Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, another year is at a close - but what a year it's been! I have released my first book, EARTH, and held my first book signing. I have so many people to thank this year. First and foremost are my family and friends, who have not only supported my efforts while writing EARTH, but gone out of their way to recommend and share it with others. You are the best cheering section a writer could have, and I love you to pieces.

Second, I would like to thank the amazing owners and staff of Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY. The store stocks EARTH on-shelf in their Local Authors section, and it's been just awesome to come in and chat with them, even when it's not about my books. *grin* (Not to mention, it's The Best Bookstore Ever.) Thanks so much for such a great opportunity, Books 4 Less!

Finally, I want to thank you, the readers, for making EARTH the success it is. I appreciate every one of you who has taken the time to tell me what you thought of the book. I'm thrilled to hear you're looking forward to the next one, and I hope you won't have long to wait! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Most of the people who know me are aware than I am a Narnia fan, and have been since I was introduced to the series as a child - so you'll have to forgive me if I babble here.

After the fiasco of Disney bailing out on the Chronicles franchise after Prince Caspian, it was uncertain whether Dawn Treader would even make it to theatres. Fox rescued the film, teaming with Walden Media for this third release of the Chronicles of Narnia.

I wonder if Disney is kicking themselves now.

It's rare that I can say I found a movie to be better than the book on which it was based (Only once, really, and that was The Horse Whisperer, if you want to know). Dawn Treader now makes that list, for a skillful adaptation, and yes, for some new/altered material not originally in the book itself.

With the absence of Peter and Susan Pevensie in this movie, I was concerned whether it would be as enjoyable, and indeed, it seems the rest of Hollywood worried about that as well. If Dawn Treader didn't do well in theatres, word was that the rest of the Chronicles would probably not be made. Narnia isn't Narnia without all four of the Pevensie kids. But Will Poulter, who plays newcomer Eustace Scrubb in this film, is brilliant from the first word out of his mouth. He fills the void of missing Peter and Susan wonderfully, and you forget that you're witnessing only half of the Pevensie foursome in this movie.

The book always seemed to lack some cohesion and forward motion, but they have added a plot thread to the film that pulls everything together terrifically. Fans of the series will be delighted to see faithfully adapted elements of the book (as well as a return to the sweeping epicness that made Lion such a blockbuster). There are nods to the things that made Lion such a great film, but it is not a rehash of everything that went before. I was leery of the added elements I had heard about, and also of how they would portray some of the elements of the story that, to me, bordered on the silly. They navigated these perfectly.

And as to the additional material, I was satisfied in the extreme. This is a great example of revision done right. And Poulter handles the weight of this franchise's fate with such skill that I'll have to eat my hardcover copy of the Chronicles series if the rest of them don't get made. Bravo to the Dawn Treader and its crew, and I hope to see the rest of the series in theatres!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CNYRW 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award!

I am thrilled to announce that I was awarded CNYRW's 2010 Amber Schalk Volunteer of the Year Award! This award is given yearly to one lucky peer-nominated recipient for RWA chapter service throughout the year. I designed and maintain the CNY Romance Writers website, and it's always been a labor of love to me, so it's more play than work. So it was with complete surprise that I received this award. I quite literally rose out of my seat wondering if they actually did say my name. :)

A huge thank you to everyone who nominated me for this award, and I will hang it proudly over my writing desk. CNYRW is such a wonderful and supportive chapter, and I truly appreciate this honor.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Tree 2010

Every year, it seems, we do a different theme for our tree. This year, my son was able to help a little more, and he's also getting old enough to understand about Christmas. So it was lots of fun to come up with a theme he could appreciate: Candyland! We did a tree based on all those yummy treats found on a traditional gingerbread house, complete with garland that looks like frosting. Hubby and son put up the tree, then Hubby strung the lights, and while the little peanut napped, Hubby and I decorated the tree. When the peanut woke up, he was thrilled, and even more so when he got to help put the train underneath it and then play with the musical snowman sitting under it. So we now have the 2010 tree, the Candyland Tree:

Next year, we do a tree with the hubby's favorite pastime: fishing! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there who'll be spending tomorrow with the ol' turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. If you're on the road, be safe, and if you're hosting dinner, be sure to save me a plate! Yum!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Movie Review

*Beware Spoilers - Do not read if you don't want to know details!*

Went to see HP7.1 last night, or as anyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows it, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One." After the initial "wow" factor wore off (I didn't see it in 3D, by the way, but I bet it's good that way), I can safely say I rate it a 4 out of 5.

The movie opens with some wonderful detail on things we haven't yet seen in the Potterverse, most notably, Hermione's home and her parents. (Her room is so ORDINARY! It made my Muggle heart happy to see it.) We then get a look at Ron in his non-Hogwarts habitat, and also Harry in the now-vacated Dursley home. We only get a glimpse of the Dursleys as they scoot out of there, so my hoped-for semi-resolution with Dudley was absent.

The first real alteration of plot was that, rather than keeping Hedwig in her cage, Harry lets her loose before their departure from Privet Drive. Hedwig later swoops in to attack a Death Eater as he tries to curse Harry when they're escaping, and instead of dying trapped in that owl cage, she dies a hero (I cried, even though I knew she'd die, fifteen minutes into the movie--poor Hedwig, but such a heroic scene!)

We meet Bill Weasley in this movie, scarred from his werewolf attack by Greyback in the previous book (not shown in the previous movie). It's only briefly mentioned, and people who haven't read the books might be wondering how the heck Bill and Fleur wound up together and engaged. The movie does operate on the assumption that you have read the book, and haven't been living under a rock for the past ten-ish years where the Potterverse is concerned.

