Monday, December 26, 2011

Best of 2011

What am I reading now? A Beautiful Dark (Jocelyn Davies)                                


Annd. . . what do I think of it so far? Normal high school stuff here--sorta-selfish best friend, have to deal with guys, orphan with sketchy history, skiing any chance she gets, war in Heaven and fallen angles--oh, right, not your normal high school experience.
ENTER to win a SIGNED copy of Variant by Robison Wells
     This is new in 2011--fun book. Full of twists.
     •Be or become a follower (by clicking on the "join this site" button on my right-sidebar)
     •Leave a comment about your favorite book of 2011
     Leave your email address (in case you win)

The blurb for Variant:
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.

If you're a WRITER, click over to the 


and join with other writers in an online community of learning and support for writers and authors.

You can see the other blogs participating by clicking on this icon.


 or the button on my right side-bar.














Update 1-4-12
*****And the winner is: RunawayBridalPlanner*****
Congratulations!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Come Let Us Adore Him

Merry Christmas!
Remember the Season with the simplicity of a child's faith.











Wishing you joy and peace in this holiday season.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Short Stories

What am I reading now?   Transcendent 
(by 

Annd . . . what do I think so far? This is a compilation of short stories, all with a paranormal twist. What's better than ghosts and hugging? Blood and romance? Vampires and kissing?
Nothing!
What a fun read. Each story has a little fear and an enticing love interest.
Enjoy!

You may want to visit Wendy Swore's website
( http://wendyswore.blogspot.com ) to sign up for her give aways!


I'm giving away an ebook of Transcendent. 
Leave a comment and your email to be in the drawing.

And you can get this book here:
eBook on Nook: Coming Soon!
5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

1. Pick one point in time for the main character--a tragedy, a life changing experience, a moment of clarity.

2. Start as close to the climax as possible. Hit this hard upfront, in the first paragraph if possible.

3. Include three sets of choices and consequences (No, 3 is not magical, but you have to start somewhere)

4. Order those from bad to worse.

5. Include romance (this is my personal favorite tip for any story)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Caramel Pie

What am I reading now?  Clockwork Prince (Cassandra Clare)

Annd. . . what do I think so far?  I love Will's character and hope he lives to complete the series. He's a little reckless--so endearing! Tessa is attracted to both Will and Jem. Jem seems like the sure bet as far as a good relationship goes. Where's the story in that? So of course, I'm expecting Will to have her heart. 

I haven't given you an original recipe lately. You'll love this one. I made it up for my husband's birthday. Yummy!

Caramel Pie
Crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup corn flake crumbs (all graham crackers makes the crust too sweet)
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix together and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes. Chill completely before filling.

Filling:
1 bag white chocolate chips
4 tablespoons butter 
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
     Melt these together

3/4 cup milk
1 small package instant white chocolate pudding
     Mix together in small bowl
     Microwave for 20 second to take the chill off then mix with white chocolate mixture

2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Fold both mixtures together.

Caramel Nuts:
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/3 cup pecans
     Boil together over medium heat then reduce to a simmer; cook until all the syrup is gone (about 6 minutes). Cool the nuts, spread out on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Stir occasionally to separate the nuts.

Assembly:
Squirt caramel topping randomly on the crust.
Spread half the filling mixture over the caramel.
Squirt more caramel topping over the filling.
Cover with remaining filling.

Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve with whipped cream and caramel drizzled over the top. Sprinkle with nuts.

Enjoy!
p.s. It's very rich.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We Need Conflict

What am I reading now?  Hex Hall (Rachel Hawkins)

Annd. . . what do I think so far?  I'm a sucker for voice--so you know I'll love this book.

What happens when you're a witch, who casts a love spell to help a crying girl, who wants to date the football star, who was probably parking with his girlfriend, when he drives through the wall of the school to get to the prom to find the object of his spell-induced infatuation, who freaks out at the reality of you being a witch and rats you out?

You are sent to a reform school. A 200 year-old prison-like school, think Alcatraz for magical misfits. Seriously, that much talent in one place is going to be fun. I was laughing by page 2.

We Need Conflict
Lots of it. Overwhelming, rip your dreams apart conflict.
Oh, no--not for ourselves. For someone else.
We'll watch.

Stories are interesting because of the conflict they introduce. It's a promise they make.
Things will go bad. Then they'll get worse. Then it will be so dysfunctional all looks lost.
Then it's resolved.

Pain. It feels so good when it stops.

