Saturday, August 30, 2008

September is historical fiction month, or so it would seem.

As I've mentioned before, I was not a big fan of Historical Fiction as a kid. I suspect that has much to do with the fact that history classes in school were pretty dry - so and so did this, because of that, on this date. Memorize, regurgitate, file away in the back of the brain.

I've been reading a ton of Historical Fiction lately, and absolutely LOVING it! The three books touring at Blog Stop Book Tours in September are all H.F. and well worth reading.

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins

The River, By Moonlight by Camille Marchetta

Please drop by to see where these books are stopping on their tours and to read interviews with all three authors. These are talented, brilliant writers!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Oh what a beautiful morning!

My six year old woke me up this morning with "I'm hungry!" - sounds like a clarion call to me.

So, I rolled out of bed, grabbed a very necessary cup of coffee and got him some breakfast. Then, I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of discussion going on at Author Talks! Good questions and answers for so early in the morning.

The last Blog Stop of Ellen Meister's tour is today. Please visit She Is Too Fond of Books to read an excellent review of The Smart One!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Author Talks! with Ellen Meister, author of The Smart One

Comments are now enabled at Author Talks! Ellen will be available tomorrow and Saturday to address comments and questions about her book The Smart One. Come by and join the discussion!

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

...with school bells aringing and mothers everywhere singing,
be of good cheer! The beginning of the new school year!

Sorry, but I just needed to let a wee bit of my elation out. Today was busy. I posted the author and book information for the September virtual book tours at Blog Stop. I also added two author interviews to the Author 10 Q&A page.

I've decided to hold my commentary about the Presidential race until after the Republicans have completed their party in the Twin Cities. I figure I should at least give the GOP a chance. It probably won't sway my opinion, but I like to be well informed before stating my mind.

I'm off to listen to Obama accept the nomination. America has come a long way, baby!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.

Lots of stuff going on here. Last night was my 6th grader's open house. Tonight was my 1st grader's. Between last minute shopping for school supplies, marking names on everything and filling out paperwork for the kids to take to school with them on Tuesday, I'm not sure if I'm coming, going or upside down.

Add to that housework, cooking, my work and trying to get some sleep. Whewwwww!

I have some things I'd like to say about the Democratic National Convention, but that will wait until tomorrow. For now, I will check email one more time and then crawl into bed with a book. I may get one page read before my eyes slam shut.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rescue me...!

The husband, the boys and I decided to hike down by the river last night. It was a gorgeous, temperate Minnesota evening and we wanted to take advantage of it. As we were walking back to the car, I heard a mewww. Then I heard another one, looked over across the road, and saw a tiny, not more than 10 weeks old, kitten. All alone, no houses it could belong to, and no collar.

Call me a sap, a sucker or downright sentimental, but there was no way I could leave that kitten on the side of a well traveled highway to get squished. I rescued it. We brought her home, introduced her to our other cats and they are now trying to work out their differences.

Introducing Shadow - 10 weeks old

And this is Girr - 6 months old.

And this is Honey - 4 years old.

Honey and Girr look a lot alike in their facial markings. Honey is a marble tabby. We're not sure about Girr. Shadow is a Tortoiseshell Tabby.

I didn't intend to have a house full of cats, but as it happens, I do.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blog Stop today for Ellen Meister's The Smart One

See what Dawn has to say about Ellen Meister's The Smart One over at Anything That Pays... A Freelance Writer's Blog!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I got so busy with work this morning and kids this afternoon, that I just now realized I hadn't blogged yet.

My stepson's birthday is today. He's 17. Happy birthday to him!

My littlest boy asked me to make playdough earlier. So, I used Google to find a recipe for it, and I made a batch. We used food coloring to make blue, yellow and green dough. We had lots of fun squishing the dough to even out the color. I had green fingers for a little while. Cam and my older boy played at the table for a couple of hours. It was great.

The recipe follows.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil (olive or vegetable)
2 tablespoons cream of tartar

Mix flour, cream of tartar, salt and oil in a saucepan. Slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the playdough with your hands until of proper consistency.

It feels just like playdough you'd buy at the store, but it doesn't smell like it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blog Stop today.