From there, the movie passes quickly on to the rest of the plot. They added a few scenes which I found awkward, but which will certainly make the Harry/Hermione fans happy. I see the reasons why they added these scenes, but I didn't care for them. After Ron's departure from the trio (er, now a duo), there's a new scene of Harry dancing with Hermione in an effort to cheer her up. There's a point during this scene where there's a clear attraction to Hermione on Harry's part, which she quickly cuts short. Later, you can see Harry having a moment of residual attraction, and she does the same. Hermione's all Ron's, and she knows it even during Ron's absence. After Ron's return, things go back to book, but the unfortunate problem with these added scenes, is that when Ron goes to destroy the locket Horcrux, the vision of Harry and Hermione intertwined actually has some validation, rather than being all in Ron's head. (Quite a racy scene, if you want the truth--there art the Harry/Hermione fans happy, again.) Romance-wise, there's much less Harry/Ginny feeling in this film than Harry/Hermione. That's too bad, because Ginny is then reduced to a convenient love interest.

Ron! Let me say how awesome Rupert Grint was in this movie. He stole the show, as far as I'm concerned, even if he wasn't in all of it. He's huge, too. Ron must be eating his Wheaties, because he towers over Harry and he looks like a tank. And he's got acting chops, that Rupert. Great, great work!

I really felt that, for the most part, HP7.1 felt more like a checklist of plot points than a cohesive story. The problem with cutting the book in two (it ends when Voldemort gets the Elder Wand) is that you don't get the beginning-middle-climax-end of a typical book or movie. This is just beginning-middle, and it feels just as unfinished as it sounds. The movie ends on a down-note, and I feel it would have served the story better to release the entire two-part film with an intermission, a la "Gone With The Wind."

In spite of all that, it's still a rocking good movie, and the kids of Harry Potter have grown into handsome/beautiful young adults. Again, I give it four of five, and I look forward to Part Two (still a disappointing half a year away, sigh)!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Public Speaking / RWA E-Pub News

Public Speaking

Anyone who knows me knows I have some funny pet peeves about the English language. I have no problem with slang and vernacular (like "ain't"), but they have their place. And it's not in the professional forum. There, the rule should be Handle With Care.

Yesterday I was listening to National Public Radio's news, and the deejay was speaking with an (if I recall right) ex-Senator regarding the Arms Treaty. The ex-Senator pronounced the word nuclear as "noo-kyoo-lar" something like fifteen times, and each time she did it, I cringed. This is a serious subject, and a person clearly familiar with the importance of nuclear weapons talks. One might consider how one sounds in such a situation, if one wants to be taken seriously--right? (The deejay, incidentally, said "nuclear" properly during this talk, and that didn't stop the ex-Senator from mis-pronouncing it. Which brings up another discussion point on listening skills, but that's another rant.)

What does this mean to you? Well, sooner or later in your professional career, you will have to write--or speak--publicly. Always, always think about the structure of your words, and if you're speaking, their pronunication and proper use. Language is fluid, and it should evolve--but proper English hasn't changed all that much in several hundred years. If you're hanging with your pals at a casual party, go ahead and use "ain't" if that's in your vernacular. If you're speaking (or writing) in a professional forum, make sure your words reflect that.

Handle With Care.

E-Publishing News

RWA has announced in the Hot Sheet from its November 13-14 meeting that they will be limiting their list of non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publishers to "those that have been in business for at least three years and are currently acquiring romance." This widens their playing field for non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publishers, but RWA hopes to keep its list of said publishers limited to those that have a track record. For more info, check the RWA website.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

B&N To Launch NOOK In Color

The new gadget currently making waves in the world of eReaders is Barnes & Noble's NOOKColor eReader. Where before we could only get our data in black and white, the NOOKColor will feature display in - you guessed it - color! You can click the link to learn more about it. It features a 7-inch color touchscreen, which is Way Cool. Hold onto your pants. It won't be long until we are using those dandy touch computers they have in the lab in "Avatar."

I still have my concerns about this summer's announcement that the Barnes & Noble chain has been put up for sale, but it's likely that with the release of this new NOOK, B&N is hoping to stay on top of the digital book revolution. To which I say, go for it! Where else can I sit down with thousands of books and a cup of Starbucks?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Just blogging this afternoon to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween, and please watch for little ones if you are out driving tonight. Wishing you lots of sweets and treats!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Research Via Movies

With WATER completed, I am now turning my attention to research for the next book, AIR, and getting a little research done on story as well.

An easy way to get a handle on story - plot, structure, characterization - is to check out movie commentaries featuring the writers or directors. In particular, pay close attention to what scenes they say they edit or delete, and why. I find this an invaluable reference for the art of tight storytelling. Sometimes they will also mention why a scene needed to be added. This is important especially as an aid to character continuity. You don't want your character to jump from point B to point Q on his arc, or your reader (or viewer) will go, "Huh?" Hence, the addition of a missing scene to illustrate character growth.

Movies and tightly plotted books are not all that different. The tools are a bit different, but you are still telling a story, and cutting away the deadwood helps your story shine. The next time you watch a movie you've seen before, make sure you watch it with the commentaries enabled. You might be surprised how much you learn!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Barnes & Noble Launches PubIt

Barnes & Noble has launched a self-publishing program called PubIt!, which allows authors to send their material straight to eBook on their Nook reader. You can learn the full scoop here:

Royalties are given at a scale, so eBooks that sell for $2.99-$9.99 will net you 65% of the List Price. Anything outside that price range, with a low limit of $0.99 and a high limit of $199.99 (the range limits at which B&N will sell your book) gets you 40% of the List Price. That's pretty hefty either way. But there are ...


1) Content - B&N reserves the right to determine whether your material is acceptable for publication, meaning it cannot be "illegal, libelous, infringing, offensive, harmful or potentially harmful, threatening, harassing, legally obscene, defamatory, or intentionally hateful in any regard (see link above)." Nor can it contain advertisements, or solicit action from the reader (i.e. reviews). It also cannot contain the author or publisher's contact information, which I assume means that if your reader is looking for you on the web or through E-mail, you're out of luck putting that in your manuscript. The onus is on the author to determine whether content is compliant with all applicable laws, where it pertains to legality of your content.

