Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's 2010

It's the eve of the eve of New Year's! The time of year when we reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Many people set their new goals now. I am not a big resolution person, but it is as good a time as any to refresh and refocus my goals. So here goes...

In the coming new year I'd like to...

  • Spend more quality time with my family. Not just the drive by eating and relaying of important information time that we pass for as being quality. Real, memory making moments :)
  • Take another cross country train trip, which would also help with the above goal.
  • Set aside my own time for writing everyday and then unplug all outside distractions. This also includes unplugging that nagging inner voice that says I should be doing anything but writing.
  • Start seriously researching and seeking representation. Realizing that this is a big ole publishing world was the first step, now it's time to get help navigating it properly.
  • Read with more attention and write with more passion.
  • Expand my writing, not only in genres, but in subject and character exploration also. I want to learn more with each story and eventually write books with deeper emotions and meanings.
  • And finally, I want to follow Rita Mae Brown's great advice and work harder than I hope for all of these things to happen this year.

And in the true spirit of New Year's Resolutions I will toss in a few that I'd love to see happen, but won't hold my breath. Kind of sacrificial resolutions ;)

  • Exercise more. This one has a 1/2 a chance of happening since we now have Wii Fit. It's fun to compete with the kids and doesn't feel like you're working out.
  • Be more consistent with my blog. Especially my Memoir Monday posts. I love doing them, but have a hard time finding the time every week. Might be reasonable to make this a monthly event.
  • Spend less time on Twitter. This goal should be in the above list, but I am weak ;) I will make a real effort to only Twitter after writing.

As far as last year's goals. I can't complain. With my family I grew and learned more about myself and my roots. With my first book I learned what I'm capable of and where I want to go next. Not bad if I do say so myself.

What are your goals/resolutions for 2010?

Thanks for all of your support and comments in 2009. It means a lot to me that you would share your time and thoughts with me. I hope we all continue to share with each other in the future.

Happy New Year! May it bring you all love, health, and success!

Kristin : )

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Review: Horrid Henry's Christmas by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry lives up to his name the latest book. His target this time is Christmas.

Horrid Henry's Christmas by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross is a humorous look at a not so funny topic, bad behavior. It's a chapter book aimed at children from age 7 - 10.

This edition contains four stories that will have you shaking your head and laughing out loud.

Horrid Henry's Christmas Play Henry gets a part in the Christmas play, but he decides it's not a big enough part. When he adds his own lines he makes a mess of the play and of his teacher's nerves.

Horrid Henry's Christmas Presents Henry has done something really horrid this time. He has used or eaten all of the Christmas gifts he had for his family. What will he do now? You won't believe what he comes up with. The poems to his parents are hilarious.

Horrid Henry's Ambush It's Christmas Eve and Henry is worried that he won't get the presents he wants. He comes up with a horrid plan to capture Santa, so he can have ALL of the toys for himself. The outcome is not what he imagined, but well deserved.

Horrid Henry's Christmas Lunch At last, it is Christmas Day. It's time to exchange gifts. Henry is surprised that no one seems to like his horrid, last minute gifts. He urges his parents to read their poems out loud, while he beams with pride over the fact that he found so many great words that rhyme. They are not as pleased with the words he chose.

These stories are fun to read but also serves as a model for children of how not to act. My 10 year old daughter and I read this together. She was giggling and laughing out loud through out the book. I think most kids love reading stories like this because they get to watch another child (although fictional) act in all of the inappropriate ways that they are taught not to in real life.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you and your little ones have a great holiday season.

Kristin : )
* Horrid Henry's Christmas was given to me by a publicist of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. It will be donated to a public school or a non profit childcare program. For more information see the book disclosure to the right of my blog.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Memoir Monday: Rita Mae Brown

I know, it's been a while since my last Memoir Monday. I have finally finished reading Rita Mae Brown's writing memoir, Starting From Scratch. This is an older book, published in 1989. But even at 20 years old it still has some useful information for writers today.

The first thing that's obvious is Ms. Brown is a highly educated woman who is full of wit and great, straight forward advice about every aspect of the writing and publishing process. With that said, I have to admit that some of this book is intimidating to say the least. Her fluency in languages, mythology, and the history of literature is astounding.

I consider myself an education lifer, both in traditional classrooms and in learning new things in day to day life. but at my pace I would need another lifetime to achieve the levels she has. Although I am tempted to take a Latin class and the mythology also sounds interesting.

Outside of her education, I am also impressed with her dedication and self motivation when it comes to writing. She believes that writing comes first, above all else in your life, and that you need to be in the best physical and emotional condition to do it well. She actually follows a routine to get her mind and body ready to start a new book.

As I have said before, we all take something away from every book we read. Here are some of the points that stuck with me in Starting From Scratch.
  • Writing the truth can be harder than speaking the truth.
  • Don't get hung up on reading every review of your work. They come after the book is finished and therefore too late to do you any good.
  • Never hope harder than you work.
  • Stories can find life in other forms, outside of novels and short stories. Brown also enjoyed writing screenplays.

Compare & Contrast

Both Stephen King and Rita Mae Brown believe that you have to read a lot of books, good and bad, to understand what works and what doesn't in your own writing.

Brown believes the craft of writing can be taught; that a competent writer can be turned into a fine craftsman...if not a blazing genius. As opposed to King, who believes there are set levels of writers and no amount of education can change a competent writer into a great one.

Twitter me this...