Good students are boring--bad students are captivating.
Happy families are boring--messed up families are interesting.
Good weather is boring--tornadoes are mesmerizing.
Happy couples are boring--love triangles are amusing.
Good manners are boring--social awkwardness is entertaining. 

This week's goal in my writing is to stay in the right-hand side of these comparisons.
More conflict, please!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Perception

What am I reading now?  Beyonders: A World Without Heroes (Brandon Mull)

Annd. . . what do I think so far?  Well that's obvious: falling into a hippo's mouth can only mean one thing--Jason will have to save the world from an evil magician, Maldor, using a single, enchanted word. There are a lot of twist and turns to keep readers interested in the new world Brandon Mull has created for the Beyonders series. Humor and action will keep the readers turning the pages as Jason and Rachel work together to save this world and find a way to get back to their own world.


Perception
William Noble stated in Conflict, Action & Suspense that we should considerate the 3 M's in using characters to establish theme in stories:

1) Motives: Why does a character do what they do?

2) Memories: What in this character's past makes them do what they do?

3) Mirages: How does this character fool him/herself about what is happening and why s/he did something?

By asking these questions of various characters, the theme of the story gets more complex and the reader has more ways to connect with the theme.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Scene It

What am I reading now?  Silence (Becca Fitzpatrick)
Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  I was thrown by the opening--she has selective amnesia, Patch is nowhere in sight and several months have passed. I'm about half-way into the story now, and I like feeling the confusion the main character, Nora, who woke up in a cemetery. I'm kind of nervous that she's going to fall in love with a character from the past book. Not that I thought Patch was all that great for her, but I'm invested in their relationship. I actually think a new guy might be good for her. *feeling disloyal* Unless he goes all bad-A angel on her too.

Scene ----> Sequel

You may have noticed that I'm studying scene development--since I've blogged about it before. I want to find out how to craft or design scenes that reflect the mood, emotion and tension of the part of the story I'm working on. Although a novel has many scenes that move the plot along, it's not all scenes. Between scenes are sections called sequel.

Sequels allow the reader time to process what has just happened in a scene.

Jack M. Bickham (Scene & Structure) lists the four classic elements of a sequel:
1) Emotion
2) Thought
3) Decision
4) Action

He states that sequel allows the author to highlight or "amplify any given portion" of the scene that precedes it. What did the POV character take away from the conflict just experienced?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Congratulations!






Congratulations, Sassy! 

You won the Amazon Gift Card.

HaPpy ReAdiNg!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giveaway Hop

What am I reading now? Iron Knight (Julie Kagawa)


Annd. . . what do I think so far? I have loved this series! And this book is no exception. Really fun. It starts off with two favorite characters from the other three books, Ash (think gorgeous) and Puck (think great guy) and their strained tolerate/hate friendship.Yes, I admit, Ash is a little more favorite than Puck. Yum. Okay, you can't actually call them friends, but I will here and you'll have to go read it and decide that one for yourself. Then mix in the creatures of Fairie, including a Big Bad Wolf (not a huff and puff kind; but big and bad fits). This is a great read and a wonderful book for this series.

I'm So Thankful! 

I have a great family. A job I love. A fun second career--writing. (Right, it's not a career yet, but it will be.)  Welcome to a BLOG HOP celebrating a month of giving thanks.



If you'd like to win a $20 Amazon (US) Gift Card,
     Be or become a follower (by clicking on the "join this site" button on my right-sidebar)
     •Leave a comment about what you are thankful for
     Leave your email address (in case you win)

You can see the other blogs participating by clicking on this icon.

If you're a WRITER, click over to the iWriteNetwork and join with other writers in an online community of learning and support for writers and authors.


You can enter the Giveaway Blog Hop on iWriteNetwork's Blog, too





Talk to you later--I've got to go finish Iron Knight.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Author Interviews



What am I reading?  Variant (Robison Wells)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far?
Do you remember this part in Finding Nemo? How they felt when they entered the EAC? Here's a reminder.


So, it's kind of like that with this book: At first I was like, this is like Maze Runner. *flip* Then I was like, this is like Lord of the Flies. *pulled with the current*  Then I was like Whoa! Big TWIST! Loved the rest of the book!

Author Interviews
 I'm with a online group of writers called iWriteNetwork. One of my assignments is to do a couple of interviews each month with authors to get their tips on how to improve your writing. The interviews are archived on our site.

