Thursday, June 26, 2008

Out Of Town

Just wanted to let you all know I'll be gone -- for possibly the entire weekend. We've received some bad news about my grandmother, whose health is rapidly declining. They're not sure she'll hold out much longer, so we expect to say our final goodbyes very soon.

If you have any extra prayers in ya, please send them my family's way. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two More Days!

That's how long I have until the entire family--dogs included--leave for vacation. I'll miss them and all, especially my little snuggly pups, but I'm really looking forward to some peace and quiet. There are just too many distractions, and writing is SO easy to put off when there are other, easier things I could be doing. (g) For instance, my uncle is down the hall in his office, watching The Day the Earth Stood Still. I love that movie. I want to shutdown my computer and go watch it. Gak.

I'm in the middle of a scene that I can "see" sooooo clearly, but when I try to write it, nothing comes. I keep running up against a wall and I'm annoyed to no end. LOL. The great thing is that I see exactly where it all connects with several other scenes, and once I finish it, I'll have a huge block put together. But alas, the words just aren't coming today. I'll keep plugging away, but I really need to do some crits in exercises. This month is almost over, and I have a good 15 to get to still. Le Sigh.

In other news, I went to the library and checked out some more goodies.

They didn't have the next Mary Russell mystery (Laurie R. King) -- both copies were checked out. :( I had to make do with other selections -- the next Dana Stabenow, the next Anne Perry, Dennis Lehane's SHUTTER ISLAND, Stephen King's THE GUNSLINGER (I'm still in the mood) -- and I renewed Elizabeth George's WRITE AWAY. Too many books, not enough time to read. I almost got Stephen King's DESPERATION (a friend recommended it--highly) but I saw how thick it was (almost 700 pages) and put it back on the shelf. LOL. Maybe next time. (g) Oh! And I got my shipment of YA's yesterday. Seriously -- I have no time for all of these books. In fact, I may throw them all in a closet until I finish FI, which I hope will happen in the next two weeks. I'm putting _everything_ -- and I mean everything -- on the backburner until I do. That includes the forum. Not sure you'll see me much in next month's exercise. I gotta do what I gotta do, you know? It feels so close, yet SO far away.

With that in mind, I'm gonna go jump back into that scene. Wish me luck!

The Big Read

Trying to wake up over here. LOL. Long night. Anyway, I stole this from Moonrat's blog (she stole it from someone else. LOL) Anyway -- thought I'd give it a go.

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. How do you do?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read. (To speed this along, I only italicized the ones I currently have in my TBR pile. There are others I'd like to read, but well, I haven't handed over my duckets yet.)
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (Skipping this one altogether, because I can't figure out how to do it on blogger.)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Close enough, anyway)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

If I counted correctly, I've read 38. Waaay above average, but still NOT good enough. (g) Need to get crackin'.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A FATAL THAW by Dana Stabenow

It's official -- I've made it through my pile o' mysteries. At least the ones that are due back at the library tomorrow. (g) I'm still working on Elizabeth George's WRITE AWAY, slogging my way through it slowly. But I hope to finish it up tonight. If not, it's gotta go back anyway. Heh. May have to skim through the highlights.

Anywho -- on to this review. I read A COLD DAY FOR MURDER not too long ago, and I have to admit it didn't really snare my attention. To be completely honest, I had a hard time making it through all 200 pages. There were large chunks of Alaskan backstory -- be it description of this or that landmark or a long passage about the passing of this or that bill and how it affected trade or whatnot. Her descriptions in general -- be it of a person or place -- were longwinded lists of every minute detail, without any real character voice or reason I should care to know so much. If that makes sense. (g) It felt like I was reading non-fiction for a good majority of it, rather than a novel I could sink my teeth into.

I did find Kate Shugak to be an interesting character, but I wasn't overly eager to get the next book. The main reason I picked it up was that SO many people seem to really love this series. I had to know what all the hubub was about, bub. Even with it sitting there, it took a great deal of effort to pick it up. I don't know if it's me, or if that first book was truly lacking...but it just didn't appeal to me. At all.

This book was better -- much better. I'm actually glad I checked it out and gave it a shot. I can't say the series is on my "must-read" list, but I would definitely pick up another. They're quick reads, and the characters really started to pop out in this second book.

