Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scare Me!!! (A Blogfest)

So the boys over at Sci-Fi Media are having a scary blogfest today and here is what they have to say about it: The purpose of the Scare Me Blogfest is to write about the scariest book that you have read, Movie you have watched, Ghosts you have encountered, and/or to share your own scary story.

I really love to be a little scared... my tolerance for being REALLY scared is lower than when I was younger, but I still like a fright. So being me... I thought I'd throw together a little hodgepodge of my favorite scares in a couple categories:

*shivers*  This is the sandman
Scariest SONG (who woulda thunk?)

Enter Sandman by Metallica—I was a metal head teen, but honestly, Metallica is a little after my time (I was onto alternative by their time and went to grunge next), but seriously... this song is the stuff of nightmares... and I LOVE IT!

Here is just a bit of it... (Or if you'd prefer to listen)

Hush little baby don't say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It's just the beast under your bed
In your closet in your head

Exit light
Enter night
Grain of sand

Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
We're off to never never-land

Scariest CD
Definitely has to be Concrete Blonde's Bloodletting.

The whole thing is about loss and sadness, but much of it is about vampires, death or (scariest to me) losing someone to someTHING (addiction or personal demons) instead of a person or something you did.

Scariest TV Show

I think Twin Peaks gets my vote here, but it only edges out American Horror Story because I don't really feel like 6 episodes was quite enough to really entrench me as a viewer in the 'holy crap, what was that?' thing. There are also a couple episodes of Buffy that get nods—most notably, Hush. Where those creepy dead looking things steal all the voices because they can only be killed by a scream.

Scariest Movie(s)

Okay, now here I am going to cheat a little... Instead of the scariest movie I've ever seen, I am going to give you favorite scare movie. Because some of that crap is too realistic and scares me, but I don't enjoy it. And I really LOVE a good scare... so I am going with a few scary movies I love here...

The Thing (original)
Blair Witch Project

All of these the 'monster' is mostly (or completely) off screen. I LOVE scary tension. I usually think monsters on screen are cheesy and monsters who are people (meaning criminals) are too realistic. I can live with possessed, the sight, shapeshifty stuff... But it isn't quite as scary to me.

Scariest Experience: There is a haunted coffin factory in Niagara Falls (Canadian side) that almost made me pee myself. Seriously. TERRIFYING.

And best for last... Books and authors...

I was a serious spooky book reader from about junior high to college and I still love to dive in every once in a while. I have a few favorites on books and then a serious case of author love...

Amityville Horror (1st scary book I read and it hooked me)
The Shining (pulled me into Stephen King)
The Talisman, Steven King WITH... (warning: segue here) Peter Straub

But my real and true scary book love is for Peter Straub. I fell in love with him with Ghost Story, but my favorite is probably Mr. X. He admits to heavy influence from HP Lovecraft

TANGENT: I love HP Lovecraft for short stories, but haven't been thrilled with the full books because of writing style--he is sort of clinical. Okay... really clinical. He writes as if he is an academic studying these findings, and for a short story (or 10) it totally works, but it is too detached for novels.

Back to Peter Straub: He is at his best when he is being a generation time jumper—person influenced by evil ancestors and fighting it, or having ooky powers that run in the family.

So there you have it!  How I like to scare myself!  Don't forget to check out the other entries, too (link up at the top)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Nakedness Disrobed

My friend Marian shared a horoscope (of mine) with me this week and it struck me it was awfully darned accurate. The link is gone, as a new one goes up each day, but the gist of it is I am a shameless attention whore and insecurity is the reason. I DID copy the punchline:

On the other hand, if you're attracting attention, even negative attention, maybe you're already winning. It depends on what you're trying to achieve. There's no bad publicity, in some worlds.

So I thought maybe it was time for one of those confessions I'm supposed to be doing around here.

It's true. I'm a shameless attention whore and insecurity is the reason. Lemme e'splain...

