Monday, December 31, 2007

January 2008 Book Reviews/Interviews

Here's what is coming up this month.

  • Review of Blogging Heroes by Michael A. Banks - 1/1
  • Interview with Michael A. Banks - 1/3
  • Review of You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal by Judi Moreo - 1/7
  • Interview with Judi Moreo - 1/9
  • Review of September Dawn by Carole A. Schutter - 1/14
  • Interview with Carole A. Schutter - 1/16
  • Review of Bad Girls Club by Judy Gregorson - 1/21
  • Interview with Judy Gregorson - 1/24
  • Review of Silent Prisoner by Amanda Young - 1/28
  • Interview with Amanda Young - 1/30

Friday, December 28, 2007

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series will be completed!

-----Press Release----
Tor Books announced today that novelist Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish writing the final novel in Robert Jordan's bestselling Wheel of Time fantasy series. Jordan--described by some as Tolkien's heir--died Sept. 16 from a rare blood disease. The new novel, A Memory of Light, will be the 12th and final book in the fantasy series which has sold more than 14 million copies in North America and more than 30 million copies worldwide. The last four books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers.

Harriet Popham Rigney, Jordan's widow and editor, chose Sanderson to complete A Memory of Light--which Jordan worked on almost daily for the last few months of his life--and will edit it. Rigney said some scenes from the book were completed by Jordan before his death, and some exist in draft form. "He left copious notes and hours of audio recordings," she said. He also revealed details about the end of the series to close members of his family.

Sanderson, who acknowledged Jordan as an inspiration to him as a writer, has established a loyal fan base as the author of three fantasy novels: Elantris, Mistborn and The Well of Ascension (Tor), as well as a YA novel, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Scholastic Press). Sanderson said, "I'm both extremely excited and daunted by this opportunity. There is only one man who could have done this book the way it deserved to be written, and we lost him in September. However, I promise to do my very best to remain true to Mr. Jordan's vision and produce the book we have all been waiting to read."

A Memory of Light is scheduled for publication in fall 2009.

America's Most Literate Cities

According to a study by Central Connecticut State University, I live within an hour drive of two of America's most literate cities - Minneapolis being first and St. Paul, third. If you'd like to know more, click here and here. And if you read nothing else about this, read what the St. Paul Pioneer Press has to say about it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Achieving Dreams

Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams...

It's interesting how every action we take leads to results we may not expect. I received a journal from my sister-in-law for Christmas. It is red with an inkwell on the front. I sat down earlier today and wrote my first entry. It was a recap of what I'd accomplished in 2007 regarding my writing career, and what I intend to achieve in 2008. Then I received an email that brought the above journal to my attention.

Back in January of this year, I decided I was ready to pursue writing, something I've always wanted to do, but with raising my children, had to be put on the back burner. I bought books about freelance writing, I joined a couple of writers forums and I started talking to people about writing. I basically decided "I WILL BE A WRITER!"

Since then, I've written a feature article, been quoted on the back of a book, started a blog about freelance writing which then took on a life of its own to become a book review/author interview blog, guest blogged and been a beta-reader (once).

As I said earlier today, I've been getting things in order, while the kids are on break. Come January 2nd, I don't want to be doing household chores. I want to use my time for writing. I have ideas for query letters to editors, I have blog posts to do, I have books to read.

The way I make my dreams come true is to go for it! I may not be an overnight success, but I will make it happen!

The New Year is about to begin.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas holiday. Ours was quiet, but good.

I did get through all the books I needed to read for review. I have more coming in the mail.

I took some time yesterday to get my calendars for 2008 in order. My husband thinks I am a little obsessed with scheduling, but as I get older, I'm finding it more difficult to rely only on my memory. I have a planner for writing deadlines, a PDA that goes everywhere with me, a kitchen calendar for family events, and a wall calendar I can see from my desk.

