Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Romance Happiness :)

What am I reading now?  3 Lovely Holiday Romances--Just in time to curl up with a stack of good books and a hot cup of cocoa, saying "Leave me alone--I'm at a really good part."

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  It is so fun to read some great romances and also get in the mood for the holiday season. Let's take them one at a time, shall we. . .

A Candlelight Courting (Joyce DiPastena)
This sweet medieval story (novella) is the moment Meg meets Burthred. They've been betrothed since she was born and he was 8 years old. Nearly two decades later, he meets her. Though he would have only her be his wife, she desires another life, one without him or any man. When her reasons are revealed, I loved her even more (and I think Burthred did too)!

A Cold Creek Noel (RaeAnne Thayne)
I didn't think I was the type for westerns of any kind--well, I was wrong--though not a true western, like with white and black hats and shoot-outs in a slot canyon somewhere. In fact this one starts in Ben's veterinary office. Caidy brings in one of her ranch dogs for emergency treatment. (This starts the country flavor to the setting.) She finds the new Vet completely rude (Caidy--advice to self--stop noticing how gorgeous he is and focus on the rude part.) This is a tender story of two people drawn together but each struggling with memories that make them wary of the attraction they feel. Sometimes there's just too much baggage to make something work, even when both Caidy and Ben want it to. But it's a small town; there's really no way to avoid each other. Yay!

A Timeless Romance Anthology, Winter Collection (Sarah M. Eden et. al.)

Travel back to Medieval England, Victorian times, and turn of the century New York. There are 6 heart-touching short stories of falling in love during the holidays. Normally I don't rate anthologies (because some of the stories are fabulous and some are usually horrid), but I'm breaking that rule today.
This anthology gets 5 stars.
There isn't a lemon in the whole bunch and I was so disappointed that there were no more stories to begin when I turned the last page. My only disappointment is that I purchased this as an ebook and now that I love it, I'm going to have to purchase the paper one and stalk author events to get it signed!

The last holiday read isn't a romance, but a tender family story instead:
Unexpected Angel (Janet K. Halling) 
Ella Davies hates Christmas. Every year she spends the holidays working, trying to forget the pain of a childhood tragedy that left her all alone. But this season, Ella's about to learn something only an angel could teach her. This modern twist on a Christmas classic will remind you that the best gifts of all are the loved ones you learn to treasure!

I usually give Writing Tips at the bottom of my blog each week--so here it is for this week. Stop writing and read, read, read. Then go back to reading and writing. Great advice, huh?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Author Interview: Cindy Hogan


My First Ever Author Interview on my Blog! 
Cindy M. Hogan is the author of the Watched Series.

Welcome, Cindy!
What is quirky about your writing style or habits? 
Oh, crud, here it comes. I can't seem to write without eating or drinking something at the same time. Case in point? I'm drinking hot chocolate right now. I just finished some Chinese. I'll probably hit the popcorn next. #terrible habits

Which of your characters have characteristics most like you? How? 
Maybe, Rick. He's so open and optimistic. I have a hard time seeing potential problems through my rose-colored glasses and when they happen, I'm all bent out of shape. I might still look like sunshine, but inside, I'm fuming-at myself, of course.

What suggestions can you make to help me become a better writer?
1. Go to writers' conferences
2. Get a reliable and fun critique group
3. Read some how to books like Save the Cat by Blake Snyder  and Scene and Structure by Bickman and slowly incorporate what you learn

Tell us about your series.
In a simplistic nutshell, it is about a girl's discovery of her kick-butt self. Sprinkle in some hot guys throughout the series, of course. In a bit more detail...
Watched:
It takes more than a school trip to Washington, DC to change Christy’s life. It takes murder.
A witness to the brutal slaying of a senator’s aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot guys.
She discovers that if she can’t help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.


Protected:

She has the guy. The terrorists have been taken care of and she has a shot at becoming popular.
Life is great!
Until they find her.
Now she must run and leave behind everything she knows, including herself.
Created:
With The Witness Protection Program failing to keep Christy safe, she is sent to Belgium to hide in a spy school. While there, test scores reveal her true abilities and the director wants her to become a spy. Once the terrorists back home are all caught, and the danger gone, she is forced to make the decision to either go home and live a normal teen life or use her gifts and become a spy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Style Brush Strokes 5 of 5: Action Verbs