As I read these memoirs I can't help wonder what these authors would think about today's on line social networks, which have become common place for writers and others in the book world. I imagine that Rita Mae Brown would not like Twitter. She is very strict about not talking about her writing and says that if you're talking you're not doing.

Have you read Starting From Scratch? If yes, I would love to know what you thought. Was it helpful to you or did you have a hard time connecting with her advice?

I'll finish with a great quote from Rita Mae Brown.

Creativity comes from trust, trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.

Thanks for stopping by.

Kristin : )

Mrs. Claus Explains It All...just in time for Christmas

Tis' the season for giving and spending time with our friends and family. Christmas means different things to different people. It's rooted in history as the birth of Jesus Christ and for many religions it remains a holy day. The holiday has evolved over time and now is celebrated by many people, regardless of religious belief or background. But no one knows the magic and excitement of this season like children. This is what (for me anyway) the holiday is all about. Seeing the wonder and awe in a child's eyes as they look at the tree all lit up and the presents wrapped neatly underneath on Christmas morning is truly a magical thing. It's the time when fantasy snuggles up with reality in front of the fireplace and creates a kind of hope in children that only exists this time of year. They hope that Santa will come and leave them gifts and good cheer for being good all year. Well, for the month of December anyway :)

This is also the time of year for questions about Santa and how the magic is made. For those parents of children with inquiring minds I have the Christmas book for you.

Mrs. Claus Explains It All by Elsbeth Claus and illustrated by David Wenzel answers the real questions many children ask about Christmas. Things like, How does Santa do it all in one night? and How can Santa get in if I don't have a chimney?, and many more. This is the inside scoop, because who knows more about the holiday and the man in red than his wife, Mrs. Claus. She even reveals some personal things I didn't know, like the fact that Santa is actually very health conscious and exercises everyday.

This book is written with the young child's imagination in mind and the illustrations help bring that to life. The illustrator David Wenzel's art work can also seen in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May and in J.R.R. Tolkien's graphic rendition of The Hobbit.

Mrs. Claus Explains It All makes a great addition to any family's holiday reading list.

On a personal note:

I read this book to my two younger children, ages 10 and 11. They are at that tender age when other kids say there is no such thing as Santa. If your kids have already hit that point, this book may not be for you. But if you are a parent who believes in preserving the innocence and magic of Christmas and Santa in your children for as long as possible then this is a must have.

I'm not saying my kids don't believe, they all do (even my teenagers). Santa lives in the heart and the imagination. That is something I have always taught my kids. If they don't believe that then Santa really doesn't exist and we wouldn't bother making Christmas morning so special. I want them to be able to share that magic with their own children one day...later, in the future...much later ;)

Thanks for stopping by and hope you take the time to share your favorite Christmas book with me.

Kristin : )

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CONNECT THE DOTS is coming!!

SO, It's December and my friend and fellow author, Denise Robbins is at it again. The 3rd book of her techno-romantic thriller series is being released this month. I had the pleasure of reading her first two, It Happens in Threes and Killer Bunny Hill. These are some steamy reads for sure and packed with suspense. When Denise mentioned doing something fun for the release of Connect the Dots, I jumped at the chance to help out!

I know you were all sent here to find an answer to a question on Denise's blog about Connect the Dots. So feel free to look around. It's a little like playing Where's Waldo? Except there is no lanky guy running around with elfish clothes... or is there? ;)

Here's why I can't wait for Connect the Dots to be released.

It Happens in Threes is the 1st book in Denise's series. We meet Ruby, a confident woman who is as comfortable behind a computer as she is wearing nothing at all, and Michael, an undercover agent for the government. Ruby and Michael have different reasons for ending up in the same place. She is escaping a relationship gone bad and he is searching for an ex partner.

Things heat up quickly between Ruby and Michael, but it's too dangerous for them to be together. When it becomes clear that Ruby is in danger Michael calls his trusty friend and bodyguard, Jake to keep an eye on Ruby. Jake is good, but no match for Ruby.

The twists and turns in the plot are not the only thing that will get your blood pumping in this story.

Killer Bunny Hill, the 2nd book in the series, keeps the action going. In this one we meet Samantha, who isn't sure who she is, and Max, an agent who works under Michael. In the opening scene Samantha is attacked and left for dead on Max's doorstep. Max nurses her back to health only to find she has lost her memory. Max needs to find his brother, but he doesn't know if he can trust this dangerously hot woman to help him or if she is partly responsible for his brother's disappearance.

Again, good ole Jake is called on to save the day. Unfortunately it is him that gets saved, by Samantha. Max and Samantha have the right amount of hot and cold to keep you flying through the pages.

So, anyone seeing a pattern? The reason I can't wait for Connect the Dots to be released is the main character is Jake. The nice guy finally gets his girl, or does he? This is what I want to know. I happen to have an inside scoop that Jake is Denise's favorite hero, so I'm going to guess that he does get the girl. But, then again, Denise may want to keep him all to herself. You just never know. And since you made it this far you are now rewarded. The name of the pizza restaurant is Waldo's (No lanky man in elfish clothes). It was named after it's owner, retired fighter pilot Waldo Pepper. Good luck!

Here's your next dot in the Connect the Dots book tour. On Wednesday go to and find the answer to this question...
"What game does the heroine play in Connect the Dots whenever she is at her computers doing work?"

Thank you for stopping by. Don't forget to stop back at Denise's Blog to tell her your answers. Good luck!

Kristin : )