Today, I'll be setting up my files for 2008. I've been terrible about filing, so my New Year's resolution is to be better about it. I'll also be taking down the Christmas decorations and cleaning my kitchen. It looks like a dessert bomb went off on my countertops.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Interview - Lynn Brittney, author of Christine Kringle

Today's 5 Q&A is with Lynn Brittney, author of Christine Kringle

1.) Who are you?
Well, I've been a professional writer for about thirty years *(gosh that makes me sound old!) but my career seems to have gone in definite phases. In my twenties I was a journalist; in my thirties I wrote about thirteen non-fiction books for both adults and children; in my forties I wrote plays for adults and children and, now, in my fifties, I write novels. I guess I can only spend about a decade in one particular genre before I have to move on! I still write plays (see but, maybe, in my sixties, I'll try my hand at screenplays - who knows? Anyway, I wrote my first YA novel Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times (a historical spy thriller) when I hit fifty (it was cheaper than plastic surgery or a fast car) and Christine Kringle is my fourth novel to date.

2.) Where did the idea for Christine Kringle come from?
Oh I was depressed by the death of Christmas in the UK. Readers of the book may think that a town in England banning Christmas is far-fetched, but it isn't. Every year, for the past five years (at least) the Government and the local authorities have tried to eradicate Christmas as much as possible. It has started here again this year. National newspapers ran stories last week about nativity plays not being performed, even in faith schools; if they are performed, then wings have been banned on angels as they are a fire hazard (!! How we managed for a hundred years doing school nativity plays without any fatalities is a mystery to me); one town has banned Christmas lights from being strung across the street; several Santas have been told that they will not be insured if they don't have seat belts on their sleighs - and on and on. It's become so Bah! Humbug! in the UK that I felt moved to write something that would point out the stupidity of it all. And, also, writing Christine Kringle books is a) a way of putting myself in a Christmassy frame of mind and b) its a bit of light relief from my other books which are quite dramatic and require a lot of research.

3.) What is your favorite thing about Christmas?
My favourite thing about Christmasses past was the creativity of it all. When my son was small we would make lots of decorations and other bits of craft work for his school Christmas fair. It was all about the lead-up to Christmas really. The excitement of children and, of course, I was working as a drama teacher when my son was small and I was always doing the school nativity play. Now he is a man really (17) but my daughter, who is 11, and I manage to sew a few Christmas decorations, make cookies and do cakes etc. I am grimly determined to keep the spirit of Christmas endeavour alive! I expect that, even when I'm an old lady, I will still feel the need to make a Christmas pillow every year, or something.

4.) What are you asking Santa to leave under your tree?
I think that I am going to ask Santa to leave me a little commonsense and tranquility this year. I think I really over-extended myself in 2007. Nathan Fox was published in the UK in January 2007 and it was promptly nominated for the Waterstone's Prize, which was very exciting. A US publisher and German publisher bought the book and are releasing it next year. I wrote two other novels and decided to self-publish Christine Kringle, as well as adding some more plays to my catalogue for children. Add to that the emotional rollercoaster of family life (I have two teenagers - daily life is a drama!) and I feel a little exhausted now as I wind down to the end of the year. Of course, I find it difficult to stop writing (so many ideas - so little time) but I shall pace myself better next year. So, if Santa leaves me a nice little note saying "Thanks for the PR work on behalf of the Yule Dynasty, now put your feet up for a bit", I shall be more than pleased.

5.) What's next?
Well, Nathan Fox 1 comes out in the US and Germany; Nathan Fox 2 comes out in the UK in March; my agent is nagging me to finish Nathan Fox 3; and the many friends of Christine Kringle will be expecting a sequel. I have also, recently, re-acquired the rights of some of my adult plays from Samuel French and I am thinking of setting up an adult play website where amateur societies can purchase plays. I'm sure that somewhere in there I will finish another novel I have been working on. Oops! There I go again - we haven't got to 2008 and I'm already overbooked (no pun intended).

I would just like to say thank you to all the literary bloggers who have been so supportive of my books during 2007. I hope that I have thanked you all personally for the great reviews - if I haven't then it's a terrible oversight on my part. But I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and you can congratulate yourselves on doing such a wonderful job for the world of books.

