Friday, November 18, 2016

Me - Featured!

Just want to share with you all that I'm the featured writer at Writing and Wellness. A big thanks to Colleen for this :)


Monday, November 7, 2016

First Impressions - Untitled


We have a special First Impressions today from an aspiring 7th grade writer, as yet untitled. My partners in crime - Dianne K. Salerni and Krystalyn Drown - will also be critiquing this first page on their respective blogs, so I hope everyone will pay them a visit to see what their thoughts were.





Tightly clutching a twenty dollar bill in her hand, 23 year old Maya approached the counter at an Asian takeout restaurant.
“Uhm, could I have an order of spring rolls?” she uttered. In most cases, use he said, she said.
“Is that all?” The woman at the counter inquired.
Maya nodded. 
“That will be 11 dollars.” The woman added.
Maya handed the woman the twenty dollar (make it either 11 and 20 or eleven and twenty for consistency) bill and received her change. She situated herself on one of the red leathery cushions positioned throughout the wait area. She had heard good things about this restaurant, (no comma needed here) and was hoping that it would live up to the rumors. It was strange, really. The place just appeared one day out of nowhere. (ooh, interesting…) A different employee (a man this time) tugged on a short string connected to a bell, making a shrill ring that grabbed the attention of all the customers. He then placed a grease soaked takeout bag marked ‘spring rolls’ on the mahogany countertop. Maya stood and paced (walked or went is fine. Pacing implies repetition) over to the countertop and grabbed her food. She peered up at the man at the counter when she realized he had been staring at her the entire time she was here. He winked at her then continued staring. What a creep… Maya thought to herself and hurried out of the building. She shivered. That’s definitely a drawback. This place better have amazing food. Maya weaved through the bustling crowds of people out on the terribly paved streets of Vladivostok.
 A chunk of her ash blond hair slid into her face, covering one of her bronze-colored eyes. She ducked into an alleyway, pulled her hair away from her face, and continued walking down the alleyway. Her nose caught whiffs from the white paper bag in her hand, and she could almost taste the crispy, almost sweet parcels filled with a variety of vegetables. She navigated through a labyrinth of alleyways until she got so far out she came to an entrance to a forest. Maya loved this getaway from the busy life in the town. She would come here almost everyday now for some peace and quiet. The thick treetops were comforting, as they reminded her of her childhood that was full of adventure. Pulling back some blooming branches to create an opening, she entered and began to wander around. 
Following  the sound of a trickling stream, she came upon an old, eroded wooden bridge that was surrounded by lush underbrush. She maneuvered around the shrubs and sat down on the side of the bridge. The bridge was still damp from the morning dew. Maya slipped her flats off of her feet and set them next to her, swung her feet over the side of the bridge and opened her bag. She scarfed down the spring rolls(which really were as amazing as people said they were) and went to roll up her trash in the bag. I almost forgot. She pulled out a fortune cookie encased in a transparent plastic, tore away the wrapper, and snapped the cookie open. Setting the slip of paper holding her fortune to the side, she ate the cookie. When she picked up the slip of paper and read her fortune, she suddenly felt sick to her stomach. This must be some sort of a joke.. Her mind was racing. The paper read ‘Your life's in danger. Talk to nobody about this. You must leave to a different country immediately’. (This sentence reads awkwardly; I'm not sure you can leave to a different country. Maybe, You must get out of the country immediately.) Maya quickly gathered her trash, slipped her shoes on and ran all the way back to her flat that overlooked the ocean.

My thoughts: Aside from the grammatical errors (and I can tell you my grammar was waaay worse in 7thgrade) this is an intriguing first page. Did the take-out place actually appear overnight? Does it give out fortune cookies of a similar nature to all its clients, just some, or just Maya?? And why is Maya’s life in danger?!!! I don't know about you but I'd be curious enough to turn the page to find what happens next.

Readers, please chime in and help out by offering any suggestions you might have for improving this page. Aspiring author, thanks for submitting and keep writing!

Monday, October 31, 2016

You tell me

As some of you may remember, I posted at the beginning of the summer how I was trying to sell my wicked cute little house. It is now almost November, and I've had quite a few lookers, but no takers. I'm considering the idea of renting my house out, which would allow to me to move in with my sister, but I wonder how having renters in the house might affect selling. I'm also hoping some of you are landlords and can advise me of all the things to beware of, should I decide to rent. Certainly I'll check any potential tenants out, but beyond that, what should I know before committing to the idea? Maybe it's more of a headache than I want.

