Friday, August 30, 2013

Perky Happy Stuff!

Summer is almost over!

Boo hoo hoo!

I figured we all needed a perky happy stuff post today.

1. If you are looking for only Perky Happy News, check out my Twitter account called @PerkyHappyStuff. It's fun! Tell your friends. (I must admit my life has gotten considerably better since changing my homepage from CNN news to Google.)

2. Sunflowers are happy.

3. Puppies are happy.

4. Cupcakes are happy.

5. Hot air balloons are happy.

6. Hugh Jackman is happy. And perky. And....yeah!

7. This Pinterest board is happy... Daffodil Days.

8. Drinking all these cocktails would make me happy.

9. This cartoon is funny.

10. This painting of Dancing Cats by Sara Pulver is happy. (And available for purchase at her Etsy store!)

Hope you are all feeling happy, and perky, and stuff!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Gamache We Trust: Review of HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Louise Penny

Second day of posting the same image! I just love this cover.

So, I read it.

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Louise Penny, Inspector Gamache Series #9.

After waiting patiently for many months, following a heart-wrenching cliffhanger at the end of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, I finally got to dive back into this captivating world.

And let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

And let me tell you WHY it was worth the wait.


Trust in Gamache--steady, gracious, loyal, brilliant inspector.

Trust in Louise Penny--amazingly-talented author who elevates the common mystery into something incredible.

Trust in the story arc. That it won't get lost, go too far, string out the reader and leave us hanging. Again.

Trust in Three Pines. A magical town in Canada, with secrets and fears and love and steaming cups of hot chocolate. And friendship. And courage.

Once again, Penny has woven two storylines together...the mystery and the overlying story arc which has haunted Gamache for a very long time. The story arc that has built so much tension and worry for the readers, we wondered how Penny would ever resolve this conflict without devastation. Without death. Without tragedy.

Well, I think that Louise Penny has a romantic soul. Because she has managed to wrap up a seemingly impossible problem in the most wonderful, hopeful, optimistic...and romantic way possible. And I'm not talking about romance between a man and woman. I'm talking about romance in the larger sense of the word. Someone who believes in goodness and light and happy endings.

To be honest, I almost felt the mystery portion of this book to be a bit of a distraction. The overlying story arc was so powerful and intense, it overshadowed everything else. But the mystery also mirrored the same issues of lies, deceit, greed, and power that play into the larger picture.

I finished this book with tears on my face, and utter satisfaction. And two other things that always happen when I finish one of her books.

One, an appreciation for simple moments and the simple things in life. The beauty of fresh snow, the lusciousness of home-made stew, a feather mattress on a bed, sharing a glass of scotch with a friend. There is something so very appealing and lovely about Three Pines, it inspires me no end.

And finally, as a writer, I always finish one of Louise Penny's books and sigh with pleasure. And a newly found vigor to hone my craft, tell a story, become the best writer I can be.

I really don't care if you love romance, YA, literary fiction, biographies, poetry, horror. If you have never read a mystery in your life, I implore you to embrace Penny's Gamache series. STILL LIFE is #1.

Penny has created an incredibly seductive world, filled with beautiful prose, quiet moments, stunning revelations, and a reminder of the strength of the human spirit.

Grade: A

Blissfully, blissfully happy,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Was Your Day, Honey?

My day was good.

I got a 5-star review. I helped an author with her manuscript. I made a best-seller list. I thought of a cool new story idea. I got a fan letter. I won a contest.

I wrote.

How was your day, honey?

Some guy came into the ER and was bleeding out.

I saved his life.


My husband's job keeps all of my professional worries in perspective every day.

My heart attack--that almost killed me in 2010--keeps all of my daily worries in perspective.


It seems to me that too many people in our industry have an extremely inflated sense of self.

At the end of the day, our business is still entertainment.

Is it valuable, is it special? Yes.

Is it worth losing our humanity for? No.

Do we threaten authors with violence, rape and torture? Do we bully bloggers and reviewers? Do we threaten their families? Do we think that Goodreads is the center of the universe? Believe it or not, many people, including people who read books, have never heard of Goodreads.

They have no idea what it is.

This bubble that we have created in the publishing industry is fascinating. It gives us a false sense of importance. It gives us a false sense of power. We write books, we read books, we review books. It is just one tiny part of all the things people do on this earth. We are no better or worse than others, and we have no right to threaten others all in the NAME OF A BOOK, or an OPINION OF A BOOK.