--Lynn xx

Monday, December 24, 2007

Book Review - Christine Kringle by Lynn Brittney

Christine Kringle
Lynn Brittney
BookSurge Publishing
ISBN # 978-1419675546

“I think that people really carry the Christmas spirit in their hearts all year round and all they need is an excuse to bring it out. It’s a shame that Christmas only happens once a year, because it would be nice if people were happy, kind and thoughtful every day. But, sometimes, life gets in the way, and people get down and frustrated. So, we should never ban the one time in the year when we can guarantee a good feeling, should we?”
-- Christine Kringle

Christine Kringle is an imaginative new twist on Santa Claus and his family. In learning about Santa, Mrs. Claus and their daughter, Christine, you'll also learn about Christmas traditions in other countries. Did you know that the Santa of Italy travels by Ferrari? Lynn Brittney has taken a little artistic license here, but the book is absolutely magical!

I received it a little too late this year, but next December, I'll be reading it out loud to my children.
(October 3, 2007, pp 180, $13.99)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Meme

I've been tagged by Kate at Finding Boddie. I'm supposed to tag seven people, but as far as I'm concerned, anybody who wants to play along is welcome.

Merry Christmas!

1. Wrapping or gift bags? I love gift bags!
2. Real or artificial tree? Live, green and smelling of conifer!
3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend before Christmas.
4. When do you take the tree down? New Year’s Day
5. Do you like eggnog? What’s Christmas without Eggnog? We go through at least three gallons a season in this house.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Gund teddy bear when I was 13.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Absolutely not.
8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don’t think I’ve gotten a bad present. Gifts that taught me important life lessons, yes – bad, no.
9. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, with stamps, even.
10. Favorite Christmas movie? I don’t have one.
11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually the week after Christmas.
12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Fondue.
13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? It doesn’t matter, as long as the tree smells good.
14. Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song
15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home.
16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Yep, and the seven dwarves, too.
17. Angel on the tree top or a star? A cardinal (red bird)
18. Open the presents Christmas eve or Christmas morning? One on Christmas Eve, the rest Christmas morning.
19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Expectations.
20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? Minimalist is always good.
21. What do you leave for Santa? Cookies and Eggnog
22. Least favorite holiday song? We Wish You A Merry Christmas
23. Favorite ornament? Uhmmm, all of them?

Friday, December 21, 2007

All work and no play...

All right, folks, the crunch is on. Four days until Christmas and I have lots to do - still.

Today, I have to bake, paint (don't ask), clean and organize. I also have to start an article I was just assigned with a deadline of Jaunuary 5. I have three books for review that I need to read. And somewhere in my day, I need to eek out some time to take a nice, long, hot shower - if only because I tend to do my best thinking with hot water streaming over my head.

Christmas Eve day I'll be posting a review of Christine Kringle by Lynn Brittney and then an interview with her the day after Christmas.

That is all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Book Review - Preaching to the Corpse: An Advice Column Mystery by Roberta Isleib

Preaching to the Corpse: An Advice Column Mystery
Roberta Isleib
ISBN # 978-0425218372

"The holidays have arrived in postcard-perfect Guilford, CT, but someone's taking the joy out of the season...

Psychologist/advice columnist Dr. Rebecca Butterman gets a call in the middle of night from the minister at her church. He's in custody after going to a fellow parishioner's home and finding her dead. The murdered matron was the leader of a search committee charged with finding a new assistant pastor after the previous assistant left in a rush. The minister begs Rebecca to intervene.She learns that the committee was divided--has someone tried to eliminate the competition? Rebecca puts her analytical skills to work to do her own search--for a killer--all while resisting the urge to break the seventh commandment with a very married detective, and praying she's not the next victim."

I really enjoyed Preaching to the Corpse. It was the first mystery I've read in years and years where I didn't know "who done it" until the very end. I literally said "OH!" out loud when the killer was revealed.

The book is well written, well paced and the characters are fleshed out perfectly. Roberta Isleib is a masterful mystery writer. I'm looking forward to the next adventure!
(December 4, 2007, pp 256, $6.99)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Interview - Roberta Isleib, author of Preaching to the Corpse: An Advice Column Mystery

Today's 5 Q&A is with Roberta Isleib, author of Preaching to the Corpse: An Advice Column Mystery

1.) Who are you?
I'm a clinical psychologist and the author of seven mysteries, the latest just out this month: PREACHING TO THE CORPSE. The first five books starred a neurotic lady golfer. The new series features a psychologist living in Connecticut who writes an advice column--not that she's an expert on her own life! DEADLY ADVICE was published this past March.

