Showing posts from 2013

What I Know For Sure About Christmas

As inconvenient, messy, and high-maintenance as they are, real Christmas trees are cheaper, cooler and better than good fakes. Except silver tinsel trees from the fifties. Those rock.
Kids are great tree decorators. Even with the glass ornaments. Especially when they create vignettes, like the Star Wars scene and Toy Soldier corner.
And they have much more patience with glitter than their fathers.
Tree decorating is best done with wine, no matter what time of day it is.
Traditions matter.
Even the ones they've outgrown.
And naps are never overrated.
Activity advent calendars are a great idea until they become work for the mom.
And that kind of planning is always work.
Organic pastry flour makes terrible spritz cookies.
Whole milk and real butter are the only options.
And bacon. But not for the cookies.
Perfect cookies are not worth the disappointment of boys who didn't get to operate the cookie press.
Another batch of cookies will always be worth it.
Glitter is forever.

Book Crack

Sounds vaguely nasty, doesn't it? Book crack.

In my world, the meaning is clear. It's the book I open when I've finished reading to the boys, the lights in their room are off, their voices are down to a whisper and the odd giggle, and I've turned off the heat and crawled under the covers to read (I've developed climate control stinginess as I've become my father). But that's not the crack part. Because the crack on the chin from the iPad when I fall asleep does not book crack make. No, it's the butt crack of dawn that shines through the window when I finally turn off the kindle (really, the facial bruises from the iPad suck) and debate getting up to write, or snuggling down for an hour, maybe two if I'm lucky and don't have something to shower for that morning.

Because it's always with a frown at my own self-indulgence, and a smile of satisfaction at the experience of reading a GREAT story that defines true book crack.

And of course, book c…

Happy Book Birthday!

Marking Time is one year old this month, and to celebrate its book birthday, I'm giving it away.

Yep. Free.

Well, the digital version anyway. Here's the link forMarking Timeon Amazon, but it's also free at Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

Last year I made big promises of a November release for book two in the Immortal Descendants series: Tempting Fate. Sadly, I may have overstated my rule-of-thumb that all other books can't take longer than a year.

(Sigh) Let's face it, I lied.

I'm not proud of that. It's been the big pink elephant in the room for a couple of months now, staring at me, laughing its pink elephant know, through it's nose.

So in the interest of wresting control of my floorspace away from Pink, possibly regaining a little of my ability to look readers in the eye when they ask about the second book, I'm tossing a couple of details from Tempting Fate into the winds to see if they catch anyone's eye as they float past.


Book Club Magic

I accidentally, on purpose, became a member of an online book club. The on-purpose part was because I actually did request to join the group of now twenty women in a closed facebook club called "Hopeless Romantics." The accidental part was that it's romance. I don't read romance. Oh wait (looks through kindle list and gasps), maybe I do. Somehow, in the last year of inhaling books, I've become a romance reader.

It still baffles me that I read a genre I've always slightly winced at. Believe me, there's still plenty to wince at, but I've also stumbled across wonderful writers with funny, real, genuine voices who write truths in their stories and create lives and loves that give readers the warm fuzzies for days.

This book club was started by just such a writer. So I joined, and the facebook-chat conversations we've had for the past month have made me giggle, nod, laugh out loud, and smirk in ways that have my boys raising eyebrows and shaking their …

Wine is the Key

What I know for sure: A child or a chicken will get sick the day before I leave for a trip. Especially the “getaway” trips. I am most productive when there’s no time for anything. When I have time set aside to work, I find anything else but work to fill that time. I am afraid of very few things, but well-dressed, rich French women are among them. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too early to have that glass of wine. Sometimes I have it anyway. Fish and chips wrapped in newspaper is the food of the Gods. French fries in Amsterdam taste better with mayonnaise. Everything tastes better with bacon. Sometimes all you need is a perfect pair of shoes. You can’t go wrong with leopard print. Writers love reading, but hate writing. We write so we have something to read. My best friends are the ones who read and drink like me. Even better if our kids are friends too. There are few things more frustrating than chickens who hide their eggs. I rarely crave a salad. When I was nine, my favorite weekends were spent readi…

Tumbles and Catches

I got a very intriguing e-mail in my inbox today from a retiree living in Arizona who had read Marking Time, enjoyed it, and had found four typos to correct for the next edition. That was all - he didn't include the corrections, just let me know he'd found the mistakes.

