Thursday, January 31, 2008

January AW Blog Chain

I'm part of another Absolute Write blog chain and this time the theme is writing. Susan over at The Speakeasy talked about the fact that the ending of a book does not necessarily determine the "goodness" of the story. The story is ultimately good or bad, and it's for the reader to decide.

The old saying "Life is a journey, not a destination." comes to mind. I don't read the first chapter and the last and decide whether I enjoyed a book or not. I read to find out what happens along the way. If the writer has done his/her job, I come away with new understanding, hopefully having learned something.

Writing is ultimately about sharing information. Whether it's fiction to represent a concept, or non-fiction just-the-facts, ma'am, writing is about giving thought organized form. If the words come together just right, the book is good.

And with that, I'm tossing this over to Rebecca at the Writer's Round-About.

Feel free to see what the rest of the bloggers have to say on this topic...

living my life all over again
Spontaneous Derivation
Jenn Hollowell: Working Writer
Anything That Pays
Polenth's Quill
wfg thinks out loud
Spittin' (out words) Like a Llama
A Thoughtful Life
The Speakeasy
Virtual Wordsmith
The Writer's Round-About
My Copious Notes Blog
Tennessee Text Wrestling
Twisted Fantasy

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interview - Amanda Young, author of Silent Prisoner

Amanda Young, author of Silent Prisoner was gracious enough to share a few thoughts with us. Enjoy.

Can you tell us about Silent Prisoner?

It is a true story of my life. It began as a personal journal in 2000. After writing the first draft I thought I would not dare attempt to write another word as it was so painful to write of events that had happened to me in my life. But I found myself again and again picking up the draft and as I was able to do so I would write more accounts of my life. I began this journey to write my story to hopefully better understand myself and my past. I always felt as if there was some kind of road block on my way to finding happiness. That happiness was something I could never find or have, or so I believed. I had then gotten the idea that maybe if I wrote of my life that I might understand more of why I could not find happiness or love; that I might even be able to take away the road blocks with putting words onto paper. But what I found was that there never was anything in my way. I just did not follow the road that led to happiness. I had always traveled onto a road that led only to sadness and despair. It took many drafts to finally understand that I had never witnessed a loving couple as my parents were alcoholics and left me and my siblings alone for days at a time without food or attention. The orphanages and foster homes provided no love for me. Nor did the families I lived with. It would take many drafts to realize that I had no idea of what happiness was and if I had been on the road and seen it at all I would not have even recognized it.

Did you find it difficult to share your story?

Very difficult. I put the draft away many times and thought that there would be no way that I could possibly share my story. But then an event would happen on television or a story I would hear from someone caused me to go through another draft. Even on the day that I clicked “Print” to send the final draft back to the publisher it took my son talking to me for some time to hit “Send.” He told me that I had worked too hard to stop now. I paced for several hours before hitting the button and even then thought of calling to tell them not to print it.

How long did it take you to bring this book from the first draft to the final published product?

Seven years almost to the day. I began in October 2000 and it was in print in November 2007.

Were there any special obstacles or challenges you faced during the publishing process?

Many times I sent the manuscript to publishers and to agents. Publishers said they could not talk to me without an agent. Agents said they could not talk to me because I was unknown. I then found that is owned by Booksurge was started by a group of writers and was bought out by Amazon. I was grateful to find them. I now see my book in print and those that need to find my story to read for inspiration will find it now.

Tell us about April. Why will readers relate to her? What will they like about her?

I am April in the book. I was born in April so chose the name April for myself in the book. She is a sad little girl that is tossed about since birth. She sleeps without blankets on cold nights and goes to sleep hungry most nights for many years of her life while growing up. I was told many times that when the social worker came to pick me up to take me away from my parents and bring me to the orphanage that my stomach was bloated like the starving children in third world countries. For many years I ate so fast that I would often throw up. I never knew if I were going to get another meal and so I ate as if it were my last for many years. Later in life I became anorexic. I always struggled with the idea that I was not worthy of love and food to me was a representation of love. “If my mother loved me she would have fed me,” I once said to my therapist in my adult years. He said nothing but cleared his throat as he made a note onto his pad. “But what I wished for so many times and more than for food was that my mother would hold me,” I then said to him. I think that within all of us is the desire to be loved. What everyone will like about April is that she is never bitter or angry with God or the angels or anyone. She never gives up and knows that she has to keep going.

Who are some of the other characters in Silent Prisoner? How do they come into April’s life?