2.) Have you always known you wanted to be an author?
No. I've always been a voracious reader. And having spent half a lifetime in school, I've had a ton of experience writing. But the last time I wrote fiction was probably a short story in junior high school about the English rock group, the Monkeys! Somehow everything intersected in my forties and I began to realize that I'd like to "take a stab" at writing.

3.) Did you intend to be a mystery writer or is it something that naturally evolved?
I've always read mysteries--I enjoy the puzzle, but especially the evolution of the characters. So when I sat down to peck away at my first manuscript, writing a mystery seemed quite natural to me. I don't think I even considered anything else!

4.) Do you know "Who done it?" from the beginning?
I have a pretty good idea about the bad guy from the start. That gives me something to point toward as I write. And I'm finding that a more detailed outline makes for easier writing, something my husband has been nagging me about for years! But it's hard work to figure out the story before writing it, so I do a little of each. Outline, write, outline, write... And of course, storylines and characters evolve as the book takes shape.

5.) What's next?
I have just finished and mailed off the third book in the Rebecca Butterman advice column series. The working title is LINE IN THE SAND, though I have a feeling that will change. Rebecca's good friend, a social worker who does sandplay therapy, is found beaten and left for dead. Rebecca searches for clues in the sand trays to track a would-be killer. The book should be out next September. Then I'll try to take the month of January to think about what the next project will be. I'm looking forward to that! I will keep updating my website about what's coming and when:

Thanks for hosting me Lynn!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Golden Compass

There has been a lot of press about the movie The Golden Compass. It was released to theatres on December 7. The movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Philip Pullman.

Pullman is an atheist, and some clergy have been telling people not to see this movie, as its agenda is to turn children away from God. I finished reading the book this weekend, as part of the three books in the series.

It's an amazing story. Once upon a time, in an alternate world, there was a little girl. This little girl was "chosen" to save her world from destruction, and by default, every other world. Her adventures lead her to her biological parents, new worlds, new friends and new understanding. I had tears in my eyes toward the end of book three.

What I came away with is that faith is never a terrible thing, but when people use the power of religion for evil, it's still evil, no matter whose name you invoke to justify the action.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another link in the blog chain...

The Absolute Write Blog Chain # 13

Kate talked about how having a dog is better than having children. I'm not really a dog person, but more a cat person. To each their own, I suppose.

Which brings me to my own post for the chain.

My mother-in-law is a media-specialist (librarian) at an elementary school. She attended my son's Kindergarten Holiday concert last Thursday night. I met her in the lobby of the school when she arrived. She looked around at the Christmas tree, the huge cardboard Candy Canes suspended from the ceiling and said, "I'm so jealous."

She went on to explain that at her school, Christmas has been banned. No one says "Merry Christmas!" - they say Happy Holidays. There are no Chistmas trees, no angels, nothing. They're not even having a holiday concert. She said, "It's as if they're trying to eradicate anything that isn't politically correct."

This made me feel sad. I am all for cultural diversity, and respecting someone else's beliefs. But, in ignoring life long cultural traditions, doesn't that nullify cultural diversity. If we don't talk about and express ourselves through traditions, it would seem to me that learning about other people comes to a very abrupt end.

As my dad used to say, "If everybody was the same, the world would be an insufferably boring place."


Merry Christmas!
Happy Chanukah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy Yule!

The chain continues with Random Acts of Unkindness.

A Thoughtful Life

Gillian's Food History

Getting Confused and Coming All Undone

Life in the Middle

So You Want to be a Chic Chick


Twisted Fantasies

It Had To Be Said

Finding Boddie

Virtual Wordsmith

Random Acts of Unkindness

Chocolate for Your Brain

Virginia Lee: I Ain't Dead Yet!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bedside Table Books

Well, it's Friday. Wait, where did the week go?!

