Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My original plan when I started this blog was to give my critique group a place to share their writing and their thoughts on writing.  It turned out that I was mainly the only one who had anything to say.  My awesome 16-year-old crit partner Tawnni contributed once in awhile and I'm grateful for her.
Anyway my critique group is going through some changes and while we figure out some things, I'm taking a break from the Literary Girls blog. You can still find me at my personal blog Writer's Butt Does Not Apply To Me.  Thank you so much to you wonderful loyal few who stuck by us and faithfully read and commented on our posts (Juju, Kath) - you ladies are awesome.  I don't know what the future holds for this blog.  It's possible that a guy may become apart of my crit group and then the name of this blog may change.  It's also possible I'll never blog on it again.  It was a fun experiment though.  Thanks again for reading.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas Muppet Style

I won't be posting for the rest of the week.

Hope you all have a
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays if you prefer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A First Kiss Scene Sans Tongue

Welcome to Kissing Blogfest Monday

Sweet emblem of returning peace, the heart's full gush and love's release,
Spirits in human fondness flow and greet the pearly mistletoe.
Oh! Happy tricksome time of mirth, giv'n to the stars of sky and earth!
May all the best of feeling know, the custom of the mistletoe.
Married and single, proud and free, yield to the season, trim with glee:
Time will not stay ... he cheats us so ... A kiss? ... 'tis gone ... the mistletoe.

  As a teenager this was my favorite kissing scene

I imagined my first kiss being like this. I was a tomboy like Watts with a chip on my shoulder when it came to guys.  I was the pal - never the girlfriend.  I identified with this scene so much.  Love the passion of his tightening fist and her legs going around his waste - the music is perfect.
Sadly my first kiss was nothing like this.  Barely knew the guy and he was all tongue - intrusive and hyper. Gross!!!

Current Favorite Kissing scene

It has been my experience that first kisses are overrated in real life.  Awkward and strange.  The second kiss is usually better. I doubt there are any teenage boys reading this, but if there are - study this scene boys - look, no tongue - a soft and tender first kiss. That's what a girl wants to experience for their first kiss with any guy - all men could learn from this kiss actually. The tongue comes later. Do you agree with me ladies, or am I in the minority?

This is my first attempt at writing a kissing scene so I just hope it doesn't crash and burn like my first kiss:

He put his arm around my shoulders and drew me closer to him.  His eyes dark and intense frightened me. The entire day felt as if it was building towards this moment. But now I wasn't sure if I wanted it.  Nervous, I needed a distraction.  I brought the forgotten tomato to my lips and bit into it.  Succulent juices exploded into my mouth tantalizing my senses. A piece of the vine still clung to the fruit.  I breathed in its earthen freshness and sighed.   
When our eyes met again, the hunger I saw there no longer frightened me. He'd  moved closer during my reverie and our noses nearly touched.  I could feel his hand tremble as he swept the soft pad of his thumb across my slightly open lips.  The lingering aroma of the tomato vine and his aftershave fuzzed my thoughts, but a tiny spark of doubt still remained.
   "Wait," I said, pressing my hand to his chest.  "I've never done this before."
He buried his face in my hair and when he whispered, "Me either," his hot breath on my ear sent shivers through me. 
His fingers entwined in my hair as he touched his lips to mine. The uneaten fruit dropped from my hand in my growing need to have him closer.

Something tells me this kiss might lead to tongue after all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Race against the Calender

With my sister getting married in two weeks, give or take, I have given myself a challenge. I want to have the manuscript for my novel finished by the wedding on the 2nd of January. Luckily, I'm in the last chapter and after that I just have the epiloque (should I decide to have one). I am nearing the summit of this mountain and the clock is counting down and faster than it was before. The race is on, I'm breaking into a sprint, wish me luck.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We Have a Winner

Three Winners Actually:

L.T. Host, Catherine Denton and Diana Paz

Congratulations Ladies! E-mail me here and let me know your address and which book you'd like to have.

Why three winners? Well, because Diana won my last book giveaway and she's my super awesome blogging and beta buddy and I was afraid you'd think I played favorites.  I really didn't. Honest. My sons drew the names and they actually drew Diana's name twice.  You deserve to win Diana and I'm glad you did. Since I was considering having three winners anyway, this gave me the chance.

Now for the teaser reveal

The super awesome teaser that belongs to me is:


“I don’t believe you now -- so it really doesn’t matter what you tell me. But I do enjoy hearing a well delivered tale.” 

