Friday, February 29, 2008

NY -- Friday, February 29, 2008

What I’m Reading: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (almost done)

What I’m working on: I’m at a work conference so just getting in my 100 words a day.

New Words Today: 128

New York Day #3:
Today was a lighter conference day for me. I woke up with a lovely migraine (sarcasm) that wouldn't go away.

However, I did manage to make it to Daniel Pink's presentation. Very interesting. The most important idea he imparted: We (educators) need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.

Thank you. I've been fighting this year to make teachers understand that just because a subject has been taught a particular way for the past 50 years doesn't mean we should continue to teach it that way. We need to make real efforts to reach today's kid and help him travel into his future.

I visited the exhibit hall for awhile and checked out the travel companies. My boss and I have a shared vision of taking kids to Israel. We go to Europe and the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica and Australia. We'd like to include Israel. However, I'll have to keep searching because none of the student travel companies there did Israel trips.

Finally, I heard Mariane Pearl, author of A Mighty Heart speak. She was lovely. Her message:
Preserve hope.
Maintain trust.
Open a dialogue.
Speak out.
Take action.

Yes. Good plan.

Tonight I also ate at The Brooklyn Diner (a favorite of writer bud Katrina) and saw The Other Boleyn Girl. Yummy food and a good movie. (But as usual, the book by Philippa Gregory is so much better.)

Night all.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

NY – Thursday, February 28, 2008

What I’m Reading: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

What I’m working on: I’m at a work conference so just getting in my 100 words a day.

New Words Today: 114

New York Day #2:
As I write this, it’s actually 1 am on Friday, not Thursday, but it’s Thursday’s post so that’s how it’s getting listed.

Obviously lots and lots of stuff went on today.

I got up with the awful alarm at 5:45 am for a 7 am breakfast. (Yummy!) The speaker at the breakfast meeting was Pat Basset – head of NAIS. He made a great speech, but seriously, it was 7 am, did you expect me to take notes?

By the time I’d had 3 cups of coffee and had made my way to Radio City Music Hall with 6000 other conference attendees, I’d woken up. I took great notes on Sir Ken Robinson’s speech about creativity (one of my passions in not only my personal life but in education, too). Check out the link above for a speech he gave at TED. He wrote a book called OUT OF OUR MINDS (LEARNING TO BE CREATIVE). I’ve got to get my hands on a copy. What a funny, engaging, brilliant man! He encouraged us to begin an age of educational renaissance. (Apparently, our current education system – in all its cumbersome dysfunction – is more like the period of enlightenment. We need a renaissance instead.) The key: creativity and imagination. Both are fundamental to culture and intellectual and emotional growth. Both are stifled in most schools. Damn. We HAVE to do better!

I listened to Karen Kasmauski speak about her photojournalistic investigation of global health. Beautiful, haunting pictures. Terrifying issues. (Go to her site and check out her photographs.)

However, the next speaker was BY FAR the best. I could have listed for hours to Ishmael Beah. He wrote A LONG WAY GONE. I bought a copy and had him sign it.

Ishmael was a boy soldier by the age of eleven in Sierra Leone. He was drugged and required to become a violent soldier after his family was destroyed. Through love and hope and sincere belief and a lot of time, he was eventually rehabilitated thanks to UNICEF. He wrote a brilliant book so that people can not only understand war’s devastating effects on children, but also because he wanted everyone to see that kids can come through some really tough things (the toughest!) and be okay as long as someone cares – genuinely – and is willing to take whatever time is needed to help. Human resilience is amazing. I was going to post some clips of interviews with him, but I can't choose which one. Go here and listen to them all.

Finally, tonight, Katrina and I met to see Peter Grimes (the opera) at Lincoln Center. It was beautiful (and long – over 3 hours). I love opera, but I’d never been to one like that before. First, it was in English. Second, it was a dark tragedy – completely different than, say, Carmen (my favorite opera). However, I enjoyed it immensely. I feel very cultural now.

Okay, I don’t have a 7 am breakfast tomorrow, but I would like to at least attempt to make it to an 8 am session – of course, I won’t weep if I don’t show up until Daniel Pink’s talk at 9:30.

Night all.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NY – Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What I’m Reading: Green Angel by Alice Hoffman AND The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

What I’m working on: I’m at a work conference so just getting in my 100 words a day.

