Book Review: Praise of Motherhood

I haven't done many book reviews and I don't read a lot of nonfiction so I'm stepping out of my comfort zone in a couple of ways with this post. Just so you don't get the wrong idea when I start picking at some of the things I didn't like about Praise of Motherhood by Phil Jourdan, I want to say up front that I enjoyed this book. I think my biggest complaint wasn't with content, or writing, or any of those things, but with the presentation of the book. Specifically, the title and back cover blurb.

The title, Praise of Motherhood, led me to think it was about one of two things.

1) It was about the challenges of being a mother, perhaps written from the perspective of a dad/husband given the author's name, in which case, I, as a non-parent, could see little reason to read it.


2) It was about how awesome mothers are, in which case, I already know how unbelievably awesome my Mom is and I don't need a book to tell me.

If a friend hadn’t handed me this book, I would never have picked it up from the title. In my personal opinion, the title pre-limits the audience in an unfortunate way.

On to the back cover blurb:

When Phil Jourdan's mother died suddenly in 2009, she left behind a legacy of kindness and charity — but she also left unanswered some troubling questions. Was she, as she once claimed, a spy? Had she suffered more profoundly as a woman and parent than she'd let on?

Jourdan's recollections of his struggles with psychosis, and his reconstructions of conversations with his enigmatic mother, form the core of this memoir. Psychoanalysis, poetry and confession all merge to tell the story of an ordinary woman whose death turned her into a symbol for extraordinary motherhood.

The 'troubling questions' intimated in the blurb, a large part of what intrigued me about the book as someone who usually reads fiction, never played a significant part in the narrative nor were they, in my opinion, ever truly given an answer. I didn't see this as a flaw in the book, but rather a flaw in the focus of the blurb.

Additionally, while Praise of Motherhood did explore the author's relationship with his mother, it didn't strike me as a story about the author's mother. She was a constant throughout the narrative, an anchor in his life and a woman who really didn't seem know what to do about or for her troubled son, but who stood by him regardless. I think she was a heroic figure, but I never experienced a deep connection to or understanding of her life the way I did the author's. It was, for me, more about the author's journey prior to his mother’s death and his struggle to come to terms with losing her.

When I first started reading Praise of Motherhood, I stumbled over the writing style/voice of the author, but developed a deep appreciation for it by the end of the first chapter. Phil Jourdan's writing takes on an almost poetic quality, the ideas flowing smoothly so that you soon find yourself swept helplessly along like a leaf caught in a river's current. It's deceptively easy to coast from one chapter to the next. In places, I would even call the writing beautiful.

The author himself comes across as a sometimes dark, sometimes gentle, often lost and troubled soul. The story he tells leads you through many turbulent years of his youth and occasionally slips into creative fiction passages that speculate upon his mother's life and her views.

Would I recommend Praise of Motherhood?

That's a complicated question.

There are things about Jourdan's story that I found captivating because of my long-time interest in psychology. Would someone who didn't share that interest be intrigued by those aspects of the book? I can't say.

There are places I truly sympathized as someone who has lost a parent. Would someone who hadn't experienced such a loss relate as well? I don't know.

There are glimpses of a brilliant imagination that I enjoyed as a reader and writer of fiction. Would everyone enjoy that aspect? They might.

Praise of Motherhood is a fascinating and candid exploration of the author's life and struggle to cope with the passing of the one person who was always there for him. It's a fast read and anyone intrigued by any aspect of the story would not be ill-served by picking it up. Phil Jourdan truly brings his journey to life for his reader and it's a riveting journey.

Visit the Goodreads page for Praise of Motherhood to read more reviews and for links to purchase or visit Phil Jourdan's blog.

Happy reading!

Picking Your Slush Pile

No, this is not my one new thing for June post. I got sidetracked. That will be coming soon. In the meantime... I find it fascinating how many people have flocked to self-publishing. There are some big names out there promoting the do-it-yourself brand of publishing and new authors are clamoring to be part of the revolution. “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” they chortle in their joy. (All credit to Lewis Carroll for that.)

What I find peculiar is that these authors have happily traded one slush pile for another even larger one. I’m not saying don’t self-publish. I’m only saying it may not be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that some people have made it out to be.