2) Limited Distribution - Your book is only going to be available through B&N and its Nook reader, and is only offered in the United States. Anyone with a Kindle or Sony, etc., is probably going to be out of luck for reading it. Remember that your data is only good as long as you can read it. Ya gotta have the right gadget to get a PubIt! book. They did make some allowances here: you can read it on your "PC, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android smartphone enabled with our free NOOK eReading software (see link above)."

3) No Printie - It's eBook only, so you won't be able to get your book in print as well, unless you are an author whose books would also normally be available through brick and mortar stores (i.e. mass market).

4) No Marketing (Maybe) - B&N chooses which eBooks they will market, which means you will have to do the advertising legwork yourself ... which is a little harder when you can't put your contact info in your eBook.

5) Rights - Not mentioned with enough specificity for my comfort, anyway. They do say that if they find someone selling your eBook, i.e. infringing on your rights to sell it, "we will make commercially reasonable efforts to remove the eBook in question from future sale through PubIt! and we will make all commercially reasonable efforts to pay you the royalties due in connection with any sales of the eBook. This will be your sole and exclusive remedy (see link above)." This sits a little funny with me. "Commercially reasonable efforts" seems rather open-ended. There's also no spelled-out rights-reversion clause. I find that bothersome. Call me an old dog, but I like everything spelled out on paper before I give up my books.

6) Longevity - Recently, news came up that the B&N empire would be up for sale. With that up in the air, I wonder about the longevity of the company and its Nook reader. Again with the rights-reversion question.

So, in short, writer beware. Before you go into this with guns blazing, check and double check. The pay looks good, but you'll have your work cut out for you both before and after. Cheers!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

LASR Halloween Scavenger Hunt!

The Long and the Short of It is having a Halloween Scavenger Hunt! The celebration will run 10/30/10 – 10/31/10 - two days of trick-or-treat fun - and spotlights ghosts, shifters, vampires or witches (or anything else that goes bump in the night). LASR offers a slew of great prizes, including a $50 Amazon or BN gift certificate, and lots of treats from participating authors! For more information, visit LASR by clicking the banner below:

No costumes necessary. Happy trick-or treating!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Website Back Up!

My website ( is back up and running. Whatever technical problems it was having seem to be resolved, but if you have trouble accessing it, you can always reach me here at my blog or on Facebook. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Main Webpage Down

Look like my main website is down ( My web host is aware of the problem and is working to resolve the issue. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I'm hoping they have it back up and running soon. Sorry, all!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WATER is Finished!

Last night, I finished the first draft of WATER, the second book in the Elemental Series of paranormal romances. I will spend the next couple of weeks revising, and then I'll have to bid it goodbye as I send it on to my editor. After that, it's on to Book Three, AIR!

I feel safe telling you this little hint, though: WATER features Morgan, the water Elemental, now the chef-in-residence at a bed-and-breakfast on Nantucket island. Look for more exciting news on WATER as it comes up!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Digital products affecting all Torstar businesses -

Digital products affecting all Torstar businesses -

Just more proof that the waves haven't finished being felt around the industry with regard to the digital revolution. Phew!

Friday, September 03, 2010

10th Annual Rebecca Eddy Memorial Writing Contest

Sharpen your pencils (or get to your keyboards)! Entries are now being accepted for the 10th Annual Rebecca Eddy Memorial Writing Contest. I won this contest in 2008 with my short story, FINDING HOME. There are two categories, Short Story (500-5000 words) and Poetry (maximum 20 lines). Entries will be divided into four age groups, 10 and Under, 11—14, 15—18, and 18 and Over. Works submitted can be of any format or topic, and the contest is free. Prizes are awarded in each category. For full rules and entry form, please click the links below. Please note that I do not sponsor this contest - I am merely forwarding this on for informational purposes. Any questions regarding the contest should be directed to the contest coordinators. Good luck, and happy writing!

Official REMWC Rules

REMWC Entry Form

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Go Green, Be Serene

Recently, I redid our front landscape, switching from a plain-lawn foundation with one lonely Dwarf Alberta Spruce, to a properly mulched, planted bed with a variety of flowers and shrubs. I intend to keep up my new, flowery landscape with organic methods. Yesterday, Mother Nature sent me a little thank-you note for my efforts.

I arrived home yesterday afternoon and made a short trip out front to check how my landscaping is holding up during our recent hot weather. Among the plants I put in the bed were two specimens of Lamium maculatum "Shell Pink," commonly referred to as spotted deadnettle. As a ground cover, Lamium seemed to be the answer to the erosion problems I was having, wherein part of my lawn would wash into my driveway during each heavy rain. This little plant, I had learned, was also a good welcome wagon for bees and butterflies.

And so it is. Just as I walked out to look things over yesterday evening, a bumblebee trundled along and visited both plants, dotting each flower carefully before going on his way. So I spent a few minutes of my otherwise hectic day watching him work, and strangely enough, all the noise and craziness of my day drained away just like that. Amazing how your perspective can change when you disconnect from technology and get your hands messy for a while.

Next spring, I have plans to expand my wildlife offerings, and make a little less lawn with a little more flowers. I have learned this summer what most gardeners already know - that it's good for the soul to get outside and play in the dirt. I'll let you know how I progress!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to Jackie W., who has won the 2010 "Hot Fun In The Summertime" contest, a prize pack featuring my first book, "Earth!" The prize pack includes a signed copy of "Earth," a postcard featuring the book, and a very special 100% biodegradable bookmark! When you're finished reading the book, plant the bookmark in your garden or a flowerpot, and its paper will grow into a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers!

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 Jackie W., and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Toddler Humor

My husband knows two knock-knock jokes. My son just makes his own.

Toddler: "Knock-knock."

Hubby: "Who's there?"

Toddler: "Superman."

Hubby: "Superman who?"

Toddler: .... "Th-That's it. That's his name."

Geez, Dad, keep up. LOL

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dorchester Goes Digital

Dorchester has officially announced a decision to abandon production of mass-market paperbacks, and begin offering only E-books or trade paperback, print-on-demand books. This comes on the heels of a recent decision by RWA to remove Dorcester from its 2010 Nationals roster over billing/contract disputes.

