Check out the Contest for Josi Kilpack’s Latest Book!

Josi Kilpack’s Tres Leches Cupcakes is being released the first week of September and to kick it all off, she’s announced a contest.

In conjunction with the release of Tres Leches Cupcakes the author, Josi S. Kilpack, and the publisher, Shadow Mountain, are sponsoring a contest for free books. To enter, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog before September 16th, 2012. Winners will be announced and notified September 17th 2012.

For additional ways to enter, go to www.josiskilpack.com, or keep reading below.

Josi’s a terrific writer and if you haven’t yet tasted her culinary mystery series (or Daisy, her contribution to the Newport Ladies Book Club series), you’ve been skipping more than dessert!

Backliner:

For Sadie Hoffmiller, going undercover as an informant for the Bureau of Land Management on an archeological site in Santa Fe, New Mexico, seems like the perfect way to stay safe and busy while a threat against her life remains unresolved. Sadie’s days are spent digging up artifacts in the middle of nowhere while also digging up information on her fellow “dirt geeks.” With the help of her baking prowess—no one can resist those amazing dulce de leche bars—and Pete’s cousin, Caro, who takes to the detective work wholeheartedly, Sadie is finding herself again.

But the bright Southwestern sunshine only serves to illuminate the danger that lurks in the shadows. When recent burials are found on an ancient site, Sadie finds herself in the middle of an unexpected—and unwanted—investigation. The more she digs for the truth, the more secrets she uncovers—secrets that people would kill to keep hidden.

Before Sadie knows it, she’s arrested for starting a bar fight (which was totally not her fault), her new friend is missing, and she’s worn out her welcome in Santa Fe in more ways than one. A trip to the annual hot air balloon fiesta in Albuquerque is supposed to give her a break, but before long, she learns that when you’re dealing with the black market antiquity trade, you’re not really safe anywhere you go.

Contest Details

  • Three books are up for grabs to start the contest.
  • For every 50 entries (not including existing newsletter recipients) another book will be added to the pot.
  • No limit on number of entries.
  • No limit on how many books can be won by any one person.
  • The winner can choose any book in the Sadie Hoffmiller series, including Tres Leches Cupcakes.
  • Winners will be drawn via Random.org on September 17th.
  • Books will be signed and shipped anywhere in the US and Canada.

How to Enter (multiple entries encouraged!)

I’m too far away to attend a live event (unless she happens to come up here…hint, hint), but the rest should be a piece of cake…that is to say…cupcake!

Originally posted 2012-08-17 13:36:38.

Cover Reveal!

Amy Orton at Walnut Springs has bent over backward and I’m now pleased to announce my cover for “A Night on Moon Hill”:

What do you think?

I’m happy and excited, and to celebrate I’m going to announce a special contest beginning on “Moleskine Monday” in which many of the prizes are…you guessed it…Moleskine products! (Any of my writer friends who would like to donate copies of their own books for the contest are also more than welcome!)

I was supposed to blog about networking this past Monday, but I just didn’t get around to it because I was so stressed about the cover. So this next Monday, I’m launching this contest to test the powers of social networking in spreading the word about my book.

Check back Monday for more details about the book and all the prizes.

Originally posted 2012-08-16 17:20:12.

“Thriller Thursdays” – Suspense of “The Bourne Identity” More Complex

Present word count of WIP:  60,234 (Yes, I’ve been dead in the water when it comes to writing…somewhat like Ludlum’s protagonist in the beginning.)

Between the Olympics, gearing up for a book launch and being held in suspense over the final cover of my next novel, it was all I could do to get my reading in, but I did! I actually finished Robert Ludlum’s classic spy thriller, “The Bourne Identity” last Thursday…at about 11:27 pm. Too late to blog about it.

But it gave me time to watch the two movies based on the story. You see, I had thought I’d read this before, but I didn’t remember half of the plot in the book, mainly due to the more recent film version with Matt Damon. The film with Damon was so terrific that it effectively supplanted the plot of the novel in my mind.

Confused, I did a little investigating and came to discover there was a film version put out for television back in the 80’s starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith. While it was much truer to the book, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much…and it wasn’t just because of the acting (Jaclyn Smith made me cringe).

