Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Marc Vun Kannon

~ * ~ Holiday Edition ~ * ~
Featuring Vampire Christmas and Steampunk Santa...

Once upon a time, my publisher, Echelon Press, asked some of us authors to write short stories for a charitable purpose, to raise money for a charity that aided people whose houses were destroyed in wildfires. ‘Write a story about fire,’ she said. This was in November sometime, as I recall. I already had a Christmas story I was thinking about writing. Being a fantasy author means you have strange ideas as a result of hearing common songs, or watching ordinary TV shows. (One episode of a spy drama I watch made me think of capturing people’s souls and putting them in boxes.) In this case it was a Christmas song that I heard over a radio. I got the idea of vampires at Christmas.

We all know that Christmas as a holiday is a feast day that was grafted on to an existing tradition among the pagan peoples of Northern Europe. The actual birth date of Christ was probably nowhere near mid-winter, but if they’ve already got a ceremony celebrating renewal and rebirth, hey, go with it. But where did these pagan people get it from? You guessed it, from the vampires. What would they celebrate, and why? What did it mean to them? And most important, how could I bring this all out in a short story? About fire.

It was the fire that did it, I think. The vampires needed a god, even in the original version of the story which never got written. In this version the fire connected immediately to Balder, god of the day, who was killed when his blind brother Hodor, god of night, threw a sprig of mistletoe at him. Well, right away, ideas started popping into my head left and right. Day, night, blood, mistletoe…evil? Well, Loki, the god who gave Hodor the mistletoe, was evil. Are vampires evil, even by association? Could they feel…guilty of some vampiric original sin? Is that what the ceremony was for? To bring this story out into the open I needed a human to discover it, see it, participate in it. What happens to him?

The story that grew out of all this, called ‘Bite Deep’, is a story of evil, sacrifice, and redemption, and is best described thusly: “For lo, unto the vampires this day a Savior is…well, not born, exactly.”

Once upon a different time (last month actually), my publisher again asked for stories, although this time she was looking for Steampunk. Or holiday. I asked her if she wanted steampunk holiday stories. Well, as you can imagine a bit of a challenge grew from this as several of us each decided to write a steampunk holiday story. I think I won, but they were all doing NaNoWriMo at the time so it probably doesn’t count.

Steampunk as a genre is a fusion of SF with a Victorian style culture and tech level. Try to imagine James Bond with gadgets that require wind-up keys and steam engines to work. How does this tie in to Christmas and Santa, you ask? Well I’d love to tell you. Honestly I would, but I don’t remember how I got the idea so I can’t. Some stories I have to wring the ideas out, or wait 6 weeks until an idea occurs to me so I can continue writing. Some stories the ideas cascade and the trick is trying to keep up. This story the idea just seemed so natural, that two elves would be holding a contest to see who could make a better sleigh, traditional elfin magic or the new steam technology.

Not that I wrote that story. Ideas that seem great on paper often fail the Story Logic test and need to go a bit sideways from the original intention. Bite Deep was supposed to be about a party. My steampunk story, which ultimately got named ‘Steampunk Santa’, outgrew the simple contest motif and became a story of friendship and teamwork, as two very dissimilar elves participating in Santa’s contest find themselves up against the same challenges in the workshop. It has the flavor of the old Rankin-Bass specials, which was on purpose, as I found myself narrating the story in Fred Astaire voice and doing the elves in squeaky elf voice. I believe that this is my first try at a third-person style of writing, too, with the narrator who knows all. It’s not my usual style but it fit the story so I went with it.

‘Going with it’ pretty much defines my writing career so far. My only rule when writing is to never do what I’ve already seen done before. Every book I write is different from the one I just finished. Every story I start is an opportunity, a requirement, that I change, learn, grow into some new thing.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thanks Marc for being this week's Writer Wednesday guest and for sharing your holiday writing. I love the unique titles! And your idea for Steampunk Santa really does sound like a great holiday classic. My family and I are big fans of all of the Rankin-Bass specials. I wish you all the best in your writing and in the coming year.

If you would like more information about Marc Vun Kannon or his writing you can stop by his website and his blog. He's got a new release coming out soon!

Coming 2/2011: St. Martin's Moon
The Moon is haunted, but the werewolves don't know that!

A special thanks to all of you readers. I appreciate that you take time out of your busy schedules to stop by. I wish you all the best of luck and health in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

Kristin : )

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Donna Washington

~ * ~ Winter Holiday Edition ~ * ~

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Donna Washington...

I never expected to be a published author. Well, not until I was very old with thinning hair and lots of wisdom to share. I never expected to be a storyteller, either. I attended Northwestern University and Rives Collins, a professor and storyteller, saw me in a piece of theatre where I was playing a storyteller and he announced that I should do it for a living. I became a writer because I was telling stories out in California at a conference and a woman walked up to me and asked me if I’d ever considered writing books. I hadn’t, but she gave me her card and asked me to call her. I put her card in this giant bag I was carrying around and I lost it. Three months later I was cleaning out the bag and found her card. I called her.

“Hi. This is Donna Washington. I met you at a conference out in California a few months ago. You asked me about writing books. Were you serious?”

“Yes. I was just thinking about you.”

My initial thought to her statement was, ‘yeah, right’, but I persevered. “What sort of books do you publish?”

She got really quiet. I decided that she was either embarrassed or insulted. If she published out of her basement, she might be embarrassed. If she didn’t, then she might be insulted that I didn’t know who she was.

“Let me send you some books.” She offered.

That’s when I was certain she published out of her basement. Who would send you a box of books if they were legit?

The next day a courier arrived with a large box of books. I opened the box and on the top was Shel Sivlerstein’s A Light In The Attic. I called her back and apologized all over myself.
Katherine Tegen turned out to be an editor at HarperCollins Children’s books and we began a long collaboration that has produced four books. Our latest project is called Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa, which is published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s books.

Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa came about because I had librarians and teachers all over the country asking me to write a book that happens at Kwanzaa time but is not about Kwanzaa. They wanted a story not a primer. I went back to my storytelling roots and decided to go with a beast fable. In the tradition of Anansi the Spider and Brer Rabbit and Coyote the Trickster I wanted a little fellow who was not afraid to jump into something big. I structured the story around the traditional narrative of a short quest where our hero sets out to accomplish a task and meets creatures along the way that help him or her reach their goal. Because it takes place at Kwanzaa time I wanted to incorporate the themes of community and the importance of stepping up and doing your part to make the world a better place. It also had to be fun and a touch on the gooey side at the end since I want the readers to feel like they’ve had a good hug when they finish. What else are happy holiday books for if not that?

Being a writer is fun, but I don’t always like writing. In fact, sometimes it is like pulling out my fingernails one at a time to get started. If I get to a block in the middle of a story or I know the piece isn’t done but I can’t think of anything else to do to it, I just start writing on something else. Eventually, I clear away the debris and I can continue on the piece that was frustrating me. Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa sat on my laptop for almost three years before it was ready to send to my editor.

Most of my published work is not in picture books. I have contributed a number of articles to books on education, storytelling, storytelling in education, and magazines. At some point I should collect it all up and link to it from my site, but that would require more technical know how than I possess. I should probably ask my fourteen year old to help me.

