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Archive for November, 2010

Kissed by an Angel

By Elizabeth Chandler

Copyright 1995 (all three volumes) by Dennis Weiss Associates and Mary Clair Helldorfer

Produced by Alloy Entertainment, 151 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001

Published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 $9.99

Kissed by an Angel is a trilogy, bound together, consisting of the novels Kissed by an Angel, The Power of Love and Soulmates.It is aimed at a middle grade and young adult audience. I found Kissed by an Angel to be a fascinating book. It had all the love and gentleness of first love, a murder mystery and tons of suspense.

Kissed by an Angel contains no obscenity or gratuitous sex. It is wholesome, yet thoroughly enjoyable. I felt that Kissed by an Angel provided the best qualities of good reading. There is a wonderful building of tension through each book up to its concluding pages

There is a tendency in the entirety of the complete volume to lose pace at the transition between the books of the trilogy. This is necessary so the reader has the basics of events that led up to the new book. I personally don’t consider any of the books in the trilogy as stand-alone books. I’m also not sure if they were marketed as stand-alone books. Their current marketing of the three books as one bound trilogy works very well.

What follows is a passage from the trilogy, Kissed by an Angel

Will gave her a smile, but it was more with his eyes, which were deep brown, than with his mouth. His lips turned up slightly at just one corner of his mouth.

He was not easy to figure out, thought Ivy.

“O’Leary” said Eric when the owner had passed by, “have you got the hots for Pat, or what?”

“Likes those older women,” Gregory teased. “One at UCLA, one doing Europe instead of college…”

“You’re kidding,” said Suzanne, obviously impressed.

Will glanced up. “We’re friends,” he said, and continued sketching. “And I work next door at the photo lab.”

That was news to Ivy. None of Will’s friends had real jobs.

“Will did that portrait of Pat,” Gregory told the girls.

It was tacked up on the wall, a piece of cheap paper worked over with wax crayons. But it was Pat all right, with her straight, soft hair and hazel eyes and generous mouth – he had found her beauty.

“You’re really good,” said Ivy.

Will’s eyes flicked up and held hers for a second, then he continued his drawing. For the life if her she didn’t know if he was trying to be coo; or if he was just shy,

“You know, Will,” said Beth, “Ivy keeps wondering if you’re really cool or just shy.”

“Beth!” said Ivy. “Where did that come from?”

“Well, haven’t you wondered it? Oh, well, maybe it was Suzanne. Maybe it was me. I don’t know, ‘ivy, my mind’s a muddle. I’ve had a headache since I left your house. I think I need caffeine.”

“Gregory laughed. “That chocolate pizza should do the job.”

“For the record,” Will said to Beth, “I’m not really cool.”

“Give me a break,” Gregory said.

Ivy sat back in her chair and glanced at her watch. Well, it had been eight whole minutes that she had thought about other people. Eight whole minutes without imagining what it would have been like if Tristan had been sitting beside her. That was progress.”

Kissed by an Angel is full of love, heartache, mystery and suspense. It is everything you would want your teenager to read. As an adult I found it extremely entertaining. It had me so caught up in its story that I couldn’t wait to read it each day. I highly recommend it, especially for teens and tweens.

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Silent Screams from the Hamptons

By Christa Jan Ryan

Copyright 2008 by Christa Jan Ryan, published by Robert D. Reed Publishers, PO Box 1992, Brandon, Oregon 97411, http:,,www.rdrpublishers.com ISBN 978-1-934759-05-9

Silent Scream from the Hamptons by Christa Jan Ryan is an engrossing tale of one woman’s life, her battle with alcoholism and her subsequent recovery. It is a tale of a life gone wrong early on and finally found after a long and difficult struggle. It is a story of the multi-generational effect alcoholism and dysfunctional families have.

Christa’s openness and willingness to bare her soul to strangers for the purpose of healing both them and her is to be commended. She holds nothing back in an attempt to be honest and to help other to be able to see they are not alone and they too can begin the road to recovery if they are willing to try and to follow the steps.

