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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Valentine's Special: 13 Moments from the History of Sex


Thursday Thirteen for 02/01/2007

Hello February, the month of loooooove! Several years ago I bought my husband a wonderful little book called Great Moments in Sex by Cheryl Rilly. It's a fabulous book filled with interesting tidbits. I also called up my mother and recommended that she buy it as a gift for my father. If you are looking for something a little different to get your Valentine, this might be a good option. Here are 13 moments from the book that I wanted to share with you.
*The content may be mature in nature or include mature terms - so if you know you shouldn't be reading it - please move along.

1. Circa 1850 B.C. Cervical caps, diaphragms, and jellies to prevent the little swimmers from doing their job are mentioned in the Egyptian Kahun Papyrus.

2. C 500 B.C. The Pythagoreans define sperm as a "clot of brain containing hot vapor within it." With every ejaculation, man loses more of his gray matter.

3. C. 1200 B.C. The custom of veiling a woman's face originates in Assyria. Only "respectable" women are allowed to do so. Failing to wear a veil or a woman of lesser rank wearing one both merit the same punishment: flogging.

4. C. 450 B.C. After centuries of being sequestered in the back of the house and shunned by men in general, Greek women begin their revolt against the men's club Greece has become. Taking a cue from the hetairai, women are educated and put more emphasis on their physical attributes than on their broodmare capabilities.

5. C 500 B.C. The hetairai of Greece take center stage. Known for their beauty and intelligence, many of them become famous. There's Clepsydra, given the name of a Greek hourglass because she's so much in demand that she uses it to time her sessions with lovers. The line forms at Cyrene's door because she knows 12 ways of having sex.

6. C. 50 Mark Antony is remembered for his liaison with Cleopatra. But before his marriage to the Queen of the Nile, Antony does enough romping to earn a reputation. His sex drive is so strong that he outdoes and scandalizes Caesar by keeping a harem of both sexes in Rome.

7. 77 In Natural History, Pliny sends out the alarm against menstruating women. Wine turns to vinegar, seed becomes sterile, and fruit falls from trees under which she stands. She'll blunt razors, rust metal, and take the polish off ivory and mirrors. With just one look, swarming bees die at once. (Yeah, even then they were scared of the PMS)

8. 1570 Chinese erotic art reaches a pinnacle with the production of printed color albums. Every elegant page is folded in an accordion pleat measuring about ten inches square and is accompanied by a poem to complement the picture.

9. 1722 Daniel Defoe's classic Moll Flanders is added to the list of immoral immortals.

10. 1844 Goodyear develops the vulcanization process for rubber and puts an end to animal-skin condoms.

11. 1966 Twiggy, the first fashion model to achieve international celebrity, drastically changes the ideal female body type. Gone are the curves of Marilyn Monroe.

12. Chocolate was once considered an aphrodisiac. Today there's proof that it may be true. The treat contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that is similar to the chemicals released by the body during sex. The Aztecs allow only members of the court to drink the liquid because of the power it imparts.

13. Forget aphrodisiacs, love potions, and wishing on a star. If you really want to know whether you'll meet your true love, follow the Valentine's Day advice offered in Poor Robin's Almanac in 1729 - if you dare: "... In the Evening of Valentine's Day, do take two White Oak Leaves, and lay them across your Pillow, when you go to bed, putting on a clean Shift or Shirt, and turning it the wrong Side outwards, lay down and say these words aloud, Good Valentine be kind to me, in Dreams let me my true Love see. So carefully drawing your right Leg behind you, put it over your left Shoulder. In like manner put your left Leg behind you, laying it across your right Shoulder; and be sure take Care that the Soles of your Feet meet under your Chin. Then go to Sleep as soon as you can. And if you dream you see two Moons touching each other, you will certainly be marry'd very speedily, when you be a young Man, Maid or Widow."

Ok... I have no idea what kind of pretzel twisting they did in 1729 to come up with these crazy ideas.

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Litsoup gives the lowdown on query letters

If you haven't been over to Litsoup in the last few days, Jenny has a great post that shares her advice on query letters. She's got all the detail over there, put here are the topics she touches on (with my comments under the topic):

1. Be professional
In every query advice article I read; in each book on writing; everywhere it seems - this topic is always touched upon. It has to be an issue if it's mentioned so many times - right? Is being professional in a query letter really that difficult for people to manage? Nut jobs and drama fiends aside, hmmm maybe there are just too many nut jobs and drama fiends. Maybe that's our problem. Perhaps we need a plan to weed them out somehow....

2. Space is at a premium
Again, to me this is a no-brainer. I think of this the same way I think about cover letters and resumes: keep it short and to the point. If I was applying for a job I'd make sure my creds match the job requirements and then tailor my cover letter accordingly. Most people know that a cover letter should only be one page (on occassion two - but never more) - same with the actual resume. Don't they teach some resume basics in high school these days?

3. Have a hook
This is where it starts getting difficult. Anyone who participated in Miss Snark's CoM knows how difficult it is to write a hook to grab an agent's eye (at least to her taste, anyway). But then again, the blurb on the back of a book is also a hook - one to grab a reader and it's completely subjective. To me, this is where it is critical to know your agent. No, I don't mean stalk him or her until you know what kind of toilet paper he buys and whether she eats twinkies or ding dongs. I mean to find out who they represent and what kind of books within the genre. The genres are still pretty darn big and ambiguous - not all romance are alike, not all horror are alike, etc. etc. The agent may say "I represent horror" - but what kind of horror? Stephen King kind? Does the agent have a strong anti-zombie streak? (Course, everyone knows zombies rock and we all love them! Go Max Brand!) There is nothing wrong with having a couple versions of a hook, just like you'd have several versions of a resume. Once you have the basis of a good hook - tailor the hook to the person reading it. You want them to like it enough to go to the next step and that's all that matters in the query.

4. Themes are extraneous information too
Less is more and all that. I guess I combined my thoughts and stuck them all under 3. :)

5. Writing credits can be both good and bad.
Until the day that agents say, "YES, this writer is a blogger. Wow. That rocks. I've got to sign her up" - I'll be keeping my writing credits to a minimum. :)

6. Leave out the bacon.
Another reminder to keep the query on target and focused. No need to share your recent experience with athlete's foot or the time you went to New York and drove through Central Park. Unless, of course, either item is a pivotal plot piece or a focal point of your novel. Agents don't read your letter to get a new friend. They don't really want to know your personality type or what you like to do in your pajamas. All they care about is if you have something that interests them and they think they can sell. Perhaps the motive behind adding in personal tidbits and "blah blah" is because we think it makes us stand out, it makes us seem more like a person, and it lets the agent know who we are... but the sad fact is, they don't care who we are. At least not yet. If the writing is good and marketable to them, then they care.

I thought Jenny's points were good. I've certainly heard all the points before, but apparently writers seem to forget them enough that we need the constant reminders.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Preparing to write: your tools of research

I've been a little busy with life and the Debut a Debut contest. That means I've had limited time to focus on my novel. I'm about 10 chapters into it and now more than ever, the research of my novel is critical. At this point in my novel the characters are all in place and the plot is speeding up. It's time to begin that uphill climb to the climactic moments. I need technology, science, locale, culture and all the other tidbits that make my story feel "alive" to come together to create a tense, action-packed sequence of events. I want my reader to be in the jungle with my characters. I want the science behind the events to make sense and be believable. I won't bore you with all the research I've done (at least not yet)... but it got me thinking, how do you start researching your plot or characters?























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Monday, January 29, 2007

Debuts that HIT best seller status

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Yesterday I finished Hannibal Rising. This week I'll be starting Hell's Belles - check back for my review and interview with Jackie Kessler. The next book on my pile to read is Atlantisby David Gibbins. It looks down right exciting and right up my alley. I love action/adventure titles and I'm always on the look out for a new author that I tuck in my favorites box.

