Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year. New Plans. New Resolutions?

I just copied my "got-to-review" folder of pdf files from the computer to the Kindle. Maybe that will help me review them faster, since I can carry them around the house with me. I also learned I can write notes while I read on the kindle--that should make it easier to write reviews too, though I'll need the computer to post them.

New Year Resolution: Be more organized about reviews--make lists of books and deadlines and sources and try not to overcommit.

I'm hoping to finish reading Sage Cohen's The Productive Writer ready to review before she visits my blog (Jan 3rd). I'm really enjoying her writing and her ideas, and mentally preparing challenges for our writers' group's next meeting.

New Year Resolution: Be more pro-active leading the writing group.

Then I'll have to apply the ideas to my own writing life and plans.

New Year Resolution: Be a more productive writer.

Maybe I'll make this year the one where I actually keep my resolutions.

Don't forget to come back on Jan 3rd and join the conversation with Sage Cohen.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I'm feeling old. Youngest son has gone home and I miss him, of course, but it's not just that. It's the way he seems so very grown-up; the way he's changed into someone responsible, respectable, and really really nice. It's the way I look at him and see my brother...

Once upon a time I "produced" a baby boy. He was a pretty unfinished, unpolished production, and I'd never in my wildest dreams have imagined I could bring into being a man. But I worked with him, and he with me. We pushed and pulled, argued and agreed, approached too close and drew too far away. And now--yes, I know; it's far more to his credit than mine--now he's a handsome, happy young gentleman, pleasant to talk to, comfortable to be around, and steadily ready with his own plans and dreams for a future that's all his.

Meanwhile I'm reading Sage Cohen's The Productive Writer. And I'm editing Divide by Zero. And I'm wondering which of my wildest dreams said I could make these words flow into a tale worthy of the publisher who's accepted it. It's a sort of finished, sort of polished production. It's full of characters who push and pull, argue and agree (mostly argue) with me, approach too close (too many words) and draw too far away (those missing scenes). So maybe soon--more to their credit than mine--they'll fly the nest into a really published book and I'll know I won--and I'll feel old.

Sage Cohen advises I learn to work through my fears--learn to recognize and celebrate success (an offer! That's a huge success in my dreams). Okay, so I'll open the page and feel young enough to write. I'll practice those simple little things that get my brain in gear. I'll probably never keep a notebook because I'll never learn to read my own scrawl, but I'll get my computer files all organized. And I'll edit and write.

Sage Cohen will be visiting this blog on Jan 3rd to tell us more. In particular she'll answer my perennial question--how did she get "there" from "here." She's even offering a free book to a randomly chosen commenter, so mark your diaries; make learning to be a productive writer one of your priorities in the new year, and don't forget to visit. Jan 3rd. Here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Planning to be Productive

I finished the book I was meant to review before Christmas. It's called Homecoming, by Sue Ann Bowling, and I'll be posting reviews soon. The characters were great and the storyline's really quite intriguing, with fascinating touches of science and ESP.

Now I'm reading the book I was meant to review before New Year. It's called The Productive Writer and it's written by the very productive Sage Cohen, who'll visit my blog on Jan 3rd to offer her advice. I'm looking forward to sharing Sage's post, and meanwhile I'd better work on productively reading, in hopes that I might productively write in the New Year.

I did send a couple of letters to the paper. Does that count as productive? Does it count if they don't get published?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas gifts

My "sense of time and place" (see previous post) is all confused. Our oldest son went back to Texas this morning--another early alarm to get to the airport. But it's Boxing Day, still part of Christmas; it feels all wrong to think he's gone away. Meanwhile youngest and middle sons play computer games, which reminds me of bygone times when they all lived with us.

Then there's the board games--an essential ingredient of Christmas since the offspring learned to spring. Once upon a time I would play with them and say, "No, don't do that." Then I'd show how the move they'd planned was missing some vital point, and I didn't want them to lose just because of a mistake. So this afternoon we played and they said, "Mum, don't do that." Then they showed how the move I'd planned was missing some vital point, and they didn't want me to lose just because of a mistake... I lost anyway.

Meanwhile there's all those books I got for Christmas, plus the ones I received before that I promised to review for the New Year. And there's cooking and cleaning (and board games and watching sons play their computer games) and watching DVDs (a family affair). Will I read the 70 volumes on my nice new Kindle before or after the 20 on paper? And will reading on a machine render me more with-it and modern--maybe even reduce my failures to perceive the errors in board game moves? Nah! Probably not.

Still, the Kindle is a most excellent Christmas gift! And if I want my writing as well as my reading to be more productive in 2011, there's always that excellent book, The Productive Writer, by Sage Cohen, to encourage me. Sage will be visiting my blog on Jan 3rd with her answer to my perennial question--How did you get there from here (in her case, get to be a productive writer)?--so I'll learn even more then.

The Productive Writer is now available from Writer’s Digest.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Sense of Time and Place 2

I love to read, and I read almost any genre I come across. I love the sense of different worlds and ideas in historical novels. I love the feeling of "I've been there" in books set in England or the Pacific Northwest. And I love the wild imagination of science fiction.

I'd love to write in all these genres too, but I don't suppose I shall. I haven't the patience or attention to detail that history would require. I don't have the confidence to trust my memories of places that really exist. Which leaves sci-fi I guess.

My family used to watch movies together on TV when I was growing up. Later I watched with husband and sons. But they're all such perfectionists. Every detail that's wrong must be noted, preferably in triplicate... Which leaves sci-fi...