New Words Tuesday 2/26: 180
New Words Today: 141

New York Day #1:
I spent the morning getting my house and such ready so the husband and kids and dogs could survive without me. Marcus laughs at the madness of me before I leave on a trip and reminds me that he once took care of himself. However, I remember how scrawny he was when I met him and what his wardrobe looked like -- so I have my doubts.

I then waited for a delayed, full flight – with a migraine. (But, it’s all better as I write this.) When I finally arrived at my hotel (about the time I actually expected to arrive), I was as tired as I predicted, but not tired enough to eat a $25 room service hamburger and a $5 room service Coke. So I ventured out to find a deli and the very best wrap I have ever eaten – turkey, guacamole, and sun-dried tomato. Wow!

I did hang out in my hotel room though. I caught some of American Idol for the first time this year, but mostly I read a little book I started on the flight. I finished all 116 pages of it tonight.

What was it? Green Angel by Alice Hoffman.

I am always amazed at the emotion that woman can elicit with words. I hope to someday be able to do with words what she can. I have yet to read an Alice Hoffman book where I didn’t tear up with the beauty of her turns of phrase or cry outright over the simplest things. This time it was a white greyhound – a dog with wounded paws who heals a girl while she heals him.

Well, off to bed now. I have to be out of the hotel room by 6:20 am (yes, that’s AM). And I’ll be up late tomorrow. Katrina and I are going to opening night of Peter Grimes at the Met. Fun!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Tired and drained

What I’m Reading: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

What I’m working on: Confrontation between Kevin and Galen over Tara's training.

New words Thursday: 136

This will be a very short post. I’m running on empty these last several weeks.

I head to NY for a work related conference on Wednesday afternoon. I intend to include some fun, too. However, is it just AWFUL that I’m really looking forward to getting to my hotel about 7:30 pm on Wednesday night, ordering room service, watching a movie and reading, and going to be early?

Yeah, it probably is, but sleep sounds so good right now.

To inspire me to get my writing done, I pulled out the ‘ole book soundtrack. These lyrics are from a Sarah McLachlan song called Possession. They could have been written for Tara and Kevin.

Into this night I wander,
It's morning that I dread,
Another day of knowing of the path I fear to tread,
Oh into the sea of waking dreams I follow without pride,
Nothing stands between us here
and I won't be denied

Music sometimes really sets to mood.
Okay. Mood set. I gotta go get some words in.

Later, Macy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Summer reading

What I’m Reading: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

What I’m working on: Getting motivated. It's been a busy week. I used to plow through the weekends, too, even if the week was busy. However, I don't feel like a lazy slouch so much any more when I spend quality time with the husband or read and relax......but, still, I need to write.

New words Thursday: 148
New words Friday: 128
New words Saturday: 473
New words today: 255

Since my recent blogs had to do with both the bill-paying job and the writing gig, I figured I'd continue on that course for tonight.

Summer reading is just around the corner (even if it's still February). It's a project I have to start now.

The ninth through twelfth grade at my favorite high school will read a community book. I'll talk about it in another post at a later date. We'll be having a guest speaker when school starts back up to follow-up on the book. I'm quite excited about it, but again, that will be a later post.

The cool, new initiative we're starting is summer reading book clubs. Fifty or so of our seventy teachers will select a book (any book) to read this summer. We'll post all the books and a blurb (but not the name of the teacher who chose it) and the students will be able to read any of the books -- as many as they want (obviously) but they must read at least one.

Once school starts back, we'll have "book club" during advisory groups. The teacher(s) selecting the book will be revealed, and the students who read it, will join in for a book club discussion.
(Much better than a boring ole book report, don't you think?)
Now, I realize that for many teachers this will be great fun. They will have read something recently or even long ago that they'd love to discuss with the students. For others, a few might need some gentle prodding and a push in the direction of some good easy reads because there are always some that just don't appreciate the value of a good book.

That brings me to the actual topic. I may be reading a bit more YA or other genres for the next few months as I gather a list of great books to gently push toward some of our more reluctant teachers.

I've made a list of books I've discovered this weekend while doing research for this little work project. These first 3 are getting added to my TBR pile (near the top).

Peruse my list and let me know if there are any you're familiar with. What else could I add?