Brief Synopsis: A mass murderer goes on a killing spree in Kate's hometown, killing 9 people. As it turns out, though, one of the victims was shot by someone else. Now it's Kate's job to figure out who.

So yeah, those thick passages of description have pretty much been eliminated, to be replaced by more real-time action and some pretty dang snappy dialogue. I'm intrigued by the implied love triangle that was set-up in this book, between Bobby, Jack, and Kate. What I really like is that nothing about these characters is all that conventional. Jack is probably the most "normal" -- an invesigator who often calls Kate in for local help on cases. Bobby is a black, ex-vet amputee, who lost both legs in Vietnam. Kate is a native Alaskan who was almost killed by a child molester, and still wears a reminder of the near fatal encounter: thick scar tissue around her neck that forever altered her voice to a harsh rasp.

They're real -- flawed and definitely haunted by things in their pasts. Oh, and definitely attracted to each other. I find that extremely interesting. (g)

The story set off at a great pace and continued until the end. Stabenow has a pretty uncanny ability to keep a lot of things from the reader -- not sure whether I would call it blatant "cheating" but she definitely walks the line. LOL. Some parts of the story seem a bit fantastic...but well, it's fiction, so there ya go.

Overall, a fun read. I was grossed out to no end about the "Middle Finger" shots, but it's that kind of small detail that really brings the story and setting alive. If you've never been to Alaska, you can definitely travel there through these books.

Buy or Rent? It's a tough call. I'll probably read at least another 1-2 before making a final decision.

Monday, June 23, 2008

MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane

Yeah, I've seen the movie -- it was really good. The book is better. :)

Brief Synopsis: Jimmy, Sean, and Dave were all friends when they were kids. Then, one day, a car pulled up next to them and Dave got inside with two strange men. He disappeared for four days. It changed them all and eventually they drifted apart. Twenty-five years later, Jimmy is a reformed felon who's daughter has been murdered, Sean is the detective put in charge of solving the crime, and all signs are pointing toward Dave having been the one who killed her.

I've already made mention of this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. I have serious book love right now. (g) This book was amazing. Not only because it's a great story, with all kinds of twists and turns, but because it's just _flippin' fantastic_ writing. As one friend put it, "it's raw." You feel the emotions, you see everything as it plays out, and it's all so real and in your face.

His world-building--and I hesitate to use this term, because it all felt very real--was flippin' awesome. I felt like I knew the neighborhood, knew the thugs standing on the street corners, and could smell the stench coming off the river. The characters were flawed as all get out, but I understood them, and I cared for them.

I'll be looking for Lehane's other titles.

Buy or Rent? Buy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's Not My Fault. Honest.

It's Jo's. :)

When I heard some stores were already selling her new book, I rushed over to church only to find mine wasn't one of the chosen few. Sigh. I had to comfort myself with some other selections. (g)

Janet Evanovich's FEARLESS FOURTEEN (even though I've heard terrible, terrible things about it. I'm like a literary addict who needs a hit. Mmm Ranger. Mmmm Joe.)

Kim Harrison's DEAD WITCH WALKING (I'm curious :))

Laura K. Hamilton's GUILTY PLEASURES (A friend recommended it)

...forty dollars later... LOL. Gah, I need a 12-step program. First step is admitting I have a problem.


Nope, can't do it. (g)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Random Thoughts

I Love Me Some B&N.

I received notification of a BIG book sale at my church yesterday. Oh man, did I have fun. I ordered 10 YA books for twenty-five smackers. Dude, that rocks. :)

Funny, I look around my room and _every_ available surface is overloaded with books -- I have no idea where I'm going to put this new shipment. LOL. Looks like it's time to box up a few -- hopefully there's space under my bed. (g)


Soapbox Speech From A Waitress:

I'm waitressing right now--only until I figure out what the heck kind of job I want. (To be honest, I'm putting off a hardcore job search until I finish FI. will be finished SOON.) I love the people I work with -- the job is so-so, but it pays the bills for now. That said, I have to take a moment to say something on behalf of my coworkers. Just two little suggestions for those of you lucky enough to be able to go out and enjoy a nice dinner with servers at your beck and call.