There are so many. The book goes from my life at about the age of five or six, to now. I will be fifty-three in a few weeks so there are many. There is an aunt who I stay with who teaches me the love of God and the angels. There is Rose who is a strong black woman that teaches me more about faith. My grandmother I visit on occasion who is witty and whimsical. There is my therapist of several years who is stoic and tries to encourage me to speak of how I feel. My abusive marriages. Three marriages I had and with each one it got worse. My last marriage I almost did not survive. My faith is the thing that got me out. It was in the month of May. I don’t know why I can remember the month, but I can. My ex-husband had been acting the same way again that told me I was soon to be in for another “episode.” I still remember hearing the sound of the door screen slam that morning when he left. There was something in the sound of the door that made me jump. I stared at the door as it banged again. I stood frozen and a voice in my head said, “Get out and get out now!” I could barely move as I stared at the screen door. I was frozen with a feeling of terror and it was as if a voice was then screaming in my head and said, “Get out! And get out now!”

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? and

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I have a website now I would like to say that to all who think that my walking out past that screen door that day was easy, it was not. By reading my story I hope people will understand why it is not easy for women to walk out. But I did walk out that day and my faith got me out. And I hope that my words help to inspire others to do so too.

Thank you so much for having me today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bloggers unite, again - Patry Francis, The Liar's Diary

Today, over 300 bloggers, including bestsellers, Emmy winners, movie makers, and publishing houses have come together to talk about THE LIAR'S DIARY by Patry Francis. Why? To give the book the attention it deserves on its release day while Patry takes the time she needs to heal from cancer.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Laurie Connors
A Plume Paperback Plume Publicity

A Novel
By Patry Francis

“The new questions and revelations just keep coming…Readers will be heartily rewarded.”—Ladies’ Home Journal

When new music teacher Ali Mather enters Jeanne Cross’s quiet suburban life, she brings a jolt of energy that Jeanne never expected. Ali has a magnetic personality and looks to match, drawing attention from all quarters. Nonetheless, Jeanne and Ali develop a friendship based on their mutual vulnerabilities THE LIAR’S DIARY (Plume / February 2008 / ISBN 978-0-452-28915-4 / $14.00) is the story of Ali and Jeanne’s friendship, and the secrets they both keep.

Jeanne’s secrets are kept to herself; like her son’s poor report card and husband’s lack of interest in their marriage. Ali’s secrets are kept in her diary, which holds the key to something dark: her fear that someone has been entering her house when she is not at home. While their secrets bring Jeanne and Ali together, it is this secret that will drive them apart. Jeanne finds herself torn between her family and her dear friend in order to protect the people she loves.

A chilling tour of troubled minds, THE LIAR’S DIARY questions just how far you’ll go for your family and what dark truths you’d be willing to admit—even to yourself.

Patry Francis is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize whose work has appeared in the Tampa Review, Colorado Review, Ontario Review, and the American Poetry Review. She is also the author of the popular blogs, and This is her first novel. Please visit her website at

Praise for THE LIAR’S DIARY:
“Twists and turns but never lets go.”—Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“A quirky, well-written and well-constructed mystery with an edge.”—Publishers Weekly

“Outright chilling.”—New York Daily News

“Genuinely creepy…The unlikely friendship between a small-town school secretary and a flamboyant teacher proves deadly in this psychological murder mystery.”—Kirkus

“A twisting ride full of dangerous curves and jaw-dropping surprises. This is one of my favorite reads of the year!”—Tess Gerristen, bestselling author of The Mephisto Club

“Francis draws and tense and moody picture of the perfect home and family being peeled back secret by secret…Four Stars.”—Romantic Times

By Patry Francis
Plume Paperbacks / February 2008 / $14.00
ISBN: 978-0-452-28915-4
Readers Guide available at
For more information or to schedule an interview with Patry Francis, please contact Laurie Connors, Plume Publicity
212-366-2222 /

Monday, January 28, 2008

Review - Silent Prisoner, by Amanda Young

Silent Prisoner
Amanda Young
Booksurge Publishing
ISBN # 978-1419668951

Silent Prisoner is a tough read. It perfectly illustrates the victim mentality (fear, shame, pain and ridicule) of a child who has grown up abused. If you've ever wondered "Why does she tolerate being treated that way?" - a graphic picture emerges here, painted in broad but clear brush strokes by Amanda Young.
(November 6, 2007, pp 498, $19.99)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday 1/25/08 Bedside Table Books

These are the books I see when I wake up.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Interview - Judy Gregerson, author of Bad Girls Club

Today's 5 Q&A is with Judy Gregerson, author of Bad Girls Club

1.) Who are you?
Well, I grew up on Long Island, at the very eastern end which is very much like Cape Cod. When I graduated from high school, I went to the State University of New York at Oswego and Stony Brook and then worked in Manhattan for four years. That’s when I published my first book, Save Me! A Young Woman’s Journey Through Schizophrenia to Health. I also worked in advertising and publishing and then I moved to the Pacific Northwest where I raised two girls (now college age) and started on my next book. I am a parentification survivor, meaning that I was a child who became the parent and took care of my mother and my sister as my family spiraled out of control.

