Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Synopsizing Again

If you haven't read Anne Mini's workshop on writing a synopsis, what are you waiting for? I know, I know. I hadn't read it myself, but I was busy writing. No excuse, but it works for me. The last thing I like to do is write synopses.

Or maybe I should make that past tense.

This morning I read the workshop, and let me tell you, it fired me up. She's so right on so many levels, I can't begin to describe them all.

First off, she hammers the point home about the synopsis being a major marketing tool for your work, and let's face it, we all need to think of our books as products. Like it or not, they are and they need marketing. If we were just writers to write, none of this would be necessary. I mean, good lord, I could crank out a half-dozen books a year if I never had to think about whether anyone else was going to read them. Since I'm writing to be read, I need to take the time to think about selling these once I'm done. (Unless, unlike me, you're a wealthy philanthopist who's planning on giving away your books. Then ignore this advice, and send me a grant so I can eat while I'm waiting to sell.)

Then she not only reminds writers that a synopsis shouldn't be just a litany of events, that synopsis should be as interesting and exciting as the book itself, but she also gives tips on how to achieve that.

Reading the whole thing took some time, but it was worth every second. It was an eye-opening experience for me, and inspired me to get cracking on the new synopsis for Spectacle (since that's the one ready to be pushed into query-land right now).

Oh, and one other thing she says that I think bears repeating. It's never too early to start working on your synopsis. Don't wait until the last minute, or you'll find yourself throwing some pointless crap together and defeating your own purpose (my words, not hers - she says it nicer).

So, what are you waiting for?

Friday, September 28, 2007


Heh. I just rolled over 20,000 words on Redemption. Feels good to get back into the groove again. Of course, this means that in order to finish the first draft by the end of the year, I have to do about 27K per month for the next three months.

How're things progressing in your work? How are your year end goals looking?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Agent Hunting

No writing or editing work today. Instead, I spent a few hours doing agent research and I thought I'd pass along some information I learned. (You may or may not already know this, but someone out there might be in the dark, so this is for them.)

First off, since I stopped visiting her blog, I wasn't aware of this but, Rachel Vater has moved to Folio Literary Management. She's joined the gang, and she's in fine company.

Anderson/Grinberg Lit broke apart, but never fear Kathleen Anderson has opened Anderson Literary.

And from my CP, The Imprint Agency and The Peter Rubie Agency merged to form FinePrint Literary. I didn't see them at AgentQuery.com, but I'm sure they'll be there soon.

There are also a few others I hadn't seen before, so I'll have a lot of work to do over the next few days (weeks, months, etc.). Please remember, even if some legitimate service mentions them, research them yourself using the tools available in your local library or online. My mention of these updates in no way implies endorsement for any of the agencies. So, if you don't click with them, remember I'm just the messenger.

Damn Them

Nabisco is obviously one of Satan's many enterprises. And my grocery store is in league with them.

Nabisco created... Oreo Cakesters™. Not only that but you can get them with chocolate cream inside! And my local store put the damn things on sale. Hateful hateful people.

This will be the downfall of women everywhere. Civilization as we know it could collapse. "Dogs and cats, living together!"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to wash those suckers down with some fat-free yogurt just to assuage the guilt.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Day in the Life

Oops. I missed yesterday's blog. No excuses, but maybe an explanation will suffice. At least it'll give all of you a glimpse into why yesterday got forgotten.

First off, yesterday morning, my daughter and I went for a power walk. If my calculations are correct, we walked about ten city blocks. I forgot to wear my pedometer, so I don't know just how far it was, but it was far enough to feel the burn. Maybe we'll do the same route today and I'll remember to measure it. (ETA: Wore it this morning - we walked 7/8ths of a mile, or 1750 steps.)

Then we ran our typical morning errands. Every day (yes, every day) we go to the library. It's only a half-mile away, so it's not a big deal. I dropped her off and went grocery shopping (also another daily occurence - because I'm so damn forgetful).

