Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wild Kingdom In My Backyard

So, I have a new patio set and grill, which has helped me to enjoy my backyard. The warm weather has also encouraged the hubby and I to open our windows at night. This getting back to nature has also brought to our attention a variety of feathered and furry critters.

In addition to the Grey Squirrel (the bird-feeder battle against whom you can read about in a previous blog post), we have this fellow, who obligingly showed up during last weekend's barbecue:



This is a Pileated Woodpecker. He flew in, landed on the neighbor's maple, and hammered away for a few minutes before taking off again. How nice of him to join us! :P

Then, last night, I heard a noise that I sleepily thought was my toddler in the next room. When I woke up, I discovered we had an owl hooting in the backyard. I listened to him hoo-hoo-hoo-rrrrr for about a half hour before he decided to take his business elsewhere. He did a pretty good job of shutting up the songbirds this morning - they must have been afraid to make a peep while he was about. I identified him as a Barred Owl this morning, using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" website. It includes pictures, natural histories and habitats, and samples of each bird's call. If you're a backyard birder, you owe it to yourself to check out this page. It won a Webby Award, and with good reason!



So, while I woke up extra early, courtesy of our feathered caller, it's been fun to garden and birdwatch, now that the weather's cooperating. Guess I have to start my own birdwatching list now!

Monday, May 17, 2010

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to Marcia R., who has won a gorgeous giveaway containing a variety of organic and earth-conscious items, all packaged in a beautiful rattan-bound wooden box:


  • A Beanpod soy candle in Earthly Embrace scent

  • A packet of organic Burpee sunflower seeds

  • A clay pot in which to start your sunflowers

  • A bar of Clearly Natural glycerine soap in Berry scent

  • A canister of Green and Black's organic Hot Chocolate mix



This gift box was offered exclusively at the book signing on May 8th at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY! Click the picture below for a larger view of this wonderful earth-friendly gift box.



Keep an eye on this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. I'll list them all here as they come up. Congratulations again to Marcia R., and Happy Reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Darcy Thing

I have been obsessing over Elliot Cowan's performance as Mr. Darcy in the British miniseries "Lost In Austen" for the past week. The movie is based on Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice." I am not a swooner, but this man had me swooning and wishing for a fan by the end of the movie. This, from a woman who always thought Mr. Darcy was an arrogant you-know-what for so many years. I liked Bingley. (I still do, though I feel he needs to be a little less wishy-washy.) :) Then I got older, and along came Colin Firth's portrayal of Darcy. Nice, nice. Still an arrogant jerk though, and I never fully got his turnaround by the end of the film - the point at which he went from arrogance and subjection to class constraints, to a forthright individual who was worthy of Elizabeth Bennet's affections.

Cowan changed all that for me. Darcy was always handsome and attractive, but way too prickly for me when compared to his friend Mr. Bingley, who was immediately likeable in all respects. Elliot Cowan brought out that inner struggle and character arc for me in a way the book and previous performances of it never had. You can see him changing his mind about the heroine (who is not Elizabeth Bennet, incidentally - just take my advice and rent the movie) as the show progresses. It's very well done, and that inner conflict is evident. I think that's what was missing for me all those years - to see that progression clearly, to see that Darcy does have some soft spots under all that armor. Just goes to show how important emotion is in grabbing your reader/viewer. Plus, it doesn't hurt to look at this guy for three hours:



My favorite scenes of the movie are, or course, the romantic moments, but my favorite shot is this one:



There is something so romantic about the image of the master of Pemberley seen walking his grounds from a distance through the hedge, like something out of a dream. I'd like to step into that one, if you please!

In short, bravo to Elliot Cowan for finally bringing me the Darcy I could fully appreciate. (Sorry, Colin Firth!) :D

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Exclusive Book Signing Giveaway (5/8/10)!

Reposting this to remind you of an exciting giveaway coming up at my first book signing!



I will be presenting a special gift box giveaway to guests at my book signing of EARTH on May 8, 2010 from 12:00-4:00 PM at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY (Click here for directions). The giveaway (a $40 value) contains a variety of organic and earth-conscious items, all packaged in a beautiful rattan-bound wooden box:


  • A Beanpod soy candle in Earthly Embrace scent

  • A packet of organic Burpee sunflower seeds

  • A clay pot in which to start your sunflowers

  • A bar of Clearly Natural glycerine soap in Berry scent

  • A canister of Green and Black's organic Hot Chocolate mix



This gift box will be offered exclusively at the book signing on May 8th at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY, so if you're in the neighborhood, come and visit! No purchase is necessary, and though you will need to be at the signing to enter, you need not be present at the time of the drawing. If you win, you may pick up your prize at Books 4 Less after the closing of the event. Click the picture below for a larger view of this wonderful earth-friendly gift box.



Keep an eye on this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. I'll list them all here as they come up. Good luck, and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Just Write It!

One of the things I have noticed about writing is that I usually don't love my first draft. I like things about it, which become the "meat" of the book - but for the most part I plow through it to get words on the page. Where I really start enjoying a book I've written is in revisions. That's where I can dig into the exciting parts and expand them.

As Nora Roberts says, you can fix a bad page, but not a blank one. It's best to get those words down first, and then worry about rearranging them. You can't sell a book if you haven't written one, after all.

It is hard for me, Type A personality that I am, to muzzle that internal editor enough to stop worrying about the words so much the first time around, and just let them be. I have found, though, that with practice it gets easier. I notice too that having written a synopsis prior to writing a book, while easier, tends to "spoil" the book for me. The answer to that is not to take your synopsis too seriously. The major plot points should not change, but you can deviate while writing the book if a good idea hits you. It's like they say in "Pirates of the Caribbean" - it's more of a guideline. Just write it - and then worry about polishing the details. :)