Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Greetings To My Readers

I hope all of you are enjoying the holidays with family and friends, in whatever manner you celebrate. As a Christian I'm celebrating Christmas and all it means to me and my family. I haven't posted for a while due to the busyness of the days between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. Also, my husband and I were able to take a ten-day cruise early in December, which was just the relaxing experience we needed after having water pipes burst in our house just before we left. We're still waiting for wall repairs to be made but at least the pipes are fixed. I did a lot of reading on the cruise and will be posting reviews soon. I also did some book promotion. Most cruisers are avid readers and many seemed to be interested in my two novels. Until I write again, my best wishes for a happy and healthy new year - and happy writing!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review

Taken (Elvis Cole, #13 / Joe Pike, #4)Taken by Robert Crais
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently finished T. Jefferson Parker's "Jaguar", about the Mexican drug cartels, kidnapping, ransom, and killing. I was ready for something new, but was drawn to Robert Crais's latest, "Taken", about Mexican drug cartels, kidnapping, ransom, and killing. But this is where the similarity ends. In "Taken" we have my favorite sleuth duo, Joe Pike and Elvis Cole. No matter how dangerous a situation might be, Pike is stoic, and Cole has a smart mouth. Cole is hired to find the daughter of Nita Morales, who has been kidnapped with her boyfriend by Mexican bajadores. They happened to be stargazing in a remote area when smuggled illegal immigrants were dropped off near them, and subsequently taken by bajadores, who then hold these people for ransom, followed by killing. Krista Morales and her boyfriend are swept up in the group and find themselves hidden in a safe house under primitive and dangerous conditions. There are so many bad guys that it's hard to keep up. Spanish isn't the only language spoken. Koreans and Arabs are in the mix, which introduces Jon Stone, fluent in these languages and many more. Cole and Pike are separated as they search for Krista, Cole is kidnapped and brought to the same house as Krista, and Pike and Stone join forces to seek them out. It's a race to the finish and Crais is at his best in keeping the reader turning pages. If you've read Crais before, you know that in the end Cole and Pike willl survive to fight another day, but how they survive is what keeps you on the edge of your chair.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Critique of a Critique

As writers we strive to do the best work possible. What we produce seems like our "children" since we've labored for months before we see the results.  When our work is praised, we're thrilled. When it gets only lukewarm comments, we're disappointed. Regardless, and speaking only for myself now, I always welcome feedback. Constructive criticism is part of that package, and is welcomed, as long as it's constructive. But what if the criticism happens to be one person's personal opinion of how characters are presented, even though this person said she enjoyed the book.

A lady from Montreal read my second novel, NO GOOD DEED. She had read the first book in the series and said she liked it. However, she took issue in NO GOOD DEED, that my protagonist Linda, now engaged to her college love, David, did not live with him. Anyone who has read either book knows that David's life is a bit unsettled now, and that he travels quite a bit. When he finally was able to stabilize his life, he found a small apartment. My reader couldn't believe that he just would't move in with Linda. To her, the norm is unmarried couples living together, even though I explained that wasn't the value system of Linda and her fiance. The reader also took issue with Linda's relationship with her mother, who comes to visit Linda for two weeks. Their relationship has always been strained, and Linda's mother, a bit naive and old-fashioned, manages to get Linda in trouble through comments she makes to a journalist, at a time when Linda is handling a sensitive and highly publicized criminal case. According to my reader, women today, no matter how old, are very "with it", on facebook, computer savvy, etc. etc. so Linda's mother should have been portrayed in a more modern way, the way the "real world" is. Since she wanted to re-write my book, it makes me wonder how she ended up enjoying it.

I thanked her for her opinion and reminded her that the beauty of fiction is that it's fiction. There are a variety of value systems in the world and I chose to write about one that I think is still common, while recognizing that many others live as she describes.

If any of you have had similar experiences, how have you handled it?  Did it change your writing style, and if so, in what way?  Looking forward to your comments.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although "Bel Canto" seems to be the author's most well-received book, I liked "State of Wonder" more. The premise revolves around a drug company's desire to develop a fertility drug that will revolutionize the industry. An obscure tribe in the Amazon is discovered to be able to have babies well into their seventies! Dr. Annick Swenson has been sent there to obtain the secret of their fertility, only she's been there for years and rarely communicates. A researcher is sent to find her and after some months a cryptic note comes from Swenson saying that he died. Thus begins the heart of the story, when Dr. Marina Singh is now sent to find out what happened to the researcher and also locate Dr. Swenson. Her search is extremely difficult, aided, and sometimes hindered, by a young couple named the Bovenders. Once in the Amazon jungle, accompanied only by a deaf boy and her wits, Marina must contend with the danger of the jungle and shocking information she uncovers. To say more would spoil the book. The author's description of the Amazon had me feeling I was there with her and could almost feel the bug bites. The ending had a twist that was satisfying. It's a book you won't be able to put down.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Review

