Saturday, January 17, 2009

One Week

One week ago today, my father passed away. I haven't blogged about it, and won't today except to say that I am so thankful for all the kind words and thoughts people have shared, that have made this grief bearable.

Yesterday a friend sent a lovely poem that I hadn't seen before, but it's worth sharing here.

“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
"Here she comes!"

And that is dying.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fun Friday Facts from Allie's Corner of the World

"Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat." ~Author Unknown

1. If I'm flying over a body of water any time in the near future, I want this guy to be my pilot.

2. I'm halfway through reading/proofreading the galley of One Night in Memphis and remembering why I love the story so much. Can't wait 'til it comes out in print!

3. It is negative 2 degrees right now, as I write this. And that doesn't factor in the wind chill. Yikes.

4. When I lived in Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid-1990s, there was a record-setting stretch of 10 days when the temperature never got above 0 at I think I can live through today without a problem.

What's the temperature where you are? C'mon, let's have an informal poll here today and see where everyone's writing in from...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Book Roast Blogspot

"The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television." ~Andrew Ross

Hey all, check out The Book Roast, a fun promotional blog I just discovered. They host publishers, agents, and authors (of course) and there's a place where you can add yourself to the upcoming featured author list. Looking for some free promo? (and who isn't??). Check it out~

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Dawn McClure

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today's featured guest is fellow Samhain author Dawn McClure. Enjoy!

Dawn, thanks so much for stopping by today. Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

Asmodeus, now available from Samhain Publishing, is about Brianna, an aspiring witch who accidentally summons a demon from the Abyss. Immediately Brianna realizes she must send him back, yet she’s not quite certain it’s possible with her limited powers. When four death angels arrive unexpectedly and give her a mission to kill Asmodeus – or face the Abyss – it’s no longer a matter of if she can send him back, it’s a matter of how. Deciding the best course of action is gaining Asmodeus’s trust, she does exactly that. Only she begins to see the man he is, not the demon she thought him to be.

I had so much fun writing this novel. Brianna is hilarious as she tries to outwit a demon whose powers are so much greater than her own.

Sounds like a great read! How do you go about developing your characters?

The first thing I do is write the first draft, so I can get a solid feel for them. I concentrate on the character’s personalities as I’m writing, and I keep an index card for each character that lists their features and quirks. Very often, by the end of the first draft, I find that the characters have grown and changed. When I go back for my first revision I take a look at the index cards and ensure I stay true to their individual personalities. I keep the characters goals in mind, and the motivation that propels them to do what they do.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

The most difficult aspect of writing for me is finishing the last chapter. Obviously, if you write romance, you need that happily-ever-after. Some of my first drafts are so corny I cringe when I re-read them. Thank goodness for revisions. It’s hard getting that perfect balance of HEA without getting too mushy. My characters tend to be assassins, vampires and demons. Mushy and demons don’t go together so easily. I find that the most exciting aspect of writing is when a story starts coming together, and the muse kicks into high gear. All of a sudden doubts fly out the window and you type as fast as you can. There’s something magical about it – and I wish it happened more often.

It is a fun experience, isn't it? But do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Actually, this just happened to me. I was fresh off of my first contract with Samhain, and I sat down to write…and nothing came to me. It took me a few weeks to figure out the problem. I was looking at the big picture – writing the entire novel, the revising, the editing. I criticized every word I wrote. I had to push those thoughts aside and focus on a paragraph or a chapter. The writing started flowing after that. If I sit there and think about the entire process of creating a story I get blocked. Writing a novel can be daunting, but writing a page or two? I can do that.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
This question is easy. I like to read. My favorite genre is paranormal, but I truly like all genres of romance. Right now I’m reading Hot Wheels and High Heels by Jane Graves. Excellent book.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Don’t quit. Think of rejection letters as a step in the right direction. I know that sounds odd, but we all have to start somewhere. Even the best writers had to deal with rejection. Stay motivated and keep writing. All of my rejection letters are framed and proudly displayed in my office. Many of my family members ask me why I do this. I respond by telling them the rejections remind me of how hard I worked to get that first contract. I never got so discouraged that I quit writing. I consider rejection letters as the stepping blocks that will get you to where you want to go.

I think that's terrific advice! Dawn, I'm so glad you were able to share your experiences with my blog readers today. You can find out more about Dawn and her upcoming work by checking out her website.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A "Marley and Me" Alternative

Marley and Me is the latest animal lovers' best-seller to hit the big screen, but I wanted to mention another, less famous animal story that's worth a read: Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl.

If you like stories about animals and their quirks and the way they change their owners, this is a great, easy read. Who knew barn owls had such intelligence and personality? The author, a biologist who adopts an infant barn owl and then raises him for the next 19 years, is a biologist from CA. Along with a great pet story, this book also gives some interesting insight into the eccentricity of biologists and their work, along with the incredible bond that some animals can create with their owners. I'm not sure I totally believed the part about communicating via telepathy with your pet, but it's intersting nonetheless.

It's a quick, entertaining read, and will probably make you think twice about animals and the emotional and intellectual capabilities they really do have. Give it a try~

Monday, January 12, 2009

No Blog Today

Readers, I'm taking a break from blogging today, since I'm traveling via plane for most of the day (unpleasant circumstances, but that's a blog for another day.) But I did want to mention that I read Randy Pausch's memoir The Last Lecture recently. Good book, easy read, uplifting message -- I highly recommend it. And if you're in the mood, you can watch his "last lecture" at Carnegie Mellon here:

See you tomorrow~

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A List to Live By

Swiped this list from Diane -- it's great one!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile.It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to.

3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement,‘My purpose is to__________ today. I am thankful for______________.

4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli , almonds & walnuts.

6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

8 . Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

11. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.

14. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words:‘In five years, will this really matter?’

17. Forgive everyone for everything.

18. What other people think of you is none of your business.

19. GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him.

20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.Your friends will. Stay in touch!

22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:I am thankful for__________. Today I accomplished_________.

24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You’ll be smiling before you know it.