2.) Do you think it's possible to ever totally heal from the damage caused by child abuse?
That’s a good question! I think that research now shows that abuse or trauma do make changes to the brains of young children. My understanding is that it imprints on the brain somehow. But more importantly, I think that living in a situation like that teaches kids patterns of thinking and behaving that can be overcome but are very difficult to change. When a child has been beat down like that, it’s very hard to change their self-image. It requires a lot of work and the desire to truly change your life.

Most adults I talk to who were abused have digestive problems and auto-immune problems, which I find interesting, but I’ve never seen a study on what percentage do or don’t. But that tells me that so much has been internalized and the body has turned on itself, which is really sad.

Totally heal? I’m not sure. I think you can overcome a lot of it. With work and help, I think you can go on to lead a happy, fulfilling life. But there’s much to overcome and many people won’t look back or won’t look inside at what they’ve pushed down and many people I talk to who suffered from some form of abuse have anxiety problems, experience dissociative episodes, or are depressed as adults. Those are all good reasons to get help when you’re young and escape abuse as quickly as you can.

3.) What advice would you give a child who is being abused and is old enough to ask for help, but is afraid?
I would suggest that they find an adult they trust, someone they can tell the truth. Abused kids are afraid of losing their parents and families. Any child would be afraid of losing their family, but for an abused child, it’s more dire because they can tend to be protective of the abusing parent. But if they have someone they trust—a teacher, a nurse, an aunt, a grandparent—someone who will help them and listen to them, I think they can get help.

4.) What can the average American do to help regarding the issue of child abuse?
Be aware. I’m not talking about calling CPS on mothers who have stern words with their children in grocery stores because I’ve seen that and I think it’s ridiculous. I’m talking about being aware in your own community. We all come in contact with kids all the time. People ask for help in nonverbal ways.

We used to have a neighbor kid who talked about how he dreamed about being sexually abused. My kid told me about that and at the time, I was suspicious, but I didn’t know what to do. I surely didn’t want to go accuse the parents. What I should have done was talk to a professional and ask them how to handle it. I did nothing because I was afraid of interfering. And I think that most people feel that way. We’re afraid of interfering, being wrong, and being humiliated for jumping into someone’s business. But if you watch nonverbal cues, if you ask kids who are at-risk if they need help, you are making yourself available and they might jump at the chance to tell someone what is going on. Open your eyes.

5.) What's next?
I’m working on a new book, putting together a radio talk show, and trying to get both my kids through college. I do some freelance marketing work and I try to have some fun along the way.

If anyone is interested in my book BAD GIRLS CLUB, they can find out more about it at

Thanks so much, Judy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh, really?

Saturday, I was standing in the book section at Target, trying to hunt down a title. There was a young woman looking intently at the bottom shelf at books by Philippa Gregory. She sighed and said, sort of under her breath, "I don't know which one was released first."

I picked up a copy to see if there was a list in the front of the book, but there wasn't. She said she'd have to look it up at Google. I volunteered that I review books on my blog. She looked at me and said "Oh? Really? So do I."

It seems to me that even with all the articles out there about the art of reading dying a slow death, I run into readers all over the place. And not only readers, but people who LOVE books, enough to share their thoughts and opinions about them with the entire world.

Hmmmm...something to ponder, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Que Sera Sera

"When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be"

My littlest boy loves to sing. He even sings to ask questions. He'll say "Mummy, can I have some MILK?!" and the word milk turns into an operatic crescendo. It's pretty damned funny.

He comes by his love of singing honestly. I was the same way at his age. I loved music! I sang all the time, so much so that I was told to stop, many times, by many people. I truly thought (when I was five) I'd grow up to be a famous singer.

Well, come to find out, I have terrible stage fright. The moment I realize someone is listening, my throat tightens up and my voice cracks. It's ridiculous, but it is what it is.

