ROW80 Check in: What's your hurry?

So...What's your hurry?   I had the 'oh my god, nothing is getting accomplished, I should be doing something right now' feeling at the beginning of the week.  Then I realized.  What's your hurry? It's summer. Relax a bit.  After months of pushing through 5th grade lessons with James and all my class stuff, now that we're done, I still feel like I should be doing something.  Like planning 6th grade, researching writing classes, setting up a schedule, writing more.....  This past week I let the air out of the balloon.  I deflated and flopped. Stopped, relaxed and read, read, read.   I was *gasp*  lazy.  I flaked on the morning pages and wrote only a couple days this week on the WIP (but I was thinking about it alot).  I was good though and did the treadmill 4 days this week.   I also did my cheer-leading duties and visited lots of ROW80 folks.  I did my darnedest to visit as many folks as I could, leave encouraging comments.  And got a case of the nasty green eyed comparison monster.

It happens occasionally.  All these prolific experienced writers, plugging away, making a lot of progress and then there's me  - the tortoise, moving oh so slowly.    Then I read author Jody Hedlund's blog  and she always has the wisest things to say and there's always some synchronicity to it.   Her latest:   "Why are so many writers in such a hurry? which made a heck of a lot sense.

I really respect Bob’s balanced approach. Here’s what he said: “The problem right now is too many writers are putting their first manuscript up and spending 75% of their time trying to promote as they try to write their second book. The focus isn’t on the writing, it’s on the selling.”

He goes on to suggest waiting until completing three books before taking the next steps forward, focusing first on learning the craft of writing before jumping into publication and promotion.

In other words, we don’t need to rush the process. We don’t need to race forward, getting ahead of ourselves, and fostering discontent for where we’re at.

Deep breath and pick myself up off the ground, dust myself off and continue on with the reminder once again to follow my own path and not trot along behind in someone elses footprints.  I'll get there - hopefully sooner than later, but in the process going to try and enjoy and savor the journey as much as possible.  And applaud the successes of my ROW80 friends at whatever stage they are at, because they deserve it.   Huzzah!

Goals for the next week:  

1.  Write for at least 1/2 hour every morning towards finishing first draft of Red Thief.  
2.  Morning pages - using as creativity journal working out issues on the page and if feel the need to whine, taking it to the pages. 
3.  Blog - write up What's on the Nightstand post with reading plans for August
4.  G.I.T. training - Treadmill for 40 minutes 5 days this week. 
5.  Cheerleading duties as sponsor visit other participants and provide encouragement and high fives. 

Happy Writing!

TLC Book Tour: Tobacco Wars

Tobacco Wars 


Paul Seesequasis

Synopsis:   "Set in the early 17th century, Tobacco Wars follows the mythical and rollicking adventures of Pocahontas and playwright Ben Jonson, from the inns, alleyways and royal courts of London to pirates, perilous crossings and hostile warriors in the New World. And as worlds are turned upside down and irrevocably altered, a new commodity, tobacco, intoxicates the Old World just as an “Indian princess” undertakes her own age of exploration."

The synopsis makes it sound interesting does it not?  The back of the book gives a slightly difference synopsis of the story which explains the book a bit better and if it had been available, I probably wouldn't have chosen to read the story.

"Laced with humor, eroticism, theatre and the 'wild' of the Americas, Tobacco Wars turns history as taught upside down, while it celebrates the perseverance of 'tricksterism' in contemporary Native American literature.  A consummate stylist, Paul Seesequasis succeeds in juxtaposing the potency of Native American mythology with an early 17th Century adventure involving Pocahontas and playwright Ben Johnson, interweaving in this seeming 'fairy-tale' romance the outrageous grandeur of the mythical Bear Woman and her cohorts.  Tobacco Wars is a provocative and essential addition to the syllabi of Native American studies."

I tried 3 times to read this short novella and never could finish it.  Invoked the 50 page rule for once.   I have no problem reading all sorts of mystery and thriller stories with chilling murders, yet couldn't finish this one because honestly, I found Bear Woman vulgar and the treatment of Pocahontas.... Well I just didn't get it. 

For example - the beginning of the story: 

"Bear Woman spits, her phlegm-addled missile sends an uproarious orange iridescent flame ball high in the night sky.  She scratches her thick, hairy thighs with her pointed claws, sending fleas and ticks scurrying topsy-turvy, for cover, and with a deep breath, she raises one cheek from the log and lets loose a bellowing fart, that resounds through the darkened Cornwall woods, sending great horned-ears flapping towards the stars with the chorus of echoing hoots.  Bear Woman yawns, her gaping jaw and yellow fangs glinting off the fire, then pokes the flames with her cane.  And waits for the boy.  The boy whom nightly she pulls down between her thighs, so that he can lap at the honey hive of creative, her juices of inspiration, her slit of inspiring superstitions."

Yes, I know...sorry.   I thought I'd try skipping her parts of the the story, but you really can't because it draws you like a candle to the flame. Her parts are quite.....colorful.