Here is passage from one of the scenes in the book where Christa’s life begins to get totally of control. It involves a secret trip away with an adult male teacher from school when she was only twelve:

“Late that afternoon, I stood in the lobby of the hotel watching Greg check in and felt a wave of alarm pass through my young body. WHAT AM I DOING? He suddenly looked old. When Greg turned toward me and flashed a lecherous smile, I knew I was in trouble. He grabbed me by the hand and led me toward the room. I didn’t know how to tell him that the deal was off. In the room Greg suggested that I take a shower first. That sounded great; it would give me time to plan my escape. I stripped off my ski clothes and stood under the hot water with my heart pounding in my chest. He came in the bathroom, and I heard him lock the door behind him. “Shit, I should have done that?” I thought. Next thing I knew, he was in the shower soaping me down.

“I’m done,” I said casually as I stepped one foot out of the shower. “It’s your turn,” He grabbed my arm and yanked me back into the shower. “Hey,” I protested. “that hurt.”

“I’m sorry, baby. I just didn’t want you to leave.”

“Please, Greg,” I reasoned, “I’m only twelve. I don’t think I’m ready for this.”

“Christa, you’re not leaving me hanging now. It’s gone too far.” He turned off the shower.

“Please, please, Greg. I’m just a kid,” I pleaded desperately.

For the sake of keeping the review PG I won’t go any further into the story. Let me just say that Silent Screams from the Hamptons was spell-binding. Once I started it I was unable to put it down, I read it from beginning to end, all two-hundred-thirty-eight pages. It is wonderful, fascinating and an absolute must read.

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NaNoWriMo is over for me, although the actual event continues until 11:59:59 on November 30th. I finished the first 50,117 words of my novel, Raven’s Wings. I’m not done telling the story I wanted to tell so I’ll continue typing away day after day, that’s the nature of writing. When that’s finally done the editing will start. As far as I’m concerned editing is more work than the writing is. When you write you create, when you edit you mercilessly cut out extraneous scenes, even if you loved them because they just don’t work quite right with your story. I won’t be as obsessed with writing as I’ve been during NaNoWriMo. There’s no pressure to turn out 50,000 words a month, thank goodness.  My goal is 15,000 words a month. I should finish the rough draft by the end of January. I’ll post occasional excerpts here. Some of them may not make it into the final draft, but I’ll post them anyway.

NaNoWriMo is an incredible ego booster. You push yourself incredibly hard. I read a post I had written but not published just four days before I finished NaNoWriMo. At that point I had just over ten thousand words to go and it seemed as though I would never finish the 50,000 word goal by November 30th. I had had it. I was ready to give up, throw in the towel and forget the prior 21 days of work. I was sick with a gastrointestinal bug that definitely hadn’t been part of my writing schedule. The holidays were right around the corner. How was I going to finish a book when I was going to lose at least two days, one to the holiday and the other because I was too sick to write.

Then, on the 22nd I hit my stride. I turned out over four thousand words that day alone. I had suddenly gone from needing just over ten thousand words to needing five thousand nine hundred and nine words. It seemed not only manageable, but doable now. I set a goal of 2,500 words for the next two days. Thanksgiving day, after we had returned home from the festivities at my parent’s house I came into my bedroom, which doubles as my office and I typed out the final words to put me over the edge mark at the 50,117.

As I said, 50,000 words didn’t finish my story. I still have work to do, but the majority of the writing is finished. I have a workable schedule for the rest of the book and I hope to edit it and begin submissions before next year’s NaNoWriMo comes around. I will do NaNoWriMo next year and each year thereafter. I can’t work on any existing project, only on new work that doesn’t start until November 1, 2010, but I can plot it out to my little heart’s content and believe me, I will. I winged it too much this year and got lost in the weeds a few times. I have extra garbage I know I have to edit out, but it doesn’t matter I did it.

Hey VISA internet $50, computer $500,  writing and verifying a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days, PRICELESS.

 

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My humble thanks to Jessica Subject. I won a copy of Volume I of The Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture in Jessica’s Great Book Giveaway. Thanks Jessica and everyone else look for more news on Jessica’s upcoming book giveaways here, also be sure to follow Jessica on Twitter at @jsubject.