I also loved to read and write when I was a kid. I always had my nose stuck in a book. And as I've mentioned here before, I kept a journal for a few years. I tried my hand at song lyrics, but without playing an instrument, they were mostly poems that would never come to musical expression.

I didn't expect to grow up and become a writer, but it seems that's what I've done. My English teachers would not be surprised, as they all mentioned I should pursue writing.

My muse has been whispering to me for a very long time, and I kept ignoring her and pushing her away. I was too busy raising children. As soon as she found out I had time to myself again, she made herself known and refused to be put off any longer.

I know now what I want to be when I grow up. What did you want to grow up to be?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review - Bad Girls Club by Judy Gregerson

Bad Girls Club
Judy Gregerson
Blooming Tree Press
ISBN # 978-1933831015

Bad Girls Club is the story of Destiny and her little sister, Cassidy, surviving a life filled with chaos and insecurity. Their mother suffers from mental illness and their father manipulates them into keeping things quiet, so they appear to be a "normal" family. Destiny finds herself in the position of parenting Cassidy, because her parents won't, or can't.

Destiny gives up the things any teenager wants - a job, a boyfriend, activities with her friends - in order to protect Cassidy. She lives in constant fear and suffers with stomach aches from the constant stress and anxiety.

Judy Gregerson has written a graphically intense book about what it's like to live with a mentally ill parent. A child raised under these circumstances doesn't stay a child for long. The lucky ones manage to overcome their childhood experiences and move forward. The not so lucky ones seem destined to repeat the pattern.
(July 24, 2007, pp 288, $16.95)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Books on the Bedside Table

I said many posts (and moons) ago, that I would list - on Fridays - the books on my bedside table. Well, I haven't been terribly consistent about that, so I'm going to try to be better.

Today, I have on my bedside table:

Coraline - Neil Gaiman (read and ready to be handed off to the teenagers in the house)

I'm expecting 4 more books in the mail over the next week or so. I'll list those next Friday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Interview - Carole Whang Schutter, author of September Dawn

Today's 5 Q&A is with Carole Whang Schutter, author of September Dawn

1.) Who are you?
I’m a romantic who has had the good fortune to live in romantic places. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii with its enormous diversity of culture filled me with stories from around the world and nurtured my love of history and the people who came before us. From there, I moved to Aspen, Colorado which is completely unique and different from almost any place on earth. Again, I experienced a world of glamour, excitement, and tragedy.

Now, at a time when most people are heading for retirement, I have finally jump-started the writing career I always dreamed of. Thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, I became part of the 1.1% of all screenwriters that ever get a movie made. The book, by the same name, was based on the movie, “September Dawn.”

2.) What motivated you to write the screenplay (which led to the book) for September Dawn?
One day while driving through Colorado, I got to thinking about the fact that I was already in my fifties and had never achieved my dream to become a writer. While passing through a site that I was later to discover looked remarkably like Mountain Meadows, a story about a girl going to the California Gold Rush popped into my head. I imagined a band of Mormons, dressed as Indians, attacking the wagon train and killing almost everyone. The girl was the daughter of a pastor who fell in love with the son of a Mormon Bishop. The idea wouldn’t leave me. Finally, I did research on the Internet and found the story of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I was astounded. I knew it had to be a screenplay except I didn’t know how to write a screenplay. Well, God opened all the doors through my good friend, director/producer Christopher Cain. My dream of becoming a writer was restored through the grace of God.

3.) What was your research process like? And how much of what happens in the book is factual?
Tedious and painstaking. One would have to either love research or be semi-obsessed with the story and finding the truth. I can’t put a number on how much is factual but 60% sounds good. The love story, and the families involved in that love story are fictional. However, the facts surrounding the love story, the sermons and words of Brigham Young, Joseph Smith and many of the other historic figures were derived after tremendous research and cross-referencing with various sources. A lot of the evidence exists in the journals and confessions of various Mormans from a wife of Brigham Young to his chief assassin, the Danite Chief of Utah, Wild Bill Hickman. Then there are the confessions of John D. Lee, the only man executed for the crime. We researched depositions, Congressional records, Presidential speeches, sermons preserved by the LDS church itself, newspaper stories, reports by Federal Court Judges, as well as well documented and highly thought of history books by esteemed professors like Will Bagley who wrote, “Blood of the Prophets.”