I am a verbal writer. Very often I have to say it out loud before I can get it onto paper. I talk to myself while I’m in the shower, cleaning house, driving, and doing my nails. Writing is not my primary job. It is a part of me and sometimes I am lucky enough to produce something for publication. In real life I am a full time professional storyteller who travels all over the country and internationally. I do everything from folktales and traditional narratives to personal contemporary stories. I have been writing and telling for twenty-three years and I don’t see an end in sight!

If you are a budding writer or just thinking of getting into the writing business there are lots of people with lots of advice. Here is the advice I offer.

1. Write. Write on a regular basis. Make sure you are spending time working
on your writing. Understand that not everything you write is brilliant and not
everything you write needs to be published. Write for your own enjoyment.

2. Read. Read and read and read and read and notice how work is put together. What
is it you like about your favorite books or articles? What do you dislike about
others. What do you want to emulate, what do you want to avoid?

3. Think. Think about what you want to write and come up with different ways to approach the same idea. Think up more ideas than you can ever write in a lifetime and make notes about them. File them away and take them out every now and then and look at them.

4. Listen. Sometimes we get upset if someone doesn’t like our work. Listen to what they say. You can’t please everyone, but you might learn a thing or two about how other people perceive your work if you listen. Yes, you may get offended. Yes, you may shut your computer and vow not to write again. Yes, you may sulk for a few days. We can’t help that sort of thing, it is just who we are as artists. Take a deep breath, get over being offended and get on with it.

5. Be Realistic. Right now, on your laptop, you may have the next Harry Potter or you might have the next Winnie the Pooh, or you might have the next Where the Wild Things are or you might have the next Lord of the Rings, or A River Runs Through It, or Ivanhoe but probably not. I’m not saying you don’t, I’m just saying the odds are low. So, keep your sights on the stars and keep writing, but if you don’t become a gazillionaire the first time someone buys an article or a book, don’t be crushed.

6. Enjoy the ride. Not everyone can or wants to do this job!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thank you Donna. That was great! I love that you added some very useful advice. It seems like it would be common sense, but as a writer I know how easy it can be to lose sight of why you started to write in the first place. I also love how you sometimes have a hard time making yourself sit down to write. The fact that Lil Rabbit's Kwanzaa took so long is an inspiration to me. I often take breaks from frustrating projects and go back to them when I can see it more clearly. So it's nice to see a successful outcome to all that hard work.

As always, I want to thank all of you for stopping by. If you're curious, as I was, Kwanzaa is a week long celebration honoring universal African heritage and culture. It is observed from December 26 to January 1. More information can be found at The Official Kwanzaa Website.

Happy Holidays!

Kristin :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Donna Henes

~*~ Winter Holiday Edition ~*~

The Sun is Born
By Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

Wrapped in the dark womb of the weather, it is not difficult to imagine the terrifying prospect of the permanent demise of the sun and the consequent loss of light, the loss of heat. The loss of life. Without the comfort of the familiar cyclical pattern, the approach of each winter with its attendant chiaroscuro would be agonizing. The tension intensified by the chill.

With the death of the sun, the world would be cast back to the state that it occupied before creation, the abstract condition of chaos. The black void. The Great Uterine Darkness. It is from this elemental ether that the old creatrix goddesses are said to have brought forth all that is. This sacred spark of creative potential that is contained within the primordial womb is one of humanity's oldest concepts. The visual symbol which represents it, a dot enclosed within the circle, is also extremely ancient. Still in common use today, it is the astronomical notation for the sun.

Among the most archaic images of the sun is the brilliant radiance that clothes the Great Goddess. The great Mother of the pre-Islamic peoples of Southern Arabia was the sun, Atthar, or Al-Ilat (later to become Allah). In Mesopotamia, She was called Arinna, Queen of Heaven. The Vikings named Her Sol, the old Germanic tribes, Sunna, the Celts, Sul or Sulis. The Goddess Sun was known among the societies of Siberia and North America.

She is Sun Sister to the Inuit, Sun Woman to the Australian Arunta, Akewa to the Toba of Argentina The sun has retained its archaic feminine gender in Northern Europe and Arab nations as well as in Japan. To this day, members of the Japanese royal family trace their shining descent to Amaterasu Omikami, the Heaven Illuminating Goddess.

According to legend, Amaterasu Omikami withdrew into a cave to hide from the irritating antics of Her bothersome brother, Susu-wo-no, the Storm God. Her action plunged the world into darkness and the people panicked. They begged, beseeched, implored the Sun Goddess to come back, but to no avail. At last, on the Winter Solstice, Alarming Woman, a sacred clown, succeeded in charming, teasing and finally yanking Her out, as if from an earthy birth canal, and reinstating on Her rightful celestial throne.

Other cultures see the Goddess not as the sun Herself, but as the mother of the sun. The bringer forth, the protector and controller, the guiding light of the sun and its cycles. According to Maori myth, the sun dies each night and returns to the cave/womb of the deep to bathe in the maternal uterine waters of life from which he is re-born each morning. The Hindu Fire God, Agni, is described as "He who swells in the mother."

It is on the Winter Solstice, the day when the light begins to lengthen and re-gain power that the archetypal Great Mother gave birth to the sun who is Her son. The great Egyptian Mother Goddess, Isis, gave birth to Her son Horus, the Sun God, on the Winter Solstice. On the same day, Leta gave birth to the bright, shining Apollo and Demeter, and the Great Mother Earth Goddess, bore Dionysus. The shortest day was also the birthday of the Invincible Sun in Rome, Dies Natalis Invictis Solis, as well as that of Mithra, the Persian god of light and guardian against evil.

Christ, too, is a luminous son, the latest descendant of the ancient matriarchal mystery of the nativity of the sun/son. Since the gospel does not mention the exact date of His birth, it was not celebrated by the early church. It seems clear that when the Church, in the fourth century AD, adopted December 25 as His birthday, it was in order to transfer the heathen devotions honoring the birth of the sun to Him who was called "the sun of righteousness."

The return of the retreating sun, which retrieves us from the dark of night, the pitch of winter, is a microcosmic recreation of the origination of the universe, the first birth of the sun. The Winter Solstice is an anniversary celebration of creation. Since the earliest of human times, it has been both natural and necessary for folks to join together in the warmth and glow of community in order to welcome the return of light to a world that is surrounded by dark. And through the imitative gesture of lighting fires, like so many solar birthday candles, we do our annual part to rekindle the spirit of hope in our hearts.

Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. The New Yorker magazine calls her "The unofficial commissioner of public spirit of New York."
She is the author of Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles and Celebrations as well as three other books, a CD, and an acclaimed Ezine. Currently she writes for The Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI Religion and
Spirituality Forum. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.

Watch her videos:

Read her on the Huffington Post:

Read her on Beliefnet:

Connect with her on Facebook:

Follow her on Twitter:

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thank you Mama Donna for sharing the rich history of the Winter Solstice with us. I remember reading a Japanese story about this. I tried to look it up, because I can not remember the name, and couldn't find it. I'll keep looking.

Also, I know today is not Wednesday, but it is the Winter Solstice. So grab a cup of cocoa or whatever your favorite cool weather beverage is and say CHEERS! at exactly 6:38 PM (EST).

Happy Winter Solstice!

