Reading and writing and blogging - a balancing act!

When the Moon Breaks Down - Robbert Van Der Steeg

What happened to June?  The month seems to have flown by and Summer has arrived with a vengeance with our typical hot, hot days.   The one thing I love about the summer months are the early mornings sitting out on the patio reading and writing.  For some reason, my imagination soars and I feel more creative.  I've decided to dedicate the month of July to writing and going to do my own mini nanowrimo, plus join Sarah in her 50,000 Words in 50 days challenge.  I need to finish Eyes in the Ashes and father has been bugging encouraging me to finish it so he can read the rest of the story.  He wants to know what happens...that's so cool! It's also time for me to get started working on my free form application and story for Literary Labs,  Notes from Underground Contest. I have a few extra scenes from Floating on the Surface that would actual make a good 10 page story.  So, if posts and blog visits are a bit sporadic for the next month, you'll know why.

On the reading front, I joined up with eleven other bloggers to read all of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Masterworks published by Orion Imprints Gollancz and Millennium.  The project is the brainchild of Patrick from Stomping on Yeti and we will each be reading and reviewing at least one book a month and all the reviews will be posted on a special website -  SFF Masterworks. The site will be live as on July 1st and bio's of all participants will be posted along with the lists of books and what the reading challenge is all about.  There are some great science ficton /fantasy books dating from the 1950's onwards on the list. SF Site is a great site with overviews of all the books, synopses and some excerpts so be sure to check it out. We have a rather eclectic group of folks including:

Patrick from Stomping on Yeti
Adele from Un:bound
Gav from Nextread
Ken from Neth Space

I'm feeling a bit out of my league at the moment because they all write long, very analytical, in depth reviews.  They are a very verbose lot so I'll have my work cut out for me.  I'm currently reading #72 on the list "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein and will post a link to my review when it's ready. 

In my meandering around the web the other day I discovered Litopia Writing Colony and one of their cool features is Radio Litopia.  Last Friday, I tuned in to Litopia After Dark, a live radio show which started at 8 p.m. UK time, so is 3:00 p.m. Est and 12:00 noon pacific time. I just happened to catch Thinking yourself to Death and joined a group of folks in the chat room, while watching live video of the show and listening to the discussion.  They read off what folks were saying in the chatroom and mentioned my comments a couple times.  I didn't know they were going to do that so it was a surprise, but neat.  

I broke my book buying ban the other day and visited my local indie bookstore.  I had to restrain myself because there were so many good books and thanks to all your reviews, I'm recognizing more authors.   I picked up: 

61 Hours by Lee Childs 
Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper 
Causing Havoc by Lori Foster 
Rules of Prey by John Sandford 
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

I'm so bad and have given up trying to read all the older books in my stacks first.  Now, I'm just reading by mood or if I really can't make up my mind, using to pick a book off my list. Not sure what I'm going to read next. Will have to wait until done with Heinlein's book. May need a couple days to decompress.

What's your next summer read?

Spring Reading Thing Wrap-up

Summertime and the weather is fine.   Do you like my summer header?  I took that picture while we were on vacation in Pajaro Dunes on the California coast.  With the start of summer, comes the end, of course, of Spring Reading Thing 2010 hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Day's.

My Spring Reading theme was to continue to read new to me authors and read 14 books. Out of the 14 books, I only read four, started but did not finish three and for some reason just didn't get to the rest.  There are some books you just have to be in the mood for and my mood changed constantly.  However, I did read eleven other books that weren't on the list. 

Finished from the list:

The Scarlet and the Black by J.P. Gallagher:  I really don't read a lot of non fiction but this particular book about a monsignor in the Vatican running an underground to protect Jewish and other citizens during the German occupation of Italy in the 1940's was absolutely amazing. 

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks:  The story is quite interesting following Hannah, a rare book expert working on an ancient Hebrew manuscript. Each time she comes across a clue of the origins of the book, you are taken back to that point in time to find out that part of the book's history and story of the people surrounding it.

Shapeshifters: the Demo tapes year 1 and 2 by Susan Helen Gottfried:   These e-books are about the Shapeshifters, a fictional band and their world.  Susan provides snippets of the character's story along with her thoughts while writing the story.  Great introduction to the characters and a precursor to her book "Trevor's Story" which is going to be available soon.