 Is that a reflection on Ludlum’s novel? I think so, yes. While his plot is more complex and the writing is tightly-paced (I’ve never seen so many sentence fragments), I began to grow tired of the hero’s struggles to regain his memory. The book was very tied in to current headlines and, having lived through the 80’s, I remember the terrorist/assassin named “Carlos” and how the newspapers bandied about his name every time there was some high-profile attack.

(Spoiler Alert): While the book makes Jason Bourne struggle to come to terms with the possibility that he is this “Carlos,” it eventually clarifies that he isn’t, that he was a good guy working for the U.S. all along, not killing but faking kills in order to draw out the competitive Carlos. While Ludlum writes short sentences, he writes an awful lot of them and, at a certain point, the material just seemed too dense, the psychological struggling too repetitive.

I found the approach taken by Tony Gilroy in the Matt Damon film to be much more compelling: There was no Carlos, or if so, then Jason Bourne (and others like him) filled that role. Bourne was, indeed, a bad guy who did bad things (even if he was brainwashed to do them) and, once he realizes it, he has to find a way to live with himself and try to change his life.

I’m giving it 3.5 stars.

Favorite quote:

“Nothing makes a man more nationalistic than to think his country’s owned by foreigners. He can adjust in time to losing a war–that only means the enemy was stronger–but to lose his economy means the enemy was smarter.”

Next up: Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood…and from what I’ve read so far, I think this will be a 5-star read!

And stay tuned tomorrow. I believe I’ll be unveiling my cover!

Originally posted 2012-08-16 15:21:49.

Annette Lyon’s “Paige” Set to Launch

Present word count of WIP:  60,234

If you haven’t yet heard of The Newport Ladies Book Club, check the series out now with the third installment, “Paige” by Annette Lyon, launching this Saturday. If you click on the link now you can get into the “Spread the Love” contest and win some great books (paperback and ebook) or maybe even chocolate!

The Newport Ladies Book Club series is unique in that each Newport book is written from the point of view of a different woman in the book club. The first 4 books cover the same time period and the same book club meetings. But only with reading all 4 books, will you learn the whole story of each of the women and her full character journey. Think of it as a parallel series, not as a forward-moving series.

I read the first, “Olivia” by Julie Wright, and really liked it. I’ve still got “Daisy” by Josi Kilpack in my Kindle waiting to be read and now it will be joined by “Paige.” A few months from now the fourth member of the book club will get her turn in “Athena” by Heather Moore.

Can’t wait! (In fact, I need a break from all these murder mysteries and thrillers…”Daisy” coming up!)

Originally posted 2012-08-08 11:38:35.

“Moleskine Mondays” – “I” is for “iPad App” (Penultimate)

Present word count of WIP:  59,347

A peek at a few of my apps

I have several iPad apps that help in my writing, but the one I love best is Penultimate.

That one there in the middle

First, any time you want to start a new project, you simply add a new notebook and dive in. For example, here’s my notebook for my current WIP, “School of Guardians”:

If I tap on it, it will open to the page I was working on last, but you can also get a menu type view of all the pages:

If I’m working on a particular scene, such as the Luncheon scene with the parents before the Memorial Service, and need to keep in mind where each character is at the table, I can quickly sketch it out:

Or if you’re dealing with a fantastic kind of setting and it helps you to sketch it out on paper (or tablet in this case) until you get it to match the image in your mind, it’s easy to do with this app (and you can erase to your heart’s content without wasting paper):

You can even fool around with possible cover ideas for your novels, and while none of these images show it, you can write or draw in different colors (as you’ll see from their website). My publisher is preparing a cover for A Night on Moon Hill as I’m posting this, but I sent along a couple of suggestions, based partly on this sketch:

As you can see, I’m no artist but I can still visualize some concepts in basic form. What about you? Do you ever try to draw mockups of possible covers? Have you had any experience with this particular app, good or bad? I’d love to hear about it.

Originally posted 2012-08-06 15:21:14.

“Moleskine Mondays” – “K” is for “Knowledge”

Present word count of WIP:  59,347

(At some point this next month, my word count will begin regularly changing. I promise. I’ve been busy proofing my book that’s coming out in a few weeks!)