This was first published overseas in 2005 so unfortunately, it doesn't quite count for our debut contest... but this little book hit Best Seller right out of the gates and his next title is already getting some great press.

Isn't it every new writer's dream to have their first published book hit a best seller list?

Shane Gericke has offered to add a copy of Blown Away (Pinnacle Books Fiction) to the "Debut a Debut" prize goody bag - AND, it definitely qualifies as a book to be read and reviewed for goodies!

From Shane's site:
Shane Gericke's debut crime thriller Blown Away became a national bestseller three weeks after its launch in May, 2006. Detective Emily Thompson and her hard-charging crew at the Naperville Police Department battle a Special Forces-trained serial killer that's shooting, stabbing and blasting his way through the heretofore-quiet Chicago suburb. If Emily doesn't stop him in 72 hours, the last thing she'll witness is her own bloody death . . .

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hannibal Rising Book Review



We first met Hannibal Lecter many years ago in a frightening little tale, Red Dragon. A story with a detective as a hero - one torn and traumatized by the psychological roller coaster of the pursuit of Lecter. Then in Silence of the Lambs we were chilled, awed and strangely enchanted by Lecter and the unusual relationship between him and Clarice. The movie only increased our curiosity. In Hannibal we got to finish the tale of Clarice and Hannibal and we saw the hints of his past. The growing relationship between Clarice and Hannibal eery in it's compelling draw. Each a symbolic role for the other - father... sister... I enjoyed reading Hannibal.

When I heard of Hannibal Rising I was unsure if I wanted to read it. A story of Hannibal's life before Red Dragon. A story written and published amazingly close to the release of the movie. As someone who strongly believes a book is almost always better than a movie - I was a little cautious. Was the book truly another passage in the life of Hannibal Lecter? Or was is a means to an end - a movie?

Hannibal Rising begins in the Lecter Castle as the World War hits Russia. We have a brief glimpse of his life with his mother and his younger sister, Mischa. Lecter is a child prodigy. The family goes into hiding in a forest hunting lodge and almost survives the war. In one of those odd strokes of fate - his entire family is killed in one moment, leaving only himself and Mischa alive. Almost immediately following they are found by military deserters. The gang captures the children and chains them. Long story short - they eat Mischa. Another attack comes and they release Hannibal and each takes off. The story then finds a mute Hannibal in an orphanage. We see his life in the orphanage very briefly - in fact, just enough to see Hannibal attack a bully and attack an adult that attempts to hit him.

Hannibal is then whisked away to live with his uncle who happens to be a famous painter. His uncle is married to a Japanese woman, Lady Murasaki. There is a brief encounter with a psychiatrist and then disaster strikes yet again. A butcher gives the Lady some insults and Hannibal attacks. When the uncle finds out... he also attacks the butcher and dies. The death scene is rushed and unclear so I imagine I'll have to watch the movie to actually find out how the uncle dies.

Here is a snippet from that scene:
"Piece of filth, you would insult my wife!!"
Paul dropped the meat and shoved the count hard, the count's thin frame flaying back against a counter and the count came on again, slashing with his cane, and then he stopped, a look of surprise on his face. He raised his hands halfway to his waistcoat and fell facedown on the floor of the butcher's stall.


Hannibal kills Paul the butcher. He develops a love for Lady Murasaki. There is a police inspector, Popil, who knows that Hannibal is a killer. Hannibal enters medical school and then he decides to find the names of the men who ate his sister and get some revenge.

I love Silence of the Lambs. I think that Hannibal Lecter is one of the best Sociopaths to exist in a story. If you are hoping that this story is as intense and clever as the others - you may not be satisfied. It may have been me, but the writing is awkward in places. I struggled to get into the story - not because I wasn't interested, but because of the writing style. The other characters are flat and seem to just be in place to further the story of Hannibal and that is how I would almost describe this novel - a character study. We see the brief important moments when something happens that's noteworthy. Hannibal is an unfeeling, emotionless being. The writing reflects that, it's rushed and didn't draw me in as fully as it could have.

Don't get me wrong, the history of Hannibal is interesting and I'm all more interested in seeing the movie. In this particular instance, I think the movie will be better than the book. I find that disappointing because overall, I found this book unremarkable and forgettable. I know that I'll never have the desire to read this a second time and it just makes me want to go and read Red Dragon (or one of the others) again so that I can get some satisfaction.

Have you read this yet? What are your thoughts?

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Book Spotlight

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As you know, we are offering the Debut a Debut contest. We have two goals for this contest. 1. Encourage readers to find a new author to add to their "favorite author" list. 2. Help promote debut authors and get their name out!

The other day I listed a couple of book blurbs to highlight a couple of the authors on the debut author list. I thought it would be helpful to randomly list blurbs and book descriptions to help make it easier to see the types of books that are out there that you may never have heard of! You can also find news and information on the contest at my co-host's site West of Mars.

Michael Fitzgerald's novel Radiant Days
A recent review:
“In his keenly accomplished first novel, FitzGerald’s enigmatic tale of a feckless and dissolute American caught up in world events beyond his comprehension brings a disquieting new interpretation to the old adage that truth is the first casualty of war. At the height of San Francisco’s dot-com revolution, Anthony unhesitatingly abandons his unfulfilling job to follow Gisela, a beautiful young woman he has only just met, back to her native Hungary, ostensibly on a mission to locate her missing son. Arriving during the perilous waning days of the Balkan War, the pair attach themselves to British journalist Marsh, who, at 24, already has attained a cynical disregard for humanity that endangers his two new friends. As Anthony falls more deeply in love with Gisela, Gisela’s precise reasons for being in country dissolve into drug- and lust-induced escapades. Through Anthony’s self-indulgent and alienated voice, FitzGerald flawlessly and astutely mirrors the ennui and confusion of a generation and world enervated by ceaseless and senseless images of war. “
— Carol Haggas of BOOKLIST


Robert Gregory Browne has hardcover Kiss Her Goodbye releasing in February.
From Publishers Weekly:
Provocative violence, a colorful Chicago background and a dollop of the supernatural lift Browne's debut thriller. ATF agent Jack Donovan almost captures his nemesis, ruthless gangster Alex Gunderson, during a bank robbery. Gunderson's amoral pregnant wife, Sara, is shot in the ensuing chase, leaving her in a coma. Gunderson seeks revenge by kidnapping Donovan's teenage daughter, Jessica, and burying her in a coffin with enough air for three days. As the tension builds, a vainglorious Chicago cop shoots the kidnapper, who dies without revealing Jessica's whereabouts. Browne's experience as a screenwriter shows as he shorthands the parallels between the anarchic Gunderson and straight-arrow Donovan, both of whom are single-minded and personally loyal. Elements of the supernatural, including out-of-body experiences, provide humorous relief from the breathtaking pace.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Debut a Debut Authors & Prizes - Updates