Mitigating Circumstances (Lily Forrester, #1)Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Judge Lara Sanderstone has complete control of her courtroom, and hardly any control of her personal life. Divorced and living alone, she has a contentious relationship with her beautiful younger sister,Ivory, a widow, and now married to a scheming low life. Ivory has a 16 year-old son Josh, who is mistreated by his step-dad, yet not allowed to see his Aunt Lara, who misses him terribly. When Ivory and her husband are murdered, their steamy secret life is uncovered. Josh, resentful of the fact his aunt has not been in his life, now must live with her. While Lara must deal with the angry Josh, she is engulfed in the murder investigation and the life her sister was leading. Before the murders are solved, Lara's house is ransacked, forcing her to move to a safer location. Defendants who have appeared in her courtroom are found murdered, and appear to be tied to the murders of Lara's sister and brother-in-law. Lara's courtroom actions in releasing certain indivuals are called into question and her reputation must be defended. With the help of a police detective and a disabled computer genius, the truth is uncovered. Does Lara fall in love with the detective? Does her relationship with Josh improve? You'll just have to read this book to find out.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NO GOOD DEED Has Been Published!

I'm happy to report that my second novel, NO GOOD DEED, is now out. Whew! Now on to promotion, promotion, promotion.  Please read my interview on the blog of D. Jean Quarles. I follow her and you can click on her image to the right to reach her blog.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Few Words for "The Words"

I recently saw the movie, "The Words."  As writers, or even if you're just a reader, it's worth seeing. It shows the struggle a writer goes through when rejection after rejection is received, and the steps he'll take when something unexpected falls into his hands. I don't want to spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it, but the moral dilemma that ensues is the sub-text throughout.  There are many flashbacks but the story comes full circle at the end, and it is quite surprising.

If you've seen the movie, I would be interested in your thoughts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review

The JaguarThe Jaguar by T. Jefferson Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read all of Parker's books and did not expect to like this one, but thought I'd give it a try, being a fan. It was a thrill ride with three parallel stories. Erin McKenna, wife of full-time Orange County Sheriff, and part-time outlaw, Bradley Jones, is kidnapped by Benjamin Armenta of the Gulf Cartel. She is taken to his castle in Mexico and Jones has ten days to deliver a million dollars and stop helping Armenta's opponent in the drug and gun smuggling business. Jones just happens to have the money on hand, and enlists the aid of straight-arrow Charlie Hood to help him in his search for Erin. Charlie takes two fellow officers on his quest, Bradley goes his own way, and Erin is kept a prisoner in luxurious circumstances, as the clock ticks away. The book moves among the three separate stories as Erin grows increasingly frightened, and Hood and Jones each experience numerous challenges through hurricanes, crocodiles, and physical attacks. There are many side characters who figure in the events, including the return of Mike Finnegan, a strange, somewhat supernatural character, who seems to turn up everywhere and know everything. The ending was expected, but the door was left open for a sixth book in the Charlie Hood/Bradley Jones saga. Has any reader noted that Parker seems to be channeling Hemingway in his writing style? Instead of using commas to connect thought, he uses and, and, and. Also, the dialogue format was interesting. Some was enclosed in quotes, other dialogue was set off by dashes. Still, if you like Parker, you should like this one.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review

The Sense of an EndingThe Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some mediocre books make it to the best seller list. Many good books do not. As much as I anticipated reading "The Sense of an Ending", I have to say for me it was mediocre. It's a short book, less than 200 pages, and could probably be read in one night. Because it was on the best seller list, and the synopsis sounded interesting, I read it. The book is almost all narrative, the musings of the now retired Anthony Webster, looking back on his youth, his friends at the time, and how they affected him. That's part one. In part two, Anthony is now older, wiser, retired. He went through an amicable divorce, and has a daughter with whom he gets along well. A contact from his past stirs up many unresolved issues, making him re-evaluate everything in his life. The ending comes with an almost ridiculous twist. I'd say more but would spoil it for anyone who might want to read this book. The author writes well and has won awards for previous efforts. Unfortunately, good writing can't overcome a bad story, it just makes it a little easier to read.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

It's a Small World

Northville, Michigan is a small town several miles outside Detroit. Its streets are tree lined and full of well maintained Victorian houses. Its main street boasts a town square, there's little traffic, and the ample parking is free. The restaurants and stores are all locally owned - not a chain in sight. You don't stumble upon Northville, you have to seek it out. As a child growing up in Detroit I used to horseback ride at the Northville Riding Academy. Returning as an adult recently, very little had changed.