Congratulations to all of you who guessed correctly.  About half of you guessed it.  It actually makes me feel good that so many of you couldn't tell which one was mine.  

Teaser #2 is from:

"I don't want to sleep. I'm afraid the nightmare will come back. But there's no need for you to stay awake with me."

 Teaser #3 is from:

"No of course not," I lie. "I was only having a bit of fun with you."

    A big thank you to everyone who participated. I had fun. Hope you did too.

Last Day To Enter Book Giveaway Challenge

Today is your last chance to win these books. To enter the challenge go here.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday Challenge and Book Give Away

For today's Teaser, I'm going to do something a little different and a little bit scary.

Below are three teasers.  Two are from published YA novels.  The other is from my own WIP. I challenge you to guess which one is mine and which is from the published novels.

Teaser #1:  “I don’t believe you now -- so it really doesn’t matter what you tell me. But I do enjoy hearing a well delivered tale.”

Teaser #2:  "I don't want to sleep. I'm afraid the nightmare will come back. But there's no need for you to stay awake with me."

Teaser #3:  "No of course not," I lie. "I was only having a bit of fun with you."

If you make a guess your name will automatically go into a drawing with +1 point. 
If you guess correctly which teaser is mine you get +4 extra points.
If you are already a follower you get +2 points.
Become a follower you get +1 point.
Please indicate in the comments if you are already a follower or a new follower.
Contest Ends Friday at 10pm MST
Sorry - U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Two people will win their choice out of 2 books:


BTW - none of the teasers come from these two books.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Love it and It's On Sale - The Elizabeth Gaskell Collection

I love all three of these movies and I just bought it.  So excited!  Found it on sale at Amazon and I felt compelled to let all of you know about it, so that you could buy it too.  I've been wanting to buy it for awhile, but it was more than I wanted to spend.  If you haven't seen any of these movies, you're missing out.  I love, love, love these movies.  Oh did I mention I love them?  I even got free shipping.  Merry Christmas to me!

When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill-workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

 I haven't read the book yet.  Someone told me the ending is different than the movie and I haven't felt like reading it since.
Have you read it? What's your opinion?

 The love scene alone is enough to make me want to watch this movie again and again.

An enchanting tale of romance, scandal, and intrigue in the gossipy English town of Hollingford around the 1830s, Wives and Daughters tells the story of Molly Gibson, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a widowed country doctor. When her father remarries, she forms a close friendship with her new stepsister—the beautiful and worldly Cynthia—until they become love rivals for the affections of Squire Hamley’s sons, Osbourne and Roger. When sudden illness and death reveal some secrets while shrouding others in even deeper mystery, Molly feels that the world is out of joint and it is up to her—trusted by all but listened to by none—to set it right.

I enjoyed this book more than the movie.  I loved the details of village life and Molly is charming.  The interaction between the women is intiguing and the love story is satisfying.

Cranford is a humorous account of a nineteenth-century English village dominated by a group of genteel but modestly circumstanced women. By eschewing the conventional marriage plot with its nubile heroines and focusing instead on a group of middle-aged and elderly spinsters, Elizabeth Gaskell did something highly unusual within the novel genre. Through her masterful management of the novel's tone, she underscores the value and dignity of single women's lives even as she causes us to laugh at her characters' foibles. Charles Dickens was the first of many readers to extol its wit and charm, and it has consistently been Gaskell's most popular work.

I had a hard time getting into this book.  The movie was absolutely charming though.  I think I need to go back and give this book another try.  Have you read it? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst - Versus - Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George


When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station,  determined to become a scientist, she has no time for make-believe.
Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride. - Goodreads


Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servants. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess. - Goodreads.

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed both versions.  Both books are re-tellings of the fairytale - East of the Sun and West of the Moon. If you would like to read a version of the original fairytale go here.

Ice is a contemporary retelling set in the frozen Arctic and the Canadian boreal forest. The descriptions of the ice floes and the scenery are vivid and beautiful. I like that Cassie is a modern girl and a strong female lead.  She's intelligent and determined to accomplish all of her goals and dreams.  It is this determination - bordering on obstinacy(in my opinion) that drives her to seek out the Polar Bear King who she is forced to marry.   After she has fallen in love with him and is carrying his child the Bear is taken from her when she breaks a promise.  As she searches for her husband East of the Sun and West of the Moon, she encounters many obstacles, but she never gives up on finding him.  Durst's version of trolls is fascinating.  I love the whole concept of rescuing the one you love at all costs, but I wonder if this book took it too far.  In her quest for the bear, Cassie gave very little thought to the growing fetus inside of her and put herself and the baby at great risk almost killing herself and the baby. I didn't really care for this aspect of the book.  Other than that it is a fun, fanciful retelling and I recommend it to anyone 12 and older.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is a more traditional re-telling set in the Nordic with the sweet and brave Lass as the lead. I really liked the mystery aspect of this book as Lass searches for the truth behind the trolls and their hold on the Polar Bear King. This version has a fun, lighter tone than Ice, but it is still full of adventure and love.  I really enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of the Nordic culture and scenery.  George artfully weaves Nordic myths and language which helped me to fully immerse myself in the world.  I can't think of anything I didn't like about this book and I recommend it to anyone 12 and older.