After we got home, it was an hour each on geometry, biology, literature, writing, and history (with lunch in there somewhere). Since her biology textbook is online, that's always an hour where she's on my computer. She's not allowed to have internet access on her computer yet, so I'm happy to lend her mine for schoolwork purposes. She also uses this puppy for research, so there's more time when I'm not at the keyboard. Then, if she gets her work done for the day, and I'm feeling magnanimous, she gets an hour playing at her favorite websites online.

Don't despair for my non-computer time, though. I usually use it for research (okay, not all the time - unless you count reruns of Crossing Jordan as research... Hmmm, now there's a thought) and reading. I'm about a third through the second book in Monica McCarty's Highlander series. If you haven't picked them up, hurry forth and by them!

Anyway, late afternoon rolls around and I finally get back to my work station (i.e. the computer) and I sat down to write another query letter. Got it all wrapped up nicely--to the point where if I were the agent, I'd definitely be requesting at least a partial--and sent it out.

Then after dinner (and after watching the newest installment of the WSOP - World Series of Poker - on ESPN), I sat down to get some work done. An hour and a half on Redemption and an hour on AWJ.

By that time, I remembered the missing blog post, but I was so damn tired, I decided to skip it.

And now you know the rest of the story. ;o)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Necessary Links

Hi everyone! Since I jammed myself up today with school and yardwork and actual editing work, the blog has to be a mid-week linkage.

Don't despair though. Courtesy of my awesome CP, I'm bringing you a link to the Book Marketing 101 Workshop at Author! Author!

I'm telling you, folks, this is about as good as it gets. It's in reverse order, so if you really want the right flow, go back to the beginning and read forward. I warn you - it's a lot of information, but oh, so necessary for anyone hoping to sell any book any time soon.

(And yes, I admit to having just skimmed the info. Right now I'm in the middle of editing, and if I extend this short break long enough to read the whole post, I'll lose my groove. Still, even skimming, I can tell this is going to be invaluable information. this person knows their stuff.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

High Dive

Okay. On an impulse, I sent out a query today for Spectacle. It's the first query I've sent out for anything since May.

I know, Spectacle isn't totally proofed this time around, but I'm not too worried. The only things that needed reproofing were the edits I made on the last round. If there are any errors in there that I didn't catch on my multiple read-throughs, I just have to trust that a misplaced comma will kill the deal.

I'm not holding my breath, but it feels good to jump into the fray again. =oD

Oh, and if you're interested, I put a short up at Tabula Rasa.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Puzzlement

A while back I read a blog post from an agent wherein the agent answered a reader question about whether it was a good idea to look for a publisher or editor when all the agents who rep'd a particular genre were exhausted. The agent gave the poor writer a firm NO. They said once all the agents had rejected you, there was no way you were going to find a publisher would accept your work, because agents are the ones who know what the editors are looking for.

Now, I'm not an industry genius by any stretch of the imagination, but the statement puzzled me. Another statement that seems to be popular in respect to agents is: This is a subjective business. So, in my mind, that means what one individual doesn't like, another one may. Right?

If you've exhausted all the individuals in the agenting world, then I would think you have the whole next level of individuals to try.

Of course, I'm talking about work that's been polished to a glossy shine, and is free from errors. It's a piece you've busted your ass on, and everyone who's read it thinks it's the cat's pajamas (not counting family and friends). Maybe it's a novel that's not in a popular genre; maybe it's a story with some gritty edge. And maybe it's waiting for just that one right person in the industry who loves it as much as you do.

You been through the couple score of agents who represent your book's genre, and none of them were wowed. But according to the aforementioned agent, you're just supposed to give up on it. How depressing is that thought? Especially when you've got a whole other pool of independent minds out there who just might like it. People who just might see the sales potential in it.

I think I understand where the agent's sentiment might be coming from. After all, agenting is their job. It's the necessary step to an author protecting himself from a bad contract, or a bad clause. I don't doubt that finding an agent is an important step. But when finding an agent fails, I don't think you should just stuff your manuscript into a box and shove it under the bed. The thought alone sucks all the hope right out of a person.