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Author List


Alan Fox -- The Seeker in Forever

Alex Espinoza -- Still Water Saints

Alexandra Sokoloff -- The Harrowing
Ali Liebegott -- The IHOP Papers

Alice Greenway -- White Ghost Girls

Aliya Whiteley -- Three Things About Me

Amir Gutfreund -- Our Holocaust

Amy Bryant -- Polly

Ana Baca -- Mama Fela's Girls

Andrew Britton -- The American

Anne Douglas -- The McCabes: Persuading Jo

Antoinette May -- Pilate's Wife
Antonia Arslan -- Skylark Farm

Benito Cordova -- Big Dreams and Dark Secrets in Chimaya

Betsey Osborne -- The Natural History of Uncas Metcalfe

Brian Martin -- North

Brian Shuster -- The Minerva Virus
C-Murder -- Death Around the Corner

CA Belmond -- A Rather Lovely Inheritance

Carolyn Turgeon -- Rain Village
Cate Sweeney -- Selfish Jean

Catherine Murdock - Dairy Queen

Cheryl Strayed -- Torch

Christine Conrad -- Mademoiselle Benoir

Cindy Woodsmall -- When the Heart Cries

Clifford Chase -- Winkie

Colleen Gleason -- The Rest Falls Away

Cornelia Read -- A Field of Darkness

Conor Corderoy -- Dark Rain

Da Chen -- Brothers

Daniel Judson - The Darkest Place

David Lynn Golemon -- Event

Debra Dean - The Madonnas of Leningrad

Debra Ginsberg -- Blind Submisssion

Derek Armstrong -- The Game

Diane Setterfield -- The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

Donna Westover Gallup -- White as Snow

Drew Bowling -- The Tower of Shadows

Edward Charles -- In the Shadow of Lady Jane

Elisabeth Jason -- Soul Sacrifice

Elisabeth Drake -- The Twilight Deception

Elisabeth Drake -- A Passion Draconic

Ellis Avery -- The Teahouse Fire

Faiza Guene -- Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

Farrell O'Gorman -- Awaiting Orders
Frances Washburn -- Elsie's Business

Gautam Malkani -- Londonstani
George Robert Minkoff -- The Weight of Smoke
Gillian Flynn -- Sharp Objects: A Novel
Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk -- The Sidewalk Artist

Gordon Dahlquist - The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

Heather Hayashi -- To Save the World
Heidi Pitlor -- The Birthdays

Henry Chang -- Chinatown Beat

Hisham Matar -- In the Country of Men

Heidi Pitlor -- The Birthdays: A Novel

Hisham Matar -- In the Country of Men

Hugh Paxton -- Homunculus

Jackie Kessler -- Hell's Belles
James Canon -- Takes from the Town of Widows and Chronicles from the Land of Men

James Janko -- Buffalo Boy and Geronimo

Jana DeLeon -- Rumble on the Bayou

Jane May -- Doggy Style
Jason Webb -- The Ghost of Che Guevara

Jed Rubenfeld - The Interpretation of Murder

Jenn Reese -- Jade Tiger

Jennah Sharpe -- Along the Hibiscus Path

Jennifer Gilmore -- Golden Country: A Novel

Jerome Tell -- The Election
Jill Conner Browne (with Karin Gillespie) -- The Sweet Potato Queen's First Big Ass Novel

Jonathan Drapes -- Never Admit to Beige

Joshua Cohen -- Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto

Joshua Palmatier -- The Skewed Throne

Joshua Spanogle - Isolation Ward

Judith Lindbergh -- The Thrall's Tale

Judith Marks-White -- Seducing Harry

Julie Carobini -- Chocolate Beach

Julie KL Dam -- Some Like it Haute

Kat Richardson -- Greywalker
Kathleen Jacobs -- The Friday Knitting Club

Katherine Min -- Secondhand World

KE Silva -- A Simple Distance
Kelly Kerney -- Born Again
Keith Donohue -- The Stolen Child

Kevin Shay -- The End as I Know it
Kirsten Sawyer -- Not Quite a Bride
Laura Dave -- London is the Best City in America

Laura Fitzgerlad -- A Veil of Roses

Laura Ruby -- I'm not Julia Roberts
Lauren Fox -- Still Life With Husband

Lauren Lipton -- It's About Your Husband
Lauren Marks-White -- Seducing Harry
Layne Maheu -- Song of the Crow

Lee Merrill Bryd -- Riley's Fire

Liam Jackson -- Offspring
Lila Shaara -- Every Secret Thing

Lisa Fugard -- Skinner's Drift

Lisa Logan -- Visions

Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum -- A Day of Small Beginnings

Lisa Unger -- Beautiful Lifes

Lori Lacefield -- The Seventh Survivor
Lu Vickers -- Breathing Underwater

Lucy McCarraher -- Blood & Water

Marcus Sakey -- The Blade Itself

Margo Candela -- Underneath it All

Marie Arana -- Cellophane

Marisa de los Santos -- Love Walked In

Marisha Pessl -- Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Mark Binelli -- Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!

Mary E. Neighbour -- Speak Right on: Dred Scott a Novel

Matthew Scott Hansen -- The Shadow killer
Max Brooks -- World War Z

Meg Mullins -- The Rug Merchant

Melissa Clark -- Swimming Upstream Slowly

Mia King -- Good Things

Michael A. Fitzgerald -- Radiant Days

Michael Graham -- The Snow Angel

Michael Stephen -- The Manuscript

Michael Thomas -- Man Gone Down
Michelle Tea -- Rose of no Man's Land

MWF Curran -- The Secret War

Naomi Alderman -- Disobedience

Natalie Danford -- Inheritance

Nikki Leigh -- Stormy View (debut)

Nikki Leigh -- Widow's Walk (also published in 2006)

Nora Gallagher -- Changing Light

N.S. Koenings -- The Blue Taxi
Olga Grushin -- The Dream Life of Sukhanov

Pam Jenoff -- The Kommandant's Girl

Pamela Carter Joern -- The Floor of the Sky
Patrick F. McManus -- The Blight Way

Patrick Hyde -- The Only Pure Thing

Paul Batista -- Death's Witness

Paul Cavanagh -- After Helen

Paul Rusesabagina - An Ordinary Man

Paul Wolfe -- Choices
Peter Behrens -- The Law of Dreams

Peter Bourne -- The Deserter

Peter C. Brown -- The Fugitive Wife

Peter Hobbs -- The Short Day of dying

Racy Li -- Ninja

Rae Meadows -- Calling Me Out

Raymond Khoury -- The Last Templar

Rebecca Drake -- Don't Be Afraid

RG Willems -- Targets of Affection

Rhonda Stapleton -- Stripped


Robert Dugoni - The Jury Master

Robert Fate -- Baby Shark

Robert Gregory Browne -- Kiss Her Goodbye

Robert Gussin -- Trash Talk

Roger Morris -- Taking Comfort

Roger Alan Skipper -- Tear Down the Mountain
Rosanne Keller -- A Summer All Her Own
Sam Barone -- Dawn of Empire

Sam Savage -- Firmin

Samantha Grosser -- Another Time and Place

San Culberson -- The Nick of Time

Sandi Ault -- Wild Indigo

Sean Chercover -- Big City Bad Blood

Sela Carsen -- Not Quite Dead

Sela Carsen -- The Virgin Courtesan

Shane Gericke -- Blown Away

Stephen J. Spignesi - Dialogues

Steven Hockensmith -- Holmes on the Range

Steve Voake - The Dreamwalker's Child

Sunny -- Mona Lisa Awakening
Suroopa Mukherjee -- Across the Mystic Shore

Suzanne Adair -- Paper Woman

Tasha Alexander -- And Only to Deceive

Tawny Taylor -- Sex and the Single Ghost
Thomas Mullen -- The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

Thomma Lyn -- Thy Eternal Summer

Tina Bendoni -- Argus: In Dreams

Tinling Choong -- FireWife

Toby Devens -- My Favorite Midlife Crisis (yet)

Tom McCarthy -- Remainder

Tony D'Souza -- Whiteman

Troy Cook -- 47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers

Wendy Wasserstein -- Elements of Style

Will Beall -- L.A. Rex

William Kittredge -- The Willow Field
Yael Goldstein -- Overture

Yvette Christianse -- Unconfessed


Prizes:

2 $20 gift certificates from Borders

A copy of RG Willems' debut, Targets of Affection

5 free points from BookMooch.com

A copy of Matt Curran's debut, The Secret War

An autographed copy of Lila Shaara's debut, Every Secret Thing

An audio copy (CD) of Lila Shaara's debut, Every Secret Thing

A copy of Suzanne Adair's debut, Paper Woman

A copy of Racy Li's debut e-book, Ninja

A copy of Sela Carsen's debut e-book, Not Quite Dead

A copy of Sela Carsen's follow-up short, The Virgin Courtesan

A copy of Michael FitzGerald's debut, Radiant Days

A copy of Tina Bendoni's debut Argus: In Dreams

An ARC copy, an autographed copy, bookmarks, and postcards from author Shane Gericke. Debut title Blown Away.