My plan for the weekend is to get caught up on reading. I have a stack of magazines to get through, and two books to read for review.

The books on my bedside table are as follows...

  • Blogging Heroes - Michael A. Banks
  • Bad Girls Club - Judy Gregorson
  • His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
  • Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer

I hope to finish Blogging Heroes tonight, and His Dark Materials tomorrow morning. I expect six more books to trickle in via USPS over the next week or so. There will be book reviews and author interviews every week through March 1, 2008. At least, that's what is scheduled so far.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Terry Pratchett

Author Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's

Sad, sad news.

As far as I know, the only thing I've ever read of Pratchett's work was Good Omens co-written with Neil Gaiman. Loved it!

If you'd like to see Terry Pratchett's words about his diagnosis, click here.

One Writer's Wish List

So my father-in-law called the other day to ask me about the kids' wish lists for Christmas. We discussed many options - from electronics to gift cards to (gasp!) books.

And then the dreaded question came, "What would the mommy like for Christmas?" I get terribly uncomfortable when people ask me this. For some reason, it feels like begging, even though I know it's not.

As I was sitting here drinking my coffee this morning, reading through the new issue of Writer's Digest, I realized I can be an absolute dunce sometimes. I should have said my subscription to a writing magazine I love is about to expire, I'd love to have it renewed. I should have said a giftcard to Walmart so that I can buy new ink cartridges for my printer. I should have said lots of things to fund and/or support my habit,

Along with every thing else I'm keeping track of these days, I'm going to start a file in Word entitled My Writing Wish List. As I find things I'd like to have, but aren't affordable or an immediate need, I'll add them to the list. Then, when someone asks what I'd like for my birthday or Christmas, I'll have answers right away.

And in case you're wondering, I told my father-in-law I'd like a gift card to Barnes and Noble. (A girl's got to have fun sometimes.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Interview - Holly Fretwell, author of The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming

Today's 5 Q&A is with Holly Fretwell, author of The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming

1.) Who are you?
I am an Adjunct Professor of Economics at Montana
State University where I teach economic principles,
microeconomics, and natural resource and environmental
economics. I am also a research fellow at PERC, the
Property and Environment Research Center. I attended
Montana State University earning a bachelor's degree
in Political Science and master's degree in resource
economics. I worked with Northwest Economics
Associates in Vancouver, Washington, examining timber
export regulation in the Pacific Northwest and have
consulted for organizations including Plum Creek
Timber and the Center for International Trade in
Forest Products (CINTRAFOR). As author and co-author
of numerous articles on natural resource issues, my
current emphasis is on public lands management and
climate change policy. My research has been published
in professional journals and the popular press
including the Wall Street Journal, Journal for
Environmental Economics and Management, Duke
Environmental Law and Policy Forum, Journal of
Forestry, and Consumer's Research. In addition, I have
presented papers promoting the use of markets in
public land management and have provided expert
testimony on the state of our national parks and the
future of the Forest Service.

My interest in global warming came from an economic
policy investigation that was getting really scary as
I realized the implications and huge costs that would
arise if we were to attempt to prevent global warming
through government intervention and regulation on CO2
emissions. My expertise is not in climate science,
rather in the economic and policy implications of a
warmer earth.

Think about it, if we assume that the earth is
warming, it is human caused, and we can do something
about it the potential actions, as we’ve seen in many
proposals are extremely costly. The real catch,
however, is the benefits from those costly actions are

2.) Why did you write this book?
Like so many other people I was confused about the
information I was hearing about global warming. The
popular press says it's human caused, there is far
less concensus in the scientific journals where a
multitude of factors that influence climate are
examined. That confusion followed by the costly policy
recommendations encouraged me to look further. In that
search I found lots of great material, and some not so
great. Some of the most disappointing material I found
was propaganda to scare our children into making
uninformed choices. There is so much information
available today, via internet, TV, radio, etc., that I
believe it is vitally important to teach our children
how to think critically and be able to decipher fact
from fiction. That is why I wrote The Sky's Not
Falling, and that is why I wrote it in simple enough
terms for children, parents, and all adults to read.