That was about the most awesome way to get notes I've ever encountered. Not "here's where you screwed up." Just "I found some, let me know if you want them." I e-mailed him back right away and he very thoughtfully provided the location numbers, percentages, and line corrections. They were tiny errors - only two, in fact, that hadn't already been corrected on the final drafts of both print and e-book (which was odd in itself considering he found four), but the extra "it" and the missing "he" are the kinds of things that garner poor reviews and make readers put down books without finishing them. Both of which draw gasps of horror from writers.

I'm currently …

Tempting Inspiration

I just did my pinboard notebook for Tempting Fate. I covered a composition book in these images to remind myself of the plot points my story will dance around, slam into and free-run over as I navigate the fascinating places the story takes me. Of course it's also work-avoidance to compile, so... back to the book.

Great Kindle Book Deals

I'm a ravenous consumer of books, a kindle-app iPad reader, and perpetual deal-seeker. In my constant trolling of Amazon for great books, I've come across fantastic deals for kindle app readers, many of which are the first books in great series. The prices are always subject to change, but I've read all these books and think they're well-worth the investment of time and money. The book covers are linked to Amazon, and every book on this list is very highly rated by many more readers than me. Enjoy!

Under $6

Under $5

Under $4

Review: Neverwhere

It's no surprise to anyone who's ever read anything by Neil Gaiman that he's a master of words. Actually, he wields words like a sword or a feather, crafting a feeling about a thing that one never realized they should, could or might feel.

"His skin felt clammy, and his eyes felt like they had been put in their sockets wrong, while his skull gave him the general impression that someone had removed it while he had slept and swapped it for another two or three sizes too small."

And then there are the characters he... illuminates. Because reading his stories, one gets the feeling the characters actually exist - have always been there, just outside the average person's realm of "normal" - and it's only with Gaiman's introduction that we finally get to meet them.

"The boy has the towering arrogance only seen in the greatest of artists and all nine-year-old boys."

That single sentence description introduces a very minor player in a stor…


Stephen King on writing:
"If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." ―Stephen King
He also said: “No one likes a clown at midnight,” and there are no truer words.
So, since I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the relationships among characters as I write the second book of The Immortal Descendants series, I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. A lot. Like 42 books so far this year. No mysteries. I’m done with mysteries. Too many years spent as a private investigator to buy into the glamour of the job. But peppered among the urban fantasy and Elizabethan history books on my iPad are romances.
The romance reading is new. With the exception of Outlander, which is always mistakenly shelved in the romance section when it should be in time travel fantasy, I’ve never found a romance book of which my pride would let me read more than a couple chapters.
But there’s a whole new crop of romance books for the new adult audience (the c…

"I feel brave today, Mom."

So, the last two months have been hard. Not in real life, just in my brain. I'm way more sensitive to criticism (3-star reviews? Really? Weren't just content to give the book 3 stars and move on? Had to say something too?). And I'm way quicker to take everything personally with friends and family and people I don't even know. It's not my usual MO - I'm basically too lazy to be so annoyed all the time - but lately it's been easier to be annoyed than not, and that's just... well, annoying.

I've been working on getting out of my head since the moody blues came to visit, especially with my kids. Because what could be worse than a moody mom? Pretty much nothing good can come from it, so I'm taking extra care to listen, hear things beyond the words, and mostly just breathe a couple times before reacting to whatever it is they didn't do the first two times I said to.