And poor Pocahontas treated like royalty:

"The smells of urine, sweat, horse s**t, rotting vegetables and meats and perfumes collide in a heady mix that for the moment overwhelms her. She teeters, and Burke, who has been extraordinarily attentive since they were introduced, notices and holds her steady. He inquires if she is alright and she nods, holding the perfumed kerchief to her face as she adjusts and regains her balance. What astounding sights and sounds she has witnessed in this strange city in only a few days. After a moment she recovers her composure but the smells still shock and rattle her; reminding her she is a stranger in a strange land. "Come, my lady,and meet some bunters, midnight mothers..." Jonson begins, and then is overtaken by Burke and Hickey who join him in a chorous. "Blowzabellas, smuts, doxies, bun butters, short, our whores; and here you will find them all ages, sexes, sizes and inclinations." (pg36)

The writing is quite descriptive, but I just couldn't tell where he was going with the story.  Unfortunately I couldn't appreciate the poetry of the story.   Check out what other folks on the tour have to stay about it.  

Thank you to TLC Book tours for giving me the opportunity to read the book.

Two Tuesday Teasers

"He flashed a one-sided smile, baring a long eye-tooth and dug a fingernail into the cork, then flipped it out of the bottleneck as if tossing a coin.  Champagne gushed and Godalming filled the glasses Florence held beneath the bottle.  His Lordship accepted mild applause with a handsome grin.  For a dead man, Godalming practically burst with life.  Every woman in the room was fixated upon the vampire.  Not entirely excluding Penelope, he could not help but notice."

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman - page 31

"Still staring at her, the jaguar lowered the boy to the planks, but kept one paw on his chest, pinning Tyler down.  "Lorna..."   She kept her gaze fixed forward, recognizing the preternatural intelligence in those eyes.  "I know what I'm doing," she whispered back to Jack.  At least, she hoped she did."

Altar of Eden by James Rollins (pg 122 of ebook)

Wanna play?  For more teasers, head on over to Miz B's

Sunday Salon: Ooh la la! murder, mayhem, deceit, romance - what a combination!

I'll admit it.    I read a lot of books and generally enjoy most of the books because I have a system.  I'll read the synopsis, then check out the first page.  If the first page captures my attention, will pick random pages here and there.  It's generally harder when buying online unless familiar with the author.  I love Amazon and Barnes and Noble because you can peek inside the book.  I always try to find an excerpt that will give me some idea of the author's writing style and if the story engages me.   There have been times have thrown caution to the wind and either been pleasantly surprised or really really hated the book. I usually don't do negative reviews but going to make an exception for a book I read for TLC Book Tour - The Tobacco Wars. Trish talked me into - saying folks will appreciate a honest review rather than not saying anything at all.  Besides its the first book I've read as a TLC Book tour host that I actually didn't like.    My review will be up on Thursday, July 28th so stay tuned. 

So excited and happy because just received Lori Foster's latest  Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series:  When You Dare, Trace of Fever and Savor the Danger.   Just love it when get sent books for one of my favorite authors, especially when its a steamy romantic mystery suspense story.  *sigh*

Just finished reading my first Cara Black book Murder in the Marais.  It is #1 in her Aimee Leduc series about a female private investigator in Paris.   I discovered Aimee is a feisty chick who jumps into situations fearlessly, throws herself body (literally) and soul into her investigations.   She isn't afraid of a few bruises and once she's on somebody's trail, doesn't let go.   I was amazed at this character's tenacity. I was exhausted just reading the story.  Paris is more than just the setting, it is also a living breathing character that helps bring the story to life.  I also highlighted Cara  today over at Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks reading challenge.  It's week 30 already!

It's always  interesting discovering new authors and absorbing their styles, experiencing their distinctive writing voices.   I came across this great article written by James of Men with Pens about "How to Find Your Writing Voice"   When I first started writing, I started hearing about writing voice and didn't have a clue what it meant. James explains it best:

"What is writing voice? 

That’s a good question. Your actual voice has pitch and timbre and tone, and you speak in a certain way or with a particular accent. Your writing is much the same – it has a similar pitch and timber, it has a specific tone and style, and it stamps your words with a particular feel, beat or pattern.

People can “hear” your writing voice subconsciously as they read your text through a process called sub-vocalization. This means that as we read, we sort of “whisper” the words to ourselves, which helps us grasp more meaning, more understanding and retain the message longer in our memory.

Your writing voice is important, no doubt about it. So why is it so hard to pin down?"

It's a great article and has some example of great exercises to help find your writing voice and I love his last statement:

Enjoy yourself. Write as if you’re the only person who’ll ever read your work. Take pleasure in what you’re doing and just be you. Your writing voice? It’ll come to you all on its own – naturally."
I'm getting there.  It's when I fight myself and try to control the process that the words comes out with my characters sound stilted and awkward.  I think the more you write, the more you become comfortable in your own writing skin, willing and able to try different things and see how it works.  Blogging is also a part of that and have noticed in following different authors and reading their books, their voices, whether on the blog or in their books, reflect them.   I think I've found my voice through blogging and it's helped with fiction writing.  At least hope it is.  Which leads to my goals for this week (nice little segue, eh!) 