So now I've had a novel accepted and it's definitely NOT sci-fi. I'm editing it, and I'm still not sure I want to tie it down to a time and place. It's just a story. It's about people and community, anywhen, anywhere... Do you think it might work?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Sense of Time and Place

Our book group read "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" last week. We all seemed to like it, but some members found the dialog distracted from the story and didn't ring true to their memories of time and place.

Our writing group listened to an excellent talk from Myrna Oakley yesterday. She told us how our story-telling plans should start with a location plus characters.

And my critique group read and critiqued my newly added sections from my novel, Divide by Zero, also yesterday. I was trying to create a better sense of the main character but the first question everyone asked was "Where and when is this set?"

Wherein lies my problem: Can anyone tell me if it's possible to write a successfully rootless novel? I know the local time and place of my story; I think I give a good enough feel for the world the characters inhabit. But I've not paid any attention to the larger world: Is this small town in England or America (or even Australia)? Are the events happening in the 60s, 70s, 80s? They're pre-cell-phones-and-internet, but that's about all I cared about.

Do you think I might get by with not telling the details, or must I decide? How do you deal with a story that's meant to be set anywhere, anywhen?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recognized from my book cover!

A dear friend asked me to mail some books to her. Since I only had one copy at home, I took it to the post office and asked, "How much would it cost to send five of these?" The assistant picked up the book to weigh it, turned it over, and said, "Now that face looks familiar, but your hair was longer then." Recognized from my picture on the back of the book! I think I glowed. (And at least she didn't say "but your hair was less gray then"!)

Still glowing, I'm writing this post with thanks to the dear friend--a real book order, for books by me! Lulu says they've already shipped them, so I'll mail the parcel soon. And it looks like sending them in a priority mail envelope is the cheapest method, just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I love New Seasons!

Mum likes to shop at New Seasons on a Wednesday. They give you a discount if you're "better than 65," and, as she says, she's much much better. They also sell great gluten-free foods, and Mum loves to buy me treats when she visits here.

Today I'd told Mum about my Thanksgiving cornbread, made from a packet, with added cheese and salsa. It was my first ever cornbread success, so we thought we'd try to repeat it. But we couldn't find g-f cornbread mixes anywhere. An assistant came to our aid but found nothing either, so we continued on our way, guessing we were out of luck.

Ten minutes later the assistant chased us down in another aisle. "I've found one," she declared. Not only that; she'd found us! So now I can share my gluten-free cornbread with Mum, and we can share our love for New Seasons with anyone reading this.

I wonder if there's a message there for my writing--best make sure my story runs after my readers whenever I've left them confused--make them feel looked after--leave them wanting to come back for more... And eat cornbread!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pizza for breakfast

My Mum had pizza and ice-cream for breakfast, or perhaps it was lunch, or dinner, or tea instead. It's hard to keep them straight in your head when you're flying around the world. I gave her a cheese sandwich.

My Mum's head's nodding. She'll fall asleep soon, probably not in her bed. It must be time for dinner.

My Mum's flown half-way round the world with Christmas in her cases and love in her eyes. Life is good. She's over there resting in her chair, and me, I'm typing, blogging, over the moon.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Heard at the Christmas Bazaar

"This lady's selling jewelry. This one's selling scarves. And this one's selling cards and paper things," (otherwise known as books).

"Why do they call it a bazaar. Doesn't that mean something weird?"

"Let's have some real Christmas music--Grandma got run over by a reindeer and all that."

"My children don't read."

"Don't eat the beads."

"I didn't bring money of course."

Many thanks to all the friends and strangers who stopped by my stall and encouraged me, especially to those who encouraged my family too by buying books :) It's been a fun two days.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Widow now on sale!

I just checked on Gypsy Shadow and my new ebook, Black Widow, is on sale. December 1st seems like perfect timing for Christmas! So if you're looking for a historical read, set in England, with mystical overtones, why not head over there? There's even a sample excerpt so you can see what the story's like.
 Black Widow: When Boudicca's sister meets the mysterious wizard, it seems like all will go well for the little British kingdom. But Roman peace demands a high price, and the people are starting to follow a foreign priest.
Refracted: The story of a young man lost in the fields of time, trying to remember what he thought he was looking for.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

That Gluten-Free Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner

I'm the one that's gluten-free. The son that lives with us is vegetarian. And with only three of us at home this Thanksgiving, only two of whom are carnivores, we decided to try for a gluten-free vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner menu.

High point: This time I didn't make a black bean casserole that looked like a loaf of cornbread piled on top of a can of beans.

Even higher point: Today--Tuesday--the son announced, while studying at his computer, that...
  1. He liked my cornbread (A first. Gluten-free baking, at least my gluten-free baking, is often boring and dry, but I added salsa to the dough this time and, apparently, it worked!)
  2. He doesn't like squash, and had serious doubts when I triumphantly carried my stuffed acorn squash to the table, but it was really good
  3. As was the rice stuffing with bits of cranberry in it (so now I know what stuffing to do for Christmas).
  4. Oh, and that Indian thing I did last week apparently tasted nice too.
I think my son just made my day! And I'm definitely feeling thankful.

No compliments for the pie though; it wasn't a brick, and it didn't collapse in a heap, but gluten-free pastry still leaves something to be desired--gluten perhaps?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday's Gift

It took a while before I realized Black Friday referred to future shopping, not some dire historical event. Having learned, I decided not to participate--there must be better ways to work off those calories than going to war with the neighbors. Meanwhile the internet was full of sites advising "Shop Black Friday deals from the comfort of your own home," conveniently forgetting the internet would reduce to a blank screen on Thanksgiving--well, blank screen with tiny icon saying "waiting for" while you wait for "" Still, Amazon's advertised deal on Black Friday Kindles was certainly enticing--would my scruples (and internet) hold me back, or would I try?

