CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break (as you can see) from blogging for a few weeks. I plan to be back on October 14 with Waiting On Wednesday ........ and a plan for NanoWriMo. I've had to let many things slide as there are just not enough hours in the day. However, I want to write. I need to write. So, I'm giving myself October to plan, plot, rearrange, etc. so that I'm ready to kick it into gear for November.

See you soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday



What I'm Reading: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

What I'm Working On: Finding time. It's there. I know it is. I just haven't found it yet.

Marathon Training: Love it. Love it. Love it. Plus, all my clothes are now too big. That's a nice by-product.

Waiting on: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan; March 9th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Synopsis:

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Why:

I have THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH on reserve at the library. I can't wait to read it, but maybe I'll wait until Carrie's new one comes out and have two in a row to read without the maddening wait for a sequel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday


What I'm Reading: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard and Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

What I'm Working On: Writing. (What writing?)

Half Marathon Training: I did 5 miles on Saturday and it felt great!

Waiting On: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.

Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group; September 29, 2009

Synopsis:
Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers -- with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive former lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including -- perhaps -- their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry: about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life -- even after death.

Why:

I loved The Time Traveler's Wife and she got a HUGE advance for this, so why not!

Monday, September 7, 2009

1/2 Marathon



What I'm Reading: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard and Joker One by Donovan Campbell


What I'm Working On: I think I just need to do a couple of short or new projects so that I can make myself sit down to the computer. Right now I have 0 time and 0 motivation. Maybe if I make it fun (something new), the 0 time will be less of an issue.

Half Marathon Training: Week 2! I love this stuff.


This is my schedule to prepare for my November 22 half marathon. I'm on week 2. Today, I did Monday's workout.
What do you think?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: I'm trying to get into Joker One by Donovan Campbell. It's billed as a story of courage, leadership, and brotherhood and I thought it might be right for my fav high school, but if it doesn't pep up soon, I won't finish.


What I'm Working On: Hahahahahha


Half Marathon training: Week one of official training (after weeeeeks spent on the eliptical, bike, and treadmill. Day 2 of 5:15 am running went better than expected.



WAITING ON: LEAVING CAROLINA by Tamara Leigh
September 15, 2009 by Random House


SYNOPSIS: Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s. Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.






WHY:
This sounds like the type of feel good story I've been looking for. (And needing.)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Not so good

I'm not doing so good with the blog posts this month. It's been very busy. Next month I'll do better. I fell short by 2 blog posts this month in getting in my bare minimum. But September is just 3 hours away. I will do better.

Better training for my 1/2 marathon.
Better writing -- what's that book I'm working on again?
Better blogging.

Until September!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Just finishing up My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Piccoult

What I'm Working On: Keeping one nostril above water -- not always successfully.

What I'm Waiting on: HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick

October 13th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Synopsis: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Why: Do I really need a reason?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday


What I'm Reading: Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine


What I'm Working On: Nothing today. I spent the day with a brave soul from Darfur. I'm taking a break and giving thanks for the life I have and praying for those who see know end to suffering.


Waiting on: STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS by Tracy Kidder

August 25th 2009 by Random House
Synopsis:
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the modern classics Mountains Beyond Mountains and The Soul of a New Machine returns with the extraordinary true story of a young man and his will to survive.
In this remarkable book, New York Times bestselling author Tracy Kidder once again delivers the masterful story of a hero for these modern times.
Deo grew up in the mountains of Burundi, and survived a civil war and genocide before seeking a new life in America. In New York City he lived homeless in Central Park before finding his way to Columbia University. But Deo’s story really begins with his will to turn his life into something truly remarkable; he returns to his native country to help people there, as well as people in the United States.
An extraordinary writer, Kidder has the remarkable ability to show us what it means to be fully human, and to tell the unadorned story of a life based on hope. Riveting and inspiring, this may be his most magnificent work to date. Strength in What Remains is a testament to the power of will and friendship, and of the endurance of the soul.
Why:
I loved Tracy Kidder's biography of Dr. Paul Farmer (Mountains Beyond Mountains). I admire Dr. Paul Farmer immensely, and Tracy's book told a beautiful story. I hope his new book is just as good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I’m Reading: The Places in Between by Rory Stewart

What I’m Working On: Keeping a nostril above water


WAITING ON: FALLEN by Lauren Kate
December 8, 2009 from Delacorte Books for Young Readers


Synopsis:
Seventeen-Year-Old Luce is a new student at Sword & Cross, an unwelcoming boarding/reform school in Savannah, Georgia. Luce’s boyfriend died under suspicious circumstances, and now she carries the guilt over his death with her as she navigates the unfriendly halls at Sword & Cross, where every student seems to have an unpleasant—even evil—history.It’s only when she sees Daniel, a gorgeous fellow student, that Luce feels there’s a reason to be here—though she doesn’t know what it is. And Daniel’s frosty cold demeanor toward her? It’s really a protective device that he’s used again . . . and again. For Daniel is a fallen angel, doomed to fall in love with the same girl every 17 years . . . and watch her die. And Luce is a fellow immortal, cursed to be reincarnated again and again as a mortal girl who has no idea of who she really is.

Why:
I’m too tired from working and ½ marathon training to do more than list 3 reasons.
1) The cover. Very, very nice. I often buy books just for the cover.
2) Very interesting premise. I like to read books that make me say, “Gee, I wish I’d come up with that idea.”
3) Seriously, could this possibly end happily? I want to read to find out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

What I'm Reading: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

What I'm Working On: Not passing out from all the work at the bill-paying job.


Via Jill at Breaking the Spine, I found Booking Through Thursday. Very cool. Check it out. It's self-explanatory.

Here's this Thursday's question:
What’s the most serious book you’ve read recently?(I figure it’s easier than asking your most serious boook ever, because, well, it’s recent!)

Probably The Translator by Daoud Hari. I read it several months ago, but stories of Darfur have a way of staying with you. Everyone should read it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I’m Reading: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

What I’m Working On: The bill-paying job.


WAITING ON WEDNESDAY:
GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray
September 22nd 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Synopsis:
Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Why:
A Great and Terrible Beauty and the rest of the Gemma Doyle series are among my favorite books. I love Libba’s voice. Reason enough.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Thursday Thirteen

What I'm Reading: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey and The Devil's Company by David Liss

What I'm Working On: Rewriting chapter 2 for the 1000th time. Still.

I've been reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor in addition to the books above. I've read ALOT of the book he discusses in there, but a few I've missed. And those few also made me think about others I'd read. And missed. So, I thought I'd list 13 books I've never read but really feel I ought to based on all those 100 best and such lists. What haven't you read, but feel you ought to?

