Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Funny how certain sounds trigger immediate responses. A siren in the night. The sound of rain on the roof. The wind howling through the trees. A baby crying. A woman sobbing. A child laughing. A man singing.

I occurred to me today that I don't describe sounds in my writing. Oh, the obvious ones maybe, but the extra little sounds that surround us... I don't mention them.

As I sit here at my desk, it's quiet. The house hunk has gone to bed. Yet, I can hear the hum of the computer. The tinkle of the tabletop fountain competes with the harsh rasp of the cat bathing herself. Outside the windchimes are clanging in the wind. In the kitchen the coffee maker is burbling. Overhead, my neighbors are moving around in their apartment.


Even in this quiet midnight hour, there are a host of noises all around me. Adding one or two of them to a scene would alter a picture that otherwise truly is silent. True silence is something that most of us never experience fortunately. In the rare moments when we have a hearing loss because of a medical problem we find it disorienting. So it is in my writing. That vacuum of sound that I fail to fill leaves me uncomfortable, not quite able to put my finger on the reason, but uneasy anyway.

So I must write with my five senses. Everyday I learn something new about writing. Today I learned that I need to add sound to my "movie". For without a sound track, all I have is a silent picture.


Anny


What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire? Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –1st prize--5 books

2nd prize--3 books

3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Sandra Cox Silverhills
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle

Drop by Kelly's Blog for the next episode of the Saga and take a squizz at her lovely new cover for Time For Love. www.kkirch.blogspot.com Then pop over to Amarinda's Place where she's pontificating on why wearing thongs isn't particularly sexy in Australia. www.amarindajones.blogspot.com Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On the Way to Camelot

What is it about Camelot and King Arthur that captures our imagination? Why is the legend in all of its incarnations so durable? Why do we dream of the pageantry and ideals of the legend of the Round Table?


I think it's because deep in our hearts we long for order and security. Though the time period that King Arthur would have lived was actually marred by constant warfare and invasions, lack of hygiene, little medical knowledge, and poverty, that's not the part of the legend we remember. What we remember is the shining Camelot where truth and justice prevailed because Arthur was King and Merlin stood by his side.


The legend of Arthur has everything--treachery, love, power, magic, betrayal, foolishness, idealism, and sacrifice. Centuries later we still mourn this King who maybe, just maybe existed in the dark, dark centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. Scholars vehemently argue the case for and against his existence. But whether he lived or not, it takes nothing away from the bright ideals that show us the way to a better future.


Fifteen hundred years later writers are still adding new twists to the legend that has endured all this time. A few months ago, I wrote a very tongue-in-cheek story about a young lady named Chrysanthemum and her time at King Arthur's court. Oddly enough, I called the story Chrysanthemum. She had two sisters who accompanied her to Camelot--Honeysuckle and Daffodil. I called the series the Flowers of Camelot. Today, the second in the series will be released. Let's see now, what did I call it? Oh, yes. Honeysuckle. On March 28th, the third in the series will be released and yes, you guessed it! It's title is Daffodil.


Now, I admit that my take on Camelot, Arthur, and the rest of the legend is a bit different, but I invite you to check it out. There's no telling what you might find out about Arthur and his rowdy bunch of Knights. No telling...


Need more information? Stop by my website at http://www.annycook.com/ or at the Ellora's Cave website at http://www.ellorascave.com/ for excerpts or blurbs.




Yesterday in the Saga Amarinda left us in San Franscisco with Emmeline playing with her food...


“Sometimes you cannot choose you destiny,” Beryl responded mystically.


“And sometimes you can.” Emmeline upended that plate on the table, picked up a fork and smushed the potato around.


“That’s cheating!” Beryl stamped her foot in anger.


“Whinge, bitch moan,” Emmeline muttered. She saw the needle - nasty. What did the answer look like? “Oh it can’t be.” She picked the small item up on the fork and looked at it closely.


Of course, I had to decided what it was!


“Well?” Beryl stood impatiently tapping her foot.

Pursing her lips, Emmeline stood contemplating the small item on the fork while she considered her limited options. It should be safe to return. Rinalda and the twins are dead. Zoltan is off in Nebraska with Pete. Surely, it will be safe?

Just then the door slammed open with such force that the hinges bent. Dr Garth Flugelheimer-Watts and his assistant Miss Primrose Grimly stood in the doorway.

“Halt!” Dr. Garth pointed an imperious finger at Emmeline. “Give me the chalice!”

Prim hung her head in disgust. Even she could see that Emmeline wasn’t in possession of the chalice. Nitwit! She trotted over to Emmeline and studied the object on the fork for a brief moment before jumping back. “No!”

“Yes.” Emmeline nodded her head sagely. “It’s true.”

“What will you do?” Prim demanded harshly.

“I will return it to its home. It must be done. You know that, don’t you, Prim?”
Prim shuddered in fear. “How will you get there?”

“I believe that I will take your space ship. Dr. Flugelheimer-Watts won’t mind, I’m sure. Especially if you come along to navigate. We will be back, oh… say we’ll be back sometime this century. It’s not that far.”

Dr. Garth shook himself as though suddenly waking and shouted, “What? You’re taking my ship? No, no, no!”

Emmeline merely nodded. “Of course, you’ll know best. In that case, I’ll need to find a garden center and take care of this.”

Primrose rounded to face the doctor and declared, “You fool! Give her the ship!”

“Eh? Why would I do that?”

“Because she has a zucchini zuuker seed!”

Hmmm. I wonder what Kelly will do with this?

Don't forget to stop by Amarinda's Place for your daily dose of Aussie vocabulary at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com and then pop over to Kelly's Blog to find out what she's up to today at www.kkirch.blogspot.com Blessings on your day!

Oops! I almost forgot! Next week the Eternally Yours Contest begins!

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire? Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –1st prize--5 books

2nd prize--3 books

3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Sandra Cox Silverhills
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love

Anny Cook Honeysuckle

Yummy good reading!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday Bits and Pieces

The best thing I ever have in My Kitchen is a Friend that can cook. Help wanted!~~From a kitchen placque my friend gave me thirty five years ago. It's still true.

My friend Dorian gave me the placque during the period that she was teaching me to cook. I could burn boiled water. Yep, I could. Needless to say it was an uphill battle.

First we went grocery shopping. I was several months pregnant with baby number three. She had two, I had two, and she babysat for three more under four years of age. Grocery shopping was a true adventure as we also took her eighty year old grandmother with us. Looking back on it, obviously we were insane, but then we were so young we didn't know that.

Anyway, with the shopping done, I would pack all the stuff willy-nilly in the refrigerator or freezer and collapse. Then each morning, I called her up and asked what to take out of the freezer. Later in the day, with the phone tucked between my shoulder and my chin, I would follow her directions on how to cook that day's special. It must have worked as I haven't poisoned anyone so far. Of course, there's always tomorrow or next week, but that's another blog.



Tomorrow is the release day for Honeysuckle, book two of the Flowers of Camelot. The fine handsome fellows on the cover are Dick and Peter Hieney, superspies for King Arthur and Camelot. They work for Nathan the Sneak, head of King Arthur's security forces. There is mischief afoot in Camelot.

Enter Honeysuckle. She has their number. Yes, she does. Stay tuned to see who comes out on top...

There are a few other assorted villians and heroes--Prince Daz, the unicorn prince, Robin Hood, Morgana the sorceress and Vivian, the queen. So get in line to buy your copy and find out just who wins the battle of sexes. My money is on Nanny Anny... or Merlin.


