the writing smooth and flowing?
  • Is the dialog natural and does it move the story along?
  • Are grammar and punctuation correct?
  • Are the characters interesting?

The list of judges was quite impressive too.

Our nine judges were:

  • Book publicist Karen Villanueva
  • Author Harriet Smart
  • Guest host and book reviewer Mick Halpin, also known as Critical Mick
  • John Bryans, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at Information Today Books and Plexus Publishing
  • Georganna Hancock, who writes the fabulous blog Writer’s Edge
  • Alan Chaney, co-founder of The Writing Show
  • Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
  • Author Paula Paul
  • Author Micah Dubinko

But what you really want to know is posted at the site - the winning first chapter that hooked them so thoroughly. It's posted in both MP3 and .pdf format for your listening/viewing pleasure.

I'm still giddy and have been dying to share. Thanks, Ruth, for letting the club know about the contest, and thanks, club, for reading the first draft of this manuscript.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This is Chick Lit edited by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Title: This is Chick Lit

Editor: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: A defining collection of stories about women, for women.

The Take-Away: I loved the concept of this book. Instigated as a reaction to This is Not Chick Lit (edited by Elizabeth Merrick), Lauren collected stories that capture the essence of being a woman.

The stories range from singledom to motherhood. One of the most touching was about the struggles of breastfeeding a reluctant nurser (I had one of those; I know how frustrating it is.) "Cafe con Leche Crush" by Heather Swain captures the feelings of a new mom so perfectly, not only the feelings of love and tenderness to the baby, but the adjustments to being both wife and mother.

The cover blurb caught my immediate attention; Nelson DeMille said, "This is Chick Lit is a wonderful compliation of talented and diverst suthors. It's funny, a little edgy, thoughtful, and thoroughly entertaining." I've read books by DeMille and appreciated his thoughts on the title.

I have to admit that this is one title where the cover design blew my mind. The big red shoes was fab, but even better was the alternating strips of satin and matte finish. It's beautiful.

The anathology shows that there is more to the term "chick lit" than shoes by Jimmy Choo, bags by Kate Spade, and living and drinking in New York. Chick Lit is women authors giving voice to the concerns of women. Spending time with this book is a lot like spending an afternoon with your girlfriends.

Recommendation: Get it.

August Titles

Technorati tag:

Pale Immortal by Anne Frasier

Anne Frasier's PALE IMMORTAL is out today! I reviewed Pale Immortal in May (read the review here) and recommended buying this book, especially for all of you vampire fans out there.

Watch the music video, listen to the soundtrack and mp3s, read the first two chapters, and learn more at:

or read a synopsis:

Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.

Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.

Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

And others are writing about it too. See what they have to say at Static, Anne's writing blog.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bookworm Report, August 2006

School starts next Tuesday and Ollie goes to First Grade. Pickle-boy (the 3yo's new nickname) is wearing undies for the first time -- Bob the Builder, in fact. Change is definitely in the air.

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 2,969 7
2002 3,440 9
2003 1,257 4
2004 3,619 9
2005 5,783 15
2006 4,301 11

For the year, I’ve read 87 books, or 32,503 pages, which averages to 11 books a month, or 4,063 pages per month, and an average book length of 374 pages.

Doing a review for every book I read has become quite tedious. Sometimes a book is perfectly charming, entertaining and sweet, but I don't have anything meaningful to say about it. I'm going to cut back on the number of reviews and do some real blog posts again. I realized that I hadn't done many lately and kinda miss sharing some thoughts with y'all.

I might even be brave enough to post some more poetry. The feedback I received was fantastic.