Monday, July 30, 2012

Honorable Mentions

I’ll be posting this Wednesday for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group, so for today—which is my normal blog day—I just want to tip my hat to a few fellow bloggers who honored me with an award or included me in a meme. 

First, CPs and writing buds, Tara Rendall at More Than Fiction and Lisa Regan have both bestowed me with the Fabulous Blog Ribbon.  For this one, I'm supposed to name 5 of my most fabulous moments, 5 things I love and 5 things I hate and then pass this along to 5 fabulous bloggers.

5 Fabulous Moments:

  • The day my daughter, Julia, was born – September 23, 1984
  • The day I was reunited with the love of my life, now my husband, after a devastating breakup – May 11, 1985.  We’ve been together ever since
  • The day I married Eric – March 24, 1990
  • The day my son, Brandon, was born – October 18, 1994
  • The day I was offered a publishing contract – March 11, 2012

5 Things I Love:                                

My family, friends, and pets                 
Good food                                          
My car                                                

5 Things I Hate:

Judgmental people
Dishonest people
Mean people
Misinformation (media)
Chores: shopping, doing my nails & coloring my hair

5 Fabulous Bloggers (who haven’t yet received this award):

My pub sister and critique partner, Carrie Butler at So You’re a Writer, has tagged me for the Be Inspired Bloghop Meme.  I have to answer the following questions then tag five people.

  1. What is the name of your book?
The Mistaken

  1. Where did the idea for your book come from?
From a song:  Hurricane by 30 Seconds To Mars

  1. In what genre would you classify your book?
Adult thriller/suspense

  1. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?
I covered this topic in the Casting Call Character Bloghop on October 25, 2011.

  1. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.
Devastated by the death of his pregnant wife, Tyler Karras impulsively exacts revenge against the stranger responsible, but when he mistakenly targets the wrong woman, he must risk his own life and that of his brother to set things right and protect her from the enemy he’s unleashed.

  1. Is your book already published?
The Mistaken is due for release on:


  1. How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me three months to write and well over a year to polish.

  1. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?
Since The Mistaken is a psychological thriller, I think readers who dig Greg Iles or John Hart would enjoy my book.

  1. Which authors inspired you to write this book?
No author inspired me to write The Mistaken; just the song. 

  1. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.
It’s a multi-layered story about good guys tangled up with organized crime, revenge and forgiveness, loss and regret, love and hope.

Consider the five bloggers I listed above also tagged!

And lastly, the wonderful Hope Roberson at Writing With Hope has given me the 7x7 Link Award.  Though I covered this award in a post last September 5th, I think I can probably update it:

My most beautiful post:  How Do You Let Go?
My most helpful post:  2012 A to Z Challenge (What I’ve learned about writing)
My most popular post:  Casting Call Character Bloghop
My most controversial post:  Jealousy Among Writers
My most surprisingly successful post:  When a Character Does the Unforgivable
My most underrated post:  Finding My Book’s Theme:  Forgiveness
My most pride-worthy post:  How I Was Saved

A lot of bloggers have already done this one and don’t wish to repeat it, so I’m not going to tag anyone specific, but I invite everyone and anyone who hasn’t participated yet to compile their own list.  Consider yourself tagged!

See you again on Wednesday for the IWSG!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Writing Book Reviews

Back on June 4th, I wrote a very brief post about Goodreads, the book-lover’s social networking website.  In May, I was granted an author’s page, as well as a page for my book, The Mistaken.  Since then, I’ve had quite a few folks add it to their TBR list.  A few others, who received the ARC, gave my book a ranking and review.  Yay, so far, I’m 5 for 5 stars with all great reviews!  Whew! 

My point here is that Goodreads is an invaluable resource for both readers and writers.  I generally only read books that have been referred to me, and Goodreads helps me with that.  So now, I’ve started to write extensive reviews on books that I’ve read recently.   I wrote a pretty good one for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s first novel, CassaStar

And I just wrote another for Lisa Regan’s debut novel, Finding Claire Fletcher, to be released on December 6, 2012.