If you were here yesterday, you know that we have a plethora of contests. (I always wanted to use that word.) Amarinda has a contest--see http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ for the details. Prize? A free copy of her first Vampire romance, Shades of Gray. *delicious shiver*
And Kelly has a wonderful contest--see http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ for the details on how to win a beautiful silver and garnet necklace. Ummm. I always love garnets and silver. And it would match my ring...
On Friday, I will have all the details for a month long scavenger hunt on my newly refurbished webpage. No, no, no--it's not finished yet, but on Friday, all will be ready. Until then you'll just have to be patient. Prize will be announced then also. Until then, it's a deeeeeep, darrrrrk secret.
Now you would think that would be enough contests, but NO! We want you to win, win, win! So we have the Eternally Yours Contest! Fabulous prizes if you are the lucky winners!
Yes, that's correct. There will be three lucky winners.
What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire? Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –1st prize--5 books

2nd prize--3 books

3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
And the authors? Moi, of course, Kelly Kirch, Amarinda Jones, N.J. Walters, Mona Risk, Cindy Spencer Pape, Sandra Cox, Bronwyn Green, Jacqueline Roth, and Brynn Paulin. How is that for a fabulous line up? As one of them said, "I would like to win these books!"
Other bits and pieces--On February the 4th, we will be kicking off the contest with an Eternally Yours chat at Love Romances Cafe from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Please stop by, meet the ladies, and sample some delicious excerpts.
Tomorrow on January 30th, Cindy Spencer Pape will be hosting a list mom chat at the Ellora's Cave chat loop to celebrate her new release and those of her friends. Plan to spend the afternoon with us while we chat and post excerpts for your pleasure.
Blessings on your day!
Anny

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Real Book


One of the questions that is frequently asked of an e-published author is when are you going to write a real book? Excuse me? Every book I've written is a real book. I spend untold hours writing it, editing it and filing all the paperwork involved with it (contract, blurb, cover request, and copyright). I receive a monthly royalty check for the copies that sold that month. So in what way is my book not a real book?

When I was thinking about all of this earlier, it occured to me that the reason other people don't believe we've written a book is because of our own ambivalence. We can't quite decide what we want. How many times have I heard an author lament that no one wants to buy their book until it is released in print and then in the next breath, they admit that they won't feel like they written a real book until they can hold it in their hands? Well, what do we want then?


Until we are convinced that we've written a real book--until we believe it heart and soul--then no one else will believe it either. The book is real. The problem is that our book is in an altered form. No one tells Nora Roberts that her electronic books aren't real. Thousands flock to buy her audio books. So what's the problem? I think it stems from our attitude.


When someone levels that when are you going to write a real book at us, our body language changes, we do a little foot shuffle, hang our heads and admit that our book is electronic. Now why do we do that? Why are we apologising? On one of the chat loops that I frequent, there was a lively discussion regarding all the fellow authors that expect us to buy their print books, but then fail to return the courtesy because they don't buy e-books. Hmmm. It seems to me that we need some coping mechanisms to deal with people when they demand when are you going to write a real book?


I've come up with some alternative replies strategies.


1) Look that fellow author in the eye and with your most guileless expression declare that you prefer to buy e-books so you can install them on your e-reader. So... you'll be happy to buy their book when it's released as an e-book.


2) With an innocent limpid expression solemnly declare that you're saving a tree. In a world fraught with evironmental concerns, every effort counts. Print books use trees. E-books are environmentally sound. Then ask them point blank, Don't you want to save the environment?


3) The world's population is aging, but in particular in the United States, the majority is over fifty. With age, the eyes change. Most of us fifty and sixty somethings need stronger glasses. An e-book can be adjusted for a larger font type. Elderly readers suddenly have the opportunity to read any book--not just those printed in large type. That exponentially increases the number of books they have at their fingertips.


4) There is a staggering epidemic of children and young people with back problems associated with carrying heavy school books in their back packs. Many countries are turning to the e-reader as a viable alternative. Consider. School books are practically obsolete before they're printed. They could be edited and reissued at will. One e-reader can hold all the text a student needs with one download. And next year, the texts can be deleted and new texts downloaded. Schools wouldn't need to maintain storage for textbooks. Colleges could eliminate bookstores. And last minute shipping hitches would be avoided entirely. Oh, yeah, think of the thousands of trees that would be saved.


5) In Australia a major bookstore chain has an e-book station in their store where customers can purchase e-books. My book reader has a slot for an SD card just like I use in my camera. Books on SD cards can be purchased and loaded directly on the e-reader without a computer--which is a big incentive for those who don't own a computer. I could keep a thousand books on SDs in an index card box! In a downsizing world we need to exercise all of these options!


Instead of calling our books e-books we should call them green books, proudly emphasizing what we're doing to save the environment. Who are we? We're the authors that are on the cutting edge, willing to do our part to make the world a less cluttered place.


Anny (the e-writer!)
I'm guest blogging today at Romance Junkies http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/ about how I create new fictional worlds. Drop by and leave a comment... please?


Absolutely do not fail to stop at Amarinda's Place today as she's running a surprise contest on her blog. http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ Go there now. Win, win, win a free copy of Shades of Gray!


Then go to Kelly's Blog where she has the Saga. And she'll explain about the contest she'll be launching soon. The prize? Pretty Sparklies! Go now and find out all about it at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/


Tune in here at my blog on the last day of January to find out about my February webpage contest. I'll have all the rules posted on my website on Friday. Win, win, win!


On February 5th we'll be launching our Eternally Yours contest. Prize? 1st place, 5 free books. 2nd place, 3 free books. 3rd place, 2 free books. Win! Win! Win!


Blessings on your day!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The very best of...

Artist~ Johannes Vermeer
Before all the other "painters with light", there was Johannes Vermeer. This painting is called Young Woman with a Water Pitcher. I discovered Vermeer back in my early twenties. He's the only painter whose work I can automatically identify on sight. I love the simple every day subjects and the wonderful backgrounds in the paintings.

http://www.essentialvermeer.com/vermeer_in_scale_one.html


icanhascheezburger

Had a bad day? Feeling down in the dumps? Then this is the site for you. I challenge you to scroll through a few of these without laughing until you cry. The men and women who write the captions are geniuses. Pure genius.

http://icanhascheezburger.com/





Brian Jacques' world of Redwall

A few years ago, I discovered the world of Redwall purely by accident. Since then I've scoured bookstores until I found every last book in the series. Trust me, it wasn't easy even though they're all still in print! In one store you might find them in the Young Adult section. In another bookstore they might be in the Fantasy section. Another store will shelve them in the Fiction section.

Take a tip from me. Its easier to simply ask the clerk to begin with and then simply enjoy trying to decide which book to begin with. I love them all. The stories are good vs. evil. The illustrations are exquisite. If you've never discovered Redwall, you're in for a treat. http://www.redwall.org/ and here is the illustrator's website http://www.christopherdenise.com/index.html

Enjoy!

Anny

Stop in at Kelly's Blog for her Sunday Quote at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and then pop over to Amarinda's Place for her take on Australia Day festivities at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ Blessings on your day!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Celebrity Gods

Recently a young actor died unexpectedly. And there's been nothing on the news since then, except for speculation about his life, death, funeral, private life, professional life, and it goes on and on. I know nothing about this young man. I don't watch television and rarely watch a movie, don't read magazines or the unending parade of articles on the internet. That isn't to say that his death doesn't sadden me. It does, just as the untimely death of any young person saddens me. That's why we say it was untimely.

The media circus doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is the reactions of everyday people--people like you and me. Some grieve as though it was their best friend or neighbor or even a relative. Why is that? Why do we worship these men and women who've simply taken advantage of attractive arrangment of features given to them through the luck of the draw at birth? Why are we so fascinated by the individuals who've used their charisma and talent to get to the top?

I suppose it's a good thing for the Hollywood machine as they would be out of business if people quit buying into the fantasy. I still find it very puzzling. I can understand enjoying the talents of a singer or actor, but that's what I do--enjoy them. I rarely buy cds or dvds. I don't purchase concert tickets or movie tickets. I've been to three concerts in the last forty years. So I no doubt just don't get the whole celebrity thing.