1. When dining out on a major holiday (cough) such as Father's Day, remember that it's going to be busy. Food may be slow, things may go wrong -- but well, the server that you're tipping gave up the chance to be with his/her family (most likely they weren't even given a choice of getting the day off) and most of them probably won't get a break--meaning, they'll probably work for about 12 hours straight, on their feet, with people yelling at them All Day Long. Be nice. Tip them well. They make crap wages and work their arses off For You. That goes double for the kitchen staff. Imagine standing 12 hours beside hot ovens and grills. Yeek.

2. If you stop by a restaurant and discover it's closing in _two minutes_, walk away. Go through a drive-thru or to a restaurant that keeps later hours. I'm speaking from experience. This happened to me tonight, and the table stayed for an hour and a half _after closing_. Dude, I make $2.13 an hour, and I didn't even have a book with me. LOL. I respect your right to eat, but surely there are other options. (g)

*steps off soapbox* Gah, you know I must be grumpy to blog about this. (g)



I'm puttering along with FI. I don't know whether or not I'll be finished by the end of June, but it won't be much longer if I fail to make that goal. The good news is that the fam and the dogs are going on vacation. Ah, privacy...quiet...hours and hours of solitude to get things done. I can't wait, and it couldn't have come at a better time. The end of a novel is always the toughest for me. I'm totally not one of those people who speeds up and plows through at the end. Nope. I drag my feet and whine the entire way -- it's not pleasant. I will be a grumpy mess. It's a GOOD thing I won't have any witnesses to this time period.


Book Love

I'm having major book love right now. I just started Dennis Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER and I'm simply in awe of his writing chops. That, coupled with the other authors I've gone ga-ga over in the past couple of weeks, and I'm feeling a HUGE amount of writer's envy. It makes me want to work harder, and I'm feeling completely inadequate by comparison. Ah well...onward I shall go.


Synopsis Madness

The June writer's synopsis exercise is OUT OF CONTROL on the forum. LOL. I completely didn't expect this level of participation and I'm struggling to stay on top of my crits right now. To be honest, I'm failing miserably. (g) I've only crit about a quarter of the participants, so, if I haven't gotten to yours, I will. Eventually. I've been trying to make my own writing a priority every day. Because I'm so out of practice, it's been a struggle to meet my word count goals. I'm left with little time to do other things... or I'm too mentally drained to feel I can give any kind of helpful advice. But I'll plug away at them when I'm able. Sit tight.


Okay, I've rambled on long enough. Excuse my randomness. (g)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


July 1, 2008


Can you hear that? Yup -- that's a happy sigh you heard. I loved this book. Simply loved it. This is the first time in a while I've finished the first book in a series and wanted to rush out to immediately get the next. (Erm, it's 2am, so I don't think that will be happening. Drat. (g))

If you like historicals, mysteries, and a good dose of witty repartee, you'd probably love this book, too.

Brief Synopsis: Sherlock Holmes (yes, that Sherlock Holmes) has retired to a countryside manor where he meets one Mary Russell, a fifteen year old spitfire who is able to match his wit blow for blow. Intrigued by this young woman, he takes her on as his apprentice, teaching her all of the tricks of his former trade--skills that come in handy when they find themselves being hunted by an unknown enemy who is able to anticipate their every move.

Okay, let me list what I loved about this book:

1. Their witty banter. They are simply great together. But underneath all of their verbal sparring they have such a deep respect and love for each other. There were moments when I had to put the book down and just sort of soak it all in. Lovely. Truly. I can't wait to see where it goes. And no, it's not romantic -- he's nearly three times her age. (g) It's a father/daughter relationship -- so sweet.

2. The prose. It jumped off the page and put me right in the middle of it all. There is one section of the book where they travel to Jerusalem and it made me long to be there -- so beautifully worded and crafted. Jealous. I'm very jealous. (g)

3. The secondary characters were fantastic -- notably dear Watson, who was presented as a bit of a bumbling, but extremely kind-hearted, fool. I've never read the Sherlock Holme's mysteries, but I think the collected works is going on my to buy list. I simply need to get to know them as they were originally written. I KNOW this book will be going on the list.

