In lieu of a “real” blog post (I’ve never had a summer college class before, let alone two, and I’m still recovering), here’s a bit of my teen years wrapped up in a poem. Written for one of said classes, of course. And before you dig in, I should warn you that while my literary career began with poetry (a whole book of poems with cake/bake/snake/rake rhymes when I was the ripe old age of six), this is my first real poem. Somehow my “Intro to Creative Writing” only covered fiction. So be nice!
Hot sun, hot sand, cool drinks. Ahhhh. But your summer won’t be complete until you land a new BOOK BOYFRIEND, right? Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered!
Covered with just about any genre you could name, that is. I’m going to snag a few for myself, and I can personally recommend Myndi Shafer’s Shrilugh and The Darkening, and K.B. Owen’s Dangerous and Unseemly. See what’s here that you like!
SUMMER BOOK CRUSH offers 50+ titles in many genres. This means 50+ chances to (fictitiously) fall in love. And the best part? Each of these gems is only 99¢, but for a limited time only. The SUMMER BOOK CRUSH event starts on June 26th and ends (yes, even the best things in life end at some point) on June 28th. So don’t wait up! Mingle with our BOOK BOYFRIENDS and invite all your friends to participate too. There are plenty of BOOK BOYS to share!
Find your summer’s fling between the pages of a book. And don’t stop on one – after all we have many BOOK BOYFRIENDS for you to mingle with.
* HAPPY READING * HAPPY SUMMER *
Three days to grab your favorites – what are you waiting for? And if you’ve read some of these, let us know your favorites in the comments. As always, enquiring minds want to know (and read)!
We talked about Six Word Stories in the last post, and some of you came up with some great ones – thanks! But did you ever think about a Six Word Memoir?
I came across the idea about a month ago, over at Smith Mag. They have some fabulous categories – Six Word Questions, Six Words on Love, Six Words by Tony Winners.
The idea behind it is to put something of your day into six words, and the results range from humorous to heartbreaking to gee-I’ve-been-there. Here’s a sample:
- Wish I’d take my own advice. (Also the book title of teen memoirs.)
- Everybody really does know my name.
- Summer’s not the season for quarrels.
- untethered :: I dance :: along dangerous edges (from @everythingin6)
- looking backward / gaining perspective / through wisdom… (from @lazybookworm)
- Watching you / like nobody else / exists. (from @nicholas_kane)
I love Six Words as a form for poetry and as captions for photos. And when the six word poem and the photo come together, it can be powerful. Here’s one that touched me:
I love the creativity of expressing yourself in six words. I love the word-work, I love the result. But then I got to thinking. (Watch out – thinking usually gets me into trouble!)
Can six words really be considered memoir? What will really be remembered three years from now, or ten, or thirty? Pithy sayings lose their context over time, and for me, the point of a memoir is to evoke the place and feeling and what happened so that you or someone else can re-live it.
For me, I think I’ll stick to memoirs in prose – a paragraph, a page, ten pages. But for expressing a feeling or a single happening, Six Words have a way of stretching me. So just for a lark, here’s a bit of my last week:
- Sunday is for snoozing after church.
- Summer feast: grilled chicken, corn, watermelon.
- Prune oak tree, angry robin dive-bombs.
Are you game? Can you put something of your last week into only six words? Share yours in the comments below – enquiring minds want to read!
(Apologies to those who got the half-drafted version of this in their e-mail. Someday I’ll learn to be absolutely sure I’m hitting Preview, not Publish!)
Isn’t that heartbreaking? In those six words, you have emotion, character and even plot, if you read between the lines.
I don’t remember what we were talking about in one of my spring classes, but someone referenced this, I quoted it, and our instructor delayed his planned writing activity and said “Let’s do it!”
We blanched. He gave us ten minutes. So, being dutiful students (and willing to try most any writing exercise), we bent heads and put pen to paper. Here are a few of the resulting stories:
Mine: “Blizzard. Heat, electricity vanish. Autumn baby.”
Cassandra Leonard: “I ate. I swam. I barfed.”
Kyle Keller: “After prom, cab fare for one.”
Prof. Keith Leonard (no relation to Cassandra): “He fell. I took a picture.”
Note my classmates: I didn’t think to write down names as we read them, and these were the ones I could match to the right people. So please refresh my memory and share yours in the comments!
