24 Questions

There’s a study that shows asking another person a certain 36 questions will prompt greater intimacy between you and at a more rapid rate. “36?” I hear you asking. “But the headline says 24.” That’s because I’m only going to answer the first 24 of these questions. Though I might do the final set in an upcoming newsletter, so if you haven’t signed up, do it now.

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I’m not sure there’s anyone I really want to bring into my house as a dinner guest. I’m very aware of the fact my house probably doesn’t make a fabulous impression because I’m not a keen housekeeper. Also, I don’t cook. So I’d probably only invite people I don’t actually like and subject them to my dirty house and bad cooking.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

Yes, actually. Or maybe not famous so much as known? I think there’s a slight difference. I’d like my work to be noteworthy so that, in certain circles, my name was known. If that makes sense.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Depends on who I’m calling and why! I don’t talk on the phone much. I prefer text or email because then I can compose what I say. As a writer, that’s important to me. But people I’m close to—my parents and good friends—I have no reason to rehearse anything.

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

A day in a foreign city like London or Paris. There would be some time spent in a museum and then a walk in the park. A nice meal or two in there somewhere. A bookstore probably.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

I do this all the time. I sing to myself, the cat, the kids. I don’t even notice any more, so I’m not sure when I was last doing it.

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

Well, wait a minute. Any 30-year-old? Or me when I was 30? Because I’d just had my first child then and my body was not in great shape at the time. And are you saying that if I choose body my mind would necessarily be addled? There’s an implication here but it’s not explicit. I’d need to know more before deciding.

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

No, thank God, and I don’t really want to know either.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

We like to quote movies. We both have parents who are still together. We have similar values and ways of rearing the children.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My health.

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

More family vacations. We only ever seemed to visit relatives; I wish we’d gone other places sometimes.

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

Should I type for four minutes? No? Look, you can read my bio on IMDb if you like. Maybe some day I’ll have a Wikipedia page. Wouldn’t that be cool?

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

To be able to write faster. It takes me a long time to write a book (or screenplay), and I wish it didn’t. I wish I had better focus and could sit down and crank stuff out—quality stuff, that is.

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

Whether I ever become a well-known author or screenwriter. Or maybe, more specifically, whether I ever win any awards. That’s shallow, but there you have it. I don’t especially want to know what others think of me, and I don’t want to know how I or anyone I love dies. So something simple and concrete. That way I know whether I’m wasting my time or should just be satisfied with what I’ve already accomplished.

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

Living abroad. I’ve wanted to do that my entire life, but the opportunity has never arisen. I’ve tried to “make” opportunities, too, but it’s never worked out.

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

I should say something like “my kids,” right? But that’s a joint effort—that’s me and my husband and the teachers and the kids themselves. So what is MY greatest accomplishment? Getting a play staged and then turned into a short film—I consider that my most noteworthy accomplishment thus far.

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

Intellect + humor. I look for good conversation but also a lightness of being.

17. What is your most treasured memory?

Oh, God, I don’t even know. I have so many wonderful ones, I can’t pick just one to be “most treasured.” They carry equal weight. Most are from childhood, though. Fresh-mown grass. Catching fireflies. Stargazing with my dad. Long drives in the car, just for the fun of driving around.

18. What is your most terrible memory?

My entire junior year of high school.

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

I’d write faster, or at least leave a comprehensive set of notes so someone could finish my work for me. Then I’d travel and make memories with my family.

20. What does friendship mean to you?

It’s a very specific bond. You can’t fake it. There’s a connection there that’s very strong and endures even the greatest strain. That’s why they say you only know who your true friends are when you’re in a crisis.

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

I’m not sure I understand the question. I’m an only child and am very close with my parents. Still, I’m very independent in a lot of ways, and I have a difficult time giving and receiving affection in a demonstrative way. I show my affection to friends and family in other ways—visits, calls, sending little gifts, just trying to be generally thoughtful. The one exception is my children. That love and affection, the hugs and kisses, comes very naturally to me.

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

Well, my husband isn’t here, but I’ll say this: he’s supportive, smart, funny, a good cook, and family-oriented.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

I mentioned I’m an only child. We are very close. At the age when other kids were trying to distance themselves from their parents, I was still happy to hang out with mine. I don’t know about “happier than most other people’s.” I know I had a happy childhood, relatively sedate.