4. I didn't see the ending coming, but all of the clues were there. I like that feeling of wanting to slap my forehead for failing to spot them. (g)

The first quarter of this book was mostly narration. Interesting, but I'll admit I was almost put off by it. I'm so glad I stuck by it, though. I'm not sure when I fell in love with this book, but it happened. If you try it, do give it time. :)

Buy or Rent? Buy, buy, buy! :)

I wonder which book is next...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Where are all of my COST OF FREEDOM purchasers?? Are you telling me I get to keep all of my lovely books? (g)

Seriously, folks, kudos to Carol for reaching #7 on The Wild Rose Press's bestseller list. But man, wouldn't it be lovely to see her at #1?? WE can make it happen! Let's see some entries in my "win one of Jen's favorite books and make her cry over the loss" contest. :) I'll be happy to shed those tears!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quick Update On My Pile O' Mysteries

I couldn't get into the Kerry Greenwood book, COCAINE BLUES. Just wasn't for me. Called it quits after thirty pages.

I finished Ted Dekker's SKIN. Eh, I didn't really enjoy it much. I'd review it, but I'll just point you to my review of HOUSE, on which he collaborated with Frank Peretti. HERE. To be honest, they're pretty much the same book. Only one centers around a freaky house with a seriously weird basement, and the other centers around a small town that keeps disappearing. SKIN had less of a religious angle to it, but the style of both books is remarkably similar. Page-turners, both, but overall not very satisfying to this girl.

I've just begun THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE by Laurie R. King. It's snared my interest so far, though it's been mostly narration for the first fifty pages or so. I'm hoping to get into some real-time action soon. We'll see.

So yeah, I'm doing okay with my stack...need to step on the gas a little, tho. I have three books to finish by next Tuesday or Wednesday. My goal is to keep from incurring any late fees this summer. (g)

The Hazards Of Writing In First Person

I was reading Elizabeth George's WRITE AWAY last night. The chapter about picking your POV. She mentioned something interesting that I hadn't given much thought to before. She said that most neophyte writers (is it just me or does that word make us sound like a bunch of clueless hacks? (g)) write their first novels in first person because they believe it's the easiest of all the POV's. However, she would argue that that is a complete misconception because plotting is a bitch in 1st--mainly because you can't slip into another character's POV when you're in a bind. (g) Okay, she didn't say that last bit exactly like that, but that was the gist of her point.

I agree!

Well, I don't quite fit into the whole "I'm going to write my first book in 1st because I believe it's easier" part. I actually started writing FI in third and it just felt all kinds o' wrong. When I slipped into first, it began to flow. I'll never regret that decision. It makes Madison come alive under my fingers, and I love it. However, I DO agree with the other -- plotting in first person is a pain in the arse! :)

So, I took a weekend sabbatical from FI. I hadn't really intended to, but with Father's Day, and work, and just some general confusion about several scenes plaguing me to no end, I needed time to stew. My problem was that I was having a hard time grasping the motivation of one of my non-POV characters. As a good chunk of this book centers around Madison playing off this particular character -- having to deal with the reprucussions of his actions -- both on a professional and personal level -- I needed to get a better handle on him. Simple as that.

Erm, not so simple. I had to answer one big question -- WHY?? Why does he do this -- why does he say that. Why does he say this when he actually means something entirely different? Why does he hide this from her, but then reveal it in the next scene? Oh man, I was full of Why?? Poor Jenna had to listen to me run through it all. Bless her for her patience. (g)

So, this is what I did. First I mulled it all over, and then I pulled out a lot of hair. Then I mulled some more.

After talking to Jenna, I decided it was time to write some of this stuff down. (g) I wrote down a header for each scene giving me trouble and then wrote down a few lines explaining why this character does/says such and such, and any possible after effects I saw coming in later scenes. I wouldn't call it an outline, exactly, but I guess you could. LOL. It's more just a form of SOC from my non-POV character so that when I'm writing/reworking these scenes, I'll have a better handle on his motivations at any particular time, and hopefully, I won't become so totally confused again. Three days ago, I didn't think all of these scenes would be able to fit into the same book (eeee!! Panic attack!). Now I see they all do -- and that they work exceedingly well together. So even though I was freaking out, my subconscious had all my ducks in a row. Yay. I swear, it's freaky.