What does this mean for Dorchester? It appears they are hoping to level out their decline in revenue. Their sales have dropped sharply as the popularity of E-readers has risen, and with this move, they are looking to adapt to the changing market. It may also (speculating here) ease those aforementioned troubles with contracts and payouts, once the ball begins rolling favorably again for Dorchester.

What does this mean for readers? For readers, it's simply a question of finding your favorite romances from this publisher in a new format. E-readers are sharper, more versatile, and more adjustable for the avid reader than ever (you can adjust the font size yourself for better readability). Go to your local electronics store, or ask a fellow reader, and you're bound to run into a few examples of this new gadgetry.

And finally, for authors, this is a look at the new face of publishing. More publishers are likely to follow Dorchester's example, because print-on-demand requires that they only produce as many print copies as are ordered, while E-books are popular because they are instantly available and can be stored in a mobile, hand-held library for the consumer's convenience. That increases selling power, as well as profit margin.

This may also level the playing field between old dogs like Dorchester, and relative new kids like The Wild Rose Press, both of whom will now be following a similar model. You may see greater competition between publishers, not only with regard to pricing, but for your most sparkling stories. Buckle down, scribblers, it's a whole new neighborhood out there. Bring your best game to the playground.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Toddler As Comic Relief

One of the best things about being a parent is the way my son makes me laugh. He's a toddler now, and he's developing a sense of humor. Even when he's NOT working on his sense of humor, he's funny.

We took him to his first theater movie, Toy Story 3 (which he almost sat all the way through, and which Mom and Dad enjoyed as much as he did, BTW). After that, he Really, Really Wanted a Buzz Lightyear. So off to the store we went and got him one (which Mom and Dad enjoy as much as he does, BTW). It really is a cool toy. It talks, it knows when the helmet is up or down, and it responds to your voice or noises. Where was this thing when I was a kid?

The first night he has it, he's playing in the kitchen with it while we are making dinner. Buzz comes out with (paraphrasing here), "I'm Buzz Lightyear, from Gamma Something-Something, Sector Something-Something. Who's in charge here?"

My son, without missing a beat, answered, "Me."

Yep. You got it, kiddo. *snort*

Monday, July 26, 2010

Renn Faire Revisited - 2nd Trip 2010 Recap

Must have been the weather. It was PERFECT yesterday for our second trip to the Sterling Renaissance Festival. While we didn't get the Ultimate Parking Spot this time, we did get a great day. We saw a Pirate Show, our toddler went on just about every ride possible, and we caught a showing of Don Juan & Miguel. I bought an ocarina from Fire Om Earth, and I am currently learning how to play it, much to the distress of my family's ears. *grin*

We ate at the tavern, too. I had my first Portabello Mushroom Sandwich, which was pretty good, but their pierogies were to die for! I was supposed to meet a friend there, and we somehow managed to miss each other ALL DAY! She and her family had an awesome time, too.

Oddly enough, now that my middle class noble outfit is complete, I find myself wanting to go backward and revisit my wench outfit (the first outfit I put together for the Renn). I had added some pirate trappings to it, but I think next year I'll just wear that, rather than the blue. I wasn't afraid to get it dirty, for one thing. The grass was still wet in most places from all the torrential rains we've been getting. It's nice to change things up, anyway. Yarrgh!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

RWA Removes Dorchester From Conference

I'm a few days late in posting this, but RWA has canceled all Dorchester Publishing events, including editor and agent appointments, at the Nationals conference due to a matter of the publisher's unfulfilled contractual obligations with some of its authors. This does not mean Dorchester is banned permanently from the Nationals. It appears Dorchester is working on the issue, but as of the conference it will not be resolved. They should be welcomed back next year (provided, I'm sure, that they make good on the current problem). Read the full story at Publishers Weekly's blog here:

RWA Dings Dorchester Over Unpaid Bills

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hat Trick

Question: What's a self-respecting pirate wench to do when faced with hatlessness for an upcoming Pirate's Weekend at the Renaissance Festival?

Answer: Make one!

A friend invited me to the Pirate Invasion this weekend at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. This is one of the few years I have gone to Faire more than once in a season. I had the clothing - a wench outfit I bought in the early years of my trips to the Renn. But I had no hat, and almost no money for one, because I bought a fancy tall hat for our last trip to the Renn more than a week ago.

So, I did what any cheapskate person with a knack for creativity does. I made a hat out of one I already had at my disposal! First, I wrangled an old, flat-crowned straw hat out of my mother. Sucker had a scary-looking multicolored sweatband, and the brim was curled up all the way around so that it resembled a chip-and-dip set. Yikes!

Then I did some hunting around for tricorne hat designs, and lots of watching of the three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies (Oh, so painful and all, having to watch Orlando Bloom kiss Kiera Knightley's knee like that. Flutter!).

I re-blocked (reshaped) the hat crown by wetting it with warm water and stuffing it with wet paper towels, then squashed it down onto an upturned bowl of the appropriate size to mold it as it dried. Good thing I did that first, because I think the sweatband was glued as well as stitched, so the water helped loosen the glue.

Once it was shaped and dried, I removed the old sweatband. I then sewed on a new maroon sweatband to match my clothing, and used black seam binding around the brim. I then spent some cash on feathers to decorate it, and sewed the brim up into a tricorne, using buttons I already had on hand.

The result, as you can see, is a (mostly) proper pirate wench's hat, and I discovered afterward that using straw or seagrass for these is pretty common - though not as popular as wool or leather. The crown's a bit high, but I love the result. Can't wait to show it off at the Faire!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I have created a newsletter list, where you can quickly access the latest updates, book releases and contests. The newsletter is a low-volume, announcement-only list, and you can reach it here: Nicki Greenwood's Newsletter

I respect your time and privacy. Your information will never be given to any third party, and you may subscribe or unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time with no hassle.

Feel free to invite friends, and thanks for your support!