I also understand that this agent may have been trying to protect the blog readers from getting hurt. *shrug* Rejection and disappointment is par for the course here. Grow a thicker skin or you're never going to make it through the agent rejections to even try publishers.

I guess what I'm saying is that although I respect this particular agency, and typically find their advice to be useful and insightful, this time I think they're off the mark.

Tell me. What do you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Here's a bit of news I thought I'd share with my readers.

New from Writer's Digest Books: How I Got Published is a compilation of "compelling success stories of how many writer-heroes got published, stories that will help readers persevere until they succeed." And one of the contributors is Good Girls Kill for the Money author Laura Bradford!

Awesome job Laura!

So, if you're interested, pick up a copy. Otherwise, just leave a comment here and congratulate Laura (or better yet pick up one or several of her books).

We could all use a little bit of inspiration and encouragement. =oD

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bad Brain Day Thwarted

This morning I could have sworn I was at the beginning of what I refer to as a "Bad Brain Day". (Or rather, another day when my brain won't cooperate with me.) I was all thumbs typing today - which by itself is unusual, if it didn't also come with the short-circuit of my ability to proofread. I left a bunch of typos in comments around my blogroll. I swear they looked perfect before I hit Post Comment. Honest they did.

I was forgetting all sorts of little things today. Like the fact that I had to go to the grocery store because we were almost out of milk. (And now we're out, damn it all.) Like the fact that I had bills to mail during my morning errands - like rent and utilities. Chalk up a quick trip in the middle of the day for that. Ack.

Finally, I gave in to it. I let my daughter have the computer for her schoolwork for most of the day (hers is in the shop again) and I sat on the couch watching reruns of shows I've seen a million times.

Still, I made this schedule thing and I was damned if I was going to wimp out on the third day in. Hell, I already missed my editing time during the day, but I have a deadline to meet damn-it if I want to meet me "5 books in 4 years" thing.

You see, if I can get Redemption's first draft finished by mid-February, it will be 4 years from the beginning of the first draft of my first book to the end of the first draft of my fifth. *shrug* I don't know why it's important to me to do this, but it is.

So I sat down tonight to write. I didn't expect much of anything. I just wanted to get 500 words out before my brain shut down. I wasn't expecting the flood that came instead. Thank goodness I used to be a secretary. So, in 45 minutes tonight, I wrote almost 1300 words. Damn near double my hourly average. Of course, now I'm spent, but damn it was worth it.

Must have been the vegging out earlier. I stored up all my writing energy, recharged my gumption hump, and let it all out on new words tonight. Whatever it is, I don't care. The words came out, the work is getting done and I'm content with the progress for the day.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I should've let you know how yesterday's schedule experiment went, but I was so tired, I didn't remember. Today my only excuse was I forgot.

The schedule went smashingly. True, I didn't stick to it 100%, but just having it there kept me on track. I actually edited throughout the day - both today and yesterday. Last night I got in the groove and whipped out 2100+ words between 8 and 10:30pm. Both days, I even exercised!

I'd forgotten how good it feels to be on track. I still have to watch out for the siren song of Crossing Jordan reruns on A&E, but all in all it's been very productive. As long as nobody tells me when the NCIS season opener is, I don't expect any bobbles ahead. At this rate, the goals will be have to be revised by mid-November. Yay!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Deadlines, Backlogs and Schedules

I'm notorious for being disorganized. I know if you've been reading this, it may not seem that way, but I'm horrible. Especially since I stopped working for other people. I don't really have a schedule. I write what I want when I want, and if I don't feel like working, I don't. So far, the non-system has worked for me - or at least I felt like it had.

Over the weekend, I looked at my life. I have 1 book in submission, 3 books in various stages of editing, and I'm trying to write my fifth. I teach homeschool. I have a house to manage.

