(Yep...I took the picture and that's Penny snuggled up in the chair, peeking over the top of the page!)
Sunday, December 23, 2012
(Yep...I took the picture and that's Penny snuggled up in the chair, peeking over the top of the page!)
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I know I'm always anxious to read the next book in any series, and even more so when I know it's still in production! But I wanted to give everyone a little sneak peek...so without further ado, here's the very first scene....
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Sunday, November 4, 2012
(ps... Go Broncos!)
Monday, October 22, 2012
Joe's the right guy for this job-aside from the pay and lack of appreciation he really loves what he does. Unfortunately, the bad guys don't. They are worried that Joe will discover their little secret and blow the possibility of BIG money pouring into the area and their pockets.
I'm not giving away anything here by telling you the secret involves an endangered species-every section starts with a part of the Endangered Species Act. The reader knows what's going on-up to a point-before Joe does, but once he starts figuring it out we are rooting for him before the bad guys get him-or his adorable family!
Downsides? They are there but I chalk them up to this having been Box's first book. I'm hoping others in the series will have benefited from an editor's gentle but firm touch. The segments from the Endangered Species Act are kinda long and I'm thinking many readers brush past the legalize to get on to the story. I'd have shortened those to just the most salient points.
A lot of time is spent early on setting the scene...sometime more than is necessary, and Box has a tendency to over explore Joe's inner turmoils... occasionally repeating points previously made. As a result, the book starts off a little slow-but don't let that stop you. Once the author gets rolling it's a great ride with classic overtones of Honest Cop vs. The System.
I'm betting by the time you come to the end you'll be looking forward to reading #2 in the series. I know I am.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Friday, October 5, 2012
Over the years I've read just about every Spenser novel Parker produced-and that's a considerable amount! Oh yes, that includes those oldies but goodies with bell bottoms and afros! But Spenser, Hawk and Susan are memorable characters and I hope to read the newest installment, The Ranger, written by Ace Atkins, very soon.
First, however, I dove into Michael Brandman's latest take on Parker's Jesse Stone series. Now, to be honest, this is not a series I'd ever read. I'd only seen it on TV via the movies with Tom Selleck. But Selleck co-produced those with Brandman, who also wrote several of the screenplays. It only figured that he'd be the guy to pick up where Parker left off.
A little research has led me to believe that the time lines in the books vs. the movies differ, and I'm finding it odd that Jesse has a cat in the book and a Golden Retriever in the movies. He never seemed like a cat guy to me, though I wished he'd petted that dog more often!
So, let's cut to the chase-did I enjoy Fool Me Twice? A resounding YES! Did Brandman channel Parker well? Pretty close...though I agree with some reviewers that his version is a little more on the soft side, but he's got the staccato dialogue down!
The plot is actually three stories that don't really interconnect, but that's okay. Jesse is the Chief of Police in the small Massachusetts town of Paradise and, as such, it makes sense he's juggling more than one case. So the reader, along with Jesse, tracks the killer of an actress who was starring in a locally filmed Hollywood production, while sorting out fraud at the local water department, while taking a personal interest that intervenes in the wayward path a young local girl's life has taken. All local, all in Chief Stone's sights, and all undertaken in the way only Parker-and now Brandman can write it.
Pretty well done, after all. I still grieve the loss of the master of this sub-genre, but the apprentice lives.
(photo courtesy of Amazon)
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
This chapter fleshes out each of my characters a little bit more, and in their own words. They don't need a quote from Anne to define where they stand--these gals can friggin' do that just fine for themselves, thank you very much! (channeling Claire there a bit!)
That brings us to chapter 5...
I loved this quote and it is so dearly perfect for chapter 5. It is the first night that Del's children are spending at their father's home. The first night Del is home alone after her divorce. Even her beloved little miniature poodle, Sandy, has gone with them. Del is alone, truly abandoned in her own space and she's not sure how she feels about that.
As Del wanders around her home and her thoughts she is re-learning to be alone. We travel with her and learn about her children and Micky, her soon-to-be Ex. We discover how Del learned of her husbands infidelity and we see how she's handling the fall-out.
This was one of my favorite chapters to write. There is so much going on on the inside of Del that's masked by the naivete and insecurities of the outside. Del ends this chapter smoking one of her son's smuggled Camels, on her kids' swing-set, swaying in the cold mountain air beneath a deep black sky littered with stars. The reader has gone from wanting to comfort her to mentally cheering You Go Girl! A night that started with emptiness is now filling with promise, and Del is getting back the courage to dream big.
Monday, September 24, 2012
The early years in the movie business, before talkies and before the censors really came to power, someone like Louise was tailor made for success. And ultimately, failure. It wasn't that she wasn't talented enough to make it, talkies and all, it was that she was born to rebel...and drink. It's a bad combination in any line of work, Hollywood just gave you the chance to do it in a big way.