When you ponder any one of these, you envision your own characters, but it’s easy to think about their stories. What went so wrong on prom night and what will he or she do after getting home? And what kind of person would stand by and watch while someone fell? And from where – a curb or a cliff? (Hey Keith, enquiring minds want to know!)
It’s not easy to come up with a complete story in six words, but it’s possible. Can you do it? Share one in the comments below!
Most of you know I love time travel. I enjoy romance, as long as there’s more depth to the story than just misunderstandings keeping the would-be lovers apart. And I’m far more interested in the story than the sex scenes.
So how come it took me this long to discover Lynn Kurland and her time-travel romances?
I picked up my first one a few months ago and have been enchanted ever since. Kurland splits her books between two main families: the MacLeods in Scotland and the de Piagets in England. Mostly they’re two separate casts of characters, but occasionally the two families cross paths.
The MacLeod castle and grounds have places that are time travel portals, to the point that the Laird has private maps for the family with big red Xs, and lots of no trespassing signs for anyone else. Different portals go to different times, but of course accidents occasionally happen. I think the de Piaget castle has the same issue, but it’s been a bit since I’ve read one of those. There are also a few ancestral ghosts thrown in that add plot twists and some hilarity.
So modern women find themselves unexpectedly back in the 12th or 14th century. Gorgeous, brawny men with great sword and dagger skills may find themselves facing the intricacies of modern life. But there is always something else going on – some treachery within or without the clan, for example, that threatens the lives and livelihood of the main characters. I like that this drives the stories forward, rather than the plot revolving inanely around two people who can’t admit their love.
The modern gals all carry strengths of their own, which is good because Kurland’s medieval alpha-males aren’t looking for weak women. They do hold to their code of honor, however, which creates a PG-rating with the romance based upon love, bravery, sacrifice, and head-spinning kisses rather than heavy-duty sex. And that’s the way I like it. (I will add, however, that I went back to her earlier books to “start from the beginning” and was disappointed. She got much better after the first few.)
Being a romance, you know they’ll end up together and defeat the bad guys. They may stay in the future or return to the past (which creates delightful comments and mind-boggling family relationships with recurring characters). It’s just sheer fun to read a well-written story, watch the characters grow and change and marvel at the love they’ve found while wondering if they actually get to keep it.
Kurland’s time-travel romances are light reads for me, and perfect when I’m in that particular mood. I just wish the library had more of them – I can’t afford to buy them all!
What about you? Are there “old” authors you’ve just recently discovered? Are there other time-travel romances I’ve missed? Leave a comment below – enquiring minds want to know!
I’m between school semesters, so of course the blogs that shouted “Bookmark me!” this month were almost all on focused on writing, publishing and/or marketing a book. Here are a few of the posts I bookmarked, starting with some humor:
Nick Cross shares definitions of syndromes we writers tend to succumb to. Read NOW if you’re in need of a laugh!
I’ve just discovered that The Creative Penn has podcasts! (Okay, okay, I know I’m a little slow on the uptake.) Here’s a great one on characters by Roz Morris. There’s also a link to a long list of previous podcasts – great for exercise walks!
Margie Lawson from Writers in the Storm has a great post about “What’s the Visual?” She uses that one phrase to get the show-don’t-tell point across – complete with examples from her students’ work. Even if you’re pretty good at showing already, it’s well worth the time to read.
Writers Write has a brilliant one-page visual on writing the dreaded synopsis. They use Pride & Prejudice as an example, which most of us know well enough to see how they apply the concepts.
On the literary magazine side, Lynne Barrett at The Review Review gives an in-depth look at what editors want, what a writer’s task is, and how to handle the different kinds of rejections (and acceptances!)
For those of you who write short personal essays, Midlife Collage holds free contests that actually have a cash prize! Hop on over and have a look.
Chila Woychik gives suggestions on seeking book reviews from outside your circle of usual friends. Great advice for those with books coming out.
Debra Gafford guest-posted over on WG2E about why and how to provide an author newsletter to your subscribers, including everything you ever wanted to know about choosing a mail host to help – especially if you’re techno-challenged!
When you’ve done your writer-education stint, take a break and pop over to Mental Floss for some wonderful foreign words. I love vybafnout (jump out and say boo!) and mamihlapinatapai (as long to define as it is to pronounce) . Why don’t we have a word like Cafune, since I love to do that? And the German word for grief bacon – I could live on grief bacon!
And now that you’re back from browsing some of my May favorites, which did you like best? Do you have any others to recommend? Leave a comment below and share the knowledge!