They said the deal would start at 9am Pacific time, so my husband brought me coffee in bed at 8:20. By 8:40 I was awake and sitting at the computer, which was slightly less awake. Middle son was reminding me "Don't read your emails Mom. Just go to Amazon."

The page loaded at around 8:55. One item in the "kindle lightning deal"; one countdown, surprisingly, ticking without "waiting"... "Deal starts in 0:00:01" then suddenly "Add to cart." Fingers shaking, I clicked the right spot. "You have 14 minutes and 43 seconds in which to complete your purchase," said the pop-up screen, which again, somehow suffered no delay. So I went to my cart, filled in the appropriate details, watched pages refresh (slowly), and won the day.

The internet's full of tales of those who failed to get that Kindle, so I'm sorry. Honest. But I'm pleased as well. My first Black Friday shop and I succeeded; I live to tell the tale. Mixed emotions? Maybe that's why they call it black.

And Black Widow's slated for release from Gypsy Shadow in December!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

WooHoo! Black Widow has a cover!

I just got my first look at the cover for Black Widow, coming soon from Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Look at that black and red--perfect for a black widow spider--and the blue man's slowly succumbing to her web, or her to his. That red and gold makes me think of Christmas too, and it sounds like the book will be out in time for the season. What a wonderful Christmas present for the computer, e-read for the cook, and sheer delight for me.

Start with week with Action or Literary Prose

I'm still catching up on posting my book reviews for that reading journey. These are the action adventure tales I've read in the last couple of weeks, and scroll down for literary fiction--my favorite.

The Capablanca Variation by Douglas Quinn: Charlie's Angels meets James Bond--world-traveling agents steered by a behind the scenes chess-master; death, mayhem and destruction.

The Electric Church by Jeff Somers: dystopian science fiction; dark world; scary technology; and great fun.

Shadows from the Past by Ashley Dawn: Christian suspense with lots of backstory and description. Former friends thrown together in the hunt for a murderer who's got them both in his sights.

And in a more literary vein...

The Reckoning by Howard Owen:  A teenager comes of age, tied down by his father's own coming of age during the Vietnam war, and threatened by loss. A surprisingly powerful tale that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.

Seducing the Spirits by Louise Young: A stunning depiction of tribespeople, jungle, science, humanity and spirituality. Wonderful descriptions. Fascinating characters. And interesting questions of identity and intent.

Tepper isn't going out by Calvin Trillin: Ah, but why isn't he going out? And why is he so determined? And how can sitting in your car almost cause a riot? A really fun book.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Children's stories (and tales for the young at heart) for Saturday Morning

These are the childrens' and young adults' books I've read recently on that reading journey... Fun reads for a Saturday morning while rain drips outside.

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke: I'd been waiting to get this in paperback for a while. I love the series, just not quite enough to shell out for a hardback. And this was a very fitting conclusion--best yet in my estimation.

My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond: With an evil anti-hero narrating his fall from wickedness, this one's great fun and told in a really enjoyable voice.

The Unwanted by Daniel Carter: Genetic engineering, faith, superheroes and the FBI combine delightfully. Looking forward to more in this series.

The Royal Dragoneers by M.R. Mattias:  A well-crafted world with rich detail and vivid descriptions, interesting characters and an enjoyable storyline.

Dawn of the Shadow by Peter Kelly:  Young adults trying to make their way in the modern world are suddenly faced with a very different history than the one they've learned.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some scary books for a windy night

Continuing to list those books I've been reading recently, here's some scary ones for when that rain turns to howling winds tonight... As usual, if you click on the links you'll find my reviews on gather.

Friday the Thirteenth, by M. Flagg:  Humanity's more dangerous than the jungle, so she chose Manhatten; a fun little scary romance.

The Poison of a Smile, Salazar book 1, by Steven Jensen: Beautiful evocative language. Lovely old-fashioned feel of Bohemian decadence. Gruesome, haunting, sad...

The Eyes Have it, by Denise Bartlett: An intriguing lunch-time read with a green-eyed sting in its tail.

Vow of Superstition: Dragon's Blood, by Skhye Moncrief: A fascinating world, with dragons, and a drink of dragon's blood to seal a young woman's fate.

Witches, Werewolves and Jack the Ripper, by G.M. Jackson: a cool scary story that looks at the Jack the Ripper story from some very interesting points of view.

Wonder, an erotic anthology edited by Selena Kitt: There's some disturbingly scary stories here, and some beautiful ones too, with a lot of physical intimacy: definitely not cozy.

How Long is a Piece of String?

I used to ask way too many questions as a child, though surely not as many as my own children. My Gran would silence me by saying "'Cause y's not z," and my Granddad would ask, "How long's a piece of string?"

I'm hosting a Second Wind Publishing discussion on Facebook and Goodreads where I ask how long's a novel, novella, novelette, short story, etc... and invite you to to wonder where dribbles and drabbles and chapters and  blurbs fit in. I think my biggest conclusion so far is I'm still not sure if my e-book's a short story or a novella, but I'm convinced I'd find it harder to sell as a short story. Somehow short, and pay real money for it, don't quite fit together. But what do you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some cozy books for a rainy day

It seems like a while since I posted a list of reviews. I think I must have been distracted by something. I think I'm still distracted--runs round the room. And no, the housework's not getting done; at least, not just now. But the contract's been sent and I really need to get down to reading and writing.

So, what have I read recently on that reading journey? Too many books to list I think, so I'll put the mysteries and cozies here first and write another post with some more...