1.  Write for at least 1/2 hour every morning towards finishing first draft of Red Thief.  
2.  Morning pages - using as creativity journal working out issues on the page and if feel the need to whine, taking it to the pages.
3.  G.I.T. training - Treadmill for 40 minutes 5 days this week.  Plus work up strength training program for my son and I.
4.  Cheerleading duties as sponsor visiting other participants and providing encouragement and high fives.  Still working on that cheer.  :)

Check out how everyone else is doing here.

Happy reading and writing! 

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” - E.L. Doctorow

K is for Kiss the Moon


Carla Neggers

Book synopsisLost in the frozen woods of New Hampshire, Penelope Chestnut discovers the wreckage of a small plane. An aviator herself, she sees clues to a conspiracy in the rusted-out remains.  Rumors of her discovery bring Wyatt Sinclair to Cold Spring, determined to put to rest a family scandal and learn what really happened to his legendary uncle, who had disappeared with his adventuress lover years earlier.   As Wyatt and Penelope investigate, old motives are uncovered and new ones created, including a growing attraction between the pair. But when an unknown enemy emerges with a violence rooted in desperation, uncovering the truth will be far less problematic than surviving it. 

Mystery, intrigue, tension, secrets, surprising plots twists - Carla Neggers sure knows how to write them.  I discovered Carla a year or so ago, when I came across The Black Falls Series and read the first two books:  Cold Moon and Cold Pursuit.  About to start reading Cold Dawn.    She does a great job of world building and creating suspense, keeping you hooked and getting you invested in the story.   Her latest "The Whisperer" was just released in paperback June 28th and is set partially in Ireland so of course I have to read it.  Who can pass up a good suspense novel based in Ireland. The setting along makes it all the more worth while.

Pages:  384
Publisher:  Mira
Reprint Edition January 25, 2011

Note from the Universe:

It's kind of strange,  but first you have to know what you want, defined in terms of the end result. And then you have to physically move towards it, without defining the hows.

At which point, the thing you want actually starts coming to you, on its own terms, from a direction completely unexpected.

Not unlike a cat, 


                  The Universe

ROW80 Midweek check in

We have had absolutely beautiful summer weather and enjoying sitting out on the patio, hanging out with the cats and the birds and nature.  Probably should take a picture one of these days, surrounded by sleeping or lazy cats.  The only problem is when I get up, one of them takes my chair.  :)   Sneaky buggers.  I'm writing away on my WIP Red Thief slowly but surely.   How long does it take you to finish a first draft?  It seems NaNoWriMo helps me get a major chunk done, then it takes a few months for me to finish.  I'm sort of a pantster, but have a vague outline. I know where I want to go with the story.  However, we seem to be avoiding that big scene.  Not sure if it's me or my main character dithering about escaping or she's just trying to get all her ducks in a row.   Been discussing it with myself in morning pages. Hopefully me, myself and I will come to a conclusion pretty soon.    I pretty much come to the conclusion, the morning pages do have some value, but if I miss a day here or there, it isn't the end of the world.

Goddess in training update:  Discovered have gained the 10 pounds back that I lost last year which irks me to no end.  Father also helpfully adjusted the scale which really didn't help. *facepalm*  I've been eating more candy bars lately after lunch and for a snack.   All I'm really looking for is to fulfill my sweet tooth, so going back to dentyne gum.  Less calories.  I've gotten addicted to avocado's which are good fat.  But can good fat make you fat?   Hmm!   I'm setting up an exercise plan for the three of us because we all need to move more.  I'm doing the treadmill every other day and discovered the time goes so much quicker reading a book on the nook rather than listening to a audio book on my I-phone.   I'm more of a visual person and with the audio book, since have nothing to look at except the treadmill or the room, the time goes a lot more slowly.  Think I'll stick with the nook.  

My goals also include my sponsor duties which includes visiting and encouraging my designated writers.  I'm also trying to visit at least 10 other folks as well.  Waving my pom poms.  Thinking of coming up with a writing cheer.   Any suggestions?   

To see how everyone is doing, click here.

Changeling Moon and Changeling Dream by Dani Harper

Changeling Moon:  "He roams the moonlit wilderness, his every sense and instinct on high alert.  Changeling wolf Connor Macleod and his Pack have never feared anything -- until the night human Zoey Tyler barely escapes a rogue werewolf's vicious attack.  As the full moon approaches, Zoey has no idea of the changes that are coming, and only Connor can show her what she is, and help her master the wildness inside.  With her initiation into the Pack just days away and a terrifying predator on the loose, the tentative bonds of trust and tenderness are their only weapons against a force red in tooth, claw...and ultimate evil."