What am I reading now? Whispers at Moonrise (C.C. Hunter)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Aren't love triangles annoying--I mean interesting--I mean infuriating--I mean engaging. You know what I mean, right? So you end up picking sides and half the readers are going to be mad in the end.
     I really tried not to choose between the boys for my reader-loyalty (you know, because it's just a book and all) but I did anyway.
     Grrrrrr. So here it is. . .
     I don't think Lucas wants Kylie because he wants her, but more because he's always wanted her and now it's a possessive thing and not soul-mate love. While Derek is the guy letting her find herself, not needing her to be something for him, and he's accepted a role that must hurt him a great deal (based on his own gifts and the frequency of Kylie and Derek making out--he feels it and that must really suck!)
     I am enjoying the stories of the side characters especially the love story between Holiday and Burnett. Both of them have interesting backstories (though we only know bits--and would love to know more! Prequel anyone?) The other characters are growing up nicely too; Della is more comfortable in her own undead skin; Perry is a much stronger person overall; Miranda--hum--I hope in the next book she gets to overcome her insecurities (and maybe her mother--yeah, that would be awesome).
     The END! Could there be anything more cliffy-hangy? Like a cliff on a cliff. Yes, I'll read the next one.
Style Brush Strokes Part 5 of 5
Image Grammar by Harry Noden

5•Action Verbs: replace “being” verbs such as: is, was, were, be
Example:
The grocery store was robbed by two armed men. Two armed men robbed the grocery store.
Practice: Compare the two revisions of the same paragraph. First, identify the “being” verbs in these sentence.
“Rockwell was a beautiful lake. Canada geese could be heard across the water bugling like tuneless trumpets. Near the shore, two children were hidden behind a massive maple tree. Watching quietly, they hoped to see the first gosling begin to hatch. Tiny giggles escaped their whispers of excitement.”
Practice: Identify the Action Verbs that replaced the “being” verbs.
“Rockwell Lake echoed with the sounds of Canada geese. Their honking bugled across the water like tuneless trumpets. Two children hid behind the massive maple tree. They silently watched, hoping to see* the first goslings hatch. Tiny giggles escaped their whispers of excitement.”

*the being-­‐verb is moved into the participle instead of attached to the verb/predicate

Apply: Rewrite a sentence from your current WIP by removing the “being” verb and replacing it with an action verb.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Style Brush Strokes 4 of 5: Adjectives out of order

What am I reading now? The Faerie Ring (Kiki Hamilton)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Tiki steals--anything, everything to keep her and her family (a group of orphans in Victorian England) alive. Coins mostly, food when she can, and one day a ring. A beautiful ring whose gem is burning with a fire beneath the delicate cut. Selling the ring means food, warmth, and live saving medicine. It means a way out of the streets and a home. But Tiki finds out that it also means danger, mystery, treason and death.
     Although this book is the opening act for a series, it has a satisfying ending and the story easily stands alone. (LOVE that!) The second book is already out and the third one is due in May.

Style Brush Strokes Part 4 of 5
Image Grammar by Harry Noden

4•Adjectives Shifted Out of Order: Avoid stacking 3 adjectives in a row before the noun they modify, move one or more out of order and offset with commas
Example:
The kind woman, old and wrinkled, smiled upon her newborn great grandson with pride.
“And then, suddenly, in the very dead of the night, there came a sound to my ears, clear, resonant, and unmistakable.” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Practice: Find the adjectives that are split apart from the noun they modify.
“The Pavilion was a simple city, long and rectangular.” (Caleb Carr—The Alienist)
Apply: Rewrite a sentence from your current WIP, inserting three adjectives that are split apart from an existing noun they modify.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Style Brush Strokes 3 of 5: Appositives

What am I reading now? Stealing Mercy (Kristy Tate)
Free on Amazon? YES!
Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Wow--I loved this book! (Yes, that's a recommendation to read it.) I approach free books with a heavy dose of skepticism and if the book is "free/indie" even more, but I was drawn in immediately--first chapter is a great set up.
POP QUIZ 
( I am a teacher after all! ~ short answer and essay accepted)

What does a fireplace poker, pies & chocolates, a brothel, a ship and expensive jewels have in common? Oh, wait--I almost forgot the chinese throwing stars!
Okay. (I'll give you a minute to think . . . )

*buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* Time's up!
The answer is 
True!
Enjoy reading this story. Get it HERE.

Style Brush Strokes Part 3 of 5
Image Grammar by Harry Noden
3•Appositive: restates the noun directly after the noun in a new way that adds detail or expands meaning
Example:
The raccoon enjoys eating turtle eggs.
The raccoon, a midnight scavenger who roams lake shorelines in search of food, enjoys eating turtle eggs.
Practice: Identify the appositive(s)
“Plowing through the choppy gray waters, a phalanx of ships bore down on Hitler’s Europe: fast new attack transports, slow rust-­‐scarred freighters, small ocean liners, channel steamers, hospital ships, weather-­‐beaten tankers, and swarms of fussing tugs. Barrage balloons flew above the ships. Squadrons of fighter planes weaved below the clouds.
(Cornelius Ryan—June 6, 1944: The Longest Day)

Apply: Rewrite a sentence from your current WIP inserting an appositive to describe, rename or give more precise meaning to an existing noun.
*Of all the brush strokes so far, this one seemed 
the easiest one for me.