What do you think?

I'll leave you with the hope for a wonderful week and a few more pumpkin pics from past years...







Happy Halloween :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pumpkin Pics - Fail

Due to circumstances beyond my control (family emergency, family trouble, weather, etc), I don't think there will be any new pumpkin pics this year. I wasn't able to get into town on Sunday (my one day off) and I have doubts about this Sunday not to mention that the pumpkins are starting to...well, rot. Cuz that's what happens. I imagine they'll come to cart them away soon. Anyway, as consolation I'm posting a few of my favorites from years past...











In other news I am still making (slow) progress on FAIRY TAIL thanks to my Monday night practice, and I will also have a First Impression for you all the first week of November. And in case you forgot, First Impressions is a triple critique of someone's first page by authors Dianne Salerni (The Eighth Day), Krystalyn Drown (Legasea), and yours truly. If you're interested check out the FAQ on my sidebar.

Have a wicked awesome weekend :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Practice

One of my mottoes (which I got from my son) is, Practice makes pretty good (our variation of Practice makes perfect), and one of the ways I practice writing is Monday Night Practice with four other regular writers. We check in with each other before it begins at 8pm, and tell each other what we plan to work on. At 8pm we (are supposed to, ahem) turn off all distractions and write for a solid hour. At 9pm we check back in to discuss our progress, or lack thereof. For most of the summer I've been revising FAIRY TAIL, which as some of you know has been kicking my ass. But pretty much every Monday night (I did skip on debate night) I check in and work on fixing the mess I wrote. The interesting thing is I often make a fair bit of progress that night, which often leaks over into the next day or two, which means that I am - albeit slowly - making progress. I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel quite yet but I know it's there.

My point? My point is sometimes having some other people to answer to can help make writing happen. More than a few times I went into practice after having got stuck on how to make a scene work, what to salvage, what to toss, and how to weave everything back together properly. And most of the time I managed to finish and make sense of what I'd written, complete the task I'd set for myself for that hour.

And it's only an hour, once a week. Totally doable.

A huge thanks to the gals who show up every week, Maria, Carey, Krystalyn, and Dianne.

Do you have anyone to practice with? Do you find it as beneficial as I do?

As for pumpkin pics...it rained last Sunday which was my day to walk in to town so I'm hoping this Sunday will be nicer and hopefully Monday I'll have some pumpkin pics for everyone. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Swainson's Hawk

As some of you may recall, my son is a birder, which means he goes and 'gets' birds. Getting a bird does not mean capturing it. Getting a bird means you see and identify the bird. Some birders also count birds they can identify by song as well (no easy feat I might add). To get an inkling of what the birder is like, I highly recommend The Big Year, which perfectly illustrates the lengths birders will go to to get the bird.

Like the guys in the movie, my son has lists. He has a yearly list, to tally all the birds he sees in a year, a Maine list, to tally all the birds he sees here, and a lifer list, of all the individual birds he's seen ever. He may have a yard list, too...Anyway, there's a listserve for Maine (and probably other states as well or something like it) which alerts birders to unusual birds that may have ventured out of their normal range. Like the Swainson's Hawk, which is 'a common sight over grasslands of the Great Plains and the west, but only in summer: every autumn, most individuals migrate to southern South America. Although Swainson's Hawk is big enough to prey on rodents, snakes, and birds (and does so, while it is raising young), at most seasons it feeds heavily on large insects instead. Flocks are often seen sitting on the ground in fields where there are many grasshoppers or caterpillars (courtesy of Audubon.org).'

The important fact here is that that this hawk primarily resides west of the Mississippi and migrates to South America. Not Maine. But there he was hanging out at the Millinocket Airport.

