Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Apres Christmas

Apres Christmas we have Happy Boxing Day. How it began, what it means, who celebrates it? It's not as straightforward as you might imagine. The best explanation came from this TIME article. It's a tad slow to load, but interesting. Here's another shorter, more entertaining piece about Boxing Day.

Kwanzaa starts today. A combination of "fruit harvesting" celebrations, this relatively new holiday had it's beginnings after the dreadful Watts Riots in L.A.

5 Days to 2012. Here's wishing all of you a wonderful end of 2011 and a fantastic beginning in 2012. My New Year writing tips are: Write what you love. Read what you love. Enjoy doing both!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011

The winners of the giveaway were chosen by my crack crew. Here they are again just to remind you that all entries were carefully considered by serious and conscientious minds.

So congratulations. Here are the winners.
Signed copies of The Princess of Las Pulgas

Beverly Stowe McClure
Jessi E. Elliott
Carrie Butler

These people will be getting signed ARCs of Sliding on the Edge:

Kelly Hashway
Lynn Nerd Kelley
Lisa Gail Green
Margo Kelly
Theresa Milstein

The First Time, an eBook goes to Darby Karchut and Bish Denham

Thanks to everyone who entered. If I could I'd send everyone who stopped by a copy.

Here's to a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Solistic celebration and a fabulous 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Miscellany

I write like
Jane Austen
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Yep that's what the analyzer had to offer up from my writing sample. I used the first paragraph from a piece of fiction I'm working on right now. How they came up with Jane, I'll never know. Give the analyzer a shot and tell us who you write like.

More Miscellany: This is December 19 and we only have five days until Christmas. So I'll send my holiday best wishes to all my friends and fellow bloggers and hope that during this holiday season you all share beautiful moments with the ones who mean the most to you.

Don't forget to ask for a present from me. Here's the POST in case you missed it. I have books and ARCs to send off as well as an eBook with short stories, so let me know if you want one.

My favorite quote for today is: "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." Schopenhauer

Here's three things to keep in mind while you're creating those stories. I love them because they're simple, easy to understand and effective.

1. Take your characters to a dark place. ASAP
2. Have your characters make the wrong decision. BAD is GOOD--HORRIBLE is BETTER
3. Give your characters a secret. What do they have under the bed? What don't they want anyone in the world to know? YUMMM. Love those secrets.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


There are book and then there are beautiful books. Here is one of those beauties. And the title says so right up front. Please welcome Mary Lee Corlett and Belle to the Write Game.

Belle: The Amazing, Astonishingly Magical Journey of an Artfully Painted Lady
Written by Mary Lee Corlett
Illustrated by Phyllis Saroff

Also available on
(Just in case this trailer link below fails)
•    I have to say that is one beautiful cover and one fabulous book trailer. Now can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have lived in the Washington DC area for over 20 years, but I was born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  My mother and three sisters still live there.  I earned my M.A. in art history from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and my first museum job was at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where I was a teaching assistant for the Saturday children’s classes offered by their education department.  (I taught 4 and 5 year-olds in an activity class called “Mini-Masters!”) Later, I worked in the registrar’s office.  After I earned my M.A, my husband and I moved to Washington so that I could pursue curatorial and research work.   I joined the staff of the National Gallery of Art in 1989.  We’ve lived in the Washington suburb of Falls Church, Virginia, for about 13 years, and we have a 15 year old daughter.

    •    This is your first children’s book?

Yes! And it is such a thrill to see it in print!  I have been interested in writing for children for a couple of decades and I have a file drawer full of manuscripts (and rejection letters )  to prove it.  I joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in 2004 and in 2007 I submitted Belle for a manuscript review at my regional conference.  The author who reviewed the book was so enthusiastic; she kept me from getting discouraged in my hunt to find the right publisher. The Editor-in-Chief at the National Gallery also loved the book when I showed it to her, but sadly, we don’t have a children’s book publishing program at the National Gallery.  Ultimately, though, it was she who put me in touch with Bunker Hill Publishing. 

    •    What or who inspired you to write Belle?

The short answer is – my daughter!  I used to bring her down to the National Gallery for the wonderful family programs offered by our education department, but I also wanted her to enjoy a simple walk through the galleries with me.  I searched for a book based on the Gallery’s collection with the thought it would help spark her interest in doing that, but I quickly discovered the kind of book I had in mind didn’t exist! I wanted a fun-to-read, fictional story that featured a variety of paintings from the National Gallery’s great collection and focused on the magic of the museum and the ‘art experience.’ So when I couldn’t find that book, I decided I’d better write it!