For Jessica Day George's thoughts on her own book and Ice - along with a fun interview with Ice's author Sarah Beth Durst - click here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Handwriting of a First Grader and Other Random Thoughts from Unplugged Week

Yes, this is my actual handwriting and
 my actual notebook with my actual
rough draft drivel on it.

As some of you are aware I "unplugged" a few weeks ago so I could focus more time on my rough draft.  When I sat down to the computer all psyched and ready - can you guess what happened?  Nothing.  Nothing would come.  My fingers hovered above the keyboard twitching to type...something...anything, but nothing was all I got.  My head began to ache from the pressure building inside.  I tried to convince myself to stay calm - the words didn't need to be perfect.  The cold, pale computer screen loomed before me, daring me to type a word so that it could chew it up and spit it out.  

That's when I stepped away from my computer and grabbed a notebook and pen.  I normally don't like to freehand because as you can see - I have the handwriting of a first grader.  But I shoved past the embarrasing scribbles and began to write.  It was great.  The pressure I felt to write amazing and perfect prose left me and I allowed myself to just write.  The beautiful mess above is a sample of my creative abandon.  I'm mostly pleased with the results:

Day one: 948 words
Day two: 807 words
Day three: 965 words
Day four: 300 words and edited short story
Day five: burned out - blogged about it here.
Day six: edited short story.
Day seven: I don't write on Sundays.

Since I wrote the words first and then typed them into the computer - does that count as double the words written?  I think it should. It's a great way to do a little bit of editing and clean-up as well - just don't go overboard.

I recommend the pen and paper method to anyone who is having a hard time letting themselves write because their too busy trying to edit. This method also helped me stay unplugged.  I wasn't near the computer so I couldn't check out facebook or read other blogs during my writing time.  It was a win, win situation. 

There's something else I discovered during unplugged week.  I'm not sure if I should admit this, but I'm going to risk being shunned and say it anyway -  I got bored of writing.  Maybe bored isn't the right word.  I don't think I'm the type of person who needs to write all the time to be happy.  I enjoy it for a little while and then I want to do something else.  I enjoy the creative process of brainstorming and researching, but when it comes to the actual writing part I get burned out.  Writing doesn't come easy for me.  My story is perfect in my head and it's so frustrating when I can't write the scene the way I picture it in my mind.  Probably all writers feel the same way.  If it was easy everyone would do it, right? Anyway I think I've decided that right now writing for me is nothing more than a creative outlet.  I don't need to do it all the time and if days go by where I don't write I'm not going to feel guilty about it. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mine was nice after an emotional week.  Thank you so much to all of you who offered condolences and sympathy in regards to my dog.  I appreciate this new found blogging community so much.  You are all awesome!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Grateful Heart Amidst Grief

“All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.” - Dennis Prager

I'm not always as grateful as I should be, but today I'm grateful for many things.

My husband is #1.  He loves, protects and works very hard for us.  I'm especially grateful right now for the way he rushed to my side at the emergency vets and took care of everything while I was a sobbing mess.

I'm very grateful for my children.  Three wild boys who push my patience to the edge, but are still the cutest, bestest boys ever.

My extended family and friends who are all supportive and wonderful.  

My beautiful dog has passed, but I'm grateful she was apart of our family for ten years. 

I'm grateful for the complete strangers who stopped and helped when my sweet dog was hit by a truck.

Another stranger drove us to the emergency care because I didn't have the car that day.  I'm extremely grateful to her.  

I'm grateful for kind neighbors and friends who have expressed their condolences and sympathy and are generally great all the time.

Especially grateful for the neighbor who took care of my children while I left to be with my dog. 

Again I'm grateful for my husband and father-in-law who dug a grave in the dark and cold and for the sweet prayer uttered over her body.