Changeling Dream:In times of stress Jillian Descharme has always found calm in her dream of a great white wolf with haunting blue eyes. But she is startled when the visions return and this time seem so real. Late at night he comes to her, speaks to her, touches her.

Thirty years ago James Macleod lost his wife and unborn child to a killer bent on destroying the Changelings. Though he longed for death, his animal instinct fought for survival and James has been a wolf ever since. Yet now a woman has reawakened the man in him, taming wild instincts but arousing still wilder needs. With his ancient enemy hunting the legendary white wolf, James must fight for new life, new hope, new love."

Changeling Moon (released May 31st) and Changeling Dream (released June 28)  are book 1 and 2 in a new shapeshifter series from Dani Harper.   Changeling Dream was originally published as an ebook called Heart of the Winter Wolf and was so popular Kensington Brava offered Dani a book series.  The stories center around the Macleod family and their pack living in a small town in Canada.

In Changeling Moon, Connor is the town's veterinarian.  Coming back from a call one night, he saves Zoey from a vicious wolf attack.  One of their own has gone rogue. Zoey just happens to be the town's newest reporter for the local newspaper which makes it really difficult for Connor to try and hide his true nature.   They have a great on page chemistry and Harper has done an excellent job creating a great cast of supporting characters who are very engaging, somewhat quirky. Think Northern exposure only with werewolves!

Changeling Dream continues the story centering around Jillian, who is Connor's new partner and his brother, James.   James wife and child were killed by a crazed gunman bent on killing the changelings.  Depressed and suicidal, he reverts to his wolf form, hoping to die. His wolf takes over and keeps him alive.  He comes across Jillian, while in wolf form and saves her from a deadly attack. Years later when Jillian arrives to work for Connor, the wolf recognizes her and for the first time in years, starts to think of being human again.

Dani Harper has done an great job of creating a fresh, new paranormal series centered around werewolves.  There is enough suspense, mystery and action to keep you engaged in the stories.  I'm looking forward to Changeling Dawn when it comes out January 2012.  If you like paranormal romances, I highly recommend reading the Changeling series.

Many thanks to Leyane of FSB Associates for providing me with courtesy copies of the books and Dani Harper for writing such interesting stories.

Other thoughts:

Love Vampires
"Overall I liked Changeling Moon and found it to be an undemanding, fun read. It has some quality writing; in particular the secondary characters are all interestingly quirky and originally developed."

"I usually find sequels pale in comparison to the first book in the series, especially when the first is as excellent as Changeling Moon. But Dani Harper managed to create another howling masterpiece."

All comments and opinions based on my reading experience and not influenced in any way,  shape or form by outside influences. 

Teaser Tuesday: Murder in the Marais

"As the pilot announced descent into Charles de Gaulee Airport, Hartmuth Griffe,  the German trade advisor, felt the acid taste, drier than the cabin atmosphere, fill his mouth.  Fifty years and now he was back.  His heart raced.  Despite the surgery, he feared recognition even after all these years.  And the past.  What if somehow she'd survived?"

Page 18 of Murder in the Marias (An Aimee Leduc Investigation) by Cara Black

Play along at Should Be Reading

We have winners!

The winner of Ben Kane's The Silver Eagle is  

The winner of S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep is

Congratulations, Ladies.

ROW80: Are we there yet?

 "Creativity is oxygen for the Soul" - Julia Cameron

I finally finished The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.   It took me longer than 12 weeks because...well, just because.   It was fascinating and interesting and taught me much about myself.  There are many things she said that resonated with me.   One thing that really stuck out was:

"Creativity is a spiritual practice.  It is not something that can be perfected, finished and set aside.  It is my experience that we reach plateaus of creative attainment only to have a certain restlessness set in.  Yes, we are successful. yes, we have made it, but.....

In other words, just when we get there, there disappears."
That is such a profound statement. Just when we get there, there disappears.  It resonated with me because I just finished working on my Bachelor's Degree.  I'm there. I did it. I'm done.  But am I really?  The question is what now.  I've been experiencing that bit of restlessness she mentioned.  I'm there but not there.  I want more, need more, desire more.....what?  In terms of writing, I understand what she means.  Writing, even education, is a never ending journey.   There is a plateau, a resting point.  Not a stopping point.   

"This unfinished quality, this restless appetite for further exploration, tests us.  We are asked to expand in order that we not contract.  Evading this commitment--an evasion that tempts us all--leads to stagnation, discontent, spiritual discomfort.  "Can't I rest?"  we wonder.  In a word, the answer is no."
Awesome.  It's an never ending journey and we all go about it in different ways.  For example, when traveling.  My son just wants to get there.  He doesn't want to stop to eat, drink, pee, play or anything else.  Single focused.   My sister and her family - they meander down the road, taking breaks to play soccer, investigate what's down a side road, check out a road side mall.  The ultimate goal is to get there.  But once you're there, do you sit, stop, do nothing.  Nope. You keep right on going - visiting, exploring, having an adventure.   I came across a great quote the other day:

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. - Don Williams

In terms of writing,  so far it's been a adventure for me. I'm a writer in training working to get there...  I'm sure when I get there (there being published) I'm not planning on stopping, resting on my laurels. I don't want to be a one hit wonder.   And when I get to where ever it is that I'm going, at least I'll have enjoyed the ride. 