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Twenty-five days. 50,117 words. The badge says it all. More to follow after I’ve slept. For now I’m happy, very happy.

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Jessica Subject in conjunction with author’s Lorna Suzuki and Nia Suzuki-White is giving away a copy of The Dream Merchant Saga Book One: The Magic Crystal, Lorna and Nia’s new YA book. To enter to win go to Jessica’s website at http://markofthestars.com/wp/great-gift-ideas/ggi4/ and leave a comment. I also recommend following Jessica on Twitter as @jsubject. Enter today and good luck everyone.

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Growing Up

I was thinking about my life as I was growing up the other day. It was a wonderful time in my life,  although it would take the distance of many years before I could see that.

We grew up in a small house in a rural neighborhood. Most homes sat on lots of an acre or more and there were plenty of farms in the area. It was the perfect place to be a child.

Sundays meant Sunday school and mass. After church we would go to the local news store. My dad would buy the Sunday paper and each of us kids would get money, I think it was a quarter but looking back it may have been a dime, to buy candy with. I remember the little licorice fishes were three for a penny. I remember I could buy a candy bar or a bag full of candy. The choice was always a hard one. On a few occasions the candy bar won, but I always regretted buying it because as soon as you ate it you had no candy left, if I bought the bag full of carefully selected candy I could make it last almost until the next week. It was great. I never realized how much of an expense that money was with the four of us kids.  It was a sacrifice for my parents, but each week we had it. I don’t think it was a reward or an allowance. I think it was a gift just because they loved us.

On weekends we would go visit my grandparents. My mother and father lived within a few miles of each other so their parents weren’t more than ten or fifteen minutes away from each other. We’d always visit both of them and sometimes we’d visit my father’s friend from high school.

My grandparents were very different from each other. My father’s parents were always busy. My grandfather worked in his garden and watched spaghetti westerns and wrestling on Sundays. I’ll always remember the name of the wrestler from Pittsburg, Bruno Samartino (I’m not sure I’m spelling it right but you get the general idea). I’ll also always remember how my grandfather thought everything about wrestling was real. Maybe it was back then. My grandmother sat at the kitchen table smoking and playing solitaire. She would play rummy, which my father taught me, with me. I can’t play either game to this day without thinking of her.

My mom’s parents were very laid back. My grandfather was disabled due to a heart problem, my grandmother was the quintessential homemaker. Each weekend that she knew we were coming she would take the bus into town and go shopping. We’d come in and find a soda for each of us, cold cuts, usually chipped ham, a Pennsylvanian food that you really have to sample if you have the chance, it’s wonderful, and sliced Colby cheese separated by white sheets of deli paper. Lots of times she’d have a big pot of baked beans made. Lunch would be sandwiches and baked beans. Sometimes I complained about not having any choice about what to eat, but now, as an adult, I realize what my grandmother offered us was a virtual feast. I think she probably did the same when all my cousins or aunts and uncles came to visit, but it always made me feel special that she did it for us.

Back to our house for a bit. It was a small two bedroom house with a shed out back that in my memory at least was almost as large as the house was. My parents had one of the bedrooms and the kids had the other one. That was the way it was till I was eleven or twelve when my parents added onto the house. Until then it was me, my brother and our two sisters all in that one room.

My best friend’s great-aunt lived next door. We met when I was three and she was two. We were friends until she died fifteen years ago in a car accident.

Her great-aunt’s place used to be a huge family farm. It had been divided between the great aunt and two great uncles. There was the remains of an old chicken coop that had burned down on the property and an old pig pen, covered in tar paper that was converted by J’s great-uncle into a playhouse for us. He even put an old window in it. We had a table, two chairs and for many years, our dolls up there. The playhouse remained a haven for us long after we should have outgrown it. When I moved away at thirteen we were still using it.

There was a huge hill behind J’s great-aunt’s house. Halfway down was a pump house we would lay on to sunbathe when we were just getting old enough to care about things like that. The top of the hill was our picnic place, underneath a crabapple tree. We would sit there with salted apples and peanut butter sandwiches and when we were finished we would lay down and roll as far down the hill as we could, keeping as eye out as we rolled on our sides for the pump house stationed firmly in the middle of the hill. To be honest I don’t know if we ever rolled all the way down the hill.