My Pre-Online Life

See... I'm shy and awkward, right? I mean I was in my mid-20s before I learned boys were people, so it is worse in mixed company, but I am PAINFULLY bad at small talk. Now with my close friends I was always pretty good at just being silly—silly broke the tension--helped me contribute, even if I had no clue what to say. And I think in late high school I realized that silly went over well with people I wasn't quite as close to, too.

Man, in college I WORKED IT. Because I had LEARNED SOMETHING. The risk of being laughed at is not NEARLY AS SCARY if you are doing something FUNNY. In fact... if you are doing something funny, they are SUPPOSED to laugh at you.

I mean sure, I still had yearnings to be dark and mysterious... sexy... desirable. But it really wasn't happening.

I grew to accept this as ME in my late 20s. I worked with a friend who was just as goofy and he and I used to bounce off each other until we were laughing so hard we were crying.... it was about the time I became a mom, too, so silliness and kids are a good pairing. Why NOT embrace it?

Yes, this is the kind of thing we observed...
Enter the Online Stuff

My first forays online were related to Harry Potter. In fact for a couple YEARS I was really only online in that capacity. The variety of people was big, and I made friends of all sorts, but the tightest friendships were those where a couple people could bounce off each other in sublime silliness—have it build, get the delightful surprises. By the time I was ready for Facebook in 2007, I had honed my ability with the quip. It just felt natural.

I am NOT the first naked writer
Enter my Writing Career

Such as it is... so I was being a goofball online with friends. No harm, no foul. Right? But what the heck was I supposed to do with a BLOG to promote a BOOK and the idea of me as a WRITER? (A public figure? Me? Eeek GADS—do you KNOW the skeletons I have in my closet?) Oh, sure, I'll be all professional, I thought... for about five minutes.

Because it came back to shy awkward me and how well I talk to people if I try to limit the range of the conversation... it stresses me out and shuts me down. Why NOT fall back on all that goofiness stuff?

I mean... who DOESN'T want to be naked all the time?

Because that way if I'm laughed at... at least that's what I was going for.

Erm... and when I looked for the image up there, I googled 'naked writer'... guess who ELSE is there... Me.  So it's working... I guess.

Speaking of... recent nudity success: I am doing NaNoWriMo and my buddy Tonja, in Friday comments, said, “Hey, I listed you as a NaNo buddy. I figured that was you if naked world domination was listed as a hobby. :)”

See—no risk of your friends not finding you if you are always completely yourself and different from pretty much everybody else... But if anybody ELSE doing NaNoWriMo wants to find me, I am hartjohnson. Three more days!

Friday, October 26, 2012

How Many Books?

Next Thursday I will be starting my 7th WriMo. But I will be doing something for the first time... starting a series that is intended to be read in order... a Septology? Anyway... it occurred to me that I've written stand-alones, a trilogy, a series in which each book CAN stand alone, but they also go together... And in each case there are different challenges. I thought maybe I'd talk about that...


In most genres, this is what most books are. Each book is its own enclosed unit, telling you everything you need to know (or at least enough you can satisfactorily imagine the rest). There is some tolerance of some loose ends, but the big thing has to be wrapped up. I think the vast majority of authors write mostly these, though there are genre exceptions. But I know of my 13 books I've written, seven fall here (YA and cozy mystery fall into exception categories.)

Series of Stand-alones

I most often see these as mysteries. Same sleuth, detective, or cop. New crime. Though I think there is some YA and a fair bit of middle grade that falls here, too—same characters, new hi-jinx. My Cozy Gardening series fits this and they are tricky—at least the first one was (and by first, I mean second--the first that came after the first *shifty*). The problem is the reader might start anywhere, so you have to give the important details for characters, but you need to do it lightly enough that someone who has read OTHER ones doesn't want to throw the book.


See, this is the category I've never done... I think some stories earn an after story and that is fabulous. And other authors fall in love with their characters and sort of fall in a trap. I think it is important to make sure it is the former you are writing. Even great books can have stupid sequels. I was not, for instance, impressed with the sequel to Pillars of the Earth (which was a favorite book until the sequel annoyed me... I'm serious). But if the end of one book is headed off to a new part of life, then sometimes THAT makes a great book, too.