Let’s talk slush.

The Self-publishing Slush Pile:

If you're simply a hobby writer, go ahead and self-publish, but don’t expect serious writers to appreciate you cluttering up the pipes with work you don’t take seriously. If you do want to make a living writing, then be ready to work your ass off to get there from that ginormous slush pile you just tossed your work into. You are going it completely alone unless you can afford to pay people to help you (and there are tons of people willing to take your money).

I’m not saying you can’t be successful in self-publishing. A few people have, but if you don’t have success on your side before you jump in the way people like Seth Godin did, then you’re fighting some hefty odds. The chances of making a living wage for someone starting their authorial career in self-publishing aren’t really much better than they are going the ‘traditional’ route. You’ve simply traded many big slush piles for one giant one that can be just as harsh.

For the curious, here is an Interesting Article About Recent Self-Publishing Statistics taken from Not a Gold Rush - The Taleist Self-Publishing Survey.

The Indie Publishing Slush Pile:

I often think this may be the future of publishing. Right now, it's a little scary though. So many small presses have come out of the woodwork and it's hard to know who's going to have staying power and who's going to fade back into the scenery. That said, I think it is a good way to go if you’re willing to research the publishers.

A small selection of the many resources available:

You don’t get to skip the slush piles this way. Like any publisher, indie houses need to put out quality work to gain a following so they will still reject you if you work isn't good enough. However, they are in a much better position to take a chance on work that pushes boundaries or doesn’t fit in a specific genre than the big houses are. You will have more control of your work than you would with a big house and less than you would self-publishing. You have to wait for publication, but not as long as you would with a big publisher. You still have to work your ass off too, but you now have others invested in seeing your work succeed who are willing to shoulder at least a little of the burden to get you there.

The Big Publishing Slush Pile:

Big publishing can be frustrating. Even if you make it through the agent slush piles, your book still has to make it through the big publisher piles. You can’t skimp on editing and polishing your work before you send it in. That isn’t to say that mistakes and imperfect writing don’t get through, but agents and big houses will take any excuse to reject you so they can get through their backlog. This isn’t to be cruel. It’s merely a survival trait.

If you do get a big publisher, you lose control of your work in many ways and you will have to wait a long time for publishing. What you gain is the industry experience of the publisher and agent and the power of their networks. When it comes down to it, with the right people backing your work, you have a chance to build a bigger audience faster, even with the publishing delay, than you may ever build if you self-publish. Don't get complacent though. You still have to work your ass off if you want to be successful. That just comes with the profession.

For more information on traditional publishing, I wrote Some Tips on Publishing some time ago with tips for the submission process. It's far from exhaustive, but the resources are all still useful.

Wrapping up.

You might have the feeling that I don’t like self-publishing and in some ways, you aren't wrong. I think it’s too easy. It lures people into publishing before they’re ready and it opens the door for a lot of bad writing that handicaps those authors who actually do write great books. I truly admire people who manage to rise out of that slush pile. That doesn’t mean I’m eager to jump in with them. Right now, I’ll stick with the pile I’m in and see where it takes me.

Do you agree with my brilliant assessment? Think I’m way off? That's what comments are for. Feel free to pipe in with your thoughts on the subject or share your experiences in the many slush piles of the publishing world.

Happy writing!

Writing Conferences: Why go?

The PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) annual conference is almost here again. The first year I attended the conference I mostly fumbled about in an overwhelmed stupor (probably with my mouth hanging open most of the time). There were so many agents, editors and other publishing guru’s present, and I could barely fathom how many writers had come out of the woodwork in my region. That many crazy people all gathered in one place can be a shock to the system. (We are all crazy, right? It isn’t just me? I mean, they even have mugs making fun of us. We have arrived.)

What really amazed me were all the opportunities to learn, to network, and to put my writing in front of other people, whether for a peer critique of my pitch or for the attempted wooing of an agent/publisher. By the time it was over, I understood that I wasn’t ready and neither was the book I was pitching, but it opened my eyes to many things I had been missing. There's a whole world of author networking opportunities out there, both in person and via social media. Unexpectedly, while I was attending that first conference, some of the discussions also opened the door for a new book idea to sneak up and bludgeon me over the head (but that’s a different blog post).