As usual, if you click on the links you'll find my longer book reviews on gather.

Murder in Winnebago County, and Buried in Wolf Lake, by Christine Husom: Two murder mysteries set around the very likeable and believable Sgt. Corky Aleckson, with a very authentic feel, down-to-earth characters, and villains that are scarily real.

A Miracle at Speedy Motors: The 9th Number One Ladies' Detective Agency novel by Alexander McCall Smith, and I'm still addicted. I love the way he lets his readers see another culture and at the same time turns our view of our own on its edge.

Hide in Plain Sight, by Marta Perry: The first of a series set in a guest house in Amish country, combining homely kindness with a series of accidents that just might be deliberate.

And Christmas Mourning, by Margaret Maron: The first I've read from this series, I loved the feel of a small-town courthouse, sympathetic judge with real family and real life, genuine love, genuine teenagers, cell phones and murder...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's in the mail

I mailed it.
Okay, first I reread it, even though my husband had read it last night. Then I signed it and read my signature and checked up on the date. Then I wrote the envelope...

Then, since I was going to the post office anyway, I parceled up my self-published books for copyrights, labeled each, attached deposit slips, wrote case numbers on envelopes, stacked them in a box, counted them, checked them, counted them again...

Then I drove to the post office and with quivering fingers signed the check and sent five books and one contract off.

Today was a stressful day. And it's raining, windy, gray and miserable...
...and I'm still dancing round the room!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fears, Rational and Otherwise

1. Maybe I misread the email...
I've reread it a thousand times, and shown it my husband and son. It's not likely to change.
2. Maybe the email wasn't really for me...
But it's got my name and the name of my novel on it.
3. Maybe I'll invalidate the contract somehow--misspell my name or something...
So I'll get my husband to check it before it goes out.
4. Maybe I'll address the envelope wrong...
But the address is online, on the contract and in the email; I've lots to chances to make sure it's right, and my husband will certainly help.
5. Maybe my writing's not good enough, and the novel will just get worse the more I edit...
But they thought it was good enough to make me an offer...
6. Maybe the editor won't like me...
But the publisher does, so I know they'll choose someone just right...
7. Maybe...

All those irrational fears are jumbling around in my head. Just sign the contract and get it sent back and STOP WORRYING!

But maybe that tickling feeling is a spider on my leg. Now, there's something rational to worry me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

That Dreaming Thing

I used to dream about how it might happen. A phone-call maybe. A letter that didn't begin "If you sent a stamped addressed envelope we are returning your manuscript." Or an email of course. But the emails always begin, "Thank you for your query... but..." And that's what I thought this email would be when I clicked on it.

"Thank you for choosing... After careful consideration... I would be pleased to extend an offer of publication to you..."

I jumped out of my seat. I shrieked. My son, after first confirming I wasn't in pain, said, "Did you just get an offer?" Then I demanded he, and my husband, read the email just to be sure I wasn't somehow inventing words that weren't on the page.

I wasn't. It's real. I have a contract in my hands waiting to be signed. They said yes to my novel!!!! (And it wasn't even the one I was working on last week for that "full manuscript" request. This one was right out of the blue, and I'm not feeling blue.)

I like 2010!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Official Indie Book Reviewer List

I just got an email about "The Official Indie Book Reviewer List," a sort of Yellow Pages of book reviewers who are interested in small-press and self-published books, and review them free! It sounds a wonderful resource. Christy Pinheiro is offering it as a pdf file for just 99 cents, and I'm thinking I really ought to buy it. But while I'm thinking about it, here's a link so you can think about it too.

Free book reviews is free publicity, right? And free publicity might translate into sales. So, many thanks Christy for the hours you must have put into compiling this. I hope you sell lots and lots and decide to bring out a POD paper version next year. (I know. I'm boring. I do like paper books.)

Contact information, submission guidelines, likes, dislikes, pet peeves... what more could we indie writers want?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the Spotlight!

My eBook, Refracted, is in the spotlight over at A.F. Stewart's "In the Spotlight" blog today. It's a beautiful site, spotlighting lots of wonderful books and authors; I'm honored to be in such good company. There's an impressive Amazon associate page too where you can find links for purchases. I'm really grateful to A.F. Stewart for spotlighting me, and I hope you'll all go over there and browse the various posts.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Doing housework on a manuscript

I should be dusting, polishing, cleaning floors... all those pine needles the rain tracked in...

Instead I'm dusting, polishing, cleaning words. I got an email from a publisher yesterday. They want to see the whole manuscript of my Young Adult novel!!!!

Yes, I know it doesn't mean they're going to say yes, but it's one step higher on the mountain of dreams. Please wish me luck, and well-dusted, well-polished words.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meet Anjuelle Floyd, and win a kindle!

To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, author Anjuelle Floyd is offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her promotional blog tour. I'm delighted to have Anjuelle as a guest on my blog today, where she is giving a fascinating character sketch of Edward Manning from her book, and answering the question "How does a writer come up with her characters?"

See yesterday's post for more information about Anjuelle Floyd and The House, and don't forget to read to the end of this post to find out how to win a Kindle!

Over to you Anjuelle:

CHARACTER SKETCH: Meet Edward Manning
Have you ever wondered how a writer comes up with her characters? Author Anjuelle Floyd provides a peek inside the profile of her dying character, Edward Manning. 

I recently began reading a book on the craft of writing fiction, entitled “The Half- Known World,” by Robert Boswell.

Boswell suggests that stories to truly engage and hold the heart of readers need to possess aspects that are not fully revealed.

