Feeling the need to unplug and dip into the creative well and rejuvenate, refresh, renew. See you on the other side.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
"The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants - from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys - except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down - along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy - if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom - or with each other."

It always amazes me when I discover a new to me author and get enthralled in a story to learn that he or she is so young.  There are times I am reading a story and you get the feeling of a very old soul. One who knows, whose lived a dozen lifetimes.  One whose been around a while, been writing forever.   The ladies on the Well Trained Mind group have been talking up a storm about Sarah Addison Allen's novels so decided I must read one.  Garden Spells is an incredibly charming story with an endearing cast of characters blending magical realism and romance with small town politics and secrets.  I thoroughly enjoyed Garden Spells and look forward to reading more of Sarah Addison Allen.

ISBN-13: 9780553384833
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Pages: 320

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Every Tuesday, Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph. Feel free to grab the banner and play along!

The Passage by Justin Cronin
Before she became the Girl from Nowhere--the One Who Walked in, The First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years--she was just a little girl in Iowa named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.

The day Amy was born, her mother, Jeanette, was nineteen years old.  Jeanette named her baby Amy for her own mother, who'd died when Jeanette was little, and gave her the middle name Harper for Harper Lee, the lady who'd written To Kill a Mockingbird, Jeanette's favorite book--truth be told, the only book she'd made it all the way through in high school.  She might have named her Scout, after the little girl in the story, because she wanted her little girl to grow up like that, tough and funny and wise, in a way that she, Jeanette, had never managed to be.  But Scout was a name for a boy, and she didn't want her daughter to have to go around her whole life explaining something like that."

Nook book while doing Treadmill
Canyons of Night  #3 in Looking Glass Trilogy by Jayne Castle
"Charlotte folded her arms on the glass topped sales counter and watched the two feral beasts come through the door of Looking Glass Antiques.  One was definitely human, definitely male, and definitely dangerous.  The second was a scruffy-looking ball of gray fluff with two bright blue eyes, six small paws, and an attitude.  The dust bunny rode on Slade Attridge's shoulder and Charlotte was quite sure that in his own miniature way he could be just as dangerous as hsi human companion.  They were both born to hunt, she thought."

Sunday Salon: Editing and emoting!

I'm thinking of...  Davide Restivo
Books that make you think. Workshops that make you think.  Lessons that make you think.   Is it ever possible to think too much?   When my brain overloads, it's time to sit down and watch some mindless television show, let it all stew, then start over again. Last night, I had an epiphany with my story Blue Steel  while trying to sleep. So instead of sleeping, worked on the scene in my head.  I now have a new Mid Point Crisis which works quite well.

How are my fellow rowers doing?  Find out here

The Savvy Authors Workshop Deep Story has been quite simply amazing.  Hubby say he thinks I'm learning more with this class than I did while finishing my Bachelor's degree.  Maybe. The thing is I can directly apply it to my manuscript and see results.  Finally figured out my 18 threshold scene structure once I quite trying to fit every single scene written into it and just deal with the main overall story throughline.  Which was the point of the whole exercise in the first place.  *facepalm*  Sometimes I make things difficult for myself.

Last night I went through all my notes, reorganized and changed some of the plot points to make more sense.  Which is probably why my brain had a hard time shutting down for sleep and I ended up writing scenes in my head.   Have moved on to next step which is determining what emotions and emotional responses want to provoke in each scene and figuring out what events will trigger each plot point, pinch point, turning point and emotional turning points.  Has your brain exploded yet?   Will be using The Bookshelf Muse Emotion Thesaurus to help me.  Quite a handy resource.

Sir John Edward Poynter "an Evening at Home"
I finished Ahab's Wife Friday night. Yes, I enjoyed it. It's one of those books that leaves you thinking and with the idea you'll want to revisit it because it so full and rich, it takes time to digest. Methinks I'll be getting the hard copy version so I can go back and reread and dissect portions at a time. It's not a light read so you have to be in the mood for it.

This week I'll be starting my c books for the 52 Books A to Z alphabet challenge. The Passage by Justin Cronin and Alafair Burke's Close Case. Will probably start with Cronin's book first which is a chunky book at 784 pages and ought to keep me busy a while. I'm slowly working my way through "Reading Like a Writer" by Francine Prose for writing craft study and just started Chapter 4. Plus I'm listening to J.D. Robb's In Death series in the car and currently on # 5 -  Ceremony in Death

So proud of myself. My team mates from Change Write Now have been great incentive and did the treadmill every day last week except for Monday.  Three cheers for me!!!   Networking though with my fellow rowers was a dismal failure so twenty lashes with a wet noodle.  Vowing to do better this week.    Still need to type up those last 20 pages so going to seriously try and get that done, if not today, then this week.