I was wowed last week by author and blogger extraordinaire Suzanne Stengl when she passed the Sunshine Award on to me. Well, to ten of us, but who’s counting?
So yes, in the midst of Midwest clouds and thunderstorms, the sun also shining!
The rules of the Sunshine Award are:
• Include the award’s logo in a post on your blog.
• Link to the person who nominated you.
• Answer the 10 questions below.
• Pass the award on to ten (or however many you want) “Sunshine inspiring” bloggers. Ooh – does that mean I inspire sunshine? Cool!
Here are the questions, along with as many answers as I’m able to come up with:
Favorite Color: I used to say “blue” automatically, but it seems to have morphed to purple. Or red. I’m wearing a lot of those these days (although I’ve got a few years to go before Red Hat Society membership), and I do a lot of red accent colors in the house. And some purple/lilac in our room. So red and purple it is!
Favorite Animal: Hmm. Does that mean type of animal? Which would be a horse, of course. My mother had me up in front of her before I could walk, and they’ve been part of my life ever since. Second place goes to a red & white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. If I get a dog, that’s what I want! But if “favorite” means a particular animal, I’d have a hard time choosing. Moonspinnner, my Anglo-Arab mare that I had for 17 years; Heidi, my affectionate kitty until I had babies who kept pulling her long Persian hair; or Maggie, my mother’s delightful black Lab. How to pick just one?
Favorite Number: Three. If I have to pick a number between one and ten to choose something, I always pick three. Wish I could say there’s a reason, but there’s not.
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Strawberry lemonade in the summer, hot chocolate in the winter. Just wish the strawberry lemonade didn’t have so many calories. Sigh.
Favorite Alcoholic Drink: Since I don’t drink alcohol, can I go with a non-alcoholic alcoholic drink? A virgin strawberry daiquiri, introduced to me decades ago by a friend at her wedding rehearsal dinner. Yum! (and thanks, Cecilia!)
Facebook or Twitter: Both, I guess. I like to Tweet writing things and connect with my WANA blogging buddies, but I forget to check my other account for family. Bad Jennifer! *slaps hand* Facebook has all that too, plus staying connected with friends and distant family. And I can get sucked into FB’s laugh-out-loud pictures way too easily – don’t know if that’s a plus or minus.
Passions: Family near and far, especially a certain super-cute grandbaby. Writing, of course, and reading. Music, gardening, genealogy. Ireland. Hmm . . . where do I stop?
Prefer Getting or Giving Gifts? Ooh, tough one. I have to admit I like getting gifts – they make me feel appreciated (I guess I’ve got some insecurities deep down). But I have such fun seeing something and realizing that so-and-so would like it, and getting it for them. I love seeing the smile on their face, realizing that someone was thinking of them too.
Favorite City: That’s another tough one. I’m a country girl living just outside Indianapolis, and most of the cities I’ve visited have been for a particular event. I loved Cork City while we were in Ireland, and wanted more than my tiny taste of Paris and Barcelona. On my Stateside wish list: exploring San Francisco and getting back to San Diego someday – with some money to spend this time!
This was fun. So a thank you and shout out to Suzanne Stengl at Tuesday Cafe for passing it to me. Seriously, she’s got some great stuff on her blog – go check it out!
Here are the sunshine-y bloggers I’m nominating. Go check them out, too!
- Myndi Shafer always makes me laugh. I wish I had her energy!
- Ditto for Jenny Hansen, over at More Cowbell. The things I learn . . . like “Cooking with Poo.”
- Melinda VanLone shares some writerly thoughts, fun experiences, and an awesome “Bend Your Eye” series.
- Lisa Hall-Wilson always gives me something to think about at Blogging with Fire.
- Kait Nolan not only created ROW80, but she also did Goddess-in-Training badges. How can you resist?
- Kassandra Lamb blogs over at Writers in the Storm, where you can find writerly stuff with attitude.
- Diana Beebe, mermaid expert extraordinaire, writes about all kinds of things, including . . . Darth Vader? Definitely adds sunshine to my days.
- Susie Landau’s Wild Ride makes me laugh and cry, all in the same post – and with loads of pictures!
- Coleen Patrick gives me lots to smile about, also with pictures.
- And last, but definitely not least, Lynn Kelley has a knack for hilarious stories, spotlighting the innate humor that shows up in her children’s books.
I’ll admit it: I’m chintzy with my book review stars. I save my 5-star recommendations for books that are perfect – the ones I stay up all night for, the ones I’d re-read immediately, the ones for which I’d grab a total stranger by the shoulders and yell, “You’ve GOT to read this book!”