Much as in life, Boswell proposes that:

He writes, “The illusion of people and place created by a story is the algebraic product of a writer’s art and a reader’s engagement. This world exits not on the page, but in the reader’s mind. The writer is responsible for the surface story of the character and conflict, the evocation of a fictional reality (including the terms by which it operates), and the execution of a full narrative shape. If the writer’s goal is literary fiction--a slippery term, but for the moment let’s call it “fiction that aspires to be art”--then there are additional responsibilities. One of these, I’ll argue, is the creation of the half-known world. To accomplish this, the writer must suggest a dimension to the fictional reality that escapes comprehension. The writer wishes to make his characters and their world known to the reader, and he simultaneously wishes to make them resonate with the unknown.”

Boswell likens sitcoms to fully known worlds where we see and understand all that is taking place. Lacking the threat and occurrence of change and transformation we feel always welcome. These experiences sound the death knell of the show. And yet, Boswell writes of this lack of this threat that, “To make something fully known is unreal.”

Edward in the The House, epitomizes that which we cannot know fully. Why death has affected him to surrender to Anna after over 3 decades of infidelity is incomprehensible on so many levels.

Surely he is afraid, quite understandably. But why has the certain approach of death shaken him so? He never directly addresses that.

Neither does he hint whether his terminal illness is the reason that at the opening of the novel he has granted Anna both the divorce and a deed to the house. What is even more interesting that somewhere along the way when Anna has taken him back home and he recognizes that she has not divorced him, he chooses to give the house to David. By this time he has dissolved Manning Real Estate, made Anna owner of Manning Ventures, a company formed in the face of his approaching death.

I realize now as I write that the dissolution of Manning Real Estate and creation of Manning Ventures symbolizes the death of Edward’s physical body that is to come and the diasporic transformation of what he had built that leads to a sort of immortality.

We lose ourselves, surrender the material possessions we have amassed to those we love, in hopes of gaining a place in their hearts. We gain immortality most simply by living on in the memories of others. We can but hope those memories bring a best, joy, in the least, bittersweet remembrance of what once existed if only for a moment, a shining flame of hope of what could have been.

Thank you Anjuelle. You can read my review of The House here.

And now, as promised, details of Anjuelle's wonderful Kindle contest:

To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, author Anjuelle Floyd is offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her promotional blog tour. A WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2010.


For More Information

• Visit the author online at
• View the blog tour schedule at

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Anjuelle Floyd visiting my blog tomorrow--chance to win a kindle!

Author Anjuelle Floyd will have a guest post on my blog tomorrow, which I'm very much looking forward to. To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, she's offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her promotional blog tour. A WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2010, so don't forget to visit tomorrow and find out how to enter. Meanwhile, here's some information about Anjuelle and The House.

About the Author
Anjuelle Floyd is a wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work.

A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.

A student of Process Painting for the last decade, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.

Anjuelle facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on The Need for Family, the Writing Process as a Path Toward Self-discovery and Healing.

About the Book

On receiving the very thing she wants—a divorce and the power to sell their house—over which they have fought the past year—Anna Manning learns that Edward, her soon-to-be ex-husband is dying from cancer.

A faithful wife for three decades, and stay-at-home mother of four children, Anna endured Edward’s constant absence due to travel for his international real estate firm and numerous extra-marital affairs. With their children now adults, Edward has less than six months, possibly three, to live.

Anna takes him home to die in the house she has fought so vigorously to sell. But letting go of someone who has caused so much pain in your life doesn’t come easily. Edward has changed. There are Anna and Edward’s four children, three of whom who are married and struggling to endow their families with meaning and purpose.

News of Edward’s terminal illness provokes her to understand the present, rooted in a wellspring of the past and pouring into a future without him.

The House shows what happens when one adopts the belief that: All hold regret and are seeking forgiveness. Our salvation rests in the hands of others—most particularly the ones we love, and who have treated us wrongly.

Purchase the Book Online at:

Read my review at

Friday, November 5, 2010

Meet Bruce DeSilva

I'd like to welcome author Bruce DeSilva to my blog. His Book, Rogue Island, has been getting some rave reviews, and is touring the internet at the moment. I was delighted to be asked to be part of the tour.

Bruce DeSilva offered to write a guest post here, so I asked him my favorite question, little realizing what a great read his reply would be. My question: Please would he tell me something about his journey from there (unpublished) to here (published and racking up the 5-star reviews). His response... well, you'll have to read on. Meanwhile he's offered to drop in from time to time during the day to answer any other readers' questions.

Over to you Mr DeSilva...
Way back in 1968, as I trotted off to college to major in geology, my favorite high school teacher made a prediction:  I would soon find myself writing from compulsion. 

He was right.

My first job after college was covering the little town of Warren, R.I., for the venerable Providence Journal. Over the next 20 years I wrote thousands of newspaper stories, many of them investigative articles or long piece of narrative journalism, for the Journal and The Hartford Courant.  Then I spent another 20 years editing such stories for the Courant and The Associated Press while writing occasional feature articles and book reviews on the side.

But in the summer of 2009, after 40 years in journalism, I knew it was time to leave. Given what was happening to the profession—the precipitous decline in newspaper quality, the rise of unreliable websites as sources of news, and the degradation of TV news from a bastion of mediocrity to a cacophony of loud-mouthed propaganda—I actually felt that journalism had left me.

And so I retired as writing coach/worldwide of the Associated Press and devoted myself to writing crime novels full-time.  I’d read thousands of them since getting hooked on a paperback copy of Raymond Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye” in junior high, so I figured I ought to know how to write one by now. Besides, after all those years of worrying about accuracy, I knew I’d have fun making stuff up.