By year two, I was ready (or at least much more so than before). I had a new book (see above) ready to pitch to agents. I was prepared to start talking, not just to the people I was pitching to, but to other attendees and anyone else who would let me chat them up. This led to some fantastic conversations with people in the book world and at least one great new friend.

I also knew going in how much information I could glean from attending the right sessions. As authors, we should always be looking to learn more about our industry and, more importantly, about improving our craft (you can never be too good at what you do). Many presenters are wellsprings of information. Be willing to ask questions (preferably questions that benefit everyone in the session). Gather the information. Compile it. Find the gems that will serve you best.

This year will be different for me. My agent will be there, so I’ll get to meet her in person, which is very cool. I’m looking forward to this new experience without the stress of pitching where I can really focus on networking and soaking up knowledge.

Conferences can be expensive, but they are an investment in your writing career regardless of what route you plan to take to publishing. Meeting agents and editors in person can also get you past the dreaded slush pile if that's your chosen path. If you can swing it, take advantage of the opportunities and give yourself a little boost. In my honest opinion, it's worth it.

Have you attended any conferences? Why or why not? What are some of the things that made it worthwhile (or not) for you?

Spiders, the Versatile Blogger Award and Stupid Birds

Before I get into the Versatile Blogger Award, I want to clarify another rule for spiders overlooked in Talking with Spiders: The House Rules. This one applies to all of you, regardless of type. If you drop in on me while I am driving, you get what's coming to you. This is not as funny as you seem to think it is. Now to a different set of rules, because these awards always come with rules.

1. Thank the person who nominated me.

Thanks, Mike!

2. Include a link to his/her blog.

You can learn about Mike and read all his wonderful blog posts at Realms of Perilous Wonder.

3. Nominate fifteen blogs I enjoy and follow.

Fifteen! Really? *sigh* I suspect many of you will have already received this nomination, but here goes...

  1. Simon Poore
  2. The Baffled King Composing
  3. Cora Ramos Blog
  4. Sonia G Medeiros
  5. Wordbitches
  6. Tami Clayton
  7. Margaret Miller's Blog
  8. Gabriel Rumbaut's Blog
  9. Sharkbait Writes
  10. Neither Here nor There
  11. Dr. Shay Fabbro
  12. Elizabeth Fais
  13. Two Gallants
  14. Liv Rancourt
  15. Patricia Caviglia

And 4. Tell you seven things about myself.

I know, how exciting is that? I can sense your electric anticipation now.

1. Started writing my first book in the 6th grade after reading Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce. It rambled and bounced all over the place. You couldn't dig out a cohesive plot if you read until your eyes bled, but it was delightfully creative. I still have it in one of my five briefcases full of hand written books and book ideas that sit in the corner of the loft.

2. I hate zucchini. My mom tried to make me eat it when I was little. I threw up on the table. I think that was the last time she tried to make me eat something I didn't like.

3. Last Halloween we had our second Steampunk themed Halloween party. The decorations are still up. This is not procrastination. This is a cunning plan to make it much easier to set up for the third one.

4. I've fought with a sword in heavy armor. Being hit in the head with a sword while wearing a metal helmet is not painful, but does seem to slow one down for a few seconds. The battle ended when I stepped back on the hem of my dress and fell flat on my back. I couldn't get up because the helmet was too heavy (and I was laughing too hard). Lessons learned:

    1. Just because the man on the other end of that sword claims to love you, it doesn't mean he won't try to beat the crap out of you.
    2. Don't wear a dress to a duel.

5. One place in life that I feel at peace is hanging on a rope in a cave above some long drop. Swallowed by darkness and listening to the drip of water or the occasional shift of rock as someone below or above waits. There is a sense of complete detachment from the rest of the world that is both humbling and revitalizing. I have found lesser degrees of this same peace sitting in my kayak on the ocean, riding my horse when we are working in harmony, and practicing iaido.

6. I am a music whore. I know, that doesn't sound very nice, but it's true. I love music. I can't get enough and I love discovering new music regardless of genre or language. I even have soundtracks in my dreams. It's like a thrilling big-screen movie every night in my head, only typically weirder.