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
3. Go Tell It on the Mountain - James Baldwin
4. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
5. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
6. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austin
7. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
8. A Passage to India - E.M. Forster
9. The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles
10. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
11. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
12. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
13. Siddharta - Hermann Hesse

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I'm Reading: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey and The Devil's Company by David Liss

What I'm Working On: Rewriting chapter 2 for the 1000th time.

WAITING ON:
INTERTWINED by Gena Showalter,
Harlequine Teen, August 25th.
Synopsis:
Like most teens, Aden Stone has friends.
They just happen to be the four human souls living inside him. One can time travel; one can raise the dead; one can foretell the future; one can possess another human.

Lately, however, they’ve been causing him all kinds of trouble, playing mind games with our young hero.

Just when Aden thinks peace of mind will never be his, he meets Mary, an outgoing spirit who is his opposite in every way. And, incredibly, she is capable of quieting the voices. Theirs becomes an inexplicable bond of friendship – one to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifter and an irresistible vampire princess.

All four of these characters, their fates intertwined, will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger. But not all of them will emerge alive.
Why:
First, I'm really interested in what Harlequin is publishing in their teen line. I love YA and I'd like to write YA (when I get Slayer the hell done). Harlequin Teen is a new market. Let's see what they have. Plus, I'd like to give Gena Showalter another chance. I read one of her romances and liked it less than I'd hoped. I want to like her YA.
M

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I'm Reading: The Devil's Company by David Liss and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

What I'm Working On: Nothing. I'm in Texas visiting family.


Waiting On: FLAT BELLY DIET COOKBOOK BY LIZ VACCARIELLO, by Rodale Press, Pub. Date: August 18, 2009

Synopsis:

Drawing on the latest findings from weight-loss science, Prevention, America’s most trusted healthy living magazine, created the breakthrough Flat Belly Diet! The diet that everyone is talking about, this is the only eating plan that integrates monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) into every meal to help women banish those stubborn—and dangerous—extra pounds in the tummy region. This follow-up cookbook puts the eating plan into action, as readers learn how to cook for better health and a slimmer waist, while losing up to 15 pounds in 32 days.

In the Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook readers will find:
1) more than 200 great-tasting new recipes for foods they'll love—like Rigatoni with Meat Sauce, Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts, Mexican Stuffed Peppers, and Ginger Macadamia Nut Cheesecake
2) a 4-day jumpstart phase to keep them motivated with quick, noticeable results—losing up to 7 pounds and up to 5 inches from their waist in just 96 hours—with no exercise required
3) a totally flexible program (with mix-and-match meal plans) that allows readers to pick and choose the foods they like and eat them when they want to

Everyone knows that excess belly fat doesn’t just look bad—it’s bad for you.

This cookbook gives readers fatblasting power to trim their tummies—and food so good they’ll want to eat this way for life.

Why?
Seriously?

M

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: The Devil's Company by David Liss and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

What I'm Working On: Nothing much tonight. A last minute crisis at the bill paying job had be working late -- about 2 hours.

WAITING ON: IN THE PRESIDENT'S SECRET SERVICE: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect

Crown Publishing Group, August 4, 2009

Synopsis:

Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, that elite corps of agents who pledge to take a bullet to protect the president and his family. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents, bestselling author and award-winning reporter Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time.

Secret Service agents, acting as human surveillance cameras, observe everything that goes on behind the scenes in the president’s inner circle. Kessler reveals what they have seen, providing startling, previously untold stories about the presidents, from John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as about their families, Cabinet officers, and White House aides.

Kessler portrays the dangers that agents face and how they carry out their missions–from how they are trained to how they spot and assess potential threats. With fly-on-the-wall perspective, he captures the drama and tension that characterize agents’ lives.

In this headline-grabbing book, Kessler discloses assassination attempts that have never before been revealed. He shares inside accounts of past assaults that have put the Secret Service to the test, including a heroic gun battle that took down the would-be assassins of Harry S. Truman, the devastating day that John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, and the swift actions that saved Ronald Reagan after he was shot.

While Secret Service agents are brave and dedicated, Kessler exposes how Secret Service management in recent years has betrayed its mission by cutting corners, risking theassassination of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families. Given the lax standards, “It’s a miracle we have not had a successful assassination,” a current agent says.

Since an assassination jeopardizes democracy itself, few agencies are as important as the Secret Service–nor is any other subject as tantalizing as the inner sanctum of the White House. Only tight-lipped Secret Service agents know the real story, and Ronald Kessler is the only journalist to have won their trust.

Why:

I might, maybe, but I'm not saying for sure, have a family member who is a secret service agent. Frankly, I want to read this to see how much they've left out. The secret service does alot more than put on neutral suits and run beside the president in parades. I might also buy one for the family member, who may or may not be able to authenticate or expose as a sham, this new novel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Summer Reading Sunday Seven

What I'm Reading: The Devil's Company by David Liss

What I'm Working On: Kevin -- hero, villian, enigma

I wanted to throw out another 7 books I hope to get to this summer -- or at least soon.

From Cosmo’s list:
1) Dark Places
By Gillian Flynn
When Libby Day was seven, her mother and younger sisters were murdered. She then testified against her brother and helped put him behind bars. Now, 25 years later, Libby is alone and about to go broke. So she begins to sell old family memorabilia to the Kill Club, a group of true-crime fans obsessed with her story. But the club doesn't believe Libby's brother is the killer, and pushes her to investigate the murder. What Libby finds will turn her life upside down — again.
Cosmo says: This thriller got passed around the Cosmo offices for good reason — it's gripping, smart, and chilling.

From another Cosmo list:
2) How to Be Single
By Liz Tuccillo
Manhattan chick Julie Jenson is fed up with the dating scene stateside so she says buh-bye to her posse and travels the world to discover how women in other countries survive the single life. Each city brings new lessons, and soon she finds what she least expected — love. (Psst, the author is the coauthor of He's Just Not That Into You and was an executive story editor for Sex and the City. And she actually jetted around the globe to research this book.) Cosmo says: Reading this novel is like taking a vacation with your BFFs — minus the pricey ticket and lost luggage.