Liar's Anonymous by Louise Ure:  By one of the many mystery authors who blogs at Murderati. I'm slowly making my way through and reading books by every author.  Excellent story and will be reviewing soon.  Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:  "When Roadside Assistance Operator Jessie Dancing receives a call from real estate tycoon Darren Markson, she hears him being killed while she's on the phone with him: she's now the only witness to a murder, but it's not going to be that simple."  

Didn't finish from the list:

His Excellency George Washington by Joseph Ellis.   I read a couple chapters and never got back to it. Kind of dry, but will try it again later. 

Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart:  Historical fiction novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, his travels in 1820’s Europe.   You know how they tell writers to show a story and not tell it.  Lots of narration with little action and dialogue.  I started skimming after a while, trying to get into the story and then gave up.

How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall:  About four artists - two in 1960's Italy and two in present time Britain - a dying painter, a blind girl, a landscape artist, and an art curator.  Sounded intriguing, but all in first person point of view and I had a hard time following or getting into the characters.  Gave it a decent try but didn't finish it.

Finished but weren't even on the list: 

I've been reading more books that get me out of my reading box and expose me to different authors, writing styles and genres.  I took a Nobel Literature class for exactly that reason and these books definitely took me out of my reading box:  Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre, Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Endgame by Samuel Becket, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann and The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe.   Each difficult to read and interesting in their own way.  

I read several review books that introduced me to new authors and I really enjoyed most of them and plan to read more of their books. (links are to my reviews)

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin
Mr. Darcy Broke my Heart by Beth Patillo
The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser
Certain Prey by John Sandford 
Heart of Lies by M.L.Malcom
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Thank you to Katrina for being the hostest with the mostest as always.  Check out what everyone else how everybody else did here.

Happy Reading and Happy Summer!!!!

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson


Jill Dawson 

Back cover:  In 1909, sixteen year old Nell Golightly is a housemaid at a popular tea garden near Cambridge University, and Rupert Brooke, a new tenant, is already causing a stir with his boyish good looks and habit of swimming naked in nearby Byron's Pool.  Despite her good sense, Nell seems to be falling under the radical young poet's spell, even thought Brooke apparently adores no one but himself.  Could he ever love a housemaid?  Is he, in fact, capable of love at all?  

Jill Dawson's The Great Lover imaginatively and playfully gives new voice to Rupert Brooke through the poet's own words and through the remembrances of the spirited Nell.  An extraordinary novel, it powerfully conveys the allure of charisma as it captures the mysterious and often perverse workings of a human heart."

I really stepped out of my reading box with "The Great Lover."  Believe it or not, I had never heard of the poet, Rupert Brooke, so really didn't know what to expect.   The book is historical fiction and was eye opening and educational to say the least.  It's one of those books that had me running to look things up on the internet, to find out more.  Rubert loved men and women equally, jumped from relationship to relationship, indiscriminately.  He was especially enamored with Noel Olivier who refused to marry him.

"Noel does not trust me. She thinks I am--what was her word?  She thinks I am in love with being in love rather than her.  Am I capable of loving one person for more than one day?  Is everyone capable of this, or is it denied to some of us?"  pg 167-168)

He was also fascinated with Nell Golightly, the housemaid of the home where he rented a room.  Her story parallels his as well as intersects his time and time again. Even as Rupert hops from love to love, he is enamored with Nell, but because of class differences both know they could never be together.  He eventually suffers a mental breakdown and travels to Tahiti, where he again falls in love.  He seems to be continually searching for "the one"  and can't settle down.  

"I have already stayed almost two months longer than I intended.  I know how the peacock blue lustre of that pearl will burn a hole in my pocket, but tomorrow I intent to read my letters from England and see if they can't exert a pull. Perhaps Cathleen,- ah, Cathleen Nesbitt; eminently suitable, eminently charming, beautiful and accomplished, can Cathleen call me back?  Should I marry Cathleen, If I marry at all? (pg 285)

The Great Lover is an interesting read, the characters humorous at times, poignant and full of angst at other moments.  Jill Dawson writing is excellent and draws you in to the story, giving a fly on the wall look into Rupert Brooke's life.