Check out Jennifer Blanchard's (formerly procrastinating writers) new site Inky Bites - Nourish your creativity.  She always has something wise or helpful to say. 

Happy Sunday!

The Sunday Salon.com

TLC Tour: The Silent Oligarch by Chris Morgan Jones

The Silent Oligarch


Chris Morgan Jones

Synopsis:  Deep in the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources sits a nondescript bureaucrat named Konstantin Malin. He draws a nominal government salary but from his shabby office controls half the nation's oil industry, making him one of the most wealthy and feared men in Russia. His public face is Richard Lock, a hapless money launderer bound to Malin by marriage, complacency, and greed. Lock takes the proceeds of his master's corruption, washes them abroad, and invests them back in Russia in a secret business empire. He knows little about Malin's true affairs, but still he knows too much.

Benjamin Webster is an investigator at a London corporate intelligence firm. Years before, as an idealistic young journalist in Russia, Webster saw a colleague murdered for asking too many hard questions of powerful people; her true killers have never been found. Hired to ruin Malin, Webster comes to realize that this shadowy figure might have ordered her gruesome death, and that this case may deliver the justice he has been seeking for a decade.

As Webster peels back the layers of Malin's shell companies and criminal networks, Lock's colleagues begin dying mysteriously, police around the world start to investigate, and Malin begins to question his trust in his increasingly exposed front man. Suddenly Lock is running for his life- though from Malin or Webster, the law or his own past, he couldn't say.

Chris Morgan Jones debut novel in the United Stated The Silent Oligarch was previously published in the UK as An Agent of Deceit.    It was interesting story but got off to a slow start with more drama than thrills. It had all the elements of a classic espionage story and though it was well researched and well written, the characters failed to leap off the page.  I like my stories with a bit more emotion and heart pounding, nail chewing suspense and unfortunately it was lacking. All the elements were there, just didn't quite hit the mark.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour and find out other thoughts and experiences about the story.

Other thoughts:  (uk version An Agent of Deceit)

It's a Crime:
"This is a very solid debut from Morgan Jones and one in which he achieves a rare thing: making the machinations of the backroom boys intriguing.  And on this outing, I suspect his further novels will be even better."

Hugh Carnegy of FT.Com
"An Agent of Deceit is a worthy entry to the long line of spy yarns, and a reminder of how little we still know of wealth and power in Russia, for all the public visibility of the 21st-century oligarchs."

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Every Tuesday, Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph. Feel free to grab the banner and play along!

Readalong with 52 Books
 Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Nook book
"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last. Yet, looking up—into the clouds—I conjure him there: his gray-white hair; his gathered brow; and the zaggy mark; I saw it when lying with him by candlelight and, also, taking our bliss on the sunny moor among curly-cup gumweed and lamb's ear. I see a zaggy shadow in the rifting clouds. That mark started like lightning at Ahab's temple and ran not all the way to his heel (as some thought) but ended at Ahab's heart. 

That pull of cloud—tapered and blunt at one end and frayed at the other—seems the cottony representation of his ivory leg. But I will not see him all dismembered and scattered in heaven's blue—that would be no kind, reconstructive vision; no, intact, lofty and sailing, though his shape is changeable. Yesterday, when I tilted my face to the sky, I imaged not the full figure but only his cloudy head, a portrait, glancing back at me over his shoulder.

What weather is in Ahab's face?"


Review Book - January 20 TLC Tour
The Silent Oligarch by Chris Morgan Jones

"Chapter one:

High in the air Webster watches the unbroken desert flow past, a deep copper red in the dawn, the sand ridged like waves rolling down toward the south.  Next to him Inessa lies curled up, sleeping through the jolts of turbulence and the drunken songs of the Russian engineers across the aisle.

Below, the sand gives way to grass on the vast Kazakh plain and in the distance, if he presses his face to the window, he can see the Altai mountains rising and stretching east into China.  He glances across at Inessa; she's small enough to be comfortable in her rigid seat, her knees pulled up against her chest like a child.  It's rare to see her be still, rare for her to be silent."