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik: "This is the first book in a superbly written, character-driven series, Temeraire, which conjures the Napoleonic-era military replete with aerial corps of fighting dragons and their handlers. When Captain Laurence of HMS Reliant takes a French frigate as a prize, the cargo includes a dragon egg due to hatch before the Reliant can reach a British aviators' base. When the hatchling chooses the captain to be his handler, Laurence's naval career comes to an end. He is now an aviator and a member of a service more tolerated than admired. Within very short order, he finds himself bonded with Temeraire, a most elegant and intelligent dragon, more closely than he has ever been bonded with anyone before, and that includes the lady he had thought he would marry. Novik fully integrates dragons into late-eighteenth-century military tactics and develops a convincing armed-service social milieu that includes the dragon corps. But what keeps one turning the pages is the urge to find out what happens next to Captain Laurence and Temeraire, characters who win one's heart from the beginning. Bravos for a most promising new author!" Booklist

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton: "Chanda's Secrets is a novel with the lilt of Africa in its language and the urgency of adolescent struggle in every paragraph. When AIDS isn't just a faraway acronym, but a sinister, invisible poison that threaten to steal your family, creep into your night,mares, break your heart and darken your future, how do you learn to grow up with love and courage? that's one of Chanda's Secrets. This powerful story hits home with its harsh truths, its pain and its hard-won hopefulness. No-one can read Chanda's Secrets and remain untouched by the young people who are caught in the AIDS pandemic and still battling to make sense of their lives." Stephen Lewis, U.N. envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa

Beauty by Robin McKinley: "This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin. The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life. Beauty's gradual acceptance of the Beast and the couple's deepening trust and affection are amplified in novel form. Robin McKinley's writing has the flavor of another century, and Beauty heightens the authenticity as a reliable and competent narrator." Amazon


I was going to list several more, but I think I'll save that for another post -- maybe tomorrow.

Happy reading ..... and don't forget to leave me some suggestions for 50+ books for high schoolers for summer. (And, please, no War and Peace. Summer reading should be fun.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Essential questions, part deux

What I’m Reading: The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann AND The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

What I’m working on: Adding to and editing a scene that felt rather like talking heads on the second pass. Now it is effective and supports not only the main conflict but a secondary plot, as well. Yeah!!!

New words Tuesday: 313
New words today: 387

I’ve gotten a few interesting responses to my essential questions post from Monday. They’ve actually been similar responses to what teachers give me when we begin talking about essential questions.

Everyone has a tendancy to avoid going deep enough. Just as within a particular unit of study in a classroom, in fiction there are questions that can be answered within the context of a single work – questions which by the end have definitive answers, answers that are right or wrong. But there are also those questions that are less answerable. These are the questions that really make you think – the questions that linger with you after a story because they are still open to exploration in other contexts, in other stories.

Do all works of fiction exhibit essential questions? No, at least not in the sense I’m discussing.

I do, however, think there is at least one central question to be answered for each view point character in any story. There are as many possibilities as stories. Do any of these sound familiar? “Can I let go of my past and learn to love?” “Can someone else love me despite my flaws?” “Do I have the strength to overcome big obstacle #1 in my life?”

These questions are really important for these story characters. These questions boil down to moving from in one’s unfulfilled current identity into living fully in one’s essence. (Thank you Michael Hauge for stating that all so clearly.)

However, I’m going beyond that here. I’m looking one step deeper. I want to know if writers (maybe not all, but some) have essential questions they explore again and again until they’ve turned the question around a million different ways and examined it under a variety of circumstances and situations.

I really think this essential question idea parallels themes in writing. Have you ever read a particular author so much that you begin to notice similarities in his/her stories? Have you witnessed recurring conflicts or motivations? Have you ever thought to dig deeper and see just what theme (essential question) was being explored over and over again?

Of course, maybe this is just me being crazy. However, I will admit to liking stories that explore fundamental human questions – questions that usually lead to more questions rather than more answers.

“Essential questions probe the deepest issues confronting us . . . complex and baffling matters which elude simple answers: Life - Death - Marriage - Identity - Purpose - Betrayal - Honor - Integrity - Courage - Temptation - Faith - Leadership - Addiction - Invention - Inspiration.” (From Trivial Pursuit to Essential Questions)

Yep, I love that stuff.

Can you think of books that explore the following essential questions?

Can one rise above one’s circumstances? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

Does love require sacrifice?

How are people transformed through their relationships?

What does it mean to live fully?

What does true happiness look like?

What determines if something is good or evil?

Yeah, I can think of some, too.

So the question still is, what are your essential questions in the stories you write?