Thank you to TLC Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book and Jill Dawson for writing an intriguing story.   It's not very often I place a rating on the books I read, but this one is rated r and includes mature themes.

Check out the other stops that came before me and those after  on the tour to see what they thought of The Greatest Lover:

Wednesday, June 2nd:  Books Like Breathing
Thursday, June 3rd:  Eclectic/Eccentric
Monday, June 7th: Peetswea
Tuesday, June 8th:  As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
Wednesday, June 9th:  Bookstack
Tuesday, June 15th:  Literate Housewife
Thursday, June 17th:  Nonsuch Book
Wednesday, June 23rd:  Thoughts From an Evil Overlord
Thursday, June 24th:  The Tome Traveler

Wannabe Writers - writing journal and ideas

Wannabe Writers is the brain child of Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published and is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the Writing Process:  Still working on the first draft of Eyes in the Ashes.  I have to type up 15 pages I wrote previously before taking a break and then will continue the story.  Sarah is doing a 50k in 50 days starting July 12th and running through August 31st.  This time I'm going to concentrate on finishing the story during that period of time.  I went back and took a look at my first two WIP's and they need lots of work. Lots.    And I have an idea for the Notes from Underground contest by Literary Labs so will be working on it as well.

My current problem: Summertime.  Procrastination. The internet. I happen to come across this old article on the internet: Is google making us stupid. Read it, then come back. It's rather long but well worth the read.

Done and  you remembered to come back.  Welcome back!  Then it was also mentioned in my current Bookmarks Magazine in the letter from the editor. God or coincidence.  When something like that happens, it catches my attention.   I've noticed my attention span seems to be getting short and splintered.   get distracted easily on the internet, hopping from site to site and before you know it, I forgot what my original intention was in the first place.  So, once again going to try and limit my time.  Less surfing = more writing.  Yesterday Elana had a wonderful post (when has she ever had a dud post - never) about writing and she asked us to pinky swear we would work on our WIP's and write this weekend.   I pinky swore I'd write an hour of day.  How about you? 

Sarah's question of the week:   Do you carry a writing journal around? Do you believe jotting down the ideas as they come is the best way? I mean if I don't get it all out now will it be lost forever?

I haven't been and it would probably be a good idea.  My memory isn't as good as it used to be and I'll think of a wonderful idea and then end up racking my brain later trying to think of it. Then I end up going through the alphabet.  You know, the old mnemonic device that helps you remember.  Works most of the time.  I really need to start carrying around a notebook....

Mr. Darcy Broke my Heart by Beth Pattilo


Beth Pattilo

Book synopsis:  "Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister’s behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She’s been dating Neil, a nice — if a bit negligent — sports fanatic. 

But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy — leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author’s own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s journey to finding her own romantic lead. 

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn’t logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places."

I enjoyed "Mr. Darcy broke my heart."   Claire is a wonderfully drawn character and you really get to know her well throughout the story and as it gets closer to the end you are sitting there with bated breath and at the end, let it out with a sigh.   There's a story within the story for Claire.  She has sacrificed her whole life for her sister since their parent's death.   She's recently been laid off and is at loose ends with her life. Her very pregnant sister talks her into taking her place at a week long seminar on Pride and Prejudice in London and presenting her paper for her.  She thinks her sports nut boyfriend Neil doesn't seem to know she exists half the time and is pretty sure he won't even notice she is out of town. 

While in London at the seminar she meets James, mister tall, handsome and sophisticated. Everything Neil isn't and he seems to be interested in her.   She also meets Harriet Dalrymple, supposedly a distant cousin of Jane Austen and part of the Formidables society, the keeper of Jane Austen's secret.  It seems she has the original manuscript of Pride and Prejudice and shares it, one chapter at a time with Claire.  Eleanor, the leader of the seminar just happens to be Harriet's daughter and tries to impress on Claire, that Harriet is senile and she isn't to be believed.   Through her experiences, Claire receives a few surprises that teach her to listen to her heart and be true to herself.   Truly delightful story and highly recommended.

Thank you to Cristina from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for providing me with an review copy of the book. 