Okay, I’ve never really done that last one, but I’ve felt like it. And when I do, that’s the book that gets 5 stars from me.
Most other books get 3 or 4 stars. Four if I really liked it: well-written, good characters, no plot problems, and it leaves me with a good feeling. Not necessarily a happy ending, but the right one. (I don’t bother reviewing just to give 1 or 2 stars unless a book really makes me angry.)
Three stars go to books that I liked, but weren’t quite as smooth. Sometimes books I enjoy but aren’t unputdownable, but also books that have plot or character or formatting issues that make me shake my head, but I enjoy the story enough to say “who cares?”
In my recent web browsing (now that school has slacked off), I came across Amazon Book Reviews: 10 Cardinal Rules of Using Reviewing Power from Patricia de Hemricourt at epublishabook.com.
In the article, she explains that Amazon considers a good review to be 4 or 5 stars, while 3 stars or less is a negative mark. And too many 3 star reviews can kill a book.
Wow, who knew?
She suggests that if you want to support an author but you think it only rates 3 stars, that you instead give it 4 stars and an explanation of what didn’t click with you.
Interested? She also talks about Likes and Tags and what constitutes a review in Amazon’s eyes – at least until the next time they change the algorithm. So take a minute, go click on the link up there and read the whole thing. C’mon, that means you, too. Yes, you, still sitting here reading my words.
Hurry up, I’m waiting.
Now that you’re back, what did you think? For me, I first apologize to any authors to whom I gave 3 star reviews. I really didn’t mean to give you a negative ranking – I promise. Second, in the future I’ll be much more generous with 4 star reviews, with full comments describing what I liked and what I thought fell short. I may even hand out a few more 5s. And third, when I have the chance, I’ll explain why I don’t give 3s so other readers can understand too.
One other thought: now that Amazon has bought GoodReads, none of us know how the reviews there will affect book rankings on Amazon. So to be safe, I’ll use the 3 star understanding over there, too.
What about you? Were you already savvy about the 3/4 star issue? Does it affect how you rate books? Leave a comment below and let’s get talking!
My first thought was that the vending machine gods had smiled upon me. My second thought was a definition: Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.
My honesty/integrity level has always been pretty high – as a child, I got in more trouble for telling a lie than for whatever I had done wrong in the first place, and we raised our kids the same way. Don’t pass the blame to someone else, take responsibility for your own actions, work for your pay, and pay for what you get. I can’t tell you the number of times I’d end up in the parking lot and find a greeting card or lipstick or something under my purse, and have to trudge the kids back in with me so I could pay for it. I also couldn’t tell you how many Wows or Thank Yous I got when I did.
Vending machines are a little different, but I knew it would bother me all day if I just kept the second Snickers. So I found the nearest office and asked who was in charge of the vending machines.
“Why, did it take your money?” the guy asked.
“No, it gave me an extra Snickers bar.”
He shrugged and said it must just be my lucky day.
The woman in the glass-walled private office smiled through her open door and nodded. “The company that does the vending machines is off campus and nobody here has anything to do with them. Enjoy it.” And no, she didn’t want me to leave the money with them.
I thought about getting the company address and mailing it (I know, I know, I take things to extremes), but the postage plus their costs in processing a single dollar made that seem counterproductive.
So I finally walked into the computer lab where I was heading to begin with, feeling rather smug. I ate the first Snickers, the second one is waiting for another calorie splurge, and my sense of integrity is intact. Unless we’re going to talk about cheating on diets.
Obviously, I can carry things to the point where other people shake their heads. But where is your line in the sand? When do you go back to make something right, and when do you just let it go?
May is redbud trees and flowering crabapples and weeping cherries.
May is planting petunias and lobelia and bee balm.
And tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans.
May is hummingbird feeders and songbird seed and trying to outsmart the squirrel.
May is losing myself in garden books and backyard landscape plans.
May is putting my college boys to work digging out dying shrubs and tilling new beds.
May is a whole month off between spring and summer semesters at college.
May is pleasant nights and putting the electric blanket away.
May is eating right and trying new recipes.
May is sewing curtains, painting the kitchen,
May is organizing the storage room, sorting through boxes and clearing out closets –
but only if I feel like it.
May is picnics and bike rides and playing with our granddaughter.
This year, May is mine!
What will May be for you – a pressure cooker or a delight?