Sunday Salon: Disaster, complications, clues

Studying the craft:  Happy Sunday.  I'm still brain deep into analyzing Blue Steel and figuring out the scene structure.  I was having trouble with it since I hadn't finished typing up the story.  Managed to type up 20 pages yesterday and have 20 more to go.   It helped me remember parts of the story I had forgotten which helped with figuring out the scene structure.  Dominoes.   The workshop is more casual than expected and if you don't have the lessons completed by the end of the month, you can continue in the yahoo group loop. I'd rather push myself, stay on track and with the group.  I work better with structure and deadlines.  

Reading about craft:  I'm in the middle of chapter 3 sentence in Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose.  Between her and the 18 scene structure breakdown with Deep Story, I'm learning how to see stories in a whole new light.

See how everyone else is doing here and give them some encouragement

Exercise: Thanks to ChangeWriteNow and my teammates, I did the treadmill every day except Thursday.  I also cut out eating any snacks after dinner and if I get hungry, have a cup of hot tea.  

Networking:   Unfortunately was pretty much a fail and need to work on visiting at least 5 ROW bloggers a day.  I'm also the host of 52 books challenge and managed to visit all when signed up. I need to work on visiting those who post links to their book reviews so will set a goal of 3 per day. 

The Sunday Salon.com

Pleasure Reading:  I finished reading Dean Koontz "By the Light of the Moon."  First time author read and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It wasn't spooky gory. It was spooky, chilling, psychological paranormalish suspense story.  Look forward to reading more of his stories.   Also finished "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt. Didn't realize it was nonfiction until midway through. Was so annoyed the narrator didn't introduce himself at all and described in great detail all these weird colorful characters. I kept wondering where's the plot. Note to self - read the back cover more carefully. 

Started a readalong today of "Ahab's Wife" by Sena Jeter Naslund with participants of Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  I began reading it Saturday afternoon. The first couple  pages were a bit tough for me to get, but once got into the story, it really grabbed me.  Jump in and join us. There are 167 chapters averaging 4 pages each for a total of 667 pages. You can read at your own pace and when we come up for air on Saturday January 21, we'll see where we all stand and take it from there.  Or read 48 pages a day which will have you finishing in two weeks.

I'm also reading a review book "The Silent Oligarch" by Christopher Morgan Jones which is being released on the 19th. Not sure how I like it yet but reviewing for TLC book tours on Friday, January 20th so will give it a chance.

Off to plan lessons, do laundry and try and finish typing up those last 20 pages.  Oh and do the treadmill for one hour.  :)

The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie


Titania Hardie

"A single sheet of parchment and a silver key. A secret passed down through generations. A mystery waiting to be unlocked."

B&N Synopsis:  Before his death in 1609, Queen Elizabeth’s spiritual consultant, astrologer, and scientific adviser John Dee hid many of his most astonishing written works, believing that the world was not yet prepared to face the shocking truths that they revealed. For seventeen generations, his female descendants have carefully guarded the secret of his hiding place, waiting for the right moment to bring Dee’s ideas to light. That time is now.

In The Rose Labyrinth, popular British author Titania Hardie masterfully blends historical fact and fiction as she introduces readers to Lucy King, a beautiful, young documentary producer based in London. With the help of a brilliant group of friends, Lucy races through London, France, and New York to decipher the clues that will eventually lead her to the hidden treasure of the Rose Labyrinth. Along the way she finds true love with Alex Stafford, the doctor who saw her through a life-threatening heart condition and transplant. A sweeping adventure for readers who loved The Da Vinci Code and The Expected One, The Rose Labyrinth is a decadent, romantic novel with a historical twist. It features a wonderful mix of literary references, from Shakespeare, to the Romantic poets, to Gabriel Garcia Marquez; the folklore and history of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism; and of course, astrology and numerology, of which Titania Hardie is an expert. As the Rose Labyrinth tells us, the world we think we know is not all that it appears to be."
It's hard to figure out where to start with The Rose Labyrinth by Titanie Hardie.  One of the fun things about this book is it comes with a beautiful hard cover which includes parchments of riddle cards  tucked inside the flap for you to read and try to figure out the puzzles along with the characters. History and a bit of mysticism,  philosophy and puzzles, plus a mixture of time periods makes for a very interesting read.  Think DaVinci Code but better written, well researched and the characters likable. Plus it makes you think and want to look things up, do a bit a research along the way, find out more.  It's not one of those books you want to rush through, but read slowly and absorb it a bit at a time.  Makes me want to pull Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude off the shelves and read it now, instead of later.