I really love the trilogy, probably because I love a good, long story. The TRICK to trilogies is to, in addition to the long story, have a compelling story within each individual book that completes. I've written one of these. Badly. It may or may not ever see the light of day, but would need a full rewrite. I think these are easiest when the writer knows the whole story at the start (I mean not all of it, but has a plan for where it is going to go). And even then, it can muck up. (Eragon was meant to be 3... I think it will end up 5)

Favorites: Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings

Epic Series

This is the longer set that all go in order... and this is my fear. It is BIG. They do less repeat than those stand-alone series, but the big plot moves forward for a big, underlying thing. Each book still needs it's own plot that completes, but the bigger thing needs to move forward. I've seen few TV series do this really well. Veronica Mars comes to mind. I have to admit, the idea of writing this is intimidating. I could spend YEARS on ONE series... But I think the story deserves it.

Favorite EVER: Harry Potter. Song of Fire and Ice is doing really well as entertainment, but I don't think it does as well on the 'each book has its own plot' piece. Sword of Truth did it well, though I honestly suspect he wrote the first, did well, THEN came up with the rest of the series—the first book isn't connected to the big overarching thing.

So how many of these have you tried?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Son the Super Hero

So remember Monday when I blogged about BOOing?
Well my minion was spotted... and this led to the cutest story EVER.

Attempted head shot. The boy ducked.

N. (age 4) and his dad spotted the BOO minion and the conversation went something like this:

Dad: I think that was Sam.
N.: No, it was Sworder.
Dad: Are you sure? I'm pretty sure it was Sam.
N.: No, Dad. It was Sworder.

A few rounds of this and the dad decided to leave it. Because do you know who Sworder is?

How could you? He's a figment of N.'s imagination... An imaginary best friend who:

Lives in other countries.
Travels around.
Protects people, and
Does good deeds.

And apparently he looks like this:

I love the minds of 4-year-olds. And I love that he now believes he has physically seen this friend of his. Especially a friend who goes around the world doing good things.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Half-A$$ed Update

I almost wrote lame. But a friend of mine recently posted on Facebook reminding me what lame literally means, so I'm trying to strike the ablist word from my vocabulary except where I mean it literally.

If you want deep thought from me today, that was it.

I do have a couple updates and a couple excuses, though, so there's that.

Borrowed, obviously:
Editing Update

I am about a third of the way through the HARD PASS, which is the middle pass, but the one where I have to make big decisions, rewrite scenes and kill my darlings, for MEDIUM WRONG. It's going pretty well, I think. I am happy. Hopefully I will finish the hard pass before... NaNoWriMo. And then in November I can do my polish on my commute—inputting polishy stuff isn't too hard, so by December, I will be ready to share it.


Ideas keep churning and I think I am going to work with a more thorough planning system than I have for a long time. Still not quite an outline, but I am starting a seven-book series, and I feel like I really want to plan my characters meaningfully. Each book will mostly stand alone, but there is also an underlying mystery that goes across ALL the books, so the pieces important to THAT have to be RIGHT.


Tomorrow, four and a half months after its release, The Azalea Assault gets its first REPRINT!!! I blogged a little about sales volume a little bit ago with my royalty statement, but what Michelle, my editor, said, when she shared this news was this:

There were 20,500 printed originally.
More than 19,000 have shipped and they have confirmed more than 16,000 SALES.
So this is sure enough, and the reserves low enough, that they are printing 2500 more.

She also sent me the art for The BEGONIA BRIBE cover, but it isn't finalized, so I'm not allowed to post it online yet. I was really pleased, though—it's very pretty. Feels a lot like The AZALEA ASSAULT, but the location is different (Elmwood Park—a real place, but pumped up on FLORAL, which is the primary setting for the story)

And now for my excuses for why this blog isn't better:

Our tub was clogged, so there was bickering, plunging and a visit from Roto Rooter.
My daughter was recovering from food poisoning, so needed chicken noodle soup.
My son needed a water bottle for Ultimate Frisbee.
I was elected to go buy these things, plus cigarettes for my husband which resulted in more bickering (I am always mortified to buy them. I feel like people think I smoke, which I never have.
Neighbors stopped by.
My daughter has pants that need a seam repaired.
I didn't have any good ideas.