Right now I'm working on a pretty pivotal scene that I couldn't even start before this weekend. It's coming together -- 1400 words just today. I guess it would be easier if my characters were more honest with each other, but alas, where's the drama in that? (g) All will soon be revealed, tho. Muhahaha. I can't wait to send this out to readers -- I hope it all makes sense and works in total.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Back In Novel Land

First, the good news:

1. I've tackled some major scenes this week, and I feel like I'm finally getting a foothold on FI again.

2. I've hit novel word count again -- hovering right around 70-75K now. Even more because there are bits I plan on pulling from the old novel, and I still have some handwritten stuff to type into the computer.

3. I've successfully met my goals for (checks calendar) four days now. I know it's not much, but it's something. I'm trying and at least succeeding to develop a schedule that I've been sticking to.

4. If I REALLY push it, I THINK I can finish the first draft by the end of June. It's going to take a miracle, but yeah, I think I can do it. (DO NOT LET ME SLACK! (g))

The Bad News:

1. My head is getting really muddled with all of the random scenes I've got going on. My timeline is a little screwy right now and I need to take a step back and make sure everything works together as is.

2. I'm still not happy with the first 30 pages, which means a rewrite is in the works.

3. I'm scared to death that this book is gonna suck.

My goals:

1. Tomorrow I'm going to take that step back and go through my scenes, organizing, and making sure everything lines up.

2. Keep writing -- stay in my routine. My motto: Push through.

3. Shut out all negative voices, including my own. (g)

Wish me luck!

Just. Me. And. My. Miiinnnnnions!

Sung to the tune of "Me and My Shadow."

Hehe...y'all rock! (g)

Thursday, June 12, 2008


You're Dune!

by Frank Herbert

You have control over a great wealth of resources, but no one wants to
let you have them. You've decided to try to defend yourself, but it may take eons before
you really get back what you feel you deserve. Meanwhile you have a cult-like following
of minions waiting for your life to progress. This would all be even more exciting if you
could just get the sand out of your eyes.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Not sure what to make of this one. LOL!

If you're a minion, raise the roof. Whoowhoo!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eating My Words, But Loving It

A lot of you probably know I'm not a huge proponent of craft books. It's not really a matter of thinking the authors don't know what they're talking about or that it would be a waste of someone's time to read them. Rather it's about not wanting too many voices/rules floating around in my head at any given time. I firmly believed (still do, really) the best way to learn "craft" is to write. And read. And then write some more.

Anyway -- I've been having serious issues getting back into a solid writing routine. I think the main thing is that I've been focusing SO much on the idea of the finished book that I've started to become frustrated at the first bump in the road. When the words come out at a slow, painful tricle (or not at all), I've been giving up all too easily. To be frank, writing hit rock bottom on my priority list. And some of my "priorities" were pretty dang lame.

I've been trying anything and everything to get my mojo back. Nothing worked! I KNEW I could write a book -- could start, muddle through the middle, and finish one. I've done it twice. But for some reason I just couldn't get over the big hurdle of finsihing anything major in FI. My files are chock full of half finished scenes -- a bit of this one...a few lines of dialogue for this other one... But for whatever reason, I couldn't find the glue to hold it all together.

I finally gave in and thought I'd give someone else's methods a try. First on the list was Elizabeth George's book, WRITE AWAY. Why? I heard someone mention it on the forum and it was the only one I had on my mind at the time. LOL. I'm very discriminating. (g) Anyway, our writing styles couldn't be any more different. LOL. But yanno what? Within the span of about sixty pages, a lightbulb had gone on in my head--in a major way. I just KNEW how to tackle a scene that had been giving me MAJOR problems for several months. I could hear it...see it...almost like a mini-movie in my mind. Going from a completely blank screen to a full-blown scene within about 2 minutes is a VERY weird experience. But dude, it rocked.

Have I learned anything earth shattering in the course of reading this book? Eh, I wouldn't say that. BUT, it's taught me to look at things from a couple of new angles and given me a few back doors to figuring out where to begin a scene. You're going to laugh when I tell you the trick that caused this big epiphany. What's funny is that I have to look up the term she used. LOL. (be right back)

Okay, here it is. She calls them THAD's (aka Talking Head Avoidance Devices). ROFL on that term, btw. I'm sooo a member of the THAD police. Nothing bothers me more. (I digress). Anyway, per it's name, a THAD is what the characters are doing while they're talking. That can be anything. They can be making dinner, conducting an autopsy, playing a game, etc. etc. For whatever reason, thinking about THAD's helped me find the foothold I needed for this scene. At last!!!