Read a review of The Smart One by Ellen Meister at Book Room Reviews!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Review - A Broom of One's Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning, and Life by Nancy Peacock

A Broom of One's Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning, and Life

Nancy Peacock

In A Broom of One's Own, Nancy Peacock, whose first novel was selected by the New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year, explores with warmth, wit, and candor what it means to be a writer. An encouragement to all hard-working artists, no matter how they make a living, Peacock's book provides valuable insights and advice on motivation, craft, and criticism while offering hilarious anecdotes about the houses she cleans.

A friend of mine handed me a copy of A Broom of One's Own, smiling broadly, and was adamant that I read it. "You'll love it!" she said.

Well, she was right, I did love it. Nancy Peacock shares insights as to the life of a writer. It's not all glitter, gold and instant fame. Mostly it's compulsion, and fear and minor success. As the old saying goes, "Don't quit your day job."

If you're a writer, I highly recommend reading A Broom of One's Own. You'll see yourself in the pages.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blog Stop today for Ellen Meister's The Smart One

Stop by Fighting With Writing to read a great review of Ellen Meister's The Smart One.

Also, Ellen will be available for comments and questions on August 29 and 30 at Author Talks! Please come by and join the discussion.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Judging a book by its cover... we all do it.

Through my work as a virtual book tour coordinator, I've seen a lot of eye catching book covers lately. Now, the cover does not necessarily determine the quality or subject of the story, but it can certainly influence our choice to purchase it.

Think about it, if all book covers were white, with the title and author's name on the front, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to browse at the bookstore, would it? It's visually entertaining to see all those colors and fonts.

Book cover designs are all about grabbing the buyer's attention. Half the battle of selling books is pursuading a person to pick up the book, read the back cover and flip through the pages. And, hey, if the book looks good, maybe it'll find a permanent home on the buyer's bookshelf - long term exposure and promotion.

So, here's my question...

Does the design on the cover of a book influence you? What motivates you to choose a book - the colors, the pictures, the font? I'm terribly curious to know, so feel free to share.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Simon says...

A fellow writer friend of mine gave birth to a beautiful little boy a couple of weeks ago. Little being an understatement. You see, Simon was born at 24 weeks gestation, weighing in at 1 pound 7 ounces. In the first two weeks of his life, Simon has already undergone heart surgery to close the hole in his heart that all babies are born with, but causes issues in preemies.

Simon is a fighter, just like his mama. Mysti is amazingly strong. Instead of letting her fear and concern shut her down, she has kept on trucking. She has her priorities straight, not the least of which is her older son, Jaden. Jaden is 4 years old and he worries about his mom and his new baby brother.

If you'd like to read Simon's story, as it's written, please visit Mysti's blog, One Woman's Heart. Mysti's strength in the face of extreme adversity is a source of profound inspiration.

Book Review - Being Written by William Conescu

Being Written
William Conescu
Harper Perennial
ISBN # 978-0061451348

Imagine being the only one who knows an author is writing your part in his story. What would you do for a larger, or maybe the largest, part in the book? Daniel aspires to be THE main character in the novel he hears being written. Each time the pencil scritches on the page, Daniel listens attentively and acts to maintain his existence in the prose.

I couldn't, and still can't, decide whether Being Written is the story of the machinations of a madman's mind, or the story of a character trying to earn his place in a book. I'm not sure it matters. William Conescu has written an intriguing tale in an original way, and for that I am grateful.
(September 2008, pp 224, $13.95)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Books, books and more books!

I've been reading a lot the last two days. Yesterday, I read Being Written by William Conescu. It packs a lot of punch in 193 pages. I'll be reviewing it tomorrow.

I just started The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss - more Historical Fiction. It'll take me a bit longer to get through this one, but so far, it's a keeper!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Choices... and the road less taken.

A friend/acquaintance of friends passed away yesterday morning. He was in his late fifties and he was a performer. He spent his life doing what he loved. His name is not likely one you'd know.

I could link to what his best friend posted in a blog, or to the write up in the local newspaper. I could even link to his website, but this really isn't about his personal details.

I've had many opportunities over the last few years to see the show. I was at the venue five times, two years ago. But, see, the thing is... the performance wasn't something I was particularly interested in at the time. I'd heard great things, but I thought nah, I'll get to it next time. Now, there is no next time.