I work at my books sporadically, I'm behind in correcting papers, my house is a mess. And to top it all off at some point, I managed to gain seven pounds (which explains why my husband's pajama pants fit so well).

In short, I need a schedule before I become this psychotic, yet lazy, extra-huge lump of goo sitting at the end of the couch, drooling and surrounded by reams of unfinished book pages.

So, I made up my mind and I made up a schedule. First thing in the morning, read / write blogs and get correspondence out of the way. After hubby leaves for work, exercise and do my morning transformation into a human being. Next, run errands. At ten a.m. (or thereabouts), start school for my daughter and while she's doing her work, edit. (Answering school questions and helping all the while.) Take off at noon for lunch with the hubby. After lunch, get daughter started back to schoolwork and edit. Around four, let daughter loose from schoolwork, and take a break to chill before hubby gets home and I have to start dinner. So, from 4 to 6, chill. From 6 to 8 eat and digest. At 8, sit down to write new words. Since I can only seem to wrap my brain around new words for a couple hours at most, this would put me in bed around 10, which works for me.

The above schedule is flexible, mainly because life doesn't always work the way we need it to, but for the most part, it means a lot more getting accomplished and a lot less screwing around. It starts today, so we'll see how it goes from here. Which brings me around to deadlines...

My plan for the rest of the year (which means the following will be done by 12/31/07):

- Finish writing the first draft of book #5 (Redemption).
- Finish polishing book #1 (Spectacle) and start submitting.
- Finish polishing book #3 (Blink) and start submitting.
- Finish editing book #4 (AWJ) and get it out to betas and CPs.
- Exercise for no less than 15 minutes every day (and once I stop panting like a sick dog, up it to 30 minutes).
- Lose at least fifteen pounds (because those 7 pounds are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much I feel I ought to weigh).
- Keep up with correcting homework so that at the end of each week, everything from that week has been graded and entered in the gradebook.

So, what are your goals for the rest of the year? Do you think I'll make mine, or am I being overambitious? Underambitious? Are your goals any more realistic than mine?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Racer

I know I haven't done the best job of announcing the new Novel Racers here at my blog (and please scroll over to visit when you get a chance - all our sites are posted on the right side), but I'd like to send out a big HOWDY to our newest racer: Helen at The Hellcat Chronicles.

Welcome to the crowd, Helen! =oD

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Broken Cookie Theory

As we leave the summertime with its wealth of exercise and activity (typically), I thought I'd share with you the Broken Cookie theory of dieting. It should help when those sweet treats are calling you, and your scale is groaning from the added poundage you're acquiring.

The theory is: A broken cookie has no calories.

You see, when a cookie breaks, the calories escape. Therefore a broken cookie is completely calorie-free.

This only applies to cookies broken naturally, of course. Don't think you can go around breaking your cookies before you eat them. Many a hapless girl has fallen into that trap, let me tell you. The unfortunate fact is that when you break a cookie on purpose to drain the calories, you actually end up doubling the caloric content of the broken halves. The energy you take to break the cookie is transferred into the parts. Tragic, but true.

Of course, this doesn't mean the cookie has to be eaten whole. No. Apparently biting a cookie portion that has been naturally broken doesn't add any measureable calories. (Whew, that's a relief.)

So, my suggestion is to scope the supermarket for their bargain bin - the one with the damaged items in it. Snatch up every package of smashed cookies you can find, and eat to your heart's content.

Now, if there were only a 'broken ice cream theory', I'd be skinny as a rail in no time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Eleven Thousand One Hundred and Eleven

Seriously, folks. When I stopped writing on Redemption last night and hit my word count button, it read 11,111 words. I couldn't do that again if I tried.