I'm grateful to know I'm a daughter of God and that I'll see my loved ones again someday.

Finally, I'm grateful for all of you - my blogging and writing friends.  Thank you for the wonderful advice and encouragement that you share with all of us everyday.  Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"Tragedy strikes like a hungry lion, 
tearing at our hearts."

 Keeshka -- 1998-November 23, 2009

Beautiful. Sweet. Protector. Friend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Meet Mirai

Mirai McKain is a friend of mine from Writers' Guide. He's a fantastic writer. You've got to see some of his stuff. He has a website with two poems there right now. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel. - Goodreads

Fun Quote:  It's hard to explain how it feels when Nick Shaw smiles at you. Not butterflies or blushing.  It just feels good.

My Thoughts:  This book started out a bit slow for me, but it was very worth pressing on.  It's YA and written in the first person point-of-view of Samara.   I don't always like Zarr's main characters, but I liked Samara a lot.  I identify with her in a lot of ways.  She is struggling with problems within her family that she doesn't want anyone to know about, and yet she wishes everyone did know about them so that she wouldn't have to pretend her life is perfect anymore.  Her struggles lead her to doubt her faith and everything she has been taught.  Zarr handles her struggles with amazing insight and delicacy.  Also appreciate Zarr for not putting in any language or sexual situations that would make me uncomfortable to recommend it to mature teens and adults.

A wonderful coming-of-age story that slowly unfolds to a lovely and satisfying end.

My review of Sara Zarr's other books can be found  here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Her Is Me or Finding Depth In Ourselves and In Our Characters

Do any of you read the Nie Nie Dialogues?  If not then you really should.  Read todays posting - you can find it here.  Go ahead I'll wait...

Did you read it?  Heartbreaking, right?  What kind of a person would say such a thing?

If you don't already know, Stephanie Nielson is a young mother who kept up a charming blog about her family and life.  In 2008 Stephanie and her husband Christian (love that name, can you guess why?)  were in a plane crash.  They both suffered severe burns all over their body - Stephanie more than Christian.
Her blog postings are the most inspiring things I've read.  I eat them up everyday. 

This is Stephanie before the accident.

Beautiful yes?  I think so.
Did she have depth? Probably

For a long time Stephanie would not post pictures of herself post burning.  Finally she was brave enough to do it.

This is the first picture that Stephanie posted of herself after the accident.

Beautiful yes? I absolutely think so.
Does she have depth?  Loads and Loads.

Now I have not been burned and my pitiful trials are no where near what Stephanie's are, but I too don't like to post pictures of myself.  I have struggled with weight all my life.  There have been times where I have been thin and I thought I looked pretty good.

This was me in college.

Beautiful, yes? Maybe.
Did I have depth? A bit.

Stephanie struggles everyday with how she looks.  So do I.   In my mind I still look like that picture above.   Then I look in the mirror or I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a window as I pass by.  Everytime I'm shocked.  The image in my mind and the image reflected back at me don't match.  When I come face to face with the reality I want to run away and hide.   Today when I read Stephanie's post I realized what a coward I am.   She is putting her picture out there for everyone to see and she is praying hard every day to be happy with who she is now.  So, if Stephanie can do it,  so can I.

 This is me now.

Beautiful, yes? Umm.
Do I have depth? More now than before.

I don't like to give writing advice, because really - what do I know? But I do know what I like to read.  I like books with characters who inspire me.  The main character of the book I'm writing is a person who once was beautiful and her family was wealthy, but she had very little depth.  Later her family loses their fortune and she loses her beauty.  Do those trials give her depth?

I'm not trying to suggest that you or your characters need to become ugly to have depth.  But just like us, it's not the trials that our characters face that gives them depth.  It's the way they deal with those trials and everyone's trials are different.  Do your characters become better people because of their trials. Are they inspiring?

Depth and Inspiration.  This is what keeps me turning the pages.  It's what makes me want to read a book over and over again.

Do you feel the same way?  In what ways are you giving depth to your characters? 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Debut Utah Author Shoutout

   Bree Despain                                                                                                      
The Short: Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo. The Dark Divine is Bree's debut novel.  For more in depth info about Bree you can find her website here.  For her Blog - Read Bree go here.

The Dark Divine debut's December 22, 2009.  To read the first chapter go here.