7. I stole my mom’s socks. When I was unpacking from my visit, I found a pair of white socks in my suitcase. Since I forgot to pack socks, it was immediately apparent that these were not mine. Sorry, Mom. Unlike the good tweezers I stole when I first moved out of the house, I do actually intend to give the socks back when next I see you.

Lastly, a quick note to the bird that just ran into the picture window. That was the second stupidest thing you could do around here. The stupidest would be landing in the cat garden. I hope the impact didn't make you dumber because I hate finding bird parts in my house. Sleep it off and try a different trajectory next time.

Have any fun facts about yourself to share? I would love to hear them in the comments.

Happy living!

What's Missing in e-Books or Pizza without Black Olives

I’ve long begrudged the rising popularity of eBooks and e-Readers and have struggled with the exact reason why they evoke such a visceral reaction in me. For some time I’ve tried to explain it away with simply a love of print books or the desire to see my work in print, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this article, The Objects of Our Obsession: On the E vs. P Debate, that it suddenly hit me. An epiphany if you will. First and foremost, I greatly appreciate the many benefits of e-readers, such as their convenience for travel and that they make it easier for people like my grandma to continue reading books even though she needs larger font and can no longer hold a thick book comfortably due to arthritis. Bravo for those things and for the lack of dead trees required in the process of getting the books to consumers. (I have mixed feelings about the new age of publishing in which anyone can publish their novel as an e-book, but that's a different rant.)

Something that I’ve always understood about my dislike for e-readers is the missing sensory experience. It’s like eating pizza without black olives. You may not agree, but I think eating pizza without black olives is like eating greasy cardboard. Add black olives and it gains a burst of bright new flavor, turning it into a more engaging dining experience. Yum! Reading a paper book is similarly more engaging than reading an e-book. You get the tactile experience of feeling the paper between your fingers, the rustle of the pages turning, and the smell of ink and paper brought together in blissful harmony (or something like that). You get a full sensory experience beyond just the text you’re reading and I love that, but the lack of all that isn’t what really gets to me.

I think there is an amazing social experience that is becoming lost with the advent of e-readers. One of my favorite things about going to a friend’s house for the first time is seeing what books they have on their shelves. You can learn a lot about people from their books (and the creepy assassin armor they wear). A person's book collection is a great way to start up myriad conversations, comparing notes on books you’ve both read or discussing books you haven’t read that might interest you. It really is an immersive social experience and no, I don’t think sites like Goodreads can take the place of that. Seriously folks, we need to have a little in person interaction occasionally (also a different rant), which leads me to my next complaint.

I’ll admit that it’s cool being able download hundreds of books on your e-reader and have them waiting in queue for you (not that I ever expect to catch up with the print pile I have already). Shopping that way also saves you from the burden of leaving your self-inflicted isolation and actually interacting with real people in a real store (yes, that was sarcastic). However, in a world bursting with technology, reading a print book strikes me as a delicious way to escape the constant hum of electronics and the ever-present screens that fill our lives. It is a totally disconnected experience. I love that.

I know I’m dragging my feet on something that is inevitable and I too will probably have an e-reader someday, but not yet. Right now, I’d rather be Luddite as far as reading goes. I write my books on a screen. I prefer to read them on paper, thank you very much.

Happy reading!

Have you embraced the e-reading age? Why or why not?

Are Authors Killing Each Other with Kindness? - To Do List: 1) Buy a sword. 2) Name it Kindness. 3) Kill people with Kindness. It’s hard to succeed as an author. It always has been, but in today’s environment, we can find communities of authors under every virtual rock supporting and encouraging one another. It’s a beautiful thing. We don’t have to struggle through the grind of writing, editing, and publishing alone. We can share our struggles, doubts, and successes with each other on our blogs, Twitter, Facebook groups, and so many other places. I could wax poetic for hours about how awesome my fellow authors are and it would be true.


Yes, you knew there was a shoe about to be dropped.

I’ve seen many cases where this mutual support has gone too far. I see people casually handing out five-star ratings and reviews for fellow authors in the name of supporting them and, in some cases, expecting the same in return. A lot of the time, this is done without reading the books being rated. Though innocent enough from the point of view of the struggling author, there can be dire and potentially career ending repercussions to consider.

