Things That Excite Me, Including A Giveaway!

Hope all my friends in the states had a great Memorial Day! It was hot and muggy here, but at least there was no rain or hail.

I wanted to talk about three things today that have me excited.

First, I want to give a big shout out to the beautiful Emily White who recently announced that her book Elemental will be published by Spencer Hill Press. Yay, Emily! Drop by her blog if you haven't already and congratulate her.

Second, have you seen the perfection of Ryan Reynolds in all his green splendor? I hope the movie is as good as the trailer implies, but let's face it, I'd see it regardless.

Last, but not least, I won a copy of The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson a few weeks back in a wonderful pay it forward campaign to support the book started by Casey McCormick. So here's the blurb:

Lennie plays second clarinet in the school orchestra and has always happily been second fiddle to her charismatic older sister, Bailey. Then Bailey dies suddenly, and Lennie is left at sea without her anchor. Overcome by emotion, Lennie soon finds herself torn between two boys: Bailey's boyfriend, Toby, and Joe, the charming and musically gifted new boy in town. While Toby can't see her without seeing Bailey and Joe sees her only for herself, each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. But ultimately, it's up to Lennie to find her own way toward what she really needs without Bailey. A remarkable debut novel perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block.

I wanted to read the book before I had the giveaway, but life got in the way and I haven't been able to yet. I will, but I wanted to keep my end of the bargain as stated in the rules. And since anyone who enters to win will have to adhere by the same requirements, here they are:

1. You MUST have a blog or Facebook or somewhere you can give the book away and be clear about the rules (Twitter can’t support it, for example).

2. You MUST be willing to hold this exact giveaway on your blog or Facebook in which you purchase this book for someone else (or give away the one you receive from me, IF you don’t love it) and require that YOUR winner do the same. Preferably within TWO WEEKS of receiving the book from me.

3. If you win, I ask that you PLEASE enter your giveaway into the linky widget on Casey's blog and have YOUR winner do the same on that original post (not on your blog), so we can track how long the chain lasts and how many purchases we achieve.

4. U.S. entrants only.

5. The contest will run May 31st to June 6th at MIDNIGHT. I will announce the winner on June 7th and the chain will commence.

Entry is simple. Just leave a comment that you want to win and an email address if you don't have one on your blogger profile so I can get in touch with you if you do. 

Also, feel free to tell me about things that get you excited in a PG-13 sort of way (the kids do occasionally read my blog...when they're bored).

Slow And Steady...Or The Biggest Loser Fatback Phenomenon

Sorry I was AWOL on Tuesday. The weather has not been kind to our region. We've had widespread power outages and let's just say the local tornado sirens are not my friends.

I've always used reality TV as a distraction and for the times we had electricity, this week was no different. Oprah said farewell, and there were winners crowned on Dancing With The Stars, American Idol and The Biggest Loser.

As I watched the finalists weigh in on The Biggest Loser I couldn't help but wonder what they would all look like a year from now. The National Institute of Health has estimated that dieters can expect to regain two-thirds of their weight within a year of completing their diet plan. And if that wasn't bad enough, these dieters will probably gain back all of their weight, and possibly more, within 5 years.

That's why we don't see most of the previous contestants from the show ever again. They balloon back up to their starting weight or beyond. Okay, so I'm a pessimist. But why shouldn't they? During the show, they lose pounds at a ridiculous rate. These people are dropping nearly half their body weight in a matter of six months. Can you imagine exercising six hours per day? Very few can keep that up and live a regular life with the demands of family, friends and a job.

As someone who's been on a lot of fad diets, I've learned it's better to go slow and steady (hail to the turtle). Practice makes perfect and all that, just look at our writing journeys. We've all heard stories of the Premature Querying Syndrome, or *gasp* the even worse I-Just-Wrote-This-Tonight-In-A-Drunken-Haze crit request

I beg you not to let yourself be called The Biggest Loser for all the wrong reasons. Revise, revise, revise. Find wonderful blogging buddies to ask advice from and if you're lucky, find a great crit partner or two that can hold that beautiful balance between cheerleader and brutally honest hardass. BE the turtle.

