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 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Going Bovine

Libba Bray has put together a hilarious video clip promoting her new book - Going Bovine.   I am disclosing the fact up front that I am not endorsing this book in anyway.   I have not received a free copy of this book nor have I read it (take that FTC).   In fact I've never read any of Libba Bray's books, but I would like to - any suggestions?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Writer's Butt Does Not Apply To Me

I'm starting a new blog -  you can find it here.  There is also a link from my Literary Girls blog.   Literary Girls is a blog for my writing group where I will still contribute - reviews, writing advice, writing exercises, contests and hopefully interviews of authors or aspiring authors.  All things to do with books and writing.   My new blog - Writer's Butt Does Not Apply To Me will be a place where I share my personal thoughts on writing and losing weight and anything else that comes to mind.   Hope you'll follow me there.

Yep! That's really my dog... and my butt

Friday, October 2, 2009

And The Winner Is

Diana Paz of 

Congratulations Diana!

A big thank you to all of you who participated.  Also like to thank my original followers for all the fun comments and support they give this blog.

And welcome to my new followers - hope you'll like it here.