For me, there are other people that I think are far more worthy of my respect and admiration.

People like the teachers that show up everyday and struggle to teach our kids while dealing with parents that refuse to support them and an administrative system that's designed to sabotage the teaching experience at every turn. They're my heroes.

Police officers in all their many incarnations who work holidays, snow days, weekends, and every day of the year to keep the peace in my town and yours. They work the vehicle accidents, fires, disasters, hurricanes, floods, domestic disputes, bank robberies, gang wars, drug wars, and every other kind of war in our country. They're my heroes.

Military personnel go everywhere in the world. They work ungodly hours even when they're on home turf. When they're not shoring up the peace somewhere else, they're busy practicing and training to shore up the peace. They're men and women, young and older, who are out there on the front lines not only defending our country, but representing our country all over the world. They're my heroes.

Medical personnel are there whenever you show up at the ER. Holidays, weekends, the middle of the night, whenever you have a medical emergency, there are doctors, nurses, technicians, lab workers, nurses aides, and custodial staff. They save lives. They comfort the families when it's impossible to save lives. They're my heroes.

Emergency workers, firemen, disaster workers, all those people who show up to fight a fire, dig through the rubble of an earthquake or explosion, wade through the floods and brave the hurricanes and tornadoes time after time. Nobody holds a weapon on them to make them show up. They're just there when they're needed. The vast majority of them are volunteers. Without them to direct the disaster relief efforts it would be up to you and me. When's the last time you fought a fire or rescued someone from a flood? They're my heroes.

For every volunteer out there, every man or woman who serves in the daily line of fire that real life is, this is for you. The Cub Scout and Brownie Leaders, the school volunteers, the foster parents, candy stripers, pink ladies, and the people who show up with coffee for the workers at disasters and fires all have my hearty thanks. You're my heroes.

Just once... just once I wish we would all stop with the celebrity worship long enough to teach our kids about the true heroes in our world. Everyday, somewhere in the United States a man or woman is honored for outstanding service or bravery. When's the last time you saw that on the news? When's the last time it made headlines? When's the last time you stood in line to catch a glimpse of a true hero? When's the last time you thanked a policeman or soldier or fireman or teacher for the fabulous work they do?

Let us hear it for the real celebrities.

Anny


Yesterday, Amarinda left me with Dr. Flugelheimer-Watts and Primrose Grimly...
“Hmmm, it’s not mine so that mean they must grow feet as a crop in these parts.”

Primrose rolled her eyes knew sock puppets had more intelligence. “Yes, that would be it.” Nitwit.

“Okay – onwards to this Dan Sandisco place to find Tortunga.” Dr Garth marched into the space ship.

Sigh. Dr. Flugelheimer-Watts. Well, this is where I went...
Primrose briefly considered the advantages of tossing Dr. Garth out of the space ship as they passed over the Grand Canyon. Who would miss him, after all? And besides it would take months to find him. But no… there was that debt of honor. Perhaps if they found Tortunga, that would cancel the debt, once and for all.

Primrose set the new coordinates for San Francisco and zoomed off to the west, leaving the cornfields and corpses behind just as Zoltan and Pete arrived.

Zoltan stared down at the bodies and sighed while Pete tossed his cookies in the next row over. “I see that Dr. Idiot Flugelheimer-Watts has been and gone.”

“Who?” demanded Pete as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Zoltan handed him a handkerchief. “Here. Don’t they make sure you have manners and social graces before they hand out the Armani suits?”

“What?”

“Never mind. Dr. Idiot was definitely here. You can always tell because his crop circles are backwards. Everyone else makes their clock-wise, but he doesn’t get that. So his are always counter clock-wise.”

Pete wiped his face and hands and offered the hanky back to Zoltan. Zoltan waved it away. “No, no thanks. Toss it down there and we’ll burn it with the rest.”

Pete stared at the cornfields around them. “Burn? You want to start a fire out here? Are you insane?”

“Only a very small fire,” Zoltan explained impatiently. “Just enough to burn the bodies. And then we’ll be on our way to find Emmeline.” With that, he zapped a small flame at the center of the crop circle and stood back.

Suddenly, there was a pop, pop, popping sound. It picked up speed and volume as Zoltan grabbed Pete’s hand and began to run.

“What? What is it?” Pete yelled as he tried to keep up with Zoltan.

Check in with Amarinda. She might be back from her trip to the Fantasy Islands--or not. She's at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com and if she's not back, you can read yesterday's blog which explains Australia Day.

Then pop over to Kelly's Place where she's playing with ninjas. She's at www.kkirch.blogspot.com And then Blessings on your day!



Friday, January 25, 2008

The final word

Yesterday on a chat loop, Kelly asked for assistance with a word she couldn't think of. There were many suggestions. Finally she asked me to check my Synonym Finder. Before I typed the possibilities, someone else came up with the correct word. Yay, Cindy!

In my comments yesterday, another fellow writer commented that there weren't very many synonyms for the word deep. For ha-ha's I looked it up. Here's what the book had to say:

deep, adj. 1. immeasurable, bottomless, fathomless, depthless; extensive, broad, wide, far-reaching, vast, massive; retreating, yawning, cavernous, abysmal; submerged, sunk, sunken, on the bottom; buried, in the bowels of the earth, subterreanean; deep-seated, deep-rooted, inmost, out of sight. Inf. way down.
2. sagacious, sage, wise, learned, knowing; penetrating, discerning, perspicacious, shrewd, astute; artful, subtle, designing, scheming, devious, cunning.
3. profound, extreme, intense, great; grave, pressing, urgent, critical, vital, important, significant. Inf. heavy.
4. difficult, unclearn, obscure, abstruse, esoteric, recondite; impenetrable, inexplicable, incomprehensible; secret, hidden, mysterious, unfathomable, concealed; enigmatic, mystical, sphinxlike, occult.
5. absorbed, engrossed, preoccupied, rapt, inten, involved, entangled; immersed, plunged into, lost in, swallowed up, occupied, engaged.
6. rich, full, big, strong, powerful, heavy, solid; full-toned, resonant, sonorous, bass, basso; rumbling, booming, resounding; guttural, growly; dark, intensified, vivid, vibrant, vigorous, full-bodied.
7. earnest, sincere, serious, sober, somber; philosophical, thoughtful, reflective; heartfelt, poignant, fervent, ardent, impassioned; intense, deepfelt.
--n. 8. bottom, depths, deepest reaches, bottommost point; depth, profundity, extent, vastness, abyss.
9. culmination, central point, midpoint, middle, midst; silence, still stillness, fastness, recesses, remotest point.
10 the deep Chiefly Literary. the ocean, the sea, the seas, the high seas, the seven seas, main, the ocean blue, the waves; briny deep, Davy Jone's locker, Neptune's kingdom.
--adv. 11. profoundly, intensely, deeply. See deeply............The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale

There you go, Jae. Just a few alternatives to deep.

Sometimes I get lost in that book. One afternoon, I looked up various colors. There are an astonishing number of words for colors. There were over fifty for the color red--and that didn't take into account the other ways we use the word red, such as embarassed, or as a reference to the old Soviet Union.

One time, I went looking for an alternative to the word desire. That entry is over a quarter page long... and yet the the precise word I wanted wasn't there. But there were a couple of words that were close so I looked them up. Three entries later, I found the exact word I wanted. That word that would convey the precise meaning I was looking for.

Sometimes I will read something I've written months or even years later and think how did I know that was exactly the right word for that sentence? I don't remember the time I spent searching for the right word. But when I read it later, I notice that it's there. I wonder if readers ever notice the words? Do they realize that the sentence would be less if I used a different word there? I don't know. What I do know is that for me, it will niggle and irritate me until I hunt down the perfect word.