You can visit to listen to any of them at

So far I've interviewed Betsy Love (author of Identity), Tristi Pinkston (author of 8 books including my favorite of hers--Agent in Old Lace) and Kristen Chandler (author of Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me and newly released, Girls Don't Fly).



Click on BlogSpotRadio on our home page to listen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNo Excerpt





This was kinda disturbing to write--might be to read too.  It's a thriller. . . enough said.

           Annie's flat on her stomach. Her heels kick wildly behind her, toward the sky or toward the man pushing her down. One hand flings behind her, taking impotent swipes in his direction. Wrestling, twisting to free herself. My horse is completely extended beneath me, running in full strength. The moments when all four feet are off the ground, I will it to fly.  But it strikes the ground again and again.
            My mind races ahead to the side of the lake where a man holds Annie at the water’s edge. Blood drums against my neck. Fury is dammed just behind my eyes. If I could run faster, I would jump from my saddle here and race to her aid. I imagine the crack of his head and his warm blood spilling in payment for the terror Annie feels.
            He turns my way. Possibly he hears my horse’s hooves pounding toward him. Maybe his heart tells him he will die here. Likely he misjudges my age of fifteen to not be a threat. Still I’m far enough away that he continues his business, pressing her face in the water. Her fight lessens moment by moment.
            Each stride of my horse beats a rhythm to our father’s refusal to pay the ransom to have Annie returned safely. No, I won’t pay. No, they won’t hurt her. No, I won’t be blackmailed. The rhythm has played through my thoughts a hundred times.
            Bastard.
            The man shoves her face deeper into the mud when he stands and flees across the grass, toward a far off stand of willows.
            “Annie!” I leap from my seat. Her legs are still. Her body doesn’t move. Her blonde hair floats on the surface in a perfect halo. When I pull her from the water, she doesn’t respond. Mud cakes her nose, mouth, eyes. There’s no rise at all for breath. She’s dead.
            Though for an instant, I’m stunned. She’s dead—go! I remount my horse and follow the man whose atrocity has set his own punishment. I catch him before he enters the trees and ram my boot into the back of his neck as my horse lopes past him. He thuds to the mossy dirt. I turn for another pass, this time catching the heel of my boot on the man’s nose. He falls again.
            He isn’t dead. I drag him behind my horse back to the edge of the water. Tie his arms with his bloody shirt and pull his pants below his knees to cinch them there. And wait.
            His face bleeds from his nose and mouth and various cuts. His chest rises and falls but his eyes are shut. I wait. My horse grazes on the tender grass and sips water. When his eyelids flutter, I move to his side. In minutes, he seems somewhat coherent. A rope fills his mouth and ties behind his head.
            Leaning close to his ear, I tell him what he didn’t care about. “Annie was my sister. She was pure and precious, and you are going to die for your crime against her.” I drag him by the hair into the water. The blood from his head leaches into the lapping waves. His feeble state makes him too weak to free himself. Placing one hand on his forehead and the other on his neck, I slowly push his head below the surface. Face up—I want him to watch me as he dies.
            His hips and back wrestle to lift his head, but I hold it steadily on the bottom. Until his twisting stops. Until the bubbles stop. Until I no longer see his grimace in the murky water.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Had a fun party at Lynnea's. Here's the fam...
  