For most of my journalism career, the idea of writing a novel never occurred to me; but a seed was planted one day in 1994 when I got a note from a reader. It praised a “nice little story” I’d written and went on to say: “It could serve as the outline for a novel. Have you considered this?”

Normally, I would have just tossed the note in the trash with the rest of the mail, but it was signed by Evan Hunter, who wrote fine mainstream novels under his own name as well as the brilliant 87th Precinct police procedurals under the pen name Ed McBain.

I sealed the note in plastic, taped it to my home computer, and started writing. At the time, I lived just 15 minutes from work, so I would get up early and work on the novel for a couple of hours before going in.
I was just a few chapters into the book when my life suddenly turned upside down. I got divorced. Then I got remarried to a woman with a two-year-old child. I took a demanding new job as the head of the news/features department at the AP in Manhattan. My new commute was three hours a day.
In this busy new life, there was no time for writing novels.

Years streamed by. Every time I bought a new home computer, I would peel that note from Hunter off the side of the old one and re-tape it to the new one, hoping I would get back to that novel someday. But I didn’t.

Finally, a couple of years ago, a mutual friend introduced me to Otto Penzler. For those of you who don’t know about him, Otto is a legend. He’s the proprietor of the famous Mysterious Bookshop on Warren Street in Manhattan.  And he is the dean of America’s crime fiction editors, with his own imprint at a major publishing house. Otto and I quickly discovered that we admired the same writers, had friends in common and even looked a lot alike. We hit it off. 

One evening over dinner, I happened to mention that long-ago note from Evan Hunter. Otto dropped his fork. It landed on his plate with a clank. 

 “Evan Hunter wrote you that note?”

“He did,” I said.

 “Look,” Otto said, “Evan Hunter was a good friend of mine. In all the years I knew him, I never heard him say a single good thing about anything anyone else wrote. He really wrote you that note?”

“Really,” I said. “I still have it.”

“Then you’ve got to write that novel,” he said, “and when you do, you have to let me read it.”

My wife is a writer too, so she understood what I had to do next.  I wrote every night after work and all day every Saturday, saving Sundays as family days. Six months later, “Rogue Island,” the story of an investigative reporter on the trail of a serial arsonist in the corrupt, claustrophobic little city of Providence, was finished.
True to his word, Otto read it; and he loved it. 

“Do you have an agent?” he asked.

I didn’t even know any.

“Let me make a call for you,” he said.

The next thing I knew, I was represented by Susanna Einstein of LJK Literary Management, one of the top agents in the country. I had no idea what a big deal that was until months later when she told me she’d never agreed to represent a first-time crime-novelist before.

As Susanna worked to find a publisher, I decided to see if I could get some blurbs for the cover. This was my first rodeo, so I didn’t know that you aren’t supposed to bother famous crime novelist with that until you have a book contract. 

 I asked Dennis Lehane, who I’d known since before he was famous. “Sure,” he said, “as long as I like the book.”  

I also sent requests to 14 other crime novelists, hoping that one or two of them would remember meeting me at a publishing event over the years and be willing to do me a good turn.  To my astonishment, 13 of them including Harlan Coben, Alafair Burke, Michael Connelly, Ken Bruen, James W. Hall, and Joseph Finder said yes. Two of them, Hall and Finder, even favorably compared “Rogue Island” to Lehane’s “A Drink Before the War,” which has always been my gold standard for first novels.

When I started down this new road, I imagined living the leisurely life of an author. I’d take my time writing my books, hand them over to my agent when they were done, and hope that royalties would start rolling in. But since Susanna sold the book to Forge, which published it on Oct. 12, I’ve been working harder than when I had a job.

Nobody told me how hard an author has to work to promote a book. The last few months have been a blur of social networking, blogging, and public appearances. And all the while, my agent has been clamoring for me to finish the sequel. 

The first book had come easy, so I figured it would be the same with the second. But I was wrong. At a recent gathering of crime writers, I was bemoaning how much harder it was to write the sequel.

“Of course,” said mystery writer D.P. Lyle. “You spent years thinking about the first one. You’re trying to write the second one from scratch in six months.”

But a week ago, I put a period at the end of the final sentence to book two, tentatively titled “Cliff Walk.”  Now, as I hit the road for more book store appearances, I’m already made a start the third in the book in the series.

Meanwhile, I bought a new desktop computer the other day. Once I finished setting it up, I peeled that note from Hunter off the old one and taped it to the side of the new one.

I guess I'd better hurry and read the first book, if the second is coming soon. Congratulations Bruce, and many thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bruce DeSilva, author of Rogue Island

Bruce DeSilva's Rogue Island currently has fifteen 5-star reviews and three 4-star reviews on Amazon. Bruce will be visiting my blog tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's some information from his Press Release...

Advance Praise for Bruce DeSilva’s ROGUE ISLAND:

“Rogue Island has everything a crime fan could want…this tremendously entertaining crime novel is definitely one of the best of the year.”
Booklist *starred review*

“Smart-ass Mulligan is a masterpiece of irreverence and street savvy, and DeSilva does a fine job of evoking the seamy side of his beat…they all contribute to the well-wrought noirish atmosphere that supports this crime novel's dark denouement. A twist in the tale will keep readers turning the pages until the bitter end.
Publishers Weekly (A “Fresh Fiction” Fall 2010 selection)

“The smallest state bursts with crime, corruption, wisecracks and neo-noir atmosphere in DeSilva’s blistering debut. Mulligan is the perfect guide to a town in which the only ways to get things done are to be connected to the right people or to grease the right palms.”
Kirkus Reviews