Perhaps the apostle John said it best, "In the beginning was the Word..." John 1:1

Anny

Pop over to Amarinda's Place for her take on the Saga and other observations about life at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com and then check with Kelly Blog to see what she's up to today. Maybe she's teaching ants to toe dance? www.kkirch.blogspot.com Blessings on your day!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Government Health Warning!


GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING!
DO NOT SWALLOW CHEWING-GUM!!

Readers...the final frontier.

On one of the chat loops that I check out fairly regularly, an author posted a message that caught my attention. I'm still trying to decide whether it was brave, foolhardy or just insane. The body of the message was a review she received for her book. Much of it had to do with the strong language and situations in the book. Hmmmm. This is an erotic romance site, yes? And what part of that did the reviewer not catch? Anyway, I digress. The author then offered a challenge to her readers to tell her what they thought.

I think I've said it before, but a reviewer is a reader that has an official place to post her opinion. That's it. When the writer reads the review, many times it is obvious that the reviewer is not a writer. Aside from the incidental spelling and puncuation errors, there is the dreaded, "I really liked this book" or "I really didn't like this book", but absolutely no reasons why. What particular event, character, or revelation made this book a pass or fail?

As a writer, I want to improve my writing with every book. If there is no reader feedback, then I'll struggle along, hoping that I am accomplishing that on my own. In one of my recent books, a reader/reviewer pointed out a particular incident that made her uncomfortable. There are unlimited opportunities for that to happen in the books I write. I'm not saying that I would have eliminated that scene if I had known beforehand. But I might have written it in such a way that my readers could relate to the characters better. As I work on the next book in that series, I'm more mindful of how my readers will view the characters.

Having said all of that, I'll slap my writer hat on and freely admit that I'm never going to please all readers. I can only hope that most readers reach the end of the book with a feeling of satisfaction and completion.

To that end, I'll make this offer--my readers are free to send me their reviews of any of my books. Once a month--on the second Monday of the month--I will post any reviews I receive from my readers on my blog, whether they're good, bad, or blech. I will identify each reader by their first name only. All I ask is that the review be specific. If you hated character Josie Kitty because she was too dumb to live, then say so. Send the reviews to annycook67@yahoo.com with Review--(Book Title) in the subject line. We'll call that feature Talk Back.

I very recently received a review for a book that declared the book was corny and that I used the same phrase repeatedly which the reviewer found distracting. My friends, the corny part I can't fix and I have no idea what that phrase might be. None at all. If you find something like that, please tell me specifically what the phrase is. Writers fall into patterns. Just as we recognize one pattern and eradicate it, another pops up. One book will be deep. The next book will be bleak or bright. In one book the characters will all nodding. Once you get all those heads still, you find that your characters are quirking their eyebrows. I once read a book where the hero stalked everywhere...even to bed. I wanted to tell him, "enough with the stalking, already". Two books ago, I deleted thirty-five justs. He was just tired. Just as she got there. Don't you just want to puke?

Feel free to review away. I will ask you to remember that this is a family site so watch the language. That said, it's all up to you.

Anny

Don't forget to stop over at Amarinda's Place where she's teaching the blue tongued lizards to tap dance at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com and then hop over to Kelly's Blog where she explaining how to sell books...lots of books and she has the Saga at www.kkirch.blogspot.com Blessings on your day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No pictures AND the Saga

I am working with a group on an Internet project and the subject came up about the group posting our individual pictures on the project. Uh, no. I admit that part of it is because I truly shy away from pictures. For whatever reason, I'm one of those individuals that take terrible pictures. Pictures that elicit comments like "What was wrong with you? Were you sick?"


I'll never forget one picture taken back when I was in my twenties. I had a two month old baby. My youngest daughter looked at that picture not too long ago and said, "Mom you look like you're anorexic." Lovely. Most people worry about losing the baby fat. I look anorexic.


Two summers ago, I went to spend a week with my brothers/spouses. My youngest brother and sister-in-law took a million pictures. Ugh. Let's just say that there's no danger of any one mistaking me for an anorexic. I went there with clothes designed for comfort in 90+ degree heat. Needless to say, they were not the most flattering. Imagine the goddess figurine in a t-shirt and shorts. Go on, just close your eyes and visualize it. Now tell me that you want a glossy 8X10 of that.


Right.


Fortunately no one's worshiped me lately. But I live in daily fear that someone will mistake me for the goddess' sister or something. So just in case anyone was considering it? Uh, no. Just don't go there.



Yesterday Amaraninda left us with...
“Okay, here’s the thing, I’m not discussing my plans with someone carrying poultry.”

“The poultry carriers shall inherit the Earth.” His words sounded Zen-like.

“Whatever you reckon, you big fruit loop.” Emmeline rolled her eyes cynically.

“You will find you also carry an animal in your hand.”

“This is a hat box, mate.” As she said the words, Emmeline gasped in shock as she looked down to see a platypus gnawing at her hand. “What did you do to my chalice?”

What indeed? Where is the chalice?
“Nothing is as it seems,” the man intoned calmly. “You must seek the inner meaning if you would have peace.”

Emmeline stomped her foot. Her quills clacked ominously. “I don’t want peace!” she bellowed. “I want my chalice!”

As he shrugged and turned away, the duck peeked over his shoulder and quacked, “Aflack, Aflack!”

Disgusted with the whole scenario, Emmeline shifted the platypus in her arms and jerked out her peeler. She rolled her head, loosening the taut muscles in her neck. Then with the platypus securely tucked under her arm, she stomped to the door of Lenny’s cafĂ©. Somewhere, somehow, she would find Tortunga and she would get her chalice back!

Meanwhile, back in Rio, Zoltan relieved Pete of the peeler. After taking a close look at it, he began to roar with laughter. “You fool. This isn’t Emmeline’s peeler! This is a fake I keep around to use in my magic act. We will never find her with this.”

Pete blinked at him owlishly. “So what are we going to do?”

Zoltan whipped out his PDA and tapped in some numbers. “Ah, just as I thought! She’s looking for Tortunga in San Francisco Bay. Tchk! I could have sworn he sent us a Christmas card with a new address.” He tapped some more. “Yep, here it is. He’s moved to Peru.”

Pete stared at him in confusion. “We just came from Peru.”

“Nah, Tortunga’s in Peru, Nebraska.” He inhaled expansively. “Open spaces. Blue skies. We’ll go there and wait for Emmeline to show up. She’ll remember the Christmas card eventually.”

What will Kelly do with this mess? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Anny

Drop by Amarinda's Place and see what she's been up to. I tell you, since she has no internet access at work, I've been missing that woman something terrible. Amarinda!!!!!! What's up, honey? http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ And then hop over to Kelly's Blog to find out what she's been up to. I know she's been writing up a storm. Go. Seek. http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bits and Pieces


After I wrote a blog last week about the tremendous snow storm of 1967 in Chicago, a friend sent me this picture taken a couple days later. As you can see, the snow really was that deep... and frozen like a brick. So Amarinda and Helen, when you're sweltering in your heat, just remember this pic and think "cold".

At the time of the snow storm, we had a foster child staying with us. About a week after the storm, my mom sent my middle brother and the foster boy to the store to buy bread and milk. They never came home. After a while, she sent my older brother and me out to look for them. The snow was piled so high on each side of the sidewalk it was like walking down tunnels. We were out there quite a while, calling and walking up and down the streets around where we lived.

Finally, my parents called the police. The cops picked the two of them up, walking down the middle of the freeway--which was closed because it mostly looked like this picture. The boys had decided to run away to a park in southern Indiana, Tippecanoe State Park, where they planned to camp out for the winter. To that end, they had spent the money my mother gave them on a box of cereal, a box of matches and two bottles of soda.

Ahhh, to be young again.

If you cast your eyes to the right, you'll see a nifty black square that declares that I'm the winner. This morning Dawn Roberto, owner of one of the more active romance loops sent me an e-mail informing me that I've been voted the Best New Author of 2007.