Kristin : )

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Ann Pearlman

~*~ Winter Holiday Edition ~*~

Writing about Christmas
by Ann Pearlman

I stumbled on writing about Christmas. I didn’t mean to. For some time, thoughts of writing a novel about a party, women’s friendships, and compressing the time to one day tugged at my mind. These thoughts were all separate. And then, ten years ago, I was the Cookie virgin at a cookie exchange. I realized immediately that the party could be the perfect setting for a novel coalescing all three elements. The ice cream on top is the Holiday season enfolding the themes that are nascent during that time. And so the idea for the Christmas Cookie Club, a novel, was born.

When I came home from that first party, I wrote down my dream for the book. Twelve women from various backgrounds, dealing with diverse problems. There had to be issues about fertility and pregnancy and birth, and issues about death and endurance through hard times, the perennial darkness of winter.

However, I was finishing up a book tour, and then another project (a biography of a Crip gang leader…. As different from a cookie exchange as night from day) intervened.

Each December though, I returned to fleshing out the dream of the cookie club novel. I stole a way an hour or so on Christmas. Why Christmas? Because it is my birthday and dreaming of the book was a birthday present to myself.

Amazing how we forge ahead with projects without full awareness of the factors that motivate us, because I did not make the connection between writing a novel about Christmas and the fact that it was my birthday. I didn’t connect those dots until interviewers asked me why a novel about Christmas and I faced all my ambivalence about the holiday. As any adult whose birthday is on Christmas will tell you, it’s a difficult birthday. No one wants to be bothered when they’re busy with the requirements and pressures of the holiday. When I became a mother, my children’s excitement about the holidays dwarfed any interest in my birthday, which was so much in the way we couldn’t even figure out when to celebrate it. I thought about moving it to mid June, but then I gave birth to a daughter that day!

Such a change from when I was a child and thought the entire country was celebrating my birthday. My family, determined that I wouldn’t feel ignored by the holiday, made the day magical. My grandmother, who also had a grandmother born on Dec. 25, told me that for her, Christmas celebrated the birth of every baby and the importance of each one of us. Now to make the holiday season both more exciting and more complicated, my family was Jewish. My grandmother had embraced my grandfather’s people and religion, but shared her own interpretation of Christmas with her family and friends. So the season celebrated Chanukah, Christmas, and my birthday.

The cookie club contained the best of my childhood Holidays. The love and family friendship between the women were obvious. Because we take turns telling the story of the cookie that is always emblematic about the year, we’re aware of each other’s lives and appreciate our strength and enormous skills and talents. This openness creates bonding and love. The joy, celebration, and excitement are the best of the holiday. The cookies themselves are from the heart, not from a store. The fact that we donate to a charity during the bleakest time of the year enhances the importance of making something for anonymous others.

As 2008 started I could feel the country tumble economically, to fray at its edges. Warnings about another depression increased as the housing bubble burst, as companies closed, and people became unemployed. It affected us most harshly in Michigan. The novel about light regardless of dark times, people’s spirit to endure and enjoy, pulling together in spite of it all and giving to others beckoned, a spark of love in harshness.

I determined to finish it before the new year, hoping its message would be a salve for some of us. I wrote every day from Thanksgiving until Jan 2, each and every day. On my birthday, I wrote the acknowledgements, honoring all those who helped me.

So I write about the Christmas because it can be such a time of love, giving, family and community. In spite of all the darkness we need this beacon of light.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thank you Ann for this inspiring post. I love the idea of your book and the tie in cookbook. Christmas is my favorite time of year, but then again, it's not my birthday :) We have friends with that birthday and know how hard it can be to celebrate it properly during such a busy time of year. Anyone wanting more information about Ann or her books can stop by her website

Thanks to all you loyal readers out there. You know who you are. And thanks to all who are new to my blog. Welcome and I hope you enjoy. I wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season.

Kristin *<( : )

Monday, December 13, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Phillipa Ashley

~ * ~ Winter Holiday Edition ~ * ~


Phillipa Ashley

Many thanks to Kristin for asking me to tell you about My Writing Journey.

I actually took a very winding route to being a writer. You could say that I meandered along the byways for 40 years before suddenly jumping onto the freeway in a rocket-powered car!

You see, I never wanted, hoped or dreamed of becoming a novelist until 2005. Although I’ve always loved books and studied English Literature at university, the thought of writing a novel never entered my head. I thought that kind of thing was for geniuses like Jane Austen. I didn’t realise that ordinary people like me could do it too.

After university, I did become a writer, but of the non-fiction variety, working in advertising and in journalism. And so it continued until one night in November 2004…

Everything changed when I watched a BBC TV miniseries called North & South. This Victorian drama focused on the passionate romance between two strong characters, John Thornton and Margaret Hale.

It had a dramatic effect on me too. I was so transfixed that suddenly, I decided to write a modern fanfic based on the TV series. I posted my story anonymously on an internet fansite and to my amazement, lots of people wanted to read it.

By a strange quirk of fate, I’d stumbled through the magic door into the world of romantic fiction and I’ve never looked back since.

A year later, I’d written my first full-length novel – the book which eventually became Dating Mr. December.

Dating Mr. December focuses on the lives of a mountain rescue team. We have a holiday home in the Lake District of England, in fact there’s a base a few minutes’ walk away. The local team had just raised money for a new HQ and that set me thinking of how they might have raised the money – in my fictional world at least! I wanted to explore what might happen if a slick city girl entered that world with an outrageous proposal…

A year later, I’d sent the manuscript to a London literary agent and she sold it to a UK publisher. Then, a US TV producer saw it on Amazon and decided to make a movie out of it. Called 12 men of Christmas, the film my book inspired is currently airing on Lifetime.

Now Sourcebooks are bringing all four of my novels to the USA and I hope the most exciting part of the journey is still to come…

Phillipa Ashley studied English Language and Literature at Oxford before becoming a freelance copywriter and journalist. DATING MR. DECEMBER (called DECENT EXPOSURE in the UK) was the basis of last year’s Lifetime TV Movie “The 12 Men of Christmas.” She lives with her husband and daughter in Staffordshire, UK. For more information, please visit , follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thank you Phillipa for being my Writer Wednesday guest this week. I have seen the Lifetime movie, The Twelve Men of December with Kristin Chenoweth and loved it, so I'm looking forward to reading the book that it was based on, Dating Mr. December. Congratulations to you on your successes and with your future writing.

Also, thanks to all who took time out of your busy day to stop by. Hope the holiday season brings you happiness and good health.

Kristin *<( :o)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Kim Levin & John O'Neill

~ * ~ Winter Holiday Edition ~ * ~

A few years back, my publishing company asked if my husband, John O’Neill and I would be interested in working on a holiday book featuring my dog images. Having published a number of pet photography books at this time, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to write and photograph a book featuring dogs during the holidays.

I gathered many of my favorite dog subjects and asked their owners if I could take their portraits. Some of the scenarios were quite funny. Here’s one of Corky with a big bow around her neck:

Big Red Bows

Another favorite was Dodger in his little booties:

Warm Mittens

Here’s one of my favorite images of my dog Charlie being hit by a snowball:

Snowball Fights

Getting dogs to do the silliest things was part of the fun:

Old-fashion sleigh rides

And of course, the holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without a pug in antlers at Rockefeller Center!

