Friday, July 31, 2015

Road Trip

Currently I'm in the middle of Wisconsin, which really isn't much of a road trip from Minnesota, but hey . . . sometimes a girl's gotta drive to get some great cheese. Okay, so I didn't actually come here for the cheese (though it is a nice bonus). I'm on a writing retreat, kicking off a new book (more on that in a future post **cue evil laughter**).

But -- and I've always got a big one, don't ya know -- if I were going on a for-real road trip, I'd be looking at the Atlas Obscura to map it out. The folks over at that site have put out an:

"Obsessively detailed map of American Literature's most epic road trips."

What they did is take 12 different non-fiction (for the most part) books centered on cross-country travel, ranging from Mark Twain's Roughing It, published in 1872, to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, printed in 2012. The books chosen have a narrative arc that matches the chronological and geographical arc of the trip it chronicles.

Pretty sweet, eh? Now if they'd just put out one for England.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day Jobs

I know a lot of authors. Most of them have day jobs. Okay, all of them do except for three. Either that information tells you that I'm a loser with my social skills because I don't know a lot of authors, or else the writing biz just isn't all that lucrative. Sure, you may be right on both accounts, but actually, the answer is behind door #2 . . . writing is not a huge money maker.

I've held a lot of jobs in my day, from receptionist to day care provider to fast food afficionado at Arthur's Beef-n-Burger. Don't bother looking it up. It's defunct. Turns out, though, that I'm in pretty good company. Even big name authors held their share of day jobs, and if you're as nosey as I am, you're probably wondering who and what. Don't panic. I'm here to scratch that itch.

Steven King was a janitor at a high school.

Harper Lee was a reservation clerk for Eastern Airlines in New York City.

F. Scott Fitzgerald worked at an advertising agency writing slogans for trolley placards.

Jack London was an oyster pirate. Don't ask me what that is. Do what most savvy techsters do and Wikipedia it.

Charles Dickens labeled jars in a shoe polish factory.

William Faulkner served as a mailman at the University of Mississippi.

Ken Kesey, the dude who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, worked as a janitor in a mental hospital. I know, right?

Kurt Vonnegut was a used car salesman for Saab.

So you see, hitting the big time by selling a million copies does not necessarily make you a millionaire . . . but that won't stop a real writer from writing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Conjuring Your Dreams

Ever wish you know what the next trend in genres would be?

Ever wish you knew what agents and editors are looking for?

Ever wish you could find a freaking
I-Dream-of-Jeannie type bottle floating ashore with a genie inside to grant you your wishes?

This is it, folks. Me. Donning a pair of floofy Jeannie type pants, capable of making your wishes come true. Ready? Cue the harp music and send down the glittery star dust.

Manuscript Wish List is the place to be for wannabe authors, and for a live feed, check out the #MSWL on Twitter. In their own words, both

"exist to help match writers, agents and editors with compatible projects."

Here's how it works . . .

You search by genre, agent/editor name, or by tags to find who will take submissions directly from writers without a middleman involved. Basically, it's a whopping big database to get all those willing partners together without the price and expense of meeting face-to-face at a conference. If you see one that might fit what you've written, you contact the agency directly. That easy.

And if you're between projects and unsure of what to write, this is a great place to get ideas.

Yes indeedy, the winds of publishing, they are a-changing. So hop on your horsie, Hoss, and gallop on over to check out this wild west of a site. Just tell 'em Giddyup Griep sent you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top 5 Bookstore Secrets

Psst. Hey buddy. Step a little closer. Want to hear a secret? More specifically, want to hear some bookstore secrets? Have I got a list for you . . .

1. They know when you're using them to score a later deal on Amazon.
It's a dead giveaway when a shopper pulls out a cell phone and snaps a pic of the barcode and cover. Even more obvious when that shopper puts the book back on the shelf. That action is the big tipoff that the customer is clearly going to shop at Amazon to find a better deal.

