Friday, October 13, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things


Hello, Friday! Are you ready for the weekend? Have something to celebrate? Let's take a moment to thank our host, Lexa Cain and cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.


1. Last week was a big week for blogging. As cohost for the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group, I was fortunate to receive 60 comments. I'm still replying and hope to visit everyone by the end of the weekend. 


Image: Nick Allen


2. I started writing a new novel. It's been a long time coming. After spending so much time in the 1800s for my historical novel, it's strange writing something contemporary again. Although architecture from the 19th century might sneak in as this story takes place on the campus of a fictional southern university. 


Image: denisbin, College of Charleston



3. Big Little Lies, the HBO mini-series.


I don't have HBO, but Liane Moriarty is an amazing author and Big Little Lies is one of my favorite of her books. So I bought the DVD collection as a birthday present to myself and it was so, so good. The actors were perfect for their roles. The script was faithful to the book about 90% of the time and the changes that were made were excellent choices. (The resolution of one of the daughters trying to sell her virginity online to raise awareness of human trafficking was handled better in the book, but that's a minor thing.) 


Image: Jan Arendtsz


I loved the setting they chose for the mini-series: Monterey Bay, California. The book took place in Australia. The title sequence (check it out here) was gorgeous and the song they chose, Michael Kiwanuka's Cold Little Heart, got stuck in my head after the first couple of episodes. Productions like this along with Game of Thrones (HBO) and 13 Reasons Why (Netflix) make me think that miniseries might replace major motion pictures as the ultimate dream for authors who want to see their work onscreen.

My next mini-series to purchase: The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) 

What do you think? Would you rather see your favorite book as a mini-series or a movie?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG and Celebrate the Small Things



Good morning, IWSG! How is everyone today? We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's get to it. First and foremost, let's give a deafening shout-out to the man-with-the-plan, the one, the only Alex. J. Cavanaugh! And don't forget those co-hosts, diligently clicking and commenting away: Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan! (That last one sounds a little shady. Who has so many "a" letters in their name?)

First off, a contest. Today's the day to enter the Show Us Your Writer Insecurity Contest. Here are the rules and prizes:

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.) 

The IWSG site admins will visit each one and pick the top three. Why? Because there are cool prizes involved: 

Third place – EBook of A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford, eBook of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson, eBook of Cling to God by Lynda R. Young, eBook of Already Home by Heather M. Gardner, and eBook of Dragon of the Stars by Alex. J. Cavanaugh. 

Second place – The entire eBook collection of the Totem series by Christine Rains, eBooks of Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie, audio book of CassaSeries by Alex J. Cavanaugh, eBook of Black and White by Nick Wilford, and your choice eBook from J.L. Campbell. 

Grand prize winner
 - IWSG website interview, IWSG newsletter spotlight, IWSG pinned tweet for one week, C. Lee McKenzie's Featured Follower for the month, the IWSG Goodreads book club eBook for October/November, a short chapter critique, and a pair of IWSG erasers.

And here is my entry:






This will be especially embarrassing considering her latest chapter, seen here in a screen shot. And yes, she had the nerve to type over my short story description for Heart Stopper



So now I know exactly who's been leaving all those nasty, little typos in my manuscripts. Et tu, Dove?



Manuscript Gremlin caught after midnight.

(I've heard staring at a computer screen for too long is bad for your eyes, but this is ridiculous!)


Next up, a question:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I probably did when I first started writing, but I can't remember the details. Another fun thing I like to do is put myself in scenes. The short story Ghosts of a Beneficial Place was set along my bike route, so I had the main character almost hit me with her mini-van. In Heart Stopper, a worried father in the waiting room of a hospital spies (with envy) a very pregnant lady sleeping on a couch. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I actually fell asleep during my husband's surgery. (He's fine, btw.)

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Since I'll (hopefully) be busy Friday returning comments and waiting on my children hand-and-foot for the start of a four-day Columbus Weekend Break Blow-Out, I'm going to get this blog hop out there a few days in advance. Thank you to our host, Lexa Cain and cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

Today, I'll celebrate cheese because without cheese, we wouldn't have some of the best, darn foods on the planet including cheddar cheese fondue, pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches...AND I would have had a much tougher time getting that picture of Dove at my computer for today's contest. 

Anyone know how to get cheese crumbs out of your keyboard? 

I'd also like to acknowledge my husband for coming up with the words for Dove's thought bubble and formatting the whole shebang in less than five minutes. You rock. (So if I win, I guess I'll have to share the prize.) Here are some earlier takes:



Or should I have gone with: "Call me Ishmael"?



"Steal one word and I'll sue for plagiarism" would be snappier, don't you think?

I'm editing you, husband. Always editing. Always. (Bonus points if you know what movie character I'm paraphrasing here.)

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Did you enter today's Writer Insecurity Contest? Does you pet ever take over your computer? Have a favorite opening line?