Obviously I know how to use THAD's, though I didn't know that term until a couple of days ago. Again, I wouldn't say this book has taught me anything earth shattering. What it IS doing is helping to put me into a writer's frame of mind. Almost like it's reminding me of all the skills that have rusted over in the past few months. And even if I don't take on the techniques they endorse (no one, and I mean NO ONE is going to convince me that an outline is the best way to go -- but then, maybe SOMEONE will (g)), it's helping to light the fires.

So yeah, my plan is to keep reading about how people write. Even if it's only a few pages here and there -- maybe when I'm having a rough time and need a little inspiration. (Seriously, who can say Stephen King's spike full of rejection letters didn't make them stand up a little taller? (g)) I'm only about a third of the way through George's book, but next on the block is Evanovich and Grafton.

If you have any recommendations, please pass them along. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I've been wanting to read one of Anne Perry's books for a long time. I'm so glad I finally did. There's nothing like discovering an author that you truly enjoy. I cannot wait to get the next book in the William Monk series. (g)

Brief Summary: William Monk awakes in a hospital one day, remembering nothing of his former life -- not his name, what he looks like, his occupation. Nothing. He soon learns that he is an investigator for the police and is charged with finding the murderer of one Major Joscelyn Grey. Unable to recall anything from this ongoing investigation, he must slowly piece together clues--to the murder, as well as his own history. This series is set in London during the mid 1800's.

I loved this book. Perry is truly gifted at bringing 19th century London to life--from the clothing and the food, to the various accents. Not to mention the societal behaviors and expectations, etc. Great detail, here.

The book clipped along at a great pace, but by the last hundred pages, I was whipping through it so fast to see what happened next. And the great thing is that the ending really tied the book together well. I can't say I saw everything coming, but I can say that it all sounded plausible and made perfect sense to me. No curve balls at the end that I couldn't have seen surprise suspects whipped out of thin air to take the fall. It was so well-balanced.

I also loved the way Monk truly couldn't remember anything -- and the way Perry weaved in the bits of memory that suddenly came upon him. Sometimes he didn't even realize it until later. It made it all seem very real and organic. His "self-discovery" and constant second guessing as to what character traits were TRULY his was such an interesting process to watch. Overall, I thought he was a very interesting character that I can't wait to see more of.

I did have a bit of a hard time understanding some of the dialects in this book. She has a real knack for 'em and I almost felt like I was right there, unable to understand the person standing in front of me. (g) It made it difficult to get through some passages, but didn't really detract from the overall story. I blame myself here. (g)

Anyway, I have that happy book glow. :)

Buy or Rent? Buy.

Baby Steps!

So, I told myself I couldn't check the forum, or my email, or turn on the TV before I had a thousand words today. I failed on the internet thing -- big time. I had to do a quick bit of research for my current scene and couldn't control the urge to check the email. Then the forum. Then google reader. I'm pathetic.

And we won't talk about the number of games of solitaire I played. (g)

At any rate, it took me about 2 and 1/2 hours, but I did it. One thousand words...and I'm ready to write more. YAY. It's been a long time since I've gotten to a goal and wanted to keep on going. But now that I've got my teeth in this scene, I want to see it finished. Don't know if that will happen today, but I'm stoked beyond words for the progress I've already made. It's a pivotal scene. So important, and it's totally giving me the heebs as I write it. That's a VERY good thing. I hope others respond in a similar way.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Congrats, Vicki!

How exciting is this??

Vicki Pettersson's third novel, THE TOUCH OF TWILIGHT, has debuted at #27 on the New York Time's Bestseller list! Here.

How crazy is it to see her name right there next to the likes of Nora Roberts and Mary Higgins Clark? Way to go, Vicki! :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Oh What A Feeling!

I've had a mini breakthrough with FI tonight. IOW, I got some words written. YAY. It isn't much, but it's something -- something to make me feel like I'm making progress.