Friday, October 28, 2011

Scarefest Blog Hop 2011

halloween scarefest badge

My Entry is an Excerpt from Damnation


            Our car veers to the left, hitting a patch of ice. The rear bumper spins forward then a semi slams against the passenger side of our car. Bright lights strain against the windows that crumble away. My vision blurs on impact—like a 3-D movie without glasses. My arms have a bright shadow ringing them. Cara, my best friend, is in the passenger seat. As my head snaps back I catch a glimpse of her aura too.  At that moment, her soul releases and whispers away, even before we roll. Her aura blows out—sixteen is too young to die. 
            As the car stumbles to the side, a boulder juts through my window, blasting glass shards against my cheek, neck, shoulder, chest. Momentum pulls the car to a slant, then leaves it on the crushed corner and roof, resting in the stream at the edge of the highway. The metal creaks and moans.
            That’s when David’s soul leaves, easing out as he hangs limply toward me from his seat belt. His blood swirls through the water that puddles in the roof. The keys in the ignition rock back and forth, tapping against the steering column and each other. Click, click. Then nothing. Only the smell of hot tires and gasoline rides along my shallow breath and jabs the back of my throat.
            My soul hovers, still tacked to a faint pulse, watching my body as if the car were no more solid than my spirit. Blonde curls fall in tangles, clinging to the bloody gash in my forehead. It’s odd not to feel the pain with so much of me bleeding and bent, the steering wheel pressing into my chest, and the bone of my left leg piercing my jeans.
            A man skids down the slope beside our overturned car, his face a grimace as he kneels beside the window near the back seat. His hands hit the ground and he topples, leaning his face on his forearms. Sobbing.
            Time gasps and in the next moment red, blue and white lights skitter against the rocky canyon wall and slide across the ice and snow around us. Police and EMTs arrive. I glimpse their faces—intense. They want to save us.
            Too late.
            I’m dying over there. But it seems okay. So, I watch and wait to be released.
            At first, I notice the darkness far off but encircling me at its nucleus, like a bubble slowly shrinking. My sight turns back to the car. Cara and David’s bodies are wrapped in that hazy cellophane. Mine will be soon.
            The car lurches. My soul crushes back into my body. Tight. Confined. Reanimating each cell. Air rushes my burning lungs. A cry rises from my voice. Every break and bruise asserts its reality into my brain. Life scorches through me, enlivening each fracture and tear.
            No! Don’t. I’m leaving this life. Feelings of home tug at me from both directions. Home, here, this cold place against the home my spirit craves. A tiny voice inside me whispers, “I want to go.”
            Hands pull and turn my body, dragging me away from the wreck. Coppery blood fills my mouth and heaves across my lips as my body shakes rebelliously. My right leg thrashes against the ground, shocking the nerves up my hips and spine. Heavy hands push against me. I continue to rip inside, great crevasses of pain wedge through my gut. Every movement—it’s impossible to contain the agony—burning cold and hot.
            In a final retch, my soul rips away, and the bubble collapses, sealing me in nothing. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Conflict

What am I reading now?  So Silver Bright (Lisa Mantchev)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far? This is the third book in the series. I've enjoyed the first two so much that I snagged this copy the day it hit the bookstore. Then I loaned it out to be read by others, but now it's my turn.

Conflict

This past Saturday, I interviewed Tristi Pinkston for iWriteNetwork BlogTalkRadio. She talked about the importance of creating, managing and intensifying conflict in our stories.

Here are a few things I gleaned form  her words that I can apply to my writing immediately:

Set up conflicts in scenes by creating a twist. Start with details that match the opposite of what you are going to hit the reader with so when you switch to the emotion you want to give impact to. The example she used was of a character walking alone on a beautiful, summer night. Maybe crickets are chirping. The character might notice the stars or a welcome breeze. Then the crickets stop. The character suddenly realizes how alone and vulnerable they are. They notice a twig snap. . .

•After you've written a first draft, return to scenes to make word choice adjustments that will match the conflict and mood.

Align the character gestures with conflict and mood. Instead of using a common word--walked--use one that carries emotion with it--slid, roamed, staggered. . .

And possibly the most important tip she gave is:
Conflict--it's all about the emotional reveals and emotional connections in every scene.
To listen to her interview go to
Click on BlogTalkRadio
Then click on Tristi's interview.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

After Obsession

What am I reading now? 
After Obsession 
(Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far? How desperate might a grieving teen go to find her missing dad? Carrie Jones is the same author that wrote Need, Captivate, and Entice (which didn't end and I'm having a hard time waiting patiently for book 4.) This story follows Aimee and Alan, and begins with the very thing most teens would deny at all costs--they're freaks--both of them. And not just that, but when weird things start going on in their small Maine community, there's no way to hide it.









The winner of my 100th Blog Post Party is
CHRISTINE!!  


Still another prize up for grabs:


Click here for my give-away on the October Blog Hop.  You can click on this witchy-picture to see all the blogs participating in the blog hop. Today's the last day to sign up for the give-aways!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spooky Ceiling




Here's the last wreath we made.







We also decorated the ceiling. The whole thing (living room, dining room and kitchen) is covered in cobwebs.

Tomorrow I'll return to my regular blog posts. 
Thanks for dropping by!


Two Chances to win:


1) Scroll down to the blog post on 10-8-11 (or click here) to put your name in a drawing for the prize package celebrating my 100th blog post.

2) Second chance to win: Click here for my give-away on the October Blog Hop.  You can click on this witchy-picture to see all the blogs participating in the blog hop.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Blog Hop


Trick or Treat?


Treat!

Welcome to the October Blog Hop, where you can visit new blogs, enter to win prizes, and have a great time!