A copy of Thomma Lyn's debut Thy Eternal Summer

A copy of Judith Lindbergh's debut The Thrall's Tale

A copy of Rhonda Stapleton's debut Stripped


Winner's Pick: Add $10 to a Border's Gift Certificate, a signed copy of Crack of Death, or A free item from the Café Press store, compliments of Dawno at Absolute Write.


And not really a prize to be won, but anyone who goes to BookMooch.com and mooches a copy of Cheryl Strayed's debut, Torch, directly from her will receive an autographed copy.

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Thirteen Memorable Books

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Last week I shared 13 ways that music impacts my life. Writers are passionate readers - we have to be, so here are 13 books that are the most memorable to me.

The Catcher in the Rye

This item is first on my list because I read this book in the sixth grade. I'll let you in on a little secret, some folks think I'm a little wierd or "unique" as they like to say. I've always been who I am and being "unique" as an adolescent is no easy stroll through the park. A teacher recommended that I read it. I did and I had my first epiphany. I've not read this book since then. I am sure it wouldn't have the same meaning for me now that it did when I was 12 or 13. It sits in my memory as one of the first books that had an impact on my life.


Fast forward to high school. Yes, another easy going period in your life when your peers are understanding and supportive. My mom pulled this book out of an old box in the garage and told me I'd probably like it. I read it and I loved it. This is the second book that had an impact on my life. I read it several times during my high school years. I've not read it since then and I probably won't ever read it again. But, it also sits on a tidy shelf in my mind and will always be remembered as something that helped me get through high school.

Now then, I am afraid that is going to be the end of the "literature" section of my list. I don't like chick lit and I don't much care for "the greats", please don't get me started on Hemingway.


This book was originally released in 1983; I read it probably in 84 or 85. I loved this book! I remember coming home from school and sitting down to just enjoy it. Really, how many books can you remember reading when you were 8? I think I should get a copy for my daughter.


In high school we were going on our annual long drive to see family. My mom borrowed a bunch of library books that we could read in the car. She started by reading Phantoms outloud. I immediately got hooked and at the first opportunity snatched it away and read it - really, she was reading far too slowly. Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors. Phantoms is one of my favorites because it was my first introduction to him.

Watchers

Phantoms may have been my first... but, Watchers is my love. I have had my copy of Watchers for soooo long. I probably read it at least 3 or 4 times each year. My copy has pages that are stained with chocolate, water spots and my back cover is torn. My husband keeps trying to throw it away. He says I can buy a new copy. I just can't bear the thought of parting with it. I will buy a new copy soon because the pages are starting to turn odd shades of yellow and brown - but, I don't know if I'll be able to just *throw* it away.


I can't tell you how excited I was when I first saw this book. I was in an airport and it was a new book, by new authors and it TOTALLY sounded like it was just my kind of novel. I immediately called my mom - yes, I was standing in the middle of the airport on the phone to call my mother and tell her about the new book I had just found. She immediately knew what I was talking about because she had seen it that same day and bought it! I devoured it and hungered for more. I love every single book by Preston and Child and in fact, they are the ones who ultimately gave me that final bit of inspiration to begin writing seriously. The first moment I read of Pendergast I knew I would see him again and I have not been disappointed.


I love this one too! It's one I read over and over again. This book only reinforced my desire to write my own novel.


By now, you can probably tell there is something in common with these books. Well, Rollins was another example where I was in the bookstore and found a paperback by an author I hadn't heard of before and his first book just sounded fantastic. Subterranean is one of my favorites.


I love historical romance. I freely admit it. I have just as many romance novels on my shelf as I have action, adventure, and mystery. There is something about this book that just makes me feel happy. When I'm down or when I'm feeling a little sad, I can pull this book out, sit back and read. When I'm done - I feel better. The plot. The characters. It's all good.


This is the first Christine Feehan novel that I purchased. I read it and the next day went back to the bookstore and purchased every book they had in stock with the author's name. My mother came to visit shortly after and I told her that I had a new author that she hadn't heard of but she had to read. I had my mom hooked that night and the stinker took all my books to finish reading at home. I await each new release with anticipation.

Harry Potter

Any memorable book list wouldn't be complete without Harry Potter. I remember when I first picked up my copy. I was at the bookstore and saw this children's book on a shelf. I hadn't heard of it before and I read the inside cover. I picked it up thinking I'd send it to my husband's godchild. When I got home I figured I should read it first to make sure it was appropriate for her age. Needless to say, I was hooked and it never left my hands. Yes, I am one of those people at the bookstore at midnight to get my copy.

Dragon Lance

My dad actually had these books when I was younger and I "borrowed" them from him. I will always remember Tasselhoff more than the others! My first real obsession with DnD began with the Dragon Lance series with Weis and Hickman.

Belgariad

I love this series and the Malloreon. I've read these two series so many times that I couldn't even count.

Well, this is long enough and these are the top books that are the most memorable to me.

Don't forget to check out the contest I'm co-hosting with West of Mars.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Crappy Solutions: Mileage Tax is NOT the answer

The news tonight featured a bit on a new tax being considered by the state of Minnesota. There are concerns over declining revenues being collected from gas tax. You know, I think gas costing a small fortune per gallon may have actually had an impact. Yup, people did become more aware of their traveling and many folks stopped using their cars and instead used public transit - much cheaper than shilling out nearly $3.00 a gallon. But... uhoh, the government had a loss in their gas tax collection. Were they really surprised by that?

One solution is to implement a mileage tax. Oregon is already testing this tax. An odometer maid can't really come out to your house and check your count though. So how could they track your mileage to charge you? Ah yes, require every resident of the state to have a GPS unit inserted in the car - yes, it'll cost you... all new cars should also be sold already with the unit in place - yes, it will make the car more expensive to buy. Yup, the government can know where you go, at all times, AND they'll charge you for it.

Really, is this the best solution our government has? First of all, I DO not want the government tracking my every move. I do not want a device that could possibly be hacked or tapped into by criminals, terrorists or anyone for that matter. I don't want to be charged for driving my children to school. I don't want to have to pay for the miles I drive to the grocery store. I already pay property taxes, income taxes, gas taxes, federal taxes... Cars aren't cheap either. What about people who live in safer suburbs and deal with long commutes so they can give their families a better - safer place to live...

Does no one else see the multiple different layers of how freaking bad of an idea this is?

Now, some propose that a mileage tax would discourage people from traveling too much and would decrease pollutants in the air. I'm all for improving our world and protecting the planet. I don't think a mileage tax fits that need. If you want to help improve the environment - offer tax breaks for people who buy hybrids. Offer financial organizations tax incentives for loans offered on hybrid vehicles. Help make hybrid vehicles more available and cost effective for low-income and middle-income people... let's be honest, these are the folks that tend to have crappier, smoking cars... these are the folks that may have to live farther away to afford housing, but drive ridiculous distances to get to a job that barely pays enough to cover their bills. A mileage tax is not a conservation effort and don't even try to imply that it is. It's insulting to the people who genuinely care and are trying to make effective and stable changes. A mileage tax is all about the money... and who gets to pocket it.

Should your state be considering a mileage tax and you disagree - contact your congressman or office of the governor and let your voices be heard.

If you live in the state of Minnesota and do not agree with this law, contact the governor:

To contact Governor Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Governor Carol Molnau, please write, phone, fax or e-mail.

Mailing Address:
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Other ways to reach our office:
Telephone: (651) 296-3391
Toll Free: (800) 657-3717
Facsimile: (651) 296-2089
E-mail: tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us

Here are a couple of articles if you'd like to read more.

Will a mileage tax replace the gas tax?

Oregan's Mileage Tax: A Truly Bad Idea

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Insult letter contest - I'm In!

Ok, this sounds fun.

"How to Say "**** You" So Elegantly They Don't Even Know You've Said It"

A contest brought to you by Musings of a Dinosaur.