Any writer worth his or her salt needs a variety of resources to do the research and gain the knowledge necessary to hone craft and write with authority. Having a background in journalism, I make it a point to read the newspaper every day. I can’t help it. It’s a habit, and a good one, I think. As you can see from the picture below, my son is beginning to follow in my footsteps.

First of all, it gives me plenty of story ideas. Within the pages of any daily newspaper you can find enough kernels of drama to fuel a hundred different stories.

Second, it educates me. I don’t care how many college degrees you have, you can never stop learning because the database in this world keeps growing. And I always make it a point to make my novels not only entertaining but informative and world expanding. I want my readers to feel that reading my books is time well spent, not wasted.

So research is key.

I came across an article yesterday in Parade Magazine (which comes with my Sunday paper) by Jennifer Kahn that should be required reading, in my opinion, for all writers.

Entitled “What Your Nose Knows and Other Amazing Facts About Your Senses,” the piece contains all kinds of nuggets that should inform our storytelling. After all, the best fiction doesn’t ignore any of the senses.

What about you? Do you make a regular habit of reading the paper? If so, when was the last time you were helped on a story or in your writing by something in the newspaper?

Originally posted 2012-07-30 11:58:58.

Jason is “Slightly Trendy”

Present word count of WIP:  59,347

Okay, my Aspie son may not have a job…yet. And he doesn’t drive…yet. But, according to this terrific article from i09, one of my favorite futuristic websites, Jason is “slightly trendy.” It’s a fascinating read and so in line with my upcoming new novel (the title of which is yet again in limbo…the publishers decided against The Boy in the Pool, so stay tuned).

Meanwhile, Jason is reading on his own and attending Institute class and Mission Prep once a week (and we’re really grateful to the young men that give him rides home when they can). This weekend we’ll probably be shopping for a laptop for him to get used to using for his classes that start in September. He wants a Google Chrome book.

Anyone familiar with those? If so, please comment below, including both pros and cons.

Originally posted 2012-07-27 06:00:41.

“Thriller Thursdays” – Sick Suspense of “Kiss the Girls”

Present word count of WIP:  58,116

Sick Suspense. Those are the words that come to mind in describing this psychological thriller by James Patterson.

According to the Oakland Press:

“Move over Thomas Harris, along comes James Patterson. Before you settle into Patterson’s latest book, make sure you’ve got a couple free nights of reading time. It’s the sort of grisly tale that keeps your hands gripping the book and your heart pounding at any unusual noise in the house.”

I beg to differ on two points:

1) Patterson doesn’t hold a candle to Harris.

2) My hands didn’t grip the book nor did my heart pound in fear.

Patterson is not nearly as literary as Harris. He may try to make up for his average writing style with extra graphic descriptions, but that only served to make me feel sick. I almost gave up on the book twice. The only reason I skimmed ahead was to see if my hunch about one of the perpetrators, Casanova, was correct. It wasn’t, so at least he kept me guessing, but the surprise at the end kind of came out of left field. Not so satisfying.

Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross in the movie version

I know many are enamored with his main character, Alex Cross, an African-American detective and psychologist, but I thought the character of Kate McTiernan, the victim that manages to escape more than once, much more intriguing. This is the third book in a row by a male author on this list in which the female main character is as strong, if not stronger, than the male. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a given in successful suspense.

Ashley Judd as Dr. Kate McTiernan

The only thing I really liked about this book?

His first line:

“For three weeks, the young killer actually lived inside the walls of an extraordinary fifteen-room beach house.”

Now, that’s spooky. That conjured up all kinds of scenarios in my head.

Do you think suspense novels are best when they describe everything in graphic detail, or leave that kind of stuff to your imagination?

 

Originally posted 2012-07-26 06:00:53.

“Moleskine Mondays” – “S” is for Software (Scrivener)

Present word count of WIP:  57,034 (I know, I need to get writing again!)

Since this is my first posting about writing software, I may as well begin with my personal favorite: Scrivener.