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Renn Faire Recap

I worried all week that the weather would not cooperate, but magically, Saturday morning dawned cool and clear. It takes a good hour to get dressed up, start to finish, for the whole family. By then we just stopped and got something quick to eat. We arrived at Sterling, NY about a half hour early, but they were doing a skit at the gate, so everyone was well-entertained.

Lots of new things to see this year. The joust is bigger and better, there are new merchants and entertainment, and new pubs and seating. I'm excited to see all the additions. The little peanut didn't have much attention span to sit down for anything but the glass blower, but we did enjoy some of Don Juan and Miguel's show. I was really disappointed that we missed Hey Nunnie Nunnie, as they're a new favorite. We had to move at the toddler's speed. :P He did get to go on the Carosello (sort of like the Flying Chairs at the State Fair, but manpowered), and we both rode the Dragon, which was a (miniature--yes, dragon-shaped) version of the Pirate ride at the State Fair, again, manpowered. He also won a prize at the Mud Ball Toss. He was thrilled about that. :D

We skipped the turkey leg this year (sigh) in favor of chicken tenders and fries, which were more toddler-friendly and easier to clean up after. We did get our apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream, though, and it's just as good as it always is. There are more food options this year, too, which was nice. I missed the lovely wine slushie, but did get a taste of the red and white varieties available (red's better, if you wondered).

Peanut's stamina wore down after about four hours, so we called it a day after that and came home. It has taken us twenty years or so, but we finally got the Best Parking Spot Ever underneath a tree. Car was not roasting at all. Woot!

Best part of the Renn this year, for me, was seeing all the new artisans. Hubby, of course, liked the joust and swordsmith. The peanut liked "The knights!" And I think we all enjoyed getting home after all that. Another great year at the Renn! This is me in our yard, pre-trip:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

2010 "Hot Fun In The Summertime" Contest!

Hi All! I'm excited to announce the 2010 "Hot Fun In The Summertime" contest, featuring a signed copy of "Earth," including a postcard featuring the book, and a very special 100% biodegradable bookmark! When you're finished reading the book, plant the bookmark in your garden or a flowerpot, and its paper will grow into a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers!

CONTEST RULES: To enter the contest, CLICK HERE to access the entry form. Incomplete entries will be discarded, and entrants must be at least 18 years of age. Only one entry per person or household, please. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted privately. No purchase is necessary, and your information will never be distributed to any third party. Your first name and last initial will be used to announce the winner on a future blog entry at Contest ends September 1, 2010.

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!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Keep Cool!

In the humanitarian interest of keeping people from melting just breathing this week, I include today a frosty little reminder of what some of us will be seeing in another six months:

Drink LOTS of water. Stay indoors with air conditioning or a fan. Head underground to your basement if it's finished, or take a trip to the mall. Get a kiddie pool and lie in it in the backyard! And don't forget to provide lots of water and escapes from the heat for your animals, also. Children, the elderly, and pets suffer worst in this weather.

I am glad to see the weekend will be somewhat better, here in Central NY. I plan to go in full dress to the Renaissance Faire - but I would have waited if this weekend wasn't going to be cooler. Phew!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

Taking a moment today to wish all Americans a happy Fourth of July. I'd also like to thank our soldiers for the sacrifices they make to keep our country free to celebrate days like this. Be safe, everyone!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Movie Trailer Goodness!

I'm such a movie junkie, I really am. Especially fantasy. Two movie trailers were recently released for movies I am dying to see. The first is Part 1 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," and I believe the movie is being released in November. Lots of running around in this one. The dragon looks spectacular:

The second is "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader," and the film will be released over Christmas. I love Edmund, and this movie's got lots of Ed, so this one's going to be chock full of fun. Looks great - I hope it does well. That ship is beautiful:

I know where I'll be this holiday season!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday is Father's Day, and I hope all you dads out there are prepared for the onslaught of slobbery kisses, ties, and strange but adorable crafts your children have made for you. My husband will most likely go fishing after the festivities. He's entitled! Enjoy your special day, dads!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cell Phone Geekiness

I am usually the last one to get a new techno-gadget, with the exception of my beloved netbook. (Yes, I talk to him, and yes, it's a him. :P) So it was with great surprise that I found myself staying up late last night to play with my new cell phone.

I lost the old one a while back, and it's a mark of how much I dislike phones to say that it took me a couple months to get a new one. This one's only a prepaid model, as before, but it's a little bit more bells-and-whistles than the old one. A camera, for instance. Even a crummy camera with crummy resolution is an upgrade to my old paperweight of a phone.

I promptly took photos for wallpaper, and then went searching for ringtones. I found a fabulous website,, where you can find ringtones as well as create your own out of any MP3 file. You can then download it via USB cable, or send it right to your phone wirelessly by plugging in your number. It only costs a couple bucks to do, and I found it to be great fun. Not hard at all, and I am a greenhorn about this sort of thing.

So. It ain't a Blackberry, it ain't an LG, but it will allow me to make and receive emergency calls, which is all I ever wanted out of a cell phone. And with cool music clips, too. Sweet!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Book Signing: Saturday June 12, 2010

I will be hosting another book signing at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY on Saturday, June 12, 2010 from 12:00-4:00 PM. Come in and chat with me about EARTH! You can find directions here:

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Guest Blogging Today at Mysteries and Margaritas!

Today I'm guest blogging at Mysteries and Margaritas! The article features a bit about my current book, EARTH, as well as my favorite authors and what's on the horizon for me. Thank you to Kari Lee Townsend for the interview, and thanks to the ladies of M&M for hosting me!

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. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tsaheylu* To My Little Friend

"Avatar" was released to DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday, and for the first time ever, I broke down and got a Blu-Ray DVD.

You really can tell the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray (hubby and I took a look at both versions, which came in my copy), even on my ancient television. I don't have a flat-screen yet (prohibitive cost and all, and my TV ain't broke), but I do have a PS3, courtesy of the hubby, and it will play Blu-Ray. My "Oh, what the heck" purchase turned into "Oh, wow!" The picture was surprisingly crisp. Mind you, I don't intend to re-purchase all the DVDs in my movie collection just to get the Blu-Ray versions - but with the new flatscreens coming out by the time I will need one, I probably won't have to.

