Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recent reads

Johanna Garth brings Greek Mythology into a modern setting in a creative and intriguing way. Her characters are well developed and interesting. The plot kept me turning those pages!

Persey has an unfortunate gift--people are compelled to tell her all of their darkest secrets. They have to confess to her. Disturbed and troubled by this she withdraws into herself. Persey grows tired of feeling used, all she wants is to be loved and listened to herself for once. But she can't prevent the way she attracts people and how they need her-- telling her things she doesn't want to know.

Aaron is a good man who desires most to protect Persey from the moment he meets her in high school.
Daniel has a gift of his own-- to know what people really mean no matter what they say-- and he can't seem to stay away from her even though she remains unreadable to him.
Haden, a mysterious immortal, feels he must have her for his own. He recognizes her gift and it just so happens that he needs the information Persey has access to--about people's darkest desires and hidden secrets--to manipulate the souls that he collects.

Losing Beauty explores several different faces of love and the destiny of souls after death. It is an exciting story that mixes romance, suspense, magic and myth. 
 Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly In Amber is the sequel to the epic historical fiction, The Outlander, and is every bit as riveting.

"It's now 1968, and Claire Beauchamp Randall has returned to Inverness, Scotland, with her daughter, Brianna. This is Claire's first visit back since she and husband Frank visited 22 years before--when she walked through a Druid stone circle into the middle of the 18th century. Now, Frank is dead, and Claire hopes to learn what happened to the second great love of her life--gallant Jamie Fraser, laird of Lallybroch whom she married during her journey into the past. She's also looking for a way to tell Brianna who her real father is. Framed by these dilemmas, the bulk of the story consists of the second installment of Claire and Jamie's adventures. Escaping the English death sentence passed against Jamie, they flee to pre-revolutionary Paris, where they secretly work at foiling Bonnie Prince Charlie's efforts to regain the Scottish throne. But this espionage is only the beginning!" -Kirkus Associates

I enjoyed losing myself in Claire and Jamie's world again. A fantastic sequel.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What we leave behind

Years ago while traveling in Wales, I visited Tintern Abbey. It is one of the most picturesque ruins I've ever explored.
Worn stone walls and columns remain standing, with empty gothic windows that stare blindly into the past.
The bright green of the grassy floors under the blue vaulted sky ceiling had a surreal and magical effect.

Wordsworth was moved to poetry while overlooking this same place and I could understand why. The place inspired him to think of his life and loved ones.

There is something beautiful, triumphant and sad about seeing nature reclaim our mark on the earth.
Life really is fleeting.One of the reasons I majored in Archaeology for a time was my fascination with how people live--in the past and present. And what we leave behind says so much about who we are and what was most important to us.

Ruins are always a reminder to me that we shouldn't waste our time here--that we need to make our time count.I want to leave more than "stuff" behind. I want to leave stories and love. To leave my mark on people.
So in that spirit I intend to spend quality time with friends and family this weekend. Have a wonderful weekend everyone--make it count. (=

What do you hope to leave behind?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Phantoms from my past

When I was 12 years old, somebody gave me the music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman performing in the lead roles. A flame was ignited. Soon, I had the the poster, t-shirt, earrings,  perfume, music box, libretto and the mask. I even owned the Lon Chaney silent film version of the story. Yeah. Obsessed.

I went  to go see it live in San Francisco which was only 45 minutes from where I grew up. I was amazed the  stage production. I remember getting chills throughout at the sights and sounds. The obsession lasted a year or so and eventually tapered after I had seen every known movie or show about the Phantom...and then I discovered real boys. (=

Later as a college student in London I saw the show there and it was like bumping into a sexy ex-boyfriend--leading me to get hooked on the music again for awhile. A brief relapse.

Years skimmed by and then not too long ago the movie came out. I think there is a plot against me, because just as I had forgotten all about it--they stick Gerard Butler in the role as Phantom. Curse them. So, yeah, I own the movie and watch it now and then. It doesn't take over my brain like it did when I was 12 years old, but I like the music and well...Gerard Butler!