3.) Have you experienced any negative reactions regarding your book?
I have been pleasantly surprised by the small amount
of negative criticism. There are certainly those that
say I have been funded and influenced by industry; if
only I could be so fortunate as to have some financial
backing for the time investment I have put into my
studies on global warming. My only earnings are
royalties from the book. I wrote the book from my
heart and for the children, their parents, and others
interested in a better understanding of climate
change. I wrote the book because I was worried about
the grave problem that I was hearing about. I am now
relieved to know the facts. Readers of "The Sky's Not
Falling" will feel that same relief by understanding
what is really happening around the Earth.

4.) What do you do to be more "green"?
For starters I live in Montana because I love the
wilderness and the outdoors. And I do those typical
things we were all taught as kids to help conserve the
environment -- like turning off the lights when
leaving the room and the water off when brushing teeth
-- we are also conscious of the power we use for heat
in our home and have remodeled our home to take
advantage of solar energy. Most importantly, perhaps,
is my efforts to help people better understand the
value of property rights and incentives for
environmental protection. As a professor of economics
I try to teach students the value of resources and
help them develop a sense of how we can better protect
the environment.

5.) What's next?
I have recently finished a book on public lands
management, though I am still awaiting its
publication. I have, in the past, thought of other
middle-school aged books about the environment. The
success of this book will be a good indicator of the
likely acceptance of others.

Thank you so much, Holly!

Thank you. I hope everyone enjoys the book and shares
it by instigating more discussion about what is really
happening in our world and the possible responses to
those constant changes. It is freedom and markets that
will help spark the innovative ideas that solve the
many problems we meet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Book Review - The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming by Holly Fretwell

The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming
Holly Fretwell
World Ahead Publishing
ISBN # 978-0976726944

"You've heard the claims that the earth is warming up because of cars, light bulbs, factories and the many other wonders that human ingenuity has created. But is it really true?

Sure, our planet is changing, but it has before and will again. There's lots more to the climate change story than you may have heard! Can we really adapt to a changing world in ways that help animals and the environment while keeping people working and countries growing strong? Of course we can!"

Holly Fretwell has provided an excellent resource for kids who may be frightened by what they're hearing through various forms of media about Global Warming. If your children aren't at an age to read the book themselves, read it to them. It's a superb conversation-starter!
(September 18, 2007, pp 128, $17.95)

Holly is on virtual book tour now. To read what other people are saying, click here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Students reading for pleasure and paying to be in a book club

At a high school in Minnesota, students are paying a $15.00 activity fee to be part of a book club. You read that right, paying to discuss books. The art of reading is NOT dead, folks!

Edina High group likes to talk books

According to the article, other Metro schools are following suit. Hopefully, high schools in other states will start book clubs, as well.

Raising readers, one good book at a time.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Rare Weekend Post

This is how we cooked dinner tonight - burgers and brats and grilled onions.

Temperature: 5 degrees Fahrenheit
Snow depth: 1 foot

Keep in mind that 10 days ago, my roses in the front garden were still blooming.

It smelled like summer for about 30 minutes in my house tonight. Tomorrow is more seasonal fare with venison stew for supper.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Living Ahead - Freelance Writer's Idea Journal

As a freelance writer, I have to be thinking about ideas four to six months ahead, to keep articles and/or essays timely to publication months. I have a hell of a time with this. When the muse strikes with an idea for a Christmas story, it's usually in December - too late to submit a query for this year.

So, in order to stay on top of thinking ahead, I've begun a three-ring binder that starts with May, which is four months from now. Every time something pops into my head that is a seasonal idea, I will write it down in the section that corresponds to when I should query the idea. I guess you could call it a freelance writer's idea journal.

I'm also thinking of starting a photo album with four sections - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. I'll fill it with inspiring pictures of each season, so that I can get myself into how I feel during the seasons, to remind me of story ideas.

Aren't people going to think I'm strange when my office is decorated with tinsel and holly, Christmas carols playing in the background, in August?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dark Chocolate, soldiers and Iraq...

My daughter's best friend's mom is stationed in Iraq. I asked him if there was anything I could send along to her when her family sends care packages. He asked her via IM or email, I'm not sure which, and she said, CHOCOLATE!