Winners get a copy of the contest host's book.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Debut Contest Updates

Susan and I are getting some exciting results for our "Debut A Debut" contest. There are so many new authors and as I'm reading the book descriptions I just can't help but wonder about how long my "to read" list is going to end up this year!

We are also getting some donations and contributions toward the prizes, like 5 Bookmooch points, autographed books, and more!

Our list of authors continues to grow and we'll be updating the contest prizes and the list of debut authors.

Some of the recent authors that we've been in contact with include:

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff with her book Thy Eternal Summer:

Sarah Harrison is a housewife and the mother of two grown children but her marriage is tainted by alcoholism and emotional abuse. When her husband Ed drowns in a river at an RV park in Tennessee, she’s on her own for the first time in her life. She can’t drive the Winnebago to return to their home in North Carolina.

Max McCloud, newly retired from NASA, is parked next to Ed and Sarah’s Winnebago. He designs aircraft components online with his friends and misses his late wife, Adela, who died the previous year. He befriends the newly widowed Sarah and offers to drive her home in her Winnebago.

Can their new friendship and potential romantic attachment overcome the memories of their deceased spouses and provide them with the kind of Golden Years they both desire?

Matt Curran with his book The Secret War:

For thousands of years a secret war has been fought between Heaven and Hell. Daemons and angels, vampyres and knights, clash for the future of mankind, and as the two sides wage war across the world, innocent people are caught up in the conflict – men like Captain William Saxon and Lieutenant Kieran Harte, two great friends who have recently survived the horrors of the Battle of Waterloo. But now they face a greater struggle, against the daemonic forces of Count Ordrane, and the clandestine ambitions of the Vatican. They must try to survive assassination attempts, political machinations, epic battles on land and sea, and above all the power of a mysterious bronze pyramid – the Scarimadean – that brings everlasting damnation to all who come into contact with it.Their only allies are an old man, a fading secret organisation in the Church, and an enigmatic warrior, who may hold the key not only to the friends’ fates, but to the fate of all mankind…

The year is 1815, when angels and daemons walked our streets…

Suzanne Adair with her book Paper Woman:

1780 and 1781: the Southern theater of the American War of Independence. The frontier stretches thousands of miles, from the Carolinas to the Caribbean. It's crawling with murder, espionage, terror, and treachery. There's no room for neutrals - or cowards.

Plunge into this ever-changing New World with the historical suspense of Suzanne Adair, where ordinary citizens overcome threats to their lives, fortunes, and honor - and heroes are forged.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Debut authors you may want to read during the Debut contest

Debut A Debut Contest Banner


1. Albyn Leah Hall -- The Rhythm of the Road
2. Aliya Whiteley -- Three Things About Me
3. Brian Martin -- North
4. Cate Sweeney -- Selfish Jean
5. Conor Corderoy -- Dark Rain
6. Derek Armstrong -- The Game
7. Diane Setterfield -- The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
8. Edward Charles -- In the Shadow of Lady Jane
9. Ellis Avery -- The Teahouse Fire
10. Gillian Flynn -- Sharp Objects: A Novel
11. Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk -- The Sidewalk Artist
12. Heidi Pitlor -- The Birthdays: A Novel
13. Hisham Matar -- In the Country of Men
14. Hugh Paxton -- Homunculus
15. James Canon -- Takes from the Town of Widows and Chronicles from the Land of Men
16. Jason Webb -- The Ghost of Che Guevara
17. Jennifer Gilmore -- Golden Country: A Novel
18. Jonathan Drapes -- Never Admit to Beige
19. Joshua Palmatier -- The Skewed Throne
20. Karen Russell -- St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Stories
21. Lu Vickers -- Breathing Underwater
22. Lucy McCarraher -- Blood & Water
23. Marisha Pessl -- Special Topics in Calamity Physics
24. Michael Stephen -- The Manuscript
25. MWF Curran -- The Secret War
26. Naomi Alderman -- Disobedience
27. Pam Jenoff -- The Kommandant's Girl
28. Patrick Hyde -- The Only Pure Thing
29. Peter Bourne -- The Deserter
30. Racy Li -- Ninja
31. Rebecca Drake -- Don't Be Afraid
32. RG Willems -- Targets of Affection
33. Roger Morris -- Taking Comfort
34. Ryan Boudinot -- The Littlest Hitler: Stories
35. Samantha Grosser -- Another Time and Place
36. Suroopa Mukherjee -- Across the Mystic Shore
37. Thomas Mullen -- The Last Town on Earth: A Novel
38. Tom McCarthy -- Remainder
39. Tony D'Souza -- Whiteman
40. Will Beall -- L.A. Rex

If you are a debut author and you'd like us to include your name and title on our list, just drop an email to Rashenbo or West of Mars.

This list can also be found at Westofmars.com

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Contest Time: Debut A Debut

Debut a Debut Banner
Begins today!


The book industry faces many challenges. People seem to have less time to read and it's tough to compete with the television and Internet. Any new or aspiring author knows how hard it is to make his or her voice heard amongst the chorus of "publish me!" "Notice me!" "Buy my books!"

In many cultures around the world, Valentine's Day has converted the month of February into the month of love. This February, two aspiring authors are taking their love of reading and their admiration for debut authors and combining them into the "Debut a debut!" contest.

Take a first-time author for a spin on your "To Read in 2007" list and give yourself the chance to win great prizes! Gift certificates to Borders and more!

During the week of 12 Feb through 17 Feb, read a book written by a debut author and post your review by 17 February. Send Susan or Erica the permalink to your review and you will be entered in a drawing for some great prizes.

Debut A Debut Button


Some Rules
A debut author is an author who has had their first novel published between 01/2006 and 02/2007.

Accepted publication types are ebook and in-print novels from established royalty-paying publishers or e-publishers; if you're not sure, e-mail us the name of the publisher. POD, vanity presses, or Publish America books are not considered for this contest.

The contest has officially begun!!!!! Send your links to us either in a comment or in an email!


Reviews can not be previously printed online or in print. The review of a debut author's novel must be posted between the dates of 02/12/2007 - 02/17/2007. Prize drawing will occur 02/19/2007 and winners will be notified via email.

Multiple entries are allowed.

The Prizes
2 randomly drawn participants will receive a $20.00 Borders gift certificate, books, autographed books and more!.

How to Enter
1. Buy, find, or borrow a novel that is an author's debut. (see list of some debut novels at WestofMars.com, West of Mars -- the Meet and Greet, or Writing Aspirations)
Update: Here is a list of some authors and the update to prize list!

2. Read the novel.
3. Write a review. It does not have to be a professional review. Provide a brief plot synopsis and then mention your likes or dislikes or other thoughts you had while reading.
4. Post the review online - either on a website or blog.
5. Send the permalink of the post to West of Mars or Writing Aspirations in an email message or post a comment to the main contest post with a link to your review.

Remember, the review is to be completed and posted during the week of 02/12/2007 - 02/17/2007.

A post will be created on West of Mars and Writing Aspirations with links to all book reviews submitted.

Debut a Debut Seal


Authors
Don't miss your chance to get some press! West of Mars and Writing Aspirations are in the process of gathering your names and titles to help our contest entrants find great books to read. Please send us links to your website, or just your name and the title of your debut novel that was published between 1 January 2006 and 1 February 2007. If you have any promotional items -- especially copies of your book -- that you'd like to donate, we'd love to offer them as prizes.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Interview with Tawny Taylor, author of erotic romance

There are many authors who struggle to get published in-print or in ebook. Tawny is an author that has success in both fields. While she's had a passion for writing for a long time, it's only been since 2001 that she's written with the goal of publication. She has more than a dozen titles at Ellora's Cave, a popular ebook publisher of romance novels and Sex and the Single Ghost may be at your local bookstore!

I recently had the opportunity to ask Tawny a little bit about her experiences.