Now, I admit to a certain amount of excitement and pride in that, even knowing that it really is a popularity poll. But then, so are book sales. Peers and readers vote for you--or not. I'm proud that some people thought enough of my work to vote for me. So I'll try not to let my head get too big for my hats. And I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to those that voted for me. I appreciate the thrill of it all.

I added a new place that you can check out my work, bookcovers, or just read my blog. I now have a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717643076 so drop by there and check it out. It's still a work in progress. I have a feeling it will take me a while to decide what I want on the page so bear with me. If anyone has a suggestion or observation, please let me know!

It's supposed to rain/snow later on today. My feet are freezing. Later on today, I will haul out my foot warmer and plug it in. Quite frankly, writing doesn't generate much body heat--no, not even writing the "hot" stuff--and as I sit here writing, my feet slowly turn to blocks of ice. So I'll break down and use the foot warmer, plus socks, plus maybe even a lap blanket. In between, I'll slurp down several mugs of herbal tea. After which, I'll have to make a mad dash for the bathroom. You'd be surprised how many steps you can accumulate running back and forth to the bathroom. There actually is a method to my insanity.

Yesterday, numerous people "tagged" me. I'm supposed to tag six people, but most of them have tagged me instead, so I'll list the six odd facts about me and move on.

1) I speak two languages--English and Mystic Valley Ancient--with a smattering of a couple others (Elyrian and Genealogy). In case you didn't know, it ain't easy making up a language from scratch, let alone two or three. Pukeable notwithstanding.

2) In my lifetime, I have played a piano, guitar, violin, auto-harp, harmonica, dulcimer, accordian, organ, ocarina, mandolin, harpsichord, and psaltery. I'm not saying that I played them well, but I did play them. At the moment, I still own a guitar, accordian, electric keyboard, and have the ocarina and psaltery on order. Life is good.

3) I paint. I like to paint. I don't paint well, but since it's for my enjoyment, who cares? Maybe I'll be the next Grandma Moses and somebody will discover me. Why not?

4) I'm a secret pen collector and woe betide anyone who touches my pens. Once someone else uses my pen, it belongs to them as I won't use it again. Sigh. When I worked I had to lock my pens up at night when I went home. If I didn't one of the custodians would come in at night and scribble with every single one of them. Then they leaked. Oh, the trials and tribulations of dealing with a pen sneak.

5) I'm also a paper collector. Why? I have no idea. But I betcha I have more kinds of paper than you can shake a stick at. Tiny little scraps of paper. Enormous sheets of paper. Colored, textured, white, transparent, vellum, cardstock, hand made, you name it, I probably have it. I even have special origami paper. And it's all neatly categorized and stored. Just in case I need it for something special.

6) I like to bake bread. Honey oatmeal bread is my specialty, but I've also made, whole wheat, white, cinnamon, multigrain, and various "specialty" breads. There is something soothing about taking out your aggressions on a pile of bread dough. And when you're all through, you have something incredibly delicious to eat. What more could you ask for?

Anny


What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire? Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –1st prize--5 books

2nd prize--3 books

3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.


Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute for the Goddess
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O'Rourke
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Sandra Cox Silverhills
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
Anny Cook Honeysuckle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love



Finally, don't forget to stop by Kelly's Blog at www.kkirch.blogspot.com and at Amarinda's Place at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com as Amarinda has the Saga today. Blessings on your day!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thinking about Color

Today is a federal holiday--National Anti-Prejudice Day. What's that you say? You thought it was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday? Yes, and how will this day be celebrated? Mostly it will be celebrated with activities remembering his legacy--a legacy based on anti-prejudice.

I grew up in the southwest in a time when there were signs in the windows that declared, "No Indians Allowed!" I bet you didn't know that happened in this country. My ancestors weren't allowed to vote, own property, inter-marry with other folk--black or white. Prejudice isn't just about skin color... it's about being different from the ruling majority, whatever that might be.

Notice that I said the ruling majority. The ruling majority might not be the actual physical majority in numbers. But the power brokers are the ruling majority, economically and socially. I grew up in the turbulent sixties in Gary, Indiana and Chicago. When I started high school, my school was 97% Jewish. Four years later when I graduated, my school was 75% black.

What happened? Integration happened. Busing happened. Only in Chicago, that meant students from the far south side of Chicago traveled via public transport for two hours or more to attend my school. A little known fact--no students from the north side were forced to travel that same two hours to the south side. Wonder why that was? Because the ruling majority decided that wasn't necessary.

Forty years later why are there still color issues? Because skin color/racial type are the easiest ways to identify differences. Today racial profiling is the new catch word. Only we've always had profiling. Now we just have a name for it. Generalizations about certain types abound.

Indian/Pakistani families own the gas stations and fast food stores.

Black men go to jail more often.

Hispanics are lazy and uneducated.

All Arabs are terrorists.

Fat people are greedy pigs.

Baptists are prudes.

Jews are tight wads.

Mormons are all polygamists.

Whites are bigots.

What? What? You say, I'm not one of those... Really? Do your children know? Prejudice is such an insidious thing. I've been with individuals who stopped for a donut and coffee and had less that complimentary things to say about the servers. The interesting thing is that the comment is always based on race, rather than the actual problem. If the server didn't get your order correct speak to the management. Don't make nasty remarks about the server's origins. When is the last time you heard someone complain about a waitress, "She got our order all wrong. These white people are lazy and can't be bothered." Huh?

When I was a young woman, the worst thing I could have done is marry a man outside of my religion. Literally, I would have been thrown out of my family if I had dared marry a Catholic or a Mormon or a Lutheran. That's how it was said with this whispered accent on the word like you were saying a dirty word. Now assuming I married within my religion, then the next hurdle was to marry within my own racial/ethnic type. Under no circumstances were you to marry an Italian or Russian or Mexican. They might actually speak some language other than English. Of course, you didn't want to marry outside of your geographical area. If you did, thirty years later your spouse was still "that Northerner" or "that feller from California"--or worst of the worst--"that guy from Texas". Who knew what kind of weird things those Texans did?

There will always be discomfort when you are the only person of your own racial/ethnic type when surrounded by those different than you. I think that's a deep visceral protective reaction. On some hidden level, our hackles rise even though we aren't in actual danger because we aren't with our "own kind". I'm not so sure that that's a bad thing. Remember that ruling majority thing. When you're out of your comfort zone you're more cautious.

The only way to deal with prejudice is a head-on approach. Face to face contact. Noooo, I'm not talking about kissing--at least not on the first meeting. But personal contact, getting to know the other individual, nearly always elicits that surprising thought, "He or she is just another person." Perhaps one on one, we can get past thinking about color.

Anny

Stop by Kelly's Blog www.kkirch.blogspot.com and Amarinda's Place www.amarindajones.blogspot.com Blessings on your day!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The very best of...

Hmmmm. What will we have today? Some books, some wine, and a tree.

Fairies...
Yesterday I found a series of books that I've been searching for a very long time at a most unlikely place, Sam's Club. I used to own these books back when I lived in Houston over twenty-five years ago. They were the one casualty of the hurricane that came in the last year we lived there and I've never seen them anywhere until I went grocery shopping.

You have to understand. When we go to Sam's the first place I stop is the book section. After I browse there looking at the odd assortment of books, keeping an eye out for anything interesting, then we do the shopping. Today as we circled around the endcap, a boxed set of thin books caught my eye. I stopped and slipped one of the books from the box and to my shocked amazement, I realized exactly what I had in my hand. Interestingly enough, my husband required no explanation. He simply said, "Make sure that there's a full set in the box and then put them in the cart."

So what was I so excited about? The Complete Flower Fairies Library by Cicely Mary Barker. Twelve slim hardback books, stuffed with glorious illustrations of the Flower Fairies plus the individual poems. Original copyright 1923.