Let’s take this from the top.

What Do Those Five Stars Really Mean?

When we hand out a five-star rating or review, we are essentially telling the world that this book or story is virtually flawless. The writing shines. The plot and subplots are solid and free of holes or contradictions. The characters come alive. The book is well-edited, not riddled with spelling or grammatical errors. The list goes on.

How many books have you actually read that truly reach that lofty status?

I’m willing to guess not many. I can’t think of a single book that is perfect and I’ve only ever five starred books I thought were so exceptional in most ways that the few flaws didn’t matter. These books are so captivating I could forego food and sleep to keep reading.

If I give a five-star rating or review to someone because I want to support them even though I haven’t read the book or have read the book and it isn’t really as good as all that, I am lying.


Who are we lying to when we give a dishonest review?

The reader. We are lying to the very people we want to draw in and convince to buy our books. The people whose trust we most need to gain.

Supporting Our Customers.

As authors, we need our readers. They are the ones who will ultimately determine our success. When we give a five-star rating or review as a favor to another author, we are lying to their readers. When we accept the same from another author, we are letting them lie to our readers (unless, of course, the book actually is perfect).

This is also true if we pay someone to give us five stars (see Mike Cooper’s post on Why Amazon Reviews Are Not Helpful or this New York Times article In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5). We are paying someone to lie to our customers for us. Tell me how that can possibly be a good thing.

Who does this hurt?

In the end, it hurts the author. When a reader picks up a book and gives up their valuable time to read it because it has a five-star rating or review then discovers that the editing was atrocious or the plot was full of holes or the writing was simply immature and in need of polish, they feel betrayed. That reader isn’t going to recommend the author to friends and family or read other books by that author. Worse yet, they may leave a scathing review in response because they are rightfully pissed off. Get too many of those and your dreams of being a successful author may go down in flames.

One of the most avid readers I know recently told me that she doesn’t trust book reviews on Amazon anymore for this very reason. When readers stop trusting reviews, reviews become meaningless. Readers will turn to safer options such as familiar authors and publishers or recommendations from trusted friends. Folks, our customers are starting not to trust us already and it hurts all of us.

What can we do?

We have to put our best work out there.

Nobody forced you to write a book. You started with a vision. You put in the time and effort to write it. Why would you sell that work or yourself short? Make that book the best damned book it can be. Invest in an editor. Find a critique group or other people around you who are willing to read it and give real feedback. Then polish, polish, polish until it’s a book you would put in front of a real reviewer without fear.

If you aren’t confident that your book can earn good reviews, then it isn’t ready for publication yet. Your gut is telling you that something still needs work. Figure out what that is and fix it. Then, when the book is really ready…

There are book bloggers and reviewers coming out of the woodwork like termites. Book reviewers are all over the blogosphere and Twitter. There are even blogs dedicated to listing book blogs like the Book Blogger Directory. Put out the effort to contact these people. Find reviewers and even fellow authors who will actually read the book and give you honest reviews. Give them free copies to work with. It’s an investment in your career.

Those reviews might not be five stars and they will probably have some criticisms. That’s okay. It’s part of the job. Not everyone is going to love your work. Nothing will ever change that. If you’re afraid your gentle soul can’t handle criticism, you’re in the wrong line of work. I've gotten some brutal feedback from editors in the past and I know how criticism hurts. I've also gotten fan mail from people who really loved something I wrote. It's worth the pain. Put a stick between your teeth, bite down, and take it. If you learn to move past the initial sting, you can find gems of wisdom in the less positive reviews that will help you grow as an author and make the next book even better (which is another powerful benefit we rob each other of when we don’t give each other honest reviews).

If this is your passion, your dream, then there will be a next book and you don’t want jaded readers immediately snubbing your work because they don’t trust you.

Bottom line:

What seems like an innocent favor can turn into the equivalent of a gunshot to the head for an author’s long-term career. False reviews hurt all authors. If it was worth your time and effort to write a book, it is also worth your time and effort to cultivate an audience for that book that will trust you and look forward to reading more. Seek out honest opinions and strong feedback and your work will always be better for it.

funny pictures - Follow  your  dreams !

Are You Popular Enough to be an Author?

