Showing posts from January, 2016

Friday Flash: The Dancer and the Shattered Shell

Chuck gave us another ten random titles this week, and this time I used the random number generator to pick one for me. So, in 1000 words, here is... The Dancer and the Shattered Shell The glade spun past the dancer. His eyes took it all in as a blur of color, motion so fast it ceased to move, became a water-color scarf in which to wrap himself. Alec let himself spin gradually to a stop, watching as the trees sorted themselves back into individual trunks and branches, and smiled. The boys who made fun of him for dancing—had mocked him until he’d retreated to the woods to dance for only the trees—knew nothing. He finished his dance, bare feet tapping the meadow grass, and bowed to his arboreal audience. Alec liked dancing for the trees. When he thought about it, he thought that being forced to the forest was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Panting a little from his dance—the music in his head had been fast, a driving beat that kept him moving—Alec trotted off to the big oa

Non-fiction review: The Monuments Men Audiobook

  Title: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History Author: Robert M. Edsel. Narrated by Bret Witter Publisher: MacMillan Audio, 2009. Originally by Center Street, 2009 (473 pages). Source: Library Publisher's Summary: t the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised. In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible m

Middle Grade Review: May Amelia

Today, I'm doing two books at once. I listened to the audio back-to-back, repeating the first book, which I read several years ago, in order to have the context for the second book.     Titles: Our Only May Amelia and The Trouble with May Amelia Author: Jennifer L. Holm; read by Emmy Rossum & Maria Dalbotten, respectively. Publishers: Harper Collins 2001, and Atheneum, 2011. Audio editions by Listening Library, 2007 and 2012. Source: Library Summary: Our Only May Amelia: May Amelia struggles along as the only girl in the whole pioneering settlement along the Nasel River in Washington State. Having seven brothers doesn't help, nor does the fact that in spite of all this, everyone somehow expects her to be a  proper young lady. But she's looking forward to that changing, with the birth of a new baby in the family! It might even be enough to compensate for Grandma's moving in with them. The Trouble with May Amelia: A year along, or thereabouts, May is still strugg

Friday Flash: Creative Non-Fiction

So Chuck Wendig is back at his post, throwing out weekly writing challenges. This week we had a list of ten randomly-produced titles, and the command to go forth and write. He gave us 2000 words, but I stopped at 1200. I also looked at the title, and in my mind it kept running to real events, not fiction. So I decided to write a bit of creative non-fiction. Everything in this piece happened, pretty much the way I have told it. The River’s Mask Every river wears a mask. The surface hides much of what lies beneath, though experience teaches us to read it, at least a little. If you are lucky, you survive the experiences. If you are very lucky, along the way you learn a thing or two about yourself. My first stream-based learning experience came when I was about six. Happily, this was a discovery mostly about my own limits, without danger to more than my dignity or reference to the mysteries of deep water. Deep mud, on the other hand, was definitely involved. My brothers and I were the youn

Welcome to the Procrastinatortium

When I'm shooting for a daily word count, it's not the final thousand or so that cause trouble. It's words 1-100, sometimes 1-200. In other words, getting started. This is not a post about how to fix that problem. This is a  post about how not to. For those of you wondering how to do it right, here's how to accomplish very little writing: Step one : Read the paper over breakfast. All of it. Pause occasionally to play Word With Friends. Step two: Check all your social media sites. Remind yourself that this is really working, because your social media presence is important. Go back and check Facebook again, because important things might have happened to someone while you were reading about the effects of climate change in Greenland. Return to other sites to read a few trip reports. Drift off into a fantasy of loading up your backpack and hitting the trail. Step three: Open your computer files. Set up the desktop how you like it. Look at the clock. Step four:  Read a bit

Cozy Mystery: Murder at the Grill

Great Escapes Book Tour-- Publisher's Synopsis:  An amateur sleuth, Sheridan Hendley jumps at the chance to work with the defense when a favorite waitress is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband. Determined to prove Zoe’s innocence Sheridan probes into the victim’s past and why he chose to return to Cold Creek 15 years after the divorce. Personalities clash and Zoe’s family closes ranks as Sheridan attempts to unlock the carefully kept secrets of the family that owns and operates the Grill. The closer she gets to finding the truth, the more her own life might be in danger – a situation that strains her increasingly serious relationship with Detective Brett McMann. My Review:   I did find that the book read a bit rough in places, with a few consistent editing errors that bugged me (old English major that I am): most especially the use of "peaked" when "piqued" was meant. I also thought that much of the dialog--especially in the first part of the boo