A Juvenile Swainson's Hawk

My son drove two and a half hours to get this bird, and the picture, which brings his yearly count to 191 different birds seen in Maine this year. A personal best, I might add. Also a pretty awesome bird to get in Maine :)

Here's what the adult Swainson's Hawk looks like -


So. There's your bird lesson for the day. I should also mention that Dianne, Krytalyn, and I are still doing First Impressions (we've cut back to one submission per month) so if you have a first page you'd like critiqued by three authors, email me and you can have November's spot :)

Finally, Pumpkinfest fast approaches, and I will be making my annual walk into to town to photograph them. For those who think this whole pumpkin decorating thing is silly, here's a reminder how creative these decorators can be:


Have a fabulous week :)


Friday, September 30, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffee House - Did You Ever Have a Family?

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts and our books with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us:

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-may-2016.html


This month I'm going to to tell you about this book:





This story is about a woman, June, who loses everyone she cares about in one fell swoop. Her lover, Luke, her ex, Will, her daughter Lolly, and her daughter's fiance, Will. Poof. Gone. Just like that. Then, not long after the funerals, she ups and leaves, just gets in her car and goes, with pretty much nothing but her wallet. At some point she finds her daughter's bags in the car, and an old journal which reveals itself as June heads west. Meanwhile, there's what she's left behind and the chapters move between the various viewpoints until we find out exactly what happened and how and what's left.

I read this book quite quickly because even though you know how everyone dies right off, there are still questions. And when June just gets in her car and goes, without a plan, with nothing except her wallet I had to find out where she was going, and where she would end up. Fortunately for her, she has money and can afford to take indefinite bereavement leave from life. Meanwhile, Luke's mother, Lydia--who thought she and June were beginning to be friends--is stuck in the same town with all the people who brag about their lives and their kids and think Luke was the cause of the tragedy, because according one snotty minor character, he was 'an ex-con, and black, not that it matters.'

Mostly the book is about June and Lydia, and how each of them deal with their own private hell, but there are other secondary characters who are just as interesting. Yes, it's sad, but sometimes it's good to read the sad books, too. Plus, it's the sort of book you think about after, and wonder where the characters are, hoping things are better for them.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Imagine my dismay

When I last spoke to you all about my time in revisionland for FAIRY TAIL (where I still reside except for the occasional foray into SNI land which I allow myself ONLY after I've made some substantial progress), I had finally rectified the whole motivation thing for one of my characters and was feeling fairly confident about moving forward. I managed to revise the first third of the novel to my satisfaction, and then moved on to see how the rest stood.

Imagine my dismay upon discovering that the final two thirds of the novel were an even bigger mess, with more characters doing things that didn't serve the purpose at hand, scenes that didn't move the plot forward an inch, and descriptions (many, many paragraphs full) that were there just so the author could describe something lovely and the reader would be suitably impressed.

The good news is that while there's a big mess I have to fix and a whole lot of words that will not make it to the next round, the novel IS essentially complete, which means I have something to work with. Better yet, I have my chapter by chapter outline so I can actually see which chapters aren't working and what I can salvage from them. Hence the value of this outline, written mostly during during and after (because I pants first, then plot - although obviously in this case I did very little plotting).

The bad news is I have no more Supernatural to watch until the next season is released and I'm all caught up on GOT, which leaves me nothing to watch - unless perhaps you have a suggestion? Preferably something that doesn't take place in the world as we know it.

Anyway. That's where I'm at. I'll leave you with a few late summer pics taken on my road...


Great Blue Heron, aka GBH. Wish I had a zoom lens. He was pretty.





Have an awesome week and I'll be back on Friday with a review of Did You Ever Have a Family? for the Cephalopod Coffee House.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

night spider

I know, spiders, ick. But as much as I don't like them (and I really don't), I do find them interesting, especially when they're OUTSIDE where they belong. I have a rule. If spiders come inside, they risk life and limb. Outside, perfectly safe - from me.

Anyway. The night spider.


 I spotted her the other night on my porch, building her little web and looking quite icky as far as spiders go, with a big giant bulbous body, you know, like Shelob, only not quite as scary. Not that I didn't keep my distance. Just admired from afar. On Wednesday my son stopped by at lunch and I told him about her, showed him where she hung out, but, no sign of her or her web. Then tonight, there she was again, spinning away, and I thought, how clever! She picked the perfect spot just outside my door where the light attracts all the insects that gather every night.

Just so long as she stays there and doesn't get any ideas about coming in for the winter.

How do you feel about spiders? And why are so many of us creeped out by them?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Timeless Cover reveal

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal



Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016



TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.