From Queen’s Library summer reading list for adults:
3) Just Too Good to Be True
By E. Lynn Harris
College football player Brady Bledsoe couldn’t ask for more success – A possible professional career is complicated by sexual temptation and emerging family secrets.
Harris serves up a treat that will capture and enchant audiences everywhere--a big, bold, and irresistible novel about football, family, and secrets. Brady Bledsoe and his mother, Carmyn, have a strong relationship. A single mother, faithful churchgoer, and the owner of several successful Atlanta beauty salons, Carmyn has devoted herself to her son and his dream of becoming a professional football player. Brady has always followed her lead, including becoming a member of the church's "Celibacy Circle." Now in his senior year at college, the smart, and very handsome, Brady is a lead contender for the Heisman Trophy and a spot in the NFL. As sports agents hover around Brady, Barrett, a beautiful and charming cheerleader, sets her mind on tempting the celibate Brady and getting a piece of his multimillion-dollar future--but is that all she wants from him, and is she acting alone? Carmyn is determined to protect her son. She's also determined to protect the secret she's kept from Brady his whole life. As things heat up on campus and Carmyn and Brady's idyllic relationship starts to crumble, mother and son begin to wonder about the other--are you just too good to be true? A sweeping novel about mothers and sons, football and beauty shops, secrets and lies, JUST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE has all the ingredients that have made E. Lynn Harris a bestselling author: family, friendship, faith, and love.

4) Reading Like A Writer
By Francine Prose
From Amazon: Life is precious, and much of that preciousness lies in the details: the sights, the sounds, the scents we too often ignore in our busy lives. Prose makes a superb application of that concept for readers of fiction. To know how the great writers create their magic, one needs to engage in a close reading of the masters, for that is precisely what successful writers have done for thousands of years. College programs in creative writing and summer workshops serve a purpose, but they can never replace a careful reading of the likes of Austen, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Salinger, Tolstoy, and Woolf. In this excellent guide, Prose explains exactly what she means by close reading, drawing attention to the brick and mortar of outstanding narratives: words, sentences, paragraphs, character, dialogue, details, and more. In the process, she does no less than escort readers to a heightened level of appreciation of great literature. Many will want to go to the shelves to read again, or for the first time, the books she discusses. And to aid them, she thoughtfully adds a list at the end: Books to Be Read Immediately.

*This one should be waiting for me in my office on Monday.

5) Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception
by Maggie Stiefvater
From Amazon: Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan, a gifted harpist who regularly plays for weddings and other events, has the kind of stage fright that makes her physically ill before a performance, which is an inauspicious way to start a romance; but while vomiting before a competition she meets a gorgeous boy who comes into the restroom to hold her hair. He is Luke Dillon, a flautist who proceeds to accompany her in a truly stellar performance. As four-leaf clovers start appearing everywhere, Deirdre develops telekinetic powers and encounters strange, unworldly people who seem to bear her ill will. Her best friend, James, also a talented musician; her beloved grandmother; and her mother all are in danger, as Deirdre is targeted by the queen of Faerie. Deirdre eventually discovers that she is a cloverhand, a person who can see the denizens of faerie, and Luke, not the only immortal who has her in his sights, is a gallowglass, an assassin assigned by the queen of Faerie to kill Deirdre but who falls in love with her instead. This beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary debut novel, with its authentic depiction of Celtic Faerie lore and dangerous forbidden love in a contemporary American setting, will appeal to readers of Nancy Werlin’s Impossible (2008) and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.

*I like faerie stories.

6) Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical
Deborah Noyes (editor)
From Amazon: Noyes once again pulls together 10 stories from some of teen fiction’s heaviest hitters (including Annette Curtis Klause, David Almond, and Cecil Castellucci), shining the spotlight on horror’s younger cousin: human oddities. “The Bearded Girl” is an obvious choice, but in it Aimee Bender hones a tale of adolescent acceptance to an uncanny edge, and Vivian Vande Velde delivers a near-perfect should-have-seen-it-coming twist in “Those Psychics on TV.” a sign of the format’s growing acceptance, three of the offerings are graphic stories, including the highlight of the collection, Matt Phelan’s quietly enigmatic “Jargo!,” about a circus curiosity who might be even curiouser than he seems.

*I've been wanting to learn more about short story construction. This anthology might just be the perfect place.

7) Everything Matters!
By Ron Currie, Jr.
On the day that Junior Thibodeau is born, he learns the exact moment when the world will end: 36 years, 168 days, 14 hours, and 23 seconds into the future--pretty heavy news for a newborn. Knowledge of the pending apocalypse--revealed by an omniscient, unnamed "we"--colors Junior's existence from day one and leaves him wondering: "Does anything I do matter?" Ron Currie, Jr.'s terrific debut novel unfolds through the funny, poignant, and tragic stories told by Junior and his family, (each of them owning a chapter) including the all-knowing Greek chorus that gently, affectionately nudges Junior toward his destiny. Everything Matters! is one of the most unique novels I've come across this year--unpredictable without being flashy, sweet without being sentimental, thoughtful without being preachy--a fun read that will keep you thinking long after the story is over.

*This new novel is getting too much press to ignore.

Happy summer reading.
M

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm back!

What I'm Reading: The Devil's Company by David Liss and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

What I'm Working On: Laundry and unpacking

I'm back from vacation -- 1/2 spent in Key Largo, 1/2 in Key West. I LOVE Key West. I could live there despite the heat.

I'll blog about our adventures and have another summer reading post and a Waiting on Wednesday this week.

More tomorrow.

Onward to yet another load of laundry!

M

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vacation

This is just a note to say that I'm off to the Florida Keys for a snorkel week. I doubt I'll post from there, but you never know. I'll be back soon, however! See you in a few days!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday



What I'm Reading: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and The Devil's Company by David Liss

What I'm Working On: Threads, plot points, beefing up the story. (Mostly in my head. I know, writers write, so I should get going!)

WAITING ON: DREAMFEVER by Karen Marie Moning, August 18th, 2009 by Delacorte Press

Synopsis:

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister’s murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac’s every thought—and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust.As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V’lane vie for her body and soul, as cryptic entries from her sister’s diary mysteriously appear and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac’s greatest enemy delivers a final challenge...It’s an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth—about herself and her sister, about Jericho Barrons…and about the world she thought she knew. .

Why:

Well, for starters, it comes out in just over a month and other than a few very short excerpts in Moning's newsletters, the above is ALL that has been released. It's been tightly under wraps. Very few teasers (which is a huge teaser). It's the longest of the 4 books in the series (slated for 5 total). The 3rd book ended with...well, you'll have to read it. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice it to say, Mac is screwed. Of course, I'll devour it I'm sure, then I'll have to wait who-knows-how-long for the last installment. Sigh. Oh to feed my book addiction.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Tuesday Ten for Summer Reading

What I’m Reading: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and The Devil’s Company by David Liss

What I’m Working On: Some plotting exercises

On Sunday, I posted 7+ books that I’ve read this summer (or just before it started) or want to read this summer. I have ten more to add to that list.