I think reviews should be more than just synopses.  They should offer the reviewers gut feelings on the book.  So if you’re interested, here’s my review of one of the best books I’ve ever read, one to which I gave 5 out of 5 stars.  Yes, the review’s a bit lengthy, but it deserves it.  And wouldn’t you want a thorough review for your own novel?  Either way, I hope you add Finding Claire Feltcher to your To-Be-Read list on Goodreads.   

“Finding Claire Fletcher is truly a story of our times, and magnificently told, even in its brutality. It follows ten years in the life of a girl kidnapped off the streets on her way to school at the age of fifteen. We’ve all seen or read those news stories of kids who vanish without a trace. We wonder what happened to them, if they still live, and if so, how? We know the type of monsters who prey on these children, and we can only imagine what they do once they’ve captured their victims. This is that story. It isn’t pretty, and it makes no excuses for that.

Claire Fletcher, though young and naive, fights against her captor, trying her best to outrun the villain who subjects her to daily atrocities. He uses her fear against her to keep Claire hostage as he chips away at the girl she used to be, slowly and effectively destroying any hope of reuniting with her family and a mother who never gives up hope that Claire is still alive.

Even as she ages and becomes physically stronger, Claire cannot escape the torture and degradation. Her captor holds Claire in an emotional cage every bit as much as a physical one. To control her, he not only uses the threat of violence against those she loves most, he uses violence itself, hurting Claire’s family or killing those she asks for help. Knowing she cannot expose her loved ones or even strangers to the kind of cruel fate her kidnapper threatens, she resignedly settles into life as Lynn, the name her captor has given her.

Still a hostage, but allowed to leave her captor’s compound, Claire meets Police Detective Connor Parks at a bar. When she disappears following a chaste night together, leaving behind only an old family address, Connor discovers the beautiful woman he’s come to know as Claire Fletcher has been missing for ten years and is presumed dead. But he knows she’s not, and he’s determined to find her, even as his commander orders him off the case and Claire’s captor targets Connor as punishment for defying him.

Told from alternating points of view, we see the story emerge from both Claire’s perspective, as well as Connor’s. Author Lisa Regan delves into the mind of a sexual deviant, exposing and exploring what drives a man to such desperate acts. But while she alludes to the horrific misery Claire’s captor subjects her to, Regan never stoops to showing the acts themselves, only examining the effect such debased treatment has on his victim.

Those who wonder why women like Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard never attempted to leave their real-life captors will find the reasons eloquently explored in this well-written, hauntingly brutal, yet sweetly realized story, a story of love and determination to overcome the most heinous of fates.

Though it is superbly written and moves with intense, page-turning speed, Finding Claire Fletcher is not always an easy read in that it probes into the most corrupt behavior imaginable. It’s difficult to feel what the young Claire experiences as she is made to suffer at the hands of a pedophile. But as tough as those parts are to read, the story is balanced by the hope and memories Claire holds as a way of surviving her ordeal. And as much as it is Claire’s story, it is also Detective Park’s story, as well, analyzing the failure of his marriage and his precarious position within the police department following a questionable shooting and his involvement with Claire’s seemingly unsolvable cold case.

But in the end, Finding Claire Fletcher is a love story about a child and her mother, and the man, Connor Parks, who cannot forget or abandon her, and risks not only his career, but his own life to save Claire. This story will frighten you, make you angry, cry, and cringe, but it will also energize your faith in the human spirit and its ability to heal and move forward. Regan deserves every one of these five stars for her original and haunting debut novel.” 

Do you use Goodreads and write reviews for books you’ve read?  If you’re a writer, what style of review do you hope your readers will write for your book?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hookers & Hangers Blogfest - Part 2: Cliffhangers

Today we continue with the Hookers and Hangers Bloghop, hosted by the ladies over at Falling For Fiction.  Here are the details:

We all know how important the first and last lines are in every chapter. This blogfest will hopefully get your HOOKERS and HANGERS polished making it impossible for readers to put down your book and leaving them begging for more!

On July 16th, post the first sentence from each chapter.

On July 18th, post the last sentence from each chapter.

Post as many as you like!

We will be judging everyone’s first three HOOKERS and first three HANGERS. We’ll each pick two winners (MOST ENTICING HOOKER and MOST IMPOSSIBLE HANGER) making a total of ten winners! Winners will receive a 10 page (double spaced) critique and a Friday Spotlight on FFF!