The Christmas spirit

I even took pictures of a group of dogs ice skating, sitting on Santa’s lap and sipping hot chocolate. Hound for the Holidays was a lot of fun to write as well. The text captures all of things we can enjoy during the holidays – the things that really matter: fireside chats, frosty mornings, fresh snow, window shopping, welcoming wreaths, catching snowflakes on your tongue, snowmen and candy canes.

John and I have published four books together over the years, and we have learned that working together really is a collaborative process. I usually take the pictures first, and then he writes to the photographs.

We hope you enjoy our tribute to the holidays.

Happy Holidays!
Kim Levin & John O’Neill

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Thank you Kim and John for being my guests this week and thanks for sharing some adorable pictures of dogs enjoying the holiday season. This is such a cute book. I have some dog lovers in mind that would love to get this as a gift.

For more books, information, and pictures stop by Kim's website and blog...

Happy Holidays!

Kristin *<( :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: If I could keep you little...

If I could keep you little...

Those words alone just grabbed the attention of every parent, grandparent, and pretty much anyone who's had their heart captured by the beautiful innocence of a child. Those eyes wide open to the world and looking up at you with all of the trust and love they can muster. Those first wobbly steps and choppy blending of sounds as they begin to give words to their surroundings. These moments remind me of a simpler time, a time of exciting firsts. You know, that magical time before kids learned the words, NO or WHY NOT.

When I was offered the chance to review Marianne Richmond's new book If I could keep you little... I was immediately reminded of those sweet firsts with each of my kids. So, of course I said yes.

I expected to tear up while reading it, which I did, but not for the reasons I thought. Marianne does a great job preserving those milestone memories with her words and her own illustrations. She also helps you recognize that there are more memories to come, and each is as important to our children as those very first moments are to us. That's a great message, because if given the actual choice, we would not want to hold our children back from becoming the strong, independent, and hopefully happy people they are meant to be.

I love this book and think it would make an excellent addition to any family's library. But don't just take my word for it. Here's what other reviewers are saying...

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.

Kristin :)

* If I Could Keep You Little... by Marianne Richmond was published in November, 2010 by Sourcebooks. This copy was given to me by a publicist to be considered for review. No payments or promises of positive reviews were exchanged. My review is my own opinion of the book.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Anne Perry

~*~ Winter Holidays Edition ~*~

My first Christmas novella, A Christmas Journey, was more or less an accident. I had a story of a murder mystery, inside a journey of expiation for a sin of spite. We all say and do things that result in something far worse than we intended. If there was anything we could do to wipe it out, we would. But how many of us would make that journey towards forgiveness if we don't have to, but to accompany a friend? Can you give anyone a greater gift?

I intended it as a short story, but my publisher preferred it as a novella, approximately a hundred and fifty pages. It was surprisingly successful, and I was asked to do another Christmas novella, with a similar theme suited to Christmas. I chose the three wise men, updated to the nineteenth century, willing to give one gift, and asked to give another, far greater, but which in the end would bring them extraordinary happiness.

I have written one each year since then, set in different areas of Britain or Ireland, and always on some theme such as grace, hope, redemption, compassion, a sense of belonging or homecoming. As time goes by it is getting more difficult to think of a different theme. But perhaps it only takes a little more time, and concentration on the multitude of gifts that lie in the meaning of Christ's life, and ultimately his death and resurrection – which to me is what Christmas means.

This year's novella is called a Christmas Odyssey, and was inspired by a kind of cross between the Prodigal Son, returning home after years of debauchery, and the journey through hell depicted in Dante's Inferno.

The three unlikely heroes and an elderly and highly respectable inventor, a reformed brothel keeper of unknown age, and a young man not fully qualified but into practices as a doctor among the poor and desperate. They are brought together by chance in the beginning, and their relationship strengthens and becomes a mutual understanding and respect by the end.

They go into an underworld of drugs and degradation in alleys, tunnels and cellars beneath London, in search of a 'prodigal son' of one of the mathematician's friends, now too old and too ill to go himself, and knowing that his sin would flee him anyway.

The journey is dangerous and at times tragic. They find that the young man appears to have committed a grisly murder, and in order to bring the young man home, the heroes must solve the crime, and prove the 'prodigal son' innocent. They must also defeat the 'Shadow Man' who holds many people in a kind of bondage to drugs and blackmail.

The end is dramatic, life-threatening, offering the 'prodigal son' a chance to choose again, and redeem himself. Christmas is sorrow and starlight, bells ringing, and a chance to come home and be welcome.

It was fun to write, uplifting to think about and extraordinarily satisfying to complete. I hope people reading it will think 'It's never too late to come home'.

I suppose after this Christmas I will know if at least for some people it worked.

Thank you for asking.

Anne Perry

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~

Thank you Anne for sharing your Christmas novellas with us. They sound very intriguing. I'm sure you will continue to create more inspirational stories. Anyone interested in finding out more about Anne Perry or her work can do so by visiting her website. Anne Perry

A special thanks to all of you who have stopped by. For many of us this is a very busy time. I appreciate you giving me some of it. I wish you and yours the happiest holiday season. I don't think it matters what you celebrate, it matters who you celebrate with.

Kristin : )

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Danielle Novack

~*~ Winter Holiday Edition ~*~

I am Jewish, my husband is Catholic, and we celebrate holidays from both faiths with our two daughters. A couple of years ago, I noticed that my daughter’s book collection included books about Hanukkah and books about Christmas, but nothing that talked about both together. I started looking for a good children’s book about celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. To my surprise, there was very little out there.

So, I decided to write my own. I have been writing stories and poetry my whole life, but this was my first try at a children’s book. Writing the original version in verse was both challenging and lots of fun. I printed it out, added some stick-figure illustrations, and read it to my daughter. This opened up a conversation about how and why we celebrate both holidays in our family.

My training and experience as a clinical psychologist helped me capture Sam’s emotional journey as he struggles with embarrassment and confusion during a discussion about holidays at school. His mother provides the comfort and explanations that ultimately allow him to embrace who he is and how his family celebrates.

I toyed with the idea of trying to get it published, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I also didn’t have much confidence that such a dream would actually come to fruition. For a while, I put it aside and focused on other things. My two young girls keep me endlessly busy, and I am in private practice three days a week. Common sense told me to focus on my practice and to write for my girls and myself. However, I kept thinking about the fact that my book was something different and new, and much-needed in a world where many families blend cultures and traditions.

I was incredibly lucky that the first publisher I sent it to showed interest. It just so happened that they had been in the market for a new dual-celebration story, and mine fit the bill. Then the editing process began. The first thing they had me do was rewrite the entire story in prose. Then there were other tweaks and changes. I learned that there is a right amount of text for each page in a picture book. I also learned that not everything needs to be spelled out in words, because the illustrations will help tell the story.

The final version of MY TWO HOLIDAYS is something I continue to enjoy with my children. I have been busy sharing the book with local schools and organizations, and I hope that lots of parents and kids out there will love it too. In the meantime, I have been working on other children’s books that are quite different, experimenting with different genres and styles. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my new career as a writer for children.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

For more information about Danielle and MY TWO HOLIDAYS: A HANUKKAH AND CHRISTMAS STORY (Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, September 2010), please see her website,

Thank you Danielle for sharing your book and what went into writing it with us. I know many families that celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. I'm sure they will be very happy to have your book in their personal libraries. The first day of Hanukka is December 1st and it lasts until December 9th. To all of you celebrating I wish you a Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Holidays!