And speaking of enjoying the ride. Now that James is done with 5th grade and I'm done with classes (for now), I have more time to focus on Red Thief. Plus I'm going to join in on Kait's Goddess in Training. Both James and I have been sluffing off doing the treadmill. Plus I've not been diligent enough in making sure he does his physical therapy exercises properly and regularly.   (bad mom, bad mom)  So, accountability time.

I'm also dithering about the morning pages.   Are they helpful or not? Are they getting in the way of working on my WIP or warming me up for them.  I'm not too great with the stream of consciousness thing and writing what randomly comes to mind.  I seriously don't want to revisit the past, dredge it up and write about it.  I have a tendency to bury things. They are done, over with, learned from it, so no need to go there. Is there?  (We're back to there)  I've been there, done that and now its time to move on.   Both hubby and James have forever memories. Never forget a thing and love to talk about it, again and again.  Too negative for me.  I live in the present.   So what to do?   I'm undecided.

My goals for the next week are to continue writing at least one hour each day on Red Thief or until I get to a stopping point. Some days flow better than others so going to play it by ear.  I hand write my WIPS so impossible to establish a daily word count.  Goal is at least 2 full pages written front and back.

I'm off to check out how everyone else is doing with their goals. 

TLC Book Tour: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson + giveaway.

Before I Go To Sleep 


S. J.Watson

Synopsis: " A terrible accident has robbed Christine of her memories. She cannot remember the past--or even yesterday.  Determined to discover who she is, she has begun keeping a journal before she goes to sleep. Before she can forget again.  But the truth may be more terrifying--and deadlier--than she bargained for..."

Imagine waking up in the morning and not recognizing the place or the man next to you in bed  The panic, the oh my god, where am I, what have I done.  Sneaking into the bathroom and being unable to recognize the face looking back at you from the mirror.  Face wrinkled, hair short and my hands. Old, wrinkled, veiny. The panic.  Then you see, pictures taped around the edges of the mirror.  One that says your name, Christine.  Another pointing at the the picture of the man you woke up with -  his name, Ben. The words your husband with an arrow pointing at him.  Going back out into the bedroom to face the stranger in the bed. 

Thus starts Christine's day, her calm patient husband explaining to her once again about the accident that damaged her long term memory.  He walks her through the house, shows her the white board in the kitchen with notes of things to do, phone numbers to reach him while he's at work.  A thin scrap book of pictures of their life. She receives a phone call from a Doctor Nash, her doctor, who tells her she's been seeing him behind Ben's back because Ben has giving up all hope of her recovering her memory.  They have an appointment which is written in her diary in her purse.  She's afraid but agrees to meet him.  He returns her  journal to her, full of weeks of notes she had written. He had told her to write, to keep track of her days, to help her remember.  

"I feel nervous, I do not know what this book will contain.  What shocks and surprises.  What mysteries.  I see the scrapbook on the coffee table.  In that book is a version of my past, but one chosen by Ben.  Does the book I hold contain another.  I open it.  The first page is unlined.  I have written my name in black ink across its center.  CHRISTINE LUCAS.  It's a wonder I haven't written PRIVATE! beneath it. Or Keep out!

Something has been added. Something unexpected, terrifying.  More terrifying than anything else I have seen today.  There, beneath my name, in blue ink and capital letters are three words.


There is nothing I can do but turn the page.  I begin to read my history.
S.J. Watson's debut novel Before I Go To Sleep is a psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  S.J.Watson tells a story full of mystery and deceit with finger biting, chilling tension.  You never quite know what to expect and just when you think you've got it figured out, the story twists in a different direction.  I highly recommend it.  

Thank you to Trish for asking me to be part of the tour, Harper Collins for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book and S.J. Watson for writing such an interesting, convoluted, engaging, unique story.   

The publisher also provided me with an extra copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.  The giveaway will be open through July 16th to U.S. residents only.  (no p.o. boxes please).  Please leave your name and email address in the comment section and the winner will be picked using 

Check out the previous and rest of the tour stops to read other bloggers thoughts about the story.   

For more information about S.J. Watson or Before I go to Sleep check out the website and facebook.   Some interesting news - Ridley Scott’s production company has acquired the rights to the book and will turning it into a movie and filming expected to begin sometime this year.  That is definitely one movie I can't wait to see.

Tuesday Teaser: Before I Go To Sleep

This morning I went into the kitchen.  My life, I thought, is built on quicksand.  It shifts from one day to the next.  Things I think I know are wrong, things I am certain of, facts about my life, myself, belong to years ago.  All the history I have reads like fiction.  Dr. Nash, Ben, Adam, and now Claire.  They exist, but as shadows in the dark. As Strangers, they criss cross my life, connecting, disconnecting.  Elusive, ethereal. Like Ghosts.