4. Have you had any negative repercussions due to writing about such a controversial topic?
Extraordinary repercussions. We were accused of creating this movie to sabotage Mitt Romney’s campaign. When I first heard the accusation I said, “Who’s Mitt Romney?” I hate to admit that, but it’s true. We were also accused of stealing the idea from a documentary and so I produced copyrights that preceded the documentary. We were called historically incorrect Mormon bashers. I found it interesting that what took us two years, thousands of pages, and tremendous cross referencing to make sure we were not being unfair, somehow movie reviewers knew we were historically incorrect after seeing the movie one time. It is unfortunate because the movie and book were not made to bash anyone. Truth is often ugly and no religion or country is innocent. However, it is important to preserve truth in order to learn lessons from it. The book is even more ambitious and forthright. The message I wanted to send was forgiveness. That we are to forgive the way Jesus forgave, completely. Love is the only way to world peace. And, I point out in the book that people aren’t the enemy. The Bible says the real enemy is principalities and powers of darkness. If I can be so bold as to set forth my opinion of what that means, the real enemy is hatred, unforgiveness, and intolerance. Who of us has not been guilty of that at one time or another? I also sought to teach that we have to make our own moral decisions. Fanaticism springs from blindness of the spirit. We cannot accept everything we hear on the pulpit or on the screen. We must be seekers of knowledge ourselves and we must not blindly follow any leader. In the end, we cannot face God or ourselves and simply say, “I was just following orders.” From what I heard from some of the descendents of the perpetrators, in particular Wayne Capurro whose great great grandfather was the real Bishop of Cedar City and who wrote his own book on the subject, the agony of some of the Mormons involved lasted the rest of their lives. So, in a sense, many of them were victims too.

5.) What's next?
I’ve optioned a romantic family movie about a historical character. She is a wonderful character and I write about her as a young girl and teenager. She is Granuaile O’Malley, otherwise known as the pirate queen of Ireland. She is my Pirate Princess. We hope to begin production sometime next year.

I am also redoing a historical family saga I started years ago called “The Ohana,” which means family in Hawaii. It covers three generations of three immigrant families to Hawaii. A Korean family, a Japanese family, and an Irish family. It is the story of how their lives merge against the backdrop of Hawaiian history, the Great Depression, World War II and the Vietnam War. Quite a project. Maybe someday it will become a mini-series, for now it is a novel.

I am also working on other screenplays. One is directly from the Bible. I will be collaborating with another writer on the books created from the screenplays as I need the help! I have too many projects.

Thanks so much, Carole!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Roar for Powerful Words

I've been tagged and awarded! I've been awarded the Roar for Powerful Words award, by Jenn Hallowell at Working Writer. The rules follow:

  • Link back to the person who tagged you.
  • List three things that you believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.
  • Tag five others and comment at their blog informing them that they’ve been tagged with this award:

1.) Passion - Writing about something you love or hate, with enthusiasm, is extemely important. If you're apathetic about your story or topic, your readers will be, too.

2.) The right words - There are so many ways to say something. Make sure you're using the word that exactly conveys your meaning.

3.) Show, don't tell - Paint pictures with your words. Look at it as the difference between a stick drawing and a water color painting.

The 5 people I choose to carry this on are:

Beth at the wicked flower girl thinks outloud

Jim at The Death Wizard Chronicles

Thursday at

Judy at Not Afraid of the "F" Word

Mike Banks at The REAL Writing Life

Monday, January 14, 2008

Review - September Dawn by Carole Whang Schutter

September Dawn
Carole Whang Schutter
ISBN # 978-1434300225

"The daughter of a Christian pastor and the son of a Mormon Bishop fall in love amidst an atmosphere of fear and hatred. It was a love so wonderful, it refused to die. A story so amazing, it struggled to be told. An act so atrocious, it was shrouded in secrecy."

September Dawn is first and foremost a love story, but running a close second is the story of religious fanaticism. I knew how the book would end, but still, I had to read it for the experience - for the telling of the tale. It's beautifully written, and there were many times when my heart would swell in my chest and my eyes filled with tears.

Love never fails....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

(June 8, 2007, pp 276, $19.95)

Friday, January 11, 2008


Back in the old days, people would take their wagons or buggies out for a Sunday drive. They would drop by to see their neighbors. If the neighbors weren't home, the visitors would leave a calling card. Calling cards were the precursor to business cards. I discovered, yesterday, that there is a web version of the calling/business card now.

According to, " Entrecard is the first and only free exchange network for 125x125 ads. Through this revolutionary platform, you can advertise your own 125x125 Entrecard on any blog in the network, for free, for a number of days.