I was pretty shocked that they released this movie so soon, but the downside is, there are no special features on this disc. (No ads or trailers either.) I believe they are saving those extras for a Fall 2010 release. I'm told they'll be releasing it AGAIN in 3-D next year. Three releases for one movie seems rather wasteful, don't you think? I am irritated that they wasted resources on a version people are going to toss when the bigger, better version comes out (I'll be passing my watered-down one on to a friend who doesn't buy movies as often as me, but likes them). I think I will wait until the fullest version comes out to actually purchase another copy, in the hopes that they'll include all possible formats in the 3-D release. James Cameron is certainly squeezing every possible penny out of this movie, but I'm concerned about how much waste he's producing to do it.

On the upside, the movie is still fabulous. If you don't mind waiting to buy your own, just rent a copy for now. :)

*Tsaheylu (sah-HEY-loo) - the Na'vi word for the bond between the Na'vi, the indigenous people of Pandora in Avatar, and all living things on their planet.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Today's the day where we try, officially, to be better stewards of our planet. With that in mind, try doing something a little "greener" today. Choose a washable coffee cup instead of that drive-thru Styrofoam one. Install CFLs instead of those energy-gulping incandescent bulbs. Think about a programmable thermostat. Carpool to work. Plant a tree. There are so many ways to tread a little lighter on the earth. Try one. Try a few! Your planet will thank you. Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

Better late than never, eh?

After the disappointment of the first installment of Percy Jackson, I had pinned some high hopes on this return to Greek mythology. The trailer looked pretty amazing, but I didn't see much plot underneath all that action, even though they had an already-established movie to draw from (the original Ray Harryhausen creature classic of the same name has a cult following).

I wasn't disappointed about the action, that's for sure. They promised action via the trailer, and they delivered it almost all movie long. There's very little downtime in this film. Perseus and his crew spent most of the movie trekking across the countryside avoiding being stabbed or eaten in various exciting ways. Nice job there.

I find, however, that as a writer I learn best from what isn't in a movie. What's missing from this one is the human story. It's your basic summer action film with all the emotion stripped out of it. There's a nod to Perseus's angst about his dead family, but for the most part there is no pause to feel in this film. The love story between Perseus and Andromeda (for me, one of the driving forces behind the myth and the original film) is conspicuously absent. Instead, Perseus is paired with a woman called Io, who was cursed with agelessness.

Grand. What's that got to do with Andromeda?

There's a sense of scratching the surface in this movie - a brotherhood of men with their own backstories, which might have been interesting if they spent more time on it. Even the performances of the gods (Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes as Zeus and Hades, respectively) lacked the magic of the original. The interaction of the pantheon was a big draw in the first movie for me, and it was missing here. Their names are not given - with an exception or two - so they're left sitting there, a backdrop that's rolled out without delivering on what could have been a great thing.

And on the subject of great things wasted ... Sam Worthington, who did such an incredible job emoting in "Avatar" even as a CG, nine-foot blue tiger, was given so little to work with here in the emotion department. And this guy can emote and make you care even while kicking arse. Watch "Terminator: Salvation" if you still don't believe me. His performance in that movie blows John Connor out of his combat boots.

Lacking the emotional element, this movie does have some unexpected highlights. The Scorpiox and the Djinn were interesting. I did find it odd that Pegasus was a Friesian (a horse of the Netherlands), while his herd was your standard white flying horses. The fact that he had a herd bothered me, since Calibos (another human story stripped down to bare bones) was supposed to have killed them. I like Friesians though, and Sam Worthington on a Friesian is even better. Yay, me.

The Kraken was another highlight, of course. They spent a lot of time and effort on making the big battle look good, and it shows. There's also a town fanatic in Argos, who believes (erroneously) that sacrificing Andromeda and returning en force to worshipping the gods will make everything all better. It's a nice commentary on the folly of any sort of blind fervor, and I did like that about the movie. The battle with Medusa was notably terrific, too.

In short, "Clash of the Titans" was one of those "almost" movies. Almost the outstanding piece of cinema that it could have been, if only they'd rounded it out with the emotional draw it should have had. I'll still buy it, I'll still watch it on a rainy Sunday, but I still love my Harryhausen classic best. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

One Nice Thing

It's amazing how a kindness can lift you out of a funk. I had been in one for the past few days, and then out of the blue, someone gave me a compliment that both surprised me and made me feel loads better. It changed my whole outlook for the day.

Do someone a big favor today. Say something nice to them. Your spouse, a friend, the lady at the coffee shop. Just one person. Pass that good feeling on! You'll find it makes you feel good, too.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Why Ralph Vaughan Williams RULES

I think I'm in love.

I was driving home tonight, and the radio was tuned in to Classic FM, which I like because (a) the classical/jazz/opera/showtune music is beautiful and (b) it really does make kids smarter - my son's pretty bright, just ask him *wink* and (c) loooong periods of music without obnoxious commercials, and without the cost of HD radio.

This evening, they played a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, of Ralph (say "Rafe") Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 5 in D. Classic FM does like to play a lot of Vaughan Williams. I recall liking other pieces I'd heard by him, but I didn't even know the composer at first when I heard this concert.

On first blush, I thought, "Oh, this is nice."

Then I thought, "Wow, this is really good. It reminds me of the old movie scores - the really sweeping ones that I loved as a kid."

Then I heard Romanza: Lento.

BOOM. It just about brought me to tears. I drove home and sat in my driveway to listen to it and, not wanting to miss anything, rushed into my house (with a frenzied hello to my husband) and up the stairs to find out What That Song Was.

I went to Classic FM's website and, bless them, they had a playlist up. After that, it was a short Google-walk through Amazon to download the music, and voila. I now have all kinds of writing ideas spawned by this one song. This music reminded me why I like to write by soundtrack, and furthermore, why I love to write a sweeping, dramatic story most of all. Wistful Sigh. I will now have to buy everything else this man has composed.