Winters were great. We’d get out our sleds and start as far up the hill as we could, which, if memory serves me was about halfway up. Then we would spend hours going up and down the hill until our hands and feet were frozen and our legs were so tired they could barely carry us back up the hill. when we were done sledding J’s great-aunt would build a nice hot fire in the old iron stove that was in the basement of the house and we would take off our wet clothes and put them on the back of folding chairs. Our wet sneakers would dry out when we put them on the plate at the very bottom of the stove.

J’s great aunt would bring down a plate full of apples covered in peanut butter and big cups of real hot chocolate. Sometimes she’d bring a pot with enough hot chocolate to refill our mugs when they were empty. We’d sit there in front of the wood stove pretending we were Laura and Mary from Little House on the Prairie. It was one of our favorite games to play.

I moved away when I was thirteen. I went back to town only a few times after that although I saw J at her parent’s house and again at her great aunt’s a couple of times. We kept in touch over all the intervening years, even when nearly eight hundred miles separated us.

When she died I hadn’t heard from her for a couple of months. I wasn’t overly concerned, we had gone that long before between phone calls, though it was unusual. I was moving into a new place and wanted to make sure she had my new number. The number i had for her had been disconnected, again, not worrying in itself, we had lost touch with each other during moves over time. I called her mother’s and that’s when I found out she had died in September.

I lost my best friend, the only co-holder of my childhood memories. I lost a part of myself. I love you J and I miss you still today. I think it will always be that way. Happy belated birthday. Sorry I’m ten days late.

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The second week of NaNoWriMo is drawing to close. I haven’t written yet today, but my word count is just about six hundred words short of today’s goal of 20,000 words. By the end of the day I should be almost one thousand words over the daily goal. thank goodness.

Week two has been a bit of a challenge. I was sick one day and didn’t get a single word written, this left me with three thousand three hundred thirty eight words to write the next day. i pushed through and got them done, but it was a challenge. I also discovered that I really liked most of what I wrote. The advantage of being under pressure is you tend to just let the writing flow, which is a terrific thing. It allows your imagination free range, which was terrific. there will still be a lot of material I’ll cut during the revision process, but now my characters are dancing. They’ve surprised me with some of their secrets and their actions, but it’s been a really interesting process.

Week two brings a lot of self-doubt though, why am I writing this?, is it any good?, should I throw it out and start over, am I fooling myself, what even made me think I could write? and a thousand other questions go through your brain. The temptation to go back and edit the raw material you’ve written is strong, but you have to remind yourself the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write without thinking, hence the push for 1,667 words each and every day.

I started off loosely plotting. I knew where i wanted to begin, where I wanted to be in the middle and how I wanted the story to end. Other than I didn’t really plot. What I did do was plot the following day’s scenes based on what I had written and what my characters had done the day before. It’s worked well, although yesterday after being sick the day before I just winged it. A large part of what i wrote I had already laid out in my head. One thing that happened was totally unforeseen, although the cause of the consequence had been laid out in my head since the beginning of the story. I just didn’t plan on my other character reacting the way she did, by leaving him behind. He’s part of the group involved in the quest so I have to figure out a way to bring him back into the story. the funny thing is her reaction was totally natural. I should have seen it coming and planned how to deal with it, but I didn’t. Short sighted on my part, but true nonetheless.

I promised you an excerpt once the characters started to dance so I’m going to follow through with it. Just remember this is raw, unedited writing. It has it’s flaws, it may not flow perfectly upon the page, it may have spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. I’m not editing it for this post. You’ll see it exactly as it’s written. I hope you enjoy it.

“The Owen, that as it drew closer she realized wasn’t really Owen, stopped behind her not saying a word at first. Raven decided to test the waters quickly.

“Darling, you’ve come back. I’ve been warming the blankets waiting for your arrival. Why were you gone so long? Come lie down beside me.” I was something she never would have said to the real Owen, they didn’t have that kind of relationship.