Have a wonderful and productive weekend. I don't know about you, but Mother Nature owes me one!

A Group Of Fours

 I borrowed this from Geoffrey at Misanthropology 101 because I thought it was a lot of fun.

               1. Four shows that you watch:
                   The Closer
                   The Good Wife
                   Reality TV

               2. Four things you are passionate about:
                   Learning something new every day

               3. Four phrases you say a lot:
                   "Stop teasing your sister."
                   "Stop hitting your brother."
                   "Never give up, never surrender."
                   "Because I said so."

               4. Four things you've learned from the past:
                   Writing is fun
                   Friendships are priceless
                   Kids are not a good reason to stay in a bad marriage
                   Anyone can be forgiven

               5. Four places you would like to go for the first time:

               6. Four things you did yesterday:

               7. Four things you are looking forward to:
                   Friday. Every Friday for always and eternity.
                   A productive Summer of writing
                   Finding an agent
                   Sleeping in when the kids are out of school

               8. Four things you love about Summer:
                   Staring at the sky and picking out shapes in the clouds
                   Warm nights at the ballpark
                   The magnolias in bloom

I could have probably given more than four answers to any one of these, but that's not the way the game works. Do we have anything in common?

Hope you all have a terrific weekend and somehow coax that muse of yours to come out and play!

Book Review - Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

From Goodreads:

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?

 This is the first book I've read by Courtney Summers, although after this small taste, I will pick up her others. It has one of the best opening lines I can remember in a long time, “My hands are dying.” What a great set of questions that one raises. The grief Eddie feels throughout and the conflicting emotions that go along with it are expertly conveyed to the reader. I felt what Eddie felt due in no small part to the perfect selection of words chosen by the author.

The book is relatively short (224 pages) but doesn't skimp on the character development. The only thing I felt myself wishing for as a reader was a look from Eddie's best friend, Milo's, point of view. Then I stumbled on this link the other day from one of  Courtney's blog posts where she had written a short story just prior to the release of Fall For Anything told from his perspective (no spoilers) and really enjoyed it. You can also read the first five chapters for free here.

So have you read any YA lately dealing with edgy subjects? Or do you tend to stick to the HEA endings?

Pay For This And Still Respect Yourself In The Morning

Help Write Now - A writing community auction to benefit Southern storm relief. Because the April 2011 storm outbreak affected so many areas, they are donating auction proceeds to the Red Cross General Relief Fund.

You should see some of the great things up for grabs: agent critiques, signed books and ARCs, Nooks, gift cards, and an offering from Steph Perkins, who just happens to be one of my favorite YA authors, for a custom scene consisting of one written conversation of your choice between Anna and √Čtienne, the main characters of her novel ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. If you win, you’ll send her a topic, and she'll write a short scene in which Anna and √Čtienne muse upon it.

The scene will be added as a permanent “Extras” feature on stephanieperkins.com, and she'll list your name (and link to your website, if you have one) as the dedication. She will also print a copy, sign it, and mail it to you. I wish I'd won some money on the Kentucky Derby, because I would love to be able to bid on this one. I still might scrape up enough to manage it (kids, guard your piggy banks).

Did you know today is yesterday was National Doodle Day? Well, it was and the wonderful people at http://doodledayuse.org are raising money for NF, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing support to individuals and families affected by the genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis. They have a whole gallery of doodles by celebrities, authors and illustrators including David Duchovny, Neil Gaimon and Ron McFarlane. And if you have any extra cash lying around you can bid on all of these doodles through their auction site on ebay through May 23rd.

So there you go. Two chances for guilt free spending.

Have a wonderful weekend! (Not you Blogger. I'm still mad at you. Bad Blogger.)

And for those of you who voted for my little story in Cherie's Flash Fiction Blogfest, I'm sending hugs and kisses because I won! Hence that winner's badge over there in my sidebar. How cool is that?