So there you have it...

Anything exciting going on in your world?

Sunday, October 21, 2012


It's that time. One of those Halloween traditions I really enjoy...
In fact I have enjoyed it a lot more this year than I ever did when the kids were little because for the first time I actually have enough financial security to be a little generous. To have a little fun.

What is it? BOOing! We were BOOed Friday night... I actually know who BOOed us, but nevermind... a few of us (re: the Couch to Keg team) had discussed it and how we'd get it going. And we discussed who we'd BOO.

Wait... Maybe I am starting too far in... What IS BOOing?

The leaving of a little goodie basket on a porch of a couple people, and tagging them to ALSO do it for a few people... until everybody has gotten a little Halloween goodie bad... I found the following online to go with it:

(and because it it impossible to read from the pic...)
The air is cool, the season fall, 
Soon Halloween will come to all.
Ghosts and goblins, spooks galore...
Tricky witches at your door.
The spooks are after things to do, 
In fact a spook brought this "Boo" to you!
The excitement comes when friends like you, 
Copy this note and make it two.
We'll all have smiles upon our faces, 
No one will know who "BOO"ed whose places!
Just two short days to work your spell, 
Keep it secret, hide it well.
Please join the fun, the seasons here .
Just spread these "BOO's" and Halloween cheer

I found it here

I had so much fun putting together the loot, too... I chose two houses with kids (one with three, one with one) all young, all boys. This was the loot I got:

Little punkins...
glow sticks...
peanut butter eyeballs...
glow-in-the-dark bats...
cocoa packets...
and for the baby... a vampire binky...

And then it needs to be delivered with stealth... so one needs... A MINION! Here is my minion, grumbling that I made him go during the day, but HEY, we were delivering to small children.

Is that the most amazing costume ever, or what? I figured he looked the roll for delivering Halloween goodies in it, so I begged and pleaded (and might have bought him new ear buds for his iPod).

Do any of you do this in your neighborhood?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bury the Hatchet Blogfest

Today is the last day of EJ Wesley's Bury the Hatchet Blogfest, but of course with my attention to detail, I saw the date October 19 and thought that was THE day instead of the LAST day. But never mind. Better late than never, eh?

Anyway, the blogfest is part of his book release for Blood Fugue:

What's BLOOD FUGUE about?

Armed only with an ancient family journal, her rifle, and an Apache tomahawk, Jenny must save her grandfather’s life and embrace her dangerous heritage. Or be devoured by it. Blood Fugue, by E.J. Wesley, is the first of the Moonsongs books, a series of paranormal-action novelettes.

So the BLOGFEST theme... you've heard the metaphor bury the hatchet, yes? Well that's all well and good, but SOMETIMES what you REALLY want to do is Bury the Hatchet in someone's HEAD... you know... horror story style... So we are to share something that drives us to murderous intent... what is making us CRAZY IRKED.

As my husband said when he picked me up last Friday from work: “If I'd have had a gun, there would be five people dead right now.” (leading to the logical reason I won't keep guns in the house, but I'm thinking it is best he doesn't drive with a hatchet, too) THAT kind of thing.

So where do I want to Bury the Hatchet? (aside from opposite party politics which I am only skipping because it is just too obvious)...


People caught up in the idea that a person's value has to do with their address, car brand, pedigree or the alphabet soup after their name. The people who treat waitresses like crap because 'they are only waitresses' (I've been a waitress, so I KNOW people do this)

There is nothing I'd like more than to prove to these smarmy, arrogant SOBs that they aren't worth the gum on the bottom of said waitresses shoe (that their own pampered child threw on the floor). People are not of value because of their money, their titles, or their bloody blue-blood last name or family membership in some secret society. People are of value if they are kind, creative, intelligent, funny... I need to mention kind again, because I think that is at least twice as important as any of these other things. People are of value because of their DEEDS. Especially the deeds they do on behalf of people who need some help. (making rich people richer? NOT a good deed—I left the asses in advertising to themselves because I just couldn't justify this as a worthy existence... certainly not worthy enough to kiss a lot of butts over).