Keeping it brief, here are seven cliffhangers from my novel, The Mistaken:

  • A shrill scream escaped from the very deepest part of me, a wail of utter desperation, of annihilating failure. I was no longer a man simply broken.  I was destroyed. 
  • My breath was expelled violently from my body in a loud whoosh, and I felt myself snap from within.  Then everything went quiet, and all I could see was black. 
  • With his chin tilted upward, he closed his eyes and whispered, “What have I done?”
  • Despondent, and destroyed all over again, I walked out of the hospital the same way I came in, into the custody of the FBI, who—without even allowing me to bury my brother—swept me away to a new life.
  • It seemed like an eternity had swallowed me up whole, but at some point, I was finally pulled from her side, and I thought that eternity was not nearly long enough.
  • Then I saw Jillian on the narrow table, her blood soaked through the sheet pulled over her battered body, and the tube still stuck in her throat, and, in my alcohol-fueled rage, I steeled my resolve, walked up to the front door, and rang the bell.
  • I touched the hand he placed against my cheek and held it as he backed away, his arm outstretched, until he finally stepped beyond my reach.
If you’re at all intrigued by my cliffhangers, please add The Mistaken to your TBR list on Goodreads.  And look for it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble beginning October 18th

and check out her right side bar to see what she's currently reading.
How cool is THAT?!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hookers & Hangers Blogfest

I need a serious distraction today as I wait for my dog, Jack, to get out of surgery, and it just so happens the amazing ladies over at Falling For Fiction are hosting the Hookers and Hangers Bloghop.  Here are the details:

We all know how important the first and last lines are in every chapter. This blogfest will hopefully get your HOOKERS and HANGERS polished making it impossible for readers to put down your book and leaving them begging for more!

On July 16th, post the first sentence from each chapter.

On July 18th, post the last sentence from each chapter.

Post as many as you like!

We will be judging everyone’s first three HOOKERS and first three HANGERS. We’ll each pick two winners (MOST ENTICING HOOKER and MOST IMPOSSIBLE HANGER) making a total of ten winners! Winners will receive a 10 page (double spaced) critique and a Friday Spotlight on FFF!

I only have one book, THE MISTAKEN, to be released 10/18/2012, but I thought it’d be fun to share a few first lines.  I have 50 chapters, but I’ll keep this short.  Here are eight chapter hooks:

  • I don’t know how I missed it, that moment I changed, when I somehow became a different man. 
  • God, I didn’t want to do this; just thinking about it had my gut tied in knots, but I was out of options.
  • Five times I watched the dense summer fog march in and retreat outside the hospital window, five long days of prayers and pacing before Nick was moved out of the ICU.
  • I paced the floor around me, unable—perhaps unwilling—to process the reality of what I had just done—what I almost did—the severity of the mistake I had made, and the dire consequences that now faced me, my brother, and the wounded woman cowering in fear and humiliation in the corner.
  • In one moment of madness, my life had turned upside down.
  • Nick and I were tossed about the van as it threaded erratically through city traffic.
  • About eight hours later, the pain had eased enough that I could move around, though my head still felt as if it were split down the middle.
  • The crowd quieted down as they watched me cradle the body of my dead brother in my arms.
I hope this interests you enough to add The Mistaken to your TBR list on Goodreads.  

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    When It Rains, It Pours

    I have the best followers.  You’ve all been so kind and supportive following the death of my beloved dog, Maleah.  Her death followed three weeks of declining health where I was constantly on alert, worrying, and tending to her physical needs.  When she passed, I took a deep breath and relaxed—finally.  I didn’t have to worry any more.  It was over.

    Only it wasn’t.  Not by a long shot.  One week after she died, her mate, my big male Malamute, Jack, developed a serious condition, which has since become life-threatening.  A tumor appeared, literally overnight, at the top of his left front leg.  It’s like his body is sprouting another leg or something.  It took a whole day to get in to see his vet.  I agreed when they suggested it be surgically removed, but they couldn’t schedule him in until six days later. 