Friday, September 16, 2016

Cover Reveal - Motley Education

I hope everyone will check this out, a new book by one of the few blogger/writer buddies I've actually met, and she's just as nice in person as she appears on line. She's also an excellent critique partner, and I am thrilled to show off the cover, which is just...I don't know, perfect? I love the colors and the light trying to escape from the doorway, and the birds in the background. Way to go, Sheri! I can't wait to read it :)


Title: Motley Education (Book One: The URD Saga)
Author: S.A. Larsen
Release Date: October 10, 2016


Forget having a lively after school social life, Ebony Charmed is fighting to keep the entire Afterlife alive.

Ebony’s less-than-average spirit tracking abilities are ruining more than sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically & Celestially gifted. Her parents argue so much her dad moved out. And, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go, Ebony wouldn’t survive without her best friend, Fleishman.

When Ebony’s Deadly Creatures & Relics’ project goes missing, she learns her missing project is one of the keys to saving the spirit world. Now Ebony and Fleishman must battle beasts from Norse Mythology to retrieve her project before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of reuniting her family. But someone lies in wait, and he has other plans...including creating a new world of spirits without them in it.


Motley Education has been aligned with Core Standards for grades 4-7. A guide will be available on the author’s website to download for FREE after the book’s release date.

About S.A. Larsen

S.A. LARSEN is the author of Motley Education, the first book in a middle grade fantasy-adventure series. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Look for her debut young adult novel, Marked Beauty, set for release in 2017. Find her in the land of lobsters, snowy winters, and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty years, four children, a playful pooch, and two kittens.

You can visit her online at www.salarsenbooks.com.

Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram and connect with her on her Website & Blog.


Rafflecopter Giveaway Code
Five lucky winners will each receive a signed bookmark and assorted swag! Contest runs from 09/15/16 to 09/23/16. Winners will be chosen my random.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct link to giveaway: http://bit.ly/2bZyLVj

Monday, September 5, 2016

SNIs and other distractions

Well, I have to admit, even though the calendar says there are still another two weeks of summer left, it doesn't feel like it. After a nice toasty August, September has arrived much cooler. I even put my heat on a bit these last two mornings, wuss that I am. And maybe it was the cooler weather or some other change in in the air, but I discovered an SNI. Well. Let me explain. I have this folder on my computer called Interesting Ideas. Cuz I get ideas all the time for stories, or maybe I should say ideas that could turn into stories. For example:



3. Rule #1: A mortal may not bind a soul.
This is how short some of my ideas are. No idea what I was thinking of when I jotted this one down

7. You are out walking your dog. It is December, raining, dripping off the trees onto the leaves. You flash you light around at the old stumps and spindly young trees, then up the trunk of a threesome and see…a shadow darting away from the light. Vanishing into darkness. It makes a sound. You have no fucking idea what you just saw. 
This was prompted by a real life experience - a very strange sound - which then prompted the idea. I've had this idea before, ie, you see something that shouldn't be and how that would change your outlook.

12. What if you did something that made people hate you but there was a good reason for doing it?Well, I want to know what I did first, and why I did it. What was my motivation for doing something I would be reviled for? Hmm, that IS an interesting question. 
And this one was thanks to Liz at Laws of Gravity who poses a weekly what if question. 

4. I paddled out to the center, breathing evenly in the early dawn, mist rising form the water. The whole place was quiet and still and silent except for Grandfather. He told me to hug the shore, pass through the cove and find the entrance to the river. USED: NO REST

As you can see, my little idea folder pans out now and again. Anyway, I added to it again, even though I didn't want to, and it's such a fun idea I'm going to be hard pressed to resist, but. I am in revisionland and must stay there until the gate opens. And the gate doesn't open until I finish. 

Meanwhile, I've also been distracted by Stranger Things (can't wait for the next season) and effing scrabble. Why the heck do I care about the weekly challenge? I'm not going to win anything. No one is going to pat my back if I complete it. And if I do, then the game is going to up the challenge next time, making it harder to beat. Stupid scrabble.

