Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review - Night Circus

Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was drawn to it last summer when I saw it in the stands at Target, but I didn't buy it because it's not the sort of book I usually read. I'll admit, I like books that draw me in immediately, and this one seemed like it would take a while. I like stories that are more character based, rather than ones that rely on plot and setting, which Night Circus seemed to do.

I wasn't wrong on either count, but this book is special. Once I was past the first fifth of the book I was completley hooked, and the layers and levels to the story became more and more intricate and developed. There are so many allusions and illusions in this book, I feel I need to read it several more times to really understand any of it. However, the story is compelling and suspensful, and it doesn't need to be completley understood on every level in order to be deeply enjoyed.

Here's the basic premise: Magic exists, but very few people believe enough to be capable of it. Two magicians in an epic battle of will and educational philosophy commit their students to a battle/contest. Those students have no choice in the matter, just as they seem to have no choice but to fall in love with one another. The battle plays out in a circus. There are other characters, subplots, and references to the nature of time, fate, and reality, and they're all interwoven with unusual skill and in beautiful prose.

I can't reccomend this book more.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Balancing Act (Or How I Got Scammed By Lifetime TV)

First, let me say that I love Lifetime Television for Women. I’ve spent hours watching movies like Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? Anything starring Tori Spelling, Melissa Gilbert or Shannon Doherty gets an “A” in my book. Even after what happened, I’m still a fan. I’ve seen every episode of Drop Dead Diva. It’s a great show.

 So it makes the sting of betrayal more painful, coming from them. Imagine being tempted by a good friend, only to be slapped in the face when you try to say yes. The heat of the hand that hits you is all the worse when it come from someone you like and trust.

 But I should backtrack and tell the story of what happened.

 I’m an indie author. There are tons of us, and we’re all trying to get our books noticed. One method I’ve used with a bit of success is entering contests. Most recently my second novel, Starring in the Movie of My Life was an award-winning finalist in both the Indie Excellence Awards and the International Book Awards.

Well, last winter I’m visiting my best friend in a remote suburb of Des Moines when I get an email from Gregory Fake, of The Balancing Act, the morning talk show on Lifetime Television. He noticed my book had won this award, and wanted to talk to me about appearing on their show.

 I was beyond thrilled. Me, on a national morning show? On Lifetime? Hadn’t my friends told me my book would make a great Lifetime movie? This was so cool. I emailed him back, and he said he’d call the next day.

The next day when he called I was on the road back to Minneapolis, pulled over at a rest stop. Even though I was on roaming, I took the call because I was so excited and wanted this so much. Twenty minutes into the call, he tells me that I’d have to pay a licensing fee to the tune of seven thousand dollars just to appear. But I could pay it in two installments.

I know. I should have told him where to go. But I said I’d think about it. Of course there was nothing to think about, but I wasn’t ready in that moment to let go.

 Several hours later when I arrived home, I found an email from him, reneging on the offer. It was just a case of the right fit at the wrong time, he said. Again, I should have told him where to go. But I didn’t reply at all.

 A Google search informed me that I was not the first to fall prey to this scam. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. I didn’t lose any money, except for twenty minutes worth of roaming fees. I didn’t lose anything at all, unless you count dashed hopes. But any indie author, or actually anyone who works hard and dreams of success, can tell you that dashed hopes suck.

 I find it ironic that they call their show The Balancing Act. My life is a balancing act – like so many women, I try to balance work, family, responsibilities, and dreams. Sometimes I’m a success and sometimes I’m not, but I’m always up on that tightrope, trying not to fall. I find it insulting that a show that’s a scam presumes to understand this concept. And I can’t believe their representative is actually named Gregory Fake. But hey, what’s in a name?

 So this is my attempt at closure. Thanks for letting me vent and tell the story. And the next time someone tricks you or lets you down, remember that we all experience disappointment, we all occasionally fall for the Gregory Fakes of the world, and we’re all players in the great balancing act of life. If you ever need a break from it all, I recommend watching some television. No, scratch that. Read a book instead. I have some titles I can recommend…

So, it's been over two years, and this by far the most popular blog post I've ever written. I'm happy to say that I'm still writing novels and pursuing my dreams. On that note, my latest book, The Standout currently has a campaign on Kindle Scout. If it's picked,  it will mean increased visibility and the opportunity to reach more readers, and I'm sure you know just how important that is.
Please consider nominating my book! It's easy, free, and you won't get a bunch of spam email.
Thank you for helping me pursue my dream!

To nominate The Standoutclick here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mirror Bound Blog Tour

Today I happy to be a part of Leanne Herrera's blog tour for her new novel, Mirror Bound. Read on for a description of the novel and an interview with the author herself!

She came home to settle her great grandmothers affairs and figure out her own life. Finding out that her grandmother left her everything including magic powers she forgot to unbind before her death. Anna finds someone to love amidst the war against the woman that was supposed to love her and her twin sister. The mother goddess helps her gain her magic. Can Anna stop her mother before her mother stops her?

Click here to purchase on Amazon.


LO: I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story of your book in exactly ten words?

LDH: She came home, fell in love, and fought a war.

LO:  What is the theme or the message of your novel, and how did you incorporate it into your writing?