My family now, it’s large and chaotic. I like to think we’re warm, but I don’t know if we’re close because there’s so many of us. But we do a lot of things together. It’s difficult for me to judge, really, because I’m too close. I’m in it and part of it and not objective about it.

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Ooooh. That’s complicated. We’re fine, I think. I’m closer to my dad because he and I have similar temperaments, but Mom and I had our fun, too. We would go see the movies Dad wouldn’t see. Stuff like that.

My mom is the social one in our family and I wasn’t the type to be on the phone or out with my friends all the time. We’re just very different. But she’s always meant well.

Okay, those are the 24 questions. As I mentioned, I may or may not do the final 12 in my newsletter. A quick glance at the remaining questions shows there are a few similar to #22 in that they ask the responder to say something to a partner, or else have the partner answer in some way. So we’ll see which, if any, I can use in the newsletter, which I expect to put out next week. Sign up now on the sidebar!


WIP Wednesday

Switching tracks this week by posting the first little bit I’ve written for A Blue Jay on Friday, the sequel to The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller.

Simeon didn’t even look over when the paper fluttered to his desk, landing not far from where his elbow winged out unnaturally while he typed. He was used to things being tossed at him, stuff to type or file or have Mr. Stoller sign. He’d get to it when he was bloody well ready, but as slow as he was at typing, it was going to be a while.

Clack. Simeon squinted at the paper to be sure it was the correct letter then began the hunt for the next one.

“Mr. Martin.”

Simeon hopped in his chair with surprise and turned to see Peter Stoller standing at his shoulder. The man was unnaturally quiet. Brought a whole new level to the term “spook.”

Peter nodded at the paper on the desk, and Simeon transferred his attention to it. Not a full-sized sheet, but slim and—

“An airline ticket?” Simeon asked. “Who for?”

“You.”

Simeon’s dark eyes went back to Peter.

“You don’t want to spend the whole of your career as an assistant, do you?” Peter asked. He nodded at the ticket envelope again. “Go on.”

Simeon put his hand out and let it hover over the desktop. “You’re sending me somewhere.”

Peter’s tiny sigh struck Simeon like a dart. His boss was fair but difficult to please, and Simeon knew he was often a disappointment. The problem was, Simeon wasn’t always clear on what exactly he said or did that was so disappointing. So he didn’t know how to fix himself.

“Very good, Mr. Martin. You’ve cracked the case.”

Simeon squinted up at his boss. Everything Peter said came out in more or less the same tone, so Simeon couldn’t always tell when he was joking. “Alone?” he asked.

Peter blanched. “Of course not.”

Then Simeon blanched. “With you?”

Peter looked at Simeon as if he’d spoken one of the maybe four languages Peter didn’t know. “No. Woodall will accompany you. He’ll brief you, too. I suggest you go over there now.”

Pleased at the very least to be relieved from typing, Simeon pushed back in his chair, taking care not to roll over Peter’s feet. As he stood, Peter said, “You haven’t even looked at it.”

Simeon froze, not wanting to give away he didn’t know what Peter was talking about.

“Aren’t you curious?” Peter went on.

Still not daring to move, Simeon stared at him blankly.

“The ticket.”

“Oh!” Simeon snatched it off the desktop. “Right.”

Another sigh, this one not so small as before. “Don’t make me sorry for giving you this assignment, Mr. Martin.”

“Yes, sir. I mean . . . No?” Simeon mentally combed through Peter’s words in an attempt to work out the correct way to answer. But Peter’s office door was already closing behind him.

As you can see, this book is meant to be from Simeon’s point of view. The book title is derived from an old superstition that on Fridays blue jays fly to Hell to tell the devil everyone’s misdeeds. Some say the jay brings a grain of sand to Hell each Friday to make sure the fires keep burning. But a final legend tells of how the jays tried to trick the devil, and then devil tried to catch and burn the jays’ souls, too, and they put his eyes out and now they no longer go to Hell on Fridays but instead all go picnic together.


Show Don’t Tell

My daughter’s teacher asked me to come talk to the kids (third graders) about writing, specifically “show don’t tell.” As a writer, I know when I’m being told rather than shown something. But how do you teach that?