Ralph Vaughan Williams lived 1872-1958, and is well-known for his lyrical style and the "Englishness" of his music - sweeping and timeless and spanning a broad range of emotions. I'm already planning scenes to soundtrack with his music. Productivity, here I come!

In short, one more good reason to support public radio. So I guess I should add (d) Ralph Vaughan Williams is my new crush.

Same Blog, New Look

I have decided, after toying with a Wordpress blog, to return to using Blogger as it is more user-friendly for the time I have to work with it. I have also integrated it into my website, giving it an all-new look that matches my main website. I hope you like the new look! Feel free to drop me a line with some feedback either way. Cheers!

Friday, April 02, 2010

EARTH Is Officially Released!

Today is the official release day for my debut novel, EARTH! You can buy it in paperback for $11.99, or in a tree-friendly e-book format at a slim $6.00! Click here to buy, and join the adventure!

Monday, March 29, 2010

LASR Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt Contest!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews (LASR) is running an Easter Egg hunt on participating websites, and you can win great prizes including books, gift certificates, T-shirts and Easter goodies. The prizes are categorized by Young Adult (Aurora), Mainstream (LASR), or Erotica (Whipped Cream) romance. I participate under the mainstream LASR category.

How It Works

Easy! Under each category is a list of participating authors. Find the easter egg on his or her website, and email the URL location to - that's it! You get one entry for each easter egg you find. Couldn't be much easier to get a prize than that, and you may find a favorite new author while you're hunting!

Click here for official rules, and happy (Hoppy?) hunting!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

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

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!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stopping Junk Mail and Unwanted Telemarketer Calls

I got no less than three pieces of junk mail yesterday from credit card companies I will never patronize. I had been on the opt-out for both junk mail and telemarketing phone calls. Looks like my opt-out for the junk mail finally wore off. I have subsequently found a way to stop that junk mail for good, by opting out permanently. (You have to do it by mail, ironically enough, but it's a one-time thing and you'll - hopefully - never see those stupid credit card offers again.)

Are you, like me, sick of credit card offers that uselessly waste trees and ink and a million other things that could be put to better use? In the U.S., visit the Federal Trade Commission's website on just this topic. From there, you have the option to get rid of junk mail, junk E-mail, and unwanted telemarketer calls. Try it out. Let me know if your efforts result in a blissfully junk-free mailbox (and fewer calls just as you're about to sit down to dinner). Go green!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We Have A Winner! / Bob Mayer

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to Janice of Gloversville, NY, who has won a sweet little gift basket containing a signed digital Advanced Reading Copy of EARTH! The basket (a $25 value) also includes an organic scented candle and a canister of Green and Black's organic Hot Chocolate mix. Yum! This lovely basket was donated to the 2010 CNYRW Mini-Con. Click the picture below for a larger view!

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 Janice, and Happy Reading!

Bob Mayer

The 2010 CNYRW Mini-Con was a great, information-packed event! Speaker Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, and he had a lot to say on the world of publishing and our roles in it as authors. I found his military, strategist approach to writing extremely eye-opening. He spoke a lot about finding, facing, and using our greatest fears, and channeling them into the passion we need in our writing. I especially found a resonance in his talk about expanding our comfort zones by way of repeated exposure. As a writer, I have trouble with this, and I think most of us would prefer to hide behind our computers and let our books/manuscripts do the talking.

But we can't.

Networking and getting your face, brand, and platform remembered are a big part of such a small business. I'm dead scared of getting up in front of people and talking about myself. But that's something I need to get comfortable with, now that my book's about to come out. Now is the time to start generating a response, so that by the time EARTH is released, I'll have people who want to read it. Bob said that we could have the best manuscript in the world, but it won't mean anything if no one knows about it. And he's right - so if I keep pushing myself past that fraidy-cat envelope, eventually I will be comfortable doing so.

We can't succeed if we don't try. Thank you, Bob, for a truly motivating two days!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

EARTH Paperback Available for Pre-Order!

The paperback of my first novel EARTH is now available for pre-order! You can visit The Wild Rose Press to place your order now for this riveting love story between a Montana rancher whose paranormal gift has mysteriously vanished, and a determined plant biologist who won't stop until she discovers the truth about him. EARTH will be shipped to you as soon as it becomes available.

If you'd rather enjoy the eBook, you'll have to wait until its release on April 2nd, but don't forget that there will be lots of great prizes once the book's released. Cheers!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Book Signing May 8, 2010

I'm excited to announce my first book signing for EARTH, scheduled for Saturday, May 8, 2010 from 12:00-4:00 PM at Books 4 Less in Liverpool, NY. If you're thinking of attending, you can find directions by clicking here. I'll be bringing some goodies and a raffle prize. Please join me in celebrating the release of EARTH!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Not To Spend Your Saturday (or, I Doubt A Cemetery Ever Heard The Word 'Woo-Hoo' Before)

So yesterday my mother and I were driving through the city, and we came upon the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I mentioned that I'd like to visit, since I really haven't in some time, so we took a little detour into the cemetery to find their headstone. In the snow, it was hard to remember where they were, so we got turned around on those narrow paths.

And promptly got the car stuck in a snowbank. Niiiiice. Why again did I have the bright idea to go there when we have two feet of snow on the ground and slush on the roads? Brilliant, Nic.

Anyway, I got out and started pushing. I managed to rock the car out of the snowbank onto the road again. Then a Plow Guy In Shining Armor came along to throw down some grit under the tires, to help us get enough traction to get off that road onto the right one. Then I yelled "Woo-hoo!" and promptly wondered if I would get struck down by lightning for shouting in a cemetery. *facepalm*

We did find my grandparents' headstone, and I cleared away the snow and said hello (and I swear I can hear my grandfather laughing and picture my grandmother shaking her head at us). Mayyyyyybe we'll try that again in the Spring, y'think? :P

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Trailer for "EARTH" Released!