I'm not even a big musical theater fan, really. But some things just resonate.(= Look. At. Him. Sighhhhh...

What reoccurring obsession do you have?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hammicus Podcast and Blog Award

 Brian Higgins over at  Hammicus Podcast  
invited Clark to join him in a discussion on the vintage sci-fi film Moon Zero Two and other movie chat. Take a listen!

I got this award from TD McFrost. Go check out his blog--he's got a lot of personality.

I'm passing this award on to five bloggers.

1. That Girl From Around the Bay
2. J.L. Campbell
3. Kelly Polark
4. The Wordsmith Apprentice
5. An Alleged Author

Pop on over to these blogs and get to know these awesome bloggers!

Have a fantastic weekend!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Books I've recently enjoyed

This urban fantasy by Roland Yeomans is set in the dark chaos of post Katrina New Orleans. The hero is the centuries old Sam McCord, who considers himself a monster although he is one of the few brave enough to push back the encroaching darkness that lurks in the devastated streets and the corruption in high places. His vigilante justice is deadly and violent, but his heart is golden. He struggles between the evils of the underworld and the light of a Great Mystery he's unsure even exists. While futilely fighting  for his own redemption he also battles to  protect a town that seems incapable of saving itself.
If you like action, mystery, rich prose and layers of meaning--this book will pull you in.

Bum's Rush by EA Mc Kenzie. Skip, a homeless, runaway, saves Jack Troy's life after Jack is shot. Jack gives the boy refuge, which puts Jack and his much younger brother, Ancel, in mortal danger from enemies Skip is unaware of. The truth is both tragic and wonderful for Skip, but the question remains, who shot Jack?
This book has great characters, action and lots of heart.

The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is an epic historical fiction. Claire Randall is a nurse in the British Army during World War II. She and her husband, Frank, who were separated during the war, have recently reunited and are enjoying a second honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland. While there, Claire stumbles into a time portal in the center of a stone circle (much like Stonehenge). She is transported into a savage time when the Highland clans battle Redcoats. Intense drama and adventure ensues as she is mistaken as an English spy and kidnapped by the Clan McKenzie. Because of her medical experience she is immediately thrown together with the injured warrior Jamie Fraser who later becomes her sworn protector.
Wow. Time travel, Highland battles, men in kilts, romance... this is an epic historical fiction.

What have you all been reading?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Sells?

We write because we love it. But if we want to get an agent and become published-- we have to be able to sell ourselves. A query is part of that. And Elana blogged about social networking today. Building a platform and getting our names out there is part of that.

Even then there is that mystery spark that nobody can predict that will create buzz. YouTube has made some unlikely celebrities. Why do some things catch on and others don't?

Why do some unremarkable books make a huge splash while other well crafted books get overlooked?

I'll admit that I'm usually immune to advertising. But here is a campaign that worked on me. It made me buy Old Spice. I mean, look at him. (= Cute AND funny? Deadly combo.

What has caught on for you lately?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Iron Man Mask Giveaway Reminder

My husband's film project CLEVERER is still on Kickstarter. Watch the video at the link or click the widget on the top right of my blog. He's giving away some great prizes to those who help out with a donation. Even a few bucks will get my sweetie closer to his dream of making his own film-- after years of making other people's movies. Please donate and pass it on!

Any of my Followers who would be willing to blog about Clark's Kickstarter project will have their name put into a drawing to win a face plate of the Iron Man mask made by Clark for the Iron Man 2 movie.

After blogging it--if you also Tweet, Facebook or get it out there any other way your name will go in again for each way you passed on the word. If you're really ambitious you can blog it up to three times through May and June -more chances to win!

 Keep me informed via comments or write me at jo at writerscubed dot com.
The drawing will not take place until the Kickstarter deadline has passed. Please help us spread the word!
Get involved in the movie biz and make my man's dream come true!

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Awards and seven random facts about Jo

I got this delicious looking award from David Powers King.  
Thanks, man!

So with this award I'm supposed to :

1. Link it back to my giver.

2. Tell you seven things about me.

3. Award it to fifteen other blogs and let them know.

HOMEWORK??  (= Ok here I go with seven things about me...