Kristin *<( :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Julie Anne Lindsey

I’m a believer

As a little girl, the only thing I wanted to be was a mom. By college, or at least freshman year, I wanted to be a counselor. By graduation, I knew I wanted to work specifically with young girls and women as a motivational speaker. I still carry that dream, but as it turned out, my first wish was granted in a hurry and I’m now a mother of three.

I left the workforce in 2003 to raise and teach my children, and like many mothers, my dreams were benched – temporarily. The truth is, my time was so spoken for that until a couple years ago I hadn’t read a book for fun in more than five years. Sure, I read, but I read ‘how to’ guides and parenting books, and plenty of homeschool materials, nothing that inspired or enchanted me.

Then, it happened. Late one night, I saw a movie about a forbidden love, about a girl and a vampire. Yes. I just heard the collective readership groan and plenty clicked away, but it’s true. I saw Twilight on the movie channel, while bleary eyed and nursing baby number three. The next day, I bought the book and devoured it. That was the day something inside me clicked.

I caught the writing bug. A long lost love of mine, buried under diapers and cheerios and sleepless nights was resurrected. I began to make notes of the stories I’d rolled around in my head for years. (As an only child, I’ve been telling myself stories for three decades, so I have plenty to work with). For the past two years, I’ve been reading and writing and blogging and tweeting. I’ve met fabulous writers, agents, editors and some of my closest friends. It’s true. I’ve unleashed a ‘me’ that was pent up too long.

Though writing has added another task to my already chaotic schedule, it has freed me of things I found simply weren’t that important. It’s given me a place where I am a writer not a mother. I am me. I believe that seeing my passion for writing is giving my children a real and tangible example of the importance in following your dream, against whatever odds. I also believe if we have a desire in our hearts, we must embrace it, chase it, live it. Life is too short to wonder. One day, when one of my manuscripts makes it onto shelves, my children will see that all things are possible for those who believe, and I am a believer.

Julie Anne Lindsey was born and raised in rural Ohio, where she lives today with her husband and three small children. She received a BA in psychology from Kent State University, and credits her obsessive interest in people for bringing her into writing. She is a hopeless caffeine addict, and her work is now in the hands of a super-fabulous agent. Julie blogs her journey at: .


Thanks for this inspirational story Julie. I hope that you'll come back and share your first book with us once it hits the shelves. Also, thank you to all who took the time to stop by for another great Writer Wednesday.

Happy Writing and Reading,

Kristin : )

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

i Simplfy: Pt. 2

As I shared in my very long introduction post, I am doing a big clean out of our home. Going through room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, and getting rid of any excess or unused thing I can find. Why? To get rid of the clutter that has taken over every hidable space we have. But more importantly, to simplify.

Clutter makes life more complicated. It takes a simple task like hanging a picture and turns it into a project. By the time I have found the nails, the hammer, and the masking tape (we have plaster walls that will shatter without tape) I can't remember where I put the frame down. Which sounds like a memory problem, but is another side affect of clutter. It's a proven fact that clutter affects your thinking, productivity, relationships, and your health. Check out this article I found on line. De-Clutter Your Brain.

My progress...

I started in my two younger kids' rooms and am now working on the kitchen and have gotten rid of the following.
  • 5 bags of clothes to be donated to Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • 2 bags of toys
  • 2 bags of garbage

These amounts amazed me. Like I said, this was all basically from closets and drawers. I still have a ways to go, but I can feel the difference when I walk in their rooms.

I'll update again soon.

Kristin :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cake Boss Birthday: recap

We had a great party. Meg and I worked on this monkey cake, complete with banana pudding filling ...YUM! Well, we hope it's as good as it sounds. We haven't tried it yet. By the time the girls were done decorating their mini cakes and cookies they were too full to eat the cake.

This is our fake cake, made out of play dough. Meg and I had fun on this project. We made a lot of fake and real baked goods to transform our kitchen into a bakery. I think the last time I played with play dough with my kids I had to check their mouths every time they chewed. This was much better :)
Now the girls want to get together for craft parties and make ornaments. I'll think about that after I get the coating of sugar off of my kitchen floor.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

i Simplfy (Part 1)

I have been talking about, complaining about, and have even given a half hearted attempt once or twice to do a complete clean out of my house. The joke of wanting to rent a large crane so I could pick my house up and shake it out into a larger dumpster became a secret fantasy of mine. How easy would that be? No decisions to make, no guilt felt? Then I met a woman who had the entire contents of her house stolen, along with the moving van they were traveling in. To loose everything would be devastating, not to mention expensive when some necessities had to be replaced. And what about those irreplaceable things? The baby pictures and those handed down items that have such a rich family history that they invoke whole stories and vivid mental pictures of loved ones lost? No, there is no easy fix to the mess I find myself in. I have the memories and clutter of many years to get through and if you want I'll take you along on my journey.

While raising 4 kids and living under the same roof for over 16 years I have a hit a point when my home has lost breathing space. Sure, from the outside we keep it clean and on most days neat, considering the steady tide of people that come and go. But cleaning has become more of a moving pattern than anything else lately. If there's clutter building up in the kitchen we just move it to the porch, where my desk makes a great catch all for everything from school papers to shoes so the dog can't chew on them. Mind you, we have a shoe box, which is apparently filled with the shoes of other people since no one claims ownership when it comes time to clean that out. You get the gist, we have packed every nook and cranny of our home with things from yesterday and do not have room left to live comfortably or efficiently today. We're in a constant cycle of overflow and tucking away.

I talked about this on Twitter a while ago (yeah, ok, I complained) and was told to get the book It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh (TY to @BillHarper). I recently picked up the audio version and have been listening in the car. It's been a very helpful guide to finally letting go of all of the things we've accumulated. So, I started to put this long time coming project into action...starting with the bedrooms of my younger two kids. Why there? It's always easier getting rid of some one else's stuff, right? Plus, I had done a complete overhaul of my older boys' "man cave/bedrooms" this summer.

First thing Peter Walsh says I need to do is figure out why I keep the things I do. What do they mean to me? Do they have a place in the life I envision for me and my family?

One thing I've come to realize is we have a lot of clothes clutter. The kids' closets and drawers are bursting with them, as well as the extra closets in the house. For a long time it made economic and practical sense to save things that my older children used and grew out of for my younger children. This is not the case any longer. My kids are all so different from each other that even if their sizes were similar, which they are not, their tastes are at opposite ends of the fashion spectrum. A big down fall with me when getting rid of clothes is what to do with them. That's an organization project in itself. Some get put aside to be given to younger nieces or nephews, others donated to Good Will, while the ones that have really been worn to death get tossed. This is where I want that crane to step in. It would be so easy to throw everything away, but I can't. I really can't. I have the words, "Waste no, want not" emblazoned into my head (thanks to my Gram) and I might have been a victim of the Great Depression in a past life, but then again that could have come from Gram too. I grew up hearing things like, "Eat all of your food. There are starving children in China." and, "Yes, you do have to wear that hideous dress. There are kids who have nothing to wear." Another thing I've come to realize is I may have subconsciously feared that my kids would become one of those naked children I had heard about so many times ;)

My grandmother taught me, in her own eccentric ways, to be thankful for what I have and my mother taught me that no matter how bad things get, there is always someone worse off than you in the world. Both of these women saved EVERYTHING, one for the proverbial 'rainy day' and the other with intentions to deliver to someone less fortunate. Considering this, it's not a surprise that every attempt to purge my house of excess has ended with me walking away feeling overwhelmed.