While eating an ice cream cone at Rebecca's, my husband and I began chatting with a lady and her niece. We assumed both ladies lived in Northville, until the older lady asked us where we lived, and we replied, Laguna Niguel, in southern California. We quickly followed up with our usual addendum, it's right next to Laguna Beach, which everyone knows. She quickly responded that she knew Laguna Niguel, because her niece lived there and was also visiting in Northville! What were the chances? Turns out we live about a mile from each other, but had to travel over 2000 miles to meet. This isn't the first time we've traveled far and ran into someone from nearby, but it never ceases to surprise us. Has it happened to you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Home Again

I've returned from my Michigan trip, tired by the active daily pace, and energized by seeing many old friends and places. In my earlier blog I commented on how buildings are torn down and replaced, rather than rehabilitated. I didn't realize that my old high school would be one of them. I was a student at Mumford High, made famous in a movie some years back. The school was only a year old when I started there, with no football team, swimming pool, or any traditions. Now it's being torn down to make way for a learning center. I thought my high school was a learning center. That's progress, I guess.

Now I'm back to my writing routine, waiting for the galleys on my second book, NO GOOD DEED. Hope to see it in print by the end of August, but it may be wishful thinking.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back to My Roots

I'll be visiting Michigan for two weeks. I was born there but have lived in southern California for most of my adult life. I still have family and friends there, and favorite places to visit. But things change over time, and my memories of how a place looked don't jibe with the way the same place looks today. I suppose change means progress but I'm comforted when I see things that are unchanged. It's like an anchor to the past. When you visit Europe you see buildings that are hundreds of years old. Of course the U.S. hasn't been around that long, but it's not uncommon to tear down a fifty-year old building for something more modern. Where is the history? Still, it will be nice to catch up with those who watched me grow up. Do you ever visit your old hometown and reminisce?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review

Rise and ShineRise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Anna Quindlen and enjoyed this book, but it's not my favorite. RISE AND SHINE is the story of two sisters, Meghan and Bridget, who live very different, but intertwined, lives. Their parents died when they were young and they were raised by a loving aunt with no children of her own. Meghan, the older of the two, is a successful, wealthy, anchor of a morning news show called "Rise and Shine." (think Katie Couric on "Today") Bridget is a social worker in the worst section of the Bronx. The novel is told in the voice of Bridget. As she narrates the events in their lives, she goes off on a tangent frequently. Although this fleshes out the story itself, I found it distracting to the flow of the main story. When Meghan makes a major faux pas on air, the day after her husband tells her he's leaving her, her world spins out of control. The remainder of the book focuses on how Bridget helps pull everything together, while dealing with her own life crises. Figuring prominently in this is Meghan's son Leo, a really sweet character. There are major plot twists but the end is realistic and satisfying.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review

Nothing to Lose (Jack Reacher, #12)Nothing to Lose by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Reacher said nothing." This is my second Reacher novel and it appears that this phrase is Lee Child's "go to" comment when Reacher is in the midst of controversy, which is always. This time Jack Reacher is traveling in Colorado and wanders into a town called Despair. He tries to buy a cup of coffee and finds that not only is his business not wanted, the townspeople want him out of Despair. Why? Reacher can't ignore a puzzle like this. With the help of Deputy Vaughn, of the Hope Sheriff's Dept., he uncovers the real reason the town is off limits to almost everyone. Of course this involves his return to Despair several times, each time being more dangerous, as he tries to investigate without being seen. Vaughn has her own sad story, which makes her willing to go along with Reacher. It wraps up in the end with a very strange twist. Reacher is now free to leave the area. After bidding good-bye to Vaughn, we see him heading toward San Diego, with only the clothes on his back, as usual.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Words to Live By

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. . . I can't take credit for coming up with this, but wanted to share these words of wisdom with you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Two Minutes - To Pass or Fail