    •    You obviously are someone who loves art.  Can you tell us how you chose your paintings for Belle?

I have been fortunate to research and write about some pretty terrific artists while on the staff of the National Gallery – Roy Lichtenstein and Romare Bearden, for example – my field is American art.  I love writing about art and artists and of course, I love just looking at art. Yet ironically, when you work in a museum, you often don’t carve out the time to just wander through the galleries. So writing Belle was the perfect excuse to do that!

It was on one of those walks through the galleries at the end of the day, with the idea of this book on my mind, that the butterflies in Jan Davidsz de Heem’s canvas [Vase of Flowers]   just popped out at me!  I think the yellow Brimstone caught my eye first.  He was so delicately alighted, there on the edge of that tulip.  He just looked to me as if he might flutter away at any moment.  But Belle (the Red Admiral) was up there quietly hovering in the corner.  It occurred to me that she’d been hovering there for over 300 years, a quiet observer, and I thought – SHE must have some stories to tell!  Once I discovered those butterflies, I never looked back!  The story began to take shape and soon it had a life of its own.

I wanted to present their journey more or less chronologically through art history.  That’s why there are no works from the Middle Ages or the Renaissance in the book.  Works from these periods are certainly represented in the Gallery’s collection, but Belle and Brimstone were painted in the seventeenth century, and I felt it was important to have their journey take them steadily forward through time, rather than jumping back and forth through the centuries.  And, of course, I needed a villain! I thought there was something comical about having the butterflies’ avian nemesis come from such a tiny little painting [Circle of Jan van Kessel, Concert of Birds]

The worst part of the selection process was discarding favorites! I wanted to select works that would be particularly fun to look at and to imagine blending into. And of course, the colors had to be right.  Brimstone chooses the Vermeer with an ivory-colored ribbon [A Lady Writing], while Belle looks to the one with the red hat [Girl with the Red Hat].

    •    Is there something else you are currently working on?
I would love to make Belle into a series, so I am currently working on a manuscript that takes her on a journey to another museum.  Art travels all the time for touring exhibitions – the perfect set up for another adventure! 
I am also working on a manuscript that features the art of the National Gallery’s wonderful outdoor sculpture garden.  This book would have completely different characters, and I am envisioning it for a younger audience (ages 4 to 8 years). 

Well, you've captured my attention Mary Lee. I love the concept and I'm certain your younger readers are going to be captivated by Belle and her adventures in the art world. Congratulations.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Some Favorites & A Giveaway . . . just in time for Christmas.

The minute I say I'm going to ONLY post on Monday, some of my favorite authors pop up with super books, and I just can't say no.  Hope you've enjoyed the visit with Kai Strand author of The Weaver. Jo Ramsey stopped in as well to talk about RUMORS and her two books Cluing In and From the Ashes. Their books are amazing, and I hope you'll read and review them.

I'm trying to get around to reading and reviewing all the authors I host here. I don't have room for all of their covers, but here are a few and maybe before the end of January, I'll put up more. Many I've reviewed, some I still haven't. Where do those days go? Tell me.
Whew! I need to get cranking.

Here's my favorite quote for the day and it's by one of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood.
"Wanting to meet an author because you like his books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pate."

Now one of my favorite things to do at holiday time--anytime really--is to give books to people. As some of you might know I have two young adult books out and one short story titled "Premeditated Cat" in the eBook anthology, The First Time. I'm giving some copies of these away starting today ending December 23.

Three copies of Princess of Las Pulgas are up for grabs and five copies (ARCs just recently received from my publisher) of Sliding on the Edge. Sorry to limit these to US only, but the postage is starting to mount! I'll also be giving two copies of The First Time (Kindle Edition). Of course, this is open to anyone no matter where they live. Bless those eBooks.

So favorite people--stop by, say hi and tell me which book you want. One per reader, okay? Got to spread the presents. As always, my crack crew will select the winners. I have no idea what they're looking for in the way of winning comments, so good luck with that! Oh, here they are. Sweet, right? And maybe just a bit wacky.
They are looking at you! Enter and Win. Enter and Win!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Insecure Writer, Me

See these nails?  I stopped biting them just in time to save the fingertips and why? Because I'm an INSECURE WRITER; I need those fingers for the keyboard.