And, we’ll add another: What are some of the essential questions in your favorite books?


Monday, February 18, 2008

Essential Questions

What I’m Reading: The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann AND The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

What I’m working on: Typing up some more hand-written stuff from my trip. Adding to the scene with Galen and his most trusted advisor. (Tonight is my Valentine's night out with the DH, so I'm expecting only minimal words.)

New words today: 124

My day job is in education. I really try to keep that aspect of my life separate from my writing. However, a concept we’re exploring at work poses some interesting ideas for writing so I thought I’d bring it up here.

Essential questions.

The long and short of it is that I’m in charge of helping teachers learn how to write and use essential questions in their classes. For the record, I’m a big proponent of essential questions and was using them naturally long before I ever knew I was doing it.

What is an essential question? Grant Wiggins says, “an essential question is – well, essential: important, vital, at the heart of the matter – the essence of the issue.”

He goes on to say the “meaning of essential involves important questions that recur throughout one’s life. Such questions are broad in scope and timeless by nature. They are perpetually arguable. We may arrive at or be helped to grasp understandings for these questions, but we soon learn that answers to them are invariably provisional. In other words, we are liable to change our minds in response to reflection and experience concerning such questions as we go through life, and that such changes of mind are not only expected but beneficial.”

Essential questions don’t have easy answers. Rather, they are big ideas. A person’s answer will depend on prior knowledge and experience and assumptions and the consideration of alternatives and connections.

So, I’m thinking many writers use essential questions when they write. They take a question that’s important to them and provide a lens for viewing that question in the form of a work of fiction. I’m wondering if being able to state a question up front might help guide the story you write.

Perhaps an essential question is sort of like a theme, but I’d prefer to think of it as a question. I don’t want someone to tell me what I’m so supposed to take away from a story. I’d rather figure that out myself.

I’ve been thinking about theme for awhile now, but I’m going to think of it as a question instead – an essential question.

For example, the themes I’d come up with for Slayer all had to do with good and evil. But they were really hard to state. I like it in question form better: Is there such a thing as pure good or pure evil? What would pure good look like? What would pure evil look like? What happens if someone commits an evil act to preserve pure good? Can you be both evil and good at the same time?

Essential questions.

I’m not sure I answer those questions in my story. Maybe different people have their own answers. However, I explore them.

What essential questions does your writing explore?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bits and Pieces

What I’m Reading: The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann AND The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. (Don’t expect to see a lot of change here for at least a week. I’m ½ way through The Unsung Hero, but reading time will be limited this week. And, I’m listening to The Other Boleyn Girl on CD on my commute to and from work – about 25 minutes each way. However, I found the unabridged CD – all 19 of them. That’s 24 hours of listening. You do the math. I’ll be reading for awhile.)

What I’m working on: Typing the hand-written stuff from this past week. I’m also mid-scene at a new mid-book scene. Tara has no where else to go, no one else to count on, but Kevin can’t believe she’s completely innocent of a heinous crime -- so it’s pretty tense. However, Kevin knows there are some big holes in the story he believes. The longer Tara sticks around, the more he doubts what he truly believes. He finally pulls out some old newspaper clippings about the incident in question. Tara’s getting a chance to see where he’s coming from, and he’s getting a chance to gauge her responses. It’s a mini turning point.

New words today: 510

Bits and Pieces

I love to travel, but it seems like anytime I have a break from work, I’m on a plane or in a car going somewhere. Of course, that means I’m never rested when I hit the office afterwards. My tiredness and need to catch up on the word count this weekend is driving my bits and pieces post. I still have one more installment on voice for later in the week, but for today, we’ll keep it simple.

1) I’ve had some books on reserve at the library for weeks – two of them on reserve for months. Four of them came available while I was in Texas. I picked them up today. I have four big books on CD now – all due back the same day, all books I want to read, all of which I needed to check out now; otherwise I go back to the end of the waiting list. I now have to prioritize. Wanna know what they are? The Other Boleyn Girl, Breaking Point, Bloodfever, and House.

2) The DH and I missed Valentine’s Day because I was in Texas. To make up for it, tomorrow (Monday) night, we’re going to my very most favorite restaurant in the whole wide world: Roy’s.

3) I’m going to be in the Big Apple in less than 10 days. I’m a little nervous about how cold it’s going to be. I’m going there for a work conference, but will also get to see a good friend of mine who lives there. Very cool. Or cold, I should say. What should I even pack? Help.