Funny. I fell in love with the Flower Fairies years ago, long before the advent of the Internet with it's instant access in information so I had no idea how famous Ms. Barker and her Flower Fairies were. I just knew that I loved the little books, as did my daughters. We used to sit on their bed at night and read some of the poems before bedtime. I truly mourned their loss from water damage and mold. Finding them today was a wonderful surprise. For more information about the Flower Fairies see http://www.flowerfairies.com/

Wine...
As many of you know, the househunk and I went to upstate New York for Christmas week. While we were there we stopped at a store long enough to purchase a couple bottles of wine. I can just hear Amarinda... "What, they don't have wine in Maryland?"

Well, this particular wine is difficult to find outside of New York. In Washingtonville, New York, a small village where I used to live, there is a winery--America's oldest winery--The Brotherhood Winery. They produce a wine called Holiday Spice Wine. And it happens to be the only wine I drink. My friend Jane had a small taste and she told me it's a dessert wine. I like it cold. And I like it heated up similar to a wassail at Christmas. And when I drink it, it's definitely a dessert wine.

Since my tolerance for alcohol is extremely low, about two ounces does it for me. As I told my blog cohorts, I'm a cheap date. At two ounces a shot, every other week or so, you can see that one bottle will last me quite a while. But I certainly enjoy it every once in a while. For more info about the historic Brotherhood Winery see www.wines.com/brotherhood

Trees...
About a week before we went up to New York, my daughter called, a little panicked and a little frustrated. Their Christmas tree had finally given up the ghost and was sprawled on the living room floor. She wanted to know how to fix the broken stand. After some discussion it was obvious that the stand--permanently attached to the tree--was beyond repair.

The househunk and I had a tree that we rarely put up as it was so big. Well over seven feet and about five feet wide at the base, it simply took up too much room. So without too much discussion we concluded that we would take our tree to New York. My daughter protested that she didn't want to have to take the tree down so soon after Christmas so that we could bring it back home. "No, no, no," I said. "You don't understand. The tree is all yours."

The tree looked lovely in her living room. And I had no qualms whatsoever about leaving it there. We had that tree over twenty years. It served us well. It looked like it was new. The househunk commented that we would look for a smaller tree and I told him that I really wanted one just like that--only about two feet shorter.

While we were in New York, I went one day to meet my friend for lunch. And on the way to meet her, I passed the Christmas tree factory where our original tree was made. There was sign out near the road announcing 50% off on the Christmas trees until Jan 4th. So a few days later, on our way home we stopped at the factory and went Christmas tree shopping. I found exactly what I wanted--a five foot tree just like our old one.

The company called Hudson Valley Tree Company back when we bought our original tree is now Christmas in America. You might think it odd for us to travel two states away to buy a Christmas tree but there are few things in America that last twenty years. There are fewer things that can be passed down to the next generation secure in the knowledge that they might even be able to pass it down to their kids. When I decorate my new tree next year, I'll do so content that I will no doubt pass this tree along in a few years, also. For more information about Christmas in America see http://www.christmasinamerica.com/

There you go... three new things to check out.

Anny

Stop off and check out Kelly's Sunday Quote at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and then pop over to Amarinda's Place to find out how her mowing went--hot and sweaty I expect--at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ And then, Blessings on your day!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blogging, Opinions, Comments AND the Saga

This month I've been blogging for a year. Blogging is a solitary endeavor. Even when there is a group blog with multiple participants, it's still the individual who sits down at the computer and writes something.

After a year, I still have no idea why one post will touch people or elicit a slew of comments and another will not. I'm usually surprised by the blogs that attract the comments. Often they are really not blogs that I thought a lot about, but rather just things that come to me when I sit down at the computer and put my hands on the keyboard, hoping that the words will appear.

Blogging is a true strip show in public. Your mind and soul hang out there for all to see. Whether your readers reject it or not is a chance that the writer takes everyday. Some days there is one comment. Some there are more. Truthfully, there might be tons of lurkers out there that read without ever leaving a comment. I have no way of knowing. No way of knowing if I touched those readers or perhaps they have all the interest they would have if they were reading their horoscope or a chinese fortune cookie.

Clearly, I am not a controversial writer. I've never stirred my readers to debate or protest--never moved them to rise up in a storm of heated opinions or rebuttal. Alas, it appears that I am that bane of the erotic romance... Vanilla.

Perhaps in 2008, I will find my kinkier voice and jazz things up a bit. Probably not. I can't seem to be kinky. Although perhaps I'm the only blogger out there that discussed public toilets... condoms... and jails. Some subjects are a cry from the heart.

In the meantime, I face this new year with bated breath (I always wanted to use that in a sentence) full of hope, promise, and enthusiasm. What will the year bring? Another were-tick story? Another episode of the steamy spuds? More pictures of the cat? Who knows? I certainly don't so let us check out the Saga and see where we landed this time...


Amarinda left us with...
“I need help.” He looked from Emmeline to Zoltan. “I have to get to River City.”

“Why?” Zoltan asked suspiciously.

“Because there’s trouble in River City.”


Of course there is...
“Trouble?” Emmeline rolled her eyes. “What kind of trouble?”

“Probably the kind that begins with a capital T,” Zoltan observed dryly. “What other kind is there?”

“The woman kind.” Emmeline stalked back down the trail, leaving the men behind. She needed to have words with the old woman.

Zoltan had no intention of being left behind. He rushed after her with Pete pounding hard on his heels. “Wait for me!” Pete panted as he jogged to keep up. “Where are we going?”

“After her. If you’re smart, you never want to let her get too far ahead. She had a way of disappearing.” Zoltan zipped through the doorway of the old woman’s hut and slid to a halt, staring at Emmeline in amazement. Pete was moving too fast and too close to stop before he ran into Zoltan. The two men tumbled to the floor in a jumble of milling legs and arms.

By the time they sorted themselves out, Emmeline was gone in a puff of smoke, taking the Tourmaline Chalice with her and the old woman lay dead on the floor. Zoltan sat up and knuckled his eyes in despair. “Now we’ll never find her!”

Pete clambered to his feet, brushed the dust off his pink suit and then offered Zoltan his hand. “Sure we’ll find her. I have her peeler. Every peeler it tuned to the owner. All we have to do is twist this little jewel here and it’ll take us right to her.” Pete twisted the jewel and studied the readout on the peeler’s handle. “Ah, just as I thought. She’s in River City.”

Anny

Drop by Kelly's blog where she discussing penile enhancements at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and then trek over to Amarinda's Place at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ where she's pontificating on hanging blinds and the art of wearing hair pieces. Feel free to leave a comment! Blessings on your day!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Who ARE those people?

I sat up very late last night, actually into the wee hours of the morning, reading a mystery... Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris. What lured me on wasn't necessarily the intricate mystery or the complicated plot. No, it was the fascinating cast of characters.

I don't remember reading a book with such an assortment of characters in a long time--not even another one of Ms. Harris' books. The characters were drawn in such detail that you could clearly visualize them in all their infinite variety. I want that. That ability to make even the most minor character stand out.

Even the ghost was vibrant and unforgetable.

To often, we writers fail to draw our secondary characters in a way that makes them more than cardboard cut-outs. In Grave Surprise, each character serves as a jewel to enhance the story. Yeah, that's what I want.

That's my new goal for the year. Well developed, unforgetable characters in my stories.

Anny

Drop by Amarinda's Place to see what new strange direction she's taken the Saga in at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ and then pop over to Kelly's Blog to see what she's up to at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ Blessing on you day!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let's get organized!

"Let's get organized!"--my stepmother's battlecry everytime there was a new project. After a while it became a family in-joke. We threatened to get her a t-shirt with it printed on it.

As I mentioned before, I cleaned my desk. Rearranged stuff. Put away stuff. Sigh. Now I can't find anything. So here's a picture... look quick because you won't see it that clean again.