Can you tell us about the type of stories you write?
I write contemporary, paranormal and futuristic erotic romances, some more similar to traditional romances and others much more erotic--containing light bondage and ménage a trois. My later work is darker and more erotic (in a general sense) than my earlier work.

You've recently had some great publishing news, so far, what will we see from Tawny in 2007?
Thanks! I’ve been concentrating on writing (rather than playing online), and luckily my muse has been cooperating. I don’t have release dates for any ebooks yet, but I expect the following titles to release sometime this year:

Twilight’s Possession 1: Burning Hunger (Vampire ménage erotica) Ellora’s Cave
Dirty Little Lies (Sensual Romantic Suspense) Samhain Publishing
Passion Unbound 1: Wild Nights (Shapeshifter ménage erotica) Changeling Press
Carpe Nocturne 1: Dressed to Kill (Vampire ménage erotica) Changeling Press
Carpe Nocturne 2: Kiss Me, Kill Me (Vampire ménage erotica) Changeling Press
Carpe Nocturne 3: If Looks Could Kill (Vampire ménage erotica) Changeling Press

In addition, Kensington will be re-releasing Sex and the Single Ghost in mass market paperback. Plus, I have two paperback releases this year: Master of Secret Desires in June (Pocket) and Real Vampires Don’t Drink O-Neg (Kensington) in September. Once I’ve finished up the contracted books above that aren’t written yet, I’d like to write another Animal Urges book for Ellora’s Cave, and perhaps the second Twilight’s Possession, but I don’t expect those to release until 2008.

How many publishers have you worked with?
Directly, four epublishers and one print (NY) press. Pocket purchased print subsidiary rights from Ellora’s Cave and therefore the deal went through Ellora’s Cave, not my agent.

There are some interesting debates on ebook publishing versus print publishing. As a writer who has both, what are your thoughts on the benefits of ebook publishing and the differences between the two?
I could go on and on about this topic, but in summary, both offer advantages and disadvantages. So many authors think they haven’t made it until they’ve seen their New York book deal, but frankly if you’re writing sexy romance (can’t speak for other genres), an author can make a tidy sum writing for epublishers. And they can do so without the aid of an agent. Epublishers release books quicker, can respond to changes in the market faster, and are more open to new and unproven authors and story concepts. Of course, the drawback is an author might never see her book in Walmarts, and she won’t get a $10k advance.

You are doing well with ebook publishing; what advice do you have for writers pursuing the ebook market?

A. Don’t expect to get published right away. Epublishers are becoming increasingly popular among romance authors, and their mountainous slush piles are growing larger as a result. It now takes anywhere from 2-6 months (or longer) to hear back on a submission. The more established and popular a publisher is, the longer the wait (in general).

B. Don’t expect epublishers to be less picky or demand less than a NY publisher in terms of quality. Many epublishers reject as much as 90-95% of the submissions they receive.

C. Make sure to purchase and read several books by a publisher before submitting. Look at the quality of the book, the editing, and the subject matter to determine whether a publisher is right for you. Also, consider how easy/difficult the purchasing system was for you to navigate, how professional the site appears, and how you were treated as a customer as you make your choice.

D. Be prepared to market, market, market. Epublishers release dozens of ebooks every month, a practice that is creating something of a glut in a limited market. To stand a chance of selling a reasonable quantity of books, you must be willing to pull up your sleeves and market your books online.

In general, what writing advice would you share with aspiring writers?
No matter what, keep reading fiction. Don’t stop, even if your newly-acquired inner-editor screams nonstop about every little nitpicky error it finds. Reading helps you develop your voice. And reading outside your genre can help you develop fresh story plots and concepts.

Your new vampire menage, Carpe Nocturne, sounds exciting. Can you tell us what we can expect from this series?
Actually, Carpe Nocturne isn’t so much a series as it is a serialized storyline about two vampires and their mate. The title is the name of the heroine’s bar, which happens to be frequented by patrons of the immortal kind--werewolves, vamps, etc. There is a killer who is running around slaughtering people, and Burke, one of her mates has been tried and convicted of one of the murders. He has escaped custody and is trying to catch the real killer to clear his name. The heroine’s other master is a detective with the immortal police force. Ironically, he’s trying to catch Burke. There’s lots of steamy sex, and lots of suspense. I’ve found I enjoy writing suspense stories.

You've got a great collection on Ellora's Cave - do you have a favorite title that you would recommend to a first time reader of your novels?
Thank you! If they’re a first time reader of erotic romance, and tend to read category, I’ll recommend Tempting Fate. It’s a little tamer and sort of eases a new reader into erotic romance. If they are fans of paranormal stories, and are comfortable reading erotic romance, I’d either recommend Light My Fire (dragons) or Mark of the Beast (bear shapeshifter).

What's the average time it takes you to write story?
That depends upon the subject matter, whether there’s a lot of research involved...and my muse. I’ve written a 60k word book in thirty days--20 pages a day. I’ve also taken almost two months to write a 50-page proposal-- 1 page a day (a Viking time travel currently under consideration at a NY house). Worlds that are entirely fictional are much easier to write about than worlds that are based on real life or history.

Is there a character you've created that just lingers with you more than others? If yes, which character and why?
Oh gosh, I fall in love with every hero I write about as I’m writing the stories. I couldn’t possibly pick one. Heroines--I adore Jane in my non-erotic book, About Monday. That one’s released under my other pseudonym, Sydney Laine Allan.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
That’s an easy one: Sandra Hill, MaryJanice Davidson, Gena Showalter, Katie MacAlister, Dan Brown and James Rollins.

Has blogging helped promote you as an author?
I like to think it has, but honestly, I couldn’t say. It’s pretty much impossible to measure the effect any sort of promotion has on sales. I learned to look at every marketing effort as an attempt to build name recognition. I pretty much take a shotgun approach--try a little bit of everything.

Check out Tawny's blog to get to know her more and if you're interested, pick up one of her novels. And, thank you Tawny for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

13 ways music strikes a chord with me


1. When I'm cleaning, nothing is quite so energizing as pulling a cd out of Aerosmith's Box of Fire or one of Metallica's older jams then getting down to the nitty gritty.
2. When I'm thinking on a work project or trying to work through a difficult scene, classical or softer songs help me concentrate and think through the issue. It's usually Beethoven, Sting, or some of the older Willie songs, like Seven Spanish Angels.
3. When I want some entertainment, music brings me such shows like American Idol and Rockstar. I also enjoy going to the ballet with my mother. There is something about listening to great works like those done by Tchaikovsky and watching dancers gracefully twist and turn to the music. I can't watch it all the time, but when I'm in the mood, I'm moved by it.
4. When I'm driving I have to flip through stations until I find a song I can sing along with. I often skip the radio hosts. The ones we have up in Minnesota aren't very good.
5. I used to love listening to Dirty Mike, he had a great relationship with the radio station in New Mexico, and it was more fun listening to him on that station than the one up here.
6. Some songs are just great to get creativity going, they don't make me think, it's just as if they help open the flood gate. Bob Marley's Redemption, Metallica Nothing Else Matters, Tom Petty's Last Dance with Mary Jane, Gnarls Barkley Crazy, Five For Fighting Superman, Foo Fighters Everlong... Hmm, I guess I have a lot of them because I can keep going. I guess these songs just stimulate me.
7. When I'm writing I have to have a shuffled playlist going. I listen to all of the above and more!
8. When my husband proposed to me, we had gone for a drive and it was quite late. As he popped the question, Not enough hours in the night played on the radio. It is our song.
9. I've got many movie soundtrack favorites, but I've got a special spot in my heart for the Princess Bride soundtrack. Not only do I love that movie, but we used it as the music during our actual wedding.
10. When Pea Pie was 4 she gave a rousing performance of Kung Foo Fighting, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard and I didn't realize she had learned so much of the song.
11. My mother plays about 10 different instruments. When she was young she auditioned to be a concert violinist. She played good enough to get in, but was told she lacked the confidence to be a professional violinist. I suck at the violin.
12. My children have inherited a bit of the music bug. The heir apparent (9) plays the piano and now the Pea Pie (6) plays the guitar. A couple of weeks ago they decided they would start their own band. My heir came running up the stairs calling for their father to come and help them. She had a bit of panic to her voice so he quickly went to see what he could do. She asked him to play for them, because their band didn't sound good!
13. I can't sing or play. In fact, I think I may be a little tone deaf. But my life is filled with music and it brings me joy. I hope that music has touched your life.
Happy Thursday!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Sound of Words

My days are filled with music, literally, I hate the quiet of being home alone. Every day I listen to my yahoo jukebox or my ipod. I have no - zip, zilch, nada - talent for music. But I am certainly an admirer of it.