2. Those new release tables and end caps are paid for.
The books that get the biggest floor space aren't all up in your business because they're someone's personal favorites. Publishers pay for that space. It's all about marketing, baby.

3. Some booksellers identify books by their smell.
Love the first whiff when you enter a bookstore? So do the booksellers, and some of them can even tell a Penguin from a Random House simply by the fragrance, which ranges from vanilla to almond or coffee.

4. Booksellers can tell a bookworm from a browser.
If a customer is nosing around in the cookbook or arts sections, they're probably a browser. A bookwork totes books around, touching them, stacking them, and eventually buying them.

5. They know which book is most likely to be stolen.
Do you know? Interestingly enough, it's a book that condemns thievery . . . the Bible.

Want to read more? Check out a larger list at Mental Floss.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Checklist for a Nasty Review

If you're going to write a real humdinger of a review for a book that triggered your gag reflex, here's a little friendly advice for you . . .

Have a Valid Point
Just because you hated the cover is not a solid reason to hate the book. You can rail all you like against the choice of model, colors, or font, but that bluster is not going to be taken as a serious commentary on the story.

Get an Editor
My favorite bad reviews are the ones that can barely spell basic English words. Really? You want to say the writer is an "ideot," because if you do, you should probably figure out that it's spelled "idiot" or you look like the imbecile.

Don't Crucify
If you have a hangup about Christianity, then guess what, little honcho . .  you should probably not read Christian fiction. Just sayin'.

Be Careful About Going Off Half-cocked
Never admit you didn't actually finish reading the book. How do you know things didn't turn around in, oh, say the last 3/4 of the story if you only read the freaking first chapter, hmm?

For Sweet Mercy's Sake, Check the Dang Title
Take the time to clarify that you're writing your angry review for a book you're really angry about. You look like a dork when you lambaste the wrong story.

Sometimes one-star reviews are my favorite form of entertainment. Sheesh.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


"Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever God gives.
Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace."
~ Ann Voskamp

Question of the Week:
How thankful are you for whatever God gives?

No really, think on that for a minute. Just sixty seconds. We all need a thorough heart examination every now and then.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Store Love

A photo posted by BOOK AND BED TOKYO (@bookandbedtokyo) on
My idea of a hot date is chocolate in pretty much any format and hours upon hours in a bookstore. Ahh. Just thinking about walking through a bookstore door, sniffing that paper an ink smell . . . yeah, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout. I'd sleep there, if they'd let me, but every time I try dragging in my blankie and pillow, I get kicked out.

But apparently I've been visiting the wrong bookstores, because in Tokyo, there's a new hotel option available: Book and Bed. Opening in September, this bookstore/hostel has beds set up next to the store's bookshelves. Shoppers can visit during the day, and if they want to stay the night, they can pony up a little extra cash and sleep in one of the bookstore's bunks. And yes, they can read, read, read. Sounds like a deal to me.

Unless the books are all in Japanese.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Stages of Writing a Book

I recently typed "The End" on my novella. Yep. 20,000 words that hopefully make some kind of sense. That's pretty much how every author feels when they finish a manuscript. Curious about the whole emotional journey? Here's an infographic I made. Feel free to steal it if you want to.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Elements of a Good Book

As I was just about dozing off to sleep last night, hubby elbows me and asks, "Hey, how do you write a good book? What are the top 3 elements?"

I replied with a snore, hoping he'd think I was sleeping.

He nudged me again. Gah! So, rather than discussing the building blocks of a great story at midnight, I told him I'd do a blog post on it.

How's that for a segue? Yeah, kind of lame, but it's the best one I've got and I did promise him, so here we go, kids. Buckle up and strap on your helmet.

Top 3 Elements of a Good Book

1. Connect at an emotional level.
All authors and readers have one thing in common: they're human. Humans have emotions. I don't care if you gargle with razor blades just for fun because you're tough. Unless you're a psychopath, you will cry if you see a puppy kicked to death. A good book will crack you open and play a tune on your heartstrings, leaving a mark long after you've closed the cover.