Originally created for Mac users (which I am), it’s now available for regular PCs, as well, and it’s very reasonably priced ($45). In fact, The Writer’s Store is offering a special deal on it ($35) until August 6th, though it’s currently on backorder.

What’s so great about it?

  • All in one place, you can write, structure, and revise.
  • It helps you organize, whether you like to outline first or do it later.
  • You can keep all your research for any given project in one place.
  • Once you’ve finished revisions, it helps you prepare your manuscript for submission or self-publishing (even exporting to ePub or Kindle formats)
Personally, it’s been terrific for the fantasy series I’ve begun. I’ve mapped out each volume of the series (with broad strokes to begin with) and, as I come across information that will be useful in terms of research, I can plunk it down in my series bible, tying it to the appropriate volume(s) . . . or, if it applies to the volume I’m currently working on, I can put it in a file right there.
I can save images (such as possible character looks or settings, etc.) and links and so much more. But don’t take my word for it. Go here to see what the folks at Literature and Latte say. I don’t think you’ll have any more questions once you read through everything they have posted.
What have been your experiences with Scrivener, both good and bad? Is there a particular writing software program you’d like me to review?

 

Originally posted 2012-07-23 12:45:51.

“Thriller Thursdays” – Slow Suspense of That Tattooed Girl

Present word count of WIP:  57,034

Stieg Larsson’s original version of the suspense novelThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was to have been titled Men Who Hate Women (in Swedish, of course). And that may be all you need to know in order to look beyond the plot in this story for a theme.

While it has been praised all over the world and even won several awards, I have to say I was disappointed. After having just read The Silence of the Lambs, so tightly written with the type of spare and sometimes poetic prose I love, Larrson’s book felt dense and cumbersome. And I was confused about the quoted statistics regarding violence against women which began each new section…until I discovered his original title. This is definitely a book that is not nice to women, but fortunately an unlikely heroine arises to defend her gender.

Of course, this novel was edited and translated after Larsson died, so who knows how closely it hues to his original vision. It would have been interesting to see how the book might have fared had it been published before the author’s death.

For me, the main problem was that he had a terrific family saga mystery wrapped in the distant world of Swedish high finance. And that’s an Achilles heel for me. Anytime I start reading or hearing about economics, business, and numbers, my eyes glaze over and my brain tends to want to shut off. I would have enjoyed the book a lot more had he minimized the corporate world stuff and amped up the personal family story. (By “amping” I mean increasing the pacing.)

The opening Prologue was terrific because it honed in on the central mystery, intriguing the reader without giving away much. But then the story veered off into the corporate stuff in order to introduce the finance reporter who ends up tasked with solving the family mystery. My interest didn’t pick up again until about 30 pages in when the tattooed girl, Lisbeth Salander, is finally introduced.

Any time she was in a scene I was hooked. Any time she wasn’t, I found myself missing her. She’s that strong of a character. (I wasn’t surprised to learn later in the book that she’s likely on the autism spectrum.) The reporter was really quite bland in comparison and yet he appears to be the protagonist, since he takes up most of the book. Once they’re teamed to solve the mystery of the missing/dead girl (which only happens about two thirds of the way through the book), the pace finally begins to pick up.

Then, after the mystery’s solved, Larsson brings back the corporate stuff so the reporter can get his revenge on the corrupt financier who had sued him in the first place…but it takes away from the power that was in essence returned to women in the conclusion of the mystery.

In sum, I don’t understand why this was the huge hit that it was. The novel was too drawn-out and disjointed for my taste, not to mention it had some offensive scenes I skipped over. I’m giving it three stars.

Still, there were some quotes I liked:

“Normally seven minutes of another person’s company was enough to give her a headache so she set things up to live as a recluse. She was perfectly content as long as people left her in peace. Unfortunately society was not very smart or understanding.”

“Everyone has secrets. It’s just a matter of finding out what they are.”

“Friendship – my definition – is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble.”

If you’ve read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I’d love to hear what you thought. Did it hold your interest the whole way? Who was the real protagonist?

Next on my list: James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls . . . I’m expecting a fast read, so I’ll be reviewing it next Thursday.

 

Originally posted 2012-07-19 11:34:58.