It was at this point that I brought Peter Walsh's CDs out of my car and into the house. I needed another voice in my head, sorry Gram and Mom, but I needed a rational voice to help me. Peter talked about the emotional value that we put on our things. I didn't really care about the clothes my kids outgrew, but still felt overwhelmed with the process of getting rid of them. I think Mr. Walsh would say that I have transferred my mother and grandmother's emotions onto my things. I can sit and look at this puffy, forest green jacket, with the rubbery outer shell and the 5 inches of insulation and think, "Hmm, someone might wear this if we have an extreme winter." (Alaskan children would cringe at this jacket) The rational side of me knows NO ONE WANTS THIS JACKET, but the other side (that's been led to believe that eating a plate of liver and onions will somehow stop children in China from starving) begs to differ.

So, that's where I am. I have made progress and had a few fall backs (the above mentioned jacket is hanging in our cedar closet downstairs, to be dealt with later. If anyone needs it I'll be happy to pass it along ;). I'll keep you updated as often as possible. If you're feeling the need for a complete household purging please let me know about it.


Kristin : )

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Donna Cavanagh

The Never-ending need for Laughter

The first question people ask me when they find out I write humor is “Why?” I have no real answer to that question because I did not go into writing aspiring to be a humor writer. I was a reporter – a night shift general news reporter who covered the horseshit beat. Sorry, for the language, but that is how my editor described my beat area when he assigned me to it. My beat included farms, more farms, a state penitentiary and a nuclear power plant. Let’s just say, with that lineup, humor was bound to ensue.

In the newsroom, we joked around quite a bit. We wrote fake stories (not for publication) to make the nighttime hours go a little faster. My editor caught wind of one that I wrote for the newsroom Christmas party, and he laughed so hard, he almost choked on a shrimp. Once the oxygen returned to his brain, he demanded I see him in his office the next day. I went home and told my husband that I thought my days of being a reporter were done.

Fortunately, despite his brush with death, my editor wanted more humor to print. These few articles started me off on my journey into humor. I eventually resigned as a reporter for the paper as night time living was killing my family life. I started to send humor columns out to other newspapers, and another daily paper in the area asked me to be a bi-weekly columnist. That gig lasted five years. With a humor portfolio building, I sent new pitches to national magazines and newspapers and ran into other editors who liked humor. These editors were eventually killed off and replaced with editors who liked sad, poignant tales of disease, divorce, abuse, addiction and anything else heart wrenching.

During my reign as Queen of the Humor Writers for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Region (Yes, I made this title up), I realized how important it had become to me to make people laugh or at least smile. Humor writing became the dominant focus of my writing. Yes, I still freelanced for business magazines and newspapers, but it was humor that breathed life into my writing day. Even now, if I have the choice between writing 1,000 words on some daily event in my life that I find funny and 1,000 words on political races or the latest craze in technology or what NFL team is primed to win the Super Bowl (yes, I write on the NFL – I know I am eclectic ), I opt for humor. It is definitely my comfort zone.

Humor writing has its ups and downs. Sometimes magazines and newspapers deem it fashionable to carry humor, and sometimes they reject it as being a silly waste of space. I keep plugging to get better known. I almost got a national syndication service to sign me, but I was rejected at the last minute for a celebrity who felt the need to share her romance advice with others throughout the free world. Was I bitter? No - well, I did get a slight twinge of satisfaction when that celebrity was arrested for some kind of money laundering scheme.

Humor is again a tough market for many reasons. First of all the economy has done a number on print publications, and editors at these publications do not have the space to “waste” on humor. However, they do have the space to explore the life and loves of every reality star that has graced MTV in the last ten years. Okay, I guess I might get a little bitter. Another reason why humor is tough for me personally is that I am still a relative unknown. In today’s world, a recognized name brings in the big bucks, so unless I can get arrested or sent to rehab, I might remain too anonymous for most editors.

Will this stop me? Absolutely not. Humor is in my soul. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is why I write. I love to make people laugh. I love that people send me comments on my essays that appear on various sites or in online women’s magazines. I love that both men and women have enjoyed my humor books and tell me that they giggled out loud reading them. That makes my day. Those comments actually make my week and year!

So, I will keep writing and keep hoping that my writing continues to find a welcoming audience. I am encouraged. This year, more doors then ever have opened up. My book Life on the off Ramp was named as an award-winning finalist in the humor category of the “Best Books 2010” Awards -- sponsored by USA Book News. I also was named as a recurring guest humor writer for, and I am frequently featured on I took a daring plunge this year and started an Internet radio show to introduce people to my humor called Wicked Wednesdays at I read a humor piece at the beginning of the show and have fellow humor writers sit in with me to discuss whatever is on their minds at the time. It is, so far, a great deal of fun.

Well, that is the story of my continuing journey into humor writing. I have learned a lot from living and breathing this genre. Mostly what I have learned is that we need humor to be human, and because of this fact, humor to me is serious business.
More information about Donna Cavanagh and her writing stop by her website, My Very Own Fan.

Thanks Donna for being my Writer Wednesday guest this week and for sharing your writing journey. Laughter is an important part of life so I hope this post inspires more writers to release their inner clown. Thanks to all you readers who stopped by.

Happy Writing and Reading,
Kristin : )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We have a winner! After the Falls book giveaway

Congratulations to Aisley Crosse for winning a copy of Catherine Gildiner's After the Falls. You should be receiving it soon. Hope you enjoy.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RE: Pulled Post

As you may know I pulled today's Writer's Wednesday post from my blog to further investigate some serious accusations made against my guest. This is all new to me and I want to be fair to all involved. I want this series to be inspirational, not controversial. First, I'll let you know that my guest is being accused of plagiarism, among other things. I'm sure we all agree, this is a serious allegation.

After following some of the links I was given by a handful of pretty heated people I've decided not to repost it. This does not mean I believe that my guest is guilty. Only the people who claim to have been plagiarized and the courts can determine that. This only means that after doing some research I had too many questions of my own to repost with a good conscience. But to be honest, I'm not sure if this is a case of a writer reinventing himself and trying new ventures when one fails or if it's an attempt to avoid being caught stealing other writer's work. There are a few people that have made it their crusade to make sure everyone knows about this. From what I can tell, none of these people are directly involved. They are going to a lot of trouble nonetheless. I have no way of knowing if they are concerned citizens wanting to protect the rights of other writers or not. I can't find time to read my favorite blogs, never mind scour the Internet in search of blogs that mention another person. But that's me.

You'll notice I didn't use my guest's name. I do not support any form of plagiarism, but nor do I promote condemning someone of it without proof. If you decide to dig deeper I can not stop you. The Internet is permanent, and there are always ways of finding any information. I only hope that you get all of the information you can before taking action, should you feel moved to.