And not just them. Everything.  It is all invented.  Conjured from nothing.  I am desperate for solid ground, for something real, something that will not vanish as I sleep.  I need to anchor myself. 

Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson

Sunday Salon: Reading, Writing and the internet.

This week I delved into Nora Roberts MacKade Brothers series on my Nook.    She always put me in the mood for writing.  I love her writing.  She has a way about it and does it so smoothly.    I discovered her books back in 2007 during National Novel Writing Month and have been hooked ever since.  Her characters and stories draw me back time and again and every time I reread one of her series, I discover something new. And you are left with that feeling of warmth, strength, being a part of something.  Don't know how to explain it.   She's the master and in striving to write on that par, if I end up writing half as well as she does, well then I'll have something to be proud of.  If that makes any sense.

This week I also read Changeling Moon (released June 1st)  and Changeling Dream (released June 28th)  by Dani Harper.  Her debut paranormal series about werewolves.  Both well done and will be reviewing soon. The third book in the series, Changeling Dawn won't be coming out until Jan 2012.

Plodding steadily along with my writing. Some days I think I should have a certain number of words to write and report, but then again, since I'm handwriting everything....hard to do. Setting a certain time frame seems to work better.  I will write for half an hour.  Doesn't seem like much does it?  I get the feeling I'm behind the 8 ball and will never catch up.  I should be doing more but with everything else, how going to accomplish that not quite sure yet.  Our summer break is coming up in a couple weeks, so will be definitely be revising my goals.

Never know from one day to the next, whether the words are going to flow or be like pulling teeth.   My internal editor has been playing havoc with me lately and I spent the past few day, writing and rewriting one scene before realizing the first take was the best and it'll all probably change when I get around to editing it.  Then I had insight into what preceded the scene and who was involved. Now I'm thinking need to go back and write that scene, then this one will make more sense. Hmmm!

My goals for this week are simple:

1) complete morning pages
2) Write for at least half and hour or 2 pages front and back which ever comes first.
3) Sponsor duties - will be coming around and encouraging with my pom poms. 

Check out how everybody else is doing here.

Here's an interesting, thought provoking question for you.   Would you give up the internet for 1 million dollars?

Honestly, I couldn't. My husband's answer - in a heartbeat. What about you? 

The Sunday

Review: The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund

Back cover:   No matter the sacrifice, Elizabeth Whitbread would serve a wounded family.   No matter the danger, John Costin was determined to speak God's word.  Neither expected to fall in love.  As enemies threaten to silence Costin--and those close to him--will following their hearts cost John and Elizabeth everything?"

I've been following Jody Hedlund for quite a while now and was thrilled when her debut novel, The Preacher's Bride came out.  It is a historical fiction novel based on the life of John Bunyan (writer of Pilgrim's Progress) and his wife, Elizabeth.  Hedlund took creative license and wrote an story that is so touching and emotional, it catches and pulls you in and won't let you go until the very end. 

The setting, 17th century England during the time of the puritans.  John Costin's wife dies during childbirth, leaving him with 4 children to care for.  Elizabeth volunteers to care for the children and comes to care for them.  Even though she comes from a strict household, she has a big heart and finds unconventional way to help others.  She soon comes to love John, but has been promised to another. And she will not break her vow.  John is a puritan preacher and stands by his convictions.  He is determined to fight the royalists no matter what happens.  Their story is beautifully written, takes your breath away at times and other times, makes you want to jump into the pages and get involved.   I highly recommend it.  

Check out Jody's website here where she loves to talk about writing and always has much wisdom to share.  Plus check out an excerpt of The Preacher's Bride. She has a new novel coming out in September that I can't wait to read - The Doctor's Lady. 

Pages:  379
Publisher:  Bethany House
Released:  October 1, 2010

Other Thoughts:

"This is a very compulsive read, with fantastic romantic tension and suspense. The pacing is brisk and the characters recognizable."

"The heroine and hero of this novel are riveting. I was enthralled reading about their world, getting into their minds, and understanding why they made the decisions they made."

Gina of Inkwell Inspirations:

ROW80 round 3 / 1st check in

To see how or what everyone else is doing, go here.

Yes, it's only been a couple days since the round started.  I've been good.  As soon as breakfast is over, I'm retreating to the patio to write first my morning pages, then work on WIP.   I'm currently putting my main character in jeopardy.  Nothing like a bit in intensity to get the story moving.   The things we put our characters through.   I also discovered a quick way to get unstuck.   I found some great character interview questions on querytracker quite a while ago.   I just go back and ask one of my main characters a question or two.    It's amusing the responses I get depending on the mood of the story.   Raised eyebrows, scoffs, pointed looks.  What questions have you asked your characters lately?