A new and improved version of this blog post can now be seen in the Spring 2012 issue (volume 2, issue 3) of Line Zero, a quarterly independent print journal from Pink Fish Press.

I wasn't popular in school. I don't recall ever wanting to be. As far as I could see, it didn't do the popular kids any good. If anything, they just had more expectations to live up to. My main concern in school was--no, not getting good grades--telling stories. I spent hours and hours of class time working on book ideas, which didn't do much for my grades. Most of my teachers liked me despite that and a few even encouraged me when they found out I was writing books instead of notes (yes, I was in school in the dark ages between texting on cell phones and etching on stone tablets).

When I started college, I took a different approach because then I was actually investing my own money in those classes. Funny how motivating that can be. I still didn't engage much with my fellow students. I had school and a job to focus on and somewhere in there, I had to make time for my writing. Popular wasn't going to get me good grades or the money to pay for the next term and it sure wasn't going to satisfy all the characters in my head.

Somewhere in the last few years, I got the harebrained idea to take my writing addiction and try to make a go at being an author. Only now, it looks like being successful as a new author has become a popularity contest. How many Twitter followers do you have? How many people follow your blog? How many fans do you have on Facebook? What is your Klout score?

I thought going into this that being a successful author was about writing well and telling a great story. I never wanted to be popular and I still don't really. I love the people I've met online, but I have little enough time for my friends and family and my writing as it is. Getting published isn't about me. It is about the enjoyment people get out of reading my work. As far as I'm concerned, if someone likes my writing, that's even better than them liking me.

Don't take me wrong. I do believe that an author should put effort into marketing their books to help with sales in today's environment and I honestly love the idea of being able to connect with my readers (once I have published work to offer them). What I don't get is how that turned into having to market ourselves to even get looked at by an agent.

We aren't our books. It isn't our charming smile and great hairdo that makes someone want to read what we write. Sure, that might lure a few people in, but what will keep them is good writing and good stories. Writing a good blog, doesn't mean you can write a good fiction novel. It means you can write a good blog. Conversely, writing a good book doesn't mean you're automatically a great blogger.

I honestly think the agents and publishers are putting a little too much emphasis on the social media aspect right now. That said, it is what they seem to want, so I am doing my part to step out there and wave my own flag (I just wish it had a skull, crossed katana and perhaps a bottle of rum on it).

If you want to play the game in the current market, you have to jump in the sandbox with the other kids and try not to be voted out. Can you build the best sandcastle? More importantly, does it matter how beautiful that sandcastle is if you open the doors and its empty inside?

hBEBB0E8F see more Five Minute Getaway

Actually, if that's your sandcastle, you may not need anything inside. :)

So now that I have grumbled about social media on my blog (and shared it out to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because no one would know I was grumbling otherwise) I’ll go back to editing.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the current emphasis on social media for unpublished authors. Can a good social media presence transcend bad writing? Does a poor social media presence mean disaster even if you have an amazing debut novel? Should your social media presence be a major factor for agents and editors considering your work?

Fun with Reading: Eleven Questions

I have several blog posts I want to get out, but it seems as if there is never enough time to write them. Today is no exception. Fortunately, YA and middle grade writer Tami Clayton recently tagged me in the Eleven Questions game, which gets me off the hook for a few days on getting my other blog posts written. Thanks Tami! Here are the game rules:

  1. Post the rules.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Pass the questions on to eleven other bloggers by tagging and linking to them in our post.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Now for the questions.

1. If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?

If the question said fictional universe, I might go for traveling around discovering new places in the universe of Dan Simmons' Hyperion or C.S. Friedman’s In Conquest Born. If I have to choose one world, however, then I would probably go with Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. How can you pass up riding a dragon?

2. Do you prefer to read Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. I only tend to read non-fiction when I am researching for one of my books (which is fairly often, now that I think about it).

3. Do you read in noisy or quiet places?

I am definitely a quiet place reader. If there is a lot of background noise, like on an airplane, then I need an exceptionally good book or some headphones. I can read with music playing.

4. Do reviews influence your choice of reads?

I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I am more likely to go pick up a book that gets good reviews from people who have similar tastes on places like Goodreads.