“Tell me a story.” Well, no. We don’t really want to be told stories, we want to be shown them. When I write a play or film script, I don’t have to worry so much about the showing versus telling because I know the end result will be a “show” of some kind. The actors and director will do the showing. But when writing a story or novel, I have no actors, directors, wardrobe people. I have to take a picture that is in my head and put it in someone else’s head using only words. (Well, and hopefully a great cover artist.)

Here is what I told the kids: “We have five senses. And we need to use them all in our writing. We need for the reader to not only know in his or her head, but in his or her heart too. They need to be connected to the main character and the story and feel like they are right there with them.”

Then I gave them this story that I’d written the night before:

Emilie lives on the planet Rigel with her mother, father, brother, and dog. One morning she woke up late and had to rush to get ready for school. She ate her breakfast on the way to school. When she got to school, she realized she had forgotten her science homework. Her teacher made her redo it during recess. Emilie didn’t get to play. After school she went to ballet class and realized she had also forgotten her shoes. She had to sit and watch the other students practice, and her teacher lectured her in front of everyone about being more responsible. By the time Emilie got home, she was ready for the day to be over. She ate dinner, did her homework, and went to bed early so she would not be late again.

It’s all tell. There’s probably a perfectly good story in there, but we don’t know anything about Emilie. How old is she? We only know she goes to school. For someone living on another planet, her world seems an awful lot like ours. We can feel sorry for Emilie in a way, but we don’t feel sorry for Emilie because we aren’t connected to her or her frustration or disappointment or any other emotion she might have due to all this happening to her.

The kids went to town. We talked about the sounds and smells that could be added as details. “Let’s hear the alarm clock and smell the breakfast,” I suggested. “Let’s hear the other kids playing and see the sunlight coming through the window of the classroom where Emilie is stuck working.” We talked about dialogue that might give us a better feeling of how Emilie is feeling. “The way a person talks tells us a lot about them. Instead of just knowing there was a lecture, what if we heard it as dialogue?” The kids mentioned wanting to see more action, use more verbs and adjectives. We diverted into world building for a bit and discussed how to show that Emilie lives on another planet (“Is she human or an alien?” one kid asked, a valid question)—or maybe the writer should just change the setting to Earth if it’s going to be so much like Earth anyway. The kids had lots of great ideas and comments, and I was glad they were so engaged in the activity.

“Show don’t tell” is something we hear a lot, and we all sort of know when a writer is telling rather than showing, but it’s helpful—even to someone like me who has been writing forever—to be reminded, and to boil it down a bit.

  • Remember that writing means taking a picture in your head and putting it in someone else’s
  • Use all five senses when writing
  • Use dialogue to help show character
  • Use active verbs
  • Use adjectives
  • Provide details so readers feel like they can see and be there

Sure, there’s such thing as too much detail, but it’s always easier to take stuff out than go add it back in.

What are your rules for showing rather than telling? And if you’re not a writer, have you ever run into a book that you felt was too tell-y? That talked at you rather than involving you in the story? On the other hand, what books have you read that pulled you in?


How’d That Justice Turn Out?

At the end of last year I looked at my Solar Return and also at my personal Tarot year and noticed it was a double whammy of Libra + Justice. So how’s that going?

All right, I guess. I feel like it’s been a pretty balanced year overall with both highs and lows. I had two books come out. One has done fairly well, the other not so much. I’ve lost some friends and gained some new ones. I’ve accomplished a number of my goals, but then there’s always another one; you can never really check off your to-do list because for every completed task a new one is added (sometimes more). Still, it all balances out.

I feel very level. It’s refreshing actually. I’ve worked hard but had a lot of family time and socializing to balance that out.

hangedmanNow I’m looking ahead (the new Solar Return begins to bleed into the mix approximately three months before one’s birthday), staring down a Hanged Man year. Gulp. The Hanged Man and I are not on the friendliest terms. I’m an impatient person, for one thing. He insists I wait. I like to be in control. He insists I let go. I want it all. He insists I compromise and make sacrifices.

On the plus side, the Hanged Man offers new perspectives and enlightenment if only I’ll take the time to look at things his way.

Will I see my life get turned upside down in the next year? If so, will it be for the better or… ??? I won’t lie. I’m nervous about it. But I’m just going to have to ride the wave and see where things go.