I recently attended Literary Orange, an annual day-long event held at the University of California, Irvine. It's a love fest for authors and readers, with well-known authors as keynote speakers, and morning and afternoon workshops covering a variety of writing and publishing topics. One of the workshops I attended was on the topic of fiction, and how to get "lucky", which to a writer means, how to get published. One of the panelists, a publisher, discussed her approach to manuscripts sent to her. She expects the writing to be transcendent. When asked to give an example of something she recently read (a current book perhaps) where she thought the writing was transcendent, she couldn't provide one. But the real jolt was when she said she gives each submission only two minutes. Two minutes! Granted, some writing can be so awful that two minutes is probably all it takes to know it should not be published. But don't the majority of submissions deserve more time than that? Not all books start off with a bang. I can name many popular books which started off slowly, but once the story unfolded, they were well worth reading. They would never have made her two minute limit. So good luck, all you writers who hope to be published. If you happen to encounter this particular publisher make sure you're not only transcendent, but that your transcendency is apparent in the first two minutes. Oh, and don't forget, the publishing world is very subjective. We all know about the best sellers that received numerous rejections before finally finding the right publisher. If you've worked at your craft, then have faith in yourself, even when it's easy to become discouraged. The right fit is out there.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review

The Marriage PlotThe Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well written and complex book, involving the lives of three graduating college students, Madeline, Leonard, and Mitchell. The story begins on graduation day but flashes back and forth into each person's life, their hang-ups, aspirations, and ultimate choices. Along the way there is adventure, excitement, and heartbreak. In addition to the three main characters, around which the plot revolves, there are many, many side characters who come in and out of each of their lives and either add or detract from them. The story wraps up satisfactorily, but not in a way the reader might expect. Yet, given the ages, and dreams, of Madeline, Leonard, and Mitchell, the ending makes sense. This is not a book you can skim over. Every line is loaded with meaning. Eugenides is a terrific writer and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Sequel is Finished!

I've finally completed NO GOOD DEED, the sequel to my first book, NO STONE UNTURNED. I'm now doing the final editing. I say "final" but it seems every time I look at the manuscript I find something new to change, even if it's already been changed once or twice. I'm getting to the point of being satisfied with how it reads, and I've had someone else read it who has given me good, critical, feedback. I hope to see it published by June or July. A friend of mine has been "editing" her finished novel for over three years and is still at it, even though the professional editor she used has called it "spot on." Admittedly, she's fearful of the publication/promotion process that comes once the book is done. If she keeps on editing, she won't have to face it. I'm not looking forward to that process myself, but it's a necessary evil if you're a writer and want to see your work in print. Readers, how do you handle it? At what point do you say, 'my work is ready'?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review

QuinnQuinn by Iris Johansen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I did not like this book very much. A child is missing. The FBI agent assigned to assist the local police in finding her, described as a macho, independent man, hopelessly falls for the mother of the missing girl. The story jumps back and forth, introduces characters without much explanation, and ends leaving the reader hanging in mid-air. Don't waste your time.



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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing and Balance

Although this picture from a Georgia plantation we visited last year has nothing to do with my post, I thought it would be a nice addition to the blog.

I'm writing today about  keeping balance in your life while writing for maximum effect. Do you wish there were more hours in the day? I do. I had the chance to do a guest blog for Jean Quarles on this subject. It will be posted by her on Thursday March 15. You'll see how I handle balance for myself. You'll also see that there is no one right way to do it. Whatever works for you is what works!  Visit: http://djeanquarles.blogspot.com/ As usual, any comments are appreciated.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Authors Show

Hello Everyone, I wanted to let you know that I was interviewed for the Authors Show. I learned about this program through Linked-In and was happy to have the opportunity to participate. My interview will be broadcast all day on Tuesday March 13. Go to http://www.theauthorsshow.com/ and listen. I'll be speaking about my first novel NO STONE UNTURNED. You will also find information on how you could be interviewed as well. Thanks for listening!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm Not on Facebook!

For some reason I have resisted being on Facebook. I have this blog, I'm on Twitter, Goodreads, and Linked-In, but I can't bring myself to be on Facebook. Maybe it's because I hear about the thousands of friends people have that puts me off.  Friends? Really? Or all the crazy things that happen to people on there because of what someone else decides to share about them. Yet, when promoting books, I'm told that Facebook is a place where I should definitely be. What do you think? What has been your experience with Facebook? I'd love to hear comments from you. Maybe I can be persuaded to join, or maybe you'll just confirm my current status.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Tick Tock" Review

Tick Tock (Michael Bennett, #4)Tick Tock by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Another enjoyable James Patterson book, with an ending that made sense. The book jumps from a seashore vacation location, to police headquarters, and back, based on a series of murders that call for the protagonist to be involved in investigating. He works, then he goes to his vacation home where his ten adopted children are waiting, then back. It's a bit frenetic but then that's what makes Patterson's books so engrossing. I didn't care for it too much at first, but then got into the twisted plot and ended up liking it. Note: Inside the book cover it says that Michael Bennett will be searching for "The Werewolf of Wisteria". This never comes up in the whole book. Whoever did PR should have caught that.



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