1. I have green eyes.
2. I'm working on my black belt in Taekwondo.
3. I'm a health food freak.
4. I've had a crush on my man since I was 12 years old. (That didn't stop me from dating and having boyfriends through high school and college. Couldn't just wait around for him to notice me. Incidentally, I proposed to him first--of course he said..."Heck yeah!")
5. I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra--and I love him.
6. Rain and hot chocolate make me happy.
7. I really like Indian food.

How exciting was that? Now for the 15 bloggers to pass this award on to:

1. Spin Me Write Round
2. Writing by Candlelight
3. Life of Lois
4. Ashley Nixon
5. Dancing Down Serendipity Street
6. Author Elizabeth Mueller
7. A Writer's Reality
8. My First Book
9. The Writing Nut
10. Bossy Betty
11. Losing Sanity
12. Life In Retrospect
13. Living In London
14. Catherine Denton
15.The Warrior Muse

Please check out these blogs! (=

 And for this award--Thank you to Elizabeth Mueller.
 The A-Z Challenge was fun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where to Start? Be an Axe Murderer.

So I'm working on a few stories right now, but I've edited and reworked MORE THAN KARMA the most. I have a fantastic editor who has really helped me get a firmer grasp on my story and characters. However,  for the longest time I was hesitant to alter the first chapter too much. I liked laying out the scene and unfolding the story with the characters in a certain way. It felt a little more "Once Upon A Timey" in my early versions--which sort of appeals to me.

But a couple of days ago I decided to write a new first chapter. Just to try it. I promised myself that it didn't have to be permanent and I could always still use my original first chapter. So I had fun with it.
Now that I have written it-- it feels good. To start from a more advanced point from a fresh perspective. And it made me realize a few things about a couple of the characters that I didn't know before! (=
                                       *Cue shaft of light and heavenly choir*

Sometimes it's painful to give up our favorite and familiar bits and take risks for the reader. But don't be a hoarder.We write for our own enjoyment and to satisfy our muse but we can't afford to be entirely selfish because in the end writing is meant to be read--it is for the reader too. Sometimes that means you just gotta CHOP something out.

Here are some simple tips that most of us already know--but might be overlooking in our reluctance to "kill our babies".

1) Description: Starting with a dream or describing the weather is a bad idea. Don't ramble on with descriptions on the setting, story background, charcters or premise in detail.  Introduce the characters, preferably in action, at or just before a big moment. Hit the ground running--or at least walking fast. Description can be sprinkled throughout as you go--and will stick out to your reader more that way--otherwise they skim and miss important details in a sea of superfluous ones.

2) POV: Right away establish a tight and clear POV with a firm easy voice. Don't be shy--a confident voice that has "personality" and doesn't wander in POV and tense is important.

3) Action: Get it on. There's no room for a chapter where nothing happens. Think like a movie.

4) Avoid Chiches and Cheesy Hooks: Gimmicky writing is a turn off. Be original and allow the reader to be drawn in naturally by something that is compelling but honest--true to the story.

5) Backstory: Don't bury the reader in the backstory on characters or place before you get into the plot. Readers don't care about your character until you make them care. You make them care by their actions, not their story. Avoid the horrific INFO DUMP.

6) Dialogue: Right from the start, make sure your dialogue is tight, strong and relevant. The characters  should sound like people with different personalities.
These tips can keep all of your chapters dynamic and crisp.

Really examine that first chapter--it's like a promise to the reader that it will be worth their time to keep reading. If it isn't --KILL IT.

Writing should be an act of compassion--to be mutually satisfying.Think of it as being a good and respectful host-- you invite someone to come over and spend some time with you-- so clean house and be thoughtful. Don't ramble or dominate the conversation-- let your reader participate and have room to breathe and think. Serve them up something yummy and plate it in an appealing Food Network way. And most of all-- if something threatens to harass, smother, bore, or overwhelm your guest give it the AXE.
Do you have any favorite passages that might need to go?
Happy chopping!