    The next day, I called them back and asked them to bump up his surgery because the tumor was growing, exponentially.  So they moved it up to Tuesday, then Monday.  I’ve been a basket case of nerves since last week.  His tumor is now a bursting bloody mess.  I have to wipe it down, disinfect, and spray Bactine on it every 30 minutes or so.  Bandaging it rips the skin from the surface, so right now, it’s an exposed blob.  He’s wearing a cone so he can’t lick it, but he’s in pain, and I just can’t take it anymore, all the crying, the worrying, wondering if he’s gonna make it. 

    I simply don’t have it in me to write much more than this pathetic post.  I’m at my wits end.  I hope to get back to writing and commenting soon, but that’s not gonna happen this week.  His recovery will require my attention.  But at least, I hope he’ll be on the road to recovery.  I’ll try to update this post with a progress report or two following his operation.

    For now though, I just want to say how much I appreciated your kind words, virtual hugs, and prayers last week.  I hate to say I need them one more time, but I do.  I really, really do.  I just can't live without this big, silly creature, and I can't stand for him to live one more day in pain.  Thank you.


    After a tortuous wait with lots of whining (Jack, not me,) Jack finally had his surgery.  The surgical assistant came and took him away, and all the while, Jack screamed like he was being drawn and quartered.  I think this is a result of a bad experience he had after breaking his other leg (which later abscessed) a year or so before we adopted him.  He has a significant fear of hospitals.  But he sailed through his procedure with no adverse affects from the anesthesia.  

    He had a sizable chunk of the tissue on his upper front left leg taken off, just in case the tumor was cancerous, which in all likelihood it was.  Now it's a wait-and-see scenario.  He's still whining non-stop as I try to manage his pain, but he's a helluva lot better than he was a few days ago.  Thank you all for your additional prayers and kind thoughts.  It's helped make this horrible experience that much more bearable.  God bless!   

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    How Do You Let Go?

    I hope you’ll indulge me this one time for not writing about writing.  It’s been a rather tough week for me.  That’s one of the reasons I’m posting a bit late.  You see, I’m a dog lover, and up until last Tuesday, I had two:  Jack, an Alaskan Malamute, and Maleah, a Siberian Husky.  Over thirteen years ago—a year after the death of my first dog, a Husky/Malamute mix named Gunnar—I adopted Maleah.  She came to me through BASH, Bay Area Siberian Husky, a rescue league specializing in the notoriously difficult breed. 

    From day one, Maleah proved just how arduous the breed can be.  She cost me thousands of dollars in damage to my home.  But even worse, she was a runner, an escape artist of profound ability.  We even called her The Great Malini and hypothesized she had hidden opposable thumbs because she could escape from any kind of enclosure or binding.  Most of the time, she was with me, right by my side.  I was a stay-at-home mom with a home-based business, so I was around a lot, but when no one was home, my husband and I had to make sure she couldn’t get loose.  Not an easy task, let me tell ya. 

    Maleah was one of those special souls who touched everyone she came in contact with.  She helped one of my son’s friends and her father get over their significant fear of dogs.  That’s how sweet she was.  Though the breed is notably cat-predatory, she had her own kitty, Kiley, another rescue.  When Kiley died of old age back in 2005, Maleah was a little mopy, so, after a lot of research, we got her Jack, and the two became fast friends, completely inseparable.  And up until a few weeks ago, they played hard together everyday, with Maleah as the proven alpha and Jack her ever obedient love-slave. 

    But all that changed, and very quickly.  Maleah’s health, which had been changing due to her age, suddenly deteriorated.  Though she was always a picky eater, she stopped eating her food and had to be hand fed.  I cooked for her everyday, whatever I thought she might eat:  ground beef, carrots, hot dogs, cheese, steak—whatever.  But after awhile, even that proved difficult, and she stopped eating altogether.  It’s hard for a mom to watch her “kid” not eat and simply waste away.  I knew if I took her in to see the vet yet again, he would just tell me her time was near.  And I knew that.  I realized I would have to say goodbye very soon. 

    Then Maleah stopped sleeping.  She constantly paced around the house, never lying down, never resting.  By last Monday, she could barely walk.  And on Tuesday, her rear legs became partially paralyzed.  This was it.  I knew the time had come.  As much as I loved and needed her, I couldn’t allow her to suffer one more day of pain.  That realization undid me. 