Row80 1/11 Mid Week check in - 3 act structure

To see how the rest of my row buddies are doing, visit them here

I'm in the midst of Lesson 3 for Deep Story workshop through Savvy Authors and finally seeing the light.  Part one of building your story and it's all about the 3 act structure. Carol came up with the most awesome template showing the 18 mandatory scenes which includes the 12 stages of the Hero's Journey and how to weave in the  5  Character Arc scenes.  I'm a visual person and have been reading about the 3 act structure on another author's website but just not getting it.  Now I do and stoked about it.  While reading through the scene structure, different portions of my story kept coming to mind and it is also helping to see what was missing.  Loving this workshop.  Haven't gotten alot of writing done except for morning pages.  Yes, I'm back to doing those again.  Very helpful in working out story issues as well as clearing my brain of whatever's floating around bothering me.  Deep cleansing breath and move on.

Came across a great post about writers and how to get your brain to work positively for you on Writer's In the Storm called Talking Back to Your Brain.  It really coincides with the small manageable goals we are all working on in our writing journeys and life in general.

"Try asking yourself how you can take a very small step toward becoming a productive writer. Think really small. Can you think about your WIP for fifteen minutes and write down your thoughts? Set a timer to keep it small. Can you write a paragraph about what your main character wants? Don’t make promises like “every day without fail.” That pretty much guarantees failure. Just gradually build up and let your brain do its work.  You’ll find that one small success will lead to another and another."

Check out Patrick Ross of The Artist's Road.  He's been blogging about his 2nd two week residency for his MFA in Creative Writing.  Lots of nuggets to chew on.

I'm being sold more and more on the benefits of plotting versus being a pantster. Check out this latest post from The Plot Whisperer on The Benefits of Plot Planning.

In the midst of reading Dean Koontz "By the Light of the Moon."  He really has an interesting way of writing, but once you get into it, realize it really sets the tone for the whole story.  Loving it so far. 

Time for math lessons.  TTFN

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Bibliophile by the Sea

Every Tuesday, Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph. Feel free to grab the banner and play along!

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
A to Z Challenge book by title - paperback

"He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning sliver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine - he could see out, but you couldn't see in. We were sitting in the living room of his Victorian house. It was a mansion, really, with fifteen-foot ceilings and large, well-proportioned rooms. A graceful spiral stairway rose from the center hall toward a domed skylight.  There was a ballroom on the second floor. It was Mercer House, one of the last of Savannah's great houses still in private hands. Together with the walled garden and the carriage house in back, it occupied an entire city block. If Mercer House was not quite the biggest private house in Savannah, it was certainly the most grandly furnished. Architectural Digest had devoted six pages to it. A book on the interiors of the world's great houses featured it alongside Sagamore Hill, Biltmore, and Chartwell. Mercer House was the envy of house-proud Savannah. Jim Williams lived in it alone."

 A to Z challenge by Title - Nook Book

By the Light of the Moon - Dean Koontz

 "Shortly before being knocked unconscious and bound to a chair, before being injected with an unknown substance against his will, and before discovering that the world was deeply mysterious in ways he'd never before imagined, Dylan O'Conner left his motel room and walked across the highway to a brightly lighted fast-food franchise to buy cheeseburgers, French fries, pocket pies with apple filling, and a vanilla milkshake."

Sunday Salon: Pinch points and throughlines and subplots, Oh My!

Studying the Craft: Well, this has been an interesting week.   I'm taking an online workshop through savvy authors from Carol Hughes about Crafting your Deep Story.  It's making me analyze Blue Steel and helping me figure out how to edit the story.   Realized my bad guy was in the background for the majority of the story, plus it's supposed to be a romantic suspense story and there isn't a whole lot of romance happening.  Carol's  Deep Story workshop is teaching me all about the layers and throughlines in a story.  Did you know there are four throughlines to every story?  Makes sense now that I've heard about them.  

1) Overall  - which is your overall story line
2) Main Character - which is the protagonist's character arc
3) Obstacle Character - which follows your obstacle character such as my bad guy
4) Subjective - which follows the relationship between the protagonist and contagonist (my lovers)

Then she gets into how to figure out character arcs, plot point and pinch points.  Plus  The Hero's Journey as described by Joseph Campbell. I knew about his mythology series which we have on the shelves but I'll admit haven't read any of them...so didn't know about the Hero's Journey.  Talk about head spinning.  But it is helping me see what is lacking in the story so far. It's going to be an intense four weeks.

Reading about Craft:  Read the first chapter  Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose.  Decided to make it my breakfast book otherwise I'll keep setting it aside for something else. 

Writing:  To busy editing so backing this down to writing one page a day in my journal until I get back into the writing phase.  Still need to type up all my handwritten pages of Blue Steel so that's a goal for this week.