It’s eclectic, but so am I.

1. The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass. I attended a Donald Maass workshop last fall. It was great. Overwhelming. Intimidating. Pretty damn scary. So why do I want to read a writing book by him? Because he’s one of the most successful literary agents in New York and someday I want to be good enough to not be intimidated by him.

2. My boss’s boss (my ultimate boss, the man with President – not of the U.S. – in his title) handed me Brain Rules by John Medina, so I guess I’d better read it. He read it for a conference he attended where all attendees were asked to read it. Obviously, he liked it. In all actuality, it sounds very good. Its subtitle is “12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School”. It supposedly informs us as to how our brain really works and how to get the most out of it.

3. I am very, very, very excited about Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning. I have read all her books – both the sexy highlander series and the fever series. I like them both. A lot. I’m dying to figure out what happens next to MacKayla Lane, the protagonist of Moning’s feverish (grin) series. She was in quite a predicament at the end of Faefever. I’m sure she survives, but I have no idea how. Dreamfever doesn't come out until August 18th. I’m almost afraid to download it to my Kindle that day. I may have to splurge for hardcover. Can a hot book melt a Kindle?

4. The next three made my list because they were big vote getters on my favorite high school’s summer reading book club list. I figure I’ll read them, too, just in case I get called to lead an impromptu book discussion. I probably wouldn’t have read any of them if it weren’t for the school’s book club, but who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with at least one of them. The first is Kiss My Book by Jamie Michaels.

5. The second is How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle.

6. The third is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

7. Gone and Hunger, both by Michael Grant. Check out the book info on the publisher's (Harper Teen) website. The publisher is offering the first 100+ pages of Gone as a free e-read. Click here to check it out. Gone is the first book in the series. In Gone, only the young are left as everyone over the age of 15 disappears. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world. Hunger is the sequel and is set three months later when conditions have deteriorated even more. Sounds exciting, huh?

8. April & Oliver by Tess Callahan has been calling to me. Here's what it's about: Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April - and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own--secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiancé. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...towards salvation.

9. Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter. I blogged about it for a "Waiting on Wednesday." I'll be reading it this summer.

10. Finally, my book club choice for Affairs of the Pen: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Sunday Seven for Summer Reading

What I’m Reading: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and The Devil’s Company by David Liss

What I’m Working On: Expanding the plot (mostly in my head right now)


Since in my job, I deal with selecting and advertising summer reading, I thought I might post some of my summer reading (or at least what I want to read).

Today’s list will be a Sunday Seven. I hope to post ten more Tuesday (a Tuesday Ten).

1) Something by Ernest Hemingway. I’m leaning towards The Sun Also Rises or A Farewell to Arms. Every summer, I try to read one of “those” books that everyone has to read at some point in time. Sometimes, it’s something I’ve read before (like last summer – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens) or something I haven’t. This year, the choice is easy as we’re taking a family vacation to Key West. We’ll be staying near Hemingway’s house so it seems appropriate to read one of his great American novels. Plus, I actually like Hemingway. Of course, I could read a pirate story, too, since we’re taking a day trip to the Dry Tortugas, but I can’t think of a good one. (And, no, I’m looking for something other than Treasure Island.)

2) I wanted a good summer series and I got it. Inhaled it. The Ivy League Novels by Diana Peterfreund. She’s the smart girl’s beach read. (And, wow, what memories and flashbacks. I totally identified with protagonist, Amy Haskel.)

3) I’m hitting Jodi Picoult pretty hard this summer. Two of her books are on my favorite high school’s “book club” list for summer. Preliminary data indicates that these will be widely read, so I thought I’d better read them, too. I’ve already finished Nineteen Minutes and as soon as my number comes up on the library wait list, I’ll be reading My Sister’s Keeper.

4) I’m midway through Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Same reason as #3. (This is my second time to read it. The first was at least 5 years ago.)

5) I also read the first two books in Melissa Marr’s addictive YA fairy series and I plan to read the third ASAP. It’s called Fragile Eternity and is supposedly the darkest yet.

6) I downloaded Color of the Sea by John Hamamura to my Kindle. Last year I read The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng. It was probably my favorite book of the year (and I read over 60 books). I’ve heard good things about Color of the Sea and I’m hoping it’s a “read-a-like” for The Gift of Rain.

7) The Places Between by Rory Stewart rounds out my seven. In January 2002, Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan. This is his story. The book was recommended to me as a potential community book for my fav high school in the summer of 2010. I can never start too early when it comes to selecting those community books. It took months to select this summer’s book – The Translator by Daoud Hari.

Thanks for reading. More Tuesday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I'm Reading: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and Tap and Gown by Diana Peterfreund

What I'm Working On: Some sort of organization for the plot. A storyboard maybe. Help!


What I'm Waiting on this Week:
Hamlet by John Marsden
August 11, 2009 by Random House/Candlewick
Synopsis:
Hamlet’s father has just died. By the time they’ve filled in the grave his mother has remarried. Hamlet suspects foul play, and it’s troubling his spirit. Or maybe he was always troubled. Ophelia is in love with him. His best friend Horatio can’t work him out. Then, on a cold, still night, Hamlet meets the ghost of his father...
This wonderful book, by one of Australia’s most-loved writers, takes Shakespeare’s famous play and makes it into a moving and full-blooded novel. John Marsden powerfully re-imagines the original characters and story. Hamlet, A Novel will be adored by readers young and old.
(I'm not posting a longer synopsis. It's Hamlet. We know the story.)
Why:
It's Hamlet for modern times. So many people have said "why" better than I ever could and I agree with them so I'll let them tell you why.
2) Quote by author Chris Crutcher: "John Marsden has done what a legion of educators, my parents, a great number of my more literate friends and my read-anything-you-can-get-your-hands-on grandmother failed to do. He has made me, for one glorious moment, love Shakespeare. Marsden's version of HAMLET is smart, tough, lyrical, thoroughly readable and uncompromisingly engaging. Back off, Mrs. Phelps (my high school English teacher). I now get HAMLET.”
3) Marsden as a great YA writer. He’s Australian and writes the “Tomorrow” series about Australian friends who return from a camping trip in the outback to discover that enemy forces have invaded the country and imprisoned everyone in town. All of his books are engaging.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A song from Kevin's soundtrack

What I'm Reading: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and Tap and Gown by Diana Peterfreund
What I'm Working On: The convulution that is Slayer

Last Thursday I hit the gym for the first time in a week. I'd been away on a Marine Research trip with my fav high school. Life is really rough when you have to snorkel over the best reefs in the U.S. for five days, but I digress.