The Owen who wasn’t lowered himself to his knees beside her, but not looking in her direction. That was fine with her. She was relatively sure this wasn’t her Owen, but if it wasn’t then where was he? Would she have to go search the riverbed at night only to find him beaten and broken once again, this time perhaps beyond her help? She grasped a handful of the false Owen’s hair, as if in love play, tipping his face back to expose his neck acting as though she was going to kiss on it even though the bile was already rising in her throat. She reached down and grabbed the knife from near the fire, ignoring the pain as the heat collected in it burned the skin of her palm. She bit down on her lip to keep from gasping. She had held hot knives and pots before when caring for her patients. The pain from this burn was no more and no less than those had been. The difference was the intent, this time she intended to use her knife to harm another human rather than to heal one. The situation made her eyes ache with unshed tears, but she blinked quickly, pushing them away, knowing this was not the time for weakness. Weakness and tears could come later when this was over, now was the time for resolve.

Keeping her eyes focused on this thing’s neck, for that was how she must think of the person in front of her or she wouldn’t be able to do what she had to survive. She leaned in toward its neck and drew her knife across its throat, cutting deeply and quickly severing both the carotid artery and the superior vena cava in one swipe of the blade, her plan to simply harm whatever it was forgotten in the face of two certainties. This thing had come here looking for her, perhaps it had waited until it was sure she was alone to come into camp, but it had come here meaning to take her, kill her or worse, turn her into whatever it was. She watched as in death it’s features grew flaccid and seemed to slid from its face until she wondered how she could have taken him for Owen in the first place.

The tears she had been holding at bay began to fall in earnest as the body fell away from her foul, black blood pumping at intervals from the wide wounds in its neck. The stench was so foul Raven turned her head and began retching as the viscous black fluid clung to her, its smell that of hot acrid vomit. She felt the blood spraying on her and without a thought she flung an arm out shouting “Away.” Without a moments delay the now lifeless body turned falling upon the ground, instead of onto Raven’s lap and body.

Covered in gore, raven rushed around the campsite like a mad woman gathering supplies, leftovers and blankets and throwing them into the two sacks left behind. She quickly kicked dirt over the top of the fire to keep Owen from returning there. Then she threw the sacks and herself onto the mare’s back and headed down to the river to find Owen.”

It’s rough. It’s raw. It needs a lot of editing and you don’t have any backstory to use to put it in perspective, but trust me they’re starting to dance. It’s not a waltz or a ballet, but some day it will be, for now it’s enough that they’re dancing.

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Fellow book blogger Jessica Subject is giving away How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack and the first three books of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series. To enter go to Jessica’s website and fill out the form, then cross your fingers. Winning will be so  much fun, but so is just visiting Jessica’s website.

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Okay, its Friday of the first full “work” week on NaNoWriMo. Fact is NaNo is a seven-days-a-week  event, but there are five days in the average work week so allow me some poetic license.

At the end of day five I’m about 500 words ahead of the required word count. Tomorrow’s word count will break 10,000. If I stay on goal my word count will end up somewhere between 10,484 and 10,584 words or more than 20% of my NaNoWriMo goal. Of course this is only 10% of my actual goal for the completed novel, but the goal of NaNoWriMo is a 50,ooo word first draft or approximately 175 pages.  I think I must work with verbose authors because other than Stephenie Meyer’s novella and one children’s book nothing I’ve read in the past eight months has come in under 200 pages and most are in the 300-400 page range, which is the goal I have for my finished novel. That means I have to write about 125,000 words to finish my book.

I’m big on character driven storylines. I’m a terrible plotter. I’ve plotted my beginning, my middle, my end and a few key scenes, other than this what I do is I look at what my characters have done that day and before I go to sleep I plot out what I think they should do the next day. Sometimes they surprise me and go off on tangents. Had a character do this yesterday, but it turned out to be a nice tangent so I think it’ll probably survive the revisions and editing, at least I hope so.

I know I promised excerpts but its a bit early in the process for that, the characters and I are still getting acquainted with each other. We’ve shaken hands but now we’re on opposite sides of the dance floor waiting for the other party to make the first move. When we get to actual dancing you’ll get excerpts. I hope they’ll light up your world.

Until then dream big and write with joyous abandon,

Tracy

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