Exercise:  Did the treadmill 5 times this week and I still need to figure out what to do for Monday and Thursday.  Can't seem to get motivated on my work days.  Goal is to exercise every single day for at least 20 minutes.  Change Write Now challenge is great because I have to check in with my team mates every day. Keeping me on the straight and narrow. 

Networking:  Managed to visit more than 5 rowers a day.  Will stick with goal of 5 a day and if it ends up being more than that...it's a plus.  Need to work twitter in at least once a day - we need a twitter meet up time - otherwise feel like I'm talking to myself.

The Sunday Salon.com

Pleasure Reading:  I finished "The Rose Labyrinth" by Titania Hardie. Didn't think I'd ever say it, but it was so much better than DaVinci Code.  It was so much better, more interesting and the characters are more likeable. The characters really delve into history, philosophy, and religion while trying to solve the puzzles and is a lot to absorb. Not something you can read fast. I also read Sarah Addison Allen's "Garden Spells" while treadmilling. A really charming story.  Also decided to spice up my A to Z challenge by choosing only new to me authors to read.  Have many in my TBR pile.  This week I'll be reading "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt and my nook book to read while treadmilling is "By the Light of the Moon" by Dean Koontz.   

52 Books in 52 Weeks: The challenge is off to a great start and have 100 plus people who are joining in and posting links on the blog.  Check it out - we have an eclectic group reading all sorts of interesting books.  New post and check in posted every Sunday.

Blog goals: Attempt to be less sporadic with posting.  Commit to Tuesday - First Chapter, First Paragraph; Wednesday - Row 80 short chatty check-in; Thursday - Book Review;  Sunday - Sunday Salon.  Now let's just see if I can start pre-writing and scheduling posts and get ahead a bit, especially since I don't come online until 4:00 most days.  May be biting off more than I can chew. We'll see how this week goes.  

See how other ROWers are doing here and leave them a bit of encouragement.

Oh and did I mention I mentioned my Year of Writing Deliberately on the NaNoWriMo forum Year of doing Big, Fun Things Together and fellow Nanowrimoian Kaelyn loved the idea and is now setting up a Year of Writing Deliberately website to track those who decided to join in and list their goals and achievements.  Stay tuned for more developments. 

Happy Reading!

"There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away.  No one has stepped twice into the same river.  But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?  ~Marina Tsvetaeva"

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Every Tuesday, Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea  posts the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph  Feel free to grab the banner and play along!   I've decided to start playing along

I'm reading two books - one relaxing book and another on my nook while doing the treadmill.
The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie
"St. George's Day, April 1600 at a inn on the road to London:  A snow-bearded, elderly man is seated at the head of a refectory table, close to a fire, with his head bowed.  He grasps a dark, shiny object in the slender fingers of his right hand.  Blooms of Rosa Mundi--white petals streaked pink-red--carpet the table in front of him.  Thus, all those who are seated at the trestle know that what will unfold her is secret, a marriage of the spirit and the soul of everyone present, and the birth of something unique, which they await: the Philosopher's Child.  Against the bubbling din of other inn patrons behind closed doors in adjacent rooms, they are hushed, waiting for his words.  A door softly opens and closes, then a sudden shuffle of feet around him intrudes into the silence.  A note from a servant, who has entered largely unobserved, is put into his fine hands. This he reads slowly; his high forehead--surprisingly smooth for a man of his years--creases into a dark frown.  After a long moment, he looks at every face in turn, gathered around the long table.  Finally he speaks, his voice hardly more than a vesper."

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

"Every smiley moon, without fail, Claire dreamed of her childhood. She always tried to stay awake those nights when the stars winked and the moon was just a cresting sliver smiling provocatively down at the world, the way pretty women on vintage billboards used to smile as they sold cigarettes and limeade. On those nights in the summer, Claire would garden by the light of the solar-powered footpath lamps, weeding and trimming the night bloomers - the moon vine and the angel's trumpet, the night jasmine and the flowering tobacco. These weren't a part of the Waverley legacy of edible flowers, but sleepless as she often was, Claire had added flowers to the garden to give her something to do at night when she was so wound up that frustration singed the edge of her nightgown and she set tiny fires with her fingertips."

Enticing, Intriguing.... What do you think?

ROW80 First quarter goals

A new year and another round of A Round of Words in 80 Days hosted by Kait Nolan begins today. The first round runs from today through March 22nd.  I already established my goals for the year, now just need to break them down in easy, manageable gulps.   One thing I've done is purchased my own name domain name (does that make sense?) and instead of moving everything lock, stock and barrel over there, I may just set it up as my writing site.  So I'll be playing around with the idea, the design and what not and see how it goes. 