Pages:  272
Publisher: Guideposts
Released:  February 1, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Other thoughts:

Lisa at 5 Minutes for books:
"Whether you’d consider yourself a Jane-ite or otherwise, I think anyone who enjoys the fun and charm of a chick-lit novel set against the backdrop of Oxford will find Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart an amusing and entertaining diversion."

Deborah of Books, Movies and Chinese Food:
" was totally swept into the story, both in present day Oxford and then in the imagined manuscript. I'm not normally a big fan of fan fiction but Pattillo's version of an imagined version of the first manuscript of Pride and Prejudice was wonderful."

Yvonne at Socrates Book Review Blog:
"Humor, sweetness, and romance are sprinkled throughout this fast-paced book about a modern day woman facing the same relationship problems that women faced for many centuries."

note: In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I do not receive any compensation for reviews on my blog. the reviews are based solely on my opinion of the story and extremely subjective

What I'm working on for the rest of the week!

My Nobel Lit final is due by 11:59 EST time Sunday and I will be writing two essays:

1)   Comparing and contrasting the theme (including author's style and literary techniques) of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann with another work I read this term.  By the time you read this I will have decided whether that book will be Nausea by Sartre or The Silent Cry by Oe.

2)  Imagine I've just been elected to serve on the Nobel Prize for Literature Selection Committee.  I must choose one of the works I studied this semester (see above plus Beckett's play Endgame and  Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea) and award the Nobel prize and argue for why it deserves the prize.  Yes, they were all Nobel prize books, but I really didn't think they were prizing winning.  So it will be interesting to argue for one of them.  Especially The Silent Cry by Oe.  It was an icky icky ptewy dark, morbid,  gross, throw it across the room novel. 

If you see me on facebook or twitter over the weekend, tell me to get off and go write.

2010 Anthony Awards Nominations

Anthony Award Nominations

The 2010 Anthony awards nominees for best mystery and crime writing in the categories of best novel, best first novel,  paperback original,  short story and non critical nonfiction are:

Best Novel:

  1. The Last Child by John Hart
  2. The Mystic Arts of Erasing all Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
  3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by  Stieg Larsson,
  4. The Brutal Telling by  Louise Penny
  5. The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan 
I read The Brutal Telling and guess will have to read it again, because I honestly don't remember liking it all that much.  Terrible thing to say, I know and will have to give it another go and see if it was just my frame of mind at the time or.....    I also have Larsson's The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo in my TBR pile and looking forward to reading it soon.  

Best First Novel
  1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by  Alan Bradley
  2. Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
  3. A Bad Day for Sorry  - Sophie Littlefield
  4. The Twelve/The Ghosts of Belfast (u.s) by  Stuart Neville
  5. In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff
Where have I been.  I hadn't heard of any of the above and after checking them out, added them all to my wish list.  

Best Paperback Original
  1. Bury Me Deep  by Megan Abbott    (check out the cover for this!!!)
  2. Tower  - Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman
  3. Quarry in the Middle by  Max Allan Collins
  4. Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley
  5. Death and the Lit Chick by  G.M. Malliet
  6. Air Time  by Hank Phillippi Ryan
They all sound interesting. I have some reading to do.

Best short Story:
  1. "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" by Ace Atkins, Crossroad Blues
  2. "Femme Sole" by Dana Cameron, Boston Noir
  3. "Animal Rescue" by Dennis Lehane, Boston Noir
  4. "On the House" by Hank Phillippi Ryan, QUARRY: Crime Stories by New England Writers
  5. "Amapola" - Luis Alberto Urrea, Phoenix Noir

Best Critical Non Fiction
  1. Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James
  2. The Line Up: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives - Otto Penzler, ed.
  3. Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King - Lisa Rogak
  4. Dame Agatha Shorts: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion - Elena Santangelo
  5. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith - Joan Schenkar 
The winners will be announced October 17 during the Boucheron Convention in San Francisco at a at the Anthony Awards Brunch.  

Wednesday wrap up and wanderings

Welcome to my Wednesdays wanderings - kind of a Sunday salon in the middle of the week. My Sunday Salon turned into a quasi review of The Appeal and I had a bunch of stuff to talk about too. The rest of the week is going to be busy with writing my Nobel Literature final essays and 3 days of webelos twilight day camp thing for James.   