On a happier note, I spent most of Sunday playing Minecraft with my brother yesterday. He has two gaming computers so we could play cooperatively. I only died once, while we were in a village and I stupidly went outside at night, which is when all the bad creatures come out to eat you. And because we hadn't built ourselves beds yet, I ended up back where I spawned way far away from the home we built. In the dark. It was wicked fun :)

How was your weekend? Do you have a folder for shiny new ideas? Addicted to scrabble?



Monday, August 29, 2016

Monhegan Island






I finally got to visit Monhegan Island, a week or so ago (thanks to my sister), even though it's located in the same damn county and I've been here (in Maine) for over 20 years now. Anyway, here's the facts: Monhegan Island is a plantation in Lincoln County, Maine, United States, about 12 nautical miles off the mainland. The plantation comprises its namesake island and the uninhabited neighboring island of Manana.The island is accessible by scheduled boat service from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, and Port Clyde.

We left from new harbor as it's only 20 minutes away from my house and as soon as we boarded the Hardy Boat the captain announced there were rough seas ahead (seas of 6-7 feet). Perfectly safe mind you, but for anyone with a queasy stomach, well...they might want to take another trip. Quite a few people got off the boat. We did not, and chose to ride above in the fresh air. And yup, it was bouncy. You needed to hold on to something. Luckily I don't get sea sick (or haven't yet, knock on wood) so I thought it was kinda fun. Like a ride at an amusement park. But there were a few people who got sick, and when we got to shore one poor woman just curled up on the one of the benches.

We hiked along the shore and here are a few pics...















Very few people live there year round but lots of people visit and rent houses for the summer. Artists love the place as do birders. I loved the trails and the views. Talk about dramatic. Those last three pics are just a few I took of the same spot, and when I look at them consecutively I can see the way the ocean moves, the sea rolling in and up against those rocks, spray flying, water crashing...

It was a good day.



Friday, August 26, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - The Star-Touched Queen

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts and our books with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us:

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-may-2016.html


Since we last spoke I've read two books:

Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

and started a few more:
The Immortality Game By Ted Cross
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Today I'm going to tell you about The Star-Touched Queen, which I was lucky enough to win at Literary Rambles :)

Cover art

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Believing she'll be content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience and Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar.

But Akaran has its secrets, as does Amar, and soon Maya is afraid that her life may be in danger. But who can she trust except her husband? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

My thoughts: I loved Chokshi's descriptions of the places in her story, from the strange and beautiful night bazaar, to the glass garden, and the great tapestry, to name a few. I also loved how long it took me (and Maya!) to figure out exactly what was going and who to trust. And I especially loved (LOVED) the otherworldly horse, Kamala.

This bit from the back cover describes a portion of her journey to her new kingdom and gives a glimpse of the gorgeous language:

"The night bazaar had ensnared me. I could smell its perfume on my skin--of stories and secrets, flashing teeth and slow smiles. In this land I was no stronger than a calf in a lion's jaws. But I liked it. Even though I couldn't admit it aloud, even though I comforted myself that I had no choice but to go with him, the truth was I wanted this. I yearned to draw breath beneath a split sky leaking with magic. And not just live within one of the other realms' strange kingdoms, but to rule it."

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Indian folklore and mythology.

 






Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pawn Shop Finds

As many of you know, I work at a Pawn/Antique shop, and in addition to the wicked cool stuff we get in that will go up for sale, sometimes we get stuff that won't. Among these are some papers I found in an old Funk and Wagnalls dictionary:

I wonder who she means by Pat or Rick?

I looked up the Edith Doll, which was popular in the late 50's.






This is a resume from 1958 from a man who was 33 years old, graduated from MIT (class of '46 with a degree in Electrical Engineering), and had a wife and three kids. I wonder if he got the job. Maybe the dear Santa letters were written by his daughters...



This last was among a bunch of books that had never gotten priced and it caught my eye

How cool is that?

I started reading and decided I had to have it, and oh boy is it interesting. After a brief introduction to the time and place - Northern France, 1220 - the reader is introduced to the castle, and its defensibility. One of my favorite passages is this:

"Even if the foe should cross the moat, shatter the portcullis, and split open the heavy doors, he would merely be at the beginning of terrible hours of ax- and sword-play. He would be in a narrow and low vaulted passage, with many loopholes on either side for archers, and also with slits in the ceiling for pouring down boiling oil, seething pitch, molten lead, and other pleasantries; and if he rushed past all these forms of death into the courts, there, behind him, capable still of very stout defense, would rise the two strong gate towers, rendering every attempt to reinforce the original attacking party a dice-throwing with death...