You pay for this advertising with Entrecard Credits, that you earn for free by networking (a.k.a. visiting blogs and dropping your card for other bloggers)."

I signed up yesterday afternoon, and saw an immediate jump in traffic to my blog. Plus, I was introduced to new and great looking blogs I never would have found on my own.

Check it out, and drop me a card.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Link love, and then some...

I was reading Virginia Lee's blog this morning and happened to see a link that said "Who links to my website?"

I suffer from an affliction called got-to-know-itis, so of course I clicked the link. And then, I had to add the code to my blog (curiosity gets the best of me on a pretty continual basis). I discovered that I've been linked to upwards of 4500 times. WOAH! That's just amazing to me.

For those of you with blogs, aren't you dying to know how many times you've been linked? Go on, find out. I dare you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Interview - Judi Romeo author of You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal

Today's 5 Q&A is with Judi Moreo, author of You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal

1.) Who are you?
President of Turning Point International, a training and development company with offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a sought after keynote speaker at corporate seminars, leadership conferences, and conventions.

Author of seven books, the most recent being "You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion and Power" and it's companion "Achievement Journal"

I have two Burmese cats that are terribly spoiled, Shotsie and Brut.

2.) What was your childhood dream (that's where dreams begin, right) ?
I dreamed of becoming a model and/or a journalist. They both came true.

3.) What is your favorite success story out of all the people you've worked with?
There are so many. I guess my all time favorite is my friend, Fiona. I met her many years ago, when she was in my audience in South Africa. She was a refugee from Rhodesia and had just come to South Africa. She sat in the audience and hung on my every word. Afterward she came up and introduced herself to me and told me her story of leaving Rhodesia with her two babies and working at a job while educating herself. She asked if I would send her a book from America, which I did. Our paths did not cross again for five years. When I moved to South Africa, we became friends. Then I encouraged her to join Toastmasters which she did. She encouraged me to start a training company. We became business partners. She found out she had cancer and fought that battle for a couple of years. Today she is a motivational speaker, author, and has two very successful grown sons. She also lives in America and is studying to become a citizen.

4.) What is/was your biggest fear?
My biggest fear was to fly over the ocean, but now that I've done it so many times, it doesn't bother me any more. I've always forced myself to do what I feared.

5.) What's next?
Another book. This one is for men and women both. And for a hobby, photography!

Thanks so much, Judi!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Space

Jenn, over at Working Writer, posted about her space yesterday, and wanted to know what other bloggers' "spaces" looked like. Well, here's mine....

Yes, the back of my chair is broken, and yes, my cat is often perched atop the printer. For all of the things that aren't perfect, I love my office. It's a 10' x 4' space, but I've made the most of it, with a little help from my darling husband. As I've said before, I have lots of natural light pouring through my south facing windows. And the kids tend to play out front, so for 8 months of the year, I can hear them call me through the screens.

I have carved out my own little niche. When I need quiet, I lock the door, fire up my mp3 player, and I can almost pretend I'm the only person in the world.

As soon as the weather warms up, and I have my laptop, I'll be using my front porch as a secondary work place. It adds another 100+ square feet.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Review - You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal by Judi Moreo

You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal
Judi Moreo
Stephens Press
ISBN # 978-1932173659

If you have ever felt as though you were created for “something more”, but just didn’t know where to start, this is the journal for you.

It’s actually much more than a journal! It is a step-by-step process of achieving your goals and making your wants, hopes, and desires come true. It gives you ways to make your life work as well as a proven technique for setting and achieving goals in the eight major areas of your life:

· Career
· Relationships
· Financial
· Health
· Spiritual
· Education
· Community Involvement
· Recreation

This journal is a companion to Judi Moreo's book, You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion and Power. Providing positive affirmations, writing prompts and a suggested reading list, the You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal is a terrific medium to look at what you've accomplished in your life,so far, and plan for future goals.
(December 2007, pp 216, $19.95)

Saturday, January 5, 2008


"Hey, I just finished reading this fantastic book! It's about blah-blah-blah. I'd loan it to you, but, uhmmm, it's in (on?) my Kindle...."

I was brushing my teeth last night, thinking about the conversation I'd had with my neighbor earlier in the day. Her Kindle came! She was so excited, she sounded like a kid with a new toy. I'm excited for her because she's excited, but I'm still sitting the fence regarding e-readers and e-books.

