Saturday, January 26, 2008

The State of my Writing

"The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies." ~Ray Bradbury

It's that time of year when I just sort of put my head down, dig in, and wait for spring to arrive. We've had a string of cold weather here, with nights in the single digits and days with the temp below 25 and the wind chill below 10. Everything's gray (my car most of all - yuck). The sun hasn't been shining too much. With the writers' strike, there's nothing good on television.

The bright side?

I've been reading a lot more. I know, I should be reading a lot anyway. But it's hard during school. I read my students' awkward papers and don't have time for much else. With no TV at nights, though, I've found new motivation :) Right now I'm about half-way through The Red Tent and enjoying it. It's quite interesting, and different: historical fiction, I guess. It's the story of Dinah/Jacob/Esau/Leah/Rachel from the Bible but focuses almost solely on the women's roles and points of view.

I've also been reading and reviewing not only for LASR but also for Black Lyon Publishing (you can see one of my review clips here). That's been fun.

I've also been actively working on marketing myself these last few months, mostly through writing free-lance articles for a couple different sites. In fact, I think I'm going to ask my webmaster (webmistress?) to add a page to my website just for article links. (Oh - and here's one I wrote for LASR this week. If you're an author, you might want to check it out).

Also on the marketing front, I've been working with Stella Price and some other sort-of local authors in setting up author parties (like the one last weekend) and book signings. In fact, I just marked the date for my first official signing: May 30th! It's the week after both my books come out in print. Exciting - even though many authors say signings are not the best way to spend time...we'll see.

Finally, I've been working through the galley for ONE NIGHT IN BOSTON - this is basically a line-by-line proofread of the manuscript to make sure there are no typos or words I want to change before it goes to the printer next month. It's rather tedious but it's allowing me to look at that book again. And that's been fun.

I sent back my signed contract to Samhain for ONE NIGHT IN MEMPHIS and hope next month to work through edits on my draft of SUMMER'S SONG (anyone out there volunteering to read it for me??). I haven't decided yet where I'm going to submit it...I had originally thought The Wild Rose Press, and I still might. But I looked at their contract again, and they pay less in royalties for both electronic and print versions than Samhain (I didn't really notice last year, I was so excited to sign a contract with anyone). So I may bite the bullet and query print publishers or agents. We'll see.

And that was probably much longer than you wanted to read on a Saturday! Time for me to go cuddle under some blankets and do some more reading.

Happy weekend!

Friday, January 25, 2008

One More Look

"I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost would be more than I could bear."
~from "The Patriot"

Marianne told me yesterday that I forgot to include a video from "The Patriot," which of course Heath Ledger was also in. I didn't forget, really, I just couldn't find one I liked with him in it. I still wish I could find one with him actually speaking, but here's a fanvid with background music that's just too damn heartbreaking. So, one more tribute for the guy who died too young:

And now for something slightly more cheerful to end the work week, here's your Friday Feast:

How many times per day do you usually laugh?
Wow, I have no idea...I never stopped to count! Maybe 20? (I teach high school students, so it might be a lot more than that...I laugh at them every chance I get)

What do your sunglasses look like?
Over-sized, squarish, dark...I like going for the whole "important actress" look (kidding)

You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go?
Through the Rocky Mountains, of course. Gorgeous! I think there's actually a train trip by Amtrak that does this...I would love to take it someday.

Main Course
Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city.
It's small enough that when you're on vacation, the local police will come by and check your house twice/day.

If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best?
Hmm...maybe that awesome pink and orange that a really great sunset offers. Of course, we'd get used to that after awhile too, just like with the blue, but for a while it would be cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heath Ledger: Gone Too Soon

"Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life. He brought to the role of Ennis Del Mar more than any of us could have imagined — a thirst for life, for love and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking." ~Ang Lee, Director

Well, unless you've been living under a rock the last couple of days, you know that actor Heath Ledger died on Tuesday, under somewhat strange circumstances. I hope it wasn't suicide. I even hope it wasn't an overdose of an illegal substance. I'd like to live in my little idealistic world and imagine that he just took the sleeping pills the doctor prescribed and something went weird with his heart.

The autopsy didn't reveal anything conclusive, which means anothe 10 days for a full toxicology report, I guess. I suppose we'll know all the details then; they'll be splashed across every tabloid in the grocery store.

It's just so sad. Unbelievable, too. Such a loss, such potential, and so young for it all to end, just 28. I mourn for his 2-year old daughter and for his ex-fiancee, Michelle Williams.

Here are a few of his best movie moments, in my opinion. He will be missed, that's for certain. RIP.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Jack Adler

"Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."
~Edna St. Vincent Millay

OK, I know today is Writers' Wednesday, but first I have to offer up a cyber-space moment of silence for Heath Ledger, who passed away yesterday. 28 years old and a damn good actor...what a loss. Full tribute here tomorrow~

Now, help me welcome Jack Adler: author, playwright and screenwriter living in North Hollywood, California. He's the author of Splendid Seniors, an anthology featuring biographical sketches of 52 remarkable people who made notable achievements after the age of 65. He is also the author of five nonfiction books: Consumer's Guide to Travel; There's A Bullet Hole in Your Window; Southern India; Exploring Historic California; and Travel Safety (co-authored); as well as the novels Blackmail High and Parthian Retreat. The Library of Congress selected Travel Safety for translation into Braille.