4) The DH and I have been discussing SIMPLIFYING life. This might include a move closer to downtown (where we both work and the kids attend school), a smaller house (hmmm, a visit to IKEA really got me thinking about smaller spaces), and freeing up money and time for things we really want to pursue (like travel and some volunteer work and a relief trip to Africa and more time with the kids who are growing up too fast). I'm quite excited about this. Of course, it would mean giving up some of what I love about where I live, but I could use a shorter commute, less cleaning, and more time to write. Those pretty much out weigh what we've got now.

Have a great week. I'll see ya tomorrow.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Celebrity Soulmate

What I’m Reading: The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

What I’m working on: More bits and pieces in Slayer.

New words Wedneday (written on airplane): 179
New words Thursday: 125 (Cowboy story)
New words Friday: 133
New words today: 439

(Not bad for each of those days being very busy travel days. It's probably about 600 more than I would have written without the challenge.)

Take the Quiz

Sensitive and soulfoul, you and Patrick would make the perfect pair. Like your celebrity soulmate, you are a good listener and a devoted partner. Even at your busiest, you always find time for family. But it's not all work and responsibility -- you're a thrill-seeker at heart and enjoy a few laps in the fast lane.

Okay, that was a fun quiz. I promise to be back on Sunday with a more worthwhile post, but this is all I can muster with a day of traveling and a pair of 12 year-old boys running through the house. Oh, yeah, and a teenage girl rapidly discarding ALL of her clothes as unfit to wear to Sunday night's Taylor Swift concert with her friends.

Big sigh.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Adios (for a few days)

What I’m Reading: The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

What I’m working on: Uh, packing. More bits and pieces in Slayer.

New words today: 141 so far (I had to at least get that)

I'm heading out for Texas early tomorrow morning and won't be back until Saturday. This may be the last post you see until Saturday or Sunday. I'm not sure how much time I'll have to blog in Texas. I'll try to put up a post or two -- maybe something very related to Texas, but I can't make any promises.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I want a new toy

What I’m Reading: Over Sea, Under Stone: The Dark is Rising Sequence, Book 1 by Susan Cooper.

What I’m working on: 1) Adding to the ending of Slayer. 2) Writing a tough scene -- an all is lost scene for my hero in Slayer. There isn't anything pretty or pleasant about this scene. This is my hero at his lowest point, making his worst decision. I want to cry. I want to tell him, "No!" But if he doesn't go to this dark place, he'll never know what he's lost and the good guys will never win -- and he'll never get the girl. So I have to write it. No more putting it off. 3) I'm attempting a short story to submit to The Wild Rose Press.

New words today: My short story 619; Slayer 858

Weekly update on CFRWA's 100 words for 100 days challenge: This week, I wrote at least 100 words every day and ended up with 2602 for the week.

Update on my 15k in 30 days challenge: I'm a little behind, but not worried yet. I've written 4104. I have 18 days to go. That's a little over 600 words a day from here on out.

I'm fighting a really nasty cold. I gave it to my husband, too. So, now I'm not only sick, but I'm also taking care of a sick man. Between that and writing on my MIPs, I don't have any creative blogging abilities today.

Instead, of a real blog, I decided to post a picture of the newest toy I want. The more I check it out, the more I want it. I better start saving.

What is it?

It's an eBookwise-1150 eBook Reading Device with 64 Megabyte SmartMedia card. Check it out.

And... I want this in August when it comes out:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

TBR pile -- part 2

What I’m Reading: Over Sea, Under Stone: The Dark is Rising Sequence, Book 1 by Susan Cooper.

What I’m working on: I finaled in the Great Expectations contest (under a different name, of course) so I've been rereading and revising my entry and query letter. I'm also doing more editing and adding to the end and middle of Slayer.

New words today: 625

Today, I'm continuing with the TBR pile. Remember, these are books I already own. They litter my nightstand, reside in stacks on multiple bookshelves, and crowd my desk.