Reflections and Rewards

Another Kentucky Derby has come and gone with a new record crowd of 164,858. Congratulations go to the connections of Animal Kingdom, who managed to win even though he had never raced on a dirt track before. Archarcharch was pulled up in the stretch with a fracture to his left front leg, and while his racing days are over, his life was saved through surgery.

There were millions of dollars bet on the Derby, but perhaps one of the most intriguing bets was made by four authors, Brian Farrey, Andrew Smith, Catherine Ryan Hyde and Kimberly Pauley. There was no money involved, but it turned out to be a whole lot of fun to follow the smack talk on Twitter under the hashtag TheBet. The best part is that we will all be privilege to the aftermath. For more information, check out this post by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

I would like to say thank you to Susan Oloier for giving me the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. And now, in accordance with the rules,  I will share seven things about myself:

1. I have a secret crush on a guy at work. Shhh.

2. I hate to sweat and will avoid it at all costs. Probably why my weight loss efforts have never been my greatest successes.

3. I am currently reading three books: Possession by Elana Johnson, Wither by Lauren DeStefano and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I normally do not attempt this but they are all so good! Plus, two are from the library and therefore have due dates.

4. I check my email about one hundred times per day. Seriously.

5. My mom is my best friend.

6. When I'm around someone who is crying I can't help but join them. I wasn't like that before my kids were born.

7. And last, but by no means least, I am a finalist in the wonderful Cherie Reich's Flash Fiction Blogfest. There are only six of us and all of the entries are short by definition so please stop by and vote for your favorite. I've read them all and they are terrific.

Until next time, may your muse be submissive!

Flash Fiction Blogfest

Thanks to Cherie of Surrounded By Books for hosting this fantastic blogfest. My entry was inspired by many recent weddings I've watched, Royal and otherwise. I hope you like it, and feel free to crit to your heart's content.


You are cordially invited to the wedding of Ashley Sue Johnson and Donald Alan Hope.

The couple will be married at St. Augustine's in downtown New Albany even though the groom is not Catholic and refuses to convert despite pressure from Diane Johnson, mother of the bride.

Diane will cry throughout the ceremony hoping no one notices that the fabric of her only daughter's gown is tight and puckered across the stomach, especially not the groom, who just last Thursday received a hero's welcome after returning from his extended tour in Afghanistan.

The Hope family will hold the reception at their sprawling estate in Dover Hills, making one last attempt to exploit the class difference between their family and the bride's.

Eleanor Hope, mother of the groom, will graciously entertain questions from friends and family about what her son was thinking by marrying that white trash girl who's slept with half the men in town.

The couple plans to honeymoon in Maui where the bride will swear the baby was conceived, and Donald will hit her for the first time when she asks him why he sits alone in the dark.

We look forward to seeing you on this happiest of occasions.

May God bless and keep them.

I look forward to reading all of the other entries over the weekend. Until next week, happy writing!

On This Day In History

I haven't done one of these posts in a while so I thought I'd share some interesting things I dug up.

1921 - West Virginia imposed the first state sales tax, to which I say BOO, HISS.

 1937 - Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer Prize for "Gone With The Wind". Well deserved, in my opinion.

1469 - Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian politician/writer (Prince) was born.

1926 - Napoleon Victor Bonaparte, Prince, died at the age of 63.

 1971 - National Public Radio broadcast for the first time.

1991 - 356th & final episode of CBS 2nd longest running series Dallas, 2nd only to Gunsmoke

And in honor of the Kentucky Derby coming up on Saturday...

On May 3, 1986, 54-year-old Willie Shoemaker, aboard 18/1 shot Ferdinand, becomes the oldest jockey ever to win the Kentucky Derby. The victory was just one of Shoemaker’s 8,833 wins, a record that stood until 1999, when it was broken by Laffit Pincay.

I hope you've enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. Until next time, happy writing!


Thanks to all of you who entered my Kentucky Derby Contest of Awesome and helped to spread the word.

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. The winner chosen by random.org is...

Michael of In Time...

Michael, you should have received an email from me.

Thanks again. I hope everyone will watch the Derby on May 7th. It airs on NBC in the states and coverage should begin around 4:00pm.
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