ETA: Due some misunderstanding, I need to make it clear that I didn't write 11,000 words last night. I just hit 11,111 last night. I feel bad that anyone thought I could write that much in one sitting, and I apologize for the mistake. I just thought it was kinda cool to hit all ones. :blush:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bad Fluffy Bunny

I posted one of my stories over at Tabula Rasa. Please take a moment to enjoy the short SF piece I call: "Bad Fluffy Bunny".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Night Off

I took the night off, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it (well, not much anyway). Probably a good thing since I haven't done a good job explaining myself today. Anything I wrote in this state would have to be rewritten anyway.

(Umm... rationalize much?)

On the upside, I finished a book I picked up to read in the airport - Witchy Business by Julie Leto, Rhonda Nelson and Mia Zachary. What a neat book. Three novellas wrapped around the same background - a witch community in Sedona, AZ. (I'd tell you more, but I hate giving away story info - follow the link to learn more.)

I picked it up because I've spent some time over at Julie Leto's site, reading her advice to other writers, and she sounds like she knows what she's talking about. Reading her novella in this book, I can tell my assumption was correct. She does know what she's talking about. (I SO hate it when I read advice and then find out the person giving it doesn't follow it themselves. Ack.) So I'm pretty happy with my purchase and with the hours I spent reading. =oD

It's a definite 'must buy' for anyone who is even remotely interested in paranormal romance. The only caveat is to understand that while Leto and Zachary seem to have similar writing styles, Nelson's style is different - not a bad thing, just a jolt since her story is the middle one. Once I understood the change in styles, I slipped right into the story and enjoyed it as much as the other two.

Good job, ladies. And thank you.

Plum Tuckered Out

Hi everyone. Just a quickie note to let y'all know that I'm pooped.

Yesterday was an all day event. I drove to the airport to pick up my daughter from her vacation. The airport is a haul from here. I was so anxious, I got to the airport three hours early, which was good because there was no parking - the garages were full, the economy lots were full, and I was damned if I was going to take a shuttle. I parked in BFE instead and walked.

Needless to say it was a long day, and I'm not up to doing much of anything but laying on the couch. I might be back later with something more profound, but if not, I'll catch y'all tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Importance of Patience

One thing I've learned over the past three plus years is that this business of writing requires a tremendous amount of patience.

Traditionally, I have no patience. Ask my mother if I have any patience. Ask my siblings. They'll look at you like you're out of your mind and laugh until they pee their pants.

This writing thing wasn't any different at first. I whipped my first book out, gave a quick once-over and shot it off to perspective agents. Needless to say, that didn't go well.

Over the years I've acquired patience. I've had to. It was either that or shoot myself in the foot. It takes patience to go through the same manuscript over and over looking for ways to make it better. It takes patience to polish until you're cross-eyed before you send your work out. It takes patience to not contact my CP and my betas every day and twice on Sundays to ask them if they're done yet. (You think the 'can you hear me now' guy is irritating, try someone tapping you on the shoulder and asking if you're done reading something yet.)

Without patience, I would've contacted the publisher who's had my second book for the past couple months. And afterwards they would've taken my submission and put it into file 13*, with a quick note in my SASE telling me my work wasn't quite right for them. Nobody likes a pest.

Without patience, I would've driven away every quality reader I have. They have lives, too. One works a full-time job and shares the load of homeschooling her children, plus takes the time to sew. Another is a writer herself working on numerous projects, plus maintaining a life of her own. A third is raising four kids. We all have things to do. I respect that, and I'm grateful for the time they take out of their days to look at my work. (And I'm happy to do whatever I can for them, too.)

I guess my point is, if you're reading this and you're finding yourself leaning toward the impatience that hovers behind you, stop. Tell it to bugger off. If you find yourself typing out an e-mail asking where your manuscript is, stop. Go find something else to do. If you find yourself on the verge of screaming in frustration that another day has passed without a response from your query, and you're hovering by the phone waiting for the agent to call you before you can no longer stop yourself from calling them... Take a friggin' nap.

You'll thank yourself later. And for every little bit of patience you acquire, treat yourself to something nice. A bubble bath (they're good for guys, too, btw), buy a new book, listen to some relaxing music while you eat a hot fudge sundae. Just whatever you do, remember: You can do it. You can learn to be patient.

