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?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trouble

According to Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, "All stories are about one thing: trouble. What does trouble create? The hope that we can do something to get out of it."

I saw this quote at Writer Unboxed, and I've been thinking about it ever since. Mostly because I was having some trouble with character motivation. Just that one little quote actually lent some new perspective to my dilemma, after which, I found more helpful quotes:

"What can I do about it anyway? Every squeak counts, if only in self-respect."

"The hour of consciousness doesn't mean cognition only, but understanding..."

"The search for justice is timeless, and courage isn't lack of fear but persisting despite our fear."

"There is just this, and it is everything."

Saturday night I had to do an errand after work, which was about the last thing I wanted to do. But as I drove past Sherman Marsh I smiled because the errand wasn't going to take too long, and it was a lovely, warm summer evening. The last of the sun was all golden, the wind was blowing through the car from the open windows, and my dog was happy to be doing something different. And I thought, yes, there is just this, and it is everything.




What's inspiring you this week? 

 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bottled by Carol Riggs



Bottled
by 
Carol Riggs
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: July 7th 2016
Clean Reads

Summary from Goodreads:


At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.


Buy Links:


Interview with Carol Riggs  

1. What's your writing ritual like? Where do you work, and do you listen to music?
I work really well at home in my “office” on my desktop computer; I don’t even own a laptop. Music can be inspirational before I write, but when I do the actual writing, I like quiet (or the patter of rain outside), because music throws off the rhythm of my words and sentences. I can concentrate better without any distractions. For my schedule, I get through my email, Facebook, and Twitter, and I’m ready to work. On a typical day I write about 700-1500 words, putting in 4-6 hours. I treat it as my job.

2. How long does it usually take you to complete a novel?
For the rough draft, about 3-4 months. Depending on what’s going on in my “real” life, up to 6 months. Then comes the important part: letting it set for a while, doing a complete read-through, and sending it off to my critique partners to shred. Then I revise according to their feedback. The rewriting timeline varies, of course, depending on what other projects I have going on. 

3. What are you working on now?
BOTTLED is my second novel to be released, after my debut, THE BODY INSITTUTE. I have a third book releasing in October, a YA sci-fi called SAFE ZONE. The one I’m currently writing is a YA fantasy, a retelling of a French fairy tale. I’ve always wanted to do a retelling, so it’s exciting to be finally doing it. It has ogres in it and I’m half done. I can’t tell you any more, or I’d have to de-materialize you…

4. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Well, that’s not very often! but I love the beach, and I’m lucky to be less than 1.5 hours away from the Oregon coast. I have a college degree in art, but I haven’t done much drawing or painting or quilting or even fabric art the past few years. I used to do pencil portraits, but found it wasn’t creative enough; I felt too much like a camera since my style was realistic (representational). I like to walk rather than jog. I love listening to music, watching dance of any kind, and attending writing conferences.

 
Excerpt from BOTTLED:

Bello scoops up my slender but sturdy glass bottle from the bed, greed churning behind his eyes. “So you can give me whatever else I want? Gold, whiskey? Foxy women?”

“I’ll grant you any wish within my ability, Master,” I say.

He frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you all-powerful or not? It doesn’t matter if I have endless wishes if all I can get is chutney, cold beer, and pita.”

I hold back a sigh. I prefer to tell him I’m unable to fulfill any of his wishes, limitless or not, but the bottle won’t let me lie. “My powers are restricted only when the wishes involve people. I can’t materialize people who don’t exist or bring them to you against their will. I can’t make them alive if they’ve died, or directly kill them. I also can’t change their bodies, minds, or personalities. But I’m able to take you places, modify objects, and grant you many tangible things.”

“Tangible. What’s that?”

I must say, this guy isn’t the swiftest camel in the caravan. “Things you can touch. No wishing for things like happiness, true love, and infinite world peace.”