Spotlight: Deadly Alliance by Kathleen Rowland

Check out this romantic suspense novel by fellow Tirgearr author Kathleen Rowland!

deadly_alliance_by_kathleen_rowland-200Finbar Donahue, former Army Ranger, walked on the wild side in Iraq, but now he lives in the shadows. After his evasive partner, Les, was shot in a random drive-by, Finn discovers cash is siphoned monthly. He fights to keep his investment company afloat. When the late partner’s girlfriend, Amy Kintyre, applies for his bookkeeping job, Finn suspects she knows about his company drain and hires her.

Amy needs a nine-to-five with free evenings and weekends to get her fashion design business back on track. She unearths Les’ s secret bank account and alerts Finn. Freezing of the money laundering account sets off havoc within an Irish gang. Amy witnesses a gang fight between a brutal ISIS fundraising organization and the Irish. Desperate to escape a stalker’s crosshairs, she seeks refuge with Finn. As danger heats up, sparks fly hotter.

 


Chapter One

“You know I love your sportswear designs, right?”

“I’m glad you do.” Amy Kintyre sat opposite a buyer, none other than Kira Radner, at a coffee shop in Lake Arrowhead, California. This sudden opportunity to re-launch her sportswear designs gave rise to the jitters, and Amy clutched her hands under the table.

Kira pressed her face forward, Amy’s sketches drawn on figures in action poses. With the portfolio spread between them, she flipped it sideways to examine the fabric swatches stapled along the sidebar. Their earthy tones blended with the marred wooden table.

Amy stilled the chatty urge.

“You know your presentation is in two weeks.” Kira was giving her the green light with Recreational Sportswear, Incorporated.

“I appreciate this, Kira.” To get her business back on track, she needed blocks of time to sew mockups. Amy inhaled the spicy aroma of the raw cedar wood. The under-construction décor of wide, timber planks on the walls made her think of her new self. Crazy how thirty felt like seventeen when embracing life and freeing her artistic side.

“Then I beg you,” Kira said, “please, please, please have your product samples ready. Deadline is the first Monday of November.”

“Got it.” Fear over the tight time frame tasted sour in her throat, but this break called like no other.

Kira leaned forward. “Impressive functionality with the shorts. Who would have thought this pocket holds a Swiss Army Knife!” The buyer’s fingertips traced the pick-stitch hem, made with thread matching the fabric, appearing invisible. “Nice detail.”

Amy’s only mock-up kept their face-to-face meeting running like the hum of the fluorescent lights above.

“Oooo,” Kira said and raised both her eyebrows. “Classic nostalgia with a twist. A pocket knife for hikers!”

“Useful, I think.” The bright light flickered over associates who’d worked together in the past, but Amy didn’t share the difficulty of making the deadline. Her breathing shortened, and panic carved a hole in her chest.

“Gotta bounce,” Kira said. “Get to work.”

“I will.” She pulled out a notebook and jotted down a to-do list ending with the file with various size patterns. After a half-hour of regrouping and rethinking, she stopped tapping her pen. Kira Radner took a chance on her, but to turn this chance into a reality, she needed evenings and weekends to make the deadline.

Last Sunday while pouring over Craigslist classifieds, she’d zeroed in on Finbar Donahue’s bookkeeping ad. After her inquiry, his head accountant sent her a message. She still favored the toe she stubbed after her in-box pinged.

Thanks to what happened, the call from Kira, she needed Finn’s job. Her mind raced to her third interview for his nine-to-five. Tomorrow morning, if all went well, she’d land the regular-hours job, tailor made for her time frame. She ran a hand through her hair, picturing the arrogant know-it-all with a never-ending string of women hanging on his arm.

Handsome wasn’t the word to describe Finn, her late, ex-boyfriend’s partner. She’d been around Finbar Donahue enough to know he looked at his world as if he were the Almighty himself. The former Army Ranger made her way too nervous. She tensed up to such an extent, her voice broke.

Romance wasn’t part of this equation. Her dream to launch herself, stitch by stitch, came down to landing the job. On a mission, her goal was simple. She closed her eyes and prayed tomorrow she’d nail it.


Buy It: www.tirpub.com/DeadlyAlliance

[ File # csp7850808, License # 1386192 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise

[ File # csp7850808, License # 1386192 ]
Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php)
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise

How about romantic travel to Lake Arrowhead, California, where Deadly Alliance takes place? Fall colors mix with evergreens around this pristine mountain lake. Bring a picnic basket and rent a pontoon!