Of course, my "lightbulb" moment had to happen at 2am..and now I'm almost too tired to type this short post out. LOL. Oh well -- I did a little stream of conscious scene "outline" and know exactly where I'll need to take it tomorrow. I'm just happy one of my "blank" spots has finally started to come together for me.

I'm getting there. Honest. (g)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

HOUSE by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker

First off -- I obviously did a lot of reading yesterday. (g) The good news is that I got my cookies baked and shipped off to big sis. Secondly, I'm WAY behind on reviews, so some of these may be short.

Brief Synopsis: On a deserted backroad in Alabama, two couples find themselves stranded when both of their vehicles are sabotaged. Left with no other option, they take refuge in what appears to be a charming country inn. However, looks are very deceiving. (muhahaha) The couples find themselves captives of the three "inbreds" who live there, and pawns in a game being played by a serial killer named the Tinman. What they soon discover is that the inn is no ordinary house, and the only way out is to play by his rules. In order for three to live, they must kill the fourth.


This book was...bizarre. I honestly can't say I enjoyed it much, though it kept me turning the pages -- mostly out of a pure need to understand wtf was up with this house. (g) So on that score, it succeeded.

Unfortunately, it failed on many levels. I didn't really get a great sense of the characters -- they were a bit thinly drawn and not all that likeable. I didn't find myself cheering them on and their survival honestly didn't matter all that much by the end. The "locals" were too stereotypical and their inclusion seemed unnecessary.

The plot was a bit confusing -- it DID make sense in the end, but well, I'm not sure it tied up in a satisfactory manner. To be honest, I felt like the religious angle (introduced rather late in the book) was a bit preachy. And the supernatural, I think they would make more sense in a film, but were exceedingly difficult to picture on the page. I think the combination of the two is what really turned me off here. I've read several of Peretti's books--which have all had a religious message of some sort--and enjoyed them greatly. Something was just off here.

The end? CHEESE. (g)

Anyway, it's a fast read -- the writing is clean, though a bit uneven in spots. The supernatural elements were interesting, though I'm not sure they were terribly unique. Overall, not a book I would probably want to read again. I'd give it a 2/5 stars.

Buy or Rent? Rent.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rental Mania

Umm, I went a little nuts at the library today. Pretty funny considering all of the books are due in three weeks. (g) I'm like a kid in a candy store, tho, and books. I couldn't stop at 1...or 5...erm, I DID stop somewhere around 10. LOL.

I've decided to delve into the mystery section... Wow. A lot to choose from, but luckily the forumites pointed me towards some of their faves. Obviously, I had to limit myself somewhat (heh). I figure if they don't hook me right away, I'll move on. Easy peasy.

Some of the titles:

COCAINE BLUES by Kerry Greenwood
MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane
A FATAL THAW by Dana Stabenow
HOUSE by Frank Perretti and Ted Dekker
SKIN by Ted Dekker

Okay, the last two aren't mysteries, but I can't help myself when it comes to freaky books. (g) I have NO idea how I'll manage all of these before they're due back, but luckily most of them are fairly short.

Off to bake big sis some cookies. I'm late with her birthday present and boy is she unhappy. Grandma's oatmeal cookies should smooth things over. Wish me luck. (g)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Can I Be Honest?

My need to respond to this makes me feel like a complete idiot -- let's get that straight right now. (g) There have been a number of people in the blogosphere who have stated they don't do negative reviews -- authors, readers, agents. I'll admit, every time someone says this, I feel a little ping aimed right at me. I take a long hard look at myself and the "negative" reviews I've done, and I start worrying.

Am I a degenerate who doesn't understand netiquette?

Am I just a mean asshole?

Do people shake their heads and tsk every time they see one of my less than favorable reviews?

Do they hate me??

Okay, melodramatic, I know, but there it is. That said, I'd like to defend my decision to write what _I_ consider to be honest reviews. Not positive, not negative...just honest reviews about the books I read. And this in no way is impugning anyone's right to limit their online reviews/discussions to positive reviews. I always say -- to each his own.

Okay...why my decision to write _honest_ book reviews?

Well, there are several reasons, actually.