The temperatures are cooler in Iraq now, so chocolate doesn't melt. In the summer, people don't even bother to send chocolate. So, after Christmas, I will be sending bags of dark chocolate and also some brownies and chocolate chip cookies, because she asked for those, as well.

Ask around, I'm sure someone you know, knows someone serving in Iraq. Random acts of kindness, in the form of chocolate bars, are very good Karma.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Productivity - or a lack thereof...

This post will have little to do with writing or reading. It's more of a public service announcement than anything else.

I am suffering from a migraine headache hangover this morning. For those of you who have experienced migraines, you know what I mean. My head still hurts, but not as terribly as it did last night, when I threw the kids and the evening chores at my wonderful husband, and crawled into bed around 7:30.

I've learned what causes my migraines. Anytime I ingest MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) I develop a horrible headache within 12 hours. It lasts for a little over 36 hours and pretty much prevents me from getting anything accomplished. My head hurts, my eyes hurt and I feel sick to my stomach. Anyone making noise around me is intolerable.

I read labels religiously to avoid eating MSG. I didn't, however, read the label of the soup I used in the beef stroganoff I made on Monday night. My bad, and I mean really, really bad.

If you want to know more about migraines and MSG, you can Google it. I have actively been avoiding MSG as much as possible, and have cut down my migraine headaches to one every couple of months instead of one every week.

If anyone benefits from this information, I'll be very pleased.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Books, gifts and snow... oh my!

Well, as I type this, it's snowing outside my window. Six inches fell over the course of the day Saturday, and we're expecting at least three more out of this clipper. You may be thinking "It's winter, of course there will be snow.", but winters haven't been particularly snowy around here for a few years now. It's looking as if it may be a truly white Christmas for 2007.

And, oh yes! Christmas! There are 20 shopping days left. I saw this today in an email from Barnes and Noble. If you have writer or avid reader friends, it may be something to consider. And I saw this mentioned on the Absolute Write Water Cooler forums. Pretty nifty, eh?

As for books, I wanted to mention I received an email, a month or so ago,from Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. She wanted to know if I'd be interested in reviewing books for the Virtual Book Tours she arranges for authors. I, of course, said yes! So, some of the books I review I have the extreme good fortune to pick and choose from the authors she's working with, and some I find on my own.

When I review a book for Pump Up Your Book Promotion, I'll be linking to, so that you can read the other blogs hosting the authors/books. I'll also be interviewing Dorothy about Pump Up Your Book Promotion here, soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Marketing - One Author's Experience

As any writer (who intends to make money) knows, a great majority of time is spent marketing your work and yourself. I asked Jim Melvin, author of The Death Wizard Chronicles, what’s been happening with him since the first book, The Pit, was released on September 3, 2007. His answer follows….

“As you and your readers know, most authors who have signed with a small- to mid-sized publisher are responsible for the majority of their own marketing. To say the least, I am no exception. What have I been doing since Sept. 3? Marketing, marketing, marketing … both in-person and online.

In no particular order, here are some highlights:

* I made a featured appearance at the Times Festival of Reading in St. Petersburg, Fla.
* I appeared in six bookstores.
* I did one video interview here.
* I did five audio interviews here, here, here, here, and here.
* I received an excellent review in a major newspaper here.
* I received another excellent review in a popular blog here.
* I was featured in a major newspaper here.
* I was featured or mentioned in at least a dozen other newspapers.
* I was featured or interviewed on several popular blogs.
* And in December, I’ll be starting a “virtual tour” that will have eighteen stops and that will culminate in a free book giveaway.


Of course, I’m not claiming to have set any records. I know there are many authors out there who have far surpassed this in quality and quantity, but at least I’m giving it my best.

How has this affected sales? The first shipment to Amazon already has sold out. Hopefully, the next several shipments will do the same. And my publisher reports good sales on its site. Plus, my series is beginning to appear in selected bookstores, though there’s still a long way to go before it sees the kind of distribution routinely provided by the larger houses.

My hope is that a lot of small steps eventually will add up to big gains.”

-- Jim Melvin