Synopsis:  Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.
As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

         Karen Hoover
Karen E. Hoover has loved the written word for as long as she can remember. Her favorite memory of her dad is the time he spent with Karen in his lap, telling her stories for hours on end. Her dad promised he would have Karen reading on her own by the time she was four years old ... and he did it. Karen took the gift of words her dad gave her and ran with it. Since then, she's written two novels and reams of poetry. Her head is fairly popping with ideas, so she plans to write until she's ninety-four or maybe even a hundred and four.  Karen blogs at A Writers Ramblings.

The Sapphire Flute, Book I of the Wolfchild Saga is Karen's first novel set to debut - March 16, 2010.

Synopsis: It has been 3,000 years since a white mage has been seen upon Rasann.
In the midst of a volcanic eruption miles outside of her village, Ember discovers she can see magic and change the appearance of things at will. Against her mother's wishes, she leaves for the mage trials only to be kidnapped before arriving. In trying to escape, she discovers she has inherited her father's secret--a secret that places her in direct conflict with her father's greatest enemy.

        Ali Cross
  My favorite quote, "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia" by Doctorow, pretty much sums me up. My different personalities include Wife to an awesome man, Mother to two beautiful boys, and Writer. Thankfully, I'm surrounded by friends and family who accept me the way I am--craziness and all.  Ali's YA novel The Devil's Daughter has been accepted for publication through  Valor Publishing Group .  The tentative debut is set for July 2010.   Ali blogs at Ali Cross, Author                                  

 Natalie Whipple

I'm a YA writer repped by Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, LTD. Some people say I'm a ninja cyborg when it comes to pumping out books. I don't know about that, but I do know I have 2 little ninjas in training. So it could be true.
If you just have to stalk me, I'm also on Twitter and Facebook. I may or may not stalk you back. If you want to see more of my drawings, I'm also at deviantART.  Natalie blogs at Between Fact or Fiction and has several projects in the works.

I'm sure there are other Utah authors on the rise.  If you know of any let me know and I'll be glad to give them a shoutout.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Critique Group - Flashy Fiction Prompts

Last night our writing prompts were inspired by Flashy Fiction.  Their daily writing prompts can be found here. We only had ten minutes to write these.

Two People Chose "Tuesday Fortune"

1.  I had just finished my sweet n' sour chicken at Kung Po Pows Chinese buffet.  I never eat the fortune cookies.  They always poke my mouth and make my gums sore for days.  Tonight, though, I thought, "Aw, what the heck," and popped one open.  The fortune said "The greatest danger could be your stupidity."
    "That's a dumb fortune," I said to myself, shoveling the crumbled bits into my mouth.  As I chomped down, one of the pieces lodged into a back molar, slicing into my gums.  The iron taste of blood pervaded throughout my mouth, causing me to choke.  I could feel the eyes of everyone in the restaurant upon me as my fortune came true.  - Jenny

2.   Anytime a fortune cookie comes my way I feel the mass produced, and typically general in nature fortune may in some way have significance in my life.  It's totally foolish, but I still give credence to what is said - letting it linger on my mind and creep into my life.  
     Reading this fortune as I eat a bit of the cookie fills me with fear.  I can't help but doubt.  Doubt everything.  Call it low self-esteem, but I'm unprepared for this fortune, "The greatest danger could be your stupidity."  As always I take the words to heart and believe them to be truth.   
     This is why I play it safe.  Why my dreams remain dreams.  I don't like feeling stupid, let alone believing it!  But this time I want it to be different. This time I'm choosing to let the fortune be mere 'words of wisdom'.  Not a closed door.  - Alaina

Two Chose "Friday Funk"

I walked through the parking lot, a weird tingling on the back of my neck.  I gripped my keys a little tighter.  Was...was someone following me?
My pace quickened, but the closer I got to my car, the more terrified I became.  I was going to run for it.  Just then, someone grabbed me.

1.  The sound of plastic cracking on tile was followed by an apprehensive, "Mom! Look what the baby did." I dropped the notebook I was writing in and went to investigate the latest two-year-old catastrophe.  I hate to be interrupted when I'm writing.  Feeling positively wild I stormed into the kitchen. The sheepish grins of two children greeted me while a two gallon jug of apple juice bled it's contents from a gaping gash onto my freshly mopped floor.

This scene was an actual event that prevented me from participating with our group.  The original scene I had been working on was just bad.  - Mary

2.  The lights flickered as the train car flashed past.   A myriad of blurred forms behind fuzzed glass roared through the underground station.  The clicking of heels against cold concrete caught the attention of a shadowed form leaning casually against the railing.  With a calculated glance he noticed the curves of the business woman making her way toward the train platform.  She looked irritated, and kept glancing at her watch.  The train station emptied leaving behind an echoing silence.