26. I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

27. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

28. Ways to Be Wicked by Julie Anne Long

29. His Style of Seduction by Roxanne St. Claire

30. Christmas in His Royal Bed by Heidi Betts

31. Changleling by Yasmine Galenorn

32. The Jane Austin Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

33. Key of Light by Nora Roberts

34. Loving Mercy by Teresa Bodwell

35. Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce

36. Dragon Lovers (anthology) by Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney, Karen Harbaugh, and Barbara Samuel

37. Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon

38. Dark Defender by Alexis Morgan

39. Key of Valor by Nora Roberts

40. Seaswept by Nora Roberts

41. Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts

42. In the Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind

43. Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason

44. The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

45. Time to Run by Marliss Melton

46. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

47. Into the Dark by Cindy Gerard

48. To the Edge by Cindy Gerard

49. The Executive's Surprise Baby by Catherine Mann

50. The Devil Inside by Jenna Black

Would you believe this isn't all of them? However, I'll stop here and give you something more interesting tomorrow.

Have you read any of these? Any I should move to the top of the pile based on your recommendation?


Saturday, February 9, 2008

TBR pile -- part 1

What I’m Reading: Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy (almost finished)

What I’m working on: A few scenes at the end of Slayer. Hmm… letting these sit and then coming back to them has revealed some blaring holes and some really icky writing. I guess that’s what rewrites are for.

New words today: 877 so far (These are new words from rewriting. I’ve actually written a lot more than this, but I’ve deleted a lot and rewritten it.)

Alyson listed several books in her TBR pile that she’d like to read or reread and then decide whether to keep or not.

I have a huge TBR pile. The pile has accumulated for a variety of reasons. First, I have a book addiction that I can control beautifully for awhile, but which always wins again in the end. I HAVE to buy books. There are worse compulsions to have.

Second, I had no idea I’d come home with so many books from RWA Nationals. And, I only picked up books I had good intentions to read. The rest I left alone.

Third, I just don’t have as much time to read as I’d like. That’s the sad truth of it. I have broad tastes and love to try new authors as well as continue reading the backlist of tried and true favorites. But with only so many hours in the day……

For that reason, I’m listing some books in my TBR pile that I REALLY want to read this year.

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

1. Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair (CFRWA member, repped by Kristin Nelson, sci-fi romance….this one is near the top)

2. Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (Technically the book is not out yet, but I have an ARC and the buzz behind this book is HUGE.)

3. McKettrick’s Luck by Linda Lael Miller

4. Spirited Away by Cindy Miles

5. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

6. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison

7. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder (I loved the first one in this series – Poison Study.)

8. The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman

9. The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

10. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

11. the Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff

12. Eyes of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready

13. Moongazer by Marianne Mancusi

14. Riding the Storm by Sydney Croft

15. Edge of Danger by Cherry Adair

16. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

17. Virgin River by Robin Carr

18. Mine till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

19. Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

20. The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose

21. Breaking Point by Suzanne Brockmann

22. Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

23. Falling Awake by Jayne Ann Krentz

24. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

25. Dark Protector by Alexis Morgan

Whew. I’m stopping at 25 for tonight. The next 25 will be up tomorrow. If you’ve read any of these, tell me what you thought.


Friday, February 8, 2008

'Nough Said #2

What I’m Reading: Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy

What I’m working on: Surving the work week. Fighting off my sore throat. Oh, you mean in the writing area.... just getting in my 100 words a day..... some weeks are like that.

New words Wednesday (2/6): 112
New words Thursday (2/7): 222
New words today: 105

Check out more cartoons like this from Inkygirl by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

10 Things You'd Buy if You Had a Million Bucks

What I’m Reading: Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (I’m almost done with both.)

What I’m working on: Just getting some words down today. (Seriously, is it a full moon or something?)

New words: 207

My friend Mimi posted this at the dish last Tuesday. I needed a fun blog, so I stole it. If you’re reading I’m tagging you for next Tuesday (or whatever day you choose).

The rules: Ten things you'd buy if you had a million bucks to just spend, no scholarships or altruism, completely self-centered.

1. A decked out Macbook Air. Estimate with all the extras I want: $4,000.00. (Yep, I pretty much selected every extra you can get.)

2. A 2008 Landrover LR3. Decked out, of course. $55,000.00

3. An around the world cruise for the hubby and me. We’d like a penthouse room on the ship, too. Cruise total: $167,500.

4. On a three month plus cruise, we’ll need a little spending money: $50,000.

5. Complete our bathroom and closet renovations. Hmmm…. I’d say $40,000 so I can have some cool closet gadgets and duel heads in the shower.

6. A daily workout with a personal trainer -- everyday, all year. $54,000

7. A month of summer camp at Kanakuk for both kids, including flights and all the other stuff it takes to get ready for camp. $10,000.