That doesn't mean I think poorly of people who are wealthy, educated (heck, I'm educated) or prominent society members. As we strive to better ourselves, these things can happen and I am all for striving. But we should never think we are better than other people because we have the good fortune to succeed. And NOBODY EVER should think they are better if they are just born into it.

She's doing it right
JK Rowling was on the Daily Show this week and she BRILLIANTLY and WONDERFULLY reminded us all that she was a welfare mom for about three years when she was first divorced and her books had not sold. She knows what it is like to be treated like a leech on society. And now that she is richer than the queen (literally) she is staying put in Britain to pay her 70% tax rate because that is what you do—you give back. Britain helped her, and now this is their due. She also donates millions and is involved in tons of charities--all her little books? Charitable donations of all proceeds.  That is how to handle success with class in my book.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In Praise of Sir Oracle: Joris Ammerlaan

So you've all heard me talk about my little buddy, Joris, right? Well today it's his birthday, and he is still trying to build his graphic design business, so I thought I'd share with all of you some of the coolnesses he has created.

As a designer, Joris  is thoughtful, choosing eye-catching, often minimalist designs. He is speedy, creative and reasonable, and if you are in the market for a book cover, poster, or other promotional materials, I strongly recommend him. But it is probably best to let his work speak for him.

Take this bit of cleverness for instance... The first pic is the front and back and the second is the same thing folded into a kite for distribution:

And then we have a few posters that COULD be book covers...

And a couple ACTUAL book covers...

So you can see his range—he does some amazing stuff. I encourage you to give him a shot if you have something you'd like designed!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JORIS! I have a line-up of four score young blondes and brunettes between sixteen and nineteen and a half ready to give you your spankings!

More of Joris's work can be seen here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book?

Hallo, fine friends! I'm in three blogfests this week, which is groovy. This one is hosted by the Amazing Super Ninja Alex Cavanaugh  and Ciara Knight  and builds on a regular blog theme Ciara has: Did I Notice Your Book?

If you'd like a full list of participants, it's here

This is about judging books by their covers... about what draws us in enough to look further. I thought it was a fun opportunity, too, to analyze what works for me and what doesn't quite as much, so for you to understand THAT, you maybe need to know what I LIKE. I read and write mystery and suspense. I also really love dystopians, thrillers, and a little fantasy and paranormal (even some horror). I'm NOT a romance reader and tend to shy away from 'sweet' or personal journeys unless they are highly recommended. I read both YA and adult. So the books that draw me strictly on cover are pulling at THAT kind of person.

Process: I went to the Goodreads YA 2012 list and browsed. I figured that was a good smattering. They have over a thousand and I gotta admit I only cruised the first 200. But the ones that caught my eye were these...

[I will expland on WHY I love these circa 6:30 am Eastern, but wanted the WHAT I noticed posted on time.]

Ashen Winter (Mike Mullen)

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

My Assessment:  Here it is two things:  The contrast--red on white with that bleak background, and the emotion the reaching hands pull from me.

Surrender (Elana Johnson)

Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque....

My Take:  You will notice a blue theme as we go... I may have pulled out three of them, but they caught my eye so much because there weren't a lot of them. I also like to two-tone here, and the white ON blue. 

Thumped (Megan McCafferty)

It's been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. Since then, their story has become irresistible to legions of girls: twins separated at birth and living different lives, each due to deliver sets of twins . . . on the same day In a future where only teens can "bump," or give birth, babies mean money, status, and freedom.

Married to Ram and living in religious Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once loved and believed in. But she can't seem to forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell in love with under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything she always wanted: a big, fat contract and a coupling with Jondoe, the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants.