And the thing about kids is they're about the most generous beings on the plan…

Review: Through the Ever Night

There's nothing better than possibility living up to potential. Take books, for example, though movies work too. The first book of Veronica Rossi's distopian YA fantasy series, Under the Never Sky, was brilliant. The characters were complex, strong, able to roll with the curve balls the author threw at them, and not whiney! I can't over-emphasize the importance of whine-free leads in any book, but especially one starring teens. Ms. Rossi created believable flaws for her characters to overcome, and the story held up beautifully, even on the second read-through.
Just in time for the sequel.
When the sequel  to a book or movie you loved comes out, especially a full-paperback-priced-even-though-it's-a-kindle one, there's a hope/fear/anticipation combo going into it. Will the sequel live up to the standard set by book one? Will the possibility for greatness actually be realized? Or were all those pent-up words and amazing ideas that went into the first book the sum-tot…

The choice to write

I've been talking about this a lot recently, to English classes full of teenagers, to book clubs of women my own age, to anyone who wonders "how did you write a book?"

I had to choose it every day, sometimes every hour or even every minute. I still do. When I think about the laundry piling up in corners of the boys' room becoming a habitat for the things that go bump in the night, I have to close the door and choose to write. Or the raised garden bed I emptied of the litter box-- I mean sandbox -- that mocks me and the shriveling herbs I bought three weeks ago to plant in it, I have to park my booty at the computer and pretend the wheelbarrow of chicken poop is still just "aging." To say nothing of the car that kids are leaving snarky messages on, or the leaves that need raking because they cover the dog and chicken poop exactly long enough to be stepped in by said snarky children. I have to choose to write instead of managing all the things that come with …

sparkle-free and angst-less

I just devoured the Elemental Mysteries - a very entertaining series of books by Independent Author, Elizabeth Hunter. Ms. Hunter has done something remarkable in these books; she created a new vampire mythology in an age of moody teenaged bloodsuckers. Her vampires have an inherited affinity for one of four elements (earth, air, water, fire) from which they draw power, yet her mythology maintains all the rules for vampires that make sense (death by sun and beheading, blood-drinking for sustenance, passing out cold during daylight hours, and age equals strength). They're not sparkly, or angsty, nor are they inherently evil, and the ones we hang out with spent a considerable amount of time training to fight when they were human, so their enhanced vampire hand-to-hand combat skills are Matrix-worthy and cool.

I come from a long history of contemporary vampirism-in-literature readership, beginning with Anne Rice (because why wouldn't you?), and leaving off most recently with Cha…

The big stuff

You know those days when you feel like you just put a chink in your kids' armor?

I'm having one of those days.

Maybe I've been up too late reading, or up too early not-writing (guilt, frustration, more guilt), or maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the planet from friendly, warm, tolerant and patient. And even though the point I was making to my boys this morning about jumping to help when someone asks for it is a good/valid/vital point to make, I wasn't patient or kind. I was distant and annoyed, and I could feel the hurt pouring off both of them in waves. I didn't need to do it that way.

I think about all the ways we put ourselves together as human beings; the things we love, or dislike, the way we trust, or not, and the things we risk every time we try something new. Every disappointment adds a little armor, every success loosens the armor so it's not so tight and restricting. A lot of armor gets heavy and unwieldy, and makes walking through doors diff…

Cool Books

I just sent this list to Becky at The Book Frog, where I get to talk about books next month; other people's (which is really fun to do) and my own (which tends to make my guts twist up in little knots).

Compiling the list was fun. First, the easy books - the ones that directly or indirectly influenced the story, characters, or writer (that's me) of Marking Time: On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony, Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, The Name of the Wind, by the incomparable Patrick Rothfuss, and The Ivanhoe Gambit, by Simon Hawke. Those are piled in a precarious stack on the most beautifully useless piece of furniture in our living room - a display shelf made from a repurposed Indian wedding carriage that's too narrow to hold anything other than family photos. Which, in a room groaning with books, is totally wasted space.
The other books, the ones I buy extra copies of because I'm constantly loaning them out, or the ones I read out loud t…