8. New landscaping -- $10,000. (I have no idea what landscaping would cost, but we need alot of it.)

9. A week long writers' retreat with all my writing chicas -- on me -- somewhere cool. Include bells and whistles. $20,000. (Hmm.... maybe a beach or mountain house somewhere....)

10. A chef. (Right. Like I know what that would cost.)

Okay, that was really hard. I kept thinking of sending under-priveleged kids to camp and fighting AIDS in Africa. If I really had a million dollars to spend any 'ole way, I'd like to not just spend it on me.

What about you?


Monday, February 4, 2008

'Nough said

What I'm Reading: Lay That Trumpet in our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy AND Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

What I'm Working On: New words. Edits.

New words today: 454

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Voice theory – Emotion. Part 3

AKA Why love triangles slay me….

What I'm reading: Lay That Trumpet in our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy AND Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. (Our book club discussion of Poison Study is next Sunday, 2/10. I’m really enjoying it.)

What I'm working on: I’m back to the fight scene – the big one between Tara and a demon god. And then I’m off to read the 305 pages I printed. No, I won’t read it all tonight, but it needs to be read so I know what's still missing.

New words today: 505

If you recall, I’ve been posting a little series on voice. Today, I’m resuming it with part 3.
The big key to swept-away titles for me – be it books or movies – is a truly emotional story, a story where I feel deeply. I want that bone-deep, overpowering, soul-clutching emotional ride.

I frequently find that ride in stories with well-developed love triangles. Let me just list a few.

Bridges of Madison County
Sugar Daddy
The X-Men
The Anita Blake series – okay, yes, there might be more than a triangle going on now
The Twilight Series

I realize some of these titles don’t have traditional love triangles, but there are triangles.

You see, the deal with love triangles is they require someone (the hero or heroine) to choose. Often the best choice is clear to a reader or watcher, but just as often it’s not any clearer to us than it is to the main character.

The best love triangles involve giving up something you really want regardless of the choice you make. They involve the deep understanding that you can’t have everything no matter how bad you want it all.

Let me give you some examples.
WARNING: THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS BELOW. If you don’t want to be spoiled stop reading when you see the title of a story you haven’t read.

First, let’s look at BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. I loved the movie and the book, but to keep us all straight, let’s talk movie here. The love triangle is between Francesca, Robert, and Francesca’s husband. Immediately, one might think the choice should be obvious, but it’s not. And what’s more, at the end of the movie, you’re heart-broken when she makes the moral choice. Notice – I didn’t say right. There is no right choice. She loses a chunk of her soul and heart regardless of who she chooses. No matter how many times I watch the movie, I cry when the shot cuts to her hand on the door. The indecision is a heart-breaking, emotional ride.

In SUGAR DADDY by Lisa Kleypas, Liberty is just falling in love again when the man she’s always been in love with shows up. I won’t tell you want happens, but I love to watch how both men react – doing whatever it takes to keep her. Very dramatic stuff.

In the X-MEN trilogy (movies), Wolverine is in love, but he can’t have the object of his affection. She’s married to someone else – someone that doesn’t understand her troubled soul. In the end, the husband is out of the picture, but the conflict is still there. It becomes a love triangle between choosing her and choosing what’s right (saving the world). He can’t have both.

In the ANITA BLAKE series by Laurell K. Hamilton, I love the love triangle between Richard, Jean Claude, and Anita. The books with high tension between the three of them were my favorites in the series.

Finally, the series that got me thinking about love triangles: THE TWILIGHT SERIES by Stephanie Meyer.

I recently lay on the bed reading the last book so far in the series – ECLIPSE. Marcus lay next to me watching a sitcom. Suddenly I slammed the book and swung my legs over the edge of the bed to stand up. I dropped the book onto my pillow as if it burned my hands.

“What’s wrong?” Marcus asked, pulling his eyes away from the TV.

“Bella is so screwed.” I say clenching my teeth in anxiety over recent events in the book. “I can’t read anymore right now.”

I stare down at the book. Marcus returns to watching the sitcom.

I plop back down on the bed and pry the book open again, resuming my read.

“I thought you couldn’t read anymore of it right now.” He raises his eyebrows in amusement. He’s seen this side of me before.

“I can’t, but I can’t stop. She is so, so screwed. This will never turn out okay. No matter what happens.”