Good times.

Anyway, fascinating book, describing in detail what people ate, what they wore, how they celebrated, and what life was like in a place like this at that time. My mind is whirring away...how can I use this?

Happy Hump Day and I'll be back on Friday with a review of The Star-Touched Queen for the Cephalopod Coffee House.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Revisionland and Supernatural

In my writing world, I last told you I was playing with fan fiction. That lasted about a week so I pulled up my second draft of Fairy Tail, which I mentioned recently in regard to character motivation. Having pulled myself through the mire of the first third of the tale, I decided to read the rest (again) quickly, and finish my chapter by chapter outline (which will eventually turn into a synopsis). This led to the realization that the final two thirds of the tale were in an even bigger mess than the first. Which prompted a lot of notes in my outline, highlighted in blue like this:


Ch. 1 Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble
In which the fates observe the changing of the guard in Faerie: for a year the Unseelie Court will hold sway… [this could be deleted as this info could be inserted elsewhere]

Ch. 10 Into the Woods This chapter still needs reworking. Maybe Mag could show Lyra something rather than tell her

Ch. 18 p. A Secret
Matisse makes an unexpected trip to Faerie (don’t we get to see this? Who does Matisse go to? What information or advice does she get?

Or, my favorite:

Ch. 20 Summer Solstice... which Matisse, as planned, interrupts. What’s the point of that? 

Suffice it to say, I have my work cut out for me, which means, I need a reward...

Which leads to Supernatural.

Anyone else watch this show? I admit it took the whole first season before I was sufficiently engaged, but now, 8 seasons later, I'm pretty invested in the lives of Sam and Dean Winchester. Like their father before them, they're hunters of the supernatural, mostly creatures to start, but then demons (I adore Crowley), and angels*, who aren't always as nice as you think they should be, except for Castiel, who's pretty awesome. But all this hunting and killing the bad thing wouldn't be near as much fun if it weren't for Sam and Dean themselves, because they are definitely characters to root for, and their relationship is...very complicated. Which keeps it interesting. 

 
Currently reading Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg.

Product Details

What's new, interesting, or old in your life?


* interestingly, the angel Naomi was played by Amanda Tapping of SG1 fame

Monday, August 1, 2016

First Impressions - Ohio, 1863


It's been a while, but First Impressions is back with the first page of a young adult historical fiction novel from Melissa Guthrie. You can find her on twitter @MelissWritesNow. My partners in crime - Dianne K. Salerni and Krystalyn Drown - will also be critiquing this first page on their respective blogs, so I hope everyone will pay them a visit to see what their thoughts were.
 

Hewitt Town, Ohio
July 4th, 1863

            Henry Clemmons opened his eyes just as acid bubbled up from his stomach. He bolted upright, grabbed a pail from beside the bed, and retched into it. The room spun. Henry sprawled back into the mattress. He rolled into a ball and moaned.
            “Ah,” a voice said. Calm. Gentle. “You’re awake.”
            On the other side of a doorway stood Lincoln Hewitt. Link, as Henry knew him, was bent over a long board made of poplar wood, dressed in the same dark pants Henry saw him in the night before. His feet were bare, stained black. His dark hair, the color of ink, was brown with sawdust. A cigarette burned between the first fingers of his right hand, the scent of tobacco heavy in the air.
            “Did you sleep at all?” Henry asked. He climbed from the bed and looked down, his nakedness a stark reminder of the night before, gin in his mind and clothing lost piece by piece. He found his drawers tossed over a trunk at the end of the bed and pulled them on. He looked back to find Link watching him, a small smile on his lips which he moistened with the tip of his tongue.
Link’s eyes were his most notable feature. Never before had Henry met a person, male or female, with eyes like his. Link eyes were the color of sky after a snowstorm, cold and gray. An ash fell from the cigarette and landed dangerously close to his toes. Fire burned in Link’s eyes, sometimes bright as dawn and sometimes smoldering like embers, always burning.
“The Welk baby died last night,” Link straightened and took a drink from the tin mug that seemed permanently affixed to the middle finger of his right hand. Dark circles ringed his eyes. His shoulders were loose and slouching. He wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his arm and looked around the shop as if he were surprised to see slants of daylight coloring the workshop’s dark corners. “Pull yourself together and eat something for breakfast. The Widow up the way brought biscuits and I found some berries.”
Henry cleared his throat and attempted to moisten the inside of his mouth, as if just the thought of the widow’s dry, crumbling biscuits, produced in mass quantities, was enough to make swallowing a chore. Link brought the old woman meat and provisions from town and she repaid his efforts with biscuits best suited as doorstops. “There’s goats milk as well, if you are so inclined. Should you add the milk to the biscuit, perhaps it will be more palatable.”
            “You really want me to eat, don’t you?” Henry asked.
            “Can’t have you wasting away.”
            “What’s the catch?”
 ***