Studying the Craft: I finished my first draft of the 2011 Nano story at the end of December so ready to start editing.  I'm great at editing correspondence and business documents but not so great with WIPs.  I started looking at the classes offered by Savvy Authors and signed up for two which hopefully will give me the guidance I need.  For January I'm taking "What Does Nora Robert Know That You Don't?"  which is all about story structure, plotting, and characterization.  In February I'll be taking "Editing The Heck Out Of Things: Intensive 4-Week Polishing, Rewriting, Deleting, And Generally Improving The Draft For Submission" So starting off the year running. 

Reading about Craft:  I have a few books I plan on reading this year and going to start with Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose and Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.

Writing:  I'm going to shoot for writing 1000 words a day which include journaling, story ideas and bits and pieces of the story that keep popping into my head to finish.  This week will be my test mile to see if I can maintain that or need to back it down a bit.  Plus I need to type up the remaining pages of the first draft

Exercise:  I joined Change Write Now which is based off the book The Game On (which I downloaded and reading this week too.  I  am committing to at least 20 minutes per day of exercise.  The plan is to do the treadmill 1 hour every day except Monday and Thursday.  I still have to figure out the plan for those days which are my work days - maybe wii fit or yoga.  

Networking:  Visit 5 ROWer's every day and comment on their posts. 

Pleasure Reading: My first book of the year is The Rose Labryinth by Titania Hardie.  And reading aloud with my son The Dreamer, The Schemer and the Robe by Jenny Cote. 

All this and home school lessons too and committing to staying off the internet until 4:00 p.m. every day until lessons are done.

Check out what the other rowers are doing this row. We have lots of newbies. Brand new year and lots of shiny ideas. 

Sunday Salon: 2011 Reading year wrap up and Mount TBR challenge

Happy New Year!  Like everyone else, I am looking back at what worked and didn't work in 2011 and what hope to change and accomplish for the new year!   I outdid myself this year and read 200 books.  Yep, 200.   

Out of those 200 books, 107 were e-books, 54 were new to me authors, and I read 23 series.  I only managed to review 37 out of which 20 were for author or book tours.  Kind of went on a Paranormal and paranormal romance bent this year when I discovered Laurel K. Hamilton and read the entire Anita Blake Vampire series and Merry Gentry Series. Which lead to Marjorie M Lui's Dirk and Steel series, Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter stories and Christine Feehan's Ghostwalkers. 

Besides the authors above, there are a few books that stood out this year and my top ten are:

1) Outlining Your Novel by K.M Weiland (non fiction - writing)

2) The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane (Historical fiction)

3) Murder in the Marais by Cara Black (parisian mystery)

4) Soulless by Gail Garriger (steampunk)

5) The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund (christian historical fiction)

6) Janeology by Karen Harrington (psychological thriller)

7) Death of the Red Heroine by Qui Xiaolong (political mystery)

8) Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (thriller)

9) In the Woods by Tana French (murder mystery)

10) The Memory Collector by Meg Gardner (psychological thriller)

2012 Plans

For 2012 I'm going to slow it down a bit, read more deliberately, read some non fiction books on writing and delve into more classics.  I'm also instituting a buying ban for the next 6 month and going to read only the books in my TBR pile so joined My Reader's Block Mount TBR Reading challenge with the goal of reading 40 books even though it will most likely be more.   I'm also limiting myself to one or two book and author tours a month. My challenge fortunately are all overlapping and I have many new to me authors already in my stacks and ereader.   

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy New year and Happy Reading!