     The shadowed form crept closer, watching his victim and thinking of the best way to get near her.  Savoring the hunt.  - Janele

Janele's piece was inspired by the "Friday Funk" prompt.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Synopsis:  Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. - GoodReads

My Thoughts:   Did you hate someone when you were a teenager?  Enough to want them dead?   The Hate List is a poignant and compelling book that delves into the dark reality of victims and perpetrators rampant in most everyone's teenage years. 

This is not normally a book I would like.  I only decided to read it because of a story idea that is taking root in my mind.  I not only liked this book, I had a hard time putting it down.   It is written in the first person point-of-view of Valerie Leftman, girlfriend of the shooter.  Valerie is not always likeable, but I can empathize with her.  The book is an exploration of her life before and after the shooting.  Guilt, forgiveness, bravery are all major themes. Check this book out even if its dark topic is not what you would usually read.  Try it - you won't be disappointed.  
There are a few F-bombs and some other swearing which I don't like, but I suppose it is warranted. 

The Hate List is Jennifer Brown's debut YA novel released Sept. 2009.  For more information about Jennifer and The Hate List or to read the first chapter go here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Retro Friday - The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery - Review and Book Giveaway

Synopsis:  At twenty-nine Valancy had never been in love, and it seemed romance had passed her by. Living with her overbearing mother and meddlesome cousin, she found her only consolations in the "forbidden" books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle. Then a letter arrived from Dr. Trent -- and Valancy decided to throw caution to the winds. For the first time in her life Valancy did and said exactly what she wanted. Soon she discovered a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams. - Goodreads

The story takes place in the early 1920s in the fictional town of Deerwood, located in the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada. Deerwood is based on Bala, Ontario, which Montgomery visited in 1922. Maps of the two towns show similarities.
This novel is considered one of L.M. Montgomery's few adult works of fiction, along with A Tangled Web, and is the only book she wrote that is entirely set outside of Prince Edward Island. It has grown in popularity since being republished in 1990. - Wikipedia

Fun Quote:  They got into the canoe and paddled out to it. They left behind the realm of everyday and things known and landed on a realm of mystery and enchantment where anything might happen - anything might be true.

My Thoughts:  I have read every book that L.M. Montgomery published including her short stories that have been compiled into theme novels.  Out of all of Montgomery's  stand-alone novels, The Blue Castle is my favorite.  It's so romantic.  Montgomery has this incredible ability to make everything feel as if it is alive.  Juju from Tales of Whimsy posed a question on her blog recently - "If you could step into a book and visit any fictional town, city, home or location - which would it be?"  The Blue Castle is where I would like to go.  I want to live there with someone who adores me.  

Give Away: I love this book so much I want to share it with you. I know it's not the latest hottest thing, but it's a free book and I promise it's worth trying for. If you would like to have my gently used copy of The Blue Castle leave a comment with your e-mail address.  
Followers of course get two extra points.  If you become a follower you can earn an extra point.  Promote this  on your blog and earn another point.  Contest is only open to those in U.S. and Canada.  Ends Oct. 30th.

Did I mention how much I love L.M. Montgomery? For all things Montgomery go here.

Wikipedia's list of Montgomery's Novels and Short stories (I've read all of them):


Short story collections

  • Chronicles of Avonlea (1912)
  • Further Chronicles of Avonlea (1920)
  • The Road to Yesterday (1974)
  • The Doctor's Sweetheart, selected by Catherine McLay (1979)
  • Akin to Anne: Tales of Other Orphans, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1988)
  • Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1989)
  • Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1990)
  • After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1991)
  • Against the Odds: Tales of Achievement, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1993)
  • At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1994)
  • Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1995)
  • Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories, edited by Rea Wilmshurst (1995)
Montgomery also kept diary's which have been compiled into The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery (5 vols.), edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston (1985-2004).
I've read two of them.  Very interesting and read just like her novels.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Janeology by Karen Harrington

Nature? Nurture? Or Simply Psychotic?

What happens when the spouse you think you know turns out to be a stranger? In Janeology, Jane and Tom Nelson are an average American family until the day one incomprehensible act forever changes their lives, igniting a powerful exploration of Jane's nature and nurture. What begins as a question - "What made Jane do what she did?" - soon unravels dark family secrets, hidden for generations.  - Scobberlotch

Quote:  Everything is connected.  Blood. Experience. Who we love.  