Bella has a choice to make. If she chooses Edward, there is a huge cost. If she chooses Jake, there is a huge cost. I hurt for her. If it was me, I'd want to stay in limbo -- or perhaps live in a vacuum where I didn't have to choose.

Angsty, emotional, riveting stuff. There’s just something about the emotional journey in a good love triangle, especially when to win, you also have to lose.

I want to write books like these.
(So, I guess it’s good that I have a couple of ideas for love triangles, eh?)


Hmm... A question: What good love triangles in books or movies can you think of?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fan Geek

What I'm reading: Lay That Trumpet in our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy AND Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

What I'm working on: A scene in the middle of Slayer. Tomorrow I’m printing the current 300+ pages for some editing reads so I’ll know if I’m headed in the right direction.

New words today: 518

I am a total fan geek.

I can’t tell you how giddy it just made me to discover (just moments ago) that Stephanie Meyer, genius author of the Twilight series, will have her first adult fiction release in May. I’ve already pre-ordered.

I’m such a fan geek.

I won’t bore you with too much of my gushing. I’ve waited in long lines to get J.R. Ward and Suzanne Brockmann to sign books, but for Stephanie Meyer, I’d be willing to camp out.


Anyway, here’s the post from her website. (Read below or click

Science fiction for people who don't like science fiction…

October 2007 Update: The Host now has an official on-sale date of May 6, 2008!

December 2006 Update: After a fierce bidding war, The Host has found a home with Little, Brown & Company (Adult). I'm very pleased to be with such a stellar publisher, and to work with the same editor that edited Alice Sebold's amazing novel, The Lovely Bones. The Host is tentatively set for release in Spring of 2008.

About The Host:

Despite its genre, The Host a very human story. There aren't any gadgets, ray guns, time warps, black holes, spaceships (okay, there are a few spaceships mentioned), or any of the other sci-fi standards. It all takes place on the planet earth in the present day and is, at its core, a love story (I can't stay away from the romance, I'm a sap).

The basic premise: The Host takes place after a bodysnatchers-style invasion of the earth. We (the humans) lost. Our narrator is Wanderer, one of the invading "souls," who struggles to navigate all the bewildering challenges that come with living inside a human body. She was forewarned about these challenges—the overwhelming emotions, the stunning physical responses, the glut of senses, the too vivid dreams and memories… However, there was one challenge Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body, human survivor Melanie Stryder, refuses to fade away into oblivion the way she should. Melanie lingers as an angry presence in Wanderer's head, holding on to her human secrets and filling Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves—Jared, another human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for the man she's never met. Outside forces combine to make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, and, working together, they set off to search for the man they both love. It's possibly the first love triangle that only involves two bodies.

Click here to pre-order The Host. Release date: May 6, 2008.

Look -- Love triangles.... Didn't I promise that would be the next topic in my Voice series?
Tune in tomorrow.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Finally Friday Five

What I'm reading: Lay That Trumpet in our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy AND Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

What I'm working on: A scene in the middle of Slayer.

New Words Thursday 1/31: 0 (I was still in meetings way after the official end of my workday, but I'll catch up this weekend.)
New words today: 479

Did you start the 15K in 30 days challenge yesterday? If not, start today!!!!!!!!!!!! We finish up March 1st.

It has been a long week. Despite my best laid plans, work threw several curve balls my way this week. I love my job, but a HUGE part of it is being prepared to deal with anything at anytime – the perpetual trouble shooter.

This week there was a lot of trouble.

However, I did manage to witness high school kids jumping up and down over the opportunity to read Shakespeare’s Othello, including a big football lineman begging to read Othello’s part.

I did arrange – or mostly so – a guest speaker for next fall. I’m very excited about that. My favorite high school is reading Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy for their summer community book. I spoke to Susan at length this week. I can hardly wait to meet her in person and to hear her address our student body. More about that later, but if you want to see what the hype is about, check out this website: Susan Carol McCarthy.

Despite those good things, lots of less pleasant stuff happened, too, and all that zapped my energy. That means, there will be more on voice later, but not until the weekend.

And that brings me to my Friday Five – five things I’m looking forward to this weekend:

1) A few glasses of Wine at Dubsdread.

2) My local CFRWA meeting.

3) A couple of hours browsing B&N with the hubby while the 12 year old goes to youth group on Saturday night.

4) Lunch on Saturday with a writing buddy.

5) Writing. A lot.

More later.