2011 Reads

2011 Reads 

First Book in Series or Stand Alone

New to Me Authors

Alicia Dean - Heart of the Witch
Ann Patchett - State of Wonder
Anne Bronte - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Anne Marsh - Bond with Me (ebook)
Ben Kane - The Silver Eagle
Bill Cameron - County Line (ebook)
Bram Stoker - Dracula
C.J. Darlington - Thicker than Blood (ebook)
C.J. Lyons - Warning Signs - (e-book)
Cara Black - Murder in the Marais
Claire Farrell - Verity (cursed 1) - (ebook)
Claudia - LeFeve The Fury (short story) - (ebook)
Danielle Trussoni - Angelology
Devon Monk - Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom series) - (ebook)
Eleanor Brown - The Weird Sisters
Elle Newmark - The Sandlewood Tree
Gail Carriger - Soulless
J.D. Rhoades - Safe and Sound
J.T. Ellison - The Immortals
Jody Hedlund - The Preacher's Bride
John Gilstrap - Hostage Zero
John Lutz - Mister X
Karen Harrington - Janeology
Kelley Armstrong - Waking the Witch
Kenneth Wishnia - The Fifth Servant
Kristen Hannah - Night Road
Lauralynn Elliott - A Rocky Path (ebook)
Libby Fischer Hellmann - An Eye for Murder (e-book)
Lilith Saintcrow - Night Shift (Jill Kismet Series #1) - (e-book)
Lisa Unger - Beautiful Lies
Lynne Truss - Eats, Shoots and Leaves (nf)
Mark Twain - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mary Daughtridge - Sealed with a Kiss - (ebook)
Michael Romkey - Vampire's Violin
Nicole Young - Love Me If You Must
Patrick Taylor - An Irish Country Doctor
Qui Xiaolong - Death of the Red Heroine
Raeanne Thayne- Light the Stars
Rebecca Branstetter - The Teachable Moment - (nf - ebook)
Richard Castle - Heatwave
S.J. Watson - Before I Go To Sleep
Sasscer Hill - Full Mortality (dnf)
Simon Van Booy - Everything Beautiful Began After
Susan Bischoff - Hush Money - (ebook)
Tana French - In The Woods
Tess Newman - Anno Dracula
Tess Oliver - Camille (ebook)
The Memory Collector - Meg Gardner
Traci L. Slatton - The Botticelli Affair
Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture

Known Author

Brandilyn Collins - Always Watching (ebook)
Daniel Palmer - Delirious
Diana Pharaoh Francis - Crimson Wind
Diana Rowland - Secrets of the Demon#3 (Kara Gillian Series)
Gary Chapman - The Five Love Languages - (nf)
Erin Kellison - Shadow Touch (short story) (ebook)
George Bernard Shaw - An Unsocial Socialist
Iain Pears - An Instance of the Fingerpost
Julie Lessman - A Heart Revealed
James Rollins - Altar of Eden (ebook)
Karen Rose - You Belong to Me
Leo Tolstoy - Anna Karenina
Keri Arthur - Mercy Burns (Myth and Magic #2)
Mercedes Lackey - Intrigues
Miriam Zimmer Bradley - The Forest House
Patricia Briggs - River Marked
Rebecca York - Shadow of the Moon
Rachel Vincent - Blood Bound
Sue Grafton - L is for Lawless - (ebook)
Ted Dekker - Green
Yann Martell - Beatrice and Virgil

Series or more than one book by author

Hush - Cherry Adair
Riptide - Cherry Adair
Undertow - Cherry Adair (e-book)

Kiss of Heaven (midnight breed series) - Lara Adrian (ebook) (new to me author)
Kiss of Midnight #1 (Midnight Breed Series) (ebook)
Kiss of Crimson #2 (ebook)
Midnight Awakening #3 (Ebook)
Midnight Rising #4 (ebook)
Veil of Midnight #5 (ebook)
Ashes of Midnight #6 (ebook)
Shades of Midnight # 7 (ebook)
Taken by Midnight # 8 (ebook)
Deeper Than Midnight #9 (ebook)

Cinders - Michelle Davidson Argyle (new to me author)
Monarch - Michelle Davidson Argyle

Wild Man Creek (Virgin River Series # 12) - Robyn Carr
Harvest Moon (Virgin River Series)
Bring Me Home for Christmas (Virgin River Series)
Just over the Mountain (Grace Valley series) (ebook)
Deep in the Valley (Grace Valley series) (ebook)
Down by the River (Grace Valley series) (ebook)

61 Hours (Jack Reacher)- Lee Child (New to me author)
Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher)

Giving Chase #1 - Lauren Dane (ebook) (new to me author)
Taking Chase #2 (ebook)
Chased - #3 (ebook)
Making Chase #4 (ebook)

Ruthless Games (Ghostwalkers) - Christine Feehan (new to me author)
Shadow Game (Ghostwalkers #1) (ebook)
Mind Game (Ghostwalkers #2)(e-book)
Night Game (Ghostwalkers #3) (ebook)
Conspiracy Game (Ghostwalkers #4) (ebook)
Deadly Game (Ghostwalkers # 5) (Ebook)
Predatory Game (Ghostwalkers # 6) (ebook)
Murder Game (Ghostwalkers # 7) (ebook)
Street Game (Ghostwalkers # 8)
Wild Rain (Leopard Series #2) (e-book)
Savage Nature (Leopard Series #5)
Dark Prince (Dark Series #1)(ebook)
Dark Desire (Dark #2) (ebook)
Dark Gold (Dark # 3) (ebook)
Dark Magic (Dark # 4) (ebook)