So when I read the concept of Ms. Moriarty's book, The Chaperone, I was intrigued. Cora Calisle was a very traditional woman tasked with chaperoning 15 year-old Louise for a summer in New York City as she pursued her dreams with a dance troupe, hoping to never return to Kansas again.
It's been a while since I read that biography, so I can't say for certain how accurate the details of Louise's life may be (I'll assume the author did her homework and aimed for accuracy...for the most part). That's fine, I'm here for the fiction as well, and the story of our chaperone, Cora, as well.
Seemingly uptight Cora has some still water running deep along with a hidden past she's come to New York City to unearth. But she can't help worrying about Louise's virginity-though it's fairly clear to the reader that that's probably a done deal by the time Louise hits the big city.
Along the way we learn some sad truths about Cora's life, as well as Louise's. We find sympathy for both and wish them both well...though we rightly worry that Louise is a ball of fire blazing brightly on the path to burning up. Cora's life, however, takes some extremely surprising turns! I have to hand it to Ms. Moriarty for throwing some totally unexpected plot developments my way.
But the title of our book is The Chaperone, and about half way through I started to think that the chaperoning aspect-and the Louise storyline-were just a gimmick to bring in readers. In the end, Louise moves on and we spend the rest of the book following the results and continuing story arc for Cora, with only occassional glimpses of Louise's life.
At one point Cora finds an opportunity to guide Louise back onto a path that could hold happiness for her if she plays her cards right. Of course, Louise doesn't like to play by the rules of anyone's game but her own, so you know that's not likely to end up well. And the author can't rewrite history with this historical character-it's not a what-if kind of tale.
In the end the story is, of course, about Cora, the chaperone. That title leads you to believe that's the focus of the story-Cora's opportunities, seized or blown-to make a difference in her young charge's life. But it's not. The chaperone part is just a set up to tell you Cora's story-from beginning to end, and Louise is the collateral damage used to bring in readers.
Ms. Moriarty deserves props for creating a life with lots of surprises. We find out that Cora can be, in her own very private way, equally outrageous as Louise in the eyes of her contemporaries-were they to ever find out. But the title and the concept of the book are misleading. I felt a little cheated in the end. I felt that, as chaperon, Cora dropped the ball in many opportunities to make a difference-or at least find a closer connection-with Louise. She freaked out one too many times for my tastes-after a while you expect some level headedness from the adult in the room.
Once Louise has served her plot purpose she's shipped off to Hollywood and out of the story, leaving the other half of the book to tell us a much longer story that has nothing to do with the title or the initial set-up. It's two books in one and two stories in one. That kinda bugged me. I'd have been happy to read either one separately, but together each story felt short shifted-particularly Louise's.
Louise Brooks there are plenty of books out there-including her own version, Lulu in Hollywood. If you want a period piece about an orphan who endures difficult life twists and finds happiness in unconventional ways, read The Chaperone. But don't read The Chaperone if you want both.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
This is the second of the series on quotes from Ms. Lindbergh's book that the brutal editing process forced me to eliminate...sniff.... This gem is the theme of The Shell Keeper/chapter 3 and is all the more illuminating when you consider the line that follows it in her book:
I can relate to that-and if you're being honest with yourself I bet you can, too. In general I think we all have a 'mask', a persona that we carry around on a day to day basis to present to the world as we go about our business. It makes life simpler.
It's why, when you hear of someone who 'wears their heart on their sleeve' you have a mix of sympathy tinged with both pity and regret. Why? Because it's just too much work to be ALL THERE all the time! But maybe part of us yearns to be there all the same. But we save those moments of personal exposure and illumination for our friends and family-if at all. Or, if you're a writer, for you books.
In chapter three Gwen and Claire do their best to stay out of the way as Del is interviewed by a female police officer. The same officer Del swears is having an affair with her soon-to-be ex-husband. Gwen and Claire don't want to intrude...but really, they can't help being curious about how that conversation is going.
Here we have three women who've been playing it close to the vest. They're accustomed to keeping their private issues private. Suddenly they are thrust into this odd and unexpected situation where they are torn between privacy and curiosity...and the temptation to let each other in is running smack up against the instinct to keep each other out.
It's a funny and touching scene, including a little white lie Del tells, with the help of Claire, to keep life simple. Even though all three of their lives are about to get pretty damn complicated!
Sunday, September 16, 2012
For me, the More that needed to be yanked during the editing process of my women's fiction novel, The Shell Keeper, were quotes at the start of each chapter. The spirit of my book sprung, years ago, from the wisdom of Ann Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. This small tome is packed with gems that speak to women of all ages and, when writing The Shell Keeper, I found a treasure to mark each chapter. My scenes, my characters, my plot all found roots within Lindbergh's insights.