2. Freshen things up.
Good story writing makes a reader finish a book. Great story writing makes a reader sit up and beg for more. How do you go from good to great? Describe mundane things in a fresh, new way. Don't tell me the man had rotten teeth, tell me that his teeth looked as if he dipped them in mouse-colored velvet. Eew! Now there's a word picture you won't soon forget.

3. Twist the plot.
Would you like to wake up every morning for five years and eat oatmeal? I'm guessing not. Why? Because no one likes predictability (and there is the off-chance that you don't like oatmeal, either). Surprise is the name of the game, baby. Readers love it when a curve ball in the plot throws them off balance, something they didn't see coming.

Think about one of your favorite books. See if you can identify these three elements in it. Here's my example:

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

1. Emotional Level
I connect with her because she's a fiercely independent individual yet gives in to moments of self-doubt.

2. Fresh Prose
"Jane, be still; don't struggle so like a wild, frantic bird, that is rending its own plumage in its desperation."
Love that she's compared to a frantic bird. I can see that image in my mind.

3. Plot Twist
I did not expect Mr. Rochester to get blinded and who knew that Bertha was up in the attic?

So there you have it. If you want to write a good book, incorporate those three elements and you'll connect a deep level with your reader.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Visit to Crazy Town

I've got a lot on my plate, and I'm not talking BBQ. I'm teaching a new English class this fall, I've got several story irons in the fire, I'm in the middle of a landscaping project, there's the back forty to plow and if I don't get my fanny over to Target and buy some new underwear, well, let's just say things ain't gonna be pretty around here. Yep. Life can be crazy nuts sometimes, so here are a few coping skills that just might get you by . . .

3 Ways To Beat Stress

Yeah, I know. This sounds like a stupid made-up coping mechanism to deal with stress just because I love me a good bean burrito from Chipotle. But no, Ke-mo Sah-bee, I'm not foolin' with ya. Taking a lunch break is good for your body and your mind. Check out this little article: If You Think You're Productive During Lunch, Think Again.

Andrew Weil, MD, has a 4-7-8 breathing trick that leaches stress from your lungs. Go ahead, give it a whirl . . .
1. Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a mental count of four.
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of four breaths.
What did you think? Want to try another one? Check out his Three Breathing Exercises article.

Walking improves creativity, but don't take my word for it. The brains at Stanford University say so too. Their study showed that a person's creative output increased by 60% when walking. And if you're interested in reading more about the study, click here.

If your schedule is as whacked out as mine, give these 3 stress-relievers a try. Personally, I like the lunch one the best.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Don't Overthink It

Every now and then, my husband tosses around the idea of writing a book. He's got a great idea for a dystopian story, but my guess is that he'll probably never write it. Why? Because he wants to figure everything out before he starts it.

Writing a book doesn't work that way.

Oh, don't get me wrong . . . you need to have some kind of a handle on research. It would never do to set your story in Minneapolis then write that the Columbia River runs through it. You'd need to know that it's the Mississippi. But you wouldn't need to know all the species of fish that live in it, what the water composition is made of, or the ratio of silt to sand to rock.

Too much research straitjackets a writer.

Maybe, toward the end of the story, if you had your main character go fishing in the Mississippi, then you could check out what kind of a fish he might land. But guess what? You can cross that bridge if and when you get to it.

Too many writer wannabes stall out when they start overthinking the process. Writing is art. Yeah, there are some rules you need to know to make things coherent, but other than that, it's subjective.

Don't let the fear of imperfection keep you from trying.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Sometimes giving thanks not only seems too big to grab hold of,
it's too ludicrous to even consider.
Who in their right mind gives thanks
when a child is stillborn,
a mate is given to cancer,
a home and dreams are burned up by fire?
Who can possibly be thankful
in the white-hot angry times?
I don't know how to do it.
I can't.
Good thing Jesus didn't have that attitude.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Griep Theorem

I recently had a discussion with one of my writer buddies who was asked to write a novel outside of his usual norm. He was torn. The money was good, but the genre not necessarily one he had a passion for. Still, he was convinced he could suck it up and write to the market.