Yes, I did catch the premier of Idol last night... but that's a whole other post. *Minnehopeless* grumble, grumble.

Anyway, one of the chapters in First Five Pages focuses on sound. All writers know (or should know) that a strong voice is important.

There is a sound to prose; writing is not just about getting a story across, but also-if not mainly-about how you get there. Prose can be technically correct but rhythmically unpleasant. This is one of the distinctions between writing in general and writing as an art form. We've all encountered the ill-sounding sentence, but it just "sounds" wrong. Indeed, what I label sound may also be thought of as 'rhythm'.

I definitely agree with the above. I've read some good stories that unfortunately were just too weak in voice. The story was good enough for me to finish, but it lacked that extra umpf that made me want to run out and buy every book by that author - something I've done more than once.

Later in the chapter the author, Noah Lukeman, says the most common manifestations are sentence structure, echoes, alliteration, and resonance. Of those, awkward sentences probably drive me the craziest. I like to think I have a good ear for the sound of words, and bad structure sticks out like a big red flag.

What do you think? Do you notice the voice or sound of words when you read? How important is the "flow" of a story to you?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Literary Escort: Interesting or Frustrating?


I was reading the February issue of Writers Digest and read the article in the back cover, Confessions of a Literary Escort. As much thinking as I do, I had never thought about someone being a professional escort for authors. Apparently, they are hired by the publisher to pick up and escort clients.

The article is written by Wendy Werris and she says:

"The givens of being an author escort include a fueled-up, immaculate car and ample provisions including bottled water, Lifesavers, trail mix, a lint brush and Advil. The rest of the job is based on instinct, flexibility, wardrobe and a sense of humor."

She describes how when she picks up an author she dresses to match the nature of the book. Apparently this type of career requires a strong ability for multitasking. Including on the spot therapy for panic attacks and anger (She's not inferring something is she?) and then she compares herself to a concierge, "Like a concierge, I employ my inner Zagat to divine clients' gastronomical whims and am prepared for side trips to cosmetics counter, bank or doctor. When the British novelist Tony Parsons came down with a bad case of hives, I whisked him to my internist's office."

One point she makes very clear is that she is not a chauffeur. Having never thought about a literary escort before I turned to the oracle of bloggers... Google.

I found an article in Publishers Weekly about literary escorts. Then I found some rather naughty interviews* that tend to be more on the "escort" side of the fence - iffn ya know what I mean.

So, would a literary escort be a career that you would find interesting or would you find it frustrating?

Personally, this sounds way too much like a temporary personal assistant. I've tried doing that before and I don't like it. It might be interesting for a day or two, but I think it would NOT be a good career choice for me!

I vote frustrating!


*The link goes to a site with mature language. You've been warned.

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First Chapters Gather Update

The publication contest on Gather is up and running, they have several entries already listed and I've started reading them. From what I've seen so far... it'll be interesting, that's for sure.

First Chapter Gather Contest (S&S)

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Monday, January 15, 2007

If not a crazy writer, how bout a crazy reader?

I stopped by the Screaming Pages today and saw she had a post about 52 books in 52 weeks, and a link to a library that has the details of their local program.

Hmmm, 52 books in 52 weeks... so, do you just have to read one a week or could you read like 5 at a time and be done early? If you read two in one week, does one get to count for the following week?

Let's see, we are in week 3 of the new year and so far I've read:

1. Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan
2. Myrren's Gift by Fiona McIntosh
3. Blood & Memory by Fiona McIntosh
4. Bridge of Souls by Fiona McIntosh
5. First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

Actually, anything that supports reading is a good thing to me. I doubt I'd be so bold as to actually sign up anywhere and pledge to read a book a week for the year... especially since I'll probably surpass that figure before the year is even half-way over; but, it's an interesting venture and kudos to all of you making that pledge. May I recommend that you pick out at least a dozen novels by debut authors that have released their first in-print novel within the last year or two - like Jackie Kessler or Tawny Taylor or any of the other new authors who have recently found their novels in bookstores around the nation.

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The average sales volume to make the best seller list...

Sounds like an easy question, right?

I realized the other day that I have no idea what kind of sales volume it takes for a book to hit a best seller list. I thought I'd just do a few searches and get at least a general or average figure - no dice though. I can't seem to find an answer. Do any of you know?

I did find some interesting bits of information though:

In 2005, Christine Feehan's Dark Secret, Nora Robert's Northern Lights, Anne Coulter's Blowout, and Amanda Quick's Wait Until Midnight all had between 500,000 and 2 million copies in print.

In 2006, Nora Robert's two books of her new trilogy, Dance of the Gods and Valley of Silence each had a first print of 2.5 million copies each.

In 2006, Publisher's Weekly looked at Jane Friedman's nine-year history with HarperCollins. In that timeframe she increased HC from $737 million to 1.32 billion with profit increase from 12 million to 167 million. - That's a significant profit growth.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Sunday wish, prayer and plea

Oh Dear Lord,
Next Sunday is a very important day.

Please let the Saints beat the Bears.


We have watched them get their asses kicked all our lives, yet our support and our loyalty for the Saints has never waivered.

GO SAINTS

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Fun, what poetry form are you?

The other day I actually posted a poem. It's probably the first poem I've written in... well, I'm thinking years. My brain just doesn't seem to function well on a poetic avenue. Ah well, I found this little blog quiz:



I'm the lai, with no sort
Of grave, solemn thought,
And I
Will never be caught
By miseries sought,
Nor sigh;
Where battles are fought
Or arguments brought,
I fly.
What Poetry Form Are You?


I have no idea what this means. I think it means that I like chocolate and B rated horror flicks; that I have a dark sense of humor and am argumentative... or maybe it means I try to avoid arguments. And, I'm a "lai" - awesome.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

De-Lurk Week!

I jumped from A Spot of T over to Paper Napkin.... this week is De-Lurk week. If you comment, the comment fairy will sprinkle you with magic blog dust... or something :) So, if you hit a blog today. Leave a comment, even if it's just "Hi"

You must leave a comment!

Also, some sites of interest for the writerly types. A new agent has a blog.

Agent in the Middle

And, Miss Snark mentioned this contest at Gather on her blog today. I think I'll join the group just so I can read the entries and be entertained.

There's also a group writing project over at Middle Zone Musings. Be sure to check it out!

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Getting to know your character. #1 Results

Yesterday I made a post on a character prompt.

As promised, here are the thoughts on each character response:

Strengths:

Courage: Manifesting courage is consistent with a character who takes pride in standing up and in not failing himself or, alternatively, with a socialized character who falls into step with the norms of society, which includes acting a certain way in emergencies.

Presence of Mind: Manifesting presence of mind is consistent with a character who is a natural leader in emergencies, knows useful skills like first aid and CPR, and can be expected to think through - and then make - any hard choices that may confront her.

Resolve: Manifesting resolve is consistent with a character who has persevered through a lifetime of hard knocks and who has the self-awareness to recognize that in any situation, even the roughest, how she will react is in her control.

Calmness: Manifesting calmness is consistent with a phlegmatic character with a low heart rate, slow movements, and a calculating nature who likes to think before he acts and prefers quiet to bustle.