My thoughts:
           ... On the other side of a doorway stood Lincoln Hewitt. Link, as Henry knew him, was bent over a long board made of poplar wood, dressed in the same dark pants Henry saw him in the night before. His feet were bare, stained black. His dark hair, the color of ink, was brown with sawdust. A cigarette burned between the first fingers of his right hand, the scent of tobacco heavy in the air. I think the reader can guess that Link is Lincoln's nickname, and I'm a little confused by Link bent over the board. What is he doing?
            “Did you sleep at all?” Henry asked. He climbed from the bed and looked down, his nakedness a stark reminder of the night before, gin in his mind and clothing lost piece by piece. He found his drawers tossed over a trunk at the end of the bed and pulled them on. He looked back to find Link watching him, a small smile on his lips which he moistened with the tip of his tongue.This little gesture strikes me as flirting. Is Link flirting with Henry? Is there something more between them? I get the impression there is especially when Henry compares Link's eyes to a snowstorm.
Link’s eyes were his most notable feature. Never before had Henry met a person, male or female, with eyes like his. Link’s eyes were the color of sky after a snowstorm, cold and gray. An ash fell from the cigarette and landed dangerously close to his toes. Fire burned in Link’s eyes, sometimes bright as dawn and sometimes smoldering like embers, always burning. This seems at odds with the first description comparing Link's eyes to a snowstorm: cold and grey.
“The Welk baby died last night,” What does this have to do with anything? Is it important? Does it mean something more than just sad news? Just asking.
Link straightened and took a drink from the tin mug that seemed permanently affixed to the middle finger of his right hand. Dark circles ringed his eyes. His shoulders were loose and slouching. He wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his arm and looked around the shop as if he were surprised to see slants of daylight coloring the workshop’s dark corners. “Pull yourself together and eat something for breakfast. The Widow up the way brought biscuits, and I found some berries.” Why is Link sweating? Has he been exerting himself in some way we aren't privy to?
Henry cleared his throat and attempted to moisten the inside of his mouth, as if just the thought of the widow’s dry, crumbling biscuits, produced in mass quantities, was enough to make swallowing a chore. Link brought the old woman meat and provisions from town, and she repaid his efforts with biscuits best suited as doorstops. “There’s goats milk as well, if you are so inclined. Should you add the milk to the biscuit, perhaps it will be more palatable.”
            “You really want me to eat, don’t you?” Henry asked. Why wouldn't Link want Henry to eat?
            “Can’t have you wasting away.”
            “What’s the catch?” This strikes me as an odd thing to say - although we don't have what follows which might make perfect sense of it. But why should there be a catch?

Conclusion: Part of me thinks there needs to be something more on this first page to entice readers, but the other part of me is curious. If Link and Henry are having a relationship, it would have be in secret, yet neither acts ashamed or embarrassed or secretive. But if there is no relationship beyond friendship, why does Link look at Henry that way and lick his lips? Why does Henry notice Link's eyes? And what does the death of the Welk baby have to do with any of it?

Readers, what are your thoughts on this first page?
            




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What's Good

Even though I haven't sold my house yet, there's lots good about the fact, like I'm enjoying another summer on my awesome deck...

and my extra awesome Hydrangea...

a wicked fun new show...
I ripped through all 8 episodes in about a week

and last but not least, I found the motivation my character needed and revised all her chapters, which consequently caused more revisions, but finally got me past where I'd left off. So yay me!

Anything good in your life right now? Seen Stranger Things? Love summer as much as I do?