However, that arduous taskmaster that is the final editing process made it clear that the quotes, while inspiring were detracting from the story and adding pages (very big no-no's) in publishing. They had to go. I grieved...sniff...but I cut! And in the end only two remained, one as the theme of the book, and the other, just as you begin chapter one. But there are so many others you missed out on.
So I'd like to start a series in my blog to tell you a little about the quotes from Ms. Lindbergh that didn't make it in and why, in a perfect world, they were just right for the chapters they headed.
Chapter 2: "How often in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us."
In chapter two Dell has just interrupted Gwen and Claire's conversation by rudely demolishing the massive flower pot in front of Gwen's bakery while distractedly driving her mini-van.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
I'm fortunate that my library is leading the nation in pioneering new ways to make books accessible to readers...while the 'Big Six' are rigging the playing field in their favor, and against you, the reader.
In future blogs I'll fill you in on some exciting news for self-published authors in Douglas County and ultimately across the America! Meanwhile, however, CLICK HERE to check out this article from Jamie LaRue, Director of the Douglas County Libraries, about their latest tactics to bring you the best books out there.
Monday, August 6, 2012
The setting of their adventure lies the mountains around Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Oak Creek, Colorado. All of the characters existed-many left a lasting impact on the valley and have relatives still in the area. For readers who love that territory they will truly enjoy not only the tale, but the appreciation of the valley's history the next time they visit.
This was a very enjoyable story to read and I was truly sorry to see it end. I recommend it for both beach reads and long winter nights-whenever you have a moment to slip back in time and savor the history of two very spunky Colorado pioneers, this is the book to choose!
Monday, July 30, 2012
I am not normally a romance reader, but I love historical tales in the medieval period and I found Alyna and Royce to be such compelling characters that I was quickly hooked.
Both the storyline and characters are well fleshed-out and, for me, that's always a recipe for a page turner! I loved the magical nature of Alyna's little Nicholas, and Royce's growing devotion to both of them, combined with a conflict between upholding a long standing vow for vengeance versus following his heart.
Ms. Williams knows how to bank the sparks that build passionate flames and leave readers rooting for Alyna and Royce to embrace their growing feelings for each other. Her story is beautifully written, and leaves the reader waiting for the next book...when we hope to know more about Nicholas! (no pressure, Lana! :)
Thursday, July 19, 2012
This book's concept is interesting, with alternating chapters between the two main characters, plus a 'surprise' mid-way through.
Only problem is that you probably won't be all that surprised, and after 400 some pages you will get to the end and feel like the author went to all that trouble and then forgot she's supposed to be writing something that readers will enjoy.
Instead she's playing little literary format games and pleasing literary critics (who seem to love the least satisfying possibly ending) instead of the people who read (and pay for) her books. They might be less than satisfied with this ending.
So here's the spoiler alert and here's what critics are failing (miserably) to tell their readers: the ending is a HUGE let-down. You will seriously regret spending all that time reading this book for so little payoff. In addition, if you're having an 'off' day this book will NOT pick you up-it's a downer. I'm not saying all downer books are bad, but combined with the disappointing payoff, it's a double downer.
My wish? That I'd let this Girl Go...and never started reading it!
photo courtesy of Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Friday, June 29, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
You may be thinking I'm getting to be an expert at the process by now, but it sure doesn't feel like it! Despite the fact that I've done this once before with The Shell Keeper,it seemed I had to learn all the steps over again!
The Indie Pub. industry is really growing, but the reality is that, for most of us who write, only a small portion of our time is normally spent in the actual publication process. Actually, that's probably how it should be! We're writers, after all, not professional publishers!
But the new age of publishing is making the majority of new authors into well-rounded experts in all facets of the industry whether they care to be or not. On any given day I'd far rather be immersed in the worlds my characters inhabit, transcribing their adventures onto my keyboard than formatting for an e-book!
Still, I need to surface and enter the publishing world if I want to share their stories with my readers. This experience has given me new respect for both internet gurus and copywriters! But it also gives me respect and gratitude to my fellow writers who are so often there helping me through all my stupid questions (html, e-pub, Word 2010-don't get us started on that one!, formatting, etc.!!). To all of you who have donated your time and knowledge to my process, I can't thank you enough and only hope I can help others in return!