I seem to be on a roll and averaging 13 to 15 books a month now. During the month of May I read:

1. Moonlight Road - Robyn Carr
2. Certain Prey - John Sandford (TLC Tour Review book)
3. The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann (class book)
4. Running Hot - Jayne Ann Krenz
5. The Killing of Mindy Quintana - Jeffrey Cohen (TLC tour review book)
6. First Comes Marriage - Debbie Macomber
7. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
8. Black Water Rising - Attica Lock (TLC Tour Review book)
9. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment - James Patterson
10. Servant: The Kindred - L.L. Foster
11. Sudden Death - Allison Brennan
12. Fatal Tide - Iris Johansen
13. The Silent Cry - Kenzaburo Oe (class book)
14. The Sinner - Tess Gerritsen
15. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

James Patterson is starting to grow on me.  I really enjoyed his young adult paranormal book Maximum Ride: the Angel Experiment and actually just finished the 2nd book in the series Schools Out-Forever.   Looking forward to reading the other books in the series.    Both Father and I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Excellent story and makes you think and made for some interesting discussion.  I'll be reviewing it soon and trying to talk father into writing up his thoughts as well.   Other books that will be coming up for review soon will be:  Burn by Ted Dekker  and  Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo.

I've joined a group of bloggers who are collaborating together to read Science Fiction and Fantasy Masterworks starting in July.  We'll each be reading at least one book a month and reviewing it on the group website.  The website is under construction and will be going live in July so will keep you up to date.

Works beautifully with my Mind Voyages challenge so not creating any extra work.  Yet!    I'm still haven't read any of the Hugo nominees (my bad) and  I have until July 31st to finish and place my vote for best novel, etc.   

I totally missed out going to BEA since it was in New York and am looking forward to going next year.    However, Boucheron, the world mystery convention is coming to my side of the country this year and I'm seriously considering going.  "Boucheron by the Bay"  will be held in San Francisco from October 14th to the 17th. 

I really don't like going to these things alone unless I'm working so checking into being a volunteer.    There are a few authors going whose books I haven't read yet, even though I have them, so looks like this summer will be a fun one with a mixture of reading science fiction and mysteries with a few paranormal and romances thrown in for good measure.

We have six more weeks of lessons and James will be done with the 4th grade. I've already researched and ordered everything we are doing for 5th grade.   Will post about that later.   James is enjoying writing fan fiction stories mixing up Mario and Bionicles and transformers, etc.   He has about 10 notebooks full of stories.  He decided no more reading together in the evening when he goes to bed, because he'd rather write.  I'm not about to squash his creativity so planning reading time for the middle of the day.  We were looking at his latest story last night and I'm impressed.  Once in a while I'll read his stuff and give him a word of advice  - watch your spelling, include some adjectives, you need a bit more description.   He's been listening.   He also wants to start a blog "Bowser Jr.'s Fan Fiction" and post his stories.  Now he just needs to learn to type.

What's on the nightstand to read next:  M.J. Rose's The Reincarnationist, Sandra Brown's Rainwater, Susan Gottfried's Shapeshifter 1 and 2, and Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Happy Reading!

TLC Book Tour: Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm

Welcome to the first stop on the TLC Book Tour for  M.L. Malcolm's debut novel:

Back cover: "Meet Leo Hoffman, a dashing young Hungarian, born with a gift for languages.  After his dreams for the future are destroyed by WWI, he attempts to use his talent to rebuild his life, only to find himself inadvertently embroiled in an international counterfeiting scheme.  When he discovers he's wanted across the European continent for a host of crimes including murder, he escapes with his love to Shanghai, taking with him a stolen treasure that will prove to be his salvation or his death warrant.  But he soon learns that the gangsters who control the decadent city do not intend to let him outrun his past, and when the Japanese invade, one wrong move costs his everything he holds dear.  Inspired by the author's family history, Heart of Lies is an epic tale of intrigue, passion, and adventure, and heralds the debut of a remarkable writer."