My Thoughts:  My skepticism of this book was big when I first heard of it.  The idea that we are destined to be a certain kind of person because of our geneology doesn't bode well with me.  I have a strong belief that every individual regardless of nature or nurture is free to choose what they will or won't do. Because I believe this I also believe that individuals are accountable for the right or wrong choices that they make.   
So what made me read this despite my skepticism?  I'm actually not sure.  It might just be that the author Karen Harrington was nice enough to comment on my blog and willing to answer a question I had about her book.  It could also be the intriguing  discussion that took place in my college Human Development class taken years ago, that explored these concepts. Nature Vs. Nurture - to what extent does each one play a role in making us the people that we are? Whatever the reason my curiosity was piqued.

Mothers are killing their children everyday.  Who among us has not asked why? Should the people in the killers lives share the blame for failing to see what these women are capable of.  I've certainly asked these questions and so did Karen Harrington.
Janeology is a compelling page turner.  It is a perfect book club book - the kind of book that provokes discussion. The journey into the lives of Jane's quirky relatives is fascinating. Harrington handles the provocative subject matter in such a way that my own beliefs are not stomped on and she does not excuse the accountability of Jane.  My one complaint about the book is sometimes Jane's family tree is confusing.  Luckily Harrington has provided us with Jane's family tree at her website that you can find here.  This is a book written with adults in mind, but I'm happy to report that there was nothing that offended my sensibilities. But I do feel the subject matter is definitely for mature teens and adults.

Another Great Quote:  Mothers were less isolated then.  They had more family support around them and didn't feel the loneliness some mothers experience today. Drugs are often the substitute for the lack of multiple generation support.

Karen Harrington author of Janeology.  Not only is she a good writer, but she is gorgeous.  For more in depth information about Janeology you can find her website here.  Karen also blogs at Scobberlotch.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fairy Dance

Have you ever wondered what lies just outside your window? What comes out to play while you dream? Me too. I hope you enjoy "Fairy Dance"

Awake my friend and follow me
There is something that you’ve got to see

Follow me and come see them dance
This may be your only chance

Down by the sea shore at night
Where the sand is bathed in white moonlight

The stars above wink their eyes
At a thousand dancing fireflies

In the summer air, the lights all prance
Spinning and twirling in a fairy dance

The moon shines like a disco ball
Warm, indigo waves rise and fall

Have you ever tried to stop the world
As it forever twirled and twirled

But now as the light reflects on the seas
The world around seems to freeze

A million stars look down and smile
As a breeze decides to rest awhile

The shore becomes a living dream
And nothing at all is what it seems

Have you ever tried to stop the world
As it forever twirled and twirled

But now as the light reflects on the seas
The world around seems to freeze

5000 Year Leap Book Trailer - Have You Read This Book?

I haven't read it, but it seems to discuss all the principals I believe in.  I don't usually like nonfiction books, but I've heard a lot about this book.  Can anyone give me their opinion on it?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Synopsis:  High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It's an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle's hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm. - Goodreads

Romantic Quote:  His hands were enlaced in my sister's long hair as he strained her slight form against him, white on black.  Their eyes were closed; their lips clung; they were lost in each other. 

My Thoughts:  Ooh, I get goose bumps just thinking about that kiss.  I enjoyed this book a lot. The prose was enthralling and whimsical. The romance heartbreakingly beautiful and satisfying.  I chose to read this book for research because it takes place in a Slavic culture and that's what my book is based in, but I found that I was too engrossed in the story to be able to study it properly.  I guess I'll have to read it again.  My only problem with the book is I felt the male love interest was not as strong as I wanted him to be. He was too boyish and I like men. It's YA though so it's probably just right for that age.  This is a wonderfully different retelling of the fairytale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."  I read Jessica Day George's "Princess of the Midnight Ball" recently, which I enjoyed, but this version seems deeper and richer.

Nathan Bransford's 1st Paragraph Contest

Literary Agent Nathan Bransford is holding another 1st paragraph contest. You can find his blog here.  
I entered mine just for fun.  My WIP is far from done, but I like my first chapter.

This is a paragraph from my novel with the working title "The Shrouded Star."  Let me know what you think.

In a certain kingdom, in a certain realm, on the eve of the Nahe'dra rising, a cloud of smoke whisked across the night sky beneath a crescent moon. Black piercing eyes searched the inward curves of snow covered alps. Sharp teeth appeared as lips parted in a fearsome grin. Abruptly the cloud descended into the uninhabited depths of a dark forest. Twigs snapped and leaves rustled as a fierce wind swept through the trees.
       “She has arrived at last,” a voice whispered in the darkness.
       “Why is she making so much noise? It's enough to wake the dead,” whispered another.
       “Maybe that's the idea.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

What happens next?