Cursed by their own popularity, the girls are obsessively tracked by their millions of fans, who have been eagerly counting down the days to their "Double Double Due Date." Without a doubt, they are two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and there's only one thing they could do that would make them more famous than they already are:

Tell the truth.

My take:  Another white on blue, but the egg also made me REALLY curious.

This one breaks my heart
Gone Gone Gone (Hannah Moscowitz)

It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he’ll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.

My Take:  Honestly, I think this is my favorite (I just posted them in the order I found covers that grabbed me). It reminded me of the 6 word story: Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.  Shoes alone like that are so LONELY.

Destiny and Deception

The sensational fourth novel in the 13 to Life series sees Jessica and the Rusakovas fighting to overcome their biggest challenge yet.

With the threat of the mafia seemingly gone and the company's headquarters in Junction destroyed, Pietr Rusakova is adjusting to being a normal teen and Jess is realizing normalcy may not be what she wanted after all. But both Jess and Cat know the truth--that normal can't be taken for granted. Their precious cure isn't permanent--and when a new danger stalks into their small town, Alexi decides he must overcome his issues with the mother who abandoned him to be raised by wolves and make a brand new deal to save his adopted family.

My Take:  Again, nearly two-tone, but this one in fire colors. It really stood out and that eye was what cinched it for me.

Pure (Covenant 2)

There is need. And then there is Fate

Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

My Take:  White on blue again, but this one looks like magically achieved white. It has a spooky feel, but a pretty result so it seems like there is maybe something good from the bad or something bad from the good and I like that idea.

Reached (Allie Condy)

Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the "New York Times" bestselling Matched Trilogy

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising--and each other--Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 "New York Times" bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

My Take: I like all the covers in this series. The gray background with the BRIGHT central feature. I just really am drawn to it.

You'll note the most COMMON YA feature (a teenage girl's face) is not on ANY of these. I don't honestly WANT to to have a look for the characters before I read. I engage further if my imagination is allowed to do the conjuring. I am not the target market and they must know something.  And there ARE exceptions (Scott Westerfield's Uglies series draws me in spite of faces). But mostly, those all run together for me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Damsels In Distress

You know... we are indocrinated with this... Disney's early stuff ALL was this. Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella. I mean, sure, they had little animals giving them a hand until the man came around to do the job, but really, all of them had lousy lives sans MAN.

I'm glad Disney changed courses... Belle saves the Beast more than the Beast saves Belle... Mulan is tough. But still. Those FAIRY TALES...

Well... except Hansel and Gretel—Gretel thinks to make her brother look too skinny to eat and then shoves the witch in the oven, yes?

But mostly I think this indoctrination has led a lot of BOOKS to have damsels in distress too.

And you know what? I just can't tolerate that crap.

The first book that made me think... “HEY! I'd like to write books!” Was a Sidney Sheldon book I read in Jr. High where the heroine is counting on this marriage to this rich guy and then basically gets dumped, imprisoned and something else bad happens... I don't remember why... but while she is imprisoned she realizes SHE has it in herself to be her own hero. It was a bit Count of Monty Cristo, now that I think of it, though I read it before reading Count of Monty Cristo so I didn't know... but I loved the twist. [and it also explains the seeming non-sequiter pic of Emily Thorne]

And I have not been able to tolerate those dumb damsels since.

I mean SURE—everyone needs a rescue now and then...
And bad stuff happens to everyone—it makes for good reading.

But the damsel that needs the big strong man? No thanks. (I mean other than to dance like I like—we all need THAT kind of rescue now and again)

With the Garden Society Series I made a commitment early on—after reading one too many cozies that ended with the sleuth rescued by her hunka hot man crush, that MY HEROINE would be doing the rescuing, thanks. Not by herself. (She's not a ninja). And in the three books I've written she DOES get herself into a pickle now and then. But she is far more often on the other side of the equation.

In fact... Of the 14 books I've written, there is a female rescuing somebody in 12 of them... sometimes the rescuee is male, sometimes female (sometimes child)--the things they are rescued from range from abduction to bodily harm. I suppose they've needed rescues in probably six, but it doesn't seem as offensive to me when a person is on both sides of the equation in the same book.