So, last Thursday, to drown out the rap music the football team was blasting from my fav high school's state of the art fitness center, I cranked some tunes I hadn't listened to in awhile on my iPod

What comes blaring through? Shadow on the Sun by Audioslave (an amazing band fronted by hottie Chris Cornell of Soundgarden fame). Can you tell I'm a fan?

I'd forgotten I'd even put this on my playlist back in the day when I began Slayer's soundtrack. But, wow, it really fits for the hero of my story. (Technically, I have a heroine, hero and another hero. Don't ask.)

Now I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to make a different soundtrack for Tara, Kevin, and Galen. Or would that be further procrastination?

Regardless, I thought I'd post the lyrics for you. Now that I've said this is the perfect song for Kevin (about 3/4 into the book), what do you think he might be experiencing emotionally?

Go ahead and post your thoughts.

Shadow on the Sun by Audioslave:

Once upon a time
I was of the mind
To lay your burden down
And leave you where you stood
And you believed I could
You'd seen it done before
I could read your thoughts
Tell you what you saw
And never say a word
Now all that is gone
Over with and done - never to return

(chorus 1)
I can tell you why
People die alone
I can tell you I'm
A shadow on the sun
Staring at the loss
Looking for a cause
And never really sure
Nothing but a hole
To live without a soul
And nothing to be learned

(chorus 2)
I can tell you why
People go insane
I can show you how
You could do the same
I can tell you why
The end will never come
I can tell you I'm
A shadow on the sun

Shapes of every size
Move behind my eyes
Doors inside my head
Bolted from within
Every drop of flame
Lights a candle in
Memory of the one
Who lives inside my skin

________________________

Here's a pic of Chris, too. Tell me he's not a hottie!?!?

Monday, June 22, 2009

No, I didn't melt in the Florida heat.

But I could have.....

Sorry to be lax in posting. I'll have a great Waiting on Wednesday for you in a couple of days. (Sorry to miss last week. Out of town.)

More later!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I'm Reading: Under the Rose by Diana Peterfreund
What I'm Working On: Slayer. Always Slayer.

Waiting On: RAMPANT by Diana Peterfreund
August 25th 2009 by HarperTeen, 416 pages

Synopsis:

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns...

The sparkly, innocent creatures of lore are a myth. Real unicorns are venmous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. And they can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great.

Fortunately, unicorns have been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric monther's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods — thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom — Astrid learns that unicorns are real and dangerous, and she has a family legacy to uphold. Her mother packs her off to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters, all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to — perhaps most dangerously of all — her growing attraction to a handsome art student... and a relationship that could jeopardize everything.

Why:
I love Diana Peterfreund's voice and that's reason enough.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer

I'm going to be in and out alot in the coming weeks. I'm committed to getting a post up once a week -- at least, but for June and July, it might be sparse.

M

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I’m Reading: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult and Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund

What I’m Working On: Another draft of Slayer. Seriously – I have to finish this book soon. Or else.

Waiting On Wednesday: THE DEVIL’S COMPANY by David Liss
July 7th 2009 by Ballantine Books

Synopsis:
From the acclaimed author of The Whiskey Rebels and A Conspiracy of Paper comes a superb new historical thriller set in the splendor and squalor of eighteenth-century London. In Benjamin Weaver, David Liss has created one of fiction’s most enthralling characters.
The year is 1722. Thief-taker, ex-boxer, “ruffian for hire,” and master of disguise, Weaver finds himself caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, pitted against Jerome Cobb, a wealthy and mysterious schemer who needs Weaver’s strength and guile for his own dark purposes.
Weaver is blackmailed into stealing documents from England’s most heavily guarded estate, the headquarters of the ruthless British East India Company, but the theft of corporate secrets is only the first move in a daring conspiracy within the 18th century’s most powerful corporation. To save his friends and family from Cobb’s reach, Weaver must infiltrate the Company, navigate its warring factions, and uncover a secret plot of corporate rivals, foreign spies and government operatives. With millions of pounds and the security of the nation in the balance, Weaver will find himself in a labyrinth of hidden agendas, daring enemies and unexpected allies.
With the explosive action and scrupulous period research that are David Liss’s trademarks, The Devil’s Company depicts the birth of the modern corporation, and is the most impressive achievement yet from an author who continues to set ever higher standards for historical suspense.

Why:
Well, first and foremost because I won an ARC from Goodreads.com. I’m excited to get to read and write a review for this book. It’s not my normal fair. Neither (I thought) was THE HELP, which I also won from Goodreads and which I voraciously devoured and which I’m certain might be my “book of the year”. I love finding new authors and new types of stories to love. This one looks, oh so promising.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I'm Reading: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

What I'm Working On: Writing everyday.

Waiting On: FIRE by Kristin Cashore
October 6th 2009 by Gollancz

Synopsis:
Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.

Wondering what makes it a companion book/prequel? Fire takes place 30-some years before Graceling and has one cross-over character with Graceling, a small boy with strange two-colored eyes who comes from no-one-knows-where, and who has a peculiar ability that Graceling readers will find familiar and disturbing...

Why:
I just finished Graceling, and absolutely loved it so of course I want to read more by this very talented author. Her character development is stellar and her imagination is one of the best I've seen in a long time.

I've got FIRE on my "buy right away" list, but October is so far away.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day


Enjoy your memorial day.


......and remember why we celebrate it.


M




Friday, May 22, 2009

The last days

Whew. The last day of school with kids.

I still have lots of work to do, but there is a certain quiet relief to know the kids are off for summer.

M

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I’m Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Tithe by Holly Black, and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

What I’m Working On: Writing every day. So far, so good.

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY

What: Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon

When: June 16, 2009. Harper Collins

Synopsis:
Dismantlement = Freedom
Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart"—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz's death and the others decide to cover it up.
Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour's drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn't ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide—apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.
Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die—or has she somehow found a way back to seek revenge?
Full of white-knuckle tension with deeply human characters caught in circumstances beyond their control, Jennifer McMahon's gripping story and spine-tingling plot prove that she is a master at weaving the fear of the supernatural with the stark realities of life.


Why:

I like the clever idea behind this book. I want to know what happens when things go too far. I hope the characters grow and learn from their action. And, the words spine-tingling and supernatural have me hooked.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A short haitus

What I'm Reading: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (iPod), Graceling by Kristin Cashore (traditional book), and Tithe by Holly Black (on my KINDLE)

What I'm Working On: Finishing up a scene (580 words tonight) that proves the WIP has altered its course somewhat -- and after MONTHS of fretting over the WIP, I finally feel more on track.