So-I hope you'll check out Framed-it's a fun book and a great summer read! Here's the blurb:
When housing contractor Kay Conroy finds her son’s soccer coach dead on his kitchen floor, her well known dislike for the man soon turns into a motive for murder.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
My favorite library had a classic Gothic feel and came by it honestly as it was built in the 1800's. There were deep stacks to wander and lose yourself in...and maybe run into a ghost or two! I know I always expected it, but all I really got were chills up my spine! Once I'd found my books (using the good old-fashioned card catalog, of course!) I found a place at one of the many long wooden tables stacked down the center of the main rooms. I sat in a solid, heavy-wooden chair and read by the light of green shaded lamps that ran the length of each table.
This love of libraries began long ago in a Carnegie library with it's classic architecture:stone steps topped by columns, century-old wooden floors that creaked with each step, and a musty smell that only compulsive readers could love!
Now, I'm not saying a library has to be verging on decrepit to earn my affection. One of my college libraries, at the University of Denver (DU), was brand new and cutting-edge modern. It had the oddest little orange cubicles just big enough to sit in with your books and a contraband soda. Drinks in the library were frowned upon then...I wonder how libraries feel about it in this Starbucks age where it's hard to put down your latte just to pick up a book.
One of my sons is at DU now and, unfortunately, he arrived just in time for a two year renovation of the library-just the amount of time he'll be attending. In the meantime, students have access to books at another location, possibly waiting a day or more to have the book they want brought in from storage.
I'm hoping that when the new library is unveiled we can go, together, to stroll it's stacks and test out what I'm sure will be a cutting edge internet version of the voluminous card catalog. I wonder if it will smell musty in there...or maybe like a double mochachino!
(photo courtesy Deering Library, Northwestern University)
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
It's not that I don't WANT to work on my launch of FRAMED, and certainly not that I don't want to hang out with the girls of THE SHELL KEEPER while rewriting the sequel. It's more that life seems to fill up with activity and obligation in the summer. More family hanging out, more BBQ's to make potato salad for, more day trips to the mountains. (Okay, so I'm planning more day-trips to the mountains!) How's a girl supposed to find the time to write!
Yes, yes, my writer's conscience...and fellow writers are telling me it's all about the placement of my posterior in front of my laptop followed by the tap-tap-tap of my fingers on the keyboard. And it's true, it's really that simple!
So...summer threw me a little there at the beginning, but I'm beginning to get the hang of its ways and next week is gonna be a fresh start!
(photo courtesy of photobucket.com/javagirl66)
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
For some reason my brain has lately latched upon the concept of percolating when it comes to creating or making a decision. Yes, I’m showing my age if I admit remembering percolating coffee makers, but we had moved on to the drip system by the time I was drinking coffee in earnest.
Still, the concept of percolating is intriguing, and aptly applied to the writing process. What others might consider procrastination or downright avoidance is often plain old percolation! You might think when I do the laundry, vacuum the rug or pull weeds in my garden that I’m procrastinating. But you are wrong-I’m percolating!
Let me explain. The different stages of creation (coffee or art) start at the top of the pot with the perforated spreader plate through which hot water drips down onto the coffee grounds below. I like to think of this as the actual ‘hands on keyboard’ or ‘pen to paper’ process trickling down and filling the blank page with words.
Next comes the filter—obviously the editing process! And the resulting brewed coffee is the final edit, ready to be enjoyed by caffeine addicts worldwide…once published, which must be when it’s poured out of the spout! Okay, let’s not get over-similed!
But still, you see what I’m saying; it’s a process. And way down there at the bottom of the pot is a very important component we shouldn’t forget: the heat source. In coffee, it’s, well, heat!
In writing, the heat source can be any number of things that spur us to creative action. The spark of inspiration that perked up at the very start is definitely a heat source. As is the desire to express and share your thoughts. Of course, it could be the critique buddy who is waiting for more pages to read or the demands of a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo. Maybe even an agent or editor counting down a deadline.
Ultimately, proper percolation can provide a potent brew, in the cup or on the page.
image courtesy of Wikipedia
Sunday, March 25, 2012
A few years ago I bought an oil painting at a local consignment shop. It was $15, on the stretcher bars but unframed. It's a lovely depiction of pink and white striped tulips in a clear glass pitcher, and named 'Peppermint Candy'.
Monday, March 12, 2012
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, How to Be Creative, explored the unlikely influences that have been found to spark creative juices and genius. The author explains that sometimes what seems like a sudden, magical leap between a stubborn spot on the blank page and the words and thoughts that come out of the blue to fill that spot aren't so much magical, as lurking in the back of the brain, waiting for you to put your guard down and let them through.
Friday, March 2, 2012
If you've been following my blog you know I'm currently tackling a writing challenge. When I first took this on I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to work on. I had a couple projects in the works, plus final edits of Framed, my upcoming mystery that I hope will be the first of the Kay Conroy mystery series! (check out the cover in an earlier post!)