If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.

(Now where did I put that damn can of whipped cream?)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ditching Books

Over the weekend, I tried to get some reading done. The first book I picked up, I really made a valiant effort to read. I slogged through pages of bad prose, hackneyed plot, characters without purpose... And I gave up at page 75. I couldn't read any more. If I wrote like that, I'd burn all my manuscripts and take up needlepoint. At least then I'd be doing something useful.

I picked up another book. That one I gave up after 5 pages. I didn't know it was going to be a Christian thriller - it didn't indicate that anywhere on the cover. Totally not my thing.

Finally, thank goodness, my CP sent me some books, and I picked out the smallest one. (Yes, sometimes size does matter - especially when my wrists hurt and the thought of holding a large book seems daunting at best.) Of course, my CP knows her stuff. I spent part of yesterday and most of today reading Holly Lisle's 'i see you'. Good stuff. A thriller that gets right to the point, no unnecessary characters muddying up the works. A paranormal that doesn't jump as being too 'in your face' with the mysticism. All in all an enjoyable read.

Too bad I already paid for the two I won't be finishing. Maybe someone who likes that stuff will come along and buy them from my store. (If I even list them. After all, I don't really want to subject other people to bad writing.)

So, what did you read this weekend? Were your books satisfying, or did you find any duds?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Flood of Ideas

You ever have one of those days where the new story ideas are coming at you like a flood? I'm drowning. Not that I don't love the great ideas I'm having, but they're interfering with my ability to write the book I'm supposed to be concentrating on right now.

And another thing. With all these ideas, I'd either better live until I'm 120 or learn how to write faster, or part of my legacy will be a file full of unwritten stories.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Today's Post

...is over at Tabula Rasa.

And for your viewing pleasure...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Water Dish Got Moved

Maybe I'm the only one who has this problem, but I have a real problem changing spaces and then getting back into my groove. As you may know, I moved again. Since we rent, we move more frequently than most people - mainly because people keep selling their properties out from under us, but I digress. I didn't realize until recently how attached I grow to a certain place, and a certain routine in that place.

When I first started writing, I was single and living with my daughter in an apartment in the Salt Lake Valley. It was a tiny apartment and my bedroom/office was in the dining room. I'd write until I was too tired, then roll off my chair and into my bed. I wasn't really in any routine at the time, so when I got married and moved to Colorado, it wasn't very hard for me to slip into writing at our new home.

Flash forward a year. I've settled into a routine, and we've got an office where I can shut myself away to write. It was a converted garage - dark and faintly musty, with lots of spiders. I made it work for me. Then our landlady sold her house. After we moved, I had a devil of a time getting back into the writing again. I thought at the time I was just going through one of those periods where the writing is slow. I never thought about the change of venue as the reason. After all, writers can work anywhere. Give me a notepad and a pen, and I can write at the lake if I want to. Right?

Flash forward two years. I was in a routine again, and the writing was coming along fairly well. This time I was back in a dining room - bright and airy with a minimum of critters. Then our landlady put her house on the market and we moved.

And my writing slump came back.

Sitting on the couch, I thought about why I keep getting these slumps, just when I have scads of time to write. Was it the heat? Was my muse taking summer vacation? When I really thought about it, I realized the one summer I didn't move, I didn't have a slump. I wrote a lot that summer. The only excuse left was the move.

I couldn't seem to get into the groove here. Sitting on the couch with a notebook just didn't inspire me the way it had before - same couch, same notebook, different surroundings. I'm working at the same desk, with relatively the same layout, and my groove is off. The lighting is different. The smells are different. I'm not in my writing place.

My husband has this theory. It has to do with dogs and water dishes. His theory is when it comes to moving around, humans are like dogs. We need to know where our water dish is, and that it's always in the same spot. And when it's not, it throws us off. (If you've ever moved your pet's water dish, you know how confused the poor thing gets - even if for only a minute.)