When I read a really good book, the first thing I want to do is share it. When my friends and I discuss books, the first question, invariably, out of anyone's mouth is "Can I borrow it?" Up until last night - the taste of minty freshness on my tongue - I hadn't quite narrowed down why I've been dragging my feet about e-books.

I realized sharing a fantastic book won't be nearly as easy in an e-format. I'll have to "hard sell" my opinion to persuade a friend to read the book I loved. I'll, in effect, be responsible if my friend buys the book and then considers it a waste of their hard earned money.

Another thing came to mind, as well. What about libraries? When a new book is released by my favorite author, I put in a request at my local library. My name is put on a waiting list and they call me when the book becomes available. I'm assuming I'll never be able to pull up my library's website, choose any title I'm interested in and download it to my e-reader of choice. If I could, writers will literally starve.

Time will tell, I suppose, how the future of books turns out. But, for now, I think I'll continue to buy, trade and borrow books, if only so I can continue to foster reading among the people I know.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Inseparable and The Wild Rose Press

I entered a contest a few weeks back. Jan McDaniel, author of Inseparable, published by The Wild Rose Press, was holding a drawing at her blog. If I won, I'd receive a copy of her book, a small Yankee candle and a Wild Rose Press t-shirt. Turns out, I was the chosen winner. Yeah, me!

When the package arrived, I added the book to my to-be-read pile, thinking I'd get to it eventually. I ended up reading it over the weekend, and it was really, really good! It's part love story, part paranormal and highly entertaining. Jan has a beautiful writing voice.

I've read a few other things published by Wild Rose Press, and I would recommend checking out their website and their authors. Don't let the fact that the genre is romance fool you. There are some fantastic authors who happen to enjoy writing romance.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Interview - Michael A. Banks, author of Blogging Heroes

Today's 5 Q&A is with Michael A. Banks, author of Blogging Heroes.

1.) Who are you?
Michael A. Banks got his first glimpse of the online world in 1979. By 1984 he was so involved with the early online services that he was forced to write about them in books and magazines to justify the connect time. In addition to Blogging Heroes, he is the author of three dozen other non-fiction books, plus several novels. He has written for Byte, PC, PC World, and a couple dozen other computing magazines, and served as a columnist for Windows Magazine and Computer Shopper. His next book is On the Way to the Web: The Secret History of the Internet (APress, June, 2008). He can be contacted through his Web site, or any of his blogs.

2.) Where did the idea for Blogging Heroes come from?
Joe Wikert (a Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons) came up with the idea of interviewing the world’s top bloggers in a book. The basic idea was to find out how they got started, why they are successful, and how other bloggers might emulate them.

From my viewpoint, each interview had to be more than “Why are you blogging, and how do you get so many readers?” I worked to personalize each interview with the backgrounders I wrote, and through the flow of conversation during the interviews. With some bloggers, the why of blogging was more important than the how. With others, the reverse was true, and each interview emphasizes what is more important to the subject.

3.) It would seem that the bloggers you interviewed were both generous and forthcoming with their time and answers. Did this surprise you?
Yes and no. “Yes,” because most of the people I interviewed were extremely busy and breaking away from their schedules was often a sacrifice. Chris Anderson was running Wired, traveling, keeping up The Long Tail blog, and experimenting with UAVs and who knows what else. Mark Frauenfelder was of course very busy with, family life, and MAKE magazine; most of his interview was conducted as he was driving to visit a friend in the hospital.

These things and the fact that a couple dozen others were, as Owen Thomas of Valleywag put it, “too busy blogging to talk about blogging” made me appreciate those who did take the time to be interviewed. Getting a complete interview with several bloggers required multiple contacts because their lives kept intruding on our conversations. (I interviewed Robert Scoble the day after the iPhone was released, so he was very busy with that. And in the middle of things he had to break away to dash to the market. We wrapped up the interview as he completed preparations for a child’s birthday party.)

“No,” because just about everyone’s favorite subject is their job or hobby. Getting people to talk about something that fascinates them--and blogging by definition is a fascination--isn't difficult, as long as you can get them to stop blogging to talk at all.

Incidentally, more than one person has asked me how I selected the bloggers I interviewed. I had several criteria. I wanted bloggers who had a lot of traffic, but I didn’t want them all to be from one field (gadgets and computers, for instance). So I intentionally chose some bloggers who didn’t show up on Technorati or Digg, but who were interesting and popular nonetheless. A few bloggers were selected because of what they were doing, the subjects they were covering. Not all are making big money, though many are. And, as you might guess from my earlier remark, answering my email was a major factor in selection. Lots of people didn’t.