Heart of Lies is a well written historical novel that draws you into the life of Leo Hoffman.  He is hired to go to Paris and be an interpreter for a group of influential powerful men.  One of the men, Karoly, the chief of police of Budapest asks him to do a personal favor.   Go into Cartier and buy his mistress a certain necklace for him.   He can't turn down the chief of police, so he agrees. While he is exploring the city, he runs into Martha, a beautiful young woman whom he falls in love with instantly and spends the night with her.   He is shocked when he reads in the newspaper the next morning that one of the men was arrested passing counterfeit bills.  He realizes the money Karoly had given him to buy the necklace was fake.  Life gets complicated really fast and he has to leave the country, leaving only a note for Martha that he will send for her in six months.  If you want to know what happens, well you'll just have to read the book.  The story is full of suspense, twists and turns, deceit, romance and surprises.  Once you start reading, you won't want to put it down.  The sequel, Heart of Deception (originally published as Deceptive Intentions) is being reissued next year and will continue Leo's story.  I look forward to reading it.

 Be sure to check out the rests of the stops on the tour:

Wednesday, June 9th:  I’m Booking It
Thursday, June 10th:  Books for Breakfast
Monday, June 14th:   Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, June 16th:  Rundpinne
Tuesday, June 22nd:  Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, June 23rd:  Peetswea
Monday, June 28th:  Heart 2 Heart
Tuesday, June 29th:  Chefdruk Musings
Wednesday, June 30th:  Dolce Bellezza

Thank you to TLC Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour, M.L. Malcolm for writing such an interesting book and the publisher for providing me with a courtesy copy.

Pages:  336
Publisher:  Harper Paperbacks
Release date:  June 8, 2010
Genre: Historical fiction

M. L. Malcolm is a Harvard Law graduate, journalist, recovering attorney, and public speaker. She has won several awards for her short fiction, including recognition in the Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition, and a silver medal from ForeWord magazine for Historical Fiction Book of the Year. She has lived in Florida, Boston, Washington, D.C., France, New York, and Atlanta, and currently resides in Los Angeles.

Sunday Salon: Are happy endings passe?

The Sunday

Are happy endings passe?

I just finished reading John Grisham's "The Appeal" and even though it was well written and an excellent story that captures your attention,  the bad guy wins.  There have been a few books I've read in the past year in which the ending were totally dissatisfying.  Made me want to throw the books across the room in disgust.  As I got closer to the end, I'm expecting a happy resolution to at least some part of the story. But no....  
What was interesting about the story?   Long story short:  Mr. rich guy with a chemical plant in a small town has been illegally dumping for years and tainted the town's drinking water.  Lots of people get sick and the corporation gets sued.   The husband and wife small town lawyer duo take on the big corporation, practically bankrupting themselves in the process and win a judgment in favor of their client for 41 million dollars.  The corporation appeals of course to the Mississippi supreme court.  Here's the interesting and devious part.   Mr. rich guy decides they need a friendlier judge on the court who will vote in their favor and dismiss the suit.  
In Mississippi, the judges are elected, not appointed.  He orchestrates, behind the scenes of course, the grooming of a young lawyer to run and oust the female judge.  Throws millions of dollars toward getting this guy elected, including smear television ads.  Meanwhile the small town lawyers are debt up the wazoo and behind in their mortgage payments to the bank.  Mr. rich guy gets another rich guy to buy the bank and then has the new bank owners demand immediate payment of  their loan or they'll foreclose.  Very manipulative....
Anyway, his hand picked guy wins the election and in the end has the deciding vote when the case come up to the court.  Unfortunately, the hand picked guy's kid  gets majorly beaned by an aluminum baseball bat and brain damaged.  Major wake up call for him, but it's a bit too late. After he reluctantly agrees to vote in favor of dismissing the case,  he's disgusted, he's done  and takes a leave of absence.  The small town lawyers are bankrupt, the plaintiff gets nothing, people are still sick and dying and the town is left with having to truck in clean water because they can't drink theirs.   At the end, the rich guy sails happily away on his yacht.  Blah!  
Remember the movie, Wag the Dog?  This book sort of reminded me of that.   Manipulating the press, people, deliberately creating false news and misleading people.  Unfortunately, I can see that happening in real life.  Not that I bury my head in the sand, but I read for entertainment, to escape.  I read many different types of books - paranormal, mystery, thrillers, science fiction, romance and classics.   I like books that make you stop and think, expand your mind or expose you to a different way of looking at things.  But in the end, I like happy endings, I like justice to be served.    I like characters with moral fiber, strength and integrity.  I like to feel some satisfaction at the end of a story. Don't you?