Hi, Jack! Thanks for being here today. Your book Splendid Seniors sounds intriguing and inspiring. What advice would you give new authors, just starting out in the journey to publication?

I'd advise any writer to develop their own style,not copy or mimic any other writer; and to make suretheir material -- no matter what other flaws it mayhave or not -- is tightly written. Use strong verbs,cut down on adverbs, and support adjectives.

Definitely good advice. What do you like to read? Any favorite authors?

I like historical fiction and nonfiction, and mysteries. Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite authors.

From looking at your bio and background, it certainly looks as though you've been successful writing in many different lengths and genres. That's exciting! Any final words for readers today?

Always struggle to do good work, and then make it even better. Getting recognized through publication, and possibly good reviews, is always gratifying.

Terrific advice ~ thanks! Readers, want to know more about Jack Adler or his works? Visit his publisher's page. And thanks for stopping by today!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


"I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back. Come back to me. " ~Keira Knightley, in Atonement

Man, I was disappointed in this movie. I went to see it yesterday, on my day off from school, and from the movie trailer and the Golden Globe for Best Picture and the rave reviews, I expected to be blown away.

I wasn't.

If you watch the trailer, you'll know the "secret" - it isn't really difficult to figure out. The younger sister sees "something," is a typical 13 year old brat, and lies to her parents and the police about what she thinks she sees. So, okay, I can deal with that, even though the super-suspenseful music throughout the 2-hour film keeps you thinking that maybe there's something you missed, maybe there will be this grand other secret revealed at the very end.

There isn't.

Interestingly enough, the part I found most intriguing was the final scene. I won't give it away, but it is a commentary on why novelists write - and why they write fiction, rather than retell the truth. The truth, and honesty, is boring and predictable and unforgiving and unchangeable, and often hopeless as well. So novelists create different versions of life for their characters, different adventures, and they give their characters a happy ending because life won't.

Not a very uplifting message, perhaps, but the movie isn't uplifting. And some may see that final statement as a negative mark on authors in general, but I found it the most intriguing and honest part of the movie.

Other negatives: The love story isn't fleshed out, and so it's difficult to identify with or feel compassion for either main character when they're torn apart by The Big Lie. The little girl who tells the lie is an interesting character, but she comes across as bratty and unrepentant, even though her atonement is supposed to be the focus of the film. Finally, there's a sweeping war scene on the beach in France, all death and destruction, which is effective but goes on WAY TOO LONG. I was sitting there thinking, "What does this have to do with the rest of the plot?" Not much, as it turns out.

On the bright side, the movie is beautifully shot, with lush landscape, and the one sex scene is hot. (James McAvoy, as the doomed hero, is easy on the eyes, no doubt.) The film also makes a good point about perspective, about how different people view the same event from multiple vantage points. As a result, it's sometimes impossible to find out the "truth," whatever the truth really is.

I give "Atonement" 3.5 stars.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Have a Dream

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anyone else think it's sort of discouraging how far we haven't come in the last 40 years?


Well, I have to give major props to the NY Giants, who pulled out a win over the Green Bay Packers IN Green Bay, last night. Anyone watch the game? It was -4 degrees, with -24 degree wind chill, and those guys were hitting the frozen ground and having a harder and harder time getting up as the game went on. Went into overtime, too...and I was so happy for the NY field goal kicker, who missed 2 at 37 yards, got chewed out by his coach, and then made a 47-yarder to win the game. I was also happy for the NY quarterback, Eli Manning (the famous Peyton Manning's brother, of course), because he's been ripped apart by the media here for most of the season as being sub-par and not up to the challenages of being an NFL quarterback. I always like it when the underdog comes back and shows the naysayers they were wrong!

Of course, I still want the New England Patriots to win the whole thing, just because I think it would be cool for them to make history as the first team to go unbeaten for 19 games in a season/post-season. Yes, I know the Miami Dolphins did it years ago, but they had a shorter season and played fewer games.


Since I have today off for the holiday, I'm treating myself to the movie "Atonement" - there's a 10:45 showing for $5.00. Can't beat that! I don't know much except that it has a twist ending and is very sad. So I'll be forgoing the eye makeup and stuffing my pockets full of tissues. I'll give you the report tomorrow...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Very Very Cold Sunday

"Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail." ~ Anonymous

Brr! They promise single digits overnight, and they were right (for once!). It's crawled up to a blistering 14 degrees and is supposed to top out at 17 for the day. So I'll be staying inside for most of it...

Last night's author party was fun! Not as many people showed up as we originally thought, but it was still cool to hang out and talk books. One women drove 2 hours to come chat with romance authors - now that's dedication! (Or a really devoted sense of stalking, as she joked). I would definitely do it again - I think the idea is a good one.

Update on the Winter Reading Challenge: I finished Carrie Pilby a few days ago. You can read my thoughts on it here.

I'm currently finishing up a book review for another small press (ideally they'll put a clip from my review along with my name on the book cover itself, which would be nice promotion), and then I have a few choices as far as what I want to read next. I'll probably review one for LASR, but I also have a stack of Tori Phillips historicals next to my desk (I found all 6 in the "Cavendish Chronicles," on Ebay...I'm so excited!). Then The Red Tent is sitting patiently next to my bed as well, and I've been wanting to read that one for a while.

Hmm...we'll see what mood strikes me later today!