LDH: I want to make women realize that no matter how sheltered your life has been, or how many things you have suffered through (abuse, death, trauma etc…) that you can stand up for yourself and beat the bad things in your life. Women should feel powerful and realize that each of us has a little something special deep inside of themselves.


LO:  What did you enjoy most about writing this particular book?


LDH: I loved sharing my great grandparent’s farm and some of their personalities came through in the characters. It was special for me because it meant sharing them with everyone who reads Mirror Bound.


 LO:  If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?

LDH: Oh wow, that is a hard question. I think Anna could be played by Olivia Wilde, John would have to be Bradley Cooper and I think I would make someone like Kate Winslet play Anna’s mother.


LO: What inspired you to become a writer? Are there any favorite authors or books you can name?

LDH: Have you ever sat down with someone a lot older than you and listened to them spin a tale from pretty much nothing? I have known several people in my life that had that ability. They inspired me to tell stories. I started writing them as a teenager and had shared them with friends and family until this past summer. I had several people read a story that I had just written and they all said I should get it published.


I have several authors that are my favorite: Chloe Niell, Dean Koontz, and Kim Harrison are just a few. My absolute addiction right now is The Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Niell.














Saturday, November 10, 2012

My 10 Favorite Authors

Disclaimer: I teach high school English, so I have this notion that my favorite authors ought to be literary. However, I’ve been a reader longer than I’ve been a teacher or a writer, and most of what I’ve read is not considered fine literature. There are a few literary authors in my faves list, but most of them are popular fiction.


My 10 Favorite Authors in no Particular Order:

  1. Beverly Cleary – I read all the Ramona books when I was little, and it was like reading about my own thoughts and my own life. When I was twelve I read Fifteen and it was the best book I’d ever read. I went on to read everything by Cleary, except for the books with male main characters. However, I’ve read all of those now too, because I read them aloud to my seven-year-old son. Beverly Cleary really stands the test of time.
  2. J.K. Rowling – When speaking of books “meant for children” the Harry Potter series has to come to mind. I was definitely no longer a kid when I read them, and like most of the world, no series has left me so enthralled. I’ve read the first three books to my son now, but we’re holding off on the fourth, because he’s a little young yet for something so dark.
  3. Suzanne Collins – I read The Hunger Games as assigned reading when I was taking a course on writing young adult lit. I couldn’t put it down! Collins blends action, suspense, romance, and satire seamlessly. God, I wish I had written it myself.
  4. Betty Smith – She wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Joy in the Morning, both of which I read when I was kid. Something about them really struck a cord; they’re both female stories of self-discovery, which is what I like to write myself.
  5. Melissa Bank – Her novel Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing is one of the pioneers of the chick-lit movement, and her writing style is amazing. I could read and reread this novel endlessly.
  6. Emily Giffin – I always read whatever she publishes.
  7. Jennifer Weiner – See above.
  8. Curtis Sittenfeld – See above again.
  9. Douglas Coupland – I actually haven’t read that much by him, but his short story collection, Life After God made me cry because it was written so beautifully.
  10. William Shakespeare -  I love his plays. I don’t sit around and read them in my spare time, but every year when I teach my 10th graders Macbeth I discover something new about it myself. It’s simply amazing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


It's the last post by Lucy about the 2012 campaign on November Surprises blog! Click here to read.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Voices in My Head

I really like reading books that are written in the first person, because it gives me a chance to get inside someone else’s head. I think it’s the most intimate sort of reading experience. So, it only makes sense for me to write in the first person as well. It’s what comes naturally for me.

The problem is, it’s limiting. One main character has to be in every scene in the book. The only way around that is to write from multiple character perspectives.

That’s what I did for Starring in the Movie of My Life. It was difficult at first, but it never occurred to me to do it any other way. The story always belonged to both Samantha and Melody. Since I love writing in first person, alternating their points of view was pretty fun. The most exciting chapters to write were the ones where the two of them were together in the same room. I loved observing Samantha through the Melody’s eyes, or vice-versa.

However, most of the chapters featured only one of them. At times it was easier for me to write for Melody, and at times Samantha’s chapters came easier. I guess I sort of went through phases. However, I always enjoyed developing both of them, trying to make them real.

I started by giving them a heroic quality. Samantha was extremely compassionate, and Melody was the ultimate survivor. I know a lot of readers found Melody to be pretty unlikeable, but in a weird way I’m protective of her.  However, I guess Samantha is my favorite because she has such a big heart and potential strength. Of the major characters, I’d have to say Nathan is my least favorite. It’s not his fault, but I don’t think he grows over the course of the story the way the others do.

Anyway, the most difficult part was attention to detail; how do I make Melody and Samantha sound like two different people through word choice and response to conflict? In the end I’m not sure how good I was at it, but I haven’t gotten any complaints, so I’m hoping I did okay.

The book I’m working on now, November Surprise, is written in the first person, but there’s only one character who narrates. However, it’s told in vignettes, and takes place over the course of twenty years. So I’m trying to be cognizant of how Lucy will change over time, her maturity, her perspective, etc. Also, what will stay the same? In some ways this is more difficult than having two narrators. But I’m a writing geek, so I love the challenge.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Intangibles

There is a new post by Lucy on November Surprises Political Blog. To read about Lucy and her mother-in-law finally seeing eye-to-eye, click here.