Put this in the "now I've seen it all" and "just have to share" column

Excuse me? You want me to do what?

Now that we've turned 50, our HMO sent both father and I a delightful little present in the mail.   You want me to do what and send it in the mail?  Oh Gag! The poor postman.....  I don't think so.    Negative, absolutely not, no way in h e double toothsticks, no how, uh uh, never in a million years.....


GO BIG or GO HOME! Plus a little contest

Go Big or Go Home
Say YES!!!!

Motivation and Commitment... two things I've been working on when it comes to writing.   Have you ever stood at the bottom of what seemed like a simple looking staircase.  Looks are deceiving sometimes and the staircase you chose to walk up becomes endless with multiple landings.  You can only climb so far, then you need to stop and rest.   I'm at one of those landings, looking down, looking up, contemplating how far I've walked so far.  Will I reach the top?  Do I have the motivation, the commitment to keep climbing....    I'm trying. 

I've been following quite a few aspiring and published authors for a while now and every time I read one of their inspiring posts, it spurs me up a few more steps.  Today, it is Christine who has helped light a fire under my butt. Occasionally I need a spark or two.    She talks about being consciously committed to your writing and persevering. She quotes Christina Katz - The Prosperous Writer who says:

…commitment reminds us of what is really important. It grants us space to screw up. To say the wrong thing. To have a fight that doesn’t end in divorce. To be ourselves. To express ourselves. To reveal ourselves. And perhaps most importantly, to trust ourselves.

So Christina asks:

Are you committed to improving the craft of writing?
Are you committed to learning the business of writing?
Are you committed to growing your platform in whatever way is most productive for you?
Are you committed to continuing to grow no matter what happens – what failures occur, what fights with your muse you have – are you still committed?
If you can shout YES to the above, then you are seriously ready to go for it!

And to provide a little bit of extra motivation, Christina is having a contest to reward those who are ready to go for it and shout Yes.  Leave a comment on her blog, earn a few extra points by blogging, tweeting,  and spreading the love and enter to win a $20 Barnes and Noble gift certificate and a 10 page critique. 

Are you ready - cover your ears....


Life is full of commitments and very busy what with taking care of our household, my husband, our son, our business, home schooling, etc.   But this is one thing that is totally me - all for me and no one else.  It totally belongs to me.  It is a commitment to me.  I know I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating and have to keep reminding myself.   This is for me.  Just like my Liberal Arts degree, because I want the satisfaction of finishing it and besides, I'm enjoying learning.  Since I have two classes left, I've been giving more thought about what I'll do when I'm done and more thought about writing goals.  And you know, writing is very much an educational more ways than one.  So, yes I am committing to writing - setting goals, learning and growing and enjoying the process.  

Contest ends Sunday, June 6 so head on over to Christine's, find out more, blog about it, tweet about it, shout about it.    Loudly! 

Taking the plunge: Notes from Underground Writing Contest.

Literary Lab Contest Button

I've decided to take the plunge, instead of just dipping my toe in the water.   My Nobel Literature class is over with the final next week, and I will be taking the summer off which will free up my brain and and I will be able to write to my heart's content.   Less stress equals a more creative mind....hopefully.    The beautiful minds of Davin, Scott and Michelle at The Literary Lab have come up with a new contest for the 2nd annual Genre Wars Anthology.

What's it all about Alfie:

What is "Notes From Underground"?

The title comes from a novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky that is part rambling narrative and part story. It's a piece of writing that is both highly experimental and deeply personal. For the contest, we want you writers to feel that same freedom of expression, taking out the judging process to the best of our ability.

To do that, we have two steps to the selection process. The second step will be completely non-competitive.

Step 1:

By August 15, we want to see a 5-page free-form application that convinces us that your writing should be included in the anthology. This will be the "contest" part of the contest. You can use words, images...whatever you want (that can be e-mailed). It doesn't have to be the story that you want to publish, even though that would be all right. It doesn't have to be a story at all. It could be a proposal, a resume, a story idea, poetry, flattery...anything. Got it? Anything.