This is me when I was an INSECURE ACTRESS, biting my nails.  (Ignore the caption. Marilyn was always trying to get the spotlight away from me. I think she might have been more insecure than I was.)

I don't know which is worse, my insecurity on stage or what I'm enduring now. But I no longer look like the picture above. Here's a more recent one.
Writer on the Verge . . . but of what?

Oh, I have me ups and downs. There have been days when I've seen myself with the Nobel prize for literature clutched in my nibbled fingers. I once thought I'd craft a Newberry Award acceptance speech just in case . . . you know the phone rang. But when a call came through on the day the award was decided, it was the vet telling me I could pick up Buffy.

This is my INSECURE WRITERS REJECTION week and I'm celebrating by joining the blog hop of other angst-filled-creative-finger nibblers. At last a support group.

Alex J. Cavanaugh
If you feel like hopping on board just click on the link above and join in the angst and the insecurity. It might be fun.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interview with Jo Ramsey

 Jo Ramsey has some interesting things to say about RUMORS and her new books. Two of them!


Someone once said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.” Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people who don’t have anything nice to say and don’t hesitate to say something cruel instead.

Especially in high school.

If you made it through school without having a rumor spread about you at least once, you’re very lucky. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t the target of a rumor, myself included. When I worked in public schools, every level from elementary to high school, I heard rumors about students being spread by other students. Sometimes even by teachers!

Rumors and gossip are not far off from bullying in many cases. Telling your bestie, “Hey, see that girl? I heard she’s pregnant” is just more subtle than going up to “that girl” and slamming her against a locker, but it isn’t any less hurtful. Sometimes words hurt more than actions, especially when those words spread through an environment as closed as a typical high school. Whether you’re in a school of two hundred or two thousand, somehow those rumors spread, because everyone knows someone else who hasn’t heard yet.

Rumors feature big in my two latest novels, Cluing In and From the Ashes. In Cluing In, Jamey Mandel’s best friend Jebbi Randolph has been dealing for two years with rumors that she tried to steal a senior girl’s boyfriend during her freshman year. The truth is that the boy raped Jebbi, but no one except Jebbi and a few of her friends know that. During the story, Jamey’s ex-girlfriend becomes the target of rumors that she’s pregnant—rumors which are unfortunately true. And even Jamey becomes the subject of gossip when his ex blurts out in the cafeteria that Jamey’s still a virgin.

In From the Ashes, book five in my Reality Shift series, the rumor that’s followed Shanna Bailey since sixth grade takes on new weight when Shanna has her first boyfriend. In sixth grade, Shanna was caught in the woods with two older boys, who had conned her into going with them. The immediate assumption was that Shanna was “doing things” to the boys, and that’s the gossip that’s been going around about her ever since. Shanna has never dared tell anyone except her best friend Jonah Leighton and her foster brother Mark James the truth: one of the boys tried to force her to touch him, but was interrupted before he could follow through. Now Shanna’s afraid that since her new boyfriend—along with everyone at their school—knows the rumor, he’ll expect her to “do things” with him, too.

Our society makes a big deal out of rumors. TV shows and magazines are devoted to gossip about celebrities, and don’t seem too interested in whether it’s true or not. Coworkers gossip about each other during their lunch breaks; families talk about other family members behind their backs at holiday gatherings. It really isn’t any surprise that rumors and gossip are so much a part of most people’s school experiences.

That doesn’t mean it’s right, though. Words do hurt, especially when you’re the target of them.

Jo Ramsey is a former special education teacher turned full-time author. She has been writing since age five, and started writing young adult fiction when she was a young adult herself. Her first YA urban fantasy novel, Connection, book one in the Reality Shift series, was published in January 2010 by Jupiter Gardens Press. Since then, books two through five in that series, and books one and two in her series The Dark Lines, have been published by that company. Her first YA contemporary novel, Cluing In, was published in November 2011 by Featherweight Press. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats.

Get your copie of CLUING IN and FROM THE ASHES now.
From the Ashes is available at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kai Strand, Author of The Weaver

Once in a while it's just wonderful to talk to other authors about who they are and what they write. It's Kai Strand's turn to be here today. Welcome, Kai. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

First and foremost, I’m a wife and mother of four. As a family we love to geocache and hike around Central Oregon at places like Hole in the Ground, Fort Rock and China Hat. Or at Sahalie Falls, Dry Canyon or the River Rim trail. There are so many beautiful places to explore right in our immediate area.