I didn't post a Waiting on Wednesday last week. Hopefully, I will this week. At least that's the next blog I plan to write.

I hate to be "away" but my step father-in-law died after a painful battle with lung cancer. All of us in casa de O'Neal were very close to him.

I'm sure you'll understand me taking a few days off.

But, surely I can get one little "Waiting on Wednesday" post prepared by Wednesday. And, then, hopefully after that I'll feel like blogging about my new KINDLE.

(Yes, I just got an Amazon Kindle. And, yes, I have quite mixed emotions about electronic books living up to all that "real" books are to me, but I will say that this little toy is addictive.)

But more on that later.....

M

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday stuff

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore (it's quite good, but my reading time is minimal these days) and The Gunslinger by Stephen King (listening on iPod -- more time for this)

What I'm Working On: Wing dimensions. Don't ask.

Word count today: 810

Monday's are kind of silly sometimes. Don't you think? I thought I'd post the silliest thing for my Monday.

I tweet on twitter. Or, at least I have an account. I set it up as an experiment -- partly for work, partly for my own curiosity.

I say nothing on it. NOT. A. THING.

And yet, I have 29 followers.

What exactly are they following?

Hmmmmmmmmm

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday


What I’m Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

What I’m Working On: A new time line – so to speak.


WAITING ON:
Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series, Book 1)
By Gail Carriger
October 1st 2009 by Orbit

Synopsis:
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced!
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible.
Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? And who is the real enemy . . . and do they have treacle tart?
“Soulless” is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking…

Why:
Clever, clever, clever concept. I love the alternative Victorian London. And I can’t wait to find out what a soulless heroine will do.

Monday, May 4, 2009

We'll That's a Monday for Ya

What I'm Reading: Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: I can't get this new idea out of my head. I'm sure it's just another form of procrastination.

New idea: Each Monday, I'm going to post the most bizarre part of my Monday. Monday's, as we all know, tend to be, well, very Mondayish. Tell me the most Mondayish part of your Monday.

Today, while administering an AP exam -- the first one of AP season -- I caught two kids (seniors) scalping graduation tickets during the break.

Scalping Graduation Tickets. Yes, that's right, to their impending high school graduation.

Last week all the seniors at my fav high school received 8 graduation tickets. We're outgrowing our space so for the past several years, seniors have been limited to 8 guests at graduation. Usually those students who don't need all 8 tickets, return the ones they don't need so that those who need more can pick them up.

This is the first time they've ever been scalped. All 8. $25.

I think he could have gotten more.

M

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Many Stones by Carolyn Comen


What I'm Working On: I like distinct landmarks for "starting things". I'm getting new direction on my writing, and hitting it hard on May 1st.





Waiting On: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: June 02, 2009

Synopsis:
A heart-stopping thriller-the first in a trilogy-about an invasion of vampires by one of Hollywood's most popular and imaginative storytellers, the creator of the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth.

A Boeing 777 lands at JFK after a flight from Berlin and is on its way to the gate-when it suddenly goes dark. Just stops dead. The control tower loses contact with the pilot and all electrical activity shuts down. No movement or communication from inside. Nada. An emergency crew gathers, everyone watching the silent plane now bathed in floodlights. Then a sliver of black quietly appears on the fuselage. It's a door opening from within.

Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of the CDC's New York team, enters and finds a cabin looking like a winged graveyard where everyone appears to be dead. As he begins to remove bodies for transport to the morgue, four victims are discovered miraculously alive-and relatively unscathed apart from complaints of disorientation and a strange soreness.
But this is just the beginning

At the same time, Eldrich Palmer, director of the global Stoneheart Group, monitors the JFK scene on TV from his sickbed in Virginia. Pleased with what he sees, he sends for a helicopter for immediate transport to a Manhattan penthouse. In Queens, Eph's ex-wife Kelley and their 11-year-old son ready themselves with the rest of the Eastern United States for the first total lunar eclipse in more than four hundred years. In a pawn shop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps named Abraham Setrakian takes it all in. He knows that his time has come, that a war is about to begin, and that the Master is Here.

So begins anescalating battle of epic proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected the four survivors begins to ravage the city. Eph-guided by Setrakian, and joined by Vassily, a exterminator, Nora, Eph's CDC colleague, and Gus, a Harlem gangbanger-fights his way through the next horrifying days, determined to save his wife and son before the Master succeeds in his unholy mission.

Why:
I haven't read a vampire novel like this in a long time -- if ever. It seems a refreshing take on an over-written theme. WooHoo!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Publishing News

What I'm Reading: The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: Reading the draft so far and deciding what to do with it now.

Barnes & Noble Launches Audiobook Store
By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 4/27/2009 7:35:00 AM
From: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6654459.html

Barnes & Noble has taken another step in deepening its role in the digital marketplace, launching its Audiobook MP3 Store on Barnes & Noble.com. The store will feature spokenword audiobook MP3s available for download and transfer to iPods, iPhones, MP3 players and other portable devices. The site is launching with more than 10,000 titles across all genres, priced between $10 and $20 per download.

"As the use of MP3 players, iPods, iPhones and other digital devices continues to increase, it is important for Barnes & Noble to continue to expand our audio selections," said Tom Burke, executive v-p, E-Commerce Barnes & Noble. Overdrive is managing the distribution of titles through the BN.com site. Later this year, B&N is expected to launch an e-bookstore, following its acquisition earlier this year of Fictionwise.

My opinion: I looked around the MP3 store at B&N a bit this weekend. I'm a B&N member at $25 per year -- money well spent since I have a book addiction. I found out about the MP3 store this weekend when I got my 50% off an MP3 coupon from B&N. (Great promo.) I spent some time comparing the site to Audible.com (HUGE AUDIBLE FAN here!). My take: Not bad. I'll probably use the coupon tonight to buy Little Brother by Corey Doctorow since it's not available at Audible. I'll let you know what I think.

M

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: Whew, last day of book fair.

Waiting On: FUNNY HOW THINGS CHANGE by Melissa Wyatt

Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 27 Apr 2009

Synopsis:

Remy Walker has it all: he found the love of his life at home in crumbling little Dwyer, West Virginia, deep in his beloved Appalachian Mountains where his family settled more than one hundred and sixty years ago. But at seventeen, you’re not supposed to already be where you want to be, right? You’ve got a whole world to make your way through, and you start by leaving your dead-end town. Like his girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa’s going away to college. If Remy goes with her, it would be the start of everything they ever dreamed of. So when a fascinating young artist from out of state shows Remy his home through new eyes, why is he suddenly questioning his future?