From this first pool of applications, we'll pick 25 winners that we are excited about showcasing. These writers will be announced on September 15 and they will be guaranteed 10 pages in our anthology. Then, for them, it's on to the next step.

Step 2:

The actual writing! The 25 writers selected in Step 1 will now have 3 months to finish the story that they would like us to publish. Here, aside from the 10-page space limitation, you are the boss. We will do no judging, no critiquing, nothing unless you ask it of us. Whatever you turn in on December 15 will be exactly what we publish to the best of our ability. This writing will be an expression of you, you, and only you.

So, I'm going to let my mind, muse and pen loose and set what happens.  Head on over to Literary Lab, check it out and make up your mind.  I'm going to give it a go. What about you? 

Versatile Blogger!!!!

I received a surprise award from a new blogger friend the other day - Buffy of Buffy's Write Zone.   She is one of the brains behind Inkwell - a new group for writers and illustrators.   Thanks, Buffy.    As the recipient of the award, I'm suppose to tell you 7 things about myself and pass it on to 15 other bloggers who you think are fantastic.

Are you ready:

1)  I meet my husband in 1992 when I placed an ad in the Sacramento Single News Magazine. We'll be married 13 years in August.  Who knew you could meet your soul mate through a want ad!

2)  When I worked for KVIE, our local PBS station, I played the cookie monster from Sesame Street for an event. Yep, dressed up in the blue suit, stuffed with pillow cases and all the kids thought I was the real thing. 

3)  I got adventuresome back in the 80's (especially since I'm an introvert) and took a vacation all by myself and went to Buccaneers Creeks Club Med in Martinique.  Meet many interesting people!

4) Guilty pleasure:  I love celebrity gossip and check out X17online everyday.

5)  Back in the 90's I bought a retired police chaser Ford Mustang from a police car auction. It was a souped up v8 and for all the time I drove it, never got stopped or ticketed.  Found out later, the registration showed it as an undercover car.  Always wondered why police cars would pull up beside me, the officer give me a nod and keep going.  ;o

6)  I don't like watermelon or jello - it's a texture thing. 

7)  Expensive pleasures:  I love french wine and champagne.  My husband introduced me to Bordeaux wines and Dom Perignon a few years back and spoiled me for life. 

Instead of just 15 fine folks, I'm passing this on to all my fine followers.  You all are such versatile people, but so quiet.  Please tell me 7 things about yourself in the comments or leave a link to your blog post. 

Unicorn Pegasus Kitten painting and fan fiction contest! Whatever!!!!

Greetings Wil Wheaton peeps!  

For those who found my blog and this post through his tweet or storytime reading about Unicorn Pegasus Kitten, please go to

to read "Clash of the Geeks."  Thanks for stopping by.

For those of you who don't follow Mind Voyages, thought I'd let you in on a Fan Fiction contest surrounding a painting created by Jeff Zugale for John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton.  For the story behind the painting go to Whatever.  

Unicorn Pegasus Kitten


Artist Jeff Zugale

What's it all about!

The Unicorn Pegasus Kitten Painting was unveiled at the Phoenix Comicon over the weekend and   John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton, along with Subterranean Press introduced  in a contest to benefit the Lupus Alliance of America.

"Write a 400 to 2,000 word story describing the picture above. Any form of fan fiction is acceptable except slash. The winner of the contest will be paid for their story (10 cents a word), win a prize pack of books from Subterranean Press, and will have their story published in a special electronic chapbook featuring stories about the painting, written by Scalzi, Wheaton, Catherynne Valente and Patrick Rothfuss, to be published later this year, with profits to benefit the Lupus Foundation of America. E-mail the stories with the text in the e-mail to by 11:59pm Eastern, June 30, 2010. One entry per person."

Go to Whatever for more information where you'll also find some amazing video of John and Wil performing "Don't Stop Believing."  And if you haven't been following these guys, you don't know what you've been missing.  

What do you think?  Think you could come up with a story about the painting?   I've never tried fan fiction before but maybe......