I'm not an inherently neat person. Especially with papers. I'm a great vertical filer. As long as I don't have to move the pile for some insane reason (such as cleaning the desk so I can move it!), then I'll know exactly where a particular paper is in a particular pile.

It used to drive my boss insane. One time when I was in the hospital, she decided to "clean" my desk and file all of the papers in a drawer.

Some things we never found again. Every time she asked for a file that she had put away for me, I would look at her in helpless puzzlement and she finally sighed one day and promised that she would never, ever touch my desk again.

Everyone has a system. Vertical filing is mine.

One of the things that I'm asked with fair frequency is how I keep track of all the people, words, locations, etc., in my series. For each series, I have a notebook. If you look on the right side of the desk, you can see the notebooks on the corner. Each book in the series has a separate section of the notebook. There are village rosters, family charts, maps for each book. In the front of the notebook is a glossary that's updated with each book's additions.

Masters of all the papers are kept on the computer, but I find it easier to consult the notebook than flip back and forth through computer files when I'm working. So the notebook is the "bible" I work from. Each notebook also has a master name list so that I don't use the same name twice. In real life, we run into people all the time with our name, but readers find it confusing, so I don't re-use names in the same series.

The maps are updated with changes with each book. As the Mystic Valley series progresses, there will be more and more physical changes in the valley. And since I would prefer that my characters are going in the right directions, I always use a map to plot their actions. Sometimes I also have floor plans to keep track of where I place the furniture--or the bathroom!

Some writers use dolls to keep track of body parts during the hot and heavy action. I haven't reached that point, but I suppose I could add a sketch or two if it gets weird. So far, I'm tame enough with the action that I don't require visual aides.

I have a neighbor who draws like a dream. I think I might ask him to draw some pictures for me. The drangs, dintis, packits, and grimahrs for a start, plus the valley fashions (shardas, sheras, and meerlims) and maybe some of the houses. If he does, I'll post them one day.

And it might be interesting to have the dragons and the tooth fairy from the Camelot series, too. Percival, Bart, Pansy and Gerard would all make wonderful illustrations. Yes, I think I'll do that. I'll keep you up to date on my progress.

Another question I am asked is how many books will there be in a series? And the answer is, "I don't know." I have a rough list of possibilities for each series, but they will only happen if the characters are willing to tell me their stories. Some characters are stubborn and just refuse to talk. I have too many other stories in my head to waste time fighting for a story that isn't happening. Maybe the answer is, "Until I run out of stories set in that world."

In the meantime, I will soldier on, trying to get organized.

Anny

Stop by Kelly's blog for a squizz at her new cover and the Saga at www.kkirch.blogspot.com and then rush over to Amarinda's place to find out what she's been up to at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com and then? Blessings on your day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

If I could do it all over... AND the Saga

A while back I received an e-mail from a friend. It was a touching, thought provoking piece about what the author would change if she could do her life over. At the end, it was attributed to "Anonymous". As a life-long fan of Erma Bombeck, I immediately recognized the column, one done when she was close to the end of her life.

At first I was angry with my friend, and then realized that the anger was misplaced for surely my friend was not the originator of the e-mail. That individual was hidden back in the mists of time. But I was impelled to do something. Erma touched too many lives to have credit taken away for her writing--even after death.

The next day I wrote to my friend, pointing out how much I enjoyed the column, even on the second or third or fourth go-round. I recalled how I felt reading it in the paper when it first came out and how sad I was that Erma Bombeck wouldn't be sharing her wisdom with us. And I asked her to add Erma's name to the piece before she forwarded it to anyone else.

Well, my friend went one better on me. She cut and pasted my note--with my name--on a new email and sent it to everyone she'd sent the original column to, asking them to honor my request and make sure that Erma's name was on it. You might say that it was futile gesture, but I feel we fight our wars one battle at a time. Recognition for the writer is a hard won battle.

And in the spirit of Erma's original column, I'll post my own list of things that I would change.

If I could do it all over again, I would never have screamed at my mother, "I hate you! I wish you were dead!" Twenty four hours later she was. I was ten. In that twenty four hours I learned that once the words are said we can never take them back. Better to not say the words to begin with. Better to wait until the brain is connected to the mouth again.

If I could do it all over again, I would leave the television off. Too many minutes, hours, and days were lost when I should have been spending time with my children, husband, family and friends. Too many opportunities were left in the dust because I watched television instead of reading, writing, painting, talking to a friend, writing letters... People are gone now with no chance to let them know that I valued them.

If I could do it all over again, I would have never owned a credit card. Debt dragged my family to the pit of hell. Debt caused humiliation, anger, loss, embarrassment, and poverty. Credit cards made it insidiously easy to buy, buy, buy things we didn't need, necessarily want, or used. How many pairs of shoes, pants, underwear can one person use? How many times do we really need to go out to eat? I will never have another credit card. Ever.

If I could do it all over again, I would have been less lazy, more active, and taken better care of myself. It's easy to give up on yourself. Very easy. It's much harder to keep moving, make the doctor's appointments, eat right, stand tall and pull that stomach in. Having four babies used to be an excuse, but isn't anymore. Sigh.

If I could do it all over again, I would have taken my children to church every week. Not because church would have made them inherently better, but because they would have been exposed to basic moral truths. I suspect that I didn't do nearly as good a job as a few years of Sunday School would have. Interesting that my children are taking their children to church.

If I could do it all over again, I would do a better job of staying in touch with friends and family. I used to write a lot of letters. What happened? I don't know. Television, life, work. Some of my friends are gone now. Some of my family has passed on. I wish I had been more persistent. Perhaps I can be now for those still around. Perhaps?

What about you? What would you change? Anything?

Anny

Yesterday, Amarinda left us with...“What curse, old woman?”


And my thoughts?

“If you use the Tourmaline Chalice for evil, you will never again be able to wield the peeler. In fact, you won’t be able to use the flogger or the singing dirk, either.”

“The singing dirk.” Emmeline blinked slowly as she considered that news. Did she really want to give up the singing dirk? Really? Zoltan had very few good qualities, except his dirk. The flogger she could take or leave, but the dirk…

“Define evil, old woman.”

“Disrespect, young woman. Snarkiness. Theft. Arrogance.” The old woman slid her a sly glance. “You will have to control your temper, your majesty. Even when Zoltan is around.”

Emmeline’s eyes began to glow as she stared at the old woman.

“Tchk. Look at the temper building up. You had better go away and think about this very carefully. Once the Tourmaline Chalice is in your hands, there is no going back, even if you give it away. It will judge you and leave you defenseless if you do evil. You will be at Zoltan’s mercy for eternity.”

Emmeline turned and marched away. She climbed up the nearest peak until she stood on the very summit, looking down on the village. She considered all the woman had said. Then she slowly pulled out her peeler and looked at it, minutely noting every scratch and tiny flaw. Her quills clacked as she took a deep breath. Then with all her might, she threw the peeler into the chasm below.

“No!” Zoltan howled as he pelted up the incline. “Don’t do it!”

Today I'll be chatting at LoveRomancesCafe from 11 AM - 3 PM EST. Stop by and say hello!

Don't forget to go to Kelly's Blog for an excerpt from her upcoming book at www.kkirch.blogspot.com and then hop over to Amarinda's Place at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com to find out the latest in Aussieland. Blessings on your day!



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's on your shelf?


