Thursday Writing Quotes ~ G. K. Chesterton

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed. ~ G. K. Chesterton

All 34 of Chesteron's books are available for kindle for the bargain price of $1.99. Just click the image to go to Amazon.

Nuggets for January

I'm a little heavy on links that to help you promote your book this month, but there's still a bit of something for everyone.

Want help making your book findable on Amazon?

Writing your back cover copy? Here are some good tips.

Great reminder tips about what needs to be in your opening.

How cop shows get it wrong. (Not just educational, but amusing, too)

How to approach a book blogger

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Charles Caleb Colton

Our admiration of fine writing will always be in proportion to its real difficulty and its apparent ease. ~ Charles Caleb Colton

The Soundtrack - Trace Adkins

At the opening of Knight of Hearts, Mac walks into a hotel bar in Texas and sees Rachel sitting on a bar stool. It seemed like the perfect place for the song There's a Girl in Texas by Trace Adkins.

Now I love baritones. Josh Turner, Rodney Atkins, Jason Aldean, Trace . . . I have to admit, of all the baritones I listen to, Josh Turner has the prettiest voice, but a voice isn't everything. Song choice and delivery count, indeed sometimes trump voice, and Trace's sense of humor often shows up in his song choice. He loves songs with double entendres. One of his bigger "fun" songs is Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.

So now I admit my bias. I love Trace. I have all his albums, so I know he has tons of good songs, but to be be honest, I wish I could pick his single releases. If that were my job, half the songs on his Comin' on Strong album would have been singles. But even as good as that album is, my all time favorite song is on X (TEN). The song Can't Outrun You (album cut, so no video) transcends genre, especially with the minimal musical accompaniment that perfectly compliments Trace's singing. This gives you a real preview of the power in this man's voice. It's breathtaking. I always stop what I'm doing when this song plays, close my eyes, and take it in.

What were they thinking not releasing this as a single?


Now that I've got your attention . . .

For the next five days, January 18th through the 22nd, Snow White & the Eighth Dwarf will be free on Amazon.

Amazon willing, of course, since I have heard of them on rare occasion missing promo dates. But I don't expect any complications, so pop on over and pick up your free copy of my snarky retelling of the Snow White fairy tale as told by the eighth dwarf, Bitchy.

To entice you, here's Bitchy's take on the queen's magic mirror.

Now nothing good ever comes from listening to magical mirrors. Mostly, because their inhabitants are, by nature, obsequious bootlickers, but the trouble really starts when one goes rogue. This happens sometimes when a mirror is possessed by someone of high social status. The competition with human sycophants drives them a little batty. As a result, they turn on the very person they’ve been sucking up to. Their union considers this PTSD—Post Traumatic Suck-up Disorder—but they play the occupational hazard close to the vest because they believe—and rightly so—that this potential neurosis would hurt their image. Personally, I think mirror inhabitants are spoiled children who can’t stand not being the center of attention.
So hop on over to Amazon and pick up your copy.

I hope you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear from you if you do.

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Mark Twain

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it. ~ Mark Twain

I want to mention that Twain's autobiography Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (Mark Twain Papers) is now out. This is notable because he specified that it should not be published until he'd been dead 100 years. Kinda makes one curious about who he turned that rapier wit on, doesn't it?

The Hero's Journey

The hero's journey is one way to look at story structure. It's not a difficult concept to grasp, but implementing it isn't all that simple, so it's worth reviewing the high points on a regular basis.

Thusday Writing Quotes ~ Saul Bellow

I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, “To hell with you,” ~ Saul Bellow

Best Books I Read in 2013

This was a busy year for me. I sold my house in Washington, moved to Idaho, then moved again when I found the place I want to be for good. I also finally sent Sol & Georgia's story A Dark & Stormy Knight, to my editor, wrote a short story that's been nagging at me called Snow White & the Eighth Dwarf, and started another contemporary romance which I'm simply calling Cleo's story while I search for a title. Maybe that's why my Best Read list for the year is so short.

Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

I'm not generally a fan of stories told in missive format, but this works. Lincoln has been hired to monitor and ensure that employees are using their computers for business purposes only. Sadly, he doesn't have the necessary gestapo mentality for the job. Instead, he gets hooked on the email exchanges between Beth and Jennifer in which they talk about their lives.

It would be easy to see Lincoln as a potential stalker, but because your privy to his private thoughts, his attachment to Beth comes across as sweet, and long before they actually meet, I was rooting for them to get together. This is just such a charming story. You'll probably be seeing more books from this author on next year's update.

Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes
by Sandra Chastain, Deborah Smith, Donna Ball, Virginai Ellis, Debra Dixon, Nancy Knight

I'm not usually a fan of short stories, but I loved this. All the stories share a southern theme, and many are reminiscent of a simpler time. Some are sweet, some are funny, all are enjoyable. These are the kind of stories that become family legend. I actually got this from the library and then bought it, I liked it so much. So get it, kick back in your rocking chair, and visit the south.

The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister, Book 2) by Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan never disappoints. She's one of only two auto-buy historical romance authors for me, and her Brothers Sinister series is every bit as good as the Turner series and every bit as re-readable. I love how Milan has a recurring theme about women recognizing their own value in a society that doesn't, and yet she always manages to keep her theme fresh in each book.