Friday Flash: The Human Web

This week, Chuck Wendig challenged us to go to Flickr, click the link for cool images of the moment, and use one to inspire our stories. I clicked a couple of times, and this one leapt out at me, both for the photo and the title--which I borrowed for my story. Thanks to photographer Mark Fearnley for the inspiration! The Human Web You know what a spider web is. A human web is different—and yet the same. Let me explain. A spider web is created by a spider, to catch bugs. A human web is created by a human, but humans have little interest in bugs. You do the math. # I walked down the long corridor, wary, without choices. The structure of the place gave me the creeps. That grid reminded me of something, tickling my mind without revealing the source of my unease. Perhaps it was simply the man I was going to meet. I didn’t need a sixth sense to know that it was dangerous to approach Drengo Stanlinger. Trying to sneak up on him was as hopeless as trying to sneak up on a spider in its web, an

Middle Grade Review: Heartbeat, by Sharon Creech

  Title: Heartbeat Author: Sharon Creech; Narrated by Mandy Siegfried Publisher: HarperFestival Audio, 2004 (Original by Harper Collins, 2004; 208 pages). Source: Library digital collection Summary:  12-year-old Annie loves to run. Not for the track team--definitely not for the track team!--but for the love of feeling her heart beat and her feet hit the ground. Running helps her cope in this year of change: her mother is pregnant, her grandfather is failing, and her best friend Max is even more grouchy than usual. But between the rhythmic thumping of her heart and, oddly, the art-class assignment to draw an apple for 100 days, Annie learns to find the continuity in change. Review: Sharon Creech seldom disappoints, and this book is no exception. A short, sweet, story of a time of change (when is 12 ever not?) for Annie, the book offers no great insights into the world, but does offer some insights into living and being yourself. I thought that the apple was a brilliant touch, allowing A

Mystery Review: Murder Most Malicious

Another Great Escapes Cozy Mystery Tour Review--read to the bottom for a Rafflecopter drawing! Title: Murder Most Malicious   (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery Book 1) New Series Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Kensington (December 29, 2015) ISBN-13: 978-1617738302 E-Book ASIN: B00VQFKHPQ Publisher's Synopsis: In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, step outside of their social roles and put their lives at risk to apprehend a vicious killer… December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia’s engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men. But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing.

Friday Flash: Return to the Valley of Baleful Stones

With no prompt from Chuck Wendig this week, I rooted through various old prompts, stared blankly for a long time at a page with a glorious title (which I still hope to use, if the story ever comes to me), and concluded that I would return with pleasure to Gorg Trollheim. Gorg has starred in a number of stories, something of a serial, which you can find here . That's a list of all my short stories; scroll to the bottom for the Gorg Saga. I made it exactly 1000 words this time (though that's mostly luck). Return to the Valley of Baleful Stones Gorg Trollheim was angry. A careful observer could have seen this wrath, which was great enough to be just visible even on his stone features. A wise observer, seeing this, would have stayed well out of his way. Gorg was large, even for a troll, and a seasoned fighter. As far as Gorg could tell, there were no observers, wise or foolish, as he strode across the Iron Desert toward the Valley of Baleful Stones. Nor did anyone impede his path.

IWSG: 2015 round-up

It's the first Wednesday of the month (and of the year), and that means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Purpose of the IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Looking Back at 2015 It's a new year, and time to contemplate the year just past. Happily, I have this blog to help me remember what all went on in my writing life, because it does seem like a long year. There was a lot that went on in my personal life: my eldest son graduated from high school and went off to college (three states away); my younger son traveled to Mongolia with the Experiment in International Living (and if your kid wants to do some travel, I can recommend the organization; the trip did wonderful things for him); my husband turned 60 and started making concrete plans for retireme

Middle Grade Classic: Five Little Peppers and How they Grew

  Title: Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Author: Margaret Sidney. Read by Rebecca Burns Publisher: Tantor Audio, 2005. Originally serialized in the children's magazine Wide Awake in 1880. Approx. 300 pages in print editions. Source: Library digital resources Summary: Mrs. Pepper is a widow with five children: Ben, Polly, Joel, David and Phronsie. They are very poor, but managing as best they can in their Little Brown House in Badgertown. The greatest desire of the children is to have a nice birthday for their mother, and maybe celebrate Christmas, while the Mrs. Pepper most wants for her children to get an education--something she can't afford, either to pay school fees or to spare the pennies the older ones bring in working. Despite the challenges of their lives, they remain positive in outlook, and the reader is soon as convinced as they are that "their ship will come in" any day. Of course, it does, in a most unexpected way. Review: Although this book is mo