To which I say, "Uh, nope. Not gonna work, buddy."

Why would I say such a thing? That's not something an encouraging little cheerleading friend would say. But here's the dealio . . .

First off, I look horrible in a mini-skirt, and the plastic string thingees in pom-poms make me break out.

But more importantly, that lack of the writer's excitement about the genre is going to show up in the story, no matter how great he writes. Readers can tell when an author is invested whole-heartedly or not.

This idea (I'll call it the Griep Theorem, mostly because I can) isn't just for writing books, mind you. It applies to any creative endeavor. If you're not excited about a particular task, it will turn out "meh."

And life's just too short to waste your time on meh.

So go forth and pursue your passions, people! But be safe out there. I wouldn't want you to catch a disease or something.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ignorance is Bliss

"Dive into your obliviousness. It may turn out to be the greatest project you ever worked on. Ignorance is bliss, but it can also be a creative advantage."
~ Natalie Portman

When I tell people I'm writing a new novel set in America, jaws drop. "What the heck, Michelle? All your stories are set in England. What in the world do you know about Colonial times?"

Answer: not a whole lot . . . and that answer really freaks people out. How can I even think of starting a story without having finished my research?

Answer: because it's a story . . . not an encyclopedia entry. It's art. It's taking the reader by the hand and introducing them to characters who will grow and change and overcome.

Here's the deal: if I waited until I researched out every detail of the year 1770 in the area of South Carolina, I wouldn't be able to start writing the story for at least a few years. Do you think readers will wait that long for me to put out a book?

Not that I'm belittling research, mind you. In fact, that's one of my favorite parts about writing. I love to learn. But if I focused on getting all the facts lined up like rubber duckies on a starting line, I'd never cross the finish line and type "The End" because I would become completely overwhelmed with the enormity of the task.

The hardest thing to overcome when tackling any project is the paralyzing fear of how much work the project might be. 

Figuring things out to the minutest detail prevents you from taking risks. It's a lot easier to begin a project if you aren't bowled over by the amount of work involved.

Sometimes ignorance is indeed bliss.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Amazon

Cut a slab of chocolate cake and slap on a party hat, kids, because today we're celebrating Amazon's 20th birthday. I know, right? Doesn't look a day over 18, if you ask me.

Anyhoo, in order to celebrate, Amazon is running Prime Day all day today. If you're a Prime member, you'll snatch up more bargains than on Black Friday, plus shop for exclusive deals on pretty much everything.

The only drawback is that you do have to be a Prime member. If you're not, you could sign up to try Prime for free for 30 days, which honestly, would be worth it to take part in today's festivities. And if you really like it, then the cost is $99 for a year.

The best thing about Prime is that you get free 2-day shipping and you can watch a boatload of movies by streaming them.

Whether or not you join Prime, though, there's no reason you can't celebrate anyway and stuff your mouth full of birthday cake.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Drum Roll, Cymbal Crash, Crazy Wild Dancing

Remember when I said I'd be revealing some big news soon? Okay, so maybe you don't remember. I know, you have a life, right? Well, whether you recall it or not, I do actually have some big news . . . three horn-blowers to toot about, but I'll only reveal one today. Authors love their cliffhangers, you know.

Coming next July, my story, THE DOCTOR'S WOMAN, will be featured in the upcoming Courageous Brides collection. Here's a blurb . . .
EMMALINE LARSON is no stranger to loss. Living in a land as wild as the natives who roam it, she's lost her father, her betrothed, and when DR. JAMES CLARK crashes into her world, she loses the last thing left to her -- her heart.