Wool (Silo Saga) by Hugh Howey

Dystopian fiction is hot right now. The cool thing about it is that everyone's vision is different. In Wool, humanity has retreated into silos because the world outside has become poisoned. They've been there long enough that memories of the world before have disappeared. This allows the powers-that-be the opening to propagandize the people, but the truth has a way of coming out. Not easily, but when you have a stubborn, resourceful heroine, the lies must be uncovered.

I've already blogged about this book here because there's a lot writers can learn about creating tension from Hugh Howey.

This book was originally published as a serialization, but I recommend the omnibus so you can get the full effect.

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts Series)
by Stacia Kane

This series isn't for everyone. It's dark. In this urban fantasy, the world is dominated by the Church of Real Truth, whose power comes from its ability to protect the world from angry, rampaging ghosts. The heroine Chess leads a double life. On one hand, she's a ghost-hunting Church employee, but on the other, she's a junkie who lives in Downside, the bad part of town. She's a truly tormented character. The one saving grace in her life is Terrible. Yes, that's his name. He's the enforcer for one of the gangs in Downside. Not an attractive man on the surface, but oh, once you look deeper, he's everything Chess needs. There are a number of books in this series and a few novellas. Even though the series is on-going and the books build on one another, none of them (so far) are cliff hangers, so I feel safe recommending the series.

Don't Let Me Go
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This is the endearing story that centers around nine year old Grace who has a problem. Her mother isn't taking care of her because she's drugged out. The other five tenants in her building barely know each other, but when they start to care for Grace, they go from strangers to something like a family.

This probably wouldn't have made my Best Books List if it weren't for the character Billy Shine. Billy is an ex Broadway dancer who is afflicted with Agoraphobia. He hasn't left his apartment in twelve years, but when Grace needs him, he slowly manages to step out of his safe little world. All of the characters in this story, in one way or another, step beyond their comfort zones, but Billy captured my heart as he demonstrates that heroism is also found in actions that don't always look heroic to outsiders.

Wife 22: A Novel
by Melanie Gideon

Alice's 20 years marriage has a case of the doldrums. On a lark, she signs up to participate in an anonymous online study about marriage. The problems really start when an attraction develops between Alice and the researcher assigned to her.

About halfway through, I suspected that Alice's researcher might not be quite what he seemed, but then the author convinced me I was wrong. I love when an author can make me unsure of myself. And since it's hard to write a romance where the main character is already married and keep it interesting, extra kudos to the author.

BTW, best last line of a book ever: "Shush, you nutty ho ho," he says, as he pulls me into his arms.

Best Audio Books:

I find audio books difficult to recommend. I have too hard a time separating the performance from the book itself. But I've done the drive from Seattle to Boise too often. It's become long (roughly 8 hours in real time; double that in perceived time) and boring for me.Too boring to go without an audio book. Since I was moving, getting one from the library wasn't going to work, and I didn't want to spend the money on something I would only listen to once. The solution turned out to be Harlan Coben Unabridged CD Collection: Promise Me, The Woods, Hold Tight. I already know I'll reread Harlan Coben's books, so I thought this would be a good solution. Any time I take a lengthy road trip, these CDs will be in the car. An added bonus: Harlan actually reads one of the books himself.

Best Nonfiction:

WHO RULES AMERICA The People Versus the Political Class
by Eric O'Keefe

I debated about including this because the country is so polarized politically, and my political opinions don't have anything to do with my writing life, but this book isn't about left and right. It's about how career politicians stack the deck.

If you're like me, you don't really have an opinion about campaign-finance reform. At least not an intelligent one. Mostly  we have no opinion because we don't understand it. When the McCain-Feingold bill was being passed, my gut said something needed to change, but whether that bill was what was needed? No clue.

I wish I had understood then what this book explains so simply and succinctly. So succinctly that this book is only 105 pages. If you think even that's too much for a subject as boring as campaign finance, I'll tell you that the author doesn't get into the boring stuff. Instead, he talks about what it means in the real world.

...And sadly, I know most of you will pass on this, but remember how you thought economics was boring? But somehow Freakonomics became a best-seller. And it was because it talks about interesting, real world ways economics impacts us. So take a chance on this one.

Biggest Disappointment:
Your Wicked Heart (The Rules for the Reckless)
by Meredith Duran

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I didn't even finish Your Wicked Heart. That I'm saying this about a Meredith Duran story is nearly unbelievable. She's one of my few auto-buy authors. But I choked on how hard she had to manipulate this story to create the set-up. The hero is unbelievably obtuse and makes an assumption that one single minute of reflection should have told him was only one of the possible explanations (and not even the most likely explanation) for the heroine showing up where she did. That said, I hold Duran in high enough esteem that I will be reading the series this novella introduces.

So that's my year in books.

Well, books read anyway. My newest installment of the McKnight Romance series will be out in early 2014. If you'd like to know when it gets released, you can get notified by subscribing to the Stay Up-To-Date feature on my Amazon author page.

If you like fairy tale retellings, especially ones told by a snarky character, my 2013 release, Snow White & the Eighth Dwarf is now available.

What are the best books you read last year?

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules

1. Write

2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7. Laugh at your own jokes.

8. The main rule of writing is that, if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.