Any of you have deep-rooted character peeves that you've carried through to most of your writing?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nineties Blogfest

The nineties were sort of a funny decade for me. It was my late 20s and early 30s and for all practical purposes, is the decade I grew up... kicking and screaming every step of the way. I had some life events that caused me to majorly check out of 'pop-life' yet there were other things I was sitting right smack in the center of.

My movies are the bit I am actually least attached to. I don't GO to movies hardly evern and see them late, so I never know when they came from. I love all of them I've listed, but are they my favorite of the year? Hard to know.

And don't forget to go see the other entrants!

[note: I will fill out the rest of this and add some images shortly. I had a social occasion last night and so am scrambling a bit this morning]

Favorite Song: Love Shack (B-52s)
Favorite Movie:  Wild at Heart:  We danced to Love Me Tender at our wedding because of this movie
Favorite Television Show: Twin Peaks. Hands down. It wasn't on long, but I loved this.
Big Life Event: Probably my engagement. October 5, 1990. We'd been at the Greek Festival in Portland that night... we met originally at the Greek Festival in 1988, so in a way, a two-year anniversary. This particular year, we decided to get married.

Favorite Song: Come as you Are (Nirvana)--I sank full force into the grunge era. I was in Portland fighting adulthood and MAN... Nirvana, of course is sort of the flagship for this movement and I think this is my favorite of their first album.
Favorite Movie: Thelma and Louise
Favorite Television Show: Northern Exposure: Now THIS is my breed of quirky.
Big Life Event: Two huge ones. First was my decision to leave advertising and go back to grad school. (meaning the reclaiming of my SOUL) and second was my wedding, November 30, 1991.

Favorite Song: Breaking the Girl (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Favorite Movie: The Crying Game
Favorite Television Show: Seinfeld? It's funny. I've sort of outgrown this show. I don't like it much in reruns, but I loved it at the time.
Big Life Event: Starting grad school

Favorite Song:  Creep (Radiohead)
Favorite Movie:  Sandlot/Nightmare Before Christmas
Favorite Television Show: X-Files—this show makes my top EVER list. I loved how bendy it was.
Big Life Event: ??? Did I have any life events this year?

Favorite Song: No Excuses (Alice in Chains)
Favorite Movie:  Pulp Fiction
Favorite Television Show: My So-Called Life—Oh, man, talk about angst. This was a great show!
Big Life Event: Buying first house. Though the stand out was my 10-year high school reunion and the feeling that if I talked to people with children I might CATCH it... (the having children thing)

Favorite Song: Strawberry (Everclear)--this song about trying so hard not to fall back into addiction hit home on a number of levels. I still love it.
Favorite Movie:  Se7en
Favorite Television Show: Nowhere Man—he'd had his life and identity stolen... but why> LOVED this.
Big Life Event: Daughter born (see, I told you),

Favorite Song:  You Learn (Allanis Morrisette)
Favorite Movie:  Matilda: It’s possible I love this as the great relief from the Disney sap in kids movies
Favorite Television Show: The Pretender: This may have been an attempt to replace Nowhere man which went off the air, but it didn't QUITE cut it.
Big Life Event: I think there is sort of a life hiatus that happens with having kids... Especially as this year I was effectively a single mom.

Favorite Song:  Everlong (Foo Fighters)
Favorite Movie:  The Full Monty:  Hello. Movie about nakedness… nuff said!
Favorite Television Show: Homicide: Life on the Street—fresh angle, edgy. And who doesn't love Andre Baugher?
Big Life Event: Graduating from grad school. FINALLY and starting REAL job.

Favorite Song:  Good Riddance: Time of Your Life (Greenday)
Favorite Movie:  Shakespeare in Love
Favorite Television Show: That 70s Show: You'll not comedies don't make it often for me, but being a 70s kid... this show is hysterical.
Big Life Event: Birth of son.