Beyond wife and mother, I’m also a children’s author. I write fiction for middle grade and young adult. I love – love - love fantasy, but contemporary holds it’s own power over me as well.

Can you give us a brief summary of your book, THE WEAVER?

In a town of storytellers, called word weavers, Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a gnome-elf who grants her a wish.  But instead of weaving a better story, she's weaving strange yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales.

The Weaver is a story of persistence. It offers a little magic and a lot of storytelling. It is written for children 9 – 12 years old. 

I’m excited to say it is a finalist in the EPIC eBook Awards. It is so thrilling to think that from all of the books the judges read they placed mine as one of three finalists. WOW!

Congratulations. That's very exciting. 

What do you enjoy most about being a writer? 

Related to the craft itself, I love the initial creation process. I love finding my way through the story the very first time. It is both fun and worrisome to stumble upon a detour you never would have expected when you first thought up the story in your head. Where will the detour lead? Will you find your way back again? Then the ultimate reward is when you discover how to tie the lose story ends back together to bring the story to a satisfying resolution. 

Related to the written work, I love visiting classrooms. I love getting out there with the kids that I write for and talking about the craft of writing. It inspires me to want to write more just for them and their fantastic imaginations. 

What or who inspired you to write The Weaver?

I belong to an online critique group, called Silver Web. One day I had the critique group’s site up on my computer. We have a very cool spider’s web graphic on the page. When I lived in Southern California, I used to watch in horrified fascination, as our huge garden spiders would spin their enormous webs. The graphic made me remember the beauty of their craft. I thought, “My critters and I weave stories with words like spiders weave webs with silk.” That made me imagine living in a community where people spoke in stories. The next step was to create conflict. Well, that was obvious. What if you lived in a town where everyone was good at word weaving except you? 

Do you have a favorite scene from the Weaver? Can you give us a short excerpt?

No one has ever asked me this before. I’m so glad you did! My youngest daughter would laugh if she were with me right now because every time I get to this point in the story I squeal like a little girl and say, “I love this chapter!”

Chapter 14, titled The Third Law, is the moment that Mary discovers the solution to her problem, but it’s through someone else’s error that she discovers it:

A boy named Dicken, who sat near the front of
the room, raised his hand to answer a question Mary
hadn’t heard Mrs. Frickles ask.

“It is the third law of physics,” Dicken said
importantly. “A motion creates an equal and opposite

The class laughed at his error. Mary, who
didn’t like to laugh at anybody, but found his error
entertaining nonetheless, restrained herself to a smile.
She tried to put a look of understanding in her eyes.
After all, she was forever being laughed at over her …

“That’s it!” Mary leaped off of her stool and
slapped her hand down on the slate tabletop. Chantell
jumped so high in surprise that she almost fell off her
own stool. The class immediately forgot Dicken’s error
and swung eager eyes toward Mary to see how she was
going to make a fool of herself this time.

Mary hissed out the excited breath she’d been
holding and slowly sat back down on her stool. “I’m …
um … well.” She looked up at Mrs. Frickles, whose lips
were pursed as she gazed over the top of her glasses at
Mary. “Sorry, Mrs. Frickles. Dicken’s answer was very
inspiring for me. I’m sorry I disrupted the class.”

Mrs. Frickles continued to stare at Mary as if
considering an appropriate punishment or public
embarrassment, but in the end she shifted her attention
back to Dicken. “I think what you mean, son, is for
every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said.” Dicken’s look of
confusion grew as the class tittered and giggled some

Can you tell us if you're working on something else, and if so, give us a little taste?

I’ve recently sold another middle grade novel, Save The Lemmings! to Featherweight Press. Since that is about to go into the editing process, I’ll hold off on sharing an excerpt, but I’m happy to share a blurb: 

When Natalie’s Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, the media digs until they find a way to smear her goody-goody image. When her best friends start believing what they read, Natalie’s sunny spirit is pushed to its limits. How will Natalie stop the lies and win her friends back? And who will SAVE THE LEMMINGS?