So, my water got moved and I was feeling a little lost because of it. Aha! Of course, now that I know, it made the whole funk disappear. I got back to writing, and have put out a couple thousand words on my new book - Redemption. All better.

Until we move again. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Book Addiction - Meme

Erica Ridley has a wonderful little writerly meme on her blog, and I chose to tackle the questions here this morning.

Here goes nothin':

Total Number of Books I Own

This one has to be a strict estimate for now because it would take me a very very long time to count them all. I know I have roughly 1200 that are in my online bookstore plus another hundred or so that are waiting to be input. We have a huge shelf full of textbooks and educational books for school - that's got to have about a hundred books on it. I have a shelf-full of our keeper fiction - add another hundred. Oh, and this house has built-in glass-fronted bookshelves - tack on another hundred there. How many is that? 1600 give or take a score. Good thing this question wasn't how many books are in the house, because then I'd have to count my daughter's books. Ack.

The Last Book I Bought

I picked up Preston and Child's "The Book of the Dead" for myself just before my daughter went on vacation, but now that I think about it, the last book I bought was for her to read on the plane. I can't remember the title right now, but it was a new release in the urban fantasy genre.

The Last Book I Read

That would have to be "The Titan's Curse" by Rick Riordan. If you haven't had a chance to read this series, what are you waiting for? You're already behind by three books, and the fourth is due out in October. I'm not usually a series reader, but this one sucked me in and now I'm hooked. I mean, come on. Greek gods and heroes in Manhattan?? A summer camp for the Half-Breeds on Long Island?

Five Books That Mean A Lot to Me
(I'm going to take this literally, and go with the books themselves rather than the stories)

1) I have a copy of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I've been a book collector for years, and this book has always had a special place on my shelves because it's a Bobbs-Merrill edition (which for collectors means it's rare), and because I'm a huge fan of Rand. I bought it from a used bookstore while I was in college, and the book also has a special place in my heart because of the memories it inspires. Several years ago, I picked the book up - I don't remember why (I hardly ever fondle my rare books) - and I noticed an inscription I'd never seen before. Inside the front cover was the name of a soldier, his rank, his unit. I did some research, and found out this soldier's unit was a bomber group flying over the Pacific during WWII. Since The Fountainhead (and particularly this edition) was published in 1943, it was easy enough to imagine my soldier flying to protect this country with his copy of The Fountainhead jammed into his pocket. And looking at my book's moisture stains and dog-eared pages, it's even easier to imagine.

2) Years ago when my parents moved out of the house they'd lived in for most of my life, my father had a garage sale. In it, he'd shoved the family's set of 1958 encyclopedias. So, of course, I snatched them up. I have them all sitting in our glassed-in bookshelves right now. I guess with these, it's not so much the books themselves as the memories associated with them. They were my main source for any paper I wrote in school (because we lived out in the country and the library wasn't easy for me to get to). Inside many of the books are crushed flowers, four-leaf clovers and other treasures from my childhood. And then there's the nostalgia of paging through encyclopedias printed before man walked on the moon, before the invention of the PC, before the Vietnam War.

3) And then there's my copy of Atlas Shrugged. When my daughter was small, I joined Book of the Month Club - mainly for the kid's books. But they had an edition of Atlas Shrugged, and since I'd had to sell my only copy when I was in college (it was either read or eat, and I had to eat), I jumped at the chance for a new copy. I inhaled it. Later, I became involved with a man who took any reading I did as a personal affront to him. I wasn't paying attention to him when I read, therefore reading was bad. And he made my life miserable when I tried to read, so I set all my books aside. After I finally wised up and left the guy, the first book I read was this copy of Atlas Shrugged. It was an affirmation of my right to be alive. Ya know?