Back in Black - Lori Foster (ebook)
When You Dare #1
Trace of Fever #2
Savor the Danger #3

Out of Time - Alton Gansky
The Incumbent (e-book)

With No Remorse - Cindy Gerard (ebook)
Seal of My Dreams anthology – Cindy Gerard, et all (ebook)

Guilty Pleasures (#1 Anita Blake Vampire) - Laurell K. Hamilton (e-book)(new to me author)
The Laughing Corpse #2 (e-book)
Circus of the Damned #3 (e-book)
The Lunatic Cafe #4 (e-book)
Bloody Bones #5 (e-book)
The Killing Dance # 6 (e-book)
Burnt Offerings #7 (e-book)
Blue Moon #8 (e-book)
Obsidian Butterfly #9 (e-book)
Narcissus in Chains # 10 (e-book)
Cerulean Sins # 11 (e-book)
Incubus Dreams #12 (e-book)
Micah# 13 (novella) (e-book)
Danse Macbre #14(e-book)
The Harlequin #15 (e-book)
Blood Noir #16 (e-book)
Skin Trade #17 (e-book)
Flirt #18 (novella) (e-book)
Bullett #19(e-book)
Hit List #20 (e-book)
A Kiss of Shadows (#1 Merry Gentry Series) (e-book)
A Caress of Twilight #2 (e-book)
Seduced by Moonlight #3 (e-book)
A Stroke of Midnight #4 (e-book)
Mistral's Kiss #5 (e-book)
A Lick of Frost #6 (e-book)
Swallowing Darkness # 7 (e-book)
Divine Misdemeanors #8 (e-book)

The Best Gift (#1 Sisters and Brides) - Irene Hannon(ebook)
Gift From The Heart (#2 Sisters and Brides)(ebook)
The Unexpected Gift (#3 Sisters and Brides)(ebook)
Fatal Judgment

Unclean Spirits (Black Son's Daughter # 1 M.L. N. Hanover (e-book) (new to me author)
Darker Angels (b.s.d. #2) (e-book)
Vicious Grace (b.s.d. #3) (ebook)

Changeling Moon - Dani Harper (new to me author)
Changeling Dream

Styx's Storm (breed series) - Lora Leigh
Navarro's Promise - Lora Leigh
Live Wire (ebook)

Tiger Eye (Dirk and Steele series #1) Marjorie M Lui (new to me author)
Shadow Touch (Dirk and Steele Series #2)
Red Heart of Jade - (Dirk and Steele #3)
Eye of Heaven (Dirk and Steele Series # 5) (ebook
The Last Twilight (Dirk and Steele series #7 (e-book)
The Wild Road (Dirk and Steele #8)(ebook)
In the Dark of Dreams (Dirk and Steele) (ebook)
Within the Flames (Dirk and Steele) (ebook)
The Mortal Bone (Hunter Kiss #4) (ebook)

Angels Everywhere tale 1 A Season of Angels - Debbie Macomber (ebook)
Angels Everywhere tale 2 Touched by Angels (ebook

Devil's Eye - Kait Nolan (e-book) (new to me author)
Forsaken by Shadow

Kiss the Moon - Carla Neggers
The Whisper (E-Book)
The Mist

Chasing Fire - Nora Roberts
The Next Always
Treachery in Death - J.D. Robb
New York to Dallas (In Death #33)

Quicksilver - Amanda Quick (e-book)
The Perfect Poison (arcane series) - Amanda Quick (ebook)
Midnight Crystal (Arcane Society) - Jayne Castle (ebook)

Angel's Blood (Guild hunter #1) - Nalini Singh (ebook) (new to me author)
Archangel's Kiss (GH#2) (ebook)
Archangel's Consort (GH3)(ebook)
Archangel's Blade (GH4) (ebook)

Almost Home - Mariah Stewart
Hometown Girl

Face of Danger -Roxanne St. Claire (e-book)
Shiver of Fear (e-book)

Crave (fallen angels series #2) - J.R. Ward (e-book)
Dark Lover (Dark Lover series #1)- J.R. Ward

A Man Called Outlaw - K.M. Weiland (new to me author)
Outlining Your Novel - K.M. Weiland (non fiction)

An Obrien Family Christmas - Sherryl Woods (ebook)
Beach Lane
Tea and Destiny