I'm proud to announce the release of the book trailer for my first novel, EARTH, featuring original music by Walter Holstad. The music beautifully underscores the moody, poignant, and hopeful relationship between Kincade and Allyson. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Movie Review: Percy Jackson (vs. Avatar)

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief."

Cool title. OK, you got my attention.

My husband actually wanted to see this before I even knew it existed. He had read the book (in a day), and being the Greek mythology buff he is, he wanted to see the movie also. So, we left the little peanut with Grandma for an evening and had ourselves a date.

This movie is directed by Chris Columbus, the director of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which, aside from my own fascination with Greek mythology, gave me some hopes for the film. The book was entertaining enough, but I had the feel throughout that Percy didn't act so much as be acted upon, up until the end--but let's face it, the Greek gods did move humans around like chessmen back in the good old days. Percy and his pals took an awful lot of things in stride without so much as a blip of emotion, on top of that, though--and there's a lot to be said about seeing your mom get squished by a minotaur.

But enough about the book. I still wanted to see what they did on film.

I was sadly disappointed. The movie tried--unsuccessfully--to imitate Harry Potter in scope, and the special effects were noticeable for their clunkiness. It takes a bit for me to notice the mechanics of a film instead of the plot (i.e., bad screenwriting). The plot and emotion were so sadly lacking here that I couldn't help but stop at the high point of the film and think, "Oh! This is the part for which they saved the big bucks in special effects!" (BTW, guys, centaurs' fetlocks ought to MOVE when they take a step forward--check out Oreius in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and then redesign). They were cartoonish and called attention to themselves, rather than being an intrinsic part of the plot. STORY FIRST, always.

As to the plot and writing, they left out some of the funniest parts of the book, and rearranged the book's plot to the point of cheap imitation. I was sorry for all the fans of the book, of which there are many (NYT #1 Bestseller). Percy is twelve in the book. Here, he's 15 or 16. Ares isn't even mentioned, the gods look like gods should, and dang it, they even left out the Muzak in the elevator to Olympus.


While the movie does have some funny parts (Medusa's head, the casino scene), it falls far short of compensating for bad storytelling. The dialogue and acting are awkward, with the exception of Grover the satyr, who seemed the most comfortable with his character. Everyone else seemed put there, but not interested in being so. Even Sean Bean couldn't rescue this movie for me.

If you want good fantasy, go see "Avatar." Its special effects are huge, but so seamless that you forget nothing onscreen is real--and as stunning as they are, they take a backseat to the story, supporting it instead of trying to make up for the lack of it. Its plot is admittedly not original, but it's told so engagingly that you won't mind.

Or, you can wait for your dose of Greek gods when "Clash of the Titans" comes out in May. I am looking forward to that one, even though it'll be hard for me to love anyone more than I love Harry Hamlin as Perseus in the original film. The special effects are dated in that one, of course, but it's a classic.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

It's All So Taxing

Tax season is upon us again, and I find myself wallowing through the annual glut of writing expense paperwork.

I keep a file running all year long, into which goes every piece of paperwork and every receipt I have which involves a monetary exchange related to writing. I also have a spreadsheet listing all my writing expenses, broken down by domain name, conference/contest fees, office supplies, postage, writing-related mileage, book purchases, dues, office space expenses, etc. And of course (when it starts coming in!), income related to writing. What a mess it can be!

I did find help in reading "The Writer's Tax Guide: Writing and Writing It Off" by Michael Arthur Jones, CPA. The book is out of print and thus a bit hard to find, but worth it to introduce a writer to all the pros and cons of writing and taxes. I also have a "tax guy" who helps make sure all my facts and figures are in order.

The big thing to remember is, keep ALL of your receipts and invoices related to writing together in one file. It will be much easier come tax time to sort it all out. Documentation is everything!

And don't forget to come up for air, lest you drown in all those numbers. Here's hoping you stay in the black this year!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Little Rest Can Do Wonders

I had a late day at work this week, and the next day I went back to my regular early schedule. Consequently, I was ridiculously tired last night because my sleep schedule was so muddled. Last night, no lie. Went to bed at like 7:00 PM. And slept straight through.

Hello, what's this? Well-rested? I can actually think to write this morning! Yay! It's funny how easy it is to write yourself out of the corner you wrote yourself INTO when you look at it on a little more sleep.

Have a great (rest of the) week, everyone!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Setback, Regroup, Retry

Every writer has the occasional setback. I experienced one recently, and felt sorry for myself for a couple of days, but after the two days, I bucked up and got back on the horse.

The truth is, getting back on the horse is not the hard part.

The hard part is those couple of days of feeling bad. You have to face the problem, think about it, dwell on it, and look at it from each angle. That's the non-action part, where all you see is Obstacle. The action part, where you have the opportunity to do something about said Obstacle, is the easier of the two by far. Because now you are in motion, and moving toward a solution (or, paraphrasing Edison, not another failure but another way it won't work).

I have heard the phrase "Don't give up" so many times, it's probably engraved on my eardrums by now. But it's true. You can't publish if you don't write something. You can't get that dream job if you don't apply. You can't get through that door, but by gosh, you can try the window. And failing that, grab a reciprocating saw and cut yourself a hole through the wall, darn it.

Keep writing. Keep trying. Stay on that horse, and if you can't stay on it the first time, get back on!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Cats Rock

I really don't even need to preface this one with any words. Maru. Funniest cat ever.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Off To A Rolling Start

A week into the New Year already, and so far I have managed to get some (key word, SOME) productive stuff done. Add to that a sick toddler, though. Ah, winter. Snowing like crazy here in NY, and not even the good stuff you can pack. What a bummer! I keep waiting for one good snowman-worthy snow. The days are starting to get longer (or is that just me being hopeful?), and this is the year I get published - so yay!

I will also be planning some giveaways and book signings following EARTH's release on April 2nd, so look for announcements regarding those. My resolution this year is to get ALL of my current writing projects finished. Wish me luck!