Review plus giveaway - The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane


Ben Kane 

Book Synopsis:  They fought against almighty odds at the very edge of the known world--and lost.  Ten Thousand legionaries are all that are left of a once powerful Roman Army.    In the first century B.C., trapped in Parthia by Crassus's failed invasion, the legionaires that survived are captured and marched to the edge of the known world.  Among them are three friends, Brennus the Gaul, Tarquinius the Etruscan soothsayer, and Romulus, a runaway slave and the bastard son of a Roman nobleman.  All men with troubled pasts and united in their hatred of Rome, they never stop dreaming of freedom.  Together they must face the savage tribes that surround them, as well as the more treacherous enemies within the ranks of the legion itself.  Their character will be tested to the utter limit as they struggle to find a way back to Rome.

Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus's twin sister, tries to maintain hope of her brother's survival with fighting for her own.  Freed by the powerful Decimus Brutus but beset by enemies on all sides, she must travel to Gaul to find her lover, the right hand man of Julius Caesar.  But in Gaul, Brutus is fighting for his very life against Vercingetorix, whose rampaging army threatens to destroy all who rally around Caesar.

Together these characters, whose lives are intertwined and whose stories are interwoven, bring to life a truly epic tale of the late Roman Republic and the ancient world in which it thrived. 

The Silver Eagle is book # 2 in Ben Kane's historical fiction forgotten legion series and continues where The Forgotten Legion leaves off.  The three friends are now part of the Parthanian army.  The Parthian commander Pacorus is constantly testing Tarquinius soothsaying abilities, just waiting for him to fail.  When Pacorus and a detail including Tarquinius, Brennus and Romulus are ambushed and only the three men return to the fort with Pacorus near death, their lives are on the line.  If Pacorus dies, they will all be executed. No one in the Parthanian army trust them, especially when they discover Romulus is a runaway slave. The men are forced to watch their backs at all times, even while in battle with the enemy, to avoid being killed by the men in their legion.  Meanwhile Fabiola, who has been managing Brutus's estate, her life is threatened when she tries to protect a hunted slave from Scaevola, a vicious slave hunter. Suddenly he is determined to kill her and she is on the run to find Brutus, who is fighting in Gaul alongside Caesar.   

Just as riveting and well written as The Forgotten Legion, you will be drawn into the world of the 4 lead characters.   The Silver Eagle has a little bit of everything - mysticism, battles, betrayal, friendship, and politics.  The story continues in book 3 The Road to Rome.   I highly recommend it.  

Thank you to Ben Kane for writing such an interesting, engaging story and to St. Martin's Press for providing me with a courtesy review copy of the book.  They kindly sent a copy for me to giveaway to one lucky person.   The giveaway is open to U.S. Residents (no p.o. boxes please) through July 13th.   Please leave your name and email address in the comments section. The winner will be picked via

Pages:  480
Publisher:  St. Martin Press
Released:  March 2010 (hardback)  March 2011 (paperback)

Other thoughts:

" Ben Kane anchors the story in much historic detail which gives The Silver Eagle an added layer of depth and complexity."

"The Silver Eagle is a very brave second book; it does not simply attempt to recreate the winning formula of the first book but introduces new elements that see it move away from traditional historical fiction and into areas that could divide its existing fan base."

Stories for Sendai

One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit the city of Sendai in the Tohoku region of Japan on Friday March 11. The magnitude 9.0 quake unleashed a deadly tsunami that slammed into Japan's east coast, leaving a swathe of devastation in its wake. Thousands of people lost their lives, and many are still missing or injured. Thousands more have been left homeless and destitute.

As a testament to the generosity of the world's citizens, emergency appeals have been swiftly set up in the aftermath of the quake, but I'm sure many of you, as we did, had the same thought: our donations seem so puny. There must be some other way we could make a difference!

With that in mind, Stories for Sendai was born!

The Stories for Sendai Anthology is a collection of 19 short stories and one poem. Some are inspired by the events of the earthquake in Sendai; others are simply stories of hope and inspiration. All are uplifting and worth reading. Please consider buying a copy of the anthology and spreading the word about this wonderful, uplifting little book. All proceeds go to relief efforts to aid Japan.

Stories for Sendai is available in paperback or Kindle format.

Amazon US (print)
Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon UK (Kindle)

Check out the Stories for Sendai Blog and meet the authors

There will also be a prize drawing:   Buy the book, email  a copy of your receipt at storiesforsendai (at) ymail (dot) com, and be entered for a draw for cool prizes! Here’s what’s on offer:

1 x $10 or £10 Amazon gift voucher
1 x First Chapter/Query/Synopsis Critique by Michelle Davidson Argyle!
2 x First Chapter / Query / Synopsis Critiques by J.C. Martin
2 x e-book copies of CELESTIAL SEDUCTION by Jessica E. Subject, donated by author!
1 x ebook copy of MIDDLEWITCH MAYHEM by Heather Parker, donated by author!