The author vividly depicts a rich and beautiful place in this powerful novel about a young man who, over the course of a summer, learns how much he has to give up for a girl, and how much he needs to give up for a mountain.

Why?

I think life always throws you curves. When you think you know what you want, something happens to confuse you. I like stories about figuring out your path.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Book and Publishing News

What I’m Reading: The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I’m Working On: The annual summer reading book club book fair!!! It’s this week at the bill paying job.


The Pulitzer Prize will be announced today. I love book awards of all kinds. There is no long or short list for the Pulitzer as there is for so many other book awards. However, there is alot of speculating.

Check out the following article before 3 pm eastern to see who the speculative favorites are:

Pulitzer Prognosticating by Omnivoracious (Click here to read the entire blog at its original site.)

Pulitzer Prognosticating
by Tom on April 17, 2009

The Pulitzer Prizes are announced on Monday at 3 pm Eastern time (noon our time)--as always, there are no shortlists or nominees given in advance, but despite that, the Fiction prize has actually become relatively easy to predict in recent years. It wasn't always the case, but in the past dozen years or so the Pulitzer, as the last major US award of the year, has often gone to what by then had become the consensus best book of the year. There have been a few surprises (Martin Dressler, Interpreter of Maladies), but for the most part the winners have been books like Kavalier & Clay, Middlesex, Gilead, and The Road, which, when the prize was announced, just made you say, "Yup, sounds right."

Having said that, I'm not sure what the consensus pick for '08 is (maybe when the Pulitzer makes their choice it'll be clear in retrospect, just as their pick of Oscar Wao over Tree of Smoke made it the novel of the year last year). The folks over at PPrize.com (the Pulitzer Prize First Edition Guide) have gone all Nate Silver over this and done a regression analysis based on previous Pulitzer winners and this year's previous award winners, newspaper best of the year lists, author track records, etc. (And make sure you scroll down to the comments section, for some thorough discussion of the contenders and their methods.) Their top 15 contenders:

Home by Marilynne Robinson
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike
Indignation by Philip Roth
The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
Fine Just the Way It Is by Annie Proulx
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser
Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
Lush Life by Richard Price
Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff

Clearly, their model heavily weights late-career titans like Updike, Roth, and Oates (maybe thanks to some winners like The Old Man and the Sea, A Fable, and The Reivers in the award's earlier history), but I don't think any of those are contenders (much as I liked Indignation). And Robinson, Proulx, Lahiri, and Millhauser appear to be getting credit for being previous Pulitzer winners, while it looks to me like the Pulitzer (unlike, say, the PEN/Faulkner) has avoided multiple winners in recent years.

The ones on that list that best fit my "consensus" definition would be The Lazarus Project, Home, and Lush Life (all nominees for either or both of the NBA and the NBCC) and PEN/Faulkner winner and most-discussed-novel-of-the-year-until-2666, Netherland. And perhaps, after its Tournament of Books win, A Mercy. But maybe this will be the year for a dark-horse candidate like Olive Kitteridge. Tobias Wolff would also be a nice choice--I've been surprised that his collection, by one of our great masters of the short story, hasn't gotten much award or end-of-year attention (even from us), and it would fit in with earlier Pulitzer collected-stories picks like John Cheever, Jean Stafford, and Katherine Anne Porter. Or perhaps a lateish-career win for the prolific Erdrich.

Unlike last year, with Oscar, I don't really have a horse in this race--my favorite novels of '08 were British (A Northern Clemency and Pravda) or Spanish/Mexican/Chilean (2666). But here are my own top contenders, in order:

A Mercy
Netherland
Lush Life
The Lazarus Project
Our Story Begins
Olive Kitteridge
Serena by Ron Rash
The Plague of Doves

And for the other book Pulitzers? They have a more idiosyncratic history (especially the History picks), but I'll guess The Forever War (heavy favorite for General Nonfiction), White Heat (Biography/Memoir), This Republic of Suffering (History), and Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Poetry). And, based on their odd history of giving Special Citations to deceased jazz composers (Gershwin, Ellington, Monk, and Coltrane--all deserving but quite dead), I half-expect an award for Miles Davis this year too. We'll see on Monday. --Tom

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

What I'm Working On: After a severe headache Monday, I'm hoping to write a bit extra today to make up for it. Plus, I'd like to make time after that to read some pages for a friend, and then there's that bill paying project.




Waiting on Wednesday

What: FIRETHORN by Sarah Micklem

From Random House on April 29, 2009



Synopsis: Introducing a mesmerizing debut in the rich tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley and the powerful narratives of Jacqueline Carey—a passionate tale of love and war in which the gods grant a common girl uncommon gifts…

Before she was Firethorn, she was Luck, named for her red hair and favored by the goddess of Chance. A lowborn orphan, Luck is destined to a life of servitude. But when her mistress dies, Luck flees to the forest, where she discovers the sacred firethorn tree, whose berries bring her fevered dreams, a new name…and strange gifts. When she emerges from the woods, Firethorn is a new woman, with mysterious powers.

And soon, in the chaos of the UpsideDown Days, when the highborn and the low trade places, Firethorn couples with the warrior Sire Galan, whom she follows to camp with the king’s army. There she learns that in her new role as a sheath, a warrior’s bedservant, she is but one step above a whore. By day she uses her gifts as a healer to earn a place among the camp’s women, and by night she shares Sire Galan’s bed, her desire equal to his. But the passion they feel for each other has no place in a world ruled by caste and violence. When her lover makes an ill-considered wager that chances her heart, the consequences are disastrous—and Firethorn will learn how hard it can be to tell honor from dishonor, justice from vengeance.



Why: Gods granting gifts, common girl with uncommon gifts, mysterious powers, honor, vengeance... what's not to love. It sounds epic and dark and seductive and intriguing. Random House is a favorite publisher of mine, so I'll definitely be giving Firethorn a try.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday book and publishing news

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

What I'm Working On: 3.3 pages of new snippets. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday book and publishing news
(Note from Macy:
I'm going to make Monday's book and publishing news rather than Manic Mondays. Somedays it will be several little snippets gleaned from multiple locations. Today, it's all from the NYT. Enjoy.)

From http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/books/review/Meyer-t.html

Essay
About That Book Advance ...


By MICHAEL MEYER
Published: April 10, 2009

“In the old days,” the novelist Henry Bech, John Updike’s fictional alter ego, once said, “a respectable author never asked for an advance; that was strictly for the no-talents starving down in the Village.”