Favorite Song:  Slide (Goo Goo Dolls)
Favorite Movie:  Eyes Wide Shut
Favorite Television Show: Roswell. You know, I didn't watch it at the time. You'll note several of my favorites from above continued running, but when I look at the line up, this is very high on the list of all time favorites. I just didn't happen to see it until more recently.
Big Life Event: Decision to move across the country

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why I Hate Fall

Oh, I know. Yibus love it. You are going on and on about loving the crisp air and the colors and the sweaters and the apples. Go on. Get it out. But I DON'T LIKE IT. Here is my top 10 list of why:

10)   Students. Taking over the bloody world. At least in a college town. Much better to just have the college and no students, I say.

9)   Pro-Football. I DON'T CARE.

8)   Grants. Every fall, usually in October, my day job becomes a bizillion times more demanding and stressful than normal.

7)   Freaking CHRISTMAS decorations. For pete's sake, people. Wait until December for this crap. At least until after Halloween.

6)   “Can I have...” My children get so NEEDY in fall. New clothes, activities, rides. Somehow in summer they are nearly independent, then come fall they are money sucking needy needers.

5)   Dark Mornings. I hate walking to work in the dark.

4)   Molding at my desk. In all fairness, this happens in spring too. A bi-product of walking to work in the rain.

3)   Clothes. Itchy, binding layers are needed to keep warm. Not remotely as nice as nakedness.

2)   Bloody COLDS. Every fall I get one. Man, I hate colds. The one I have at the moment is making me cranky and is probably the primary culprit for this blog.

1)   WINTER IS COMING. Damn Starks are always right eventually.

Fall's redeeming qualities: Hot cider, Oregon Duck football, pretty leaves and candy corn.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Draft Faux Pasties

Erm... that is because I don't know the plural of faux pas, but never mind.

I am in the midst of my first read of Medium Wrong since I finished it last December. It has definitely had its shelf time, so I feel like I am coming at it pretty fresh. And it helps to spot some of my glaring crutches, blank brain coping mechanisms, and writing fetishes (hello, ellipsis, I think I love you). So I thought maybe I'd show you mine and you could show me yours...


Why yes. Yes I do. But see... I KNOW every minute doesn't stay in the story. I just am sort of bad jumping to the next big thing until I have accounted for the time in between. And in my defense, I think this ALSO helps keep my timeline straight. I COULD... you know... make a regular time line to do this... it might save time. But when I'm WriMoing, I haven't seemed to do this very often and my last 4 books I've written have ALL been for WriMos...

So this isn't so much something I'd like to grind out of me as something it is now time to grind out of the next iteration...

Pick a bone, any bone...
A Little Backbone, Please!

GACK on the qualifiers! A little bit. Sort of. Thought, felt, seemed...

Part of the problem is first person. This is only the second book I wrote in first person and the first I actually wrote in 3rd person and converted, so REALLY this was my first first draft in first person. That's a lot of firsts. And as first person, does she (meaning I) have the RIGHT to give other people motivation without qualifiers? I might THINK he thinks I'm an idiot, but I don't KNOW that. I can't just say 'he thinks I'm an idiot'. It's a little slippery.

But I ALSO have main characters who don't necessarily ooze confidence. Amanda is in the middle of something a little scary. And she isn't cocky to begin with. She goes on this road trip because she is worried about her brother—SHE is not the adventurer. She's just trying to keep him grounded because she is worried he is off on a reckless bender or something (see that 'or something'--that is something Amanda says). So I CAN'T narrate with language that always sounds sure and confident... But it is a fine line. Again. It can't be too qualified—she isn't a wimp. But she IS a teenage girl out of her element...

Crutch Words

These aren't unrelated to the wimpy thing. I use 'though' way too much. Actually. Hopefully. Honestly. GAH! I also need to shake up the language some. I I I I I... even in first person, not every sentence needs to begin with I.

And the bloody ellipses and em-dashes... I luuuurve them. But I know only about a quarter of them can stay... I use them way too much.

So what are your quibbles that drive you nuts on first revision?