That's the short version. The historical part of it centers around the Dakota Uprising of 1862. You've all heard of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, right? When natives were forced to march to a reservation under horrific conditions? Well the same thing happened in Minnesota, but on a smaller scale. About 1600 Dakota women, children, elders and a few men were marched in November for a week to an internment camp at Fort Snelling. Many died, especially having to live in tents down by the river, crammed in a small area, until May.

I live by Fort Snelling, and that story has always captured my interest. Talk about potential for conflict. The heroine is a young lady who's father has just died, so she's on her way to Minneapolis to live with her aunt. Her plans are upset when soldiers from the fort come looking for her father, not knowing of his death. He was a doctor, and their military doctor hasn't arrived yet. She goes to see what she can do.

Of course that's when the hero, the replacement doctor, arrives fresh from Harvard. He's all Mr. Uppity Do-it-by-the-book and she's more holistic, natural cures. Sparks fly, especially when the natives are herded to the fort. He can't care for all of them, so he asks her to stay. Bad combo, right? Until the end of the story, that is.

So, interested? I'll share a cover reveal here and who the other authors are that will be included in the collection. Stay tuned . . .

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hope on a Monday

We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us.
Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter.
Things are not giggles and laughs in the Christian book market lately. In fact, literary agent Chip MacGregor says, "CBA fiction is in a world of hurt." 

That means sales numbers are down across the board.
That means publishers are skittish.
That means if you're a new author, or an author with less than stellar sales numbers, you're probably going to get rejected.

And you know what that means? That's right -- increased profits for Ben & Jerry's.

But here's what it doesn't mean . . . that you and your writing don't matter. You do. It does. Miriam Webster Dictionary defines "author" as: a person who has written something; a person who has written a book or who writes many books. Notice there's no mention of contracts or publishing. 

Do not let rejection define who you are;
let it refine you.

Remember that next time you're tempted to give in to despair because someone's shot down you or your dreams.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Clearly, names are important . . .
-  God named Adam
-  Adam named Eve
-  We will all have new names known only by Him when we get to eternity

What an intimate thing to be given a name known only by one.
It's personal.
It's ownership.
It's commitment,
and I weep.
I long to know that name He has for me,
to hear it spoken by Him for me alone.
No, not alone . . . for Him and I,
Creator and created,
one at last.
Only then will my bones be at rest.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Literary Tattoo Trivia

Tattoos are all the rage right now. Want to see a picture of mine? Nah. Don't panic. I don't have one. But if I did, I'd want a tramp stamp of the Loch Ness monster swimming on the waves of my . . . er . . . as I was saying, tatts are trendy. Here are three interesting tidbits I found at the intersection of literature and skin artistry . . .

Tattoo For a Book
Want a tatt of a dragon and the honor of promoting a new book at the same time? The latest book in Stieg Larsson's Dragon Tattoo series is about to launch and Hachette Australia is looking for a volunteer who's willing to give up their back as a canvas. Best of all, it's free. Deadline is midnight, July 12.

The Illustrated Man
Way before every hipster in town was inking their skin, Ray Bradbury wrote this classic science fiction book. In it, an unnamed narrator watches the Illustrated Man's tattoos come to life, presenting nineteen short stories.

Top 5 Books That Influence Tattoos
The most common books that influence tattoo choices are:
1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry
5. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Made-Up Names . . . Who'da Thunk?

Naming characters is one of my favorite things about writing. Thorne or Spurge are a few of my villains. Goodwin is a hero. Hope is a sweet little girl. And occasionally, I resort to making up names, like Mrs. Spankum, who loves to give verbal whippings. Think I'm a freak? Nope. Well, maybe. But in reference to making up names, I'm in good company . . .

Made-Up Names Invented by Authors

James Fenimore Cooper came up with this one for the heroine in the 1826 classic, The Last of the Mohicans

Way before Dora the Explorer, Charles Dickens penned this name in David Copperfield.

William Sharp used this as a pen-name on a series of books on Celtic myths and legends.