Since then, Washington Square rents have soared, and writers of fair and ill repute alike seek advance payment for their books. Once minuscule, some advances have escalated into the millions, like the $5 million Scribner paid last month for Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel, “Her Fearful Symmetry.” News of that deal may have seemed odd coming shortly after the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, Scribner’s parent company, announced that because of declining revenue the house would be “watching every penny.” Indeed, in the latest of a string of eulogies for the book industry as we know it, Time magazine fingered advances as part of the “financial coelacanth” of publishing’s business model, doomed to disappear like brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Yet despite the economic downturn, and the fact that 7 out of 10 titles do not earn back their advance, the system doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In recent interviews, a dozen New York-based publishers and agents told me, more or less, “Publishers have to keep buying books,” and “They have to bid for the best books” — which in large part means those that will sell.

Advances are seldom specified authoritatively. Amounts are coyly described like cigarette brands — the “mid-fives,” the “low sixes,” the “mild sevens.” In the preface to “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” Dave Eggers broke form by telling the reader he received $100,000 for the manuscript, which — after his detailed expenses — netted him $39,567.68.

Advance envy is common. “Writers who can’t recall their Social Security number can say to the penny how much of an advance their nemesis received,” Elissa Schappell, a fiction writer and co-editor of the anthology “Money Changes Everything,” said in an e-mail message. To an outsider, the numbers can seem arbitrary, even absurd. “No one ever says of an advance, ‘That’s exactly what that book deserves,’ ” Schappell said. “Yep, a coming-of-age first novel involving drug addiction and same-sex experimentation is worth $25,000.”

As a payment to be deducted from future royalties, an advance is a publisher’s estimate of risk. Figures fluctuate based on market trends, along with an author’s sales record and foreign rights potential, though most publishers I talked to cited $30,000 as a rough average. In standard contracts, the author receives half up front, a quarter on acceptance of the manuscript and a quarter on publication, though that model is changing, said the literary agent Eric Simonoff, whose clients include James Frey and Jhumpa Lahiri. “Now we see advance amounts being paid in thirds, fourths and even fifths,” Simonoff said in an interview. “For a writer dependent on those funds, that’s not an advance, it’s a retreat.”

The numbers can sound much bigger than they are. Take a reported six-figure advance, Roy Blount Jr., the president of the Authors Guild, said in an e-mail message. “That may mean $100,000, minus 15 percent agent’s commission and self-employment tax, and if we’re comparing it to a salary let us recall (a) that it does not include any fringes like a desk, let alone health insurance, and (b) that the book might take two years to write and three years to get published. . . . So a six-figure advance, while in my experience gratefully received, is not necessarily enough, in itself, for most adults to live on.”

The novelist Walter Kirn agrees. “A low-six-figure advance has allowed me to work at less than minimum wage for three years,” he told me. “Perhaps that’s for the best; a large advance might create a disinclination to do anything other than play blackjack in Las Vegas. When I hear these large, publicized advances, it feels like watching the casino play around me.” (Weep not for Kirn, however; he phoned me from the set of the film adaptation of his novel “Up in the Air,” starring George Clooney.)

The question of what to pay which authors has confounded publishers at least since a stationer agreed to give Milton £5 for the right to sell “Paradise Lost.” Joseph Conrad often begged his agent for more money and once asked to be advanced “a fountain pen of good repute.”

But the current culture of blockbuster advances really took shape in the 1970s, when “hardcover publishing was becoming research and development for mass-market paperbacks,” said Peter Mayer, who started the trade paperback division at Avon Books and is now publisher of Overlook Press. “It was the hardcover houses who drove the increases by selling paperback rights.”

In 1971, for example, Viking sold paperback rights to “The Day of the Jackal” to Bantam for 36 times the $10,000 hardcover advance it had paid its author, Frederick Forsyth. “Agents realized that they should be the ones holding auctions for their authors and get advances more in line with the anticipated total value of their books,” Georges Borchardt, who brokered the hardcover rights, said in an interview. (Full disclosure: Borchardt, who is my agent, got me $50,000 for my first, nonfiction book.)

In the 1980s and ’90s, big money also started taking hold on the literary end. Agents like Andrew Wylie succeeded in fetching celebrity-size advances for canonical authors — Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie — on the strength of their backlists and sales over time. Before then, the biggest advances went to “disgraced politicians and failed novelists,” Wylie said in an interview. Not that everyone was happy about the littĂ©rateur’s shift in fortunes. In 1995, Martin Amis drew the kind of anger reserved these days for derivatives traders when he left his longtime agent for Wylie, who sold Amis’s novel “The Information” for the then outlandish sum of half a million pounds, or nearly $800,000.

Today, such figures are hardly unusual. Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel, published in 2003, is said to have fetched $500,000. More recently, Foer’s brother Joshua reportedly got $1.2 million for a book about memory competitions.

But some say that authors grabbing for the brass ring can risk not just ridicule and envy, but their careers. “It used to be that the first book earned a modest advance, then you would build an audience over time and break even on the third or fourth book,” Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic, said in an interview. “Now the first book is expected to land a huge advance and huge sales. The media only reports those, not the long path of writers like John Irving, Richard Ford, Anne Tyler and Toni Morrison. The notion of the ‘first book with flaws’ is gone; now we see a novelist selling 9,000 hardcovers and 15,000 paperbacks, and they see themselves as a failure.”

At PublicAffairs, an independent house specializing in current events, advances are as good as capped, said its founder, Peter Osnos. Osnos paid an average advance of $40,000 for PublicAffairs’ four New York Times best sellers in 2008, including Scott McClellan’s “What Happened,” sums greatly augmented by royalty payments when the books hit it big. “If the market says you need to pay $10 million to acquire a title, no one requires a publisher to pay it,” he said in an interview. “You’re not going out of business if you don’t pay that money.”
Today, some publishers are experimenting with low or no advances. In exchange for low-five-figure advances, the boutique press McSweeney’s, founded by Eggers, shares profits with its authors 50-50, as does the new imprint Harper Studio, which offers sub-six-figure advances.
As for Henry Bech, Updike — whose own advances were reputed to be modest — never let him take money up front. But Bech couldn’t entirely avoid the commercialism engulfing publishing. He turned in his final manuscript to his longtime publisher, Vellum Press, which had been sold to a supermarket chain that peddled it to an oil company, which foisted it off on a shale-and-lumber conglomerate. “It was like being a fallen woman in the old days,” Updike wrote. “Once you sold yourself, you were never your own again.”

Michael Meyer’s book, “The Last Days of Old Beijing,” comes out in paperback in May.