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with a sizzling love story sure to melt their hearts. Lily’s Pad and the Intervenus Series: A Brand New Address and Betrayal at Crater’s Edge are sweet. Deadly Alliance and her work-in-progress, Unholy Alliance, are contracted with Tirgearr Publishing and written for adults.

Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels. She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write. If you’d enjoy news, sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter at http://www.kathleenrowland.com/

Find Kathleen online at these sites as well:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/786656.Kathleen_Rowland
http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Rowland/e/B007RYMF7S/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1450835163&sr=1-2-ent
https://twitter.com/rowlandkathleen
https://kathleenrowland.wordpress.com/
http://www.kathleenrowland.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.rowland.50


Me In 3

So I guess the latest thing going around social media is to pick three fictional characters that you feel represent you. Well, here are mine:

macgyver-pilot-cbs methos_at_joes img_0394

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the left there is MacGyver. The original, not this remake thing. “Mac” was one of my nicknames in high school because I watched MacGyver and was good at physics. In the middle is Methos from the television series Highlander. That was my college nickname: Methos. Relatively quiet and mild-mannered but mean when cornered, I guess. Finally we have Sherlock Holmes. I grew up reading Sherlock Holmes stories, watching the Jeremy Brett series, and (as many of you who frequent the blog know), Young Sherlock Holmes is my all-time favorite movie. My best friend and I would play Sherlock Holmes often, and I do know how to read people. I just never know how to behave around them. Because empathy is difficult for me, I tend to go into an analytical mode instead. Makes me come off as cold sometimes. But I’m the person my friends seek out when they need an honest opinion or a new way of looking at something.

“People don’t come to me for sympathy, John. They come to me to solve problems. I don’t have to be nice about it so long as I get the job done.”


WIP Wednesday

I’m reluctant to give away any more of The Great Divide, which is the sequel to Manifesting Destiny. So I’ll post a bit more of my Regency romance Brynnde here instead. It’s a dinner scene. Brynnde is visiting Lowlea, home of her friend Violet Crabbage. They’ve sent to the Darleys to see if Julia and Eleanor can also visit. Brynnde had been engaged to Julia and Eleanor’s older brother Garrick and is now ostensibly recovering from a broken heart when that engagement was forced to end due to some questionable behavior on the part of their other brother Graeme. In truth, Garrick was only doing Brynnde a favor by asking her to marry him and so though Brynnde is disappointed she is not heartbroken. What I particularly enjoy in this scene is Sir Everret’s attempts to eat his dinner.

“Oh!” yelped Lady Crabbage then, causing everyone at the table to jump. Sir Everret’s gravy went flying, but his wife took no notice. “The Darley girls have written you, Violet. I meant to give you the letter earlier but then you each were resting. Remind me, and I’ll give it you after dinner.” She wriggled in her seat like a giddy schoolgirl or, Brynnde thought, perhaps more like a fat hen settling on her eggs. The napkin returned to Brynnde’s mouth.

Again, Lady Crabbage took it as a sign. “Should I not have mentioned them? Of course I shouldn’t have! Oh, Brynnde, do please forgive me! I should have given Violet the letter in private. They are assuredly the last people you want to hear about, the last name you want to hear uttered—”

“It’s all right, Mama,” Violet said. “Brynnde and Julia and Eleanor have no ill feelings between them.”

“Actually,” Brynnde added, “I miss them terribly. We’d become very good friends.”

Lady Crabbage changed direction without misstep. “And so of course you’re so sad to hear their names spoken aloud! I am sorry, my dear, really I am. I’ve only added to your sorrow.”

“I’ve invited them to visit,” Violet went on. Brynnde marveled at her friend’s patience but supposed it came from a lifetime of practice.

“It would very much delight me to see them,” said Brynnde, “if it doesn’t trouble you too much to have them.” She imitated Tessa’s wide-eyed, plaintive look, the one that Papa could not resist.

“Of course not!” crowed Lady Crabbage, and this time Sir Everret’s knife went wide. He sighed and persevered, not allowing his wife nor his meat to best him, for which Brynnde silently applauded him.


Bookshelf 1:1

img_4779
Today I’m going to start a new feature on this blog that will go through my office bookshelves one by one. I have four bookcases in my office. Three of them have 5 shelves each and another is more a cabinet with some stuff crammed in it, so I’ll do that one last.