I’m currently working on Polar Opposites, the second book in my young adult series, Super Villain Academy. I’m shopping the first book, King of Bad. Here is the introduction of the main character, Jeff. In the intro, we can see he’s comfortable being the bad boy, he knows he’s different from others, and he uses that to his delinquent advantage:

Jeff admired the growth of the flames as they devoured wads of paper and fast food wrappers in the wire mesh trashcan. He slipped the book of matches into his pocket and sat back on his heels to admire his work. One side of the can merely smoldered so he blew gently to fan the guttering flame.  It reminded him of how blowing on Jasmine’s neck the night before had resulted in a lovely arch of her back. He growled a throaty sigh remembering Jasmine’s blissful distraction as he’d nibbled her earlobe.
Jeff glanced over his shoulder. A man, who looked like he belonged behind a desk in a downtown high rise, jogged toward him.
“Ah, the sweet sounds of discipline.” Jeff stood, stuffed his fists in the front pockets of his jeans and shook the long bangs out of his eyes. He half expected the guy’s slick-soled business shoes to slip as he jogged across visitor parking. This was Jeff’s favorite part. Almost getting caught. When the guy was a baseball’s toss away, Jeff turned. He walked a couple steps then skipped up into a jog.
“Kid, stop!”
Jeff chuckled to himself, “Yeah, sure,” and loped across the soccer field.
“Wait a minute.”
Jeff stole a look over his shoulder. The guy was close even though he didn’t seem to be running very fast. Jeff grinned at him and increased his pace. A seven-foot tall chain link fence ringed in the far side of the field to prevent stray soccer balls from breaking the windows of passing cars on the street below. Jeff leaped onto the fence without slowing down and in two cat-like movements, launched himself over the top. He dropped to the ground, landing on a hill pocked with gopher holes, as easily as if he were jumping around in a bounce house. He smoothly transitioned back into a sprint and dashed across the street, startling a lady driving an SUV. 
“Kid, hold up.”
Jeff almost tripped; the guy was half way across the street already. He smirked, finally a decent chase, but not for long. With little effort, Jeff stepped up to a blurring speed. He dashed up a peaceful street that ran perpendicular to the school, where kids rode bikes and ran through sprinklers. Jeff recognized one of the ‘good’ kids from school, washing a ’57 step-side Chevy. 
“Sweet ride,” Jeff called out. The kid looked up at him, but then snapped his head to the left. That guy cannot be that close! Jeff looked over his shoulder to find the guy was only a house length behind him. Holy crap, Batman. No one ever keeps up with me!
For the first time in a long time, Jeff worried. But only a little. With a deep, fortifying breath he pumped his thigh muscles harder. He whizzed past houses so fast he doubted anyone would be able to describe him if they were asked to later. Tears streamed sideways from the force of the wind his speed created. He’d only started to breathe a bit more heavily than normal. Jeff was built to run.

What I love about this series is that kids and adults get away with behaving badly, because they’re villains and that in itself creates conflict. By nature they don’t make friends, don’t care about others, don’t have manners, very self-centered people. Jeff thought he was a bad boy, but then he gets recruited to Super Villain Academy. It is a fun series to write and very different from my middle grade work.

Any favorite authors, books you'd like to share with us?

For young adult books, I love everything Maggie Stiefvater has written. I haven’t read Scorpio Races yet, but I think I’m safe to say I’ll like that too. I read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins last week. I started grinning on the first page and I swear I’m still grinning from that charming story. So far Cassandra Clare hasn’t let me down either. I love both of L.K. Madigan’s books and it breaks my heart that we won’t read more from her. 

For middle grade I’m a big fan of Kimberley Griffiths Little. Enjoyed The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, Eighth-Grade Superzero, A Wrinkle in Time, the Harry Potter series even after it crossed into young adult, and Just Breeze.

Any helpful hints for writers, maybe something you've learned along the way?

The business of seeking publication can be very discouraging. Find ways of reminding yourself why you love to write and circle back around to that whenever you start to get caught up in frustration and self-deprecation. 

Read often. Be sure to steep yourself in the genre and age level you want to write in.  

Finally, everyone always says write a lot. But I don’t think writing a lot does much to improve your craft without good feedback on your writing. So find an effective critique group or partners who understand your genre and target age. Listen to their feedback with an open mind and be sure you are critiquing their work too. You learn so much by helping others. 

I would love if your readers visit me on my WEBSITE. They can find links to short stories, all my contact and social media information, and more stuff about my writing and me. Thank you, Lee, for inviting me to join you and your readers. It has been so much fun visiting.

Loved the visit, Kai.