Kristin : )

Writer Wednesday--- ON HOLD ----

In light of information that has been presented I have to decided to remove today's Writer Wednesday blog post until I can further investigate. In the event these serious accusations are found to be true I will apologize to you readers. In the event that they are not I will republish the original post with an apology to this week's guest.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Memoir Monday: After the Falls

It's been a while since I've posted a Memoir Monday. This is an interesting one to jump back in with. Catherine Gildiner takes us to relive some very personal and public experiences that molded her into the author and person she is today. After the Falls: Coming of age in the Sixties by Catherine Gildiner follows a girl's journey from the simplicity of childhood to the complexities of adulthood. It's the follow up to her first memoir, Too Close to the Falls (New York Times bestseller).

Life for Cathy was idyllic in the mist of Niagara Falls. She was happy working in her dad's pharmacy, making deliveries with Roy, causing havoc in school. Life was simple. Then they moved to Buffalo. Catherine was 12 and her life was turned upside down. She had to figure out who she was in a new town, in a new school, and did this with same anger and angst that most kids carry through adolescence. Her father seemed to be suffering from his own identity crisis and her mother remained detached from it all.

There were many pivotal moments that propelled Cathy from a child to an adult. She witnessed the cold and abusive loss of innocence of a girl, grieved with the country over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, enjoyed friendships that literally rose out of ashes and had to turn from others that went up in smoke. But nothing forced adulthood on her faster and more cruelly than finding out her father's behavior changes were caused by a brain tumor. His short term memory was nonexistent and it was slowly eating away at his long term memories. She had spent so much time being angry or embarrassed that when his illness was revealed, it was too late to apologize. He couldn't understand day to day that he was sick. Her mother pulled further out of touch, unable to cope, leaving Cathy to take control of her family's welfare.

Eventually Cathy's mother pulled herself together and pushed her to go to college. Through her writing she meets her first love, Laurie. With him she learns to expand her vocabulary and thinking. Together they champion for the Civil Rights Movement. He would also break her heart when his double life is revealed.

These are just some of the experiences Cathy shares in this moving memoir. I'm always amazed when writers are able to open themselves up so completely on paper for the world to read. Catherine Gildiner did not hold back. This is a powerful read.

Now, as I like to do in my Memoir Mondays, I'll talk about what this memoir taught me about writing.

Write Honestly: There were parts in this that I'm sure were hard to write, those are the parts that made it so powerful. Those moments of guilt, embarrassment, fear, grief are what grab the readers and helps them to celebrate the lighter, happier moments along with the memoir writer (or fictional character).

Expand vocabulary: If I come across a word I don't know the meaning of I write it down and look it up. Here are some of the new words that caught my eye while reading After the Falls.

1. anachronism - something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time.

2. tickey-boo - term used to describe an event that is proceeding quickly.

3. idioglossia - Speech or other vocalizations unique to an individual and generally incomprehensible to others.

I'd love to hear some of the new or strange words you've come across in your reading lately.

After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties by Catherine Gildiner is now on sale at Amazon , Amazon.CA , , Mobipocket eBook , and more.

Thanks for stopping by.

Kristin : )

** One lucky commenter can win a copy of After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties. Simply leave a comment to be entered. This giveaway is limited to USA and Canada readers, but all comments are welcome to discuss the book or to share new words.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Pat Brown

New writers studiously study how-to articles online, in writer's magazines and in the hundreds of books published on how to write in the belief that there is some secret that all published writers know and if only they could find it, they'd be published too. I'm afraid it's not true. There is no magic wand that can transform you from unpublished to published. The process is the same for everybody, for some it's just longer than others. Even when the dream is realized, it's not the end. You publish one book, one short story or perhaps an article. The next one is not a shoe-in. You might get more consideration for having been published, but you can just as easily be rejected again for you latest work.

It took me 33 years between the first book I wrote at 17 to having my first book published when I was 50. In that time I wrote at least 8 novels that were not published, in some cases probably weren't publishable. But each one was a learning experience I built on until I produced a book that someone wanted. But after that there was more rejection. The second book in the series was rejected and I ended up taking it elsewhere, to a small, independent publisher, which was a step down from the New York publisher I had started with. I'm still glad to be published by them and have continued with them since then. But I still want to break back into the New York publishing world and I've been pursuing an agent for the last 6 months. So far I have 95 rejections on one book I'm querying. That's 95 times I've had to read 'Sorry, not for us' since most of the rejections have been form letters. But I haven't stopped querying and I haven't stopped writing. I still send out queries on that book, and wait for a response. I have also started an even larger, more ambitious project, a noir historical which I will also be querying on when it's finished.

My point to all this is, though I have 8 fiction novels published and several short stories, I am no more guaranteed the next book I write will be published by anyone. Publishing is a business going through a lot of changes right now, and no one knows where it will be in 5 years, let alone 20. Publishers want sure things, and since there is no such thing, they compensate by being cautious. Which means more rejections to all but the upper tier of proven best sellers.

So why do it? I do it because I can't NOT write. Whether or not I get published I will always write because the stories are in me and have to be told. With that compulsion I will keep writing no matter if the next book or the one after that is never published or I decide to self publish an ebook, I will write.

As a new writer, only you can decide if this path is for you. No one else can make that decision or stop you from trying. If you want to write, despite the odds, then I say go, write.

My motto is taken right out of Galaxy Quest -- 'Never give up, never surrender'

Pat Brown

Award winning author of the L.A. crime novels.


I'll admit I held back on publishing this one. I thought it was too real to inspire new writers, but reading it again I have changed my mind. Writing and being published is not easy. It would be unfair to lead anyone to believe otherwise. Like any job, it takes dedication, incredible stamina, and thick skin to deflect criticism and rejection. And still, even with that some writing dreams won't be realized, while others will exceed all expectations. There's no way to predict which path your writing will take until you do the work and hand it over to the world. There are no guarantees, even for writers that have been published. These are depressing facts, but things all writers should understand. So thank you Pat for telling it like it is. I was wrong, this post is inspiring. It inspires me to keep learning, improving, and trying to reach my writing goals. It inspires me to never give up...

Thanks to all of you who took the time to stop by for another great Writer Wednesday.

Kristin : )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cake Boss Birthday Pt. 1

Look what we made!

My daughter's birthday is coming up and she is addicted to watching the show Cake Boss. So, I get this great idea that we can transform our kitchen into a bakery for her birthday. The plan is to let everyone decorate their own mini cakes like they do in the show. That's the plan, we'll see how the reality turns our :)

As part of the decor we wanted to have some real cakes and pastries displayed, but that's a lot of work and honestly would end up being a waste of my much treasured baked goods. I decide that we'll make these "real looking" cakes using more creative ingredients. So we pulled out some cardboard, my trusty glue gun, and started making nightly messes in the living room while we put our plan into action. As the plan came to life, it really became a lot of fun. I got another great idea. We'd use play dough in place of marzipan and fondant (those magical items Carlos uses to create incredible edible artwork).

Tonight, my daughter and I created the animal heads that will be added to our 3 tier fake cake, and I have to say, I'm amazed how well they came out. The whole thing has been fun. It's been years since I've actually sat down and played with play dough with my kids, and that crafty mom of yesteryear, well she had hung her keep the children busy hat a while ago too. Ok, before I get all nostalgic and weepy, I'll stop. We'll keep you updated on our progress.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writer Wednesday Winner! The Pink Locker Society

We have a winner! This week's Writer Wednesday guest, Debra Moffitt offered a copy of her newly released book, The Pink Locker Society. The lucky winner is....