“When it comes to fresh noir-on-wry, readers could not ask for more—except for the author to hurry up with Mulligan’s next adventure in detection.”
—Otto Penzler, editor and owner of New York City’s The Mysterious Bookshop

“In this vivid landscape peopled by colorful mobsters, brutal cops, and sleazy politicians, a droll hero named Mulligan fights long odds to find a measure of justice. Rogue Island is a stunning debut in the noir tradition.”
—Harlan Coben,  New York Times bestselling author of  Long Lost

“Writing with genuine authority, a dose of cynical humor, and a squinting eye on the world, Bruce DeSilva delivers a newspaper story that ranks with the best of them.”
—Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author of the Harry Bosch novels

“DeSilva has a way of making you feel as if you are right there with Mulligan as he searches for the criminals. His writing draws you in and will keep you wanting more…the characterizations were so vivid and extremely real…Long story short: Rogue Island is a winner.”
—Excerpt from Library Journal “Book Cheer” selection

With Rogue Island, Bruce DeSilva accomplishes something remarkable: he takes everything we love about the classic hardboiled detective novel and turns it into a story that’s fresh, contemporary, yet timeless.  By turns gripping, funny, and touching, it’s a tale filled with characters so vivid they jump off the page.  One of the best debuts I’ve read since Dennis Lehane’s A Drink Before the War. 
-- Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Vanished and Paranoia

ROGUE ISLAND (Forge Books; ISBN: 0-7653-2726-0; Publication Date: October 12, 2010) is a “tense, terrific thriller and a remarkably assured debut” (Dennis Lehane) from retired Associated Press investigative journalist, mystery critic, and writing coach Bruce DeSilva. DeSilva introduces old school newspaperman Liam Mulligan, a cynical, wisecracking investigative journalist for the major Providence, RI daily. Drawing on his extensive experience on the investigative beat, DeSilva paints a colorful, vivid landscape of the corrupt and sleazy in the capital of the country’s smallest state.

Mulligan is the kind of reporter who knows every cop, judge, mobster, and politician on a first-name basis. But with circulation on its way south and an overbearing editor pushing for human-interest fluff to compete with the 24-hour online news cycle, he’s also the kind of reporter fast going endangered.  But when a chain of fires leaves five dead and a slew of nasty coincidences in its wake, there’s an outcry for justice in a city not known for anything of the like. With all of Providence on his back, Mulligan must weed through maniacal vigilantes, sleazy politicians, and the shadowy vestiges of an old mafia that has degenerated into something much more dangerous to discover the truth behind it all.

With 40+ years experience in the newspaper industry, including many years at the Providence Journal, Bruce DeSilva has edited stories that have won every major journalism award, including the Polk and the Pulitzer, and his experience directing an elite Associated Press investigative reporting unit lends authority and credibility to this taut debut novel. DeSilva’s voice is authentic, his characters rich and vivid, and his plot as tight and exciting as they come.

“A stunning debut. Authentic, hilarious, and compelling. I’ve read hundreds of crime books, but this one bleeds the truth.”
—Ace Atkins, critically acclaimed author of Devil’s Garden and Infamous

About the Author

 Bruce DeSilva recently retired from journalism after a forty-one-year career. Most recently, he was the Associated Press writing coach, responsible for training AP journalists worldwide. He is now a master’s thesis advisor at the Columbia University School of Journalism. He and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in Howell, New Jersey, with their granddaughter, Mikaila, and a Bernese mountain dog named Brady

ROGUE ISLAND                                      For more information, contact:
By Bruce DeSilva                                      Justin Golenbock, Senior Publicist
A Forge Hardcover                                  T: 646-307-5413
ISBN: 0-7653-2726-0                                F: 212-982-2862
$24.99 / 304 pages                           
Publication date: October 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Watch this space...

I have two authors visiting my blog over the next few days. On Friday, Bruce DeSilva, author of Rogue Island, will be talking about (my favorite question) how he got from "there" to "here." In his case, "here" is an author blog-touring the internet with a fantastic book that's already got tons of rave reviews. I'm so lucky to have him visit here, and I know his story will be really interesting.

Then next Monday Anjuelle Floyd will be visiting. To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, author Anjuelle Floyd is offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her blog tour. A WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2010.


Two fascinating authors. Two great books. And a competition. Watch this space. I'm certainly looking forward to reading my blog on those days:)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Discovering Google Reader

Okay, I finally took the plunge. I clicked that "view in Google reader" button on my blogger dashboard. Then I made a coffee while it loaded--it seemed to take forever but only 'cause it had so many blogposts to compile. Then started to read.

I shall certainly read way more blogposts now I'm using Google reader; it's so neat, just scrolling down the page reading them one after another instead of having to click. But I'll leave fewer comments I suspect since scrolling back to the top of an article to open, then back to the bottom to comment, then...--well, it just takes a a bit more decision-making effort when I'm already absorbed in the next interesting post. I'll get better at it I expect, learn to open some posts in a window before I read... something.

Anyway, Google reader's pretty neat and I like it, so thank you to those dear blog friends who told me to try it. But now it's time to make another coffee. Rushing wind, blowing leaves, gray skies... the world is cold out there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drabbled it !

Last October I challenged myself to write (or at least post) a drabble a day on my writing blog. A year's gone by and now, give or take the odd day missed and some with two postings, I've got a whole years-worth of drabbles. I've collected them into hand-made mini-books to sell as drabble-birthday cards, with a master copy on Lulu, Drabble-IT, that contains the whole set. (366, 'cause I added one, just in case the year in question should plan to leap.) If you should happen to be looking for a calendar with a difference (or with stories and poems), well, I'd love to sell you one...