4.) Why do you blog? What do you get out of it? What advice do you have for bloggers?
I started blogging for the same reason I write: because I’m a compulsive communicator. I always have something to say, but it’s not always something a magazine would publish, and usually not important enough for a book. It could be a comment on how screwed-up AM radio is today, or a mini-review of a book. Or maybe I want to share a dialogue technique, but don’t want to build a full-length magazine article around it. So I drop it into one of my blogs.

I also use blogs to promote my books. I don’t know how many books blogging sells, but that’s okay. I get a lot from just putting my thoughts out there and knowing that they’re being considered. If I get a comment or an email from a reader, it’s a bonus.

When I sell a short story or an article to a magazine, I get paid, and that’s good, but what I get from blogging fills a need. Before blogging, I fulfilled that need through posts on online BBSes and Forums (like those on CompuServe, The Source, BIX, and DELPHI). Before the online world existed, I wrote letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines, and wrote for and published science fiction fanzines. Each of these venues has in common with blogging the fact that they are a personal mode of communication. People expect to see material in blogs that they’d never see in traditional public media.

Advice ... as most of the most popular bloggers say: blog about something for which you have passion. Post regularly; don’t disappear for a month and expect readers to still be there when you come back.

And pay attention to what you write. Make sure your writing reads well, and says what you mean in the way you want to say it. I suggest that you print out a blog post, read it, then wait a day and read it again. Then edit and re-read it before you post.

I of course don’t do that every time--which is why you’re likely to find different versions of my posts in Google’s cache. I get excited about a subject and want to post right now; I often compose online, hit the post button, and then have to go back and change something. Mark Frauenfelder tells me he has the same problem. But it’s still better to let a post age for a little while before letting it go.

5.) What's next?
Well, I’ll continue blogging, focusing on my blog The REAL Writing Life ( I have another blog that started out as an extension of a book I wrote (the biography of radio pioneer Powel Crosley, Jr., at That one has evolved into sort of a chronicle of broadcast history, and a hobby. Both promote my books, and this summer I’ll have another one up to support a new book (a business history of the Internet).

I would like to do another book like Blogging Heroes. If it sells well enough, I suppose there could be a Blogging Heroes II. If I have time, I may put some interviews that aren’t in the book online, too.

Thank you so much, Michael!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday Hangover

I'm sitting at my desk, the sun is just starting to show itself, and I have instrumental music playing in the background. I think I can actually hear myself think. You guessed it, the kids are back to school and the husband is back to work.

I learned something over the last week or so - I need to invest in a laptop computer. With four 'net savvy children, computer time was at a premium over the Christmas break. I've been doing some research and found two different models that would work nicely. I'll be watching to see when the cost dips below $400.00.

In the meantime, between now and the last week of March (kids' next school break), I'll be busting my behind to get work done while the kids are at school. It's a New Year and I intend to make money in 2008!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Book Review - Blogging Heroes by Michael A. Banks

Blogging Heroes
Michael A. Banks
ISBN # 978-0470197394

"They've gained a loyal following that continues to grow. They write about everything from business trends and the inner workings at Microsoft to parenting tips, personal secrets, and prolonging the life of your vehicle. They're passionate about their subjects and about the free expression of blogging. And they're even more passionate about being passionate.

They are thirty of the nation's most successful bloggers, and their stories and secrets — in their own words — fill these pages."

Bloggers interviewed in Blogging Heroes include:

  • Steve Garfield
  • Grant Robertson
  • Victor Agreda
  • Mark Frauenfelder
  • Eric T.
  • Robert Scoble
  • Richard MacManus
  • Gary Lee
  • Deidre Woollard
  • Rebecca Lieb
  • Steve Rubel
  • Scott McNulty
  • Gina Trapani
  • Mary Jo Foley
  • Brad Hill
  • Philipp Lenssen
  • Chris Grant
  • Kristin Darguzas
  • Brian Lam
  • Joel Comm
  • Peter Rojas
  • Mike Masnick
  • Deborah Petersen
  • Ken Fisher
  • John Neff
  • Frank Warren
  • Dave Rothman
  • Dave Taylor
  • Ina Steiner
  • Chris Anderson

    If you're wondering what goes on inside the minds of America's most successful bloggers, this is the book to read. You'll find out why they began blogging, what they discovered along the way and why they continue to blog. Michael asks terrific questions and in return receives superb, insightful answers.
    (December 10, 2007, pp 320, $24.99)