Julie Anne Lindsey

She has been contacted and the book will be sent ASAP. Congratulations Julie and thanks to all who stopped by.

I want to mention one more time that Debra Moffitt is also the editor of an excellent website focused on issues that girls today face. It answers any and all questions that girls (and boys) have about growing up. Parents, you should check this site out and bring your kids too.


Kristin : )

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Debra Moffitt

You know more than you think you do.

Those words are from parenting expert, Dr. Benjamin Spock, but I find them strangely comforting and applicable to writing. Of course, I have to balance them against the equally true statement: You don’t know anything at all. For me, writing happens in the valley between the two.

I chin up and soldier my way through the hard, early days of a new writing project, needing to remind myself that I can do characters, dialogue, and plot. But I also sigh and fret. I lament my inadequate education, my own laziness about reading the classics, and my general lack of worldliness. Where have I been? What right have I to spin these tales, which emerge from my imperfect memory and unchallenged point of view?

But, oh yes, I know more than I think I do. I know that I can’t have zero confidence and be a writer. So I have no choice but to rally and find the courage to put something down, to believe that my little squinty view of the world is worth sharing. I remember a decade ago at a writers’ conference, this woman asked the presenter how she could get beyond her internal critic. “Every time I write something, I say ‘Oh my God, it’s awful.’ So I just never get anything done.”

I recall thinking, “Oh, you poor thing.” But rest assured, I was just beginning to write fiction, and my own insecurities were waiting for me around the bend. Right about then, I enrolled in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Writers Workshop. I prepared for class like a model student, wrote my first short story, and was secretly hoping it would get an unqualified A, even though the workshop’s leader was not a professor and the class was not graded.

The deft workshop facilitator had me read an excerpt and then raised so many questions that I felt nauseous. He never said it was a bad story, but he encouraged revision and deeper thinking about what I was trying to say. He asked, rhetorically, “What’s the emotional truth of the story?” Ugh, darned if I knew.

I worked and reworked, always feeling a little like an elephant doing ballet. But through several rounds of the workshop, I started to internalize some of his persistent, and now predictable, questions. It didn’t work miracles, but my fiction writing got a little better.

All the reading he had us do also helped. I stopped racing for the finish when I read, and started noticing the choices that masterful writers make. (Oh, how they tell us just enough and let that last sentence burn a hole in the page!)

Every writer has probably experienced the “I wish I’d written that.” moment. It’s infantile, I know, but I’m confessing. Now that I’m a little older, it doesn’t happen as much. Maybe it’s because I have created for myself a secret stash of encouragement from some fabulous writers. Lots of writers write about writing. But not all of them fill the curious space left by my own insecurity and doubt.

Here are three of my favorites if you need a reminder that yes, you can have a writer’s life, if you want one.

Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird, Lamott’s guide to writing, truly delivers. Ms. Lamott is one of the kindest angels you can have on your shoulder while you write. Need further evidence? She riffs brilliantly about procrastinating when you should be writing and recognizes “Shitty First Drafts” as an official step in the writing process.

William Maxell: I will gladly listen to Maxwell, who was both a fine writer and fiction editor at the New Yorker for 40 years. Maxwell, who died in 2000, had me at the preface to his short story collection, All the Days and Nights.

In it, Maxwell describes how at age 25 he decided to go to sea so he would have something to write about. He left his job as an English professor and got aboard a schooner near Coney Island. Thirty years later, he looked back on it like this..."(The captain) had no idea when the beautiful, tall-masted ship would leave its berth. And I had no idea that three-quarters of the material I would need for the rest of my writing life was already at my disposal. My father and mother. My brothers. The cast of larger-than-life characters - affectionate aunts, friends of the family, neighbors white and black - that I was presented with when I came into this world."

Billie Letts: Letts, an Oklahoman, is the woman you want to read if you’re raising kids and trying (and often failing) to fit in a little writing time. Tucked in the back of her breakout novel, Where the Heart Is, she describes her personal journey from wife and mom to college graduate, English teacher, and – at age 55 – novelist.

By her own description, Letts was not well poised to become a published writer. She was not born in New York, completed college only after having children, and was the traditional “woman behind the man” as her talented husband took a Fulbright Scholarship. She taught English as a second language for many years.

Only as she neared retirement, did she make progress toward her dream of being a writer. In her generous essay, she answers the question she must get asked most often: How did you do it? Her answer: “I don't know. I only know how I have written two books. I had stories to tell and I began typing.

You can read the whole thing here: Billie Letts on Writing

I think of Letts’ essay as something that should be behind glass, like in one of those old fashioned fire extinguisher boxes. In case of discouragement, break glass. I’ve reread it numerous times and know I’ll reach for it again, whenever I need reminding that I know at least a little more than I think I do.

Debra Moffitt, a former newspaper reporter, is an editor at Her first book, The Pink Locker Society: Only Girls Allowed, was published by St. Martin’s Press in September. The book is the first in a four-book series for tween girls.

An interactive website,, invites girls to support each other and find answers to common questions about growing up. Moffitt lives in Delaware with her husband and three sons, ages 13, 12, and 4.


Thank you Debra for being this week's Writer Wednesday guest and thank all of you who stopped by today. As an added bonus Debra has generously offered to give away a copy of her newly released book, The Pink Locker Society to a lucky reader. It could be you! All you have to do is leave a comment. One winner will be randomly selected after midnight tonight and will be announced tomorrow.

Happy Reading and Good Luck!

Kristin : )

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Working Writer Interview

Hi, I'm not here right now. I'm over at the Working Writers blog. Stop by to read my interview and feel free to leave a message. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.


Kristin : )

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to meet Lynne Griffin in Boston and hear all about her new release, Sea Escape. The story and the excitement in her voice had me hooked even before I knew she had a review copy with her. I left the Saturday Saloon, on that Wednesday afternoon, with great writing advice, a copy of Sea Escape, and a smile.

Sea Escape is a moving story about family and finding yourself. Lynne Griffin blends the past with the present seamlessly by using love letters written by the main character, Laura's parents. Through these letters, which had been tucked away for years, Laura learns the true history of her family; memories, secrets, heartbreak, and all.

In the beginning of the story you can sense the strains that exist between each character. Laura's need to please and break the emotional wall that her mother lives behind and brother's complete turn away from them both has blinded her to her own family's problems. Laura's mother, Helen suffers a serious stroke and every one's lives are thrown into chaos.

Laura feels out of control. She tries to take care of everyone, her children, husband, distant brother, and be there for her mother. As Helen's health slips, so does Laura's grip on reality. The love letters, which at first filled her with guilt to read, slowly become her escape.

My favorite part of this story is that it was inspired by real love letters written by the author's parents, which gives this story a true beating heart. Lynne Griffin's expertise in family studies is evident in the dynamics between the characters. She captures the subtle strains that exist in families and the ongoing desire to find resolution to life long issues. Sea Escape will keep your attention and your heart until the last page.
More information about Lynne Griffin and her other books can be found on her website.