I had this idea for a little writing exercise. Below is the beginning of a story I've written, but it isn't finished. Your job it to write what happens next. It can be any part in the story, in the middle, the end, anywhere. There doesn't have to be a lot of detail. I want to see your imaginations. Let me set the scene...

The fishing docks were quiet and unoccupied. Boats and ships bobbed as the waves jumped and dived. Moonlight shone against the dark waves. The moon was full, the stars were black, and the twilight was awaking.
James walked across the beach following the dark line the waves left on the sand. As he did, he thought about the countless evenings he had spent walking the beach with his little sister, who was now seventeen. He felt his heart drop at the thought of his sister. A few weeks ago, she had gone for a walk along the beach one evening and never came back. The villagers claimed it to be the work of the dragon that inhabited the lake.
He was aroused from his thoughts by the waves being broken. He turned in surprise to the lake's surface in time to see the head of a water dragon break through the black water. It looked around before its sea green eyes rested on James.
"It's a bit late for a walk isn't it?" the dragon asked in its melodious voice.
At first, James was taken back a bit. The he could find words.
"You ate my sister!" he screamed.
"Did I? I find it hard to remember my meals."
"She went missing two weeks ago. You ate her."
"On the contrary lad, my last meal was at the beginning of the month. I haven't eaten a thing since."
"Then what happened to my sister?!" James could not be angrier than he was now.
At first, the dragon didn't speak. He pondered to himself, leaving an enraged James to fume on the beach. Then the dragon's eyes widened.
"Hold on a moment," it said. "So, it was your sister that the warlock's men kidnapped on the beach two weeks ago?"
"You know what happened to her?"
"I suppose. She was walking along the beach and the Dark Warlock's men appeared and kidnapped her."
"Where is this Dark Warlock? I'll find him and get my sister back."
"As you wish. I hope you like adventures. If you wish to find the Dark Warlock's castle, go to the edge of the forest and find Darius the phoenix. He can show you the way. Tell him Nero sent you." The water dragon dived back into the water, leaving James alone on the beach.
James was in shock. The forest? Nero really wanted him to make the journey through to the Dark Warlock's castle? Him, of all people. Everyone knew the forest was not a place to explore; it was full of all forms of creatures, goblins, ogres, centuars, other dragons, and a witch coven or two. No, he thought, it wasn't worth it. As he was about to continue down the beach, he thought of his sister trapped in a warlock's castle.
"It is worth it," he decided.
Summing up his courage, he turned and sprinted toward the forest. He turned the name of Darius over and over in his mind, branding it into his memory. But could he really trust the work of a dragon? Either way, huffing and puffing, James ran into the haunting bowels of the forest, not knowing if he would come out again.

So? What do you think Darius is like? Who do they encounter in the forest? How dark is the Dark Warlock? What is James's plan to save his sister? Does he save his sister? What happens next?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman


A moving love story set in the Canadian wilderness, Mrs. Mike is a classic tale that has enchanted millions of readers worldwide. It brings the fierce, stunning landscape of the Great North to life-and tenderly evokes the love that blossoms between Sergeant Mike Flannigan and beautiful young Katherine Mary O'Fallon.  - Goodreads

"It is the personality of Sgt. Mike blowing through this account like a clear breeze that gives it a refreshing quality. Everyone's dream of a cop, he was also a romantic and understanding husband, the fondest of fathers; a man of honor and humor." (New York Times

Fun Quote:
"He reached for the last apple, but it slipped out of his hand almost to my feet.  I stopped to get it just as he did, and we bumped heads with an impact that sent us sprawling.  We really laughed then.  We laughed so hard we couldn't get up."

My Thoughts:

This was another book club gem - a book that I wouldn't have known about without my fabulous book club.   I love the quote above because it tells so much about the relationship of Mike and Kathy 'O Fallon.  Mrs. Mike was published in 1947 and has been reissued 2 times.   Since I've been educating myself on the publishing industry I've come to learn how rare that is.   Most books are taken off the shelves never to be seen again after that first year they are published.   The fact that this book has had several new editions speaks for itself.   The love that Kathy and Mike share is sweet and enduring as they struggle to survive in the harsh Canadian North.  Their life among the Indians is fascinating, but the love story is what I adore most.

More stories of Mrs. Mike:
The Search for Joyful
Kathy Littlebird