    My son and I spent the entire day on the floor next to Maleah as she rested on her bed.  This was not easy for my son, especially physically.  He woke up that morning with his usual backache, but it was markedly worse, and he could barely tolerate sitting, standing, or even lying down.  But he did.  He never left her side that day.  Mid-afternoon, the vet came to our home and told us what we had been dreading, that she would never get better.  He advised us to put her down. 

    So I laid down with my face right up next to Maleah’s, so she could look me in the eye, so I would be the last thing she ever saw, so she would know I was there and that I loved her.  The doc gave her a ketamine-valium sedative before stopping her heart.  I held her close and cried and apologized then watched the light fade from her beautiful soulful eyes.  It was one of the most difficult moments of my entire life.

    Later that evening, when my son came to say goodnight, I started to cry yet again.  Though I am a very spiritual person, I asked him if he really thought Maleah was in a better place.  I wondered if she had a soul that God would allow to carry on in some place where she could play and run. 
    My son, who is not especially spiritual, told me a remarkable story. 

    He said that he had prayed the night before for God to take Maleah’s pain and give it all to him.  And as I said, he woke up in considerable pain that morning and could barely sit, stand, or lie down, which was not at all typical.  He said he thought God had indeed intervened and given him Maleah’s pain to bear on that last day.  He thought if there was a God, and He did something like that, then surely Maleah had a soul, and at that moment, she was off chasing squirrels in heaven.  His words helped me more than I can say, because suddenly, my son had a faith he’d never had before.

    It’s been six days, and while I still have my big silly Jack, I miss Maleah terribly.  She was my constant companion.  If I moved to another room, so would she.  We were inseparable.  So it’s difficult for me.  Yes, she was “only” a dog, but she was part of my family and I ache for her.

    Rest in peace, my beautiful girl!

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Would Someone Give Me a Tranquilizer, Please?

    I’ve been a part of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s IWSG since its inception. Sometimes I’ve written upbeat posts while others have shown my need for support. But even at my neediest, I was never as insecure as I am right now. The reason? My ARCs have been released, the advanced reader copies my publisher provides for critics and reviewers.

    Now, all things considered—my advanced age most especially—I’m usually a pretty confident person, though with writing a little less so. I do love my story and feel pretty good about it, but ARCs released for consumption by those who might very well crucify me? Yikes! I am nearly paralyzed with apprehension.

    ARCs aren’t like what we writers experience with critique partners or beta readers. Those relationships are typically well-cultivated and bear a certain amount of built-in respect and admiration. Yeah, sure, I’ve given my ARCs to a couple of friends who are published authors. I respect both their work and their following. Why wouldn’t I tap that? Frankly I’d be crazy not to. But I think I might even fear their reaction more than those strangers who are reading, because I treasure their respect as much, if not more than, their experience and influence. What if they hate it? Or maybe just don’t understand it? Or—gasp—are bored to tears? Holy crap!

    And then there are those strangers who may (or may not) be poring over my darlings. I can’t even be sure they will review my work. I mean, who am I? A nobody. A debut author. An unknown. Why would they agree to review my book? So while they have a copy of my ARC, it might just end up unopened in their circular file.

    Still, there will be those strangers who do indeed read it. They don’t know me. They don’t know of my struggle, of my personal experiences that led and contributed to this book. It’s just a fantasy for them. One they can criticize and condemn for being poorly written or imagined, for being underdeveloped, flat or worse—purple! I’ve worked hard on my craft over the last two years, but I’m still relatively inexperienced, and this is my first ever book.

    So who am I kidding? Why did I ever think I could do this? Why am I putting myself out there to be criticized and beaten down and snickered at? Why?

    Because in the end, I love my story. I believe in my characters. I’ve slaved and cried and rejoiced at every momentous mile marker, every roadblock, every failure and accomplishment. This is the next phase. Yeah, I’m scared to death, but I know and understand that this is a subjective business and not everyone will like my book. True, it might sting, and I might cry, but I also accept that as part of the journey. I am one step closer to publication, however insecure I might be.