I have a bad habit (as I suspect we all do) of thinking I have all the time in the world. There will always be tomorrow. Every few years, I'm snapped back to reality and reminded to DO IT NOW! whatever it is. The man whose life reminded me of this again did exactly that. The only moment that truly exists is the one we're experiencing right now.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Random things...

It was an incredibly busy weekend. House stuff, kid stuff, garden stuff. We accomplished a lot!

I also devoured Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. I enjoyed it, but thought it could be shorter by about a quarter. Interesting plot twists that I, and I'm sure her other millions of readers, never saw coming. It was a bit anti-climactic where the climax should have been, but she did leave herself open for a spin off series.

Today will be busy. Brainstorming session with a friend and marketing genius. Writing interview questions for the authors touring in September. Networking. And, of course, stuff with the kids.

Three more weeks til school starts....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blog Stop today - Ellen Meister's The Smart One

Another fantastic review of Ellen Meister's The Smart One at The Book Faery Reviews!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blog Stop today - Ellen Meister's The Smart One

Read an amazing review of The Smart One by Ellen Meister at Musings From The Mitten!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

For a lazy summer day, it's sure been busy.

So far today...

- typed up and emailed answers to interview questions
- run to the grocery store with the youngest boy
- fed the kids lunch - waffles, yummmmm
- grabbed something to eat for myself
- baked lemon bars, mostly because it's cool today
- started reading a book for review
- glanced through the new issue of The Writer magazine
- washed dishes
- done laundry

I still have more to get done, but I'm thinking it's been a productive day so far.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm here...

Woke up with a headache trying to take hold, so I worked on the things that HAD to be done. Really not so hot in the focus arena now, so I'm calling it a day.

Hope everyone had a better day than I.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Book Review - Guernica by Dave Boling

I seem to be on an historical fiction kick lately. Guernica by Dave Boling is just one of the books I've read lately about real life events.

"In 1935, Miguel Navarro finds himself in conflict with the Spanish Civil Guard, and flees the Basque fishing village of Lekeitio to make a new start in Guernica, the center of Basque culture and tradition. In the midst of this isolated bastion of democratic values, Miguel finds more than a new life—he finds someone to live for. Miren Ansotegui is a charismatic and graceful dancer who has her pick of the bachelors in Guernica, but focuses only on the charming and mysterious Miguel. The two discover a love that war and tragedy can not destroy.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this beautiful novel about the resilience of family, love, and tradition in the face of hardship. The bombing of Guernica was a devastating experiment in total warfare by the German Luftwaffe in the run-up to World War II. For the Basques, it was an attack on the soul of their ancient nation; for the world, it was an unprecedented crime against humanity."

If you're an art buff, you have probably seen Pablo Picasso's painting, Guernica. I am almost ashamed to say that I was unaware of the painting or the town.

I loved this book, because it made what happened at Guernica real to me. I cared about the characters and I cried when I read the pages describing the bombing. Dave's writing is breathtakingly vivid. I could see the destruction. I could also feel the emotions of the people living through an unexpected attack on their lives. If you have the opportunity to read this book, take it, it'll be worth it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Book Review - The Smart One by Ellen Meister

Just before jumping off yet another life- changing cliff, Bev, “The Smart One”, is thrown back into her old neighborhood and all that goes with it: her two sisters, the boy next door (whom she dated when they were teens until she found her little sister alone with him), aging parents, and a little murder-mystery thrown in for the ride.

When confronted with the reality of their shared past, the sisters suddenly find all their old secrets bubbling to the top – jealousy, low self esteem, fighting for attention – and become friends at last.

I enjoyed following the fast-paced story line, made possible by Meister’s skilled and witty writing….she had me until the last chapter, which I felt was unnecessary. The many directions these characters were going didn’t fit into a nice little box with a bow. Ellen Meister has written a fun and touching story full of characters that are real, if not a bit off-center. I look forward to meeting more of them.
- Lori Schneider

This review is part of Ellen Meister's Blog Stop Book Tour for The Smart One.

Friday, August 1, 2008

First Blog Stop for Ellen Meister's The Smart One

Cruise on over to Mom Is Just A Nickname to read the first review of The Smart One by Ellen Meister!