1. I love books. I love everything about them. I love buying them with excited anticipation, reading them and falling into the world the author has created, and yes, I love talking about them. I become giddily excited when I fall in love with a novel and its characters...I want to tell _everyone_. Conversely, like all readers, sometimes I'm disappointed when a book fails to live up to my expectations. And well, it never occurred to me that it's wrong to talk about these situations. I'm not able to flip that switch, I guess.

2. Not giving honest reviews makes me feel like a liar, and I feel guilty when I try to sugarcoat things. Plain and simple. That said, I never want to take things too far. I did once, I realized it and took down the review. It WAS my honest response, but yeah...LOL. (You know the one, right? (g)) Anyway -- I will try to give honest feedback about my likes and dislikes, but scrounging around for something good to say about a book, just for the sake of saying it, is just...false. I'll admit to reviewing a couple of books that I absolutely hated -- but in the name of being "nice" said some things I didn't mean. It made me feel terrible and it doesn't happen anymore. Conversely, I won't pump up a book just because it was written by a friend -- that goes for published and unpublished authors.

3. I love writing reviews and having people jump in, saying why they do/don't agree with me. It's fun. It doesn't make me happy to say I didn't like a book (*cough* -- besides that one time. That review was FUN.), but it's a great way for me to express my excitement and/or disappointment to like-minded people. I know most of the people who read this blog are writer friends...can there be a better audience for discussing books? :) I'll be the first to admit that my reviews are totally skewed to my personal taste. I expect people to disagree with me--many of you have. (g) That's OKAY. The ensuing discussions are fantastic. On the other hand, there is nothing that makes me more stupidly excited than when someone says they bought a book based on the review I did.'s like Christmas and my birthday wrapped up in one. And if they loved it, too...EGADS. :)

4. For those people who read my reviews -- I want to be trustworthy. Whether or not you agree with the calls I make, I want there to be a trust level there that allows you to say, "Of course Jen likes that book! She liked that other crappy one that I absolutely hated. Gah, our tastes do NOT match up." Or the opposite. (I prefer the opposite. (g)) If I said nice things about an author just because I want to keep from offending them (for whatever reason -- playing nice, fear of losing a potential networking opportunity, whatever...), how in the world could I expect anyone to trust what I say? Especially when they hate a book I recommended for a myriad of false reasons. Yeah, that's just not cool.

And finally...

5. To be brutally honest, I've just never been able to convince myself that in the grand scheme of things, my little blog matters all that damn much in the world at large. I'm just one reader/reviewer. I have a modest following on this blog -- no earth shattering numbers that will sway the reading public. If an author stumbled upon a review I did of their book, I'd be stoked as all hell. Erm, to my knowledge, that hasn't happened yet. LOL. Doubt it ever will. (And that goes for the people I KNOW.) (g)

So yeah, THAT is why I write honest reviews. Speaking of which, I have three I need to write... two I loved, one I'm on the fence with right now... I'll let you know when I finish it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Confession Time

After a couple of rocky days of marathoning, the last three were a complete flop--I got nothing. Nada. No words whatsoever. :P Bummer to the max. (Are my valley girl roots showing, or what?)

Anywho -- I spent all weekend working, and then went out with some friends last night--didn't get home until 2am. I'm exhausted and today has been a bit slow going. However, I spent a couple of hours outside with the pups, soaking up some rays (Gah, I'm a ghost) and brainstorming ways to throw this dang book together. I'm _getting there_. Only problem is that now I'm dissatisfied with the first 30 pages or so. I've come up with a way to rearrange some things that I think will help make me happy--we'll see. It's not really the part of the book I want to be thinking about right now, but alas, when I'm having a tough time getting going, I become easily distracted. An unfortunate reality of me as a writer. (g) I'm not letting myself work on that just yet -- the changes are relatively easy, but I think will be rather time-consuming. BUT, if I can't get going on one of the holes at the end, I'll dig in to that for a while. We'll see how it goes.

And of course, another sign of my need to procrastinate is a new idea. I have one. This one is horror... LOL. I suppose this has a great deal to do with having seen The Strangers last night -- and a kinda freaky experience my friend and I had during our attempt to find the freeway last night. The hour long ride gave me lots of time to mull this premise over, we'll see... to write. Wish me luck.