Other Blog Stops for the Tour:

Meme: Writing is like

Blue - courtesy of Phil Synder

There's a new writing meme floating around out there that I discovered at Susan's of West of Mars, she of the  viva la Trevolution fame.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, go check her out.  She was tagged by Darie Helle who discovered it from and so on and so on. The meme Writing is Not like a bunch of Chocolates originated with Michelle of Greenwoman:  

Forrest Gump’s momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” I suppose the same could be said of writing, but . . . since we’re writers, we feel compelled to come up with our own silly comparisons.

Hence the creation of the Box of Chocolates Writing Meme–in which you may compare writing to anything but a box of chocolates.

How does it work? Take the phrase “Writing is like . . .” and finish it. Post it on your blog. Tag three others to do the same. That is all. See how easy that is?

Writing is like?   Writing has never been as necessary as breathing for me. Reading has always been that way for me.  The question made me realize, for me - writing is like diving into a rushing river and seeing where it will take me.  

You give yourself up to the flow of the river.  The flow unpredictable at times.  You never quite know what is around the next bend.   Rapids carrying you dizzily along.   Words, like the view, pass by you in a blur.  You do your best to stay afloat and once clear of the whitewater rapids, having reached a calm spot, take a breath and say wow!  

A calm pool, by the side of the bank, a place to rest, think, be, absorb the beauty around you and ready yourself for the next onslaught. You move back into the crazy flow again and suddenly you shoot into an unexpected tributary.  A side trip that either is soothing or extremely unsettling.  A side trip that gives you insight.  The water is so clear, you can see the bottom, every single pebble and the fish glisten in the sunlight.  At times, the water is so muddy, swirling and thick,  you can't see a thing.   A sudden waterfall, the drop takes your breath away. An aha moment! 

Writing is like diving into a rushing river and seeing where it takes you. You can either swim as hard and as fast as you can against the current, fighting it all the way or relax and go with the flow.  I'd rather go with the flow. 

How about you?

Tag you are it:

Michelle of  The Story Inside Me

Sunday Salon: Goals, goals, goals

Summer is truly here in the valley as the thermometer creeps toward 100 degrees.  However, I am enjoying being able to sit out on the patio once again  in the early morning and write.   My creativity and productivity seems to have increased as well. Something soothing about the sounds and look of nature.  Our laurel bushes and other bushes have grown tall enough to block out views of the neighbors roofs so all I see is colorful greenery and sky.  *Sigh*

The third Round of Words in 80 days starts tomorrow, July 4th.  For those who aren't familiar with ROW80, it is a writing challenge which allows you to see your own goals and if need be, due to life and other circumstances, change them as needed.  There is a dedicated blog where everyone checks in Wednesday and Sunday.  The beauty about is everyone supports each other and encourages those who need it and cheer on successes.  I'm a sponsor this time as well so it will be fun.   I've meet some fantastic writers and discovered some great books as well as made some great friends and received some excellent advice.  Check out all the participants here, give then some love and encouragements.

My goal is to finish the first draft of Red Thief, a suspense thriller with a bit of romance thrown in.  I've backtracked a bit, after talking it over with hubby and he reminded me of my original intention.  Some scenes will be edited out, others rewritten, but it'll wait until I finish the draft.   Once decided not to reveal one of the bad guys was a good guy, it all started flowing again.   Realized I was taking my main character's power away from her and putting her in a weak spot.  She didn't like that too much and has been fighting me every step of the way.   We're copacetic now.  I plan on writing at least a half hour every morning at least 2 pages per day.

My other goal is to do morning pages every day.  I committed to July with reporting in on twitter using hashtag #morningpages to keep me accountable. I somehow got out of the habit in June and it really affected everything else as well.   I'll also be researching some online writing courses to take as well.   The more I learn about the craft the better.   Something that will take me out of my comfort zone and make me think, expand that creative part of my brain a bit. 

June was an interesting month.  I finished my bachelor's degree in Liberal science and decided to share my thoughts on what I learned about George Bernard Shaw.  Surprisingly, not a nice guy.   I read all the Ghostwalker series by Christine Feehan and the Midnight Breed Series by Lara Adrian.   Hot paranormal suspense romances.  *whew*    July, I have a couple of book tours coming up  including "Before I Go To Sleep" by S.J. Watson.  Just finished reading it and man, what a thrill ride.   Intense, psychological thriller and if you haven't read it yet, you should.  I'll be giving away a copy of the book with my review on July 13th.    I also just reviewed Janelology by Karen Harrington who blogs at Scobberlotch.  Excellent book and well worth reading.  Wasn't at all what I expected which is actually a good thing. 

I also plan on reading for the A to Z by Author challenge:  Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, Camille by Tess Oliver and Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.  That's about as far as I've planned.   Speaking of Dr. Zhivago, I highlight the book and the author on read 52 Books in 52 weeks this week.

Homeschool wise, we are winding down 5th grade and will be done in a couple weeks.  Thank god. I'm ready for a break and James is too.  Already starting to plan for 6th grade and review curriculum.  That's always fun and interesting.

Tomorrow I'll be posting an answer to the meme - Writing is Like:  I was tagged by Susan at West of Mars.   See you then.

Happy reading and writing!