At the bottom of this post, you'll see a list of participating blogs. Just click on each link, check out the prize, and follow the easy instructions to enter. You can enter on each blog, so it's possible to win multiple times. It's frighteningly easy.

On this blog, you can win a $20 Amazon (US) gift card!

To enter, all you need to do is:

1. Become a follower of my blog.

2. Leave a comment on this post and tell me why you'd like to win this prize. If your e-mail address isn't visible through your Blogger profile, please also leave it with the comment so I can notify you if you win. You can enter until midnight MST on Saturday night, October 15th.

That's it! You are now entered. Now please go visit all my friends on the list below. It's almost like trick or treating!



October Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston
2. I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
3. Bonnie Harris
4. Michael D. Young
5. Misty Moncur
6. Debbie Davis
7. Mandi Tucker Slack
8. Mary Ann Dennis
9. Deanna Henderson
10. Laura Bastian
11. Kristy Tate
12. Kristy Wilson
13. Jennifer Debenham
14. Jenny Moore
15. Elizabeth Hughes
16. J. Lloyd Morgan
17. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
18. Billy Boulden
19. Scott Bryan
20. Maria Hoagland
21. Shirley Bahlmann
22. Shelly Brown
23. Marcy Howes
24. Lynnea Mortensen
25. Jaclyn M. Hawkes
26. Diane Stringam Tolley
27. Gail Zuniga
28. Betsy Love
29. iWriteNetwork
30. Canda's InkBlast
31. Stacy Coles

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tulle Halloween Wreaths

We (Lynnea, Deanna and I) also made these wreaths. So cute and so easy. Cut 4-inch wide tulle into 1 yard long strips. Fold in half lengthwise and tie around the form.














Come back and see the last one on Friday. Oh and a bonus. You'll get a sneak peek at Lynnea's ceiling. Yes, it is taking her all month to decorate for her party.


Scroll down to the post on Oct. 8th and sign up for my drawing on Oct. 15th.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Boa Halloween Wreath

Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week I'm posting pics of the Halloween wreathes we, Deanna, Lynnea and I made for Lynnea's big bash later this month. She's putting these cute wreaths on all the bedroom doors. On Saturday, I'll be back to my regular blog posts.

Boa Halloween Wreath


Don't you love this?

And this?


Here's what you do to make them.




 Wrap, if needed.







And glue.







Still a few more days to sign up for my 100th Post Party. See the post on 10-08-11 to sign up for a chance at the prize package.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

100th Blog Post Party!

What am I reading now?  The Outer Edge of Heaven (Jaclyn Hawkes)
Annd. . . what do I think so far?  I was caught immediately by the dysfunctional family she moves to (runs away to or hides out in) Montana to work for. She's kind of a nanny for everyone. Her life is being dictated by her parents (who she'll marry, what she'll do in college), but she needs to figure out what she wants, really wants, and if she has the courage to do it.
     Yes, there's a guy who is her best friend, another who is gorgeous--oh, wait two--and one who is creepy, off the hook creepy! This one's a clean romance and a great weekend read.

BloG ParTy--100 posts today!
Last October I decided to start a blog, and a year later I'm celebrating my 100th post.
Here.
Today.
This one.
Thanks for being friends and following my posts about all of the things that make me, me: books I'm reading, what I'm learning about writing, family stuff, and some great original recipes.

So here's a prize just for being here. Leave a comment if you'd like to be in the drawing.

By the way--that's a signed copy of Princess Diaries,
with a DVD of 27 dresses and fingernail polish to match
in a polka-dotty gift bag.

(Yes, it's breast cancer awareness month. So, think pink and support the medical community's efforts to save the boobies.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Remember These?

What am I reading now?  Vanish (Sophie Jordan)

Annnd. . .  what do I think so far? This is the second book to Firelight. She's a member of a community that has been keeping a secret for generations--they're dragons (no that's not weird--everyone they know is) that shape shift between a human form and the dragon form. Jacinda breaks the biggest rule and reveals her true nature in front of humans. (Not a spoiler--it's in the first chapter.) Yes, there are two hot guys who are in love with her, and I have my opinions about how it should turn out. *coughCassiancough* Makes me nervous that it won't though.

Kiddie Calamari

This is a quick, fun lunch for the kiddos.


Split the hot dog and boil it with the macaroni. Remove them as you make the cheese sauce then place back on top to serve.

PaRTy    SatUrDay    On    mY    BloG

It will be my 100th post!
Come back for a chance to win a pretty pink prize package.