Friday, September 29, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



It seems I was typing up last week's post approximately five minutes ago. Time is zoomin', y'all! Shouts to our hostess with the mostest, Lexa Cain and her rockin' good cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

Things to celebrate this week:

1. Extra-special delivery last night!!  (No, it wasn't a baby. Bite your tongues!)




Not only is this 700-page doorstop (Yay! I love long books) from my favorite author, but he co-wrote it with his son. Schweet!. At first I thought it might be son Joe Hill, best known for works like Horns and The Fireman, but no. Owen King is Stephen's youngest son. 


2. Speaking of excellent books, I sent out a tweet about how much I loved Annie Hartnett's Rabbit Cake and the author tweeted me back! How cool is that?



Rabbit Cake is a wonderful character-driven piece about a girl dealing with the death of her mother (from sleep-walking into a river) as well as a sister also inflicted with a sleep-walking disorder. I loved the bits about Elvis (yep, that the girl's name) working at a zoo since I used to work at one myself. This book is absolutely bizarre, ridiculous enough to make you laugh out loud, and poignant enough to have you reaching for the Kleenex box. I highly recommend it. 




And how did I get my hand's on this gem? I was in the library and plucked it off the shelf just to show my impatient-about-to-drag-me-out-by-my-hair daughter the cover. Her favorite animal is--you guessed it--rabbits. Then I read the blurb and brought it home. 

What's the best thing you've read recently? Are you a Stephen King fan? Ready to dive into Sleeping Beauties?


Friday, September 22, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things


It's Friday fun time! Release the confetti! This fabulous blog hop is hosted by the author of Bloodwalker, Lexa Cain and L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

1. It's officially fall, but the weather doesn't seem to care. We're still getting up into the high 70s and low 80s and it's beautiful. I even got a lot of plants around the house trimmed and cleaned up all the garbage/planters/ancient hoses hiding under/behind the plants surrounding our deck. It was a disgusting job and I ruined a pair of white sneakers, but it was worth it. 

2. I went to visit my daughters' teachers last night at their school's open house. The most common comment for both kids: "She's so quiet!" Really? I ought to record the screaming matches that go on at home and post them sometime. But seriously, I'm thankful the kidlets behave at school and work hard. Kudos to them. 

3. Books and cats. Without these, I don't know how I'd handle all the stress. Here's some photos and fun filters taken by my daughter, Sedona. Enjoy!





A reversal of darks and lights. I ought to update my blog photo with this. I love it.




Mr. Mistofellees perched on our grill-turned-bird-feeding station. Catch anything, bud?




Our sweet Dove, snoozing on the kitchen table. But don't let her cute looks fool you...





She can be a real blockhead. For example, Dove sticks her tongue in other people's water glasses (and laps it up) allll the time, and...




She's not above sticking out that same tongue at us, but we don't mind too much because...



Dove rocks the house! Yeah, baby!


Have a rockin' good weekend, y'all!

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Does it look like fall where you live? What's your least favorite chore around the house or yard? Do you take crazy pictures of your pets? 


Friday, September 15, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



It's Friday and I'm glad. No complaints about the impending loss of free time for the next two days, because I will happily turn into a short-order cook/laundress/maid in order to sleep in. Getting up at 5:15 or 5:45 Mon.-Fri. is killing me, y'all. Killing me!



Bed = Happiness

(Image: cupcakexoxo)


Let me interrupt my rant to thank the host and co-hosts of this weekly blog hop: Lexa Cain and L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

In addition to sleep, I'm celebrating the movie It. I saw It yesterday. It was going to be a busy day, so I had to get my exercise in early. What better way to celebrate "It Movie Day" than with a bike ride? I even passed by some honest-to-goodness balloons on my route. Thankfully they were white and green (and being used to advertise vacancies in an apartment complex) instead of red.



Red balloon plus sewer grate equals creeptastic photo. Thanks Blondinrikard Froberg!


The movie itself had a lot going for it. The actors fit their parts, the clown was terrifying, and the special effects were used wisely without going overboard. They tried to stuff as much information about the dark history of Derry into the film as time would allow. The most frightening part, for me, was the first ten minutes when Georgie Denbrough meets Pennywise for the first and last time. 


Image: Wikipedia


Despite all the things the film gets right, I still left the theatre a little bummed. There's so much in the book that just can not fit into a two hour film. I understand that. But I wish I could have seen the dam the Losers build across the Kenduskeag in the Barrens along with the underground chamber where they performed the Ritual of Chüd. Or the chapter where Bill and Ritchie encounter a werewolf, Stan's meeting with the dead boys in the Standpipe, Beverly's dash across town after her father goes insane, or Richie's encounter with the Paul Bunyon statue. 



Image: The actual Paul Bunyon statue in Bangor Maine. No wonder it gives the residents the creeps! The ax in his right hand is bad enough, but check out that tool in his left. Picture by Doug Folkerts.