Any author worth his or her salt has a collection of research materials. The collection grows nearly daily as the author continually runs up against problems to solve and conundrums to explain. I have an ever expanding library. Yep, you read that correctly. I have six large bookcases stuffed to the brim.
And I'm presently contemplating where I could put another.
So here are some of my favorite research books. You know... the ones that you pick up to truly check some esoteric fact and find yourself three hours later still browsing.
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews
Barnes and Noble Publishing 2006 ISBN-13: 978-0-7607-7885-2
Wanna know about elves? This book has it.
Wanna know about an Ouroboros? Or a Tlatechtli? Or a Gollinkambi? This is the place to find out. Six hundred and eighty two pages of information about critturs you never heard of before and may never hear of again. (Amarinda and Kelly take note... this is my secret weapon for the Blog Saga!)
The book is filled with illustrations, special high-light pages, and detailed explanations about the weird wonderful fantastic world of magical creatures. If you need a really obscure creature to kick start a story idea. It's in there.
A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk by Hugh Rawson
(Being a Compilaton of Linguistic Fig Leaves and Verbal Flourishes for Artful Users of the English Language)
Crown Publisher, Inc. 1981 ISBN:0-517-55710-X
I love this book. I will give you one small sample of the dry wit of Mr. Rawson...
"remove. To kill, as in "The spy had been 'removed from circulation'" (William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid, 1976). This particular spy, or AGENT, was removed while crossing Broadway at Times Square: A taxi knocked him down and a follow-up car completed the removal by running over him. See also RUB OUT and the general HIT."
At three hundred and twelve pages, it is a wonderful book to while away an afternoon complete with a cold (or hot) drink while on vacation. Alas, that's the only time I have the opportunity to do more than a quick occasional dip into the pages.
Ancient Inventions by Peter James and Nick Thorpe
Ballantine Books 1994 ISBN-13:978-0-307-29061-8
Whilst perusing this book, I came across the most wonderful stuff. There's the section on pregnancy tests from the Babylonians, 700 B.C. and the Egyptians, 1200 B.C. And according to scientists of the modern era, they work.
Hmmm. The section on sex toys was an eye opener to be sure. Yes, it sure was. Uh, the ancient Greeks were quite an adventurous bunch. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.
Moving on to another subject... odometers have apparently been around since prior to A.D. 300. The Chinese developed a way to measure distance with a "vehicle known as "li-recording drum carriage" (the li was their equivalent for a mile)." Imagine that.
For those inclined to complain about the postal system... postal systems were established by the Persians and Egyptians as early as 2000 B.C. give or take a few years. If you were wealthy enough you could send a letter even back then. I can't imagine what the postage must have cost. Probably it would make our postage look quite reasonable.
This is another one of those books that you start browsing and end up sitting up half the night. There's always "one more page". Those are the best kinds of books aren't they? So... what do you have on your shelf?
Anny
Make sure that you drop in at Amarinda's Place for her take on the Saga and what's happening in her life. http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ Then check Kelly's blog to see how the writing is going. http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ Blessing on your day!






Monday, January 14, 2008

The Great Snowstorm...

Forty-one years ago, I was a senior in high school in Chicago. Back then, they had two graduations per year, one in late January and one in May. As the secretary of the choir, it was my responsibility to arrange the chairs on the risers for the choir members. There was no school on graduation day, but I was up and dressed early. I lived out of the local district because my parents moved the summer before. As a senior I had the choice of completing my schooling at my old school. I chose to do that, but it meant a long bus ride on the CTA and two transfers.

The weatherman was calling for a few flurries so I was a bit taken aback when I opened the front door to fairly heavy snow. I didn't matter, though as I had a job to do so I tromped down to the bus stop and waited, shivering with cold, for the bus.

The morning at school passed swiftly with much to do. The choir officers were all there and between the four of us, we were finished around lunch time. The president proposed that we go up to the hot dog stand about a block away for lunch. They had the most wonderful hot dogs. All of us agreed and we went back upstairs to the choir room for our coats.

When we burst into the room, laughing and talking, Miss Johnson, our choir teacher asked us what we were up to. One of the guys explained that we were going up to the hot dog stand. She looked at us like we'd all lost our minds. "Have you looked outside lately?" she demanded.

Of course, immediately we all ran to the window and stared down in shock at the white wilderness below in the school quadrangle where the teachers parked. All the cars were buried... buried in well over a foot of snow. And it was still snowing. Miss Johnson told us that the weather forecasters were now calling for at least two feet of snow.

Back when I went to school, the girls wore skirts. The other girl and I were certainly not dressed for a trek through the snow. The guys decided that they would attempt the walk up to the corner. If they made it, they would bring back lunch. An hour later they returned with two bags of hotdogs. When the owner heard about us, he sent extra food. Wonderful food. Lukewarm, but plentiful food.

In the afternoon, we all went down to the quadrangle and the other girl and I watched the fellows make snow angels in the snow. Suddenly, the wind picked up and the snow fell harder than ever. We all went back upstairs and listened to the radio, wondering how they were going to have a graduation in the snow storm.

By evening, the storm was over. We had over thirty inches of snow. The streets were impassable and the transit lines had long since stopped running. About a third of the choir, band, and graduates showed up. It was a very quiet graduation ceremony. Afterwards, Otis, one of the guys walked me the two blocks to my friend's house.

My parents had plans to be away overnight, so I had made arrangements to stay at my friend's house. Lucky for me! Many of the people at the school ended up staying there all night. I didn't get home for two days and it was longer than that, much longer than that before many of the streets were cleared.

A deep polar freeze settled in and froze all that snow like concrete. For several weeks, walking down the sidewalks was like walking in tunnels. The snow was piled high--in some places it was piled higher than our heads.

It wasn't the last snowstorm I was in, but it was the last one I experienced in a major city. And it was definitely unforgettable.

Anny

Don't forget to stop by Kelly's blog at www.kkirch.blogspot.com and Amarinda's Place at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire? Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –1st prize--5 books

2nd prize--3 books

3rd prize--2 books

Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Pretty soon we'll be beginning the contest!

Blessings on your day!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Very Best of...

Ahhhh, it's time for the very best of again! So sit back and enjoy!

The Best Ever Pirate Novel
The Windflower by Laura London (aka Tom and Sharon Curtis) Out of Print published in 1984

I checked this out on Amazon.com since it's out of print. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the mass market paperback (used) is going for $29.45-$51.33 plus $3.99 for postage. Original price was $3.44 and it's a thick book. Ah, to know that others understand the true value of The Windflower.

Sadly, Tom and Sharon Curtis retired not long after they won the Rita for another of their wonderful books. While I understand that we all have to make tough choices, their books were wonderful and I do miss them.

The Windflower was the first "pirate" novel I ever read and to this day, it's my favorite. The authors filled the book with incredible, interesting characters. One secondary character nearly stole the book and readers are still waiting for the authors to write a book for Cat. If you ever get a chance to read it, it's a treasure well worth the hunt.

I've had a total of six copies of this book. Whenever I loaned it out, it never came back. So the last time I invested, I determined that copy would not ever be loaned. Too bad as I took such pleasure in sharing the book.


The Best CD for Tough Times


Tough All Over by Gary Allan

Mr. Allan has been there and done that. A couple years ago he lost his wife to suicide. This album reflects the emotional climb back out of the pit. That's not to say that it's depressing, but it is honest. He's mad, sad, rowdy, contemplative, and stark.

If you're having a rough go-round with life, then sit a while and listen to Gary Allan sing about life. There's no where to go but up. When I think things are really rough, I sit and listen to this album and then I know that I haven't seen anything yet.

Best Cold Winter Treat

Home made cocoa and cinnamon oven toast.

Cocoa

1 teaspoon of powdered cocoa
3 teaspoons of sugar
stir together in a mug and then fill a little more than half way with boiling water.
stir until sugar is melted.
add evaporated milk until mug is full.
may be flavored with a candy cane as a stirrer.
Yum.

Cinnamon Toast
Butter bread slices.
Sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Toast in oven until sugar is bubbly.
Double Yum.

Anny

Drop by Amarinda's Place to see if she caught the spider. Did he turn out to be spiderman? Tune in to find out at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com and then check Kelly's blog for her Sunday Quote at www.kkirch.blogspot.com Who will she quote this week? Blessings on your day!