His glance bounces around the room. “Touchable stuff. Okay.”

``````````````````````````

About the Author
Carol Riggs is an author of fiction for young adults (and adults!) who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, The Body Institute, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, Bottled, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, Safe Zone, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

Author Links:


Book Blitz Organized by:


Well! I don't know about you guys, but that excerpt totally makes me want to read the book! Congratulations to Carol on the release of Bottled!!! Oh, and that cover is pretty awesome, too :)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Pawn Shop

As most of you know, but some may not, I work at a pawn/antique shop in Damariscotta, Maine and occasionally I like to share some of the cool stuff we have. Recently, we had an addition put on, and here are some pics from the new room...

Looking in...

Am extremely nice secretary with all kinds of cubby holes and shelves

A pair of gumball machines

I decorated this old farm table with fancy dishes and carnival glass

I know, can you believe it? An old street light.

A fainting couch

Vintage Toys (I love them)

Fishing Floats and a fun sign

More Toys (in the jewelry room)

Bottles and bells and porcelain figurines

And a very cool clock

We also have tons of artwork, tools, old car parts, signs, not to mention the best selection of movies in town, all alphabetically organized thanks to yours truly :)

If you ever get up this way, you should visit; it's definitely the coolest shop in town and the funnest place I've ever worked.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Tiny House For Sale!

Okay, it isn't that tiny, but it is definitely a small house - approximately 700 square feet, with one bathroom, living/dining area, kitchen, and a large bedroom upstairs with a walk-in closet.


Did I mention the deck that runs the length of the house? It's like having another room for part of the year!


The kitchen...



 See the little space between the cabinets? As you can see, a wine bottle fits perfectly, as do wine glasses or cook books or what have you...






 The bathroom, with the lovely blue tiles I picked out...



 Custom made vanity (sorry the gold mirror does not convey...)






 Looking from the bathroom into the living room (and see that cool lamp? I got that at work for a bargain price of $25!)



 The bedroom...








You can see my desk in the corner (I moved the ugly chair out of the way), and my cool map of the world...





You can see how big the deck is, with plenty of room to hang out.

Located on a quiet dead end road just outside of town, the location honestly can't be beat. You can walk to town and all the events - like the awesome Pumpkinfest and fourth of July fireworks - and if you're lazy, you can just walk to the top of the hill and see the fireworks set off over the river from there. There are tons of paths in the woods to walk, tennis courts next door open to the public (you can just walk over the stone wall to them if you're a player), and the highway is maybe two minutes away. I'm about an hour from Portland.

This would be a great starter home for anyone (Zillow estimates the mortgage to be $384/mo) or an investment if you wanted to rent it out for the summer and maybe sneak in a week or two for yourself in Vacationland. Oh, and did I mention the little pond? You can't see it through the trees this time of year but it's right next door and it is a wildlife haven for birds and frogs and peepers. I've seen Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and even a North American Bittern (very secretive birds), plus the usual song sparrows, red-winged blackbirds (my fave) and the ever charming goldfinches.

Asking price is $109,000.

For more information contact Karen Farnsworth at Keller Williams 1-207-879-9800






Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rock The Vault: Celebrating The Urban And Rural Setting Thesaurus Duo

The Setting Thesaurus DuoIt is a writer's job to draw readers into the fictional story so completely that they forget the real world. Our goal is to render them powerless, so despite the late hour, mountain of laundry, or workday ahead, they cannot give up the journey unfolding within the paper-crisp pages before them.

Strong, compelling writing comes down to the right words, in the right order. Sounds easy, but as all writers know, it is anything BUT. So how do we create this storytelling magic? How can we weave description in such a way that the fictional landscape becomes authentic and real—a mirror of the reader's world in all the ways that count most?

 Well, there's some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

 In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Police Car.
 
And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT.

At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!  

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse -


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 have read three books:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite, which was The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is the second book in The Raven Cycle, which continues to follow Blue (the only non-psychic in her family), who has thrown in with rich boys Gansey and Ronan, and their friends Noah and Adam (the boys all students at the prestigious Aglionby Academy) in an effort to try to find the legendary sleeping Welsh King, Owan Glendower.who will supposedly reward whoever finds him. In this second book, finding Glendower takes a backseat to a great many other things, not least among them the disappearance of the mystical forest of Cabeswater, a hit man, and Ronan's ability to bring things back from his dreams and into the real world. Booklist says it best:

"...this story of secrets and dreams, of brothers, and of all-too-real magic is an absolute marvel of imagination and an irresistible invitation to wonder."

The reason this book was my favorite is because in addition to a kick ass plot, The Dream Thieves has characters to love. And while I liked the characters in American Gods and Uprooted, I didn't love them like I do Blue, Gansey, and Ronan. And let me just say right now, Ronan can be pretty unlikeable at times. But I still love him and all the rest and that's why this book is my fave.




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Reveal for Bottled by Carol Riggs






BOTTLED:

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Advanced Praise for BOTTLED:
Bottled has everything you could want in a story: humor, suspense, action, and romance. The twists kept me glued to the pages.”
~Elizabeth Langston, author of I Wish and Whisper Falls




Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, BOTTLED, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, SAFE ZONE, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

BOTTLED will release July 7, 2016, from Clean Reads.   

Connect with Carol:

Add this book to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED

A huge congrats to Carol and holy cow! Is that not a gorgeous cover? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

What I'll miss

There's a lot of things I'm going to miss about my house and I think of them as I drive from home to work, while I walk Jonah, or when I'm sitting on my porch steps. I'll miss driving through the twin villages of Newcastle and Damariscotta, which I've been lucky enough to have been able to walk to. I'll miss watching the seasons change and the spring migration of birds, especially the Great Blue Herons in the pond and the Blackbirds. I'll miss my lovely hydrangea, which will probably be spectacularly beautiful this year, and I will especially miss the peepers singing at night.
















Of course, I know I'll find new birds to watch at my new house, new paths to walk, and new things to love and report and take pictures of. But for now, I'm making note of these things that have brought me joy. Hopefully, the next person who lives here will find as much peace and beauty as I have.