Meanwhile I've challenged myself this year to post a dribble a day--50 words instead of 100. It's definitely harder so I'd really appreciate the occasional visit, just to keep me on my toes:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The 300 ?

I tried to follow a new blog today but a red-framed message popped up and wouldn't let me pass. It seems I'd reached my 300 limit, not that I'd remembered I had one. So now I have to "unfollow" some blogs before I can follow more.

No problem, thought I. I'll just get rid of all the inactive ones... So I clicked "manage" underneath my blogroll and found the management page doesn't bother to say when each blog posted last--in fact, it doesn't even say if the link still exists. So now I'm wandering, one by one, through 300 once-followed blogs to see which still post...

Meanwhile, there's that interesting question: Just how do you "unfollow" a blog? It's easy if there's a blogger navigation bar on top--just click on "Follow" and choose "Stop following." But so many blogs either don't have bars or weren't even made with blogger, so what about them?

I searched through help. The most popular advice was click "Follow" and... well, yes, but what if... Then I tried clicking on "settings" which brought up a window inviting me to log in, so I did and nothing happened. After a little more searching, I tried "settings" again; this time it brought up a window that offered the chance to stop following! Success at last. I'm no longer following a website where scriptural stories have disappeared into bathroom furnishings!

As of now, I'm following 291 blogs and I'm only down to D on my search through the links. What a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Print on (Immediate) Demand

There was a story in our local paper this morning that promises an interesting future for Print on Demand

It seems that Lulu and HP have produced a print-on-demand machine that looks kind of like a large photocopier. Books uploaded and designed in a special section of Lulu can be printed on the spot with no long waits or shipping costs. Portland State University Bookstore is one of three locations trying out these "publishing machines." Professors can provide tailored text books at a fraction of the usual price, and test out the content before committing to the expense of traditional publishing. A 300page novel will cost around $12; a 100page book with color illustrations around $18... And, if I'm reading the article correctly, real people will really be able to publish there.

Just think, if this takes off; the machines might be installed in Office Depot or Kinkos, making print on demand affordable and immediate. Imagine printing small runs of our books for family and friends without the cost and hassle of postage. And one day, they might be installed in supermarkets, connected to the Lulu store on the internet, giving everyone immediate access to the whole Lulu bookstore... and more...

Monday, October 18, 2010

A wonderful Refracted review!

Erin O'Riordan, author of Beltane, Midsummer Night, and other books and short stories, has written an amazing review of Refracted on Gather. I'd have enjoyed reading the review even if it wasn't for my own book, and I get goosebumps as she tells me what associations my story invoked for her. Thank you so much Erin! Thank you more than I can say!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Muse and the Edits going well...

The Muse conference is so.... so good. I'm loving it. Of course, the homework takes lots of time, and the housework's not getting done. Dear son says no problem; he can't see the difference. Still, I did cut the grass yesterday 'cause the sun was shining and the ground had started to dry; neighbors aren't sons and they can see only too well when weeds start blowing in the wind.

I've also been writing and editing my first attempt at romance--Love on a Transfer. English boy and girl in America. Girl meets American. Girl dreams American dreams. Boy dreams girl... It grew to almost 30,000 words (in a week--I'm not sure how, though my Mum says I work well to deadlines. The Muse was my line, then the publisher I wanted to pitch it to wasn't there--does that make the deadline dead? Still, lots of other publishers are there, with great advice.) Now I think it's time to let my protagonists rest and stop talking to me--stop talking... please. If their story still looks readable in a few weeks' time maybe I'll take it for a walk; let a friend read it; let it stroll the internet in search of a home.

Ah well, back to Musing and homework, and housework maybe; I might have to do some washing or son might notice he's got nothing to wear.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Musing my way to the Weekend

My review of Redeeming Daisy by Tanya Hanson is one the front page of Nights and Weekends at the moment! How cool is that! And I'm frantically trying to slide a review of Little Madhouse on the Prairie by Marion Elizabeth Witte under the deadline for next month's Poetic Monthly. Meanwhile one of the classes at the Muse Online Conference is about writing better book reviews and I'm finding it very helpful. Other classes include publishing pitfalls, how to plot a novel, dos and donts of submissions, what is Christian horror, and many many more. The Muse is great, the time is weak, and the week is rapidly passing... But if you're a writer and you're not musing this year you should certainly consider it for next year. It's online, you can study at home, and the price is FREE!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Muse Online

I went to Wordstock yesterday and attended some really great talks about writing, publishing, the future, the dream and everything related. It was kind of neat to see the talks I went to were the ones quoted in today's paper. (I'll try to write about them soon.)

And today I started attending the Muse Online (week-long) conference. Yet more great talks, forums, chats, handouts, and even pitches. Of course, that "May to October" thing kind of messed up my plans to pitch. Finishing various stories in time to write queries was one of my tasks that got put off for the sons' graduations and never got done. Still, I did finish off my first ever romance today, which is surely an achievement. I'll try to clean it up during the week and see if it might find a home somewhere.

Meanwhile, if I'm kind of absent from the internet and slow to notice your posts, I apologize. Maybe life will get back to normal next week... or else like May, I "may" keep wondering where the time goes till next year.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fifty Five Words

I'm practicing writing "dribbles" (50 words) now I've written a year's worth of drabbles. Meanwhile Suzanne Tyrpak ran a competition for stories told in 55 words.  I won a $5.55 Amazon gift-card from her! Thank you Suzanne!

See Suzanne Tyrpak's ghost planet blog or kindeboard. to enjoy the winning entries. They’re really fun to read.

(55 words)