4) Lastly, there's my copy of Calumet K. It was the first present my husband ever gave me (not counting a dozen yellow roses). The story itself is so simple and yet so powerful, but I wouldn't love this volume half as much if it hadn't been a gift from my one and only. *happy sigh*

ETA: As Erica pointed out, I forgot #5, so I'm just going to tack it on here. I think I choose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. If only for the fact that prior to reading that book, my daughter hated reading. No matter how much I prodded her to read, no matter how wonderful I made it sound, she had her heels dug in and refused to read. Then my mother gave her HP#1, and she grudging began reading it. In no time, she was gobbling it up, and now she reads everything. I can't imagine what my life would be like if my kid hated to read. She's my first beta reader for everything now, she's my sounding board for ideas, and she's the first person I can discuss books with. (She's first mostly because we're always together, but that's beside the point.)

Not the most exciting answers to this meme, I'm sure, but it was fun.

If you're interested in volunteering for this meme, have at it, but don't forget to leave a comment here so I can stop by and check your answers out. (And give yourself a little blog traffic while you're at it.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lovin My New Toy

I got a new digital camera the other day, but I haven't really had a chance to use it. Today, I took the time for a drive in the country, and came up with some awesome shots. I won't bore you with all of them. (Although I'm pretty proud of the shot I got of a roosting nighthawk.)

So here are a few of the best:

Monday, September 3, 2007

Wonders Never Cease

It's been a good day all around. If you've been following along for a while, you might remember I entered a couple recipes into a contest. Today, while I was looking through my blogroll, I came across the announcement of the winners for this contest.

My recipes took first and third. Yay! The jury's still out as to when I receive my prizes, but hey, at least I won something. Even if it's just bragging rights for now.

First place was Hot Milk Sponge Cake and third was PeanutButterCup Cake w/ Chocolate-PeanutButter Frosting. The first was a gimme, and an old staple in my family. The other was a recipe I created from almost-scratch (meaning I took other recipes and played with them until I had what I wanted). Needless to say, I'm more proud of the brain-child one than the family recipe, but either way, it's good.


Today I'm the guest blogger at Good Girls Kill for the Money!

I love GGKFTM. All the gals there are bright and solid and fun. I haven't hit a post of theirs yet that made me want to cringe. (Which is hard for me to say because there are so few blogs that don't have something like that.) I hope my post lives up to those standards.

My post this morning was about Snipping Unnecessary Scenes. Take a jog on over there and check it out. =o)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Linkage Sunday

Yesterday was spent in a totally vegetative state - reading, watching football, playing poker. But that's okay, I guess, because not many people are around this weekend.

So anyway, here are the posts this week that made me sit up and take notice....

And since my intro is so chock full of unnecessary words, I'd like to point out that Rachel Vincent is tightening her manuscript. It's a short post, but she hits it right where she needs to. I spent a lot of time snipping those words out of Spectacle.

The people over at WriteMinded have been having some special guests on their blog, with interesting and poignant things to say. (They're also having a boatload of contests, so make some comments and get yur name in the hat already.)

At Dishing with the Divas, Brenda Novak talks with writer M.J. Rose.

An Internet Guru and Computer Wiz as well as a writer, Erica Ridley gives some hints and tips about Websites for writers. This gal knows her stuff, so take a jog over there and soak up some internet info.

Courtesy of Diana Peterfreund we have this link to an awesome post by her friend C.L. Wilson on Worldbuilding (and a follow up here). Wilson makes some excellent points, and as Diana points out - we have worldbuilding to do even when we're not working in fantasy.

Speaking of worldbuilding. You may notice a new meter over to the right. (Yep, the purple one.) Since I picked the holiday weekend to ask people's opinions, I didn't get much input, so I'm jumping into Redemption next. Like I said, it's the book with the most work already done to it. It's got a lot of work ahead, but it should be fun. I went back and re-read the 23 pages I already wrote, and fell in love with the story all over again. (Which is why I'm purposely not re-reading the other available choices, or I'll never get anything done.)

How are things in your world this weekend? Anybody out there, or am I the only one who stayed home and vegged out?