Remember that movie about the little girl in the alps? Well, first it was a book, written by Johanna Spyri, and she gets credit for the name.

Shakespeare. Twelfth Night. 'Nuff said.

Sir Phillip Sidney created the name Pamela for his 1590 poem Arcadia.

Can you guess which classic story spawned this common name? J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan.

5 Reasons to Tell Instead of Show

You've all heard it, usually at a volume ratcheted up enough to shred your eardrums to smithereens . . .
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. For the most part, I heartily agree with this rule. Showing is hands-down better than telling because, hey, who likes to be told anything? That's about as comfortable as having your mom wag her finger in your face.

But (and I've always got a big but) I've discovered that there are some instances in which telling is a must.

5 Reasons to Tell Instead of Show

1. When you're covering a vast amount of time.
Mundane details of everyday life are boring. Move your story forward by skipping them.

2. Inserting a quick summary.
Sometimes you need to report an event because it's important to the story, yet you don't want the story to get bogged down. A small summary is a useful tool to accomplish this.

3. When backstory is crucial to a current event.
Be careful with this one. I'm talking just a few words here, not entire paragraphs.

4. As a transition.
Scenes must be connected somehow or they'll become disjointed in the reader's mind. A sentence or two of telling can accomplish this faster than a few pages of showing.

5. For a rebound.
Secondary characters are necessary because they bring a well-roundedness to the story. That being said, they should never upstage the main personas. A telling line can kick-off a real-time response from a hero or heroine.

I should also mention that telling is employed more often in novellas than in novels because of the constraint of the length. Showing is still high on the priority list, but as Stephen King says, story is king, and if a little telling accomplishes that, then go for it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why Books Are Better

Recently I was asked to defend a book to a person who'd seen only a stage version of the story -- and clearly did NOT like it. My response? A novel is a piece of art that ought be judged on the basis of literary criteria, not theatrical. They are two different beasts, completely.

"Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different."
~ Stephen King

When it comes to a flick, a play, or a novel, I almost always choose the novel. Why? Because candy for the eyes is tasty, but not nearly as long lasting as a picture in the mind. In our current culture, however, I fear that I'm in the minority. Instant gratification is the winner of the day.

I will admit, however, to one movie that was better than the book. The 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo was way better than Dumas's opium-smoking hero. And I'll also give you that the BBC production of Bleak House brought Dicken's classic to life in the perfect way. Other than that, though, books always trump. Why?

For the very reason today's culture turns to two-hour movies . . . time. When you invest time into the reading of a book, you connect on a deeper level than when you sit through a one-hundred-twenty minute whiz-bang collection of special effects. You experience the emotions of the characters in a way that is deeply personal and it makes a larger imprint on your brain.

Also, you see a character for what he is on the inside, not just the glamorous (or ugly) skin version on a screen. You hear their thoughts, understand their motivations, and see the full scope of how they change throughout the story because of it.

Sure, I still go see movies and plays, but I always make sure to read the book format first. Where do you stand? Feel free to sound off in the comment section.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tweet Power

I'm no social media guru, nor do I want to be. I do, however, want to know when the best time is to tweet so that people actually see what I'm saying. After a little digging, I unearthed some great information for all you tweeters out there.

The absolute best time to post a tweet is between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. Yes, that's right, AM.

I know what you're thinking . . . What the heck? Who in the world looks at Twitter in the middle of the night? Nobody!

Well, actually, you'd be wrong about that, Hoss. According to a massive four-year study put out by Buffer, that window of time is the best opportunity for you to get the most engagement with your Tweets exactly for that reason . . . not that no one will look at it, but that there are less people posting at that time.

You see, the most popular time to tweet is the middle of the day in most time zones, which makes for a lot of clutter on everyone's feed. That's why the 2-3 time slot is gold -- less clutter.

But if you're like me and happen to nearly always be sleeping in the wee hours of the night, here's an even better bit of information: the next best tweeting time is between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Happy tweeting, little buddies!