5. Audio books or paperbacks?

Paperback. I don’t drive enough to do audiobooks and I don’t tend to pay as much attention to them if I can be doing something else. A paperback occupies my hands so I can’t be doing other things.

6. What was the first book you remember reading?

That is hard. If we get out of, say, Golden Books, then the first book I can really remember the author and title of was Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce. I read a lot before that. That one just stuck with me because it gave me my first book idea and started me writing.

7. Favorite author?

I don’t know that I have one favorite author. I think George R.R. Martin is one of the most talented authors in recent history. I have always loved the work of C.S. Friedman and she is a role model of mine as a woman who has made a name for herself in both science fiction and fantasy writing. Meredith Ann Pierce will always have a special place in my heart for starting me off on this insane journey.

8. Classic or Modern Novels?

I read mostly modern fantasy and science fiction, though I do branch out to other fiction based on recommendations and occasional whims. Periodically I dive into our big collection of classics as well.

9. Have you ever met your favorite author?

Sadly, I haven’t met any of the favorites on my list.

10. Book groups or solitary reading?

I read alone. Book groups would be driven mad by my pace. It takes me a while, since I only read at breakfast. Although, every now and then, when something really grabs me by the throat, I will read it in a day or two.

11. If you could read only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That is a hard question, especially given how much of what I read is written in trilogies. I’m going to cheat just a little here, since I have this trilogy in a single book, and pick The Last Herald-Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. Read it. It is amazing.

I’m going to cheat again and skip the tagging of 11 more people because most of the people in my circles seem to have already been tagged. However, if you’d like a tag, I’d love to see your answers, so let me know in the comments and I’ll throw in a tag section later.

What book would you read for the rest of your life?

Happy reading!


A Little Bit of Lucky?

The Lucky 7 Meme has been running around my blogging circles and finally struck me, twice, thanks to the lovely authors Jodi Lea Stewart and Alina Sayre. As it is the 27th today, it seemed like a good day to post my contribution. Here are the rules of the game:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP (If you don’t yet have 77 pages of your current work in progress completed, just choose the first seven sentences.) 2. Go to line 7 3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written. 4. Tag 7 authors, and let them know.

My current novel is a somewhat dark fantasy that actually has no title yet. I have to confess that the lines I am using are from page 7 because page 77 is in the heart of a section I am currently hacking up and reworking (and yes, there are actually 9 lines from the manuscript, but I couldn’t stand ending in the middle of a paragraph).

     “Few Endless warriors could have blocked that strike. You waste yourself in remembrance.” The master spun and began to walk away. “Go back to the ranks and fight with the temporal warriors. You are too broken to be Endless.”

     Deynas dropped to his knees with the sinking of his heart. It could not end this way. “Master Kochan!”

     Kochan stopped at the foot of the temple steps. He didn’t turn.

     Deynas laid his staff on the ground and bowed before it. “Master Kochan, I fight to atone for my failure. I fight to honor the memory of Argus-ra. I want to be to the people what she was. If this is a flawed purpose, then you are right, I cannot be Endless.”

Now for the tagging of the next 7 lucky folks!

Happy Writing!

The Masquerade Crew Five Star Review Book Giveaway

The Masquerade Crew is running a fantastic book giveaway. Stop by their site to check it out. Their adventure started a little more than six months ago. Since they posted their first author-requested review on October 1st, they're going to officially celebrate their six month blogaversary between now and April 1st, which is the first day of the A to Z challenge. They encourage you to come back for that because for 26 days in April they're going to post writing tips from some of their followers.

In the meantime, they're kicking off this party with a mega giveaway. Roughly half of the authors of their 5 star reviews have agreed to give away copies of their books. This is your chance to win up to 8 free books. Click on the book covers to go to their review.

A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell

Force of Habit by Marian Allen

The Punished by Peter Meredith

CurbCheK by Zach Fortier

H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius

Spirits Rising by Krista D. Ball

Everything I Tell You Is A Lie by Fingers Murphy

Blood Passage by Michael J. McCann

For a chance to win these 8 books, visit The Masquerade Crew's site.

This giveaway is being supported by the following blogs:

M.R. Cornelius The Overnight Bestseller W.H. Cann The Writing World Shannon Stewart What the Cat Read