Today we’re doing Bookcase 1, Shelf 1 (hence the 1:1). Here is what I have on that shelf:

fullsizerender-7City of Masks by Daniel Hecht
Land of Echoes by Daniel Hecht
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
One Day by David Nicholls
In the Woods by Tana French
The Likeness by Tana French
Ruined by Paula Morris
The Raising by Laura Kasichke
Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger (signed)
Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Truth About Stone Hollow by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Seventh Princess by Nick Sullivan
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Anthology of Children’s Literature (3rd Ed.)

I know some of you are gnashing your teeth and wondering where the other Rick Riordan and Harry Potter books are. Well, most have been appropriated by my 10-year-old son. I let him have the paperbacks. I should probably just forfeit these hardbacks as well and make room on the shelf for the rest of the Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad) and Ben Aaronovitch (Peter Grant series) books. I do own all the Tana French in hardback; they’re stacked on various other of my shelves. I have the first Ben Aaronovitch books on my Kindle but hope to get hard copies one day. A book has to be pretty special these days for me to want to own a physical copy, but the Peter Grant books definitely make the cut.

Then again, I’m not sure why Ruined and The Raising are on this shelf. Not that I didn’t enjoy them; I’m just not sure how they earned pride-of-place in my limited space.

I’ll admit something else. I loved City of Masks but never did read Land of Echoes. I received In the Woods from a publicity firm and loved it, so they sent me The Likeness too, and I’ve been hooked on Tana French ever since. Interred with Their Bones was a Christmas gift, and a librarian friend who is also godmother to my daughter gave me the Anthology of Children’s Literature. And Zilpha Keatley Snyder was a cornerstone of my childhood; I’d still love to get a copy of The Velvet Room. The Seventh Princess was a book I bought at a school book fair when I was very young; it’s falling apart because I read it so often, and now I’ve also read it to my own daughter.

You can see from the photo that my bookshelves also are home to my various collectibles. That blue painted glass is actually an heirloom, one of the few things to survive my great-grandmother’s family’s move from Europe. There used to be two—matching—but my Aunt Toni broke one. The glass is hand painted and more than 100 years old. God help me if we have a big quake…


WHY Should You Subscribe to My Newsletter?

The sign-up is over there on the right, under my author photo. But why should you bother? I’ll tell you. Besides getting news first (before it’s posted here), you’ll receive content that won’t be posted anywhere else. Writing tips. Newsletter-only flash fiction. And periodic chances to win goodies.

I put out my newsletter roughly once a month, and I promise never to spam you or share your email address. And you can always unsubscribe. Give it a shot? xoxo


Where’s My Brick?

Comparison, they say, is the thief of joy. Still, one can’t help being compared, even when actively avoiding it.

I was thinking about Emerson College, where I got my M.A. They send out a lot of emails and post a lot of Facebook stuff, so maybe I wasn’t so much thinking about Emerson as having it forcibly brought to mind. Emerson has a long list of impressive alumni, so I guess it’s no wonder they don’t much care about anything I’ve done since leaving. But it hurts a little to be overlooked like that. And I figure I’m overlooked by them because I’m simply not worth the attention when compared to the rest.

So then I asked myself why I don’t feel slighted by UT. They’ve never recognized me or my work either. But they’re so much bigger, you know, and then I also don’t get constant emails from them about how great all their alumni are. So I don’t feel like I’m being left out of anything.

If and when I make “real” money as a writer, I’ll have one of those little plaques put on a bench or the back of a chair in an auditorium somewhere. Or maybe I’ll buy one of those bricks and have my name carved in it so people can literally walk all over me, but I can feel good about it.

Yes, I’m being snarky. And I’m [half] joking. This post isn’t meant to signal contempt for either Emerson or UT; it’s a study of my own motivations and psyche. WHY do I crave recognition? Part of it is the system I grew up with—the drive for gold stars and good grades. When you get out into the real world, there aren’t stars and grades any more, and if you don’t work in a hierarchy there aren’t promotions and job titles either. So you seek validation elsewhere. Something, anything to prove you’re on the right track, that someone is noticing, that it isn’t all for naught. Book sales are nice and all, but what I really want is to be mentioned in a newsletter.