I would recommend that everyone needs to get an enormous sense of humor, but I think we are way past that.

For every act I see that makes me proud to be part of this industry--authors reaching out to each other, reviewers supporting each other, acts of kindness and thoughtfulness--I see other things that make me ashamed to be a part of this bubble.

Outrage over every incident doesn't help.

Somehow we need to regain our humanity, our civility, our perspective. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But when we think that our opinion entitles us to threaten others, we have completely lost perspective in this world.

It's just a book.

How was your day, honey?

My day was good.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Twin Sister!

Naomi Watts

I got my hair cut yesterday! I know. It's a bloody bloomin' miracle. About eight inches chopped off the bottom. Don't worry. It's still big and imbued with all its magical powers. Just shorter and not prone to dreadlocks. Because nothing says LOSER quite like a suburban soccer mom with dreads.

Penny, I think it's time for a haircut! WHERE ARE YOUR EYES?

As I stared at myself in the mirror, I had an epiphany!


It's uncanny!

It's true. If I were just a wee bit taller, thinner, richer, more elegant, an actress, married to Liev Schreiber, more glamorous, had nicer clothes, a successful Hollywood career, no wrinkles, a perfect body, 20/20 vision, and perfect straight white teeth, I would totally look like her.

It's uncanny.

Okay, off to do the laundry! (Also if I had laundry service, etc.)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Let's Play Where The Hell Is The Editor

"ANDREO PASCALI, cursing the day the admirable Knox had left his employ, taking retirement to make her home with her recently widowed sister in Kent, impatiently lifted the final sheet of paper, scanned it in a nanosecond and even more impatiently tossed it aside."

First sentence.

First paragraph.

And it pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book.

There's nothing quite like starting the book with a poorly-written run-on sentence.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Picture Day!

The Saint Louis Cathedral, New Orleans

Today I'm going to post a big hodge-podge of photos, book covers, and garden shots. Here we go!

1. First up, my son had an amazing experience in New Orleans for his community service camp. They helped with ecological restoration projects, as well as school restoration projects. He had a blast. Here are some highlights from his trip...

Oak Alley Plantation

View of bayou from airboat tour

My son LOVED the food!

New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden

Welcome to the bayou!

2. Penny Plots!

Thanks to Samantha Wayland's tutorial, I am now a plotter!

BEFORE (note new marker selection)


I'll see your markers, and raise you GLITTER STICKERS! 

I spiffed up my plotting chart with Nat's sticker collection.

I must admit, this new organized me is enjoying "the chart." And the old me is enjoying the goofy stickers. And my WIP is coming along nicely. Recent comments from beta readers include...

"Christ on a crutch. I love this. LOVE IT."

"Laughing my *#%^$ ass off."

"Motherf*cking is one word."

"These are wonderfully drawn characters."

"You have god-dammit, god-damn, god damn it, goddamn, god-damned. If you're going to make us all look bad by pounding out a really remarkably fantastic book like this, the least you could do is get your $*%#* swears right."

At this point if all of the profanities were removed from the WIP, it would probably be about 50% shorter. 


3. Flower Power

Nat picking flowers at the organic farm. Fun!

Pink morning glories are back!

My hydrangea "tree" is doing great. It's a hydrangea grafted onto a tree trunk.

4. Coming Soon!

Coming Fall 2013...FAIR PLAY by Samantha Wayland! I'm super excited for critique partner Sam to jump into the self-publishing world for the first time. This is her sexy ice hockey series. I will post blurb, excerpt, purchase link, and give-away info soon. Yipppeeeeee!

Victoria Morgan's second novel will be out in December. THE HEART OF A DUKE is available for pre-order at Amazon. Here are some great quotes...

"A warm and touching love story. This couple will steal your heart!" -- Caroline Linden

"A touch of mystery and tender passion combine for a classic Regency read." --  Maggie Robinson

Another winner by Vicki. Woo hoo! (By the way, guess who came up with that totally fantastic title? Yep. PENELOPE! *takes a bow*)

That's it for my hodge-podge. Hope you all have fun weekend plans--make the most of summer's end!

Love yinz,

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Wanna Be A Real Boy!

Real boy? Real books? Such a conundrum!