Saturday, July 4, 2015


I am the way
and the truth
and the life
no one
comes to the Father
except through me.
John 14:6

There is comfort in this verse.
And fear.
But mostly finality.
This is not a statement to be argued with.
Either it is,
or it isn't.
This entrance into heaven,
this Jesus,
this truth . . .
eternity hinges on this door.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fourth of July Fun

Looking for something mindless to do instead of eating yourself into a potato salad coma this Independence Day? Have I found a fun site for you!

Remember Spirograph? That fun yet annoying toy? Made me crazy when the dang pencil led either:
A. Didn't fit into the tiny holes
B. Broke off into the tiny holes

I also hated it when the smaller circle gear thingamabob went winging off the larger and I got a big scribble on a perfect design in the making.

But time and technology have fixed those glitches, folks. Drum roll, please, for ISPIROGRAPH.  Toodle on over to this site and move the roly-poly gears around with your cursor, it's just that easy. Warning, though, it's a tad addictive.

Want to see what others have already created? Click HERE.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I have a few things to confess . . .

  • That sweet symbolism in my novels? Yeah. It's either there by luck or accident, but I'll tell you I planned it that way.
  • Insecurity holds my hand like a constant companion, making me all sweaty and a little jittery at times.
  • I'm scared of having a deadline, not having a deadline, signing a contract, not signing a contract, centipedes, Nessie, and standing too close to a microwave.

Most of those confessions, though, are pretty average for a writer. Well, maybe not the Nessie fear. Anyway, do you ever wonder what a priest hears sitting inside his little box? Have I found a site for you . . .

Confessions is a public art project that invited people to share their confessions -- anonymously, of course -- and view the confessions of others. I know, that might make you feel like a creepy window peeper, but the information can be useful for a writer in several ways:

  1. It gives you insight into what makes a human feel super guilty.
  2. It shows you the most common "sins" humans commit.
  3. It's a great story generator when you wonder about the person who wrote the confession.

So if you're bold enough, toodle on over to the site. And if you're not, I've got one more confession to make . . .

I just found out Brentwood's Ward is on sale for $2.99! Snatch up an ebook copy, or share the love and snatch one up for a friend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Reading

It's that beach bag time of year. What are you tossing into yours? How does your reading list match up to Oprah's top pix? I took a looksie at a few of O Magazine's recommendations by finding them on Amazon and clicking on the Surprise Me preview for each book (which basically gives you a few random pages of the novel to read.) Here are the first 5 on a list of 42 . . .

Bennington Girls Are Easy by Charlotte Silver

Blurb: A ruefully funny coming-of-age novel that follows two recent Bennington grads who are determined to make it in the Big Apple.

Surprise Me: I read about some girl washing her lingerie, was cranky about not having hummus, and dropped an F-bomb

Would I buy it? Nope.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Blurb: What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Surprise Me: There wasn't any surprises because this book doesn't release until August 4th.

Would I buy it? Possibly. The back cover copy sounded interesting, but I'd like to sneak a peek at the surprise section first.

Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

Blurb: A revelatory biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators—her father, Josef Stalin.

Surprise Me: No sex, swearing or violence, just a lot of meh.

Would I buy it? No. Boring. Not the actual history, mind you. I just wasn't pulled in by the writing style. It was fine, but not spectacular.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Blurb: A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

Surprise Me: Kind of read like a grocery list. This happened, then that happened, yada, yada.

Would I buy it? Unh-unh. It didn't grab me by the throat and give me a little shake.

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Blurb: A wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls.

Surprise Me: Loved the preview. The writing was excellent. My only bugaboo is that I could only see the first few pages, not in the middle. I'm wondering how explicit it gets, but I don't know.

Would I buy it? Perhaps. The first few pages were snappy and creative.

There you have the top 5 Oprah pix. Interested?
Blogger Templates