Self Control: Manifesting self-control is consistent with a character who has learned to manage anxiety through strictness and who knows how to ration scarce resources, denies herself treats, and is likely a fan of corporal punishment and of children being seen but not heard.

Weaknesses

Self-Pity: Manifesting self-pity is consistent with a self-indulgent, pampered character who is likely to whine, blame others, love material things, and lack empahy.

Cowardice: Manifesting cowardice is consistent with a secretive, grandiose character who feels both frightened and superior, and whose approach to danger is to hide and to let other inferior, disposable human beings do the dirty work and take the risks.

Lack of resolve: Manifesting lack of resolve is consistent with a blustery character who appears self-confident and can talk a good game but who is more anxious and frightened than she appears and who consequently falters in crunch time.

Mental confusion: Manifesting mental confusion is consistent with a character who lacks real autonomy and independence, who likely thinks of himself as dumb, silly or addled, and who leaves the decision-making process to others - like a mate or parents - while internally criticizing those decisions.

High anxiety: Manifesting high anxiety is consistent with a generally anxious character whose anxiety escalates in emergencies, reaching phobic proportions, and culminating in panic and hysteria.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some days just suck... until they get better, that is.


13 reasons why I don't have a clever and creative new TT list.

1. I had a sucky day at work today. Nothing really bad happened, it's just my direct supervisor tends to "motivate" by demotivating people. He criticizes on issues that the employee doesn't really have full control over. He talks about how much of a piss poor job you're doing and how the company may not last a month, and then adds "I'm not making threats. This is just the way it is."

2. I feel completely unappreciated as an employee. I was the only administrative employee that remained from one company that merged with another... the other had no employees... just the owner and a couple of independents. I have worked three full-time roles during the merging trying to keep the organization stable.

3. I had this clever idea for a list of 13 ways music impacts my life... but then I drank a bottle of Fat Bastard's merlot. Now I can't seem to recall what was so clever about that list.

4. It was more entertaining to watch my daughter show me what she learned in gym class today... apparently they've now added square dancing to the curriculum. I have no memory of square dancing EVER being on ANY PE class I attended.

5. My husband had a crappy day at work today and after a few captain and cokes.... well, let me just say he's being VERY attentive... and quite entertaining.

6. Did I mention I polished off a bottle of wine?

7. I had a thoroughly enjoyable phone conversation with my mother. No one drives me as batty, but I love her in a way that I just can't honor with written words.

8. She let me know that my only remaining grandparent failed her competence test to live on her own. The family has an important decision to make regarding her care. It really puts a damper on my thoughts.

9. The Pea Pie really wanted to wash the dishes and I just had to let her do it. Naturally, it required my supervision. Never leave a 6 year old ADD child alone with a full sink of warm soapy water and breakables. Trust me.

10. After 10 hours in front of the computer, sometimes you just HAVE to step away.

11. My husband and I are thoroughly enjoying a rousing game of Gears of War... on the insane level... co-op is the ONLY way to go...

12. Once the kids are asleep we'll hit the ranked matches online to really release today's tension by blowing up other people.

13. Well, that about wraps it up! :)

Cheers, until next time.

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Getting to know your character. #1

While I'm reading the First Five Pages, I'm also flipping through another book I picked up recently: What would your character do? It's a neat little book that has some good advice on building a character and then it presents many scenarios and answers... little character prompts really. I thought I'd share a prompt with you and see how your character responds.


A MOMENT OF HIGH DRAMA

Out of the blue, your character is confronted by a moment of high drama. Depending on the nature of your character and your novel, choose one of the following dramatic moments: (1) caught in a major earthquake; (2) unjustly arrested for murder; (3) tailing the kidnapper of a child; or (4) watching a loved one die unexpectedly.

Get the incident clearly in mind. What was your character doing before the moment of high drama commenced? What was she feeling? Picture the drama unfolding: the building beginning to shake, your character feeling the handcuffs going on, your character noticing a man snatching a child, your character hearing the loved one's death rattle. Once you have the incident clearly in mind, proceed to the following questions.

***************

1. What strength of character does your character manifest in this moment?

A) Courage?
B) Presence of Mind?
C) Resolve?
D) Calmness?
E) Self-control?

2. What weakness of character does your character manifest in this moment?

A) Self-pity?
B) Cowardice
C) Lack of resolve?
D) Mental confusion?
E) High Anxiety?

Think about your character. Pick a characteristic for each question. Tune in tomorrow. I'll list the descriptions of the different traits as detailed in the book.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I am a sad, sad, sad internet junkie.

There I was browsing around the internet, actually, I was flipping through recent visitors on my bloglog menu. I get to this handy little site and I see a link for a free forum.

Hmm, a free forum. I think. That might be cool.

Yeah, so I go, of course. And I sign up, of course. And, I end up with my very own forum.

Announcing: Rashenbo's Write Spot

Why do I need a forum? I don't. /sigh

It's just my annoying OCD kicking in. I just can't seem to help myself. Anyway. I have no idea what I'll do with it. But, it's there now... taking up space in the internet.... Whheeeee for internet junkies.

What else can I do to completely waste time and still not work on today's word count?

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Blog Fun!

Apparently, one of my coworkers is working just as hard as I am on this fine Tuesday afternoon. He sent me the link to this little tidbit:


How to make a Rashenbo
Ingredients:

5 parts anger

1 part silliness

5 parts instinct
Method:
Stir together in a glass tumbler with a salted rim. Top it off with a sprinkle of lustfulness and enjoy!


Username:


Personality cocktail
From Go-Quiz.com

Personally... I think I'm 5 parts silliness and only 1 part anger... I rarely get angry... but when I do... I may, just possibly, get a little irrational. But don't tell my husband I admitted that.

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Grammar Flammar! Poetic Silliness

Oh, woe is me or is it I?

Here I sit, while I brood.
Crap, my writing, just isn’t good.

The easiest to use are nouns!
Like Bob and John and Mary Sue,
but what about those pesky pros?
Like he and they and she and it,
I tell you, I just can’t keep them straight.

The comma, well, it’s just hell.
Where it belongs – I can never tell.
I stick one here and stick one there.
As a reader, I’m sure that you don’t care.

The run-ons last long enough for tea.
Those fragments, well, they add some Joie de Vie.

Diagram a sentence?
Pfft, that’s just a nuisance.

Voice, tone, style - really, these don’t matter.
What’s that, you want to make a wager?

Fine, I’ll make a proclamation!
If not in print, I’ll be like Meika and go for self-publication!

Those agents, editors and English teachers –
Why they are all just uptight.

I’ve decided. My prose, well, it’s all just right!

Ok, I admit it. My skills at poetry rank a 0 on a 0-10 meter! However, I read You Think Grammar is the Amish Word for Your Mom's Mom and what can I say.... inspiration struck. I'm sure you're all glad I'm not an aspiring poet though!

I really planned on thinking about writing an entry for the Creative Carnival on Write Stuff. But two problems are keeping me from doing it... 1) My muse just isn't giving me a very creative angle for it and 2) I'm supposed to be working right now! :D

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451 Buzz: Comments for Cash

I got an email last night from fellow blogger, Chirky. A lovely lady, I met her back in November when she assisted in some of the NaNoBloMo reviews.

She also writes for 451 press and has a blog focused toward, Britney Spears. Have you checked out 451 press? It's not a bad blog community. They've got some interesting blogs there. I definitely had to check out the ones for House and Heroes.

Anyhoo, 451 has launched a little marketing campaign to increase readers. During the month of January, commenters of 451 blogs will be entered in a contest. Randomly selected winner gets $500 bucks and then a few others will get $100 each. All you have to do to enter is comment. It also looks like 451 has some openings for blog writers. I see they don't have one for American Idol yet. If I had the time for another blog I'd probably jump on that one... but perhaps one of you would be interested.

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