Last night an author on Facebook commented that she preferred "real" books, not ebooks. She likes to "touch" them and "smell" them. And then a whole slew of authors chimed in that they, also, preferred "real" books.

And I thought....hmm.

1. That whole smelly book thing is creepy.

2. I think she means "print books" but used the unfortunate term "real" implying that digital and audio books are somehow not "real."

3. I would imagine the millions of readers who spend millions of dollars a year on digital books might disagree about that term.

4. I would also imagine the millions of authors who publish their digitally-formatted books might disagree with that term.

5. A friend on Twitter said "If books on Kindle and Nook aren't real does that mean we can buy them with Monopoly money?" (I sure hope so, because I have four Monopoly games in my basement!)

6. Another Twitter friend said "A book is real if you can read it." Word.

7. There is nothing wrong with still loving print. (Although an environmentalist might disagree about that). But implying that ebooks are somehow subpar and unreal is idiotic. I personally prefer digital for these reasons: I can adjust the font size on my Kindle which makes reading MUCH more comfortable for me. Too many print books have teeny-tiny text which is utterly ridiculous. I also read hundreds of books a year. My house would be filled from floor to ceiling with books if I purchased all of those in print. And finally, there is nothing like the instant gratification of sitting on the beach in Florida with my Kindle, deciding I want to read such-and-such a book by Julie Garwood, clicking "BUY NOW" and voila! it's on my Kindle and ready-to-go. It's a freaking miracle. Love it!

Has anyone else noticed that snobby behavior has escalated this summer? Trad pubs/bloggers/reviewers dinging self-pubs. Literary types dinging romance. Print authors dinging digital authors. RWA blatantly discriminating against small press and self-published authors.

It sort of makes me want to become a farmer. I guess farmers can be snobs, too. "My tomatoes are better than your tomatoes, goddammit!"


And now, onto the review portion of this segment!

I read three books this weekend.

1. Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare

I had a lot of problems getting through this book. It just wasn't engaging, the characters were too flat at the beginning (although they perked up a bit by the end), and worst of all the phonetic Scottish dialogue! OH MY GOD! I love a good Scottish romance as much as the next guy (in fact I am obsessed with Julie Garwood's Scottish stories), but it's difficult to slog through dialogue like this...

"Doona ye think I ken that?"
"Tis no proper, and ye ken it."
"Doona say I dinna warn ye."
"Ye donna ken more than that."


I understand that some authors are trying to add a Scottish flavor to their books by using this sort of phonetic speech, but Christ on a cracker, kick it down a notch!

Anyway, the ending saved this one, but not enough.

Grade: C+

2. Dom of the Dead by Virginia Nelson

I know. If I read a book about a ghostly dom, then I get what I get, and I can't get upset.

Summary of this book:

Oh God! I miss him. He's dead!

Spank me, Ghostly Dom!

I am so sad. I loved him and never told him!

Spank me! Spank me! Oh oh oh!

I love you!

I'm going to get you a collar.

I'm devastated!

Please, Master.

You're dead.

No you're not.

Yes, you are.

No you're not.

Yes, you're not.

I am so confused!

I'm so confused! (Moonstruck)

Anyhoo, I am now calling this book the Bullshit Ghostly Dom.

Grade: I'm so confused!

3. FINALLY! A big, huge, fat winner! Stranded with Her Ex by Jill Sorenson was fantastic. It has man-eating sharks, marine biologists, a hot Filipino dude cooking lumpia, a rekindled romance, a deranged lunatic on an island, lots of suspense, and very hot chemistry between the H/h. I adored this book and could not put it down. My only beef was that the ending was just a tad too rushed, but otherwise this book was the perfect summer read. HIGHLY recommend!

Grade: A-

Later this week I'll post some pics my son took in New Orleans. Happy August!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy (Third) Birthday To Me!

Today is the third year anniversary of my heart attack. Hard to believe it's been three years!

I am happy to be alive. I feel grateful for all of the wonderful and positive things in my life.

Thanks to all of you for your support, encouragement, and good wishes!

Here are some heart-healthy links, from my blogs and other sites...

Penelope's I Wanna Stay Alive Diet And Exercise Plan
Is Your Heart Trying To Tell You Something?
Penelope's Heart Healthy Diet
Tips For Heart Health
Heart Healthy Living Online

Have a great weekend!