All of those are key action sequences, but I also miss some of the small stuff. There's a beautifully written chapter about Ben staying late after school in the winter to help the librarian stack books and later his walk through the desolate frozen town (right before he meets the Mummy). I love that part, but it couldn't be in the movie. All the kids' first encounters with Pennywise had to occur around the same time in the summer, so major changes had to be made in the film. 





It makes me wish that the book had been turned into a series by HBO or Netflix and given the kind of attention to detail seen with Game of Thrones or 13 Reasons Why. Ditto The Dark Tower. The liberties they took to stuff a seven-book series into a single movie are cringeworthy.  Oh well. Maybe someone will make a series out of The Talisman someday.

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Lastly, I got notice from fellow blogger and author C. Lee McKenzie that her novel, Double Negative, is in a list for Readers Choice Awards for YA and Middle Grade books (page 12/16). If you'd like to vote for her book, here's the link: https://www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting

Voting ends on December 10. Here's what it's about:

Double Negative

Publisher: Evernight Teen, July 24, 2014 (Digital & Paperback)

Reviews: Evernight Teen - Amazon & Goodreads 

"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't gointo the slammer before that happened." Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped between an abusive mother and an absentee father. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.
Now Available at: 

Amazon Kindle • Amazon Paperback • Barnes & Noble • Smashwords

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What's the earliest you've gotten up in the morning for school or work? Have you seen the movie It or read the book? How about Double Negative





Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group and Celebrate the Small Things


Whoa, like September, where have you been? August was an absolute whirlwind of trips, eclipse, back-to-school freak-outs, and query madness. It's finally time to sit down at the writing desk again and...blog! Huzzahs to the one-and-only Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his merry band of co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, andBeverly Stowe McClure!

September's optional IWSG question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

Why, yes! I did. When I first started writing, I composed suspenseful stories with supernatural or spooky elements.  I found myself using my favorite author's voice. (At least, in my mind.) To break free, I started a historical novel. The first draft was written in third person, but after some discussion with my critique group, I rewrote it in first. This resulted in a stronger voice that does not (I hope) imitate Stephen King one bit.

This was the novel that got pitched in the IWSG Twitter extravaganza in late July this summer.  If you've never tried a Twitter pitch event, I highly recommend you give it a whirl. It's so nice to be able to open a query letter with something like, "I'm writing in response to your "like" of the pitch for my novel..." instead of the basic cold-call-type letter.

Besides querying, I hope to start a new novel this fall and dive into the research for a sequel to my historical novel. Plus I've got several short stories that need a publishing home. So I've got plenty of things to keep me chained to my desk during school hours. 

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Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly (supposed to be on Friday, but I'm cheating) blog hop hosted by the amazing Lexa Cain and cohosted by L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker. It's a great way to let bloggers know about the good things, big or small, going on in your world.

1. It's the most wonderful time of the year...

If you're a parent, you might be familiar with this jingle as used in a Staples commercial where the parents dance down the aisles, filling their carts with school supplies as their sullen children drag themselves behind them like criminals on the way to the gallows. 

Today's the day. No requests for food. No shopping trips. No fighting. No whining. Just seven golden hours of peace and quiet and they're mine. ALLL MINE! WAH-HA-HA!!!

I can write. I can blog. I can clean, or take a bike ride, or read a book. Uninterrupted. I can sit down and eat an entire lunch without getting up every two minutes. What bliss. 

2. I (almost) saw the eclipse.

It's kind of a sad story. I dragged my family down to my parents who live south of Asheville, NC. We debated where to watch the eclipse for months, but when it got closer, the predictions of standstill traffic lasting for hours and hours were just too daunting. We decided that 99.2% of the eclipse would be plenty for us and stayed at my parent's house. 

Eclipse, August 21, 2017


With glasses on, we marveled at the disappearing sun and watched the shadows under the trees turn into series of eclipse-shapes on the walk-ways.





We walked up to the lake by my parents house when totality got near.


View to the left.



View to the right. 


About 60 seconds out, a cloud covered the sun. NOOOO!!!!!


Sedona, left, and my parents during totality.


The big, bad cloud didn't budge until about a minute after totality had passed. But, it did get noticeably darker and cooler and the wind picked up. 

On the news that night were pictures of cars in gridlock. There were reports of people leaving their vehicles in droves to dash into the woods and, um, ... you know. My husband joked that the deer would be safe from speeding vehicles for weeks after catching that particular scent near the highways.

Ironically, after all the talk about this eclipse being a once-in-a-lifetime event, we have since discovered that in seven years, another total eclipse is not only going through the U.S., but will pass pretty close to our home! The only catch is that the date is April 8th, which is still winter here in Rochester, N.Y. The chance of cloud cover is about 70%.

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Do you genre-hop as an author or reader? Celebrate or mourn back-to-school? Did you